Bedroom Re-Do

We hope to put our house on the market in about a year’s time and there’s plenty to do to make it show well. My first big job has been to tackle the middle bedroom, used for housing junk! Another reason to get it finished as a bedroom is that we expect our nephew and his boys to visit this Summer and we will need it. First job was to clear it out. Two large bags went out in the trash, things that belonged elsewhere were put away and things I am not sure where to stow are in the bedroom next door. The whole house was painted with a very crappy beige color, so I purchased several gallons of good quality white (on the blue side) paint. We do want to put up some molding to give the rooms an upscale look, but we’ll do that later.

I plan to use this room to house all my wool and rug hooking supplies, so I looked at the Ikea catalog to choose shelves and an inexpensive single bed. I just love Ikea, which we first discovered when we lived in Singapore. It is the perfect place to find inexpensive and well designed things. This shelving is Expedit and it may be my new favorite. Just look at all these empty shelves… A twin bed will go in the middle. Peter and I spent a few hours putting them together.

Ikea thinks of everything you will need. Here are a few things that fit in the shelves. A cupboard door (to hide junk!) baskets and white boxes with labels. There were more possibilities, but these suited my needs.

I spent Monday organizing the big pieces of wool. Of course I had helpers. Jasmine found the piece of wool she looked prettiest on and supervised from there.

Gizmo had to try everything out for size…

and find the best vantage point.

And here is the wool shelf at the moment. I am pleased (and relieved!) that all the big pieces fit… There is lots more wool related stuff to organize and then I will furnish the room. We don’t have kids but this room is going to be “boyish”.

We Love Christmas!

You may not know this but Christmas is one of the best holidays for cats. There’s so much to do!

Presents need wrapping.

There are shipping boxes to investigate…

…lots of them! We really don’t understand why so many…

And the cheeky squirrels! Do they never stop being annoying and yet so enticing?

Deb quilts, no matter what the holiday and this quilt needs to get a binding and a hanging sleeve pronto!

We like to fight about who gets to sleep on the quilts.

Despite all the hustle and bustle, one must keep oneself clean at this special time of the year.

And we got a cat pod from Santa. It is The Perfect Bed!

The problem is that we don’t like to share…..

We hope you had a fun Christmas too!

xox Jasmine & Gizmo

The ATHA Biennial: Animals!

Hello! I am back home from all my meandering in Pennsylvania. I had planned to post photos of the wonderful ATHA Biennial show while I was there, but had second thoughts. As I was taking photos, I realized that I had groups or themes and that a grouping would make for a more interesting post; I am not fond of blogs that have many, many pictures with no comments. Also, I was using my iPad and I was having to go back and forth between WordPress and my photos, which was not convenient. So, here is my first “report”! It was a very nice gathering and show and I do thank all the people who planned it.

There were a great many animal themed rugs and so I thought I would start with them. This very beautiful cat piece was at the entrance to the show area. It had no information with it, which was too bad as it is such an amazing piece of work! If I had to guess from among the big deal hookers, I would say that it might have been done by Elizabeth Black. It was hooked in a fine-cut (3/32″?) on a background of wool. Please notice the wonderful whiskers!

Tuxedo was designed and hooked by Tracey Gillman. I particularly enjoyed this mat as Gizmo is a tuxedo cat as well. The background is hard to see because of the lighting, but it was a great texture.

Floral foxes was designed by Heavens to Betsy (they sell wonderful wool) and hooked by Marian Hall. It had great colors and movement. The blue background is a compliment to the oranges in the foxes and really makes the piece sing.

This charming piece is called As Good As It Gets and was designed and hooked by Elizabeth Marino. Look at the sweet face of the dog – doesn’t she capture his happy personality and love for her? And the shading with all those pale values is not easy to do and was skillfully done.

And I saved my favorite from the whole show for last! This piece is called The Thinker and was designed and hooked by Therese Shick. It is amazing – so realistic and full of rich colors. I liked the background as well, which also had a variety of colors but did not detract from the design.

I have found, when I am looking at rug designs, that the kind that appeal to me the most are the personal ones. When one is hooking their cat, or their home or using an old family photo as inspiration, their passion for the subject comes through. Kudos, ladies!

Schminky: the Quilt

Schminky was a gorgeous cat! Tortoiseshell patterned cats have always appealed to me but she was especially beautiful – she had such a riot of rich browns in her coat!  I adopted her in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and she lived with us in Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and Colorado. Here she is at the end of a trip, helping with the unpacking…

I never wanted to collect cat “items” (my mother kept trying to give me cat thises and thats!) or do more than photograph them until I saw Sharon Maelec’s machine applique animal quilt patterns. They are so well designed and I really wanted to make one. Schminky was gone by then, but with my “vast” collection of brown fabrics, she was an obvious choice to sew. Happily I actually took a class with Sharon and it was very helpful. One very useful bit of information from her was about cats’ eyes. She said that they were the most important feature in a cat and if you got the eyes “right” then everything else worked. The fabric she liked to use, and had brought along for us to use, was palm frond patterns! I placed the eye pattern over the frond in the correct way – and – voila – Schminky had a perfect eye.

Here is Schminky, the quilt! It was such fun to make that I was sorry when the top was completed. Schminky lived on my design wall for quite some time as I auditioned each fabric choice. You really need to do that to make sure the lights and darks are in the correct places  so the cat looks as she should. When I did the first ear and moved back, I discovered I had the lights and darks in the wrong places so the ear looked like it was inside out!

In Googling about for links for you, it seems that Sharon no longer does designing for commercial patterns and is moving her animal work in a different direction. This quilt store carries her patterns and I was there for a recent shop hop! I did notice that the patterns were hung all over the store. Contact them for more info.

On an entirely different note, I must say that I am very sad to hear about the passing of Steve Jobs. We have been Apple people forever and have been delighted and inspired by every product we have bought from them. Apple makes such fun, creative and delightful things and at the heart of it all was Steve Jobs. I have been encouraged to create things I would never have dreamed I could do, and Apple helped me along the way. Peter had the great pleasure of seeing him speak at a MacWorld and he said the man was incredible; that his passion and enthusiasm was palpable. Thanks so much Steve! You will be missed in our house!!!!

Fun for Cats!

I know there are a lot of cat lovers out there, and this post is for you!

We have had cats since we got home from our honeymoon! Neither set of parents would agree to having a pet cat and we both decided we loved them, so we rushed off to the SPCA as soon as we were settled in our new apartment. Sadly, our local SPCA could not afford distemper shots for the kittens and little Smokey Topaz lasted about 10 days… Sassafrass came next ( and was around for 19 years!) and then another kitten, named Juniper, again from the SPCA and again had distemper … We had 9 cats at one point (a mother we rescued had kittens in my closet!) but tend towards 2-4. And depending on where we live, sometimes they stay indoors or sometimes they are allowed out.

I know that vets say the healthiest cats and most long-lived stay indoors, but I have always felt that it’s wonderful for cats to be outdoors, with all the sights and smells and noises. When our cats have been allowed outdoors, we always tried to get them inside for supper and then didn’t let them out. Bad things, indeed, happen at night when the predators are out in full force.

We now live in a neighborhood where only stray cats are outside; there are lots of people talking on the phone and driving faster than they should on our dead-end road plus we have a small yard, so Jasmine and Gizmo stay indoors. When Jas was little and we opened the slider door for her, she would stay there for hours, looking at everything and chittering at the squirrels. I felt so badly, but of course the problem is that you cannot reason with cats to make them stay in their yard! Then I found what we call The Tube. When we first put Jas out in it she was so excited, she kept running from end to end, bouncing off the netting! We had 2 sections for her and then when we got Gizmo, we added two more. The down side of taking animals out in any way is the flea meds; they are so expensive but they do work.

The Tube is really called Fun Run Outdoor Cat Enclosure. Each section is 62″, so the cats can roam around a bit. You unzip an end and zip it together with the next end and that makes the run. It’s made fairly well, though you might notice that some areas are sewn together. The first two sections that we bought had good, sturdy zippers but the second ones did not, so I have taken string and sewn them together. If Jas gets bored and starts pawing at the bad zippers, she can get them undone and then it’s a merry race around the yard trying to catch her.

Another reason I had to sew certain areas was because of a squirrel. One day I went outside and a squirrel had gotten into The Tube. The dopey thing didn’t realize that it could get out and was busy chewing holes in the netting! I had to darn the holes shut, so now when we let the cats in the house, we try to remember to zip up the end to keep out silly animals. A few more tips – I don’t leave the cats alone in it. It would be so scary if a dog (or coyote!) happened by and they were trapped inside. When the lawn services come to nearby yards, the noise of all the equipment really spooks Gizmo as well. Another tip – monitor the weather. Jasmine loves to bake, but Giz is a black and white long-haired cat and gets hot in a hurry. I make sure that part of the tube is in the shade so he has a cool spot. If I see him panting, he goes in the house ASAP. I usually go outside with them during lunch. I eat and then do a crossword puzzle or some stitching. We’re all happy.

“Nothing like a nap in the sun” says Jasmine! Have a happy long weekend…… ;-D

P.S. This is an edit – Garden2day left a comment which reminded me – Jasmine & Gizmo are declawed on their front paws. Perhaps a cat with claws would be able to make a hole and escape….

Off to the Fair!

Whew – I am almost ready for the big day tomorrow. Since I have taught rug hooking for several years, the preparations don’t make me crazy; I enjoy assembling everything. I had the wools spread all over the studio floor on Tuesday and saw a big gap…. Interestingly enough, most of the colors I have dyed are light or medium values, I’m not sure why. So I had to do some dyeing…. I did some dark magenta, blue purple and blue jean blue in dark values. And – I did some pretty spotty wools. I dyed a light value first and then drizzled a darker value on the top and popped it in the oven. I think they will be beautiful when they are hooked.

I’m organizing so I can pack up the car. Jasmine is making sure that I have enough wool to hook the clamshell rug.

Gizmo is counting the patterns and then I will roll them up.

Here are all the supplies…… Hopefully Peter will have a minute to go over the check list with me, as I almost forgot something very important last year. Wow – it’s going to be a very busy day!

Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair-

Registration is Open!

This is the fair’s 5th anniversary and it will be held June 24 – 26 at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Illinois. This will be the second year at this location and I am sure will be better than ever.

I have been teaching there since the beginning and over the years I have taught some fun classes and enjoyed great students. One year I was crazy and taught an all day shibori class. The students were exhausted by the end of the day and I was too! In the morning we did folding and clamping and a bit of sewing,

and in the afternoon, it was on to arashi shibori. I often wonder if any of them still dye…

Last year I offered wool applique.

I think the ladies chose some pretty combinations.

This will be the third year I have taught Primitive Rug Hooking. Here are some of the colors I’ve dyed for class.

And here are a group of ladies happily hooking! Doesn’t it look like fun?

As well as rug hooking, I will also have several hour class/demos on English Paper Piecing. There’s yummy food, music, many, many vendors and lots of interesting artsy people to chat with. There are loads of interesting classes with some “big” name teachers this year, and as I said, registration is open, so I hope you will check out the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair.

New Month, New Theme & Dilemmas

I am a woman who likes choices! Never back me into a corner by saying “this one or else”! Happily, WordPress has lots of choices and I have been eyeing this theme for a while. I’m becoming more and more familiar with the blogging business and I wanted something new. Hope you like it. (I am very fond of dots…)

So here it is March 1st and I am feeling like February flew by. My calendar looks even busier this month.

The January to do’s seem like ages ago! I had a class here on Saturday and Peter asked if I had taken the ladies down to the studio and I said “Heavens, no!”. It looks dreadful; perhaps as bad as it did in January when it was on the top of the to do list. One problem is that I have taught several classes lately and the supplies are sitting all over the room. I am guilty of bringing my bags down to the studio and “parking” them. So this week I certainly need to put everything away and definitely vacuum the cat fuzz.

Also, I think I am in the midst of too many projects and I can’t seem to concentrate on one.

  • I need to dye some wool for a quilt store and I am worried about getting the color and value that was requested.
  • I am going to visit my brother in a few weeks and he wants to learn how to hook a rug, so I have been trying to design a pillow that he will enjoy working on. That also involves  doing some color planning and – oh- then I will have to dye the wool.
  • I had a bit of interaction with a local Girl Scout troop about helping with their sewing badge. Seemed like a fun project so I sent them a mock up but then it escalated into many phone calls, many e-mails and Too Much Fuss!
  • The quilt stores are working on summer class schedules so I am coming up with ideas and wondering how much I want to schedule.
  • And don’t forget all the quilting, hooking, cross stitching projects underway!

I know; this is all not like a 9 to 5 job and believe me, I remember those days. But when you work alone it is very easy to go through a day and not get much checked off the to do list. I find myself darting from project to project – – – when I am hand quilting I think “Oh- I need to make a doctor’s appointment” and I go make it – – – I start to piece a quilt and think “Oh good grief, what are we having for dinner?”. And so it goes.

I’m not alone in my what to do next dilemma! I found Gizmo sitting in the kitchen sink the other day, staring off into space. When I asked him what he was thinking, he said that he was trying to decide whether to pull the towel down into the sink and nap, or lie on his bed in the sun and watch the birds….now those are some decisions!

Perhaps this is the week to remember Peter’s advice: do each project for an hour and see what gets done. While I am quilting I will not stop to check my e-mail. While I am piecing I will not jump up to write a class description. And perhaps I will not spend so much time perusing WordPress themes and looking at other blogs….

(;-D)… just a thought!