Mar 28, 2013

Oh What A Night....

I feel that it is safe to say that maybe, just maybe spring is on the horizon. The sky has taken on a beautiful blue:

There are signs of green popping up through the tangle of leaves in the "forest area" of the yard:

And it was great fun to take advantage of the light to take some shots around the pond. I love my fossil rock:

Last night was the final class for my photography 101 course. I have a couple of weeks off, then begin the next level. I'm excited. Because the weather was so nice and there was still a bit of daylight at 6:15, we all gathered our gear and hit the streets of Troy.  We were free to shoot whatever we wanted, and starting near the river was my choice. I loved the look of this railing- in all its rusted, chipped glory. A perfect perspective angle- shoot low, take advantage of lines, play with angles. 

Troy is a beautiful city in many ways, and I wanted to capture some of the old, some of the grandness of the city:

Not a perfectly angled shot, but I like it...and it gave several of my classmates a good laugh as well as a memory to take home. As I was attempting to meter this narrow street, I was off curb and there was no traffic at all....for a minute anyway! As I progressed in metering and sharpening my photo, I was "accosted" by a very large brother, in a very large SUV, with a very loud horn who decided he had to pull up right there near the curb- and I was in his way. He was not at all pleased that I didn't move immediately, so I figured I had best shoot and move. From the rockin' of the rap inside the vehicle  and his not so nice look as he jumped out of his (left it) running car (where was he headed in such a hurry??), I think I made the best decision....but alas, my art suffered for it.

Seeing as the streets were a bit unsafe, I took to the side alleys (hummm...safer?). Bingo! I have two  photo series I felt I wanted to begin. One was "Doors". My first door shot presented itself. Again the perspective and angles:

Then I found my second door. This is one of my favorites from the outside shoot. This is just one of three wood doors in an alley, and I loved how by shooting it from this angle there is a hint of something being "inside" or "behind". A door. A mystery.

The sun was beginning to set, so we were called to head back to the Arts Center. The sky and clouds over the river were gorgeous.  Unfortunately, I had just missed a rowing team as I walked back up the street above the river walk.

Another favorite of the night- that golden hour that professional photographers always rave about. It is so pretty when you have it...and I got the silhouette I was hoping for, so I felt good about that.

And then it was back to the Arts Center

and our "grand review". We also had a quick lesson in editing in camera raw. A very interesting mini-lesson indeed. I am now going to try my hand at shooting in raw more. The tweaking and editing one can do is incredibly easy and totally amazing.

With more practice I think I might become a fairly decent photographer. I'm not aiming for pro status, just a competent gal behind a camera. I can see why this hobby can become a passion. Now to find more doors....oh yes, and that second series of shots?? Cityscapes- I think that would be grand.....

Mar 25, 2013

Notes to Myself

Some days I wonder where the my time goes. Mondays seem to bring about the question: what have I up to? What have I done with myself over the past 7 days? Waking up and finding a brand new week ahead of me can be a bit disconcerting when I'm not sure where the old one went! Thinking back on last week, I guess there were things that captured my time. 

These went away as the sun came out for a bit:

I went to my photography class and got to see part of the newest exhibits during gallery shoot: 

" wall graffiti"

Part of the current exhibit caught my attention: "words".  Humm...wonder why (smile)?

(the above is not a great photo- but I still love the entry. Note to self: practice depth of field!)

(the faces above were covered in word collage. Eye catching and rather interesting)

Then there was the mundane every day stuff. Lots of this: 

Note to self: Don't let the day's dishes sit in the sink over night (yuck!). Second note to self: No need to publicize your laziness to the world!

There was the folding of laundry (talk about mundane):

There was catching up on my week's reading- the good, the bad and the ugly!
Note to self: Don't photograph a page in your latest Kindle book that looks like you've discovered "old lady porn" when you are actually reading an "OK for what it is" book (In the Kingdom of Men)

I've been tackling the monster quilt's binding. Two sides down, two to go!  Note to self: Just. So. Big.

I've finished another hand applique block for a project that should have been done 4 years ago!
Note to self: Get. This. Done.

 And got side-tracked by a bit of journal making (Note to self: ADD/procrastination leads to a girl getting nothing done!):

Then of course there was the hunt for the perfect Easter Basket and goodies to go inside. Note to self: get that frog pillowcase made asap! Easter is this Sunday (no time to procrastinate anymore!).

Hummm- no wonder I felt like doing exactly what fearless companion does most of the day:

 Note to self: Naps can be a good thing. 

I guess I didn't let last week get away from me after all-well, OK, not that much. More importantly, I'm glad I spent the day yesterday laughing, sewing and then laughing a bit more with some very lovely ladies. Laughter, sewing, friendships- Note to self: all good things!

Mar 19, 2013

Out Like a Lion

This blog (and my stitching) has been temporarily interrupted by Mother Nature.
I'll be outside shoveling (again!)...

Mar 17, 2013

A Study in Contrasts

That sneak peek project is finished - well, at least the top is done. Now it is on to the quilting. I had an epiphany yesterday as I was pressing the top. I thought to myself- are you crazy? How in the world would you have the strength to hand quilt this! The fabrics are densely woven- think batiks and there is no way my poor hands could even try to needle through them. The decision is made; it will be machine quilted. Simply. Linear. That is exactly what it needs. This week, I will use the left over fabric and some Kona Black from the stash to piece a backing.Where does this contrast I talk about come in, you may ask yourself?? Bear with me! I'm about to free think, but I am sure you will go there with me. At least I hope you do.
A couple of years back the "modern quilting" crazy really started to hit close to home. I was still working at the LQS then, and the books reflected this shift. Some of the newer fabrics that arrived signaled a move in this direction as well. Co-worker and I would commiserate on what we then called (and frankly still do) "dumb-downed" quilts. It didn't take much to cut a bunch of squares and/or rectangles and throw together a quilt. Easy Peasy! We did admit, however, that it could be a good thing. It seemed to be bringing in younger sewers who were going to be making their first quilt. Our craft that we so loved, our craft that has stood the test of time would live on. We just didn't find anything redeeming about this "new", "modern" stuff.
Don't get me wrong. I love the happiness of the new lines out there. I love Kaffee Fassett's fabrics. I've made several "easy peasy" quilts with much success: Yellow Brick Road, Lasagna Quilt. If you need a fast, go to pattern, these can't be beat. But those who know me, and those of you who have been kind enough to follow this blog through thick and thin, know I'm a traditional kind of girl. Show me a reproduction fabric and my heart stops. Mention Barbara Brackman and I sigh. Primitives make me happy. Deep, dark, depressing colors....or those cheddars and poison greens. Oh how my heart sings.
That mentioned contrast? If you have been reading my blog for sometime, you may remember this post on Rosie Lee Tompkins .  Her quilts were on display at the Shelburne Museum. I took tons of photos and wrote at length about what I learned of her. She reminded me so much of the wonderful women of Gee's Bend and the quilts that came out of that community. And here is where I find my personal study in contrast.  I consider the quilts that came from this remote Alabama community to be compelling, historical, and utterly fascinating. I have a beautiful coffee table size book that was given to me by eldest daughter. I adore this book. I marvel at the story, the women and the quilts. They are bold. They are linear/geometric. They are icons of the era, and were unique. So, what makes them different from the "dumbed down" quilts I've shook my head at these past few years? Any Internet search for modern quilting/modern quilt guild will show that these present day quilts are, in their own way, bold, geometric/linear. They are "easy" quilts, and the art of quilting has a new audience. This is all a good thing.

Moving forward- what has this girl been up to? She has gone bold, she has gone linear, she has gone a bit "modern".
Just before Christmas, I happened upon a kit for a Gee's Bend Quilt (packaged and sold by Windham Fabrics) tucked away in the back of the scrapbook supplies at a local Tuesday Morning. The price was right. I grabbed it up.  I had seen the kits before and had a few favorites (this was not on the favorite list, but it is now!). I just didn't want to spend the kind of money they were originally commanding. This was a steal, and it was a lesson to me in, yes, contrasts. I could branch out and make a reproduction of a "newer" quilt, and I could love it:

my reproduced quilt- with liberties taken

The kit's design was inspired by Blocks and Strips, made by Loretta Pettway Bennett. Loretta is the youngest living quilt artist/member of the Quilters of Gee's Bend (having been born in 1960).

Loretta P. Bennett

Loretta's quilt pattern is an example of her "one block quilt" style:
Loretta's Blocks and Strips
50" x 60"
 As I write this entry, I will stand corrected on "dumbed down" quilts. I will marvel in the geometric patchwork of these simple yet narrative quilts. Take a look at them yourself. Flying Geese, Log Cabins, Half Square Triangles. They are all represented. Those quilt elements we learned when we first started. Those elements considered "traditional". It is all in the way one interprets it, isn't it?? Years from now all that matters is that this form of expression lives on. How we as quilt makers do that is a personal choice. We just have to make sure we continue to stitch. I will have a photo of my entire top for you as soon as I can figure a way to photograph it outside without making it a muddy mess! But until then, I will continue to stitch, and I hope you will as well.

Mar 14, 2013

The Creative Process

Any creative process has to begin somewhere, and yesterday between a nap here and a nap there the latest one began. In a word: cutting, cutting, cutting. I love these fabrics. Sturdy batik cotton, rich colors. Not something I would have chosen myself (at least not at the time I acquired these). These lovelies came in their own cotton sack, along with instructions and the prod to not worry about cutting mishaps- just do your own thing. Not that I always get crazy about cutting, but I do try to be extremely precise. Yesterday was another story. My fuzzy brain couldn't wrap itself around WOF versus Length. And in stitching a few pieces together I found that my ability to read numbers and fractions was a bit off. BUT!  This project is one that is very much forgiving, lends itself to doing your own thing and is turning out wonderfully. Today while I'm still fairly awake, I am going to stitch up the last panel (making some adjustments for yesterdays folly) and call the top officially done. Can you guess what this is going to replicate yet?? Oh, btw, no fair enlarging the above photo on the off chance it will tell you what I'm doing (smile).

To Be Continued...

Mar 13, 2013

Spring Fever

I seem to be suffering two kinds of spring fever this week. One, the kind I expected to have- a need for sun, warmer weather and hopes of seeing little green leaves poking out of the muddy ground. It's coming, just not to my neck of the woods just yet. The other is that nasty, dragging feeling. Time change?? Virus??  Who knows- except that I have a pretty raw throat today. That does not bode well...bring on the tea. Lots of tea, tea with honey and maybe some cinnamon for added measure. I've also decided that being a bit of a slug can't hurt. Right??
 I can not, however,  just sit around and do nothing for days on end...where would that get me (other than bored out of my mind and then looking for food to cure that ill, lol)? So I took to my sewing studio yesterday. I hadn't taken any photographs all week and if I can make it through the day without feeling worse, I am going to my photography class later tonight. I'd hate to miss out on whatever is in store for us with this week's lesson.  I had already decided that I didn't want to get too far ahead of former co-worker and have the entire Temecula sew-along project done before our next get together. What to do? What to do?? The sewing bug has bitten and I want to capitalize on that particular "fever"!!  So I
disturbed faithful companion, who just wanted to nap...

Asked Creative Kitty what I might find myself wanting to do...

 and then set to work...

here we go again! Another quilt project in the works. If you hang in there with me, you might get to see what this becomes very very soon.  Now for that cup of tea.....

Mar 8, 2013

Trading In My Shovel

I give up! I'm done. Done shoveling (for the moment), done complaining (aren't you glad!) 
I set my alarm last night so I could be up early enough to do what had to be done this morning and didn't think a thing about the snow that began falling in the early evening. It looked quite pretty actually, and the dog always has fun romping in it. This morning it was truly pretty, and the dog was besides himself Not so much! I am tired of trying to lift heavy, wet shovelfuls of snow and depositing them away from the sidewalks. But it's done- at least for now (and the driveway can stay covered- I managed to gun the motor and force my way out to the road backwards lol....born and raised in this good state of New York... we know how to get our cars out moving in the snow!!  Since the white stuff is still lightly falling, and I've already made it out to get in a few things I need for the all important cup(s) of coffee - such as half and half- I am declaring the rest of the day a sewing day. I had mentioned that former co-worker and I are working on the last sew-along from Temecula Quilt Company. We're late to the party, but pay that no mind. We are happily catching up and enjoying it tremendously. I know I surely am. Tomorrow I'll have to drag everything back to the sewing room since I need my dining room back on Sunday, but until then I am going to cut, stitch and admire my handiwork. Several friends urged me to "not give up on quilting" (as if that could ever happen?), and I assured them I had no intention of doing so, especially since I do not see professional photography in my future (evil laugh). Want a peek at my progress??  Good! I'm glad! Here we go:

The first two rows joined together- very scrappy indeed

adding stash scraps to an old fat quarter bundle from Barbara Brackman- one of her Civil War Collections

Having a grand time putting these 5" blocks together. The pink print peeking at you from the very top right will be two of the borders. Not sure what the other two sides will be just yet, but I know it will all come together. 

I find myself already thinking about the quilting. Nothing like getting ahead of myself. 
So now it is off to sew- the snow has picked up again, and the flakes are getting fat and sassy once more...I think it is going to be a full afternoon of sewing- I'm trading in my shovel for sure!

Mar 7, 2013


I find Mother Nature to be a bit cheeky today. I have just closed the cover on my latest read, Eowyn Ivey's  The Snow Child, and looked up to see swirling snowflakes cascading past the dining room windows. Really?? Again? I hadn't even wiped that tear from my eye (I am a sucker for stories such as the one I just finished), and "spring" has gone back into hiding?? Perhaps I need to pull out my fur hat and leather knee length moccasins and make like Faina?? For those who read the book, you will totally understand. If you have not- do so. It is beautiful- the book that is. As for the return of a wintry mix, not so much. I am an adult and have grown weary of all this cold and snow. I unfortunately left childhood behind me last night when I walked out of the Arts Center at 9pm!  Yes, yes, I are wondering if I have (snow) fever. No, not in the least.  And now I am convinced that you think I've gone completely mad! Perhaps in a way I have, but let me illustrate (these are unedited photos, raw- straight from the camera card and truly quite fun!):

Question:What does it take to turn a room full of grown adults into giggling, gasping, delighted children??

Answer: An array of those silly glow sticks, a laser light and a darkened dance studio!

Last night's photo shoot revolved around "bulb" mode (I found it easily!) and "painting with light".  It was so much fun, and all of us really did giggle and have the best time jumping, looping, drawing and generally throwing caution to the wind with those light sticks. In bulb mode, you must use a tripod (note to self: get a tripod), and your camera is set to shoot what it sees within a time frame you give it. These were shot at a 4 second delay.  Our group was at the end of the dance studio with the bar and mirror so we got reflections in the background. That was fine- actually it was kind of "cool"!
Adulthood can be over-rated sometimes and last night was one of those child-like experiences that left us all grinning ear-to-ear.

So let it snow (again!).  I will choose my next great read, remember jumping around with a glow stick, and perhaps cut a few more fabrics to finish off row#3 of the Temecula project I am working on. Life is good.

Mar 5, 2013

(Meteorological) Spring

Is it Spring Yet?
Who knew! Spring, I always thought, came along on March 21st. To my amazement I have (in my old age where I am finding you can teach an old dog new tricks) been told by our local weather forecaster that last Friday was meteorological spring. Seems it comes along every March 1st (smile)! Who knew?? Well, maybe you all did, but not I. It is nice to think that we have left winter behind and are experiencing spring. Ok- I'm laughing. Seriously laughing. To me spring means daffodils, snowdrops, rain. You know - "April showers bring May flowers". Instead I still live with gray skies, blustery winds and the joy of hearing that there are weather patterns coming from the Midwest that are being watched. I know what that means. Don't put the shovel away just yet. Means I will still be looking out at this for a bit:

Poor neglected Adirondack chair
One of many seed pods in the back garden

and going for the usual lunch time staple of soup and home made bread. It has become my Monday morning routine of late: throw on a pot of soup using what is left in the fridge so it simmers away while I am making my favorite Honey Oat bread. This week it was pumpkin soup with apples and nutmeg. Yum.

So what have I done to pass the time since my last post? ( I was told on Sunday by quilt companion M that she is still waiting for a new post. Guess she needs something else to read over morning coffee. Frankly I find our blogging quilt companion NP's blog posts much more stimulating! She at least discusses books, painting, bonsai, and oh yes!! her quilting projects. Seems these two quilt buddies actually get some quilting done!). It's amazing how many great posts I've composed in my head while out walking- too bad they never made it to "post".
I do know I have been experiencing the winter of my discontent.  I have little to no quilting to show for all the cold, snowy weather we had this year. I did make a few plans- most likely made big announcements to that end as well, and then let it all slide. I managed to clean and organize the sewing studio- that was a start. I managed to pull out the applique project that should have been done five years ago. Again, another start. I even worked on it for a full day- sewing with the quilting buddies towards the end of February. Oh we had a lovely time...and some very good laughs. It's another great start. I even decided that I was not going to make demands on myself and make a small quilt each month as I thought I would do to make up for never finishing out 2012's endeavor. Again, no demands. So exactly what have I been doing then, you may ask??  Reading. Relaxing. Walking the dog. Making quilt plans. Scrapping quilt plans (now there is a play on words!). Taking a photography class (can you tell from the above pictures- maybe not!). Getting together with old friends I haven't seen in what seemed to be "forever". Enjoying the grandchild. And there it is- winter is gone (meterologically) and spring is here (again, meterologically). And with spring has come a renewed excitement. I've fired up the sewing machine and along with former co-worker am making the latest sew-along that just ended at Temecula Quilt Company. I am loving it. Maybe this arrival of spring has brought my mojo with it??  We'll demands, remember. But I've cut, pieced, pressed and pieced some more, all the while smiling and declaring it to be good. Stay tuned. Maybe I'll have something to show for all this activity? Maybe??
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