I had need to buy a passel of zippers (don’t ask questions around Christmastime!) and found a great online source I thought I’d share (and no, they aren’t paying me to write this).

It’s called Zipperstop.  I navigated to the photo above (under “closed zippers,” then “lightweight,” then “skirt and dress assortment”), which is an illustration of their 50-pack of zippers.  I only needed 25, and I needed them in rainbow colors.  I called the company (they’re in New York) and the person that answered the phone said to leave a note at checkout–there will be a box in which I could write them a note.  So I asked for an assortment of rainbow colors, which you see in the top photo.  I’m very happy with my zipper stash, and now wish I’d bought the full 50, as it’s such a deal (and they are high quality zippers).  Price? Very good, but  don’t forget that there is shipping.  Overall, it’s WAY cheaper than my big box fabric store.

Plus I like talking to people from New York.  They make my California accent sound bland.  But I do have to say that when I lived there, my neighbor came over that first week, and she was from Brooklyn.  We talked and she was lots of fun, so I told her I was trying to figure out where her accent came from.  “Accent?” she said.  “You’re the one with the accent.”

What else did I do this week?

1.  Graded my brains out (example of a guy-staple job on the corner of stack of papers)

2.  Took my quilt in to be quilted at Cathy’s

3.  Got rid of a sofa, got the carpets cleaned, and went to IKEA four times rounding up furniture (that includes returns and re-purchases of wrong items)

4.  Bought fabric.  This one’s from IKEA.  I think I’m the last to know about their fabric department but I have to say my husband was beyond patient while waiting for me to stop noticing bolts of fabric.

5.  Had Autumn.  This is it.  This one tree.  Hope you enjoyed the show as next week it will be summer again (we’ve had temperatures in the upper 70s and 80s this week–83 degrees on Thanksgiving, which is just un-American).

6. Had Thanksgiving.  And given the regularity of seeing the leftovers at mealtime, I’d say we’re still having it.  But last night we went out for Thai, today for lunch we just about killed the leftovers, so things are looking up in the meal department.  But it was a good feast and a lot of family put their feet under our table.

I’m completely in a L-tryptophan high, except for the fact that there are 12 boxes of Christmas sitting in front of the cars, waiting for someone to do something about it.

200 Quilts · Quilts · Something to Think About

Autumn Quilt

Autumn Quilt is just smoothed up on the wall (crookedly), but I’m happy to be at this place with this quilt.  I started collecting fabrics for it about 8 or 9 years ago, gathering up  reds and golds and earthy greens, browns and blacks with pattern.  I was mimicking a quilt design from a friend of mine who had made a similar quilt and I loved the way it glowed.

I used the basic Square-in-a-Square pattern, adjusting it so that these are nine-inch blocks.  I put the inner striped border on it and hung it in the closet last fall.  And it stayed there while I ruminated on and pondered the border.  My family has the Ruminating Gene in spades.

I showed some of the process in my last post, so I know this is a repeated tale.  Sorry.  But what was different was that I cut down the one-inch striped border to a half-inch sort of piping-effect border. I’m happy with it.

But when I put it all together, it was like there were doorways or gates on each side, letting the border go flabby.  While I may have to deal with flabby everything else, I’m not at all about to settle for flabby borders.  I unpicked and re-stitched to what is shown above.  I like it a lot better, and many thanks to my husband for helping me talk through that little knot of a problem.

I had one backing all picked out–a vintage piece of fabric, bought at a yard sale next to my sister-in-law’s house in Utah.  It just didn’t sing.  But this eight-year-old piece from Alexander Henry did.

I added two other fabrics with a orangey-blue tonality, and we were good to go.  So today, it did–off to the quilter’s.

I did other errands today made me glad to have a holiday that causes me to think about what I’m thankful for.  I ran into Joan in the grocery store — an 80-year-old friend — and she was buying a disposable roaster and colorful napkins.  The whole family, with grandchildren, boyfriends and everyone is at her house again, as they are every year.  Everyone helps but she confided she has a hard time getting the gravy made because “They want me out in the backyard playing croquet with them!”  And then as we were leaving, she gestured with her arm to the immaculate grocery store, perfection this morning at 8 a.m. before the hordes of Thanksgiving shoppers arrived, and said “When I look at this abundance, I feel like I need to give thanks to God all over again.”  I’ll be taking a wee break from blogging while I cook and peel and crimp and serve and oh yeah, clean up (as well as do a bit of grading and maybe even shopping) so I’m posting this holiday wish a bit early.

Like my friend Joan, this Thursday, I’ll be giving thanks to God for friends I’ve found in writing this blog and in participating in the quilting world.  You really do enrich my life with fabric chats, a little fun gossip now and again, and a sense that I belong to a vibrant community full of talent and enough quirkiness to make it interesting.

I’ll be giving thanks to God for his goodness in my life, for the gift of our children and grandchildren and in-laws and out-laws (hey, we all have a few).  I’m grateful to my mother and father for giving me atta’boys when I need it, and correcting my grammar and spelling when called for.  I’m happy to have sisters and brothers, and to have grown up in a family so large that we had to learn to share, yet small enough that when one of us is down, the others all know and want to help.

I have many ways to count the blessings in my life and will be doing just that on Thursday, feeling the Lord’s kindness rain down. And I wish this all for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Quilt Bee · Quilts

Undead Bee

I had just about given up hope — no, I HAD given up hope of our Far Flung Bee block exchange ever finishing its run, so I put up a note on Flickr.  So I was pretty excited today to get a wee package in the mailbox, all the way from New Zealand.

Inside were there incredibly cute Bee Blocks from Deb.  Ah, Deb, they are wonderful!  I like the accent of the dark text block in the center of the tulip–a variation I hadn’t seen before.  I think that’s the beauty of Bee Blocks.  Each quilter brings her own vision and stash to the creation of a block, and that’s why I was pretty dejected when I wrote on our Flickr group that I thought the our bee had joined the dead.

I think some of our members have struggled with deadlines because of busy family lives, which can also include full-time employment, a full load of classes at school and other life-absorbing experiences.  But have you been in a bee that sort of petered-out?  How did you feel about it?  Do you stay away from Bees?  Join them whenever you can?  Love the interaction?  Bemoan that you’re not getting your “own stuff done” because of all the bee blocks you agreed to crank out?

So, Bee Block Exchanges.  Love ’em?  Hate ’em?  And why?

Quilts · WIP

Autumn Quilt Borders

For this WIP Wednesday, kindly hosted by Lee of Freshly Pieced fabrics (click to head back there and see what others are doing), I chose to resurrect an ancient Work In Progress: my autumn quilt.

I had updated my computer software to work with my printer, and while you think that’s a strange way to begin a post about borders, I depend on it a lot (I use Quilt-Pro) to help me work out templates and dimensions.  So I had kind of mocked up this one, but didn’t want to go to all the trouble to do square-in-a-square on the borders.

So this was the next version.  While it seems silly to spend time at a computer when you’re working on a quilt, I did it for two reason: my annual Horrid Sickness had descended (complete with a 2-hour Urgent Care visit) and I felt like sludge most of the week, but more importantly, I was running on low in the autumn fabrics that I’d used to make this quilt, and I wanted to use what I had instead of buying more.  I’d been collecting these for about a decade, so the colors weren’t going to be easy to find, even if I did want to buy more.

Then I got a tiny nudge in my brain to use the golds in the outside Flying Geese block.  Anything I do in the program will be more pronounced, as I’m working with solids, but I did like this version.

Here’s the quilt.

So here are all the new Flying Geese pieces laid out around the quilt.  I had stopped with that small stripy border and was ready to yank it off if I didn’t like it, but. . . I like it.  Trust me on this.  I simply did two Half-Square-Triangles (HST) for the corners and now have to figure out how it will all work.

I laid out all the giant EPP hexagons on my guest bedroom bed to see how they all looked together.  I love them, but have lots more figuring out to do.  That will have to wait until after Christmas, I think!

And here’s your funny for the day:

Please head back to WIP Wednesday to enjoy the fruits of other quilters’ labors.

Textiles & Fabric · WIP

WIP and Scenes from Italy

I think we are all breathing a sigh of relief that we can answer our phones again without being assaulted during dinner by robo-calls from a candidate.  Or go to our mailboxes without needing a forklift for the thousands of pounds of campaign fliers.  I live in California and thought I had it bad until we talked to our son who lives in Ohio.  My sympathies to all who live in swing states; thanks for participating in the process.

So it is so nice to return to a routine, and today is Works in Progress Wednesday, hosted by Lee over at Freshly Pieced. Actually today it is being guest-hosted by Svetlana, and she echoes my sentiment of enjoying the weekly accounting that we do every week to keep us on track.

Last night as I watched the election returns come in with my husband, sister and brother-in-law (who are visiting), I was able to finish up this seventh hexagon.  I just keep the basket of pieces downstairs by the television and work on it whenever I am parked in front of the tube.  This hexie I could christen the political hexie, for it seemed like that’s what I was watching most as I worked on it.  I don’t know what I’ll do with them all–Downton Abbey starts up in January so maybe I’ll have some more completed before I have to decide.

But I have just returned from a trip my husband and I took to Italy, where he participated in the Collegium Ramazzini, a scientific conference in Carpi (a little town northeast of Bologna).  Not only did we visit Carpi, but also Bologna, Padua (and the Scrovegni Chapel), Venice, and Burano–a colorful island near Venice of brightly painted houses.

This is a wall from the 11th century in a church in Bologna.  Love those patchwork designs.  Everything old is new again, isn’t it?

I can’t believe they let us walk on this ancient stone floor from the Peter/Paul Cathedral in Venice, but here it is.

My husband found this fabric shop for us to look at (Bologna), but I only bought fabric in a shop across from the two (slightly leaning) towers.  Below you can see the man cutting my wool challis.

I’m thinking a scarf or something.  Fabric was really expensive over there.

But they do wrap it up nicely to bring home.

I’ve been collecting tea towels for use on the back of quilts, and here’s the one from Padua.  We thought it interesting that the thing we went to see most — Scrovegni Chapel with Giotto’s frescoes — was not even listed on the back.

In sunny Burano, we saw a woman sitting out by the canal making lace.  By hand.  Burano is known for its lace and lacemakers, and apparently it’s a dying art because none of the young woman want to learn it.  We watched her for a while, as she used her needle and thread to create tiny stitches and knots over a paper pattern.

Here’s a close-up of her pattern.  She’s created the main flowers, then will come back in and create the webbing to hold it all together.

I found the quilt shop in Venice!  This is right as you come off the Ca’D’Oro vaparetto stop.

But the prices are enough to make you swoon.  Twenty-one euros a meter (39″) works out to about 25 bucks per yard.  I try to remind myself of the luxury of all the fabrics we have here in the States at about half the cost.  I’ve learned not to buy quilt fabrics imported from the United States when I’m traveling, but if I have time, I’ll duck into a shop for a pattern or an interesting notion.

I’ll leave you with three photos: the first two are from the island of Burano and the last is from our final, foggy, morning in Venice, before we headed home.


Craft vs. Art

Ken Price: “Untitled Two Parts”

For a while now, I’ve been intrigued by a comment by Ken Price, a ceramic sculptor, an artist.  Since he sometimes did representational shapes like cups, saucers and covered jars, the “cultural prejudice against clay as a hobby-craft material unsuitable for major art” reared its head to often typecast him as a craftsman, not an artist  (quotes from an article in the LATimes).  Just like our quilts.  My art professor in college, when I asked him when he’d ever okay a show of quilts, said “Over my dead body.”  He was kidding (well, maybe not) and the answer stung.  I realized that even though there is now more recognition for the quilt as an art form, too often we are put in the craft category.  So I was intrigued by the following quote (also from the LATimes article):

Price did distinguish between craft and art, but it’s important to note that he respected them both.  “A craftsman knows what he’s going to make and an artist doesn’t know what he’s going to make,” he once said, “or what the finished product is going to look like.”

These words did echo in my head as I worked on English Elizabeth.  Like Price, I took my fabrics and my technical skills and knew that somewhere I’d end up with a quilt.  But I didn’t know what I was going to make, or what the finished product was going to look like.  My quilts will never hang in a museum, but the journey for this quilt was so different than my usual, that Price’s words resonated.

There’s an interesting energy that comes from trying something new, or to use a cliché: “stepping out of your comfort zone.”  Usually, for me, a quilt begins at the computer, doodling around in my computer program or imitating something I’d seen before, but this process–to create out of whole cloth, literally, was an experience that I found seductive, scary and immensely satisfying.