Monday, December 29, 2014

Arrived safely

 Given the state of the traffic on I-95 , it is amazing that we arrived in only three days. Parking lot. Don't ask. 

The hotel we stayed in last night had carpet i thought could be a design inspiration. 

In West Palm, air conditioning on. Oh, joy. After three days of sitting in the car it was a pleasure to go for an hour walk the minute we arrived. 

We ate all too well in Savannah and had some of the best barbecue on the road in northern Fla. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

ancient history

Earlier today, I sent a photo of my first quilt (1974) to a friend. Yep, it's sort of ugly.  But this spiderweb scrap quilt bears an eerie resemblance to some of the spiderweb quilts being made in the Modern resurgence of quilt making. In those days, I loved using muslin in my quilts - so yes, there is a lot of (almost) white.  While you can't see it from the photo above, you can see from the detail that I really did use other fabrics when I ran out.  Needless to say, the fabric choices in 1974 left something to be desired.

 Of course, we made cardboard templates, added ¼" before we cut them out with scissors, and made a different size template for each strip.  Today, the spiderweb is a string quilt, pieced on newspaper -- much less labor intensive,more random, and more fun.  Nonetheless, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.    Here's one I swiped from Pinterest; you can find lots more examples there.
Then I remembered that I used to make a log of baby quilts. In the day before digital cameras, I shot them (poorly), had them developed, and put the photos in a little album.  I had come across the album when I was cleaning up this room and tonight sent me scampering to find it and scan in the photos from 1997-1999. I thought I'd share a few of them with you as I look at them for the first time since those early days. These blocks were experiments: I would make random blocks just to see whether I liked them, and I would play with different color combinations.  Even then, I was throwing them into a box and when I needed to make a baby quilt, I pulled some out and went to work.  

I love this one the best: it was the first, and I was going to give it to my first grandchild.
But I didn't -- and I'm not sure where it is now.  Most of these fabrics were from my grandmother's blanket covers made with scraps from the dress factory whee she worked in the 1940's.
  I have absolutely no memory of this one: I wonder whose baby I made it for. This and the one above could easily have been made today. All that negative space - LOL.
 Oh, yes - I loved making this one: what a challenge!  The fabrics, again, were all my grandmother's leftovers.  The top left white fabric with the blue & red circles was from an apron she had made.  don't know who got this one, either.  The photo says 1997. I would not have used the blue sashing today, but it was probably for a boy.  

 There were some other interesting pieces, but I'll share them with you in the next post. Meantime, it is 2:am and if I am going to make my 11:am appointment in the morning, I had better turn out the lights and scamper.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Xmas & Chanukah overlap a bit tonight. Happy Merry to all!

December 24, 2014 is the last day of Chanukah. It ends tonight as Christmas Eve takes its turn.  Whichever holiday you celebrate, I wish you all a happy one.

For me, this has been a long week and I'm only halfway through. I've been trying to use up anything perishable and think I'm in pretty good shape with that.  Today I cleaned the fridge more thoroughly than the weekly lick and promise it usually gets, so that's a big accomplishment.

Tonight I came across a photo of a small piece I threw together on the wall two years ago when I taught a class. The bits came down from the wall and some of them were used in other work -- but that photo inspired me to see what I could do with the ones that were left, along with some fill-ins.  So I threw them at the wall again.  It isn't quite there yet, but almost.  The bottom isn't working and I'm not sure about the left-hand side.
I took a photo of it so I could see it better,  which is what got me started blogging in the first place on January 31,2005.  Good grief -- in another month I will be celebrating a DECADE of blogging. How did that happen?  OMG - I am a decade older. I hate that.  But nothing I can do about it except relax and figure out how I can celebrate with you, dear friends!
The piece works ok in black and white, but there is too much horizontal in the bottom row and I think the square shape is wrong. The piece was originally a rectangle and it worked better - so it's something for me to work on tomorrow while everybody who celebrates Christmas  is opening their gifts.  

In the meantime, many of us who just finished celebrating Chanukah will celebrate Christmas by volunteering at church food banks or going to the movies.  And then, we will have our own traditional Christmas meal.  I have borrowed this from Connie Rose, who posted it on Facebook and it is so appropriate to the holiday season that I post it with thanks to Connie for sharing it!

Happy Holidays, indeed.  And warmest wishes for a happy, healthy, year full of laughter.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Yikes! Two posts in a row.

On one of the lists there has recently been a spate of posts about what constitutes a Modern quilt.  I didn't join the discussion because I was really too tired to write a whole megilla.  And I'm too tired now.
But I will get to it here at some point, when I am not ready to put on the dishwasher and go to bed.

I've been sorting out what I want to take on my next teaching trip, and along theway, I've stopped to play a little with the improvisationally pieced bits in my bin.  Just for the heck of it, I took a few of them and challenged myself to see if I could put them together in a "modern" way -- with lots of negative (ie. white) space.  I got this far before I decided it was enough.  I could visualize an entire quilt with units like the one below, placed in a carefully random way, in a white background. But not by me.  This felt too self-conscious: not the units themselves, which I made some time ago without thinking -- but the white space around them and the decision to make the whole big unit deliberately uneven.  I think it is the deliberate part that did not make me happy.  
And then I found the child-sized quilt top made from a bunch of blocks done in solids and thought that perhaps if those random blocks had been surrounded by lots of white space, this would fit the description of a Modern quilt.
  I loved making the blocks, and even putting them together.  But with lots of negative space, it would be a different piece.  Or even without the printed borders. Hmmm...but is it worth the effort to redo? I think not.  But maybe next time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

been organizing my life

it has been one thing after another, and before it becomes one more thing, here I am. Sunday morning, coffee in hand, waiting for my toast.  And when I hear the beep, I open the microwave oven, which is empty.  Oops - am I loosing it?  Nope; my mind is in 17 other places.  You know the feeling. Right?

For the past three weeks or more, I have spent time every day working on this room; filling up trash bags, moving boxes, and clearing the mountain off of the cutting table.  Have I actually cut anything?
Well, yes.  The fabric for the pillow on the right, which will remain unfinished for a few more months. But at least I can breathe in here!

Spent last weekend in NY, celebrating my grandson Alexander's bar mitzvah. Stayed in a "boutique" hotel (meaning mega$$$, tiny room).  Here is how much space there was between the foot of the bed and the closet.  You had to stand sideways to open the left-hand closet door, which hit the bed so couldn't open all the way.  The mirror was on that door so if you wanted to see yourself in the full-length mirror, you had to open the other door and stand IN the closet. Nonetheless - we had fun.
A few family pix... with Jeremy, who didn't look too happy about posing for the camera:-))
My daughters and daughter-in-law.
And you-know-who.

Was back in the city on Thursday for my friend Susan's opening at a gallery in Chelsea.  We went in early and made the rounds. Saw a really disappointing Motherwell show that looked like they had dredged things from his closet.  We couldn't understand why it had gotten such a good review.  But the highlight was the show of Martin Puryear's work: every piece was elegant.  My photos don't begin to do them justice.

Enough for now.  Coffee cup is empty and it's time to start my day.  More tomorrow.

Sunday, December 07, 2014


Stayed in all weekend, still cleaning my sewing room in the frigid weather.  No photos till I am finished, which had better be relatively soon!

This is not to say that I haven't been in the kitchen.  I've made pots and pots of soup this past week.  First, what to do with the poached chicken breasts I was going to make into a Mexican dish but didn't?  Aha -- Thai coconut chicken soup!!  I just happened to have a stalk of lemongrass in my fridge, a couple of cans of coconut milk, some mushrooms, and the staples in my house: cilantro,lime, red and green curry pastes,and nam pla or nuoc nam (Thai fish sauce). It was so fabulous I wished I had made a gallon of it.  I used green curry paste.  

Later in the week I decided I had better do something with the somewhat over-the-hill cauliflower I hadn't gotten around to using. This one was a no-brainer I found on my NY Times cooking app: Melissa Clark's lemony carrot cauliflower soup.  I just finished the last of it. Delicious and low calorie.

Friday and Saturday I made two pots of vegetable bean soup. I just threw in everything else in the fridge and it was divine.  Soups make easy meals when you have no time to cook because you are sorting and ironing you-know-what.

Thanks for your comments for the giveaway.  The random number generator picked #2, so Sandy Ellison is the lucky winner.  Will get the books out to her this week. I do have to say, however, that if you leave a comment and want to be included in the drawing for whatever it is, you must leave an email address. Otherwise, i can't get in touch with you. No email address, no goodies.  I will have more books to part with next week.

Meantime, I have finished burning the midnight oil. Enough sorting/ironing for tonight!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

where have I been?

Mostly at home.  Thanksgiving was particularly lovely this year. I spent most of the day organizing the cabinet above my desk in the kitchen. This was a result of my starting to reorganize and clear out my sewing room.  Some things simply needed to be moved to the kitchen cabinet but I had to clear those out first.  Ya know what i mean?  One thing leads to another and my shredder got a good workout.

Thanksgiving night, my daughter Hilary and I went out for drinks and dinner.  A relaxing holiday, I must admit. No cooking, no cleanup, no dishes. Ahhh....

I have spent the rest of the week (including the weekend) clearing the clutter (have a long way to go), filling trash bags galore, and getting rid of STUFF.  This includes books I no longer need/want/have room for.  And I have uncovered a stash of small (i.e. journal) quilts I have to put aside and decide what to do with. 

The difficult part is making the small decisions - but that's an old story.  And I still have all those family photos to go through.  Here's one for you: I not only have my own wedding album from my first marriage, but now, my mother's duplicate plus all the proofs, and my grandmother's version. ARGH. These have to go downstairs in the lower level, but not till I clear THAT out. And on and on.  This is what I have been doing for a week - and I still have not touched the fabric in this room.  No pictures till I am done.

Today I went into NY and met Usha for lunch.  I bundled up - hoodie, coat, scarf, and furry clogs, and was amused to see that one of the commuters in George Segal's iconic sculpture in the Port Authority Terminal had decided she needed a head-warmer.

The Port Authority has already started getting dressed for the holidays.

Usha and I had a wonderful South Indian lunch at Madras Mahal on Lexington Avenue and had a chance to catch up -- but it was much too short a visit. She headed to Chinatown to stock up on ginger and I headed to the bus, hoping to avoid rush hour. Nope. Rain and traffic doubled the trip from ½ hour to an hour to the mall where I had parked my car.
I was happy to get home and have decided to leave the continued clearing till tomorrow.

In the meantime:
I have packed up the Quilt National catalogs from 1993, 95,97, and 99, a Visions '98 catalog, and another book and am ready to send them off, book rate, to a good home. If you want them, leave a comment and I'll let the random number generator pick the new owner by Friday morning, Dec. 6.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I can't remember having spent a whole weekend doing NOTHING. I mean nothing! Saturday evaporated in a minute, after I had slept the morning away.  And Sunday, I spent huddled over the computer doing geneaology research which may ultimately lead to a big question mark. Ah, well.

Probably the exhaustion was due to a hectic week, crowned by spending a cold Friday in New York, visiting a bunch of galleries on the Lower East Side and getting an education in some art I might never had given a first glance, let alone a second one.  Stimulating, educational, exciting.  And exhausting -- climbing all those flights of stairs to art galleries in lofts.   Worth the effort.

Our curator and passionate, knowledgeable guide, Justin Polera, gave us the backgroun and the intent of the artists we saw -- but to me, art evokes a visceral response and while knowing the artist's intent helps me understand it, it does not make me like it.  Here, a couple of pieces by Klaus Merkel at the Joe Sheftel Gallery on Orchard St.

Across the street, Andres Carranza. He was cutting up canvas on his hands and knees and took time to speak to us about his work and his process.  Although he is right-handed, he worked with his left hand on these canvases, which were site-specific installations on the gallery's walls.  It was these that he was cutting into smaller sections, to sell.  Andres is here from Costa Rica on a residency and is heading to Art Basel Miami next week.
Sam Lewitt works with plastic-clad copper (or is it copper-clad plastic?) - the material many computer components are made from.  His work was in two galleries, and it was the work in the second gallery that captivated me. Drop-dead gorgeous; it could have been cloth, but it wasn't.
I don't normally cook on weekends, but Friday night I was too tired (and cold) to even venture out to eat.  Takeout from the Greek restaurant that delivers was the perfect answer.  So tired that we did not go out till Sunday night.  Saturday night must have been leftovers.  A blur.

I've been reading, staring into space, and taking a few days off to nurture myself a little -- without guilt.
Feels good.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

end of the week

Packed and ready to leave for home, with a stop on the way.  This has been a delightful
week -- nonstop Mexican food, great company, and a class of SAQA members that didn't even know how talented they were.

A key part of this workshop was the  voluntary critique of works in process; what I call 'groupthink."  Looking at someone else's work-in-progress is the best way to develop an eye for design you can take back to your own work, and the class members came up with some alternative solutions to some design problems others were stuck on.made were insightful and helpful.ifyou...?"

Julie is putting together her quilt, which captures the essence of a field of wildflowers.  
Following the group's suggestion that she try it without the blue and white sky, she removed that section and decided the piece was better without it. She set it aside and the blue and white units can be the starting point for another piece of work.  A design solution!

Kathy made this art quilt, which started as pieced strips she couldn't imagine would turn into anything cohesive.  But here it is, partially put together and ready to be completed at home.  I look forward to seeing the photo of the finished piece! It is both energetic and serene.

Elise's piece ended up to be a dynamic piece that made her feel really good.  Admittedly, it was a challenge to put together all those different sized pieces -- but it was worth it.  And the group's suggestions as she worked on it really helped with her color choices and placement.  She's happy, as she should be.

 I'm at the Tucson airport and have a long day ahead of me.  As always, I envy the class participants for having days to just play.  I have a break from teaching now for several months and am eager to get back to my own design wall and sewing machine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

class, class, class

Sigh...I am so lucky.

Teaching in Tucson for a wonderful group of SAQA members. Day 3 of 4, some people are ready to stitch their pieces, others are still working on the wall, and still others have started a second piece.
I tell them it is not a contest.  Anita and Kathy are hard at work.
Kathy's pieces are below and she'll probably start quilting one of them on Saturday.

Saralee came in with a specific idea for a triptych and finished the first of the three pieces.

Julie is contemplating the piece on her wall, which will look different by the time she has finished it.

Dureen's piece began as a monochromatic horizontal and ended as a vertical with more color.

Barbara is auditioning backgrounds for her piece.  It's great that the classroom is in a fabric store and we can go shopping for just the right fabrics to add to our pieces!
I can't wait to see how Kathy K's piece will end up.  It is still a work in progress, as are several other pieces in the class. Here, I've taken a picture in black and whilte so we could see the variation in value as she worked.

I am getting my fill of Mexican food while I am here!  Tonight's dinner at El Charro was especially delicious and the company of several class members added to the pleasure.  We had fun!
More tomorrow, after we wrap up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

the joys of travel

This was the scene from the Denver airport as I waited to catch a flight to Tucson. It was not snowing when I arrived. The last time I came through the Mile High City, there was a blizzard that caused me to stay at a hotel overnight.  This was not so bad: only a 3 hour delay -- two of them spent sitting on the tarmac waiting till the de-icing operations opened up.  We had to go outside and walk to the plane, then walk up such a slippery ramp that one woman on our flight slipped, fell,and hit her head.  
It was great to finally get to Tucson, where the night temps were in the 70's.  Happily, I am staying with Janet and Dave Windsor, who are absolutely delightful people.  Lucky me!  Tomorrow is a gap day.

Spent most of the weekend packing, but took time off to go to the opening of  a wonderful exhibit of art chairs on Sunday afternoon.  This was a fundraiser for the WAE Center, which is a place where developmentally disabled artists can take classes, create, and work in a variety of mediums.  My friend Yvette directs the art program and commissioned a number of artists to conceive a chair project as art and have the students participating in creating the chairs.  Here are just a few of them.

The student artists painted these Ikea chairs, whch can remain a sculpture or be taken apart and used.
My friend Susanna directed this project and it was the first art to sell!
The student artists built this chair from Legos!

This was the most creative exhibit I have seen in years.  Now, time to catch up on my sleep. I've been up since 5 this morning and it is now 1:30 am Eastern time, but Iam supposed to pretend it is only 11:30 p.m.  'Night.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Friday makeover

Here I am, looking like I have an overgrown tree on my head.  I am not complaining about the thickness of my hair; I am merely stating a fact. My hair grows longer but for the most part, it grows out like the top of a mushroom.  In a while, I hope there will be an improvement because my bangs are covering my eyes.
In the meantime, I was in the studio printing scarves on Tuesday and by now they are all steamed/washed/ironed/tagged/folded and are ready to go into my suitcase.
Here is one on my print table.
Here is a bit of another one, hanging to dry.  Both of these look much better now, having been washed.  These are not great photos, but oh well.

Post-haircut, at least you can see my eyes.  
Yes, that is part of my vintage coffee/tea/other foodstuff (marshmallows, anyone? borax? bread curmbs?  A stash of vintage tin signs downstairs -- no repros!  Camel cigarettes, Winstons, a Tums thermometer, soft drinks that no longer exist, blah blah blah. Maybe I'll put them back up when/if I ever get the kitchen repainted. A 2015 project.

In the meantime, I have been putzing around in my sewing room, working on something I started a year ago and habe taken apart and sewn together too many times to count.  I think it needs to be something else.

The spaghetti sauce is bubbling away and I'm trying to decide what else it needs. Probably some red wine but that means I'll have to open a bottle. Well, maybe I'll skip that ingredient.  Fresh basil would be good but that means I have to go upstairs to the greenhouse/aka master bath, which has a skylight.  And I'm too lazy.  Garlic, artichoke hearts, beef, capers, anchovies, and I forget what else.
There you have it.  Cocktail hour looms and I am done with all this idle chit-chat for the time being. If there is any breaking news between now and Monday, when I am in transit (unlikely), I will post it.
Enjoy your weekend; I will be scrambling to try and cram everything into one suitcase. Ha!

soup weather in June and a little more

DISCLAIMER: Blogger is giving me grief tonight, which you will see by the varying sizes of the type. Ye p, soup weather and it's ...