Category Archives: Kittens/cats

Rolling Out A New Year of Quilting

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People often seem to review the past 12 months as a new year opens ahead for each of us.  What do you make of 2014 in your personal life?  I know there are many shocking news stories that caught our attention but what really turned your head in your personal life in the past 12 months?

My husband and I each had unexpected health issues and surgery in the last quater of the year.  So my head is turned to appreciate in some small special way every day that arrives on my doorstep.  I appreciate so much the support that poured in from other ex-pats.  It is wonderful to feel that from a small community.  Numerous Ecuadorians also offered support and help.  It is a great “neighborhood” in which we live.

I began making some chicken wall hangings to sell late in 2015.

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I enjoyed making a single bed size quilt I call “Mud Slide” because of the combination of brown, cream, gray, tan and blue colors. The quilt is nearly done, needing only to be bound and signed.

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The project that took the most concentration in 2014 to create a quilt top is a pattern I would not do again.  I am very happy with how it looks NOW but I had to tear out and re-sew so many of the squares to get pieces right.  And still many are not perfect but quilting is life – rarely perfect.  This is one quilt I will keep to remind me that I have great patience and strong perseverance at times.

perseverance = noun, steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a stateespecially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

New quilt pattern available online

New quilt pattern available online

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Here is the quilt top ready to be completed in 2015:

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More new projects will emerge:

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Making a Few Fun items for Friends

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Making a Few Fun items for Friends

October in Cuenca, Ecuador has seemed more like Portland, Oregon in late October where I used to live for 35 years.  There is usually a lovely autumn but then late Oct into November, cold storms crash in from the Pacific and make you KNOW summer and the growing season are OVER for this year.  So Cuenca has been very chilly with wind and rain nearly every day for a couple of weeks – not seeming tropical at 8300 ft altitude.  Does Timberline Lodge ever seem tropical?  Well, it gets really sunny at times but not tropical, right?  It is nearly the same altitude here.

I received a wonderful gift from a lovely, generous woman named Gerry.  She brought a whole suitcase of stuff from my daughter’s, clearing out Tenley’s pile of my fabric and gluten free items.  What a thoughtful gift to offer someone in Ecuador!  Thank you Gerry!!! Hope you and Dave move here soon.

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From the fabric, I quickly made a couple pieces of Indonesian fabric art into 20″ x 20″ wall hangings  – both will be framed 20″ x 20″.  Now that I am very excited about!  I feel they look terrific.  Now to finish the back and hang them on either side of the bed in the emerging master bedroom decor.

Does anyone know a reasonable yet GOOD framer in Cuenca?

What is needed now is for me to finish that “quilt of the decade” for the room to be gently coordinated.  But that quilt will come in time.  Oh, and new curtains.

What are you doing as October comes to an end?

Do you make halloween costumes for your children or grandchildren, friends, neighbors? The coolest halloween costumes I ever made were when my children were about 7 and 12.  My daughter was a little fuzzy Panda and my 12 yr old son had a raccoon suit with a fantastic fluffy tail.  All the kids loved the costumes at school.  It makes me a little sad to see everyone buying not-so-cheap ready made identical costumes.  How does that help creative thinking? I understand that every one is busy, not everyone sews, buying is easier but money is tight.

I wish people would get more back to roots! I did not teach  my own daughter to sew.  I was one of those very busy moms…and on and on and on.

I had trouble sleeping last night, partly because a 12 pound cat flopped on me several times at 2 am to wake me.  Sheesh!  Butch is the culprit. Curry was happy to keep sleeping at the foot of the bed.

So I got up and decided to sew something.  I had some napkin sized snowmen riding motorcycles – I wanted to quilt a couple of those as small pieces for a friend in the Puget Sound.  Motorcycles have a special meaning for her these days.  She has been a great friend, recommending movies, books and ways to manage stress.  Thanks, J!  Something  playful coming your way. I will have someone heading back to the US carry it in their suitcase and drop the envelope in the mail to J.    Snowpeople??? We NEVER get snow in Cuenca but thoughts will soon turn to those places that do.

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After a couple of weeks of rain, this week has presented glorious days.  Flowers are blooming, birds are mating, life is moving right along here in Cuenca, Ecuadorphoto 3 (11).

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Here is my favorite shot this week of two of my favorite males, my husband and Butch.  Butch is the orange one.

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Have a super, unencumbered new week!

 

 

More Chickens Coming To Roost

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This is a very visual post with few words.

This is an update on the chicken wall hangings I’ve been making.  I’m going slowly but enjoying the process.  It is fun to see what emerges using fabric components in different arrangements.

Chicken or the Egg?

Chicken or the Egg?

 

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Have a terrfic new week as you more forward with your life!

Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

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Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

I have always loved the month of October. In the United States, deciduous trees change color and firey gold leaves come tumbling down on rifs of crisp air. The poplars and alders in the gorge turn into torches scattered along the cliffs. High in the Andes Mountains, where I live in Cuenca, Ecuador, the weather turns a little warmer with hot sun mid day and chilly nights. Many flowers bloom all year long here. Hummingbirds and finches are nesting again in our garden. It is a fabulous month!

Many of the succulents in our garden are blooming.photo 1 (27)photo 2 (25)photo 3 (8)

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I have been working to complete a large lap quilt I call Mud Slide due to the earthy color scheme.  I am machine quilting each block now.  I am about half through machine quilting.  Whew – it is a lot of work!

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I have been using some metalic threads, taking my time,  improving my technique, making mistakes, learning…always learning.

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A feathered star stitch in the center of each flower anchors the 4.5″ squares.

photo 1 (25)The silver thread barely shows – a subtle touch in a fairly muted quilt.

THE CHICKENS ARE COMING!!

Yesterday, I could not find some fabric I’ve been gathering to make wall hangings of chickens.  I turned my studio upside down but I finally found this little collection of fabric. photo 1 (26)

And here is the first “square in a square” 12 inch block laid on two different fabrics to audition sashing fabric.

photo 2 (24)photo 3 (7)I hope you are enjoying some beautiful weather wherever you are in this great world.

What do you like about October?

Do you have a favorite geographic spot you visit at diffrent times of the year?

Have a great time exploring this new month!photo (64)

 

A New Wall Quilt with Healing Purpose

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This week I plan to complete a new Laurel Burch wall panel to put up in the master bedroom where I now have my very first quilt hanging. My goal is to get the new quilt completed and UP on the wall in about a week.

My husband Lenny is suddenly facing delicate eye surgery, scheduled for later this month.  Not a fun thing!  This will be done in Cuenca – we have a great surgeon.  It will occupy quite a bit of energy and some luck for a good outcome and to have an excellent recovery.  I am throwing my energy into getting the wall hanging completed, adding a healing image to our bedroom.

 

I have slowly been making the master bedroom in our casa more to our liking.  I had help from Gina at Artex Decor (located on Moreno Mora just off Solano about 1/2 block from Ital Deli –  they do GREAT work!). I took in photos and she made a chocolate-colored upholstered headboard with the antique silver rivets marching around the high arch.  It made the room warmer.

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Also Artex/Gina made a lovely bench for the end of the bed where Len and I can sit to chat or put shoes on. (at the bottom)

I painted the room a delicate blue which contrasts nicely with the dark woodwork and the dark brown headboard and bench.  Added a new light fixture.

We took down the old accordian-looking vertical blinds and put up a cream colored lightweight blind that lets daylight pour into the room while keeping our privacy intact. I will make drapes later.

quilt in progress for master bed

The quilt that will top the king size bed will be my next BIG project to complete.  This began, as I have reported before, as a “quilt block a month” 5 years ago.  A relative in my family was injured and I dropped out to help with care.  However, I had all the material and directions, which has proven to be much more complicated to do by myself in Ecuador.  I have about 8 blocks done, using shades of blue, eggplant, rust and cream. Making it a king quilt, large enough to cover like an entire bedspread, is a huge undertaking. It seems like I run out of one color I need.  Then I make a different block and run out of another color.

Massive amounts of fabric are needed for the backing as well as the quilt top itself.  I keep working on this quilt top and then putting it aside for months at a time.  But I hope to complete the top, machine quilt it and bind it by next summer.

Did I say I am a slow quilter?  I get sidetracked by other projects, a grandchild needs a quilt, other projects like preserving lemons I got from a neighbor crowd in for my attention. Moroccan and Lebanese food to make with preserved lemons.

 

I am calling smaller wall hanging at the top the Healing Goddess. It is full of rich color and movement. It will spread beautiful light and energy around the room where Len will recuperate. A positive attitude makes a huge impact on surgery outcome so I’m being proactive.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

Curry, left, and Butch (Saffron) also help keep us happy.  They are on the old “bedspread” quilt I made 4 yrs ago.

I was just taking some photos of the bedroom, trying to show the bench.
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The cats are fascinated by the bench.  We have to keep it covered to protect it from claws.
They think it is a) a cat bed for two
b) a springboard for waking the parents up
c) a scratching post, even though there are several others nearby
d)a place to hide before leaping on the other cat
e) all of the above
you KNOW the correct answer

Have a terrific week!!!

A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

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A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

I recently bought a quilt pattern online.  It is a perfect solution for this US citizen living permanently in Ecuador.  The pattern appeared to be something I would enjoy making.  I even  had fabrics that look a lot like the pattern.  The pattern is fine.  My skills at matching approximately 20 junctures in each 9.5 inch block are not so great.  If several points match, still several do not.

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This is a lap quilt for me.  It does not have to be perfect.  The cats will sleep on my lap on top of this quilt.  Still, I have taken this as an opportunity to improve my skills.  So far, I have found that I sometimes stitch slightly wider than 1/4″.  Big problem! Even if only for 1/2 inch, it throws junctions off.  Of course.

I have discovered my attention span wanders frequently – maybe the music is great so I’m distracted for a moment.  You know how it can be, right?  So other points may be slightly off.  I have ripped out and re-sewn block after block.  Finally, I am doing the best I can but reminding myself CATS are going to sleep on this.  It will never be in a show.  For sure!!

I hope to keep improving my skills.  On other patterns, things come out just right so this one is simply not forgiving enough for a sometime-slacker.

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Still, I am mostly enjoying the process.  For one thing, I have HATED ripping things out since I first learned to sew.  With this project, I have found, with an ergo seam ripper, I can do it quickly and without drama.  All good!

I love the colors – not my usual choices – salmon, coral, orange, shades of brown, shades of gold and snowy white.

There are 30 blocks.  I have 22 completed.  On the final blocks, I am trying to learn all I can about what I’m doing to prevent perfect matching points. Sewing when I am tired is NOT successful.  Duh!  Lowered attention to detail, much less patience, mood turns to cranky, not the ideal conditions for piecing quilt blocks.

Quilting is a metaphor for life: luscious fabrics mixed in different ways make up a whole “item” in the world.  Learning new things keeps the brain sharp.  Patience can be learned in many ways. Quilting is one of them. Perseverance is rewarded at the end.

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What are you working on this week?

Top 10 Reasons I am Glad I Learned to Quilt

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Top 10 Reasons I am Glad I Learned to Quilt

Quilting can be challenging. It can be a daunting hobby to learn.  It can be expensive to buy tools, fabric, batting.  But for certain people, it can be a joyous hobby, a creative way to earn a living, a resource of personal growth and artistic expression.

 

In the photo below, I am machine quilting with the quilt rolled up and draped over my shoulder to allow me to work on the few inches right at the area near the needle.photo (50)

 

What are my top 10 reasons to quilt?  This list will help you think about your top ten reasons.

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1. The entire process of quilting provides me with an active meditation.

2. To design a new quilt absorbs me. I love the struggle of figuring out which fabrics look good together and what quilt design will be the best to expresses a desired artistic concept.

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3. This news just in from studies concluded in the UK: quilting is better than brain training for holding off memory problems.  Quilting is a way to keep learning new things, techniques, short cuts, new patterns, different blocks, all of this is making new pathways in the brain, which has been found to be an effective proactive way to hedge against Alzheimer’s dementia.

4. I like the math involved in figuring yardage, backing, borders.  It is straight-forward math.  I love doing it myself, only using a calculator to check my work.  (And sometimes I figure wrong)

5. I adore the variety, textures, colors, style found  in all cotton fabrics,  love the feel of a new yard of fabric, the drape and heft in my hand.

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6. I love the incredible sense of accomplishment I feel when I create something. Where there was a blank wall or a bed without character, there is now a new creation.

7. It is a great feeling to have good tools – the correct ruler, the sharp rotary cutting blade, the right height cutting table and mat, a sewing machine that does a great job, munching its way through 3 layers of the quilt “sandwich”  when machine quilting.  Hey ~  Chicas like great tools too!

8. Completing a project.  Unlike personal growth, which goes on and on throughout life, a quilt has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Although I am the first to admit I put off completing binding as long as I can.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah, lets don’t psychoanalyze that to death!)

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9. The weight of a personally made quilt is a comforting feeling to pull over oneself on a chilly night.  Several may be even better for a very cold night!

10. To design a new quilt absorbs me. I love the challenge of figuring out which fabrics look good together and what quilt design will be the best to expresses that concept.

 

AND A SPECIAL BONUS:

11.  At it’s best, quilting feels like artistic expression and I LOVE that! What is not to love?