Monday, September 30, 2013

The Surprise

My son knew Rubylocks was "The One", and knew exactly when he would pop the question. For her part however, Rubylocks wanted him to ask her, and expected him to ask her some time but didn't know when it would happen.

Apparently young folks nowadays take "selfies" or self-portraits, with their cell phones. My son planned to hold up the box in one of these "selfies" to surprise Rubylocks.

As you can see, she was surprised.

As she recounted the story to my Mother, she wanted my son to ask her to marry him, and she hoped  he would, but when she saw the little box she was completely blown away. She NEVER expected him to give her a diamond.

She was SO surprised that it took her "a really long time to say yes" according to my son. The way Rubylocks tells it, "I was so shocked I was afraid I was going to faint. And I didn't want to faint."

Finally she put her arms around him and said, "Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes."

My son says she looks at the ring on her finger every other minute, and giggles. "How did you ever manage to get it so it fits perfectly?" 


She looked at him sideways, "Well, okay. I don't want to know more than that."

Because I know the whole story, I know it wasn't magic.

It was Karma.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In other news, I am completely ready for my trip to St Louis. The suitcase is packed, the class is prepared and the speech is written. The house and sewing studio are both clean. I've got a list ready of all the last minute things that need to come with me. That's all good, but you'll have to forgive me because my heart is in California. Which I suppose is a good thing because otherwise I think I'd be getting nervous.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Secret

Last month when I flew to Los Angeles to visit my son and his girlfriend, I carried a secret.

We referred to it in code, "the four-letter word."

"It" was a diamond an old family friend had given to me years ago, after I found him after we had lost touch with him for over twenty years and helped reunite him with my family. It was a very beautiful, and good quality diamond. I had it appraised, set in a solitaire ring setting and kept it insured.  I wore it for many years on my right hand, and got compliments on it all the time.

Arthritis stopped me from wearing it, and I kept it locked away. That was silly. When my son turned 30, I brought it out and showed it to him. "When you find The One," I said, "I will give you this ring."  His mouth fell open and he asked if I was sure.

"I can't wear it," I told him, "and it does me no good hiding away. Sure you'd inherit it after I die, but why wait? It's beautiful, and it deserves to be worn."

When he introduced me to his ladylove (Millie calls her "Rubylocks"), I knew he had found "The One."  Earlier this year, we started talking about "the four-letter word," and getting it from one side of the country to the other.  Again I had it appraised and cleaned, learned how to ship it safely across the US, and got advice about where to get the ring re-sized if it didn't fit.

This summer he insisted I visit him in California. We agreed I would bring the "four-letter word." I kept it on my person the entire trip. Remember I couldn't wear it.

In preparation of the trip, I purchased a box for the ring. You know, those little hinged velvet boxes with the satin inside? The one the guys open and show their intended as they kneel down to propose? I found it online and paid $2.50 for it. Shipping cost me an additional $10.99!

When I got to California, my son and Rubylocks both met me at the airport. We spent virtually my entire visit all together. I had only a very short time alone with my son to give him the ring, the box and the appraisal paperwork without Rubylocks suspecting anything was going on.

He had a very specific plan to propose. He knew exactly when, where and how he would do it. I didn't know how he could keep the ring a secret from her, or how he would keep it secure.

They spent the last few days in Yosemite Valley. Saturday afternoon they went for a hike, the ring in its box, and a small split of champagne in his backpack. When they reached a location near a waterfall, with a view of the whole Yosemite Valley before them, my son asked the question.

The answer was "Yes."

And  by the way, the ring fits perfectly!

My son tells me I'll have photos soon, and I'll add them here when I get them.

It's Time To...

Clean the sewing studio. I have two big worktables.  One is where I work. The other tends to be the proverbial "pit of despair" because it is where extra fabric piles up. One of my goals before I leave for my trip next week is to have the studio clean, and the tables clear.

This is what the smaller table looked like last month.

The big pieces of fabric are organized into neat stacks, ready to go back on the shelves. The little bits still have to be sorted.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Seven Days and Counting...

Last March, in 2012 I received an email from Cherie, a fellow blogger, asking if I would be interested in speaking and teaching a workshop at Quintessential Quilts 2013.

I had to write up a proposal and quote a price.

Then I had to wait for approval. When that came, I had to prepare the speech and the class.

First, I had to know WHAT to talk about. I had an idea, and every day I'd tell the story in my head, rearranging the words and the emphasis.

I wrote the first version, thought it was pretty good, but hated it when I read it the next day.

The day after that it didn't sound so bad.

I shipped my quilts to Julie, in Tennessee. I'll fly to Memphis next week and we'll drive to St Louis together. I've been talking and emailing Julie for four years. Finally we get to meet each other in person.

I rewrote the speech.

I've sent Cherie all the handouts for the class. Julie has the class samples and the demos.

I rewrote the speech again.

It was better, but there was this very clunky part that I had committed to (ie: the title) and couldn't change.

I rewrote it again, then started adding photographs.

After each rewrite, I'd read it aloud. It was getting there, but the title still didn't connect to the speech itself. It was clunky. Finally the other day, driving home from work, I got it. I knew how to deal with the clunky part and connect it to the rest of the story.  I found the hook.

I'm finished. It prints out at 33 pages double spaced - the font is large so I can read it at a distance easily. It's about 4,333 words and is about 40 minutes long. It's full of yellow highlights when the slides needs to be changed. It's all printed, and it's in a small three-ring binder, so it will be easy for me to turn the pages while I speak. There are 89 photographs.

I had to buy a remote control device for my laptop.

The photographs are all ready, and are in sequence. They've been endlessly rearranged as well.

I've had extra business cards and postcards printed, and sent those, along with some evil little chocolates as gifts for my hosts, to Julie. All this stuff won't fit in my teeny tiny suitcase.

The suitcase is almost packed. I may change a few items depending on the weather.

It's seven days away, and I'm ready.

What shall I do in the seven days? Clean the house, clean the studio, and practice the speech every day.

One other thing.

None of this would be happening without the wonderful conversations I have with all of you who read this blog.  You give me suggestions, you ask questions which I try to answer, and you listen to me spout off on this topic or that one.  I would never have been invited to speak at Quintessential Quilts 2013 had I not had this blog.

My life took a dramatic turn in 2006 when I adopted Millie. That's a story in and of itself, and I am trying to write a book about it. I've got the first draft. When I get back from St Louis, I have to hammer that thing into shape.

But preparing for the speech at QQ2013 made me review all the quilts I had made since 2007, and look at my blog posts. There's another book in there, and I want to write that one too.

So thank you, each and every one of you, for being a part of the conversation.  You have changed my life, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

And if any of you happen to be in St Louis on Sunday October 6, come listen to me talk, and please, come up and say hello. I'd love to meet you. I've spent this entire quilting journey almost by myself. It's time to put faces to the names.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Got Nothing Done Last Night Because...


It's bigger than the old one, but it's amazingly light.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My First Quilts

I'm working on my speech for Quintessential Quilts 2013, which is less than two weeks away.  I've found some photos of my earliest quilts.  Here's the first quilt I ever made

I had a hard time finding 100% cottons way back then. Oranges were hard to find, and purple was nonexistent.

This is a Road to Oklahoma variation. Even back then I was breaking rules and doing my own thing.  Cotton fabrics were all small chintz's back then. Certainly dull by today's standards.

I made a lot of quilts to sell back then, and I made a few of these sailboats. I got tired of lining them up in regular rows.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Slicing and Dicing

I've made all the blocks for my Sliced Quilt, it's time to "slice" them in half.


 Now the real fun begins.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Julie!

Today is my pal Julie's birthday.  Julie is my best pal. We've been email and internet friends for over four years, and in less than two weeks, we'll meet in person for the first time. I can't wait.

Julie has made me several quilts, and I love them all.

The first was Obsolescence,which Millie and I both love.

This was the result of a quilt swap. I made a Rules quilt for Julie (above.)

Later, Julie asked me to send her all my duds and orphan letters so she could put them together in a quilt to show my letter-making students that there wasn't really any such thing as a "bad" letter.

She ended up making not one, but two awesome quilts.  I love them all!

Happy Birthday Julie!

Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday dear Julie!
Happy Birthday to You!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sliced, the Lights

I've made all my dark blocks for my Sliced quilt. Now I am working on the light blocks. I think this quilt is going to be fun.
There are three blocks of each style.

Here are the dark blocks:
Yeah, I think I'm going to have some fun with this.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Truthful Thursday

Since I don't remove my pins as I sew, my sewing machine needle often hits them.  The last time it happened,

 it really took me a while to get this bent pin OUT of the machine. I needed to use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to get this pin loose from the innards of the machine where it got mangled.

The pins I use are very fine and thin, but they are very bendy.  Nevertheless, this pin got bent, and the needle was useless afterwards too.

So I go through these quite a lot. I can get them at Sears, but that means I have to go to The Mall, and park the car, and walk a very long way into the store, find these, buy all they have (usually five or six packages) and then walk out, etc., etc. It's a real PITA because to get to The Mall I have to deal with a lot of traffic, which I do not like.

Then I remembered Yvonne saying something about buying a box of 100 needles. I checked it out online and a few days later, this lovely little package arrived in the mail. The best part is buying them this way is half the price of buying them five at a time!

Ooooooo! A box of 100 needles, a tin full of fine, straight pins, a package of rotary cutter blades, a lovely stash of fabrics and a dozen bobbins wound with my favorite middle grey thread. What more could a girl want?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


There's something very undignified about putting your carefully folded quilts inside a space bag and then squeezing the air out of it.  But these quilts and flimsies are about to embark on a very long journey and I have to protect them. Each quilt has a document showing its photograph, title, size as well as my contact information, the insurance valuation and where the quilt is to be delivered. (They are stacked this way because if I stacked them correctly, the addresses would be visible, and we can't have that!)

It's going to be very weird not having them hanging in my house for the next few weeks, but Julie will certainly enjoy their visit!

My quilt, Letters From Home, has been enjoying an extended visit at Julie's house for the last few months, and after St Louis it will be returning home with me.

The Quick Brown Fox will be staying with Julie for a few months. It's my favorite.

except for Nine x Nine, The Black Cat's Rules, The Black Box...


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Slicing for Sliced

I have decided I have WAY TOO MUCH FABRIC and need to start whittling it down by making some "normal" quilts.  That means I have to find "normal" designs I find interesting. About a week or so ago, Jacquie posted a photo of "Sliced" from Amy Ellis's Modern Neutrals book.

You all know how much I love neutrals, right?  NOT!

They bore me to tears. But I liked this design, and I have to make a quilt for a special little rug rat and I thought this could be fun. So I've got the book and I've selected my fabric and the other night while watching Elementary on OnDemand, I cut out all the strips.

One thing that bugged me was that Amy's instructions didn't indicate which fabric was which. She mentions A1, A2, A3, D1, D2, D3 and D4, and I know that means Lights (A) and Darks (D) but I wanted to know which of the fabrics she used was which so I could make my own substitutions while keeping the value distribution she had designed.

After cutting out the fabrics I did a little reshuffling and more cutting.

 While dinner bubbled in the slow-cooker, I sewed the dark blocks together. Naturally I did a bit of fabric rearranging.  Next up, the light blocks.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What IS My Line?

On the very last day of the exhibition, I drove down to Lowell Mass. to see the "What's My Line?" art quilt show at the Whistler House Museum of Art.

***Note: I took these photos with my camera's highest resolution, so you can click them, and then click them again to supersize so you can examine them closely.

One look around and I could see that my quilts did not match the Juror's vision.

I was allowed to take all the photographs I wanted.

The concept of a "line" seemed very literal in most of the quilts.

Most, but not all. While the prospectus said a "line" could be a line of music or a phrase, there were no quilts here with words in them.

Viewers were encouraged to vote for their favorite.

My "favorite" changed several times before I made my final selection.  Can you guess which one it is?

"Fractures 3" by Sandra Palmer Ciolino

 "Green and Orange" by Phyllis Small

"Plowlines I" by Stephanie Shore

"Linear One" by Rosemary Hoffenberg.

"Trippy" by Ann Brauer

"Sbagello VI Vortex" by Sandra Palmer Ciolino.

"Woods Walk" by Valerie Maser-Flanagan
"Spring Sneezes" by Marti Plager

 "Boulevard" by Maria Shell

"Time Line I" by Leesa Gawlik of Durango Colorado, was the one I finally decided was my favorite.

What's my takeaway from all of this?  These quilts seemed to me to be more "Art" than "Quilt." While the pieces were all supposed to be made in the traditional quilt "sandwich" of top-batting-backing, few of them really seemed to be quilts in the tactile sense.  My quilts are more "Quilt" than "Art."

*Update. I don't think of my quilts as less "Art Quilts" because they are more traditionally constructed. It was just such an obvious difference from the ones that were hanging at the Whistler that I had to mention it.  I thought the show was really good, and I enjoyed it a lot. I would have loved to be a part of it, but hey, bright lights big city. That's the way the cookie crumbles. Everybody has their own viewpoint. I'm glad the quilting community is as large, varied and diverse as it is, because there are a LOT of stunning quilts out there!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Backing Font Factory

I picked a wonderful typewriter fabric for the backing of the Font Factory quilt.

The fabric is about 42" wide but the quilt is about 43" wide, and the backing has to be 6" wider all around to be quilted on a longarm machine. Obviously it had to be pieced.

Since it's the backing, I could have just sewn two pieces together, right? Wrong. With such a wonderful pattern, I felt that would have been an insult.

So I took the time to match the two panels of fabric so I could sew them together as invisibly as I could.

Yup, this is MUCH better.