Quilt Testers In Action

Quilt Testers In Action


Saturday, October 29, 2011

And So It Begins....





Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday In The Garden

Its been a while since you've seen a post here with that title, hasn't it? Things have changed a bit. We had our first snow of the season yesterday. This is what it looks like out back this morning.

And around in front of the house, I'll have to pour some warm water into that birdbath to melt the ice. Or maybe just let the birds practice their hockey, like that bird in the Charlie Brown comic strip, whose name is escaping me right now.

On the deck, where the winter sun doesn't reach, you can sort of see the half inch of ice that came down first. The poor pumpkins haven't even had a chance to develop their personalities yet.

The ice is causing the Rose of Sharon to tilt downhill. I think the plant may be splitting near its base. Not sure what to do about that. If you have any ideas, let me know.

And the ornamental grasses that usually look great for at least the first half of winter? They were so wet from the rain, that the ice and snow that followed completely flattened them. Some of them may stand (partly) back up, but they won't be putting on their best show this winter. 

I hear we have a big storm heading our way tomorrow. Yeah! I wonder where the snow shovels ended up last spring....

Have a great weekend, everybun. Weasley says curl up in the litterbox and stay warm and safe. And don't forget to enter our giveaway. Time's running out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Work In Progress

Its been so gray around here, what with the rain, and now the sleet and snow. I was feeling the need for a little color, so I've been working on this.

There are still a few small colorful details to add. I want to add a thread sketch to the "mirror" (the light yellow space), but I'm not sure how to make the image I want to use fit in the space. I'll probably draw out a few  versions on tracing paper, and audition them in that spot. While drinking hot tea, and eating freshly baked pear cake, and staying out of the snow. The cake smells divine. If I could, I'd send some your way....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weasley's Tutorial-How To Eat An Apple Tree

Hi, everybun! Today I wanted to share my technique for apple tree consumption with you. It can be done in only 7 easy steps.

Step 1. Make sure your Mom and Dad DO NOT spray anything yucky on your apple tree. They may not get very many apples, or they may be weird looking (the apples, that is, we already know the humans are weird looking), but that's OK. You want to make sure your tree is Organic.

Step 2. Have your Mom or Dad go out to the tree frequently to cut fresh branches for you, even if it is pouring rain. Fresh is best!

Step 3. Have your Mom or Dad remove most of the leaves and fruit. I know, these taste so good. But remember, nothing tastes as good as butt baths are bad. Or something like that. I know some of you buns out there know what I mean.

Step3b. While they are getting rid of all that good stuff, encourage your Mom or Dad to leave the side branches as long as possible. This allows you to get extra fun out of your tree, 'cause its really funny to watch humans hop. Mom says these sticks are worse than "damn Legos", whatever that means. I just know its funny. Or it used to be, when I could still see.*

Step 4. Have your Mom and Dad place your fresh sticks in several neat piles around the house. That will allow you to distribute them in the proper manner, to exactly the right locations. See Step 3b above.

Step 5. Whether you stumble across your sticks like I do, or just find them the usual way by looking, the fun part comes next. There are a couple of good ways to eat your sticks. First, you can slowly nibble the bark off, over a period of days. In the spring this can be hard to do. The plump new buds are so tasty, I just want to dive in and devour them all immediately. For a stick that has some age but is not too thick, I like to use the "spaghetti" technique. You can see that in this video Mom made for me.

Step 6. Remember to take frequent breaks, like I showed you at the end of my video. Eating an apple tree is hard work. You don't want to overdo it, and strain yourself.

Step 7. Repeat. Since we are buns, we are persistent, and that apple tree doesn't really stand a chance against us, does it?

Well, I hope you enjoyed my tutorial. If you have an apple tree eating technique that you'd like to share, let us know in a comment.

*Actually, what I do now is just imagine how funny it is. And, I get to do fun stuff like imagine Mom or Dad in clown suits, or with dog noses or kitty ears, or something else strange. A healthy imagination is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting Tangled

Its not unusual for drawings in my sketchbook to look something like the one above. If you are at all familiar with Zentangles, you can see why I would find the idea of them intriguing. But, until last Thursday, I hadn't been able to do much exploration of Zentangles. About all I knew was that they were a structured form of doodling. Then my quilt guild, The Material Girls, had a visit from Pat Ferguson. She is a certified Zentangle instructor, and she also uses Zentangle-type patterns to quilt her quilts.

Pat gave us a little lesson. We created two tangles on tiles she provided during the meeting. I made a couple more in the following days. Apparently doing this is supposed to have a meditative effect. 

I found these to be fun, but trying to remember all the rules was kind of anxiety inducing, which works against the goal. 

Pretty soon I was back to my sketchbook, ignoring rules, and having fun.

I'll probably investigate Zentangle drawings further. If nothing else, it should give me some new ideas for machine quilting my quilts. Sometimes I get stuck quilting the same patterns over and over, and this could get me out of that rut.

And as a bonus, this has spurred me to pick up my sketchbook again. Somehow over the last year, the book had been quite neglected. I think that following the Sketchbook Challenge blog, instead of inspiring me, has been intimidating me. My sketchbooks are very plain, mostly black and white, and may have weird things like grocery lists, and lists of books in among the drawings. They don't compare to the glorious sketchbooks being shown off on that blog. But, it feels good to be drawing again.  So I'm going to keep drawing, in the way that works for me. A little bit zen, a little bit plain, and a little bit random.

 Do you keep a sketchbook? Do you draw Zentangles? Or is your sketchbook something completely different?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Want To Play With Us?

I've been wanting to participate in a quiltie type exchange for some time. Carolyn, over at the Veggie Hunter  recently offered to organize a group exchange. I love her work, so I told her to count me in.

The exchange she is proposing is pretty flexible. Each individual is assigned a month, and provides some fabric for a block. Additional instructions may include a theme, or a certain block, or maybe even a style. You can check out the details of her Quilting Bee here. I hope that after looking,  you will decide to join us in this fun project!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Moose-tacular Giveaway

I love the colors of the foliage in the fall (which, by the way, we don't seem to be experiencing much of this year).  I also love the scent of wood fires and dry leaves, and the sounds the fallen leaves make when you scuff through them. But my favorite part of fall is the sky. The sky is that clear, deep blue that is somehow much richer than the blue at any other time of year.  And yet the sky still has a warmth to it, even on cool days. Maybe its the reflection of light from the changing leaves. I walk outside, open my eyes wide, and just try to soak it all up.

Unfortunately, with all the rain we've been having this fall, we haven't seen much of that sky. Since it rained during most of our trip to Maine, I was able to do a lot of shopping. As promised, I picked up some goodies for a giveaway.

I wish you could sit here in the sun with me this afternoon, so that I could show them to you in person. Maybe while enjoying a cup of tea, and a cookie or two, and drinking in that sky.....

Since it was Maine in the Autumn, I decided to go with a Moose theme. First, in a little shop in York, whose name I unfortunately misplaced, I found a deck of Moose cards. At a stop in Cotton Weeds  Quilt Shop in Freeport, I found a packet of 6 fall colored fat quarters of fabric.

At On Board Fabrics in Edgecomb, I found a fat quarter of Moose fabric, and the silly Moose card. Pins and Needles, in Farmington has fabric, and exquisite yarns. That's where I got the skein of fall colored yarn, which is 73% mohair, and which I can't stop petting.

Finally, at Mooseville, a shop in Farmington with everything Moose, I found a cookie cutter Moose, complete with cookie recipe. I considered the Moose hat, but thought that might be dangerous during the hunting season. The cookie cutter will let you eat your own Moose, without having to get a hunting license.

So that's it. An odd assortment, I guess, but I hope you find it appealing. What do you have to do to win this giveaway? Leave me a comment on this post, by November 1st at 8:00 AM, Eastern Time. Tell me what you like best about Fall, or about Blue, or maybe even about Moose. I'll pick a winner randomly from the comments. If I can get Weasley to do it, I will, but that doesn't seem very likely. Good luck!

Oh, yes. There may be one other item included in the prize. But, that will be a surprise....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nope, Not Coming Out!

Apparently it's raining again. Since I'm an indoor bunny, I don't really know what that means.

What I do know is that I spent all morning looking for one of my sunny spots, and I couldn't find any of them. Not one single spot of sun for my creaky, old bones! 

I'm not coming out again until this rain stops. Let me know if you see the sun, OK?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Exploring Maine

Last month our marriage reached the 25 year mark. We decided to celebrate by exploring some of the beautiful state of Maine for several days before meeting the Younger Daughter for her first Parent's Weekend at The University of Maine, Farmington. Despite uncooperative weather, we had a very pleasant time getting to know a little more of Maine.

The clouds started moving in the moment we got into the car last Wednesday. By the time we got to York for a stop at the outlets and lunch, it was looking quite threatening. The wind kicked up as we walked Short Sands Beach. It was spitting rain for our visit to Cape Neddick (Nubble) Light, but the rapidly moving clouds made for some very dramatic sight-seeing.

We arrived at Docksides Guest Quarters in the late afternoon. The door to our room was a sliding glass door, with an incredible, if rainy, view.  If it had not been pouring buckets of water, we could have been sitting out on our own patio, watching the water. 

The next morning, it was still raining. Hiking or beach combing was preempted by shopping. We made the required pilgrimage to L.L. Bean in Freeport. Its pretty overwhelming,, actually. And there is far more shopping, and some interesting restaurants, to explore in town also, if you have the time.

We took the slow route to Boothbay Harbor from here, exploring the back roads. Even in the rain, the fall colors were very pretty. By dusk, we had arrived at the Atlantic Ark Inn in Boothbay. We crossed the footbridge across the harbor into the main part of town to get dinner.  The quiet over the water, in the mist, was so deep you could feel it.

It was still raining the next morning. We explored the town a bit. Its very good for walking, but a lot of the shops had closed for the season the weekend before. We were able to visit a gallery operated by the Boothbay Regional Art Foundation which was showing the work of some extremely talented regional artists. 

Later in the morning we left Boothbay, and headed inland. Before going very far we stopped to wander around the Edgecomb Potters. The glazes on their pottery are so luscious they almost had me drooling (yes, I bought a piece).  Not only did they have a large amount of pottery displayed outside, but they also had several indoor spaces. One had their pottery displayed alongside gorgeous, locally made jewelry. Really amazing, and often very funny, metalwork was scattered throughout the display.  I particularly liked the donkey. We are probably going to have to visit this place again.

Heading farther inland, we stopped at Bowdoin College to view the Edward Hopper exhibit. The work shown focused mostly on his seascapes done in Maine. Upstairs there was also an interesting collection of Chinese bronze work to see. We'll have to keep an eye on upcoming exhibits here, and visit again.

We also passed through Augusta, right by the Statehouse. If the rain were to ever stop, I imagine it would be a beautiful sight, with the sun shining on it's dome.  

Finally, we reached Farmington, and our reward for enduring all this rain.

Farmington, Maine is a really neat little city. Since it's in ski territory, it doesn't close down for the winter like some of the coastal towns. The University is right on Main Street, and just a couple of blocks down from the center of town. The surrounding area has gallerys, bookstores (new and used), restaurants, coffee shops, gift shops, a gelato shop (yum!), and a quilt/yarn store. We hit town when the local quilt group was holding a "Quilt Walk", where they had quilts hanging in many of the local shops. The one below was in a shop specializing in handmade wooden items, including furniture, toys, and kitchenware.

Even the backstreets make for interesting site seeing. The Younger One thought I was morbid to take this picture, but I thought the ironwork was lovely.

Saturday was our one sunny day, and we spent it exploring the town and campus, hanging out with the kid, and meeting her new friends. We also got a chance to see an exhibit of Japanese woodblock prints at the UMF Art Gallery I wish I had pictures of these to show you, but it wasn't allowed, and I doubt my camera would have done justice to their delicate beauty. 

By Sunday, the clouds were rolling in again. We had thought about doing some hiking, but then found out that the place we were interested in wasn't recommended for hiking during the hunting season. We went for a little drive, and found this small park at a Mill Pond on the edge of town. 

I'm not sure if this walkway is a mill remnant, or a way for fishermen to access the stream. Some of the leftover bits of equipment were interesting to see. Just imagine the patterns you could get on a piece of fabric with that rusty relic.

It was great to see the Daughter, and see how happy she is in Maine. Not long after this, she bought us some gelato (I loved the gingerbread), and told us to get out of town so she could do homework.

Despite the weather, we had a wonderful time on our trip. I'm looking forward to exploring more of Maine over the next few years.
Oh! I almost forgot! I did visit quilt shops on the trip, and as promised, I picked  up a few items for a giveaway. I'll tell you more about that on Thursday. Weasley will see you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Don't Bother Me While I'm Eating Breakfast

I LOVE breakfast! It's one of my favorite times of day, right up there with dinner. And salad. And treats.

And it's so peaceful, 'cause Mom's always off in a corner with her cup of coffee, whatever that is.

What? What's this? Who's there?

Mom! Seriously. The camera at this hour?

I'm going to go complain to Dad.

Don't you hate it when the papparazzi bother you before you've finished your breakfast? I hope all the rest of you buns out there had peaceful morning. With treats. I'm going to hide now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Long Weekend Road Trips

Not to any place exotic, unfortunately. Friday and Monday were spent shuttling the Younger One home from, and then back to, the University of Maine, Farmington. This came about rather suddenly, after a planned visit by a friend fell through. It was good to see her, but I'm glad she was able to help with some of the driving!

It is a very pretty drive. And, I was amazed to see on Monday, how much the colors had changed since Friday. 

We listen to lots of music on these trips. Her iPod has better music than mine, so I take every opportunity to listen to hers.  And we sing along. One of us even has a nice voice. That same one was less than 4 years old when she told her mother to take singing lessons!

I took a lot of pictures as the Daughter was driving. They tend to be blurry, but its hard to resist trying, when the scenery is this good.

The cattle, and horses too, were everywhere, enjoying the unseasonalbly warm weather. The temperature was in the 80's. Maine isn't likely to see that again for a long time.

It was a little sad on the return trip. And the driving was a lot harder. Commuters don't coexist on the road too happily with people returning from their last long weekend of the year at their holiday getaways, who are towing all sorts of weird things behind fully loaded SUV's.

Well, I got home eventually. And today was made happier by the timely arrival of a treat from Natascha over at Natascha's Inspirations. I won one of her plaques in a recent give-away.

This little lady is even prettier in person, and as I suspected, the twinkel in her eye reminds me very much of  Ginny. To be specific, it's Ginny as she would look just before embarking on some escapade that she knew was going to get her into trouble. I love this. Thank you, Natascha.

You may have noticed that there hasn't been a lot of sewing (or anything else for that matter) on this blog of late. That should change starting next week, as my schedule interruptions should decrease (keeping fingers crossed here). To celebrate, I'm planning a give-away of my own. Of what, you ask? Well, that depends on what I happen to find this week when I explore a couple of totally new to me Quilt Shops. Stay tuned for more information, and Weasley will see you tomorrrow.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Couple Of Lessons In Mindfulness

Maintaining focus has always been a problem for me. Sometimes I get too excited about what I'm doing, move to fast, and forget critical steps in what I am doing. Other times I let my mind drift, into a daydream, or more likely into the logistics of what needs to be done for the next event in my life. Either way, the project that I am working on, that I should be staying focused on, goes awry. I like the idea of mindfulness, and being fully present in the NOW, but I seem to constantly forget. Today I managed to experience this twice. 

The first time was when I was working on a Color Palette quilt. This was for the March Color Palette over at Three Creative Studios. I didn't have any ideas for that one at the time, but this week I went back and worked on it. I wanted the effect of a tiled picture frame, with a picture of my girls in the center. Unfortunately, I was thinking about the latest monkey wrench that my family has thrown into my plans for this week, and got ahead of myself. I actually trimmed two sides before quilting. I caught myself, did the quilting, and then finished the trimming. Unfortunately, my error meant that the small area outside the "tiles" was uneven. I had intended to add a dark binding, but thought that would emphasize the unevenness. Instead, I just zigzagged the edges, in a thread that matched the background. This is the final result.

Its not too visible in the picture, but above the girls I used thread sketching to add the word "sisters", and below the picture "friends". A cliche, perhaps, but also true. I'm very glad about that.

Now, for what you are really waiting for on Wednesday. I decide to try making a little film of the Old Man moving through the house to his food dish. This is when I got my second lesson in mindfulness for the day. The filming went well, and Weasley put on a good show. He was moving much faster than he usually does. I didn't realize till I uploaded it that the second half of the video is sideways. I often take pictures with the camera in that orientation, and apparently I turned the camera sideways without even giving it a thought.

I have no idea how to fix that, and I couldn't get Weasley to repeat his trek, so I uploaded it like this. Consider this a fair warning, if you decide to watch this, you may end up with a crick in your neck! You'll hear the radio on playing NPR in the background. I keep it on to help him orient himself in space. And the "thunk" you hear when he gets to the crate? That's what happens when he moves too fast. Good thing he seems to have a hard head.

As for my hard head, Well, I'm not sure. Having an air horn go off every so often would bring me back to the present, but that might be bad if I had the rotary cutter in my hand at the time. And it would probably make Weasley a nervous wreck. What tricks do you use to stay focused?