"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Friday, October 29, 2010


I worked on another ornament, last night and for awhile this afternoon.  It turned out a lot better than the first one.  The learning curve is steep but not high.
 I also made some decorated stick pins. 
 Evelyn is just so pretty, I think...
 Oh, those feet!!
This was the first day of the season that I wore a sweatshirt.  Even though I have out my autumn lap quilts, most of the past few days have been too chilly to be comfortable out on the patio for more than a few minutes with my first cup of coffee.  Daylight Savings ending will go a long way towards opening up that little bit of time between waking up and Husband having to start work - hopefully, the weather will stay warm enough to have a few more days/weeks of coffee with him on the patio.  Not really counting on it, though - the seasons change quickly, this time of year. 
I spent several hours out in the barn a couple of days ago, folding fabric.  My tall workbench is perfect for that sort of thing and I used my 6 X 24 inch ruler to fold them a uniform size.  I also moved most of my fabric from my sewing room to the barn, leaving primarily fat quarters and fabric directly related to projects I'm working on.

I was sitting at the computer, today, when it occurred to me that I don't have a job.  I don't work.   Okay, so I haven't worked in a year but this was the first time that I self identified myself as a housewife/homemaker/bum.  For years, I have snuck in a little time here and there to work on a quilt.  It always was shoe horned in between going to work, sleeping, and preparing to go to work.  These days, however, I get up in the morning and make curtains.  Or think about working on an ornament "in the morning."  Suddenly, my time is my own.    I am not having to grab bits and pieces of life.  I am losing the dread that I am going to have to go back to practice law.  I'm not saying I won't get a job at some point (I like having pocket money) but I sure am not motivated to do it, right now. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Affair of the Heart

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my art professor had us draw a draped fabric as an assignment.  He told me he was happy with mine but when we went back to the next class, he apparently wasn't happy with many of them.  He decided we were going to do some drawing exercises, then try again.  He'll give us the best of the two grades.  I actually got a good grade and a nice comment on the first one so it is downhill from here, baby!

Anyhoo, last week he pinned up a different drapery and told us to sketch the outline, then draw horizontal lines across it that curved with the folds of the fabric.  It was an extremely frustrating exercise and my fingers were killing me from using small muscles I normally just ignore.  Towards the end of class (it is 3.5 hours), I felt like I was starting to "get" it but it was far from complete. 

This week, he let us continue to work on it.  He left the classroom and after about thirty minutes, Angry Girl (who I mentioned in a post about a month ago) stood up and loudly crumpled up her large paper.  Then she stomped over to trash (VERY dramatically) and violently crammed it in.  She then stomped over to her easel, shoved over the drawing board, grabbed her purse and stomped out in a huff.

Well, then. 

The rest of us just looked at each other.  There were a few shaken heads but none of us said a word.  Just went right back to drawing. 

This is what I came up with:
It was actually kind of fun.

Last weekend, I went to the Affair of the Heart, a monstrously huge arts and craft show in Oklahoma City down at the fairgrounds.  It was as big as a small city - six buildings filled with craft vendors.  I am glad I am not subject to panic attacks because the wave of people and complete sensory overload would have set one off.  I had fun - went with my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law and we ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel before we went to the show.   I ended up getting some candles, soap and a pattern to make ornaments. 

Here is my first rough ornament attempt:
 Like I said - rough.

It is not a stitched, ornament.  You use pins and my hands, between art class and pinning the ornament, ache.  If you want to see how they are SUPPOSED to look, check out this site! (she sells them)

I also stitched on a label and binding on grandson's baby quilt.  I haven't handstitched down the binding, yet, but it is coming along.  When I finish it, I will start a new one! 

I stopped off after art class, today to get a flu shot.  I don't always get one but someone pointed out that with a newborn, I don't want to take chances.  McB is due in February and the last thing I would want to do is show up and hack on the poor darling. 

February will be here before we know it.  Amazing.

We've had some gorgeous sunrises, lately.
We got an inch and a quarter of rain a few days ago.  The clouds make for an interesting sunrise.  I can count on the fingers of both hands how many overcast days we've had since June.  HEAVEN!

On the 24th, my art quilt group, (We are) The Baker's Dozen, revealed our latest project, with the theme of "Symbol."  I was not in the mood for anything heavy so I went with the symbol for Aries, my zodiac sign.   I decided to quilt/paint an elfin looking creature with ram horns.  Amazingly (pathetically?), that decision was made without benefit of hard drugs.  Actually, I wanted to try to quilt a face on a smaller project before tackling it on Lady Melinda.  So this was my excuse. 

Here are a few photos of Aries, in progress:

 The back:
She looks a bit like a female Michael Jackson and I forgot to quilt in eyebrows.  That may actually have been good.  My sketches that included eyebrows made her look mean. 
 I'm not really happy with the hair or the eyes but I had fun doing it.  I was pleased with the mouth. 
Evelyn has discovered a gopher and I suspect she is going to tear up the yard trying to catch it.  She was buried up to her shoulders, last I checked.  Husband is beside himself but I figure there is no way to stop her because she is a sneak from way back.  An elegant sneak, but a sneak all the same.

I discovered a new app for my IPhone that charts the moon, stars and planets.  It is so cool that I keep going outside and comparing the 3-D screen to the sky.  

I am such a nerd.

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Monday, October 18, 2010

Indian Summer

Fighting a cold (or maybe allergies) and went to bed, early, last night.  Woke up around 2:30 and couldn't sleep so got up to read.  I managed to get back to sleep around 4:30 and Husband was sweet enough to let me sleep in.  I didn't wake up until nearly 8:00, which is nearly unheard of, for me.  That sort of threw me off, this morning, but only a bit.

Some quilting books I ordered came in and I drooled over them for awhile.  Then I managed to make some time to work on Lady Melinda.  I have been putting off the next step because it involves fusing and there is no going back, easily, once something is fused.

I don't like fusing.  For small pieces it works well, but for larger pieces I think it makes the fabric stiff and I don't like the way fused fabric looks when it's quilted.  So what I do, instead of using a large piece of fusible web on underside of a particular piece of fabric, is turn the edges under as if I were going to applique (slightly larger than a typical quarter inch seam allowance).  I mark with a water soluble marker, then put pieces of steam-a-seam right along the edge and overlap my pieces before pressing.
This is a photo of where I put the steam-a-seam:
After the fabric is fused, you can still quilt on the edge without hitting the cooked glue and most of the fabric isn't glue infested.
I will often go back with invisible thread BEFORE QUILTING to make sure the pieces are going to stay if I am worried about them. And during the actual quilting, you can also make sure your pieces aren't going anywhere.

Today, I fused most of the pieced part of Lady Melinda to a large piece of RTD white cotton.
I just pressed the cotton flat, then placed the pieced parts right on top of it where they needed to go and fused along the edges.  It worked out pretty well.  Later, I will trim away the extra layer of cotton where it is not needed (for example, behind the dress, cloak, boat and water).   I still need to fuse on the pennant but I am not sure I want to go with these fabrics.
I thought the metallic gold would look cool but I find it a bit jarring - and I feel the same way about the other side of the pennant.  I'm considering going with a purple.  What do you think?

I stitched the staff and am pretty happy with how it looks. 
I think I may wait to attach the staff to the quilt after quilting the quilt and go for a 3-D effect.  I could stuff it with light batting to round it out.  Still thinking about that.

It looks a little funky in this photo because I haven't turned the edges of the pennant under, yet:
If I am going to 3-D the staff, I will need to figure out how to make the pennant curl around it. 

I deliberately left the cloak ends raw (although I need to trim them up).
I think I may put something up under the bottom of the cloak so you can see the boat and the water beyond it in a 3-D effect.  I will need to keep that in mind when I am quilting it so I don't quilt it down without thinking about it. 

After I fuse the pennant to the cotton, I will draw in the face, hair and arm with water soluble marker.  From there, I will likely add invisible thread to a few places that look like need it.  The next step after that will be to add some resist to the edges of the clothing, body, and hair, then paint on a light background.  Probably just a light, light blue but I haven't decided, for sure.  After that dries and I heat set it, I will draw in the quilting lines on the dress, cloak, boat, water and hillside, and take it out to the barn to the longarm.

More fun bluebird photos from the birdcam:

We are getting a bit of a cloud build up, outside, the air is feeling frisky and we may have some thunderstorms, tonight.  We actually have several chances for rain, this week, which is good because we are so dry.  A cold front is supposed to come through that should push our highs back down to the seventies.  That is still higher than average.  Usually, it is in the sixties, by now.  We've had several days of mid to high 80 degree temperatures, recently.  I suspect winter is going to slam us, right on time, but we may feel like we've been ambushed due to this long, drawn out Indian summer.  It's been heaven.

My son and his lovely wife (and my grandson due in February) are taking a fall vacation on the coast of Maine, which is where her father lives.  He has posted several gorgeous foliage photos and I have enjoyed them, so much.  I don't miss Virginia's  climate but sure enjoyed the fall foliage, every year.  Our leaves around here are mainly turning brown and yellowish.  They will soon fall off, looking dried out and elderly.  Probably could use some Boniva and Fish Oil.  

Due to the early winter winds, most of the leaves in your yard in Oklahoma didn't start out there.   In contrast, back in Virginia, the leaves would often fall straight down, making a yellow ring around the tree.  It used to remind me of the children's story about Little Black Sambo (the title of which drives the politically correct wild but I don't know what else to call it - hope I don't offend).  In that story, a tiger treed him, then walked round and round in the hot sun and melted into butter (Which Sambo put on his pancakes).   When I would examine the fallen leaves in Virginia,  they'd feel plump, robust and full of stunning color.  It was always surprising to me that they would fall off the tree, anyway.  I mean, I knew they would, but I associated the dropping of leaves with age for some reason.  Leaves dropping in much of Oklahoma look like they have fought the good fight but are giving up the ghost.  Old soldiers.  Leaves dropping in Virginia look like they are all dressed up to go dancing. 

Off to go sit on the back patio with a glass of red wine and feel the air push up the thunderclouds.  I hear thunder rumbling and Pearl is having a canniption. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Creatures of the Dawn

A couple of nights, ago, I was up late organizing my Kindle and the girls woke me up well before the sun, the next morning.  Because the weather was so nice and warm, I decided to skip any attempts to stay under the covers.  I walked out in the yard and decided to stomp around (to build up my bones!).  I walked towards the back of the backyard and the instant I reached the point in the yard where the glare from the barn light was no longer in my eyes, I glanced up and literally gasped.  The Milky Way leaped out of the sky.  I stood and absorbed it for a few minutes. 

Life will beat you down and rob you of your joy.  Between the stress of making a living, raising children, the loss of family from age, accident and disease, bills, heartbreak, fear, uncertainty, insecurity, failure, who you are just seems to get smaller and smaller.  Moments like gazing at the Milky Way build you back.  It puts the energy back. 

Mimi and I spent Friday at the Oklahoma City Zoo.  We've been doing that for forty years.

Baby Harp Seal:


I got some terrific photos from the birdcam over the last couple of days:

This is NOT a bluebird!:
This morning, I work up early (per usual).  For the first time since we moved here, I felt a sense of unease as I sat on the patio in the dark.  I chided myself for being fanciful.   After a few minutes, a large bird swooped low across the yard, startling me.  It silently glided towards the barn and landed on the roof.  The sun was just lightening the eastern sky and I could see its silhouette.  It almost looked like a hawk and appeared to be about one and a half feet tall.  I hoped it would stay there long enough to be able to see the its colors when the sun rose but just about the time light started creeping towards the barn, it flew away.
But like I said, I had a sense of unease.  I got up to refresh my coffee then went back to the patio.  I heard an owl screech, twice.  I think it was two birds, one answering the other.  About that time, the neighbor's dogs began shrieking.  They have a kennel on the other side of our barn.   Sometimes they bark, but rarely in the morning and I hadn't heard them sound that upset, before.   My girls usually ignore them but this morning, they went on high alert. 

 After a minute, Pearl began a low pitched bark and ran to the edge of the yard, closest to the neighbor's house. Evelyn stayed back with me, the coward. Pearl continued to growl and then all the dogs, including Pearl, went silent. It was just odd. I could see Evelyn listening, nostrils flaring and quivering. I started to walk over to Pearl to get her to come closer to the house but before I got there, I heard a metallic thunk that sounded like something had bumped the far side of the barn. I had an idle thought that someone could be breaking into the barn (or climbing out) but decided that if anyone had that idea, the barking dogs probably scared them off. I also wondered if perhaps a coyote had been around but I doubt they'd run into the barn.

 I decided to just come on inside until the sun rose.

 When I mentioned all this to Husband, he asked me why I hadn't gotten my gun. 

My gun?  Never crossed my mind.  That is for target practice.  I doubt anyone was going to give me any trouble in my own backyard at 6:00 in the morning.  On the other hand, when Husband went out to the barn after dark to go work on something, this evening, I kind of wish he'd taken a gun with him... 

I meant to take a good look around the barn, today, to see if anything looked disturbed but forgot about it.  It was probably nothing. 

I hate any sense of unease invading my little piece of paradise. 

But all is well and I honestly think that if anyone wanted to cause trouble, they would think better of it when they tripped the dog kennel alarm. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl