Tag Archives: cats

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!!!

Cats LOVE Quilts – What’s Up With That?

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Other readers send comments comfirming that their cats seem to “own” any quilt their humans work on.  Here are Curry and Saffron/Butch perched on a newly completed wall hanging I had folded and placed on my cutting table the night before.

Why do you think cats love quilts?

Well, quilts are warm…

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quilts are soft.

 

The quilt may have been hair-free until the cats discovered it so its their job to make it look broken in.

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And best of all, it is where the human(s) put a lot of energy, time and value so it is the best place for a cat to seek attention.

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And the fabric stash is a GREAT place to hide for a secluded nap.

Best of all for this human is that the cats are a lot of company on my quilting journey.

Do you have pet helpers?

~~~Have a terrific week!

 

Stash Storage and more about Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

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Stash Storage and more about Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

There are some challenges that arise from quilting in a different country, along with many joys.  I’ll mention a few challenges as I move through the process of layering and quilting several small wall quilts. I am not complaining.  Being in Ecuador, having time to quilt to my hearts content is

First of all, there is almost no 100% cotton in shops in Cuenca. None at all!  That is the biggest challenge to me.  We  who live in the US, Europe or Australia are used to a stunning array of cotton fabrics from batiks to polka dots to elaborate florals in shops around every other corner in a metropolitan city or the suburbs.

Ecuador makes a lot of fabric within the country but it seems, from my informal searches, that it all has some amount of polyester in it. They make beautiful polar fleece, incredible wool , terry cloth and many other fabrics. But any cotton I have found has been imported from India or China and was thin, like shirting or very lightweight curtain material.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was able to bring a few boxes of fabric when I moved to Ecuador in 2011 by renting space on another couple’s container.  So I arrived with 7 large boxes of all cotton fabric, threads I like  – although there are many types of thread here, many made in Brazil.  My favorite thread from the US  –  Aurofil – continues to be my favorite due to it is the easiest to use, least likely to break or have uneven tufts. I also brought  several cutting tools, different sizes of rulers and large cutting mats.  I packed a variety of battings.  I prefer all cotton or a blend and size is important because it is so much easier if the batting is approximately the correct size for the project.  There is no cotton batting here but one can buy 100% polyester batting in Cuenca. There are no pre-cut packages of batting. You select from an enormous roll and it creates a very hot quilt that does not breathe, too warm for many nights here… but welcome warmth in July and August when the nights are around 32-40 F.

On Friday, I bought some polar fleece to try on a small project to see how it performs in place of batting in a wall hanging.  I have a quilt top ready to be layered – one that is going to be hung in the living room so I want it to look fabulous.  I plan to test the fleece with scrap fabric first to see how it performs after it is washed, quilted and generally messed with.

When I visit the US, I bring back to Ecuador several quilt “kits” I’ve put together with a pattern, batting, backing.  I have enough self-designed quilt “kits” here to make about 20 quilts of varying sizes… so there are no lack of projects stacked up, one behind another, waiting their turn to become a quilt.

Once I start a new project, I often adapt the pattern, change this or that element and find I need additional fabric – that’s the creative process, right?  Do my ideas form and change as I go along?  Sure.   One challenge is using what I have as much as possible or getting the fabric brought here from the US  – that is sometimes needed to make the next step in a quilt.

These are problems I solve as I’m working on an individual project.  For instance, I decided I wanted flannel for the backing on my daughter’s purple lap quilt.   Her children are young and will love sitting under that flannel on her lap.  So I found some darling flannel for the backing and asked a dear new friend  of Lenny’s if he might have room to bring it back from his October visit to the US.  We got to know him better because he had room to bring back this small package in his suitcase. A huge favor I really appreciated! The flannel awaits the quilt top.

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The front of my daughter’s quilt is rather formal and elegant – the fabric on the right side of photo –  but the backing is fun and playful, as well as snuggly for my grandsons to cuddle on my daughter’s lap.

I know there is 100% cotton in Peru.  I do not know why it is not imported to Ecuador but it must be lack of demand by Ecuadorians for 100% cotton fabric.  Peru and Ecuador share a border.  Someday, perhaps I will fly to Lima and look at their fabric stores, among other things there.  They grow cotton but that does not mean they design cotton fabrics ideal for quilting. It is an unknown.

One thing I have learned in nearly 3 years living in Ecuador is that there are big cultural differences between SA countries.  Peru is very different from Ecuador, DUH!  An example: the potatoes they grow are different.  The foods they eat are often different. The politics are different.  The indigenous people are different. The type of music they like is different. The poverty is different in how it is addressed.

There is tremendous pride in one’s own country so do not assume that the country you might visit will be like any other country in South America.  Sure, there are some similarities but many and large differences exist. People in North America are often in the dark about just what South America is like because the focus of US attention is rarely on South America.  The focus is on Europe, from which many of us descended, and on whatever region in which the US is waging war.  It seems to me, growing up in a Western state and living most of my adult life on the West Coast of the US, that South America is nearly invisible to many in the US.

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STORAGE presents many opportunities to get chaotic or to be organized in your hobby.  I fall somewhere on that scale but keep trying to develop better organization solutions.  So, where do I store my “stash” and my quilt kits?  I have the luxury of large built in closets.

I keep my general stash of fabric in a big closet, sorted by color. Hanging sweater holders make a great way to separate fabrics by color.  Shoe holders also hold fat quarters and smaller pieces of fabric.  Both are sold at places like Target and A large basket holds fabrics that are for an apron project. Other baskets hold fabric for specific quilt projects or “kits” as I call them.  Patterns are stored in a hanging magazine rack behind the door.

Here are some photos. The top one is a drawer where I keep quilt backing . I buy sale fabrics to have on hand for whatever quilt project I think up.

The second photo is a blue and green wall quilt I am hanging in the sun room.  It goes with the “sunbrella” type fabric on the cushions there.  The sunroom is a whimsical, light place to spend time.

The third photo down shows my set up in the studio – great light, sewing machine angled so I can look outside. Ironing board is set on the right side, kept ready for action.  The cats also have my studio as their “home base” so they are very comfortable taking charge of the room and any fabric they can plop on!

The 4th photo shows a cabinet I had built to store rulers, quilt books and thread collections.  The side you cannot see has large baskets with current quilt projects and the fabric for the next project. It is kind of like in baseball: I have one quilt “at bat” – the one I’m sewing on, and I have one quilt “on deck” ready to start next.  Sometimes I work on 2 or 3 quilts at one time, alternating according to how I feel.  If I feel sharp and rested I will do the hardest tasks.  If I feel kind of tired or not sharp-witted, I will sew simple blocks or cut fabric. Or put fabric away or something.  I LOVE handling the fabric.  It is calming and such a pleasant activity.  I’m hooked!

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Photo 4 in this set, (or 2 photos above) shows a partial solution to thread storage.  Last year, I was given a beautiful collection of fancy threads most of which I’ve barely scratched the surface. But I just signed up for an online class through the site: http://www.craftsy.com     “Stupendous Stitching”.  If you have not tried a class at craftsy.com, give it a whirl.  It is a great help for people who are not able to attend classes near their home. Classes go on sale often on holiday week ends. The videos are top quality, the information is helpful, you can ask questions of the teacher. And you can watch the lessons over and over.  Or put off taking the class until it fits your schedule.  In a lot of ways, it is perfect!  They also sell fabric which goes on sale but the shipping is steep for US addresses. Still, I recommend you check it out.  They offer other craft classes like cake decorating, jewelry making and weaving.

Photo 5, above shows the blocks I’ve completed for the new king quilt to be.  A long way to go but it will be fabulous for us!

http://www.craftsy.com

Have a really terrific week. Sharon

below is my latest quilt.  Just about to hang it upstairs. 54″ wide X  38″ tall.  My first attempt at machine quilting negative space was fun if not perfect.  That’s life!

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Quilting Alone In Cuenca, Ecuador

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Quilting for me is a solitary sport.  It can be a team sport often, in many locations around the world. But quilting is an  uncommon activity in Cuenca.  Although a number of ex-pats and the rare Cuencana say they quilt, I have not met many who are actively quilting.   This is just a fact.  I am very happy to have time, space and fabric to work on numerous quilts so I don’t mind this solitary sport.  In fact I LOVE being able to set my own hours and pace for quilting.

For several weeks, my main focus I has been a “purple and blues” quilt, above, laid over my king quilt so ignore the tulips and orange peeking through.  The quilt top is done and it is gorgeous.  I’m very proud of it.  My daughter, Tenley, will be 35 in March so I want to have a lap quilt for her in purple and blues, her favorite colors.  However, as I design a quilt, it sometimes grows as I mess around with color combinations and find some I cannot leave out.  So I am plan to make a second quilt for my daughter who wants a  lap quilt. The current  quilt top grew to be 98 ” by 74″ – almost queen size.

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Oops!  But, really, this “mistake” is fine with a great outcome because I became very attached to this quilt as it is evolving. I  will hang it at the top of my stairs or behind the living room sofa – wherever it seems to look best once it is completed.  I hope to have the quilt hung by Christmas. It is typical of any quilt I design that I end up with a larger project than first planned.  I need to learn to downsize!  Because the bigger they are, as all of you know, the harder they are to actually quilt on the machine. But I am determined to get this one up on the wall to enjoy.

There is the added bonus that when we have guests, I could pull the quilt off the wall, wash it and put it on the guest bed.  It’s all winners here.

There are no long arm quilters with a machine in Cuenca.  Note to interested parties: you would have some business, doing quilts for the people in the ex-pat community and no competition. The downside is that you would need to charge less than in the US, most likely, as this locale as a retiree economy cannot sustain current US pricing.  Just my thoughts.  But an argument could be made either way.

For my daughter’s lap size quilt, I have plenty of the same materials so it will be equally gorgeous but the size she wanted.  I have ample time to make her quilt after the new year – I will deliver Tenley’s quilt when we visit the US in June, 2014 so it is all good.

Back to the team versus individual sport of quilting. I am on record here saying I MISS my old familiar quilt store and my favorite quilt teacher, Victoria, very much.  The old store is gone now, a newer smaller one replaced it with much less to offer.  The old store had plenty of relatively clean floor space where one could lay out a quilt.  There were huge tables where one could layer a quilt.  And there were always kind, generous people who would put their own projects aside to help a person smooth out the layers of “the sandwich” of backing, batting and quilt top.

That is right where I am now in the process.  I have a great cutting table ( 72″ long x 45″ deep) where I am layering the quilt but I really miss having extra hands to make this sandwich thing come out right, without wrinkles.  That is my focus tomorrow.  I am layering a small section at a time on the cutting table.  I can hand baste about 3 feet of length at a time so that 95″ length will take me a bit.

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One challenge is that the young cats who live here, Butch and Curry, love to play wild games all over the house at a drop of the hat.  Last night, when I was away for a little bit, they had a wild wrestle on the loose parts of the quilt sandwich that are hanging down and gently folded onto the floor. Any thing that looks different gets a cat’s curiosity juiced up so…I came home from dinner and found a bit of chaos on the landing where the cutting table lives.  But it was all repairable and I”m retired so…there is time to do all things that hold my interest.

Kale crop continues into 6th month

Kale crop continues into 6th month

When I am not quilting or doing things away from mi casa, I garden, cook gluten free meals and hang out with my precious loving husband.

Spinach Frittata

Spinach Frittata

My friends think up lots of interesting things for us to do around Cuenca.  Here is Taylor by the only phone booth I’ve noticed in Cuenca.

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Long break over

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Hola readers.  I have had a nice break, including a beach vacation which was wonderful.  I have kept busy other weeks with many different things.  I have the joy of a 4 mo old orange tabby male kitten, Saffron, and a 10 wk old female orange tabbykitten, Curry, entertaining me every day.  They play together all day long.

Soon to be part of a small wall hanging.

Soon to be part of a small wall hanging.

Saffron had a frightening beginning before I adopted him – mother was killed, he was apparently starving for a short while and then was trapped and brought to ARCA where I adopted him.   Thank you ARCA! He was not really a feral cat but had missed out on training from mama about grooming and things like that.  Having a “sister” is helping both of them.

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Curry had a little easier beginning, living with a family and her siblings.  She was weaned at 4 wks (yes, I know, that is too young!).  I heard today that sometimes kittens are brought in from Peru to be sold at the largest outdoor market in South America, Fierre Libre. She was a rescue of another sort, coming from a family where a little cash was very much in need.  I took each kitten straight to the vet for all the usual exam/shot/worming, etc.

Both cats are doing well.   Both will be neutered/spayed at the proper age.  Both are beautiful with dark orange stripes on their legs and a gentle buff orange color on their bodies.  Curry is a very petite cat and will probably always be so.  Saffron is a long, slim adolescent who reminds us of a linx .   Curry is a very confident assertive kitten who holds her own in wrestling battles with Saffron who is about twice her size.

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I am working with Saffron daily to help him trust and be confident.  To date, he is very loving with me but shy with anyone else.  When someone comes to the door, he races upstairs and hides under the bed.  Must have been a terrifying time after he lost his mother.  He comes racing back as soon as the coast is clear of newcomers or if I shake the treat jar.  It has the same cat food in it that he has in the dish but somehow it is very exciting to swipe a few pieces out with his paw.  He is very smart.

One reader asked me why it is not safe to let your cat outside here.  That is my opinion.  But there are lots of roaming dogs.  There is not a particularly friendly vibe for kitty cats on the street.  I suspect some would become food.  Sad thought.  So my thought is to keep cats inside or at least in a secure garden area where they cannot get out to be killed by traffic or whatever.  OK, enough about cats.

Lets talk about quilting and more about Cuenca!

Of course, I continue to quilt.  A hobby I love. I usually have 3 projects in the works and lotsI am making some Ohio star blocks now using Civil War reproduction prints.  This will make a very attractive back to a yellow quilt top I completed a while back.  This quilt is for a man who loves the history of that era so…I think it will be a hit.  His spouse is going to surprise him with this gift.  I get to be part of it all, which makes it more wonderful.  I hope to have the quilt completed in 10 days or less.

I have several different blocks to quilt and pass along, as promised earlier.  Then I get to start my next quilt, one that is just for me.  Bright colors, batik, floral, it should be wonderful.  I am eager to start.

On the edge of Cuenca, in a little area called Turi, there are wonderful volcanic pools.  I’ve been going with friends where there is an exercise class and one can swim a few laps and then soak – the water is REALLY caliente – hot – which feels terrific.  Entrance is inexpensive.

After we are through there, we go to an organic market and buy fresh vegetables. We have discovered fresh maize tortillas which are like delicious pancakes.  And a drink called morocho – a hot drink with choclo (large-kernel white corn) pulverized, milk, cinnamon, raisins, a little tapioca and vanilla.  A soothing and delicious treat in Ecuador.

Did you know, tomorrow is National Quilting Day in Estados Unidos.?  So… be sure to CELEBRATE National Quilting Day.