Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Those irritating word verifications

I thought I had freed my blog from those irritating word verifications a while ago but just discovered that either my change did not take or something got changed without my knowledge and they were still there. Anyway, I have once again removed them--or tried to remove them.  And now I am not so sure I want to.  I, like many of web users, have found them annoying and recently they seemed to get downright difficult to read.  But then I discovered why.  Instead of a waste of time, each of us, when we copy the words down correctly, is adding to the knowledge base of the world--well, the English-speaking world, anyway.

Here is the explanation:

All this appeals to the geek-side of my nature, but it may not appeal to you, my readers, who may not want to jump such a hurdle just to comment on one of my posts.

Any thoughts?

And if I didn't entirely lose you to the TED talk and you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Square One and Beyond

I wrote all my previous post before I actually sat down and did my first square. I began by trying to decide what line pattern I would do and, since the line is supposed to reflect the day I am having, I finally opted for serendipity just letting one stitch lead to another. I grabbed some purple thread--this was definitely a purple day-- and I had a great time making curves that matched or sort of matched. I kept wanting to do one more row of stitches until more than half an hour had passed (there were, of course, interruptions) and I had to move on to other things. 
But when I looked at the finished product I saw---imperfections.  This stitch was a little awry.  This curve could have been deeper. As I cleaned out the dishwasher, I saw the light: this little square was indeed a reflection of the day (perhaps life?)--in the midst of the process I was enjoying myself, and even though the final result was less than perfect, that joy was still there. If only perfect days brought happiness, would we ever smile? So I decided not to do it over but keep it as a reminder that the first attempt at anything is usually tentative. These are supposed to be quick gestures, not well planned, complex pieces.

And this day brought much, much happiness. All of my kids, kids-in-law, and grandkids, who all live more than seven hours away and are very busy people, colluded with my husband and neighbors to surprise me at my birthday supper. The delicious chaos of the next two days put my resolution to the test, but I managed to make a square each day and now there are seven. I told myself that all I had to do was five minutes--and that rule may mean this project has a chance of succeeding. Only time will tell if this collection of squares becomes anything of value.
The last two represent my battling a cold with a fever when there seemed to be a large ugly mountain I had to climb in order to get anything done (penultimate square) and then when I just wanted to collapse in a small heap (last square). Today's square should be a bit more upbeat.

And, if you are still with me, thanks for the company!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Old Enough to Know Better

Today is my birthday--not just any birthday, but birthday number 65. Haven't sorted out how that makes me feel--horrified, happy, contemplative, depressed, celebratory, grateful, giddy, fearful, wise, hopelessly ignorant, daring, careful, stressed, determined, energized, lachrymose (a great word I don't get much occasion to use), experienced, carefree, . . .old? Regardless of how I feel, it seems to be a milestone that should be marked in some way in fabric and thread.                                                                              

So I have given myself a challenge (Just what I needed, another challenge!): every day for the next 65 days I will do some hand stitching with perle cotton for at least five minutes on a three-inch square of fabric (a different one each day).  Well, it is actually a four-inch square of fabric that can then be squared up, if I need or want to, into a three-inch finished square. I have even prepared for this event by dyeing some gorgeous deep and golden yellow fabric.

Each day I will choose a shade of yellow and a color of thread, depending on my mood or whim, and stitch a line or lines across the square--lines of any kind, with the only limitation being that the final design should not be a representation of anything.  I thought lines were appropriate since I have managed to acquire a nice collection of them over the years and we could get symbolic here about paths followed or some such.

But I am intrigued to see what will come of this.  I rejected several more complicated options I had thought up because there will be some days coming up when I will not have a lot of time.  But I should always be able to find at least five minutes. And I am currently in love with hand-stitching with perle cotton so I will have a little extra motivation to get started each day. And perhaps these little squares will have some aspects of a diary--reflecting something of the day on which each is made.

And if you are still with me, thanks for the company!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Beauty of Spiders

If you think spiders are only good as the stars of horror movies,take a look at the link below. Perhaps someone will give me a trip to London as an early Christmas present. . . .  Just hope all those folks milking the spiders and doing the amazing trapunto-like stitching were paid appropriately for their work.

And I apologize for not having an eye-candy picture here. I tried several ways to paste the video in but none of them worked, and I need to get back to the project on my working wall. So I will have to figure it out another occasion.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I got an award! My friend Frauke, from Germany, was the source of this honor and appropriately so since the award originated in Germany, although I think it is all over the world now. Frauke writes a lively blog that is energized by her artwork as she fearlessly puts together colors and patterns that she somehow tweaks and rearranges into an integrated whole with a rhythm and a beauty all its own. And a cat or two might wander in as well.

The Leibster award is given by bloggers to exceptional blogs with fewer than 200 followers. For those who decide to accept the award, the Liebster Rules are:

  1.  Post about your win on your blog.
  2.  Link back to the blogger who presented you with the award.
  3.  Copy and paste the award to your blog.
  4.  Present the Liebster Award to 5 blogs that have less than 200 followers that you think deserve to be recognized.
  5.  Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. 
So here are my choices of blogs that deserve recognition:

Hillscreek Quilter because it's always interesting to see what Anya has come up with--sometimes it's an update on her getting-closer-to-being-finished Dear Jane quilt, sometimes a fascinating video she has discovered, sometimes just an insightful comment on the quilting life--or just life.

Hanging on by a Needle and Thread because Susan's blog, like her creations out of yarn or fabric, reflect her life, whether she is making a hat for a grandchild or an art quilt for a challenge group. Her dedication to making small quilts to be donated for Alzheimer's research is admirable.

Cotton Cellar because Kathy is a relative newcomer to the world of blogging and is an amazing font of creative ideas about how you can make something useful and beautiful out of a pile of fabric. She is also one of the most organized people I know. 

Ester Kiely because Ester has a fierce love all things Irish, particularly Irish textiles, and has worked hard to promote them and her own considerable talent as well as encourage other Irish artists and crafters.

Inside Outside Art because Regina is also somewhat new to blogging and her hand stitching just blows me away!

Whew! Those decisions were harder than I thought they would be.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

And Yet Another Deadline. . .

Last summer one of my suitemates at Quilting by the Lake invited me to join a challenge group she was forming. By November we had introduced ourselves to each other--there are six of us from various points in the US as well as Germany--and had decided on a name for the group: Art 1016, which references the Golden Ratio and the dimensions of the quilts we will be making (at least 10 and not more than 16 inches). One member provided us with our challenge word on January 1--"connection"--and we had until February 29 to make our interpretation of that word into a quilt.

And here is my version:

This "everything is connected" theme keeps showing up in my quilting, particularly in the Celtic knotwork I do, and, ultimately, the colors I chose for this piece could easily suggest natural elements. 
This design began life as a series of smooth swirls:
But as I began to create these swirls in fabric, they began to look a little lifeless, a little too predictable and the more free-form edges I tried one day seemed to look more organic and interesting. I, of course, didn't take pictures of the fabrics in the smooth stage so you can't make a real comparison.

And I added other suggestions of connection to the final version when I braided the gold thread and wove the pearl cotton in the two open areas on the right and left sides. The dimensions are, of course, 10 x 16 inches. If you want to see how the other members of Art 1016 met this challenge, go to our blog

And now, I am not going to think about deadlines but just spend some time with some of my bigger projects. Deadlines do get me moving, focus my attention, provide a time when the quilt is done and I can't add or change just one more thing, and add a small explosion of excitement as you see what the results are.  But I need to wander my own path for a while at my own speed. Right now I am delighting in working on a project that has grown out of the Elizabeth Barton class I took. Perhaps it is because I am not following any rules except my own, but perhaps the delight is all the sweeter because of the contrast with the challenge quilts.

This will be a good test for the Zen attitude toward life that I am trying to cultivate--to see if I can focus on what I decide to focus on, be mindful of what is in front of me, when there are still more deadlines lurking in the future--one for the local challenge group (April 11) and for Art 1016 (April 30).

And if you are also still out there reading, thanks for the company!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Favorite Color

Green, green moss after a day of warm winter rain