Tag Archives: Cuenca

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?

Back in Cuenca with new fabric!

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I returned from a wonderful visit to the familia and friends in the US – we were in San Diego, Idaho and Oregon.  It is great to see friends, catch up with extended family and have close time with each grandchild.

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I am glad to be back in Ecuador!  I really enjoyed visiting people I love but I also adore getting home to our adopted culture.  I came back with a couple of suitcases of new 100% quilting cotton. And a few new quilt patterns.

I need to be working on the king quilt for my bed, as photo above shows a few of the blocks.  However, I have been putting it off for a bit.  Instead, I’ve been pouring over which pattern would look good with which new fabrics.

I LOVE putting fabrics together to make a quilt.  I wish I could do this for others and be paid for it.  I now have enough fabric to keep me busy for quite awhile so I told my husband (again!) that I have stopped buying fabric.  Done, fine, terminado!!!

I know you are laughing – stop that!

Another fact: I took my Pfaff sewing machine back to Oregon as luggage (very well padded and packed).  I had it repaired in Portland where I bought it, by Montavilla’s Steve – a great repair tech there.  My Pfaff is a computerized machine.  The feed dogs had locked up.  The tension was off. It was sewing zillions of tiny stitches no matter where I set it. Inside, around the motor – beyond where I can safely clean, –  it was crowded with fuzz from batting and fabric of the many quilts I made the past 3 years.  No one here is authorized to work on a computerized Pfaff machine.  So, right now, it looks like I will be taking my machine back and forth to the US every couple of years for a proper cleaning.

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Maybe a Pfaff authorized/trained repair person will materialize to live here but for now…this is the best solution.

Isn’t the “hippie bus” in the photo cute?  I plan to make a wall hanging incorporating this for someone else.

What project(s) are you  doing this summer?  Do you sew more in the summer because it is hot outside?  Or do you sew less because you are busy enjoying summer weatherd or going to the beach…or exploring local parks, or having the kids home from school makes sewing impossible, or…???

I’ll be back soon with some photos of new fabric “kits” I put together from my stash with a few new fabrics.

I want to invite anyone who is a long arm quilter to consider moving to Cuenca, Ecuador in South America.  There are not a lot of quilters here but there are some in the ex-pat group of about 4500.  A few of us started a small closed group to discuss resources, share ideas and patterns. There is no one who does professional long-arm quilting in Cuenca!  So if you are a long-arm quilter, there would be some business here, quilting for other people.  Living high in the Andes where it is cool, never humid but flowers bloom all year long.  I have no idea how many people would take advantage of professionally quilted finishes to their quilts.  I know 3 – 4 people who would for sure!

Have a great week!

Sharon

 

 

 

Saturday photos May 10th

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I love this time of year.  It has been chilly with lots of rain each day all week.  But there are almost always sun breaks.  Similar to Apring in the Northwest.I took time today to enjoy the sunshine both outside and in the sun room.

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I got a large stem of orchids on Wednesday at the organic market.  Today I rearranged them – kind of zen, isn’t it?

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This tiny decorative bird house was made by an 8 yr old friend of mine, Lily.

I started some tomato plants some time ago.  It is time to transfer them to larger pots.  Tomorrow may be a good day for that. what I really need is some sun.  Hot sun to get those tomatoes really growing.  But several have blossoms so it is hopeful.  I move them into my sunroom if it gets too chilly at night.

Hope you are having a terrific Month of May!

 

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!

 

my heart lives in two places – more

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my heart lives in two places – more

I wrote a few weeks ago about the interesting split I feel after choosing to leave my country of birth (the USA) for an exciting, new experience in my retirement years in Cuenca, Ecuador.  Well, I have a few more thoughts to share. My husband and I launched ourselves on an incredible cultural journey about 3 years ago. We live permanently in Cuenca, Ecuador.  We visit the US every 6 – 12 months to see family and friends.  We also stock up on a few things important to us that are not available in Ecuador.  What, you ask?  Things like all cotton quilting fabric, gluten-free products, new hi tech products, good socks, yeah, just little stuff important in our daily lives.

I continue to feel strongly supportive of the US, although I am very disillusioned to the point of desperation about the intractable problems with things like:  how to get the elected officials to work together as adults instead of viscious bickering . There need to be real answers for the BIG issues: homeless children who go to sleep hungry every night, not enough jobs, rebuilding infrastructure to keep the country “running” properly, stop the favors to medical drug companies and encourage real healing among the population in a way that does not create drug-dependency.

Let me be clear: I love the beliefs of the US that I grew up with, ideas like:  you can be anything you want to be if you work hard, for example.  The US is one place people used to get ahead without stomping on others as you “climb up” to be solidly middle class.

Use just what you need

replace yourself and then stop – the world population is staggering

I raised my children with these goals as well: reuse, recycle, replace

 

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do NOT just think of yourself!

look for the best in each person you meet

treasure the earth

quilt in progress for master bed

The US financial “down spiral” of the past few years left many who had been solidly middle class in a terrible fix – loss of home, loss of job, horrendous stresses on family as their hold on a common lifestyle slipped out of their grasp, causing health problems, battered self-confidence, hopelessness, etc.

My heart aches for solutions to be found.

My current country of residence, Ecuador, has a high rate of poverty, a definite class division, “favors” may be paid (bribery) to get things done but this is no longer the preferred way. Ecuador stands with a foot in the “old ways” of priviledge, wealth and class difference, but with the other foot in a new place.  The second foot rests, teetering among growing equality, increasing minimum wage, social security benefits for working citizens, attempts to ban money laundering, and successful exports of bananas (if you are eating a banana, it probably was grown in Ecudor!), among a few other successful exports.

There has been a disappointingly low national effort in Ecuador to preserve endangered species and protect the environment… and some dawning awareness of what it might take to move the country into an improved global vision.

I love the tenative steps Ecuador is taking toward parity for all citizens, a growing attempt to create a livable wage for people, which is still a way off but at least it is on the agenda. Also the focus on improving roads and services within the country, taking a tough stance on drug smugglers who bring drugs into Ecuador from Columbia and Peru across shared borders and by sea. These illegal drugs are on their way to the US.  Because of demand in the US.   Stop the demand for cocaine, for example, by US users and Columbia’s drug business would be severely wounded.

So every nation has problems.

 

Where is my heart, really?  Both places!  I love visits back to magestic Oregon, rustic Idaho and fast-paced California. Holding a young grandchild or talking with the two older grandchildren is priceless.  I catch up.  My heart nestles, creating memories.  The relationship with each of the 4 grandchildren blossoms and stretches.  But at the same time, I am ripped apart because I leave soon.  So soon.

And yet… when I return to Ecuador, I know I am “home”.  My heart lives with my children and grandchildren in Oregon and California.  I think of each of my loved ones, friends and family members, every day.  But my husband Lenny and I are happy to have joined a small community of like-minded people in Cuenca and reside in their midst. We cherish this opportunity to learn about a very different culture.  The few Cuencano friends we have made are cherished. They share time, interests, family with us and seem pleased that we love the city of Cuenca and Ecuadorians in general.

My cats and Spanish studies, the quilts and exercise are all ongoing, absorbing activities.  Lenny pursues interests he never had enough time to improve, such as Spanish, duplicate bridge and photography. Our plans to explore other parts or South America shimmer on the horizon.

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Yes, my heart lives in more than one place, never to be completely grounded in just one country again. And it is really ok.  One’s heart expands to accomodate the demand and opportunities life lays in our path.

What is your journey?  Enjoy where you are today.

Sharon