Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring!

 
We have survived the dreadful winter and finally are seeing some signs of spring:  robins, a touch of green in the dead lawns, a tiny crocus sprout poking through dead leaves.  And Mr. Chipmunk, up from hibernation, eating bird seed by the front door.  Mr. Oliver is riveted, tail thrashing, body tense, for hours.  He sleeps in the evening, exhausted.
 
I haven't posted about quilting for awhile as I was coping with a very sick husband, and then while caring for him had an injury to my right hand which kept me out of commission for awhile.  All is well now, and this all happened during the polar vortex in February, the snows, and the daily treks to the ER or the hospital or the outpatient center kept me more than busy. 
 
My hand emergency was a very bad burn that happened while placing a beef roast in a big pan with hot oil in the bottom.  It stuck on the pan's side as I was lowering it in, the oil was too hot as I had set the heat too high when distracted, and the meat bounced into the oil with my hand down in the pan.  The hot oil splashed up and covered my thumb and the first two fingers. 
 
I rinsed my hand in cold water, and we immediately went to the ER for treatment.  The burns were second degree, fortunately not worse.  I was so thankful for the excellent care and the pain meds! 
 
Two days later with my huge bandaged hand I went to the regional burn center for specialized treatment.  It looked very bad when the bandage came off, but they used a new method of covering the burn with a foam material saturated with silver.  No ointment or antibiotics,  just this wrapped onto my hand for one week. 
 
I became very creative in doing things with my left hand, along with the last two fingers on my right hand, all without getting the hand wet.  After a week they removed this material and the bandages and it was miraculously back to looking like my hand, only very red where the oil had burned it.  No pain, just a little itchy feeling as the skin peeled and replaced itself.  We celebrated with a meal out on the way home, yay.  Even the burn center people were amazed at how well it all worked.
 
My hand is fine now, it gets quite red and glowing sometimes, but it is ok.  I was very fortunate to live near very good medical care. 
 
 
 
Spring is arriving, birds are singing in the morning, and I've been doing some sorting and winnowing and cleaning, Oliver loves to help me.  He was so worried when my hand was bad, slept next to me with his paw on my shoulder, and purred.  Soon we will go into the forbidden sewing room and crank up the machines and see if they still work. 
 
I've enjoyed your emails and news on Facebook, and one email in particular I'll share with you soon, all about a technique I never heard of called "ghost quilting." 
 
A friend told me about a new product that erases blue lines from the washout blue liners without water.  I'll dig up that link and post it too, although you all probably are aware of this already, ha. 
 
The quilt show at Paducah is just around the corner, best of luck to all who have quilts there, and hope everyone has a great week there.  I won't be going this year, but will be checking online to see what's happening.  I'll miss it!
 
 
 
Wishing you all successful quilting and a happy Spring!
Diane
 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Windows

 
We are still in the Polar Vortex, like much of the country.  Last Sunday we had balmy temps of 30 degrees, sun, no snow, no wind.  We fled the house on a wonderful visit to nearby Wauwatosa, WI, suburb of Milwaukee for a dinner out.  We walked down a charming street filled with small businesses and shops, and I stopped in amazement to see two big old-fashioned store front windows in a dry cleaner's store filled completely with pots of geraniums, blooming, growing, blossoming in the afternoon sun.
 
What a complete treat, a luxury to behold in the middle of the frozen winter with sun once a week if we are lucky, and snow and cold almost every day.  The flowers must have been on the sidewalk outside for all of last summer, and then brought in to flourish through the winter in the windows.  The owner saved them, loved them enough to keep them going thru the winter and let us, those who walked by or came in for business, delight in their beauty.  All those shades of pink, rose, red, white! 
 
Note the gloomy, snowy, bleak landscape behind me in the photo, and our reflections too, all bundled up, trudging along.  Sigh.
 
We saw a mini library outside too, next time I'll get a photo of that, they are so charming.  The old shoe store but with modern Clark's in the window, and real moccasins, love that one too.  The chocolate shop, the bakery with incredible confections.  Then we arrived at Balistreri's Italian restaurant, one of our favorite local places, for yummy pizza.  We experienced Christmas all over again with the holiday d├ęcor, and spent a very enjoyable time, eating delicious thin crust melt-in-your-mouth real pizza. 
 
 
We're headed to way below zero again, and the icy ferns on my window will reappear, just another winter window for me to enjoy. 
 
I think I spoke too soon about enjoying the treasure hunt in my new Windows 8 computer, eeeeek!  I am finding it so frustrating not to get my old menus, not to be able to easily find and do things, but it is getting better as I conquer this.  I do like the slide shows of the photos from the App screen, much like those in tablets.
 
I reached my breaking point last week trying to print a coupon for the office store.  It was a pdf attachment and showed on a black screen.  No matter what, no menu, no right click, no way to say "PRINT."  Finally I read the Help topics and did a Screen Shot, saved it, and could print that from the little file folder system on my taskbar.  Well, it printed the entire black APP screen plus the coupon, which I did take with me to show my tech guy and ask how to do it.  He didn't know, and they all laughed at my using half an ink cartridge to get the coupon........grrrrr.  I had to laugh too.
 
I figured it out now; I hook up my old Windows 7 Netbook I used for travel, open the email and coupon in that, click Print, and out it comes on white paper, perfect.  There must be a better way.........
 
Then I get an email from HP telling me they will soon have new laptops with Windows 7!  Ah, too late.
 
Hope you are surviving winter, it's a bad one for the entire country.  I am glad I am not driving to teaching gigs, or the airport at 5 a.m. on dicey roads. 
 
Today I was organizing my photos, writing an article for American Quilter Magazine, and found the one, below, of my window in the room I often had at Asilomar where I taught for several years.  I loved that window.  I could relax after class and before dinner and evening events, feel the cool ocean air, smell the Monterey pines, and just "be." 
 
 
 
Soon I hope to crank up my trusty Bernina and do a bit of quilting.  I think Oliver would like to be back in "that room" again, looking out his two front windows, watching the world go by!
 
Keep quilting; don't let the cold grey days stop you.  Your work gets better every day...
Diane
 
 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy 2014!

 
Oliver and I survived the holidays, napped through New Year's, and are now huddled finding warmth in the Polar Vortex that has overtaken the country.  Yesterday it was -14 when I took this photo of Oliver in his favorite cardboard box by the front door where he watches and stalks birds and squirrels at the bird seed I put out. 
 
Today it is supposed to hit zero degrees, and I might venture out for coffee, cat food, and bird seed!
 
Happy New Year to all of you, and best wishes for great quilting this year.  I hope to get back to giving you some ideas and tips soon. 
 
I am now working on my brand new laptop (a total impulse purchase for me, not at all typical) and have been rocketed into the new age of all things geeky.  Fixing DH's computer, system restores, installing all sorts of things that took forever to get back to normal, including a new WiFi router that gave me fits but is humming away now and not crashing and blinking and melting down - all this has been my daily routine for the past two weeks!  My new friends are the guys who help me out in the tech department.  The end may be in sight I think.  A few loose ends to tie, and I shall be freed from tech stuff.
 
It didn't take me long to get used to Windows 8 and I must say I am enjoying the treasure hunt to find where files are now stored, how to do the things I used to do without thinking, but it is all getting very easy and it is fun, not stressful.  I still need to get my photo program downloaded and then my old laptop will be cut free, to relax and enjoy its much-deserved retirement. 
 
And I have Apps.  I love my weather App.  The background photos look like my view out the window.  It can "find my location" and tells me everything and more about my weather. 
 
I've liked seeing all the holiday quilting projects and photos on Facebook, and pet photos too.  I know quilters are busy as always being creative.
 
We had our little Charlie Brown faux Christmas tree again, decorated with birds, nests, and real nests blown down in the yard that I have saved over the years.  I added clear lights and my collection of crystal ornaments, and it was beautiful.
 
 
 
Oliver took several days to "notice" that the new thing blocking his view out the window had BIRDS perched in it.  Every night at 9:30  he sat on the old Singer treadle next to it and gazed at it for a long time before gently reaching out and swiping one bird or nest off and onto the floor.  In the a.m. when I was having coffee he did the same thing.  The victims were then placed in the greenery on the mantel, out of his reach.  It was a game with us, and he ignored the crystal ornaments and never toppled the tree.  He is four years old and has developed civilized sensibilities. 
 
Below, a hazy photo of him gazing at his tree.
 
 
I hope your year is filled with lights and crystal and wonder, and quilting always.  Stay warm......
Diane
 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Quilting with Digitized Embroidery

Detail from the megahoop design in my "Quilting Whimsy" collection
 
If you own a home sewing machine that has the capability to do hoop embroidery you also have the capability to do hoop quilting!  There are digitized quilting designs available from various quilt artists, and I've seen many quilts using these designs now, beautifully quilted. 
 
All three layers are positioned in the hoop for the quilting, although I do know one quilter who quilted the designs through the top and a thin batt first, then layered the backing and did simple outlines around the design and any background quilting through ALL the layers.  It was easier to do the digitized quilting in the hoop in her home machine with a thin batt and only the top.
 
It's easier to do small projects, and larger quilts are better suited if the machine is mounted on a frame system.  Smaller quilts are very do-able in your normal set-up, and can give you beautiful ornate quilting that might be hard for you to do with regular free motion quilting.  The stitches are even, the traveling is undetectable, designs can be sized, rotated, combined to create your own look.  Backgrounds, like the grid below, are done free motion or with a walking foot by you.
 
 
Designs from "Quilting Fancy" combined to create this medallion
 
 
When I've seen quilts done with my designs that have been digitized I always have to catch my breath, they are lovely.  These designs really can add to your quilt's beauty, even if you use only one as a focal point.
 
I have two collections of designs available at www.embroideryonline.com under the licensed artists' collections.  "Quilting Whimsy" is on sale now, and they have brought back my original collection "Quilting Fancy."
 
 
Combined designs from "Quilting Fancy"
 
 
These designs were meant for quilting, but look amazing done as "redwork" line design embroidery as well in colored, heavier thread.
 
Hope you had a terrific Thanksgiving, and can sneak in some time for yourself and your quilting....or play with digitized quilting..... during this busy time of year.
 
Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day,
Diane
 
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thank You....

 
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA, and we are preparing for a day of delicious food, and a day of giving thanks. 
 
It is special to set aside a day to think about all we are grateful for, to share it with family and friends, or maybe just a dear little cat.  I am thankful for so much, and as I chop veggies, roast the turkey, set the table, I will be thinking of so many of you who have enriched my life beyond compare. 
 
The people and places of quilting have given me so many memories, funny, exhiliarating, exasperating, heartwarming, all in a very special place in my heart.  For that I thank all of you, and wish you the very best Thanksgiving and holiday season, with much to celebrate.  Oliver will be helping me cook, especially the Brussels sprouts and yams, as we settle in here in very cold Wisconsin for a yummy meal and look forward to a cozy winter.
 
May your day be warm and wonderful, food delicious, friends and family there for you, and memories to be made for the future.  Enjoy,
Diane

Monday, November 4, 2013

AAQI Reaches $1 Million!!

 
Congratulations to Ami Simms and her Alzheimer's Art Quilt Iniatiative for reaching the $1 million mark at Houston last week!  Above, Ricky Timms and Alex Anderson helping Ami celebrate this remarkable amazing splendiferous achievement!
 
I am honored to have had a quilt in the very first AAQI traveling exhibit and book, and now have my second quilt, "Return to Provence" in the Celebrity Invitational Auction at www.alzquilts.org
 
The quilts are made by famous quilters, are so very beautiful, and are the last big chance for all of us to support AAQI and make the final amount raised even higher! 
 
Special thanks to Ami and her thousands of helpers and volunteers who made this happen, to quilters who made quilts, sold quilts, bought quilts, shipped quilts, helped at the exhibits, did it all.  Quilters rock!!!! 
 
Below, photos of my quilt in the auction, but please buy one that speaks to you; they are all works of art, all special and unique and original. 
 
 
 
 
 
The auction is on now, and runs through 10 p.m. Nov. 10 (I earlier mistakenly said Nov.6).  Here is the link for bidding:   
 
Thank you to all who even consider bidding - all of us who have loved ones, friends, dear people affected by Alzheimer's can't even begin to tell you how much you are treasured for helping this cause.
 
Diane
 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Halloween

 
It's that time of year again when pumpkins glow, leaves are flying in the air and rustling in the wind as winter approaches. 
 
Quite a few years ago while quilting on this lovely hand dyed sateen, above, I came back to my machine and discovered many small Dracula type bats looking at me.  I had not noticed them when I washed/pressed the fabric, or cut it and layered it, or even when quilting the feathers, but all of a sudden..........there they were! 
 
I had to make a decision whether to quilt background over them, or give them their space.  Not wanting to tempt fate, I decided to outline quilt them and let them have their fun emerging from the bottom feathers with glee and ghoulishness, ha.  I named the small quilt "Batzbelow" in their honor and so far all is well.  They stay in the quilt, stored in the back room.
 
Last week we got a new furnace and AC unit as our old ones were starting to fail with metal fatigue and old age, much like me I think.  Oliver had a hard day, lots of banging and clanging, new duct work, two efficient competent guys going up and down noisy stairs and in and out of the house all day. 
 
He worried for about a week now that they were either a) still in the basement waiting to spring a surprise on him, or b) across the street working on the new roof over there.  Everything is now quiet, toasty warm, fabulous.  Even my fingers are warm!  Oliver's toe pads and nose are PINK.  High efficiency heat is VERY nice! 
 
Can't wait to try the new AC that is 5' tall (really) and the highest efficiency rating and cooling capacity sized for our house that we could get.  I hope next summer I will be cool and dry and calm and fabulous instead of hot and sweaty and grouchy and no energy.  That is yet to be seen of course.
 
Hope you are enjoying the turn of seasons.  Below, a photo of "Joy Remembered," a quilt I made last year for the AAQI Celebrity Auction.  This year's quilt, "Return to Provence," will be available in this same auction in November.  Please visit www.alzquilts.org to see all the quilts made by fantastic people to help raise funds to fight this terrible disease.   I'll post some photos of it this week so you can think about it before the auction ends. 
 
 
Detail "Joy Remembered"
 
 
 
Have fun this Halloween, and if you are like me you better not buy Reese's peanut butter cups for the trick or treaters as there will be leftovers and they are not to be resisted.
 
Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day,
Diane