Friday, October 30, 2009

Family Pampering

Miss C and I are at Grandma and Grampa's house. Her grandma and grandpa, my parents' house, that is. We inched our way through San Francisco over the Golden Gate bridge in traffic the likes of which I'd not seen in ages in order to come -- I reminded myself that people pay oodles of money and travel miles and miles to drive over the bridge, so if I got to creep over it a foot at a time, I was LUCKY.

The purpose of the trip was to bring Caroline to see the pediatric neurologist who specializes in migraines at Stanford Children's Hospital. There is nothing -- nothing, I tell you -- which snaps your life into perspective faster than sitting in the waiting room in a pediatric neurology waiting room. I am still counting my blessings.

So, all is good and we are now hanging out here through the weekend so that Caroline can go to a Halloween party on Saturday night at the home of one her school classmates. She'll get to meet some classmates in person, so that should be fun. She has an elaborate wizard/princess costume going, and Grandpa helped her make a faux metal dagger and she is delighted. Nothing like greeting new friends with a weapon on hand, just in case.

And we are enjoying the portability of our work -- I have my laptop so I can continue (sigh) my legal work and Caroline has done her classes on Grandpa's computer and is hard at work on her algebra. Have laptops, will travel.

Have a spooky Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Can you hear the machine humming?

Just a sneak peek at what I've been doing...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Coffee, Please!

I feel as if I am slogging through mud. I wake in the morning and have the urge to just stay in bed all day. I am tempted to wander around the house in my cozy bathrobe and Ugg boots, with occasional collapses onto the couch to rest after the exertion of going downstairs.

In contrast to my external lack of energy, my brain can't stop the whirls of color and pattern flying by. I lay in bed at night and think about quilts I saw, what to do with that one piece of fabric I've had in my closet for the last year, how to finish the border on an almost-done top that is folded on the UFO pile.

And the reality is that once I'm upright each morning, I have to force myself to the computer, open up my work files, and turn down the volume on the right side of my brain so I can summon some lawyerly thinking to deal with the pile of work on my desk. I'm analyzing the legal definition of criminal negligence and trying to ignore the thoughts about how to quilt my pink quilt top as they fly past my inner eye.

So here I sit, yellow pads of paper scattered to the sides of my keyboard. I'm getting down to work. Just ignore the doodles of quilting designs all over them, okay?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quilt Show Delirium

I am down in the SF Bay area, attending the Pacific International Quilt Festival. I am cruising the show with my friend Pat D., and we have had an exhilarating day viewing quilts that we will never make and fondling all of the fabric we long to bring home and shove into our all-too-crowded stashes.

By 4:00, we are giddy with Quilt Overload. Still, we persevere. We admire amazing technique and gorgeous designs, and always look to see the quilt's descriptive card so we know just who to admire and envy as we ogle her (usually her) quilt.

We are standing in front of a lovely, colorful quilt. I glance over at the placard and notice that the quilter's last name is "Dippinlips." I am pondering the fate of either surviving on an elementary school playground with that last name OR loving some fellow enough to take on that last name, and say to Pat, "Her last name is Dippinlips!"

Pat looks more closely at the card. "And her first name is 'Snickle!'" We look at each other as we say, in unison, "Snickle Dippinlips?"

We fall about laughing. Trying to catch her breath, Pat looks more closely at the card. "Wait," she says, "that's the name of the QUILT. Her name is Claire Fairless."

I'm sure Claire Fairless is a lovely person -- undoubtedly quite talented, too -- but somehow we liked her better when we thought she was Snickle Dippinlips. We stagger off down the aisle, giggling helplessly, and entertain ourselves for the next hour by saying things like "Meet my good friend Snickle!" and "How lovely you look, Mrs. Dippinlips!"

Quilt shows: not for the faint-hearted.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Excitement

It's October in California! And that means (drum roll, please...) it's time for Pacific International Quilt Festival!

I'm off for the weekend to visit my parents (who live 20 minutes away from the quilt show site, lucky me), get inspired by amazing quilts, and see what new fabrics and gadgets I can't live without.

Back soon!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Perhaps a librarian could help

Today was re-entry after a blissful few days off on quilting retreat. After several days of uninterrupted creative time, lovely friends, lots of laughter, all punctuated by regular delicious meals which I did not have to cook, there's always a bit of a thud returning to the reality of home. (Not that home isn't lovely, but landing back amid piles of laundry and catalogs and Work To Be Done and miscellaneous Things to Be Put Away is always a bit of a shock. You know, "Who ARE these people and how to they manage to make such a mess?!")

So, naturally, I took myself out to run errands. I dropped by the fabric store (not having had enough fabric time despite 12 hours per day of it over the last several days), and picked up some groceries, and visited the library to pick up some of the books they'd found for me.

One of my favorite things about my local library system, by the way, is that I can look things up online in the library's county-wide catalog, "request" them with the click of a button, and they magically appear on the "hold" shelf sometime later. It's like but without the
less fun result when the credit card bill comes.

I'm in and out of the library frequently, and I have come to the conclusion that people who become librarians do so because they like books more than they like people. (Excuse me if you are among the rare breed known as Friendly Librarians -- I don't see them often in my bibliographic forest.) Gradually, my extreme charm and sparkling wit are winning these reserved folk over -- some days I get a timid smile and on a really good day I'll get a compliment about my just-for-library-books basket.

Today, as the librarian was sliding my books past the magic magnetic thingie, she looked up with a broad smile. "Oh, I never read books, but I read THAT one and it was really good."

You got that? "I never read books." I replied that I was very glad to hear the book was worth reading, and we resumed our exchange in silence while I pondered how it was she came to choose her career.

This reminded me of an incident some years back with my favorite front-desk librarian, a slim blond woman with perpetually wispy hair and bright pink lipstick smeared crookedly across her lips.

She sighed as she started in processing the stack of novels I'd placed on the counter. "You read so many books! I wish I could find a good novel to read."

What does one say to that, standing in the middle of a library? "Well, what sort of things do you like?" I asked.

"I don't know how to find books about the things I like," she replied with a shrug, and then went on to tell me that she preferred to read the astrology columns in newspapers. I suggested that she search the online catalog for books about astrology, and threw out the name of an author who writes mysteries featuring astrological topics. She looked astonished at my cleverness. "I never thought of that!"

Of course, this was the same woman who announced once as she took my library card, "we have the same name!"

"Oh, you're Diane too?" I replied (brilliant, yes?)

"No, my name is Cynthia." Said brightly, as if perfectly logical.

For the life of me I couldn't figure out how to reply. "We're both goddesses!" she exclaimed.

Note to self: don't try to engage the librarians in conversation. It will only cause more furrowed brow lines of confusion, of which I have plenty already.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Off to the Ranch

This evening marks the start of another of the biannual quilting retreats I attend out at Bishop's Ranch. I especially love the October retreat, when the crispness of fall is in the air and the vineyards are tinged with yellow as the leaves start to turn. It's a wonderful time to gather with friends and get busy with sewing.

So, today I'm packing up and sorting out what to take. It's not easy figuring out what I'll work on! I've found, from past retreats, that I don't do well working on anything that requires too much thought -- I'd rather be chatting, and the retreat setting just doesn't lend itself to heavy concentration. I've also done machine-quilting there in the past, although keeping one's head down and humming away at quilting speed isn't conducive to community chatting, either. So, for me the best tasks tend to be piecing, or working on something I've thought out before I arrive.

In the pile are 1) a bunch of wedges for a One-Block-Wonder quilt I cut out quite a while ago; 2) squares stacked and ready to be sewn into rows for a simple cozy throw quilt, using the snow ball pattern; 3) more blocks to piece from scraps for a springy quilt, probably for donation purposes; and 4) papers and fabrics for a Karen Stone paper-piecing project in shades of yellow and purple that I started at the last retreat.

That ought to keep me busy.

Of course, the camera will go into the bag for future pictures...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Let the Studio Tours Begin!

Quilting Arts is hosting a studio tour this weekend -- what fun to be able to sit at home and still see the creative spaces of a whole bunch of talented quilters and artists! Pull up a chair and start studio hopping!

Me, I have a funny little office/studio combo which means I have desk and work area in one corner and a sewing area in another ... with a closet stuffed full of fabric. Hardly tour-worthy. But I look at some of these studios and dream of having more space someday, still feeling grateful that I have a spot to leave my sewing machine up all the time which I'm convinced is the secret to getting anything done.

Happy touring!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Make a Good Impression

I finished a quilt! This feels like quite a triumph, given my scattered brain and ongoing upheaval of daily life lately. After I made a fingerprint piece for a recent 12x12 challenge (the theme was "Identity") I was inspired to go bigger with the same idea. I've called it "Make a Good Impression" and it's 33 x 39 inches.

As luck would have it, an assignment in my ongoing Practical Design workshop required me to design a quilt with a monochromatic color scheme and an asymmetrical design. So the fingerprint fit the bill nicely. I used reverse applique to create the fingerprint lines. I do enjoy the cutting away part and seeing the design reveal itself.

Here's the original 12x12 piece which spurred me into this larger one, btw:

On to the next UFO!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Twelve" by Twelve by Twelve

Over on the Twelve by Twelve blog, we've just revealed our challenge pieces for the twelfth challenge -- on the theme "twelve." As always, the results are clever and fun and wonderfully surprising. Great variety, but much similarity, too.

Go see!