stuff and things

21 December 2010

Love Blankie Number Nine ... or Twelve...

Here is the twelfth flannel Rag Quilt I've made -- with tons of help from Mom and Alice, Andy's mom. Mostly I make them out of a need to give a fuzzy, warm fabric hug to family and friends: despite the fact that each time I finish one, I say, "Never again!"
This weekend's Love Blankie, the most "neutral" colors I've worked with. Thanks, Mom and Alice!
It's all Betty C.'s fault.

Okay, that sounds a bit harsh. I should say, when Betty introduced the flannel Rag Quilt to our Brownie Troop small group, I fell in love and immediately wanted to make one for Andy's Valentine's Day present. In reds, pinks, plums and blues, I pieced dots, checks, wild prints and just everything. To this day, Andy's Love Blankie remains my favorite. Even the blocks on the reverse side are different, another "Never again."
Andy's Love Blankie, my first and I think, my most joyful.
Dr. Susan's Love Blankie, in a rare palette for me, blues.
A birthday blankie for Ellen Anne Eddy, from Sue V. and me.
A "just because" gift for my astanga yoga teacher, Sean. He took forever picking out the fabrics. When he was killed in a freak car accident at age 32, I asked for the quilt back, as a remembrance. His mom said she gave it to the Goodwill. Sigh.
A quilt for Mommy; she says it's the prettiest of all the Blankies. (unsnipped).
Cousins Gabe and Joe, up in Taos, N.M., where the warm and cozy quilts will be welcome.
Why "Never Again,"? Well, the piecing is easy; but it's all the snipping along the seam allowences, that you keep to the right side of the quilt. After snipping (where you engage friends, family, random acquaintances ...) you wash and dry as many times as you have patience for. A great result ... if you can recruit for the snipping process.

Four quilts are still missing, photo-wise: Alice's, Tim's, Chris' and Wendy's. But I'm sure you get the idea. If you want a tutorial on how to make these crowd-pleasers, please email or, better yet, comment.
Happy Happy!

13 December 2010

Design Wall Monday

Note to self: In the odd event that I find myself hand-piecing ever again, know that squaring up the quilt with the rotary cutter will delete all those nice little finishing knots, causing the seam tips to work their way open.

Instead of blithely sewing on the final borders on my star quilt, which I have elected to make public here, I am machine-stitching reinforcements onto the seam ends.

Coupled with the fact that the sewer-line repair going on outside my studio features a jackhammer that perfectly mimics sniper fire ... and we have a bit of a mood going on this morning.

Not to mention that my cold seems to have returned, with an early-morning coughing jag to beat the band -- causing me to call a sub for my yoga class. And I love teaching my yoga class.

Thank goodness for quiltmaking! Or any form of creativity, for that matter.

Without any more ado, I present Night Star. I've entered it into the next Quilt Visions Critique Group show, but it's larger than most of the art quilts entered, so I'm not going to be too attached to getting juried-in. I hope to finish the quilting by the late January deadline ... if I ever get those borders on.
Night Star, by Tina Rathbone, c. 56" x 56', 2010
One tip I can share for sewing a border onto a quilt that seems ruffly is to sew pretending it's a collar on a shirt: sew from the middle of the border out to each end. Also, why not baste it, first? The bottom border needs to be enlarged a bit, then sewn on, and finally the top border (so please imagine it in place).

The inspiration for Night Star came when I observed a huge pile of leftover strips from my king-sized quilt, Joie de Vivre. In one of my books, "String Piecing with Style," I saw a string-pieced star, and was motivated to design my own Star quilt.

Another tip: Never, ever use tracing paper as your foundation, especially if the quilt is destined to sit in your UFO pile for several years -- unless you have a thing for tweezing out tiny fragments of paper. (Thanks, Gabe!) I chose it because it was an expensive, archival (acid free) paper, but still. My friend Sandi recommends lightweight interfacing for string piecing, that she just leaves in. Sounds good to me for my next Lone Star.

Yeah, that'll be the day!
Thanks for visiting, and please leave comments. I love your comments!

03 December 2010

Quality Control

Most of the quilters/art quilters/fiber artists or whatever you want to call 'em of my acquaintance are super arty: dye-painting and sun-printing their fabrics; beading and hand-stitching them into shape; embellishing with vintage earrings and vintage pajamas, etc. The ones who prefer strip-piecing seem to be buying their strips pre-cut, in lines of fabrics from a single manufacturer, like Hoffman or Moda. Then they buy quilt patterns that use that size of strip.

They are all having fun.

These people are smarter than I am.

Tonight, December's first Friday, am I attending a fabulous soiree? Dining under candlelight? Listening to an obscure jazz quartet? Walking on a deserted beach with the one I love? Swilling eggnog? Nope; I'm cutting 1.25" strips from questionable fabric way-left-over from this UFO. And most of it qualifies as scraps, i.e., off-grain. That means ruffly to you non-fiber people.

My girl kitty, Lotus Blue, decided to step in for some much-needed quality control.
Finally, a quilting angel has walked in

Let's give a nudge to the left!

Now that's looking a bit better!
 Hugs, Love, and Happy Holidays to all! Oh, and because we're on the kitty topic (what, again?), remember Carl Sandburg's classic poem where "the fog creeps in on little cats' feet." Or something like that.
Fog bank off Sunset Cliffs, December 3rd, 2010

24 November 2010

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

I've finally jumped the shark: I'm hand-piecing a quilt. And I'm actually enjoying myself! I don't really get the part about skipping the seam allowances, though, so if any of you readers know about hand-piecing, please shout out!

As I'm still trying to keep my quilt secret, however, I can't show a picture. Instead, here's a shot of this evening's sunset for your viewing pleasure:
Sunset at Sunset Cliffs, 11-24-10
I hope every one of you has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I'm grateful for you, who visit my blog. It's been such fun, writing about and showing my art and life.

19 November 2010

A Busy Friday ...

Tip: When you find yourself humming the theme song to "Mr. Ed" over and over inside your head, it's time to put on some music.

Of course, it beats the "Green Acres" theme song hands down; which Andy and I sing to each other with great vim and vigor more often than it's safe to admit. (We have it down.)

But life is not all about early '60s television theme songs.

I know I've been lax in posting here. I mean, just how many sea urchin videos can a person take in? But a new deadline has lit another fire under my butt, and of course I had to clean my studio from top to bottom before I could begin. (I don't do piles.)

The Quilt Visions Member Critique Group has been invited to submit quilts for a new show -- we open sometime this Spring at the Visions Art Museum down at NTC. In order to qualify for getting juried in, however, our quilt must be ready to photograph by December 3rd. I just found this out last week. Eeek!

As my entry's sooper-secret, I can't show it here. Instead, I'll show a quilt from our collection: one "Salmon Flash," by Nelda Warkentin.

Notice how Salmon Flash changes with the light of day? Nelda's from Alaska, where I guess they know all about salmon flashes.

We purchased this stunning art quilt from the big, biennial Quilt Visions show held back in 2006, I believe. To see a more recent quilt by Nelda, and other contemporary quilt/fiber art from around the globe, don't miss the current show, Quilt Visions: No Boundaries, at the charming Oceanside Art Museum.

09 November 2010


Sea Urchin present and accounted for.
Haven't posted much here lately: I've had a terrible cold -- missing all the fun -- and these early fall months are all about fun. Sadly, I'm unfit for public display. And therein lies the root of today's tale.

Maybe you've done it, or maybe someone's done it to you: You tell someone to close their eyes, hold out their hands, and you'll give them a surprise. Well, I haven't been doing much cooking lately, by popular choice -- in fact, no one will even let me near the kitchen, gross as I am right now. And spouse Andy has been pretty busy building websites and such. Thank goodness for takeout. So when he went off to shop for our upcoming Croatian Festa and dinner blowout, I asked him to bring me some veggie selections from Ocean Beach People's deli counter.

When he arrived home I ran over from the couch (it was 12:30 p.m. and I was starving-- I don't do breakfast) ... where I was hand-sewing the binding onto Tropical Sundance. He bade me close my eyes and hold out both hands. I did so, with gusto. Of course I was expecting my palms to be filled with little containers of tofu something-or-other and a salad. When he plopped a baggie-wrapped parcel into my hands, it wriggled on my palms! Then I opened my eyes. More parts wriggled.

It was spiky, black and alive. I screamed. Then I started crying.

My husband had given me the worst scare in my life. A large, very much alive sea urchin, its spikes digging through the baggie into my flattened, outstretched palms, was not quite what I'd expected for my lunch surprise. Andy seemed rather deflated at my response. Strangely enough, when I went downstairs, sobbing, to check on the kitties' response (I thought they'd be scared to death, as I'd managed a rather loud and blood-curdling scream), they sat non-plussed on the bed.

What I want to know is, since when have I become such a ruddy crybaby? I'm the girl, who, at Hospitals surf break, over near La Jolla, walked into the tidepools, pried off a living sea urchin, broke it open with my thumbs, and ate the raw, lovely, unctuous meat right there and then, chin to the sky, in my bikini. That was only 32 year ago ... how can I have changed a bit?
Happy Lunch Surprise?

30 October 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre, Tina Rathbone, c.2000
For my entry into this fall's Blogger's Quilt Festival, I submit Joie de Vivre, another quilt of many "firsts." Completed in 2000, it marks the first time I participated in a quilt block swap, my first log cabin, my first king-sized quilt, my first professionally quilted quilt, and my first quilt to be displayed in a small quilt show.

The Brownie Troop, my Wednesday quilt group, comes up with group projects from time to time. One of our members, I forget who, suggested this block: a log cabin with a starter square in grey and then alternating black and white strips in any width, with a colored strip stuck in somewhere. We each made 12 of the same block, and I was off! Of course I needed many, many more blocks to get up to king-sized, so I solicited blocks from other quiltmakers, from my guild and beyond. They riffed on the idea by adding more than one colored strip per block, and soon each block became a story in itself. So many of my friends contributed blocks, with such an astounding variety of black and white prints: I could gaze at it for hours, and often do.

We ended up showing our Black and White quilts in a little show at our guild. Here are some others, and Brownies, please email me and tell me which one is yours so I can add captions and give you credit for your marvelous creations.

Aren't I lucky that the Brownies let me hang out with them? :)

The Brownie Troop Does Black and White, 2000

25 October 2010

Design Wall Monday

Judith Lasater in Tree Pose
Andy says I'm great at making large or intricate, two-year minimum quilts. When it comes to quickly producing one, however, it's never happened. So when Quilt Visions announced its "Leaves and Trees" member challenge, I pictured myself whipping out the requisite 12-inch quilt within the deadline and dazzling Andy. Well, it didn't happen. The Catalina trip came up, but that was only a week long, so that's no excuse. The real reason for not finishing it was that I think my concept was too corny.

I was a writer long before I was a quilter, so often the title precedes the quilt. For my "Leaves and Trees," my thought was to applique a person doing the yoga "tree pose" onto a Palm Leaves background. Get it? Leaves and trees. Yeah, it's corny. Should I even continue with it? I am an Ashtanga yoga instructor, by the way. Here's my yoga-related website.
A start on stitched yogi, with redwood bark for inspiration
The stitching at left is just the foundation for a very densely worked free-motion embroidered figure, to be cut-out on the outline and sewn onto the background. The bobbin's there to give you a sense of scale.
I wanted texture, by adding dyed cheese cloth and maybe some yarns, to give the figure a tree-bark feeling. The piece of redwood was from some firewood we bought and took to our campsite, by the way.

In the image below, you can see the Palm Leaves background. It reminds me of the brilliant fall treetops and bright blue sky we saw at Big Sur.

A block comprised of four Palm Leaf blocks
To give you an idea of how the finished figure will look (if I go on with this), here is a nudibranch I free-motion embroidered, inspired by a class I took with Ellen Anne Eddy, a wonderful and fearless quiltmaker. To see a fabulous photo gallery of actual nudibranchs, click here.
My earliest free-motion machine embroidery, awaiting an environment of its very own.
As always, thanks for reading, and please subscribe to my blog! Comments are most enjoyed and welcome.

22 October 2010

Free Tuesday in the Park

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans ..." I've often heard this, thinking, 'Oh, just another slogan.' But, like many cliches, it's true. I'm sincerely trying to finish the epic Wine Country Ukulele Festival post, but in the meantime so much other stuff has happened. Like sailing to Catalina ... and Tuesday's adventure.

That morning a romantic sprinkle descended on our home. A look at my calendar told me that this "Free Tuesday in the Park," Balboa Park's salute to locals, was my favorite mix of venues: the Mingei International Museum of Folkart, Craft and Design; the Japanese Friendship Garden; the Museum of Man and the San Diego Museum of Art. Admission's free to local residents.

I slept in late after my [yoga] teaching week, but with jolt of Andy's coffee, I was ready to head to the park -- rain or no rain. For awhile, we dithered. After seeing the first raindrops on the patio, I was willing to settle in and munch my Serrano ham and "Three Cheeses" (sheep, cow and goat) sandwich -- a new taste from Pato Negro, our favorite Spanish food purveyor -- with a crisp glass of Albarino.

We rallied, however, arriving at the park around noon. We thought the soggy weather would discourage most people and make parking a breeze; apparently, the rest of San Diego thought so, too. Say, have you walked in the rain with the one you love lately? Of course it's romantic, but there's also a certain sense of heightened perception. The darkened skies send a signal for the flowers and trees below to go neon. We shared an umbrella; Andy wisely bringing his, and me saying back at the house -- "Oh, I never carry an umbrella." Well, after today's steady downpour I just might mend my ways.

Our first stop was the Japanese Friendship Garden. Even the eaves are slatted, so we had no real shelter ... but the koi were so magnificent that we braved giant raindrops in our entrancement. Koi fish really do grow to three feet in length!

Next, we trooped over to the Mingei to check out the Romanian folk art exhibit, "Between East and West." The costumes were great, and even the rooms wore clothes: intricate hangings on walls and beds, in every possible form of needlework. The real surprise, however, was across the hall: the Zandra Rhodes installation. For some reason I thought it was coming later this year, but no; and Go, go, go! This designer got her start in London's hippie heyday, but I mostly know her through her work with the San Diego Opera. She designed a fanciful set and costumes for a fun production of "The Magic Flute," and later did an even more magical job for SDOpera's "The Pearl Fishers."

We encountered a wait for lunch at Prado, so decided to buzz through The Museum of Man while the crowds died down. We were both soaked, chilled and hungry, however, so after a desultory pass through the paleoanthropology displays, we made a beeline back to Prado, where we enjoyed one of the best meals (and waiters: ask for Scott) we've eaten in a restaurant. Tip: ask Scott about his favorite Malbec. And so ended a perfect rainy day; we never made it to the Toulouse-Latrec show over at the SD Museum of Art, but free Tuesdays come every week, and we'll make it next month.

07 October 2010

I'm Back, and Blogging!

You'll never believe this: We went somewhere else! Our dear friends Bud and Gaynor phoned us while we were camping in Big Sur (a chapter we haven't even gotten to yet), inviting us on a unexpected, sudden and spontaneous sailing trip to Santa Catalina Island on their beautiful J Boat, Rum Funny. Duh! Of course we said yes. Did I mention it was unexpected?
Bud and Gaynor en route to Santa Catalina Island
That's why I've been absent -- and thanks to all the friends who've called, concerned. We're safe, we're trying to catch up here around the house, and I'm itching to finish the Wine Country write-up so I can get busy telling you all about Catalina.
Background for my "Leaves and Trees" challenge quilt
Right now, however, I need to work on my entry for the Quilt Visions Member Challenge, "Leaves and Trees." The deadline's tomorrow! Ack! So far, I've created this "Palm Leaf" background, inspired by Peggy Martin's "Cactus Tree" quilt. See the brilliant fall foliage as you look up to a blazing blue fall sky? Paper-piecing really eased the process. I've never worked in a 12" by 12" format before: it seems a bit cramped. Also, this challenge requires embroidery, and I have a plan. Stay tuned!

27 September 2010

Day Two of our Vacation: Paso Robles

I always intend to bring a Spanish/English dictionary with me on road trips. So many of our California place-names are Spanish, and I hate it when I can't figure out what something means. Originally, Paso Robles was called Paso de Robles, or Pass of the Oaks. Yes, I looked it up. There must be some connection between Live Oaks and good wine soil; it seems that Live Oak trees are everywhere in wine country. But no place has as many as Paso Robles.
California Live Oak, dripping with Spanish Moss

Wisely, we chose to eat a proper breakfast before our day of wine-tasting, so we headed to the food website Chowhound for recommendations from fellow travelers. Everyone seemed to like Chico's Cafe, right in the middle of the town's plaza with a view to the park. Andy opted for a fruit bowl instead of bacon; it was beautiful as well as delicious.
Chico's Cafe: highly recommended
We decided to put off wine tasting for a walk in the park and a brief tour of the Paso Robles Historical museum, housed in an old Carnegie Library building, where we shuddered at the sight of an 1890's surgical saw.

Our next stop was the Chamber of Commerce for an up-to-date winery map. As the fastest growing wine region in California, Paso Robles offers repeat visitors a constant round of new tasting rooms. This time I wanted to focus on the zinfandel varietal. While on Chowhound I'd learned of a young woman who has restored her Italian grandfather's 80-year old vineyard; where formerly Dante Dusi sold his grapes to other winemakers, now Janelle Dusi creates her own wines. The staff at the Chamber were so helpful, directing us to the Zoller wine-tasting room as a possible source of J.Dusi wine.

We lucked out, because Zoller is open only three days a week; we met the winemaker, Signe Zoller, who makes wines under the Zoller label but also works with other growers who want help blending their wines. They didn't stock J.Dusi, but Signe made a quick phone call and discovered that we could buy it at the 15c wine shop, down in Templeton next to the Trader Joe's. How nice was that? We ended up liking Signe's wines very much, walking out with a fragrant '09 Twin Coyotes Vermentino, an '08 Zoller Primitivo, and an inspired '07 Gr8ass (ha ha) Cabernet.
Andy "checks-in" on Foursquare at Zoller
Another stroke of luck: we'd already planned to hit Trader Joe's next to stock the cooler for lunches and snacks. Apart from buying a J.Dusi zin, the day's only other goal was to taste once again at Justin, where we used to be wine club members.

The 15c Wine Shop and Bar was all about celebrating Spanish food and culture. Ali, the owner, flitted between helping two Spanish women create tapas to serving her customers. Her wine selection was local, enormous and fascinating -- but a J.Dusi Zinfandel was not in the cards as Ali had sold her last bottle the previous night. We promised to return on the way back home, but tucked a bottle of J.Dusi Carignane '08 into our cart just in case.

Our next stop was Turley Wine Cellars, a specialist in old-vine Zins. Some of their tastings came from 100+ year-old vines! And how wonderful they were. A bonus: our server was a quilter. We found a "Dusi"-vineyard Zin, made not by Janelle, but from grapes from her uncle's vineyard. The Dusi family seems to have deep roots here in Paso Robles.

At Jada we enjoyed some delicious wines. At $50, my favorite, the '08 Hell's Kitchen, a blend of estate syrah, grenach and mourvedre, was beyond our budget. Instead, we ended up with the most delightful and powerful Rose, the 1149. Onto Opolo, where Andy's Droid X phone told us we could check-in through Foursquare and recieve free wine tastings. (Most tastings cost from $5 to $10, in Paso -- much more in Napa!-- but generally you taste for free if you buy wine.)

Lindsay, our delightful server, had the gift of gab. We enjoyed many delicious samplings, although a bit of confusion arose as we told her about the free tasting with the Foursquare check-in and she thought that meant a check-in at their little inn. Apparently she hadn't been kept up to date on the tech-guy's Foursquare promotion. We came away with a fab Cabernet Franc, a Zin, and a Sangiovese, two of which we enjoyed with meals on the rest of the trip.

Justin, our final stop, proved as lovely as ever.
A plus: we managed to finagle a dinner reservation at their highly regarded, five-table restaurant. I happened to have a change of clothes with me, so traded my dusty shorts for my Hawaiian dress, but Andy, ever the good sport, ate in this elegant restaurant in his t-shirt and shorts. They assured us over and over that casual was just fine with them, and made us feel more than welcome. We went nuts over their '08 Orphan, a wine made from, shall we say, leftovers. At only $20, it was a steal.
Enjoying the ambiance at Justin Winery
After a romantic, star-lit drive back to our motel, a deep sleep proved to be the perfect cap to a wonderful day.

23 September 2010

Santa Ynez panorama, by Andy Rathbone

Yesterday's post featured a rather anemic version of the panorama shot. Thanks to flickr, you can click the photo now and it appears on flickr; click it again to see the gorgeous, large version. It's worth seeing! More about the trip to come ...

22 September 2010

We've Been on Vacation!

Breaking news: The Rathbones allegedly left their house and took a vacation! Film at eleven.

I joke, but clearly we don't get out as much as we should. Our recent road trip to the Third Annual Wine Country Ukulele Festival, packed with picnics, wine tasting, scenery, good eating, heaps of ukulele, and camping, was just the getaway we needed. Oh, and we survived the Bates Motel (Hitchcock's setting for Psycho), too, but that's another story.

We don't do airplanes. Andy's mom, a constant traveler, thinks we're Luddites. But at this stage in our lives, fortunately, we're not needed anywhere we'd have to fly, so we confine our travels to places we can drive. Maybe country music star Ray Stevens puts it best: "I don't think God intended for man to fly. It says right there in the Bible, 'Lo, I am with you always.' It don't say nothin' about high."

With us, it's not exactly fear; instead, we feel that flying the unfriendly skies has become demeaning, uncomfortable, tense, tedious, and just no fun anymore. So we drive.

Day One:
Usually we get a late start because there's so much to pack into the SUV. We always bring food and provisions: a cooler; a burner; a casserole for our first night's dinner in our motel room (usually a boeuf Bourguignon, the classic beef/wine stew); dishes and cutlery, and wine. This time, we also schlepped a tent, sleeping bags, and things like tarps and axes, hoping to sample some campgrounds on the way back home.

This trip, amazingly, we were ready to head out by 9 a.m., until our white kitty, Lotus, proved impossible to find (they're indoor cats). We searched, cruised the neighborhood, and notified our neighbors and mail carrier. We called and cajoled. We shook treats harder than Brian Jones on the tambourine. Our moms drove over to help search. Three hours later we found her on a closet shelf we must have missed. She stared back at us, like, "What's the big deal?" Cats!

So it was that we passed Santa Barbara pretty late, around four p.m. At the shortcut suggestion of Andy's Droid phone, we spurned our usual coastal route and turned east on 154 just north of Santa Barbara. I thought it'd be strip malls and ugliness, but as we headed through the San Marcos Pass into the Santa Ynez valley, we were stunned at the wildness of the place. Another lesson on not giving into my expectations, as we found it so unspoiled, and such a beautiful hour to be cresting the pass.
Heading toward Los Olivos via the San Marcos Pass
We decided to make time for the vista point shortly ahead. Andy's phone has a panorama feature that can "stitch" several photos together, so he captured the scene below, looking north back towards the coast.
View of coast (to left) and the Santa Ynez Mountains
As the sun started to set, we arrived hungry in Los Olivos. We settled on the old stagecoach hotel, circa 1886, now Brother's Restaurant at Matteis Tavern. We shared two soups: fresh corn, and a wow! heirloom tomato; then sipped a glass of local Brander Sauvignon Blanc with our pear/pecan salads. Did I mention the huge plate of at least six types of home-baked breads and butter that came with the table? Mmmmm. Duly fortified, we headed on up the road to Paso Robles, a surprisingly longer journey than I'd pictured. Stay tuned, and please leave a comment.

06 September 2010

Design Wall Monday

Eccliastes 3 reminds me that: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

I guess that means there's a time to make more subdued quilts after flaming, "grab your sunglasses" quilts like Tropical Sundance. But following on Sundance's tail, my next UFO to finish, "Morning After the Storm," seems so ... plain.
Morning After the Storm, 2010, in progress, Tina Rathbone
This traditional quilt pattern, called "Storm at Sea," is one of my faves. I've always loved the way the squares and diagonals link to give a sense of circles within circles, and even hearts — adding motion that probably inspired the "storm" in the name. Can't see the circles? Squint.

Three years ago, the members of my Wednesday group, the Brownie Troop, voted that each member would pick her dream quilt and the other members would make blocks for it. Much hilarity and delight ensued as we added more blocks for each quilt with every new meeting. I chose paper-piecing as Morning's construction method, because accuracy is important for this particular quilt, and it is said that no two quilters have the same idea of a quarter-inch seam allowance. I found a free pattern on the Internet; after photo-copying the three main blocks I passed them out to my fellow Brownies, along with a sheet specifying the fabric "mood" (sea-life) and also the values (placement of lights and darks).
"Mysterious Sea Creature" trapunto design
When all was assembled and it was time to quilt, I chose to add trapunto, a stuffing-within-a design technique harkening back to the Italian Renaissance. I took advantage of an ingenious, quicker method developed by author and designer Hari Walner, using water-soluble thread and double layers of batting.
I know the quilt was already pretty busy before I added the trapunto but I wanted to try this out, so I drew up four basic designs: "Mysterious Sea Creature," "Clam," "Seaweed," and "Sand Dollar." A few blocks still remain to be quilted around the raised, stuffed portions, using a fine (#100) silk thread, and a tiny (#60 sharp) needle to enhance the dimensionality.
"Sand Dollar" stuffed trapunto design
Now that it's back on the design wall, I'm thinking of doing an extreme paper-pieced border, showing sunrises all around the quilt. In keeping with the "Morning After the Storm" theme. Stay tuned, and please, comment with your feedback.

03 September 2010

My All-Time Favorite Quilting Tool

These two...
Chevy, bottom, and Lotus Blue, top.
...are the reason why this ...
My lint roller, most-beloved quilting tool. my sexiest, all-time favorite, most-revered quilting tool. Any questions?

Oh, it also comes in handy for removing cat fur from clothing: Lotus, the white kitty, favors a nap under my long black skirts. Chevy likes my white shirt shelf. It's a conspiracy.

It's funny, but Lotus, the original Captain Courageous, jumps off the work table when the lint roller gets rollin'. Steam irons, vacuum cleaners, precipitious heights, scary crows, annoying trash trucks on Monday mornings -- nothing fazes her more than the lint roller. Maybe she's protesting that she's taken care to adorn my fabrics with her precious DNA and I'm undoing all her hard work?

Don't tell any of them, but the members of my Wednesday group, The Brownie Troop, are getting a lint-roller five-pack for gifts. Usually, when a member travels, she brings back fat quarters for all. I never go anywhere (I'm not complaining: I love my home); but when I do travel, I end up in countries with lousy fabrics (i.e., Costa Rica; Mexico, etc). Instead of fat quarters (a quarter-yard of fabric, but cut on the width instead of the length, 22" by 18") I try to give little gifts now and again, or make a nice lunch here and there, when it's my turn to host. Now if only we could become the Pizza Troop! :)

01 September 2010

Tropical Sundance: Finished and ready to quilt

By now, gentle Reader, you're probably wondering if the title of this blog shouldn't be changed from "Artelicious" to "Tropical Sundance." Here's one last view of my latest quilt, now that it's all sewn together and awaiting a session with a longarm quilting machine. (There's no way I'm gonna try and drag this sucker under my home sewing machine: Bernina or no Bernina.)
Tropical Sundance: Finished and ready to quilt, 2010, 52"x 64"
As long as we're on this Tropical Sundance thread, I can tell you a story about it. Years ago, I bought the pattern at the urging of several friends, who all decided to make it and swap fabrics for it, too. For some long-forgotten reason, I didn't get in on the swap, and left my quilt in my UFO (Unfinished Fiber Object) box until just this June.
Anyways, let's see what the other quilts look like!
Here's Sue's:
Sue's Tropical Sundance quilt, 2005
Here's Sandi's:
Sandi's take on Tropical Sundance, Kollaboration, 2005
Here's Kerry's version; she enlarged hers to become square:
Kerry's version, called Jungle Dance, 2004
And here's Darlene's quilt:
Darlene's rendition of Tropical Sundance, 2005
I love them all! I'll miss working with these bright colors, but I'm happy to be moving on to the next UFO.