Quilts for Sale

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Next Projects

I created this piece using only my own hand-dyed fabrics. Some of the edges were left curved, as a less expected design element.

These small studies are waiting to be machine quilted. The Shibori one (on the upper right) will have the strip of turquoise pinned near it added to the top. The center grid was sun printed using Setacolor Transparent paint.

I'm still having difficulty with the top tension on my Bernina 1530, having gone through the whole litany of cleaning, oiling, changing needles, changing threads and stitching a sample of every straight stitch tension setting available. Since there is almost no discernible change from setting to setting, I'm fearing for the patient. I did get a slightly better stitch however by switching bobbin cases and using the extra thread guide on the machine's handle (visible on the back when the handle is lifted up).

My DH isn't sure the foot pedal for the old Bernina 830 can be fixed. I've found very expensive replacements ($160 and $180) in only two places on the internet and am still waiting to hear from Bernina USA.

In the meantime, I have several small pieces I'd like to machine quilt in the next month. This is very frustrating indeed!

For the Beauty of the Earth

My husband grows a beautiful flower called angel's trumpet each year. The one is just beginning to open.

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our grateful psalm of praise.

For the wonder of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our grateful psalm of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child.
Friends on earth and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our grateful psalm of praise.

For Thy Church that ever more
Lifts her holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our grateful psalm of praise.

The words on my heart today come from a hymn written in 1864 by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint. Found in the Moravian hymnal, it has always been one of my favorites.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting Stronger Every Day

My typical lunch now is a large green salad full of whatever veggies we have on hand. This one has carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, cherry tomatoes from our garden, walnuts and a few chopped dried cherries. I use 1-2 tablespoons of a very low cal dressing. My carb is a pathetic little slice of 60 calorie whole wheat toast with Smart Balance spread. My beverage is always filtered water.

Although I've shown no evidence on my blog, I'm getting stronger every day. I'm eating so much better and have dropped some weight. And I'm driving all over the place as if nothing ever happened to me. The more distance I get from the event, the more I realize how fortunate I am to have come through with very little heart or other debilitating damage.

The wife of one of my DH's college roommates had the exact same symptoms as mine - nausea, a little chest pressure, a little discomfort in her left arm. Tragically, neither realized the seriousness of those signs and she died right there in his arms. My father had two sisters literally drop dead at 60 - one from a heart attack and one from a stroke. That could so easily have been me.

I know how incredibly blessed I am. I truly do. Life is fleeting.

I've made a personal decision to be more vocal about expressing love and caring. I'm making more phone calls, writing more letters, taking more time with the stuff that really matters. I don't want to leave this world without having shared what is in my heart with those important to me.

A stack of cards and letters written recently.

I love adding little whimsies to the envelopes!

Monday, August 25, 2008

If Only I Could SEW!

I'm working in the studio once more but not making much progress. The problem is getting one machine - any machine - to sew properly. This is extremely frustrating, as I'm on deadline and need to finish not only the wedding quilt but several small pieces as well.

I have a Bernina 1530 I bought used - from the dealer - many years ago. Unfortunately, I've had problems with it from the day I started to use it - which wasn't until I'd had it for two or three years. Go figure! Although it has been worked on several times, the tension is a mess. Last time it was repaired, the authorized Bernina repairman found three major problems - all within the workings of the machine. If the machine were a stick shift car, I'd say the clutch is slipping - it has that kind of feel.

My old Bernina 830 was on loan for several years and recently returned. I cleaned and oiled it, changed the needle, pulled a gob of monofilament thread out of its innards and set it up to sew. To my great frustration, nothing happened when I pressed the foot feed! It wasn't until I had floored it that it began to sew, but at a blazing fast speed allowing me little if any control. My DH took the foot feed apart, found one small plastic piece which had broken, and thinks he sees the problem. He's just returned from three days out of town, so will work on it tonight.

I'm going to dig out the Singer Featherweight I inherited from my dear Aunt Esther nearly 30 years ago. It sews like a dream and has a beautiful straight stitch. And the purr of the motor is always so comforting.

I've been considering a new sewing machine for several years now, but have not taken the time to test drive anything. And being such a thrifter, spending major coin really goes against the grain. Pun intended.

Thank You!

Dear Readers -

Thank you for all the emails, cards and thoughts following my recent cardiac event. They meant a lot to me.

I'm feeling really well, have begun a walking program to build stamina and am adhering to a strict diet. I lost the five pounds of fluid I picked up while in the hospital plus hopefully a few more. It's really difficult to get an accurate read on our ancient scale! I'm not thinking about the pounds remaining but concentrating on one day at a time. After all, I have lots of quilts to make before I sleep!

Thank you again.

Love - Ellen. xoxoxoxox

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oh What a Night

To my dear blog readers - I'm finally back with you following a rather scary event. My DH took me to the emergency room very early Tuesday morning where an EKG indicated I'd previously suffered a heart attack - probably in the past few weeks. It was decided I should go directly to the heart catheterization lab for a look see at my arteries. The right coronary artery was blocked in two places - one at 70% and one at 100%. During the lengthy procedure plaque was roto-rootered and blood clots sucked out before two drug coated stents were implanted. After 12 hours of bedrest in which my right leg had to remain immobile, followed by several more hours of monitoring, I was able to come home.

There is a lot of heart disease in my family, but nearly 100% in those who had smoked. As a non-smoker with normal cholesterol and excellent blood pressure, I didn't feel my risk was high. But other factors, such as being overweight and not physically active (unless we count moving from the sewing machine to the design wall) are very important. But putting me at highest risk was my Type 2 diabetes.

When first diagnosed nearly nine years ago, I was extremely diligent, putting myself on a strict regimen of diet and exercise and losing about 40 pounds. With my blood sugar numbers in the totally normal range, I was pronounced cured by my doctor. Believing I was cured was reckless, as I slowly slipped back into my unhealthy habits allowing the weight to creep back on. And my exercise program came to a halt when I injured a knee badly.

For several months I'd felt a little off, frequently complaining of nausea and fatigue - so much so that each night my DH expected me to say, "I'm so tired and I feel nauseous." His response was always, "Honey, you're always nauseous." I'd also noticed I couldn't walk as quickly without becoming really winded. I chalked it up to being out of shape.

I think the actual heart attack happened at the end of July when we were in Minneapolis. We'd decided to run to Ikea (since we don't have one here) on a free Sunday afternoon. There were about 18 steps from the parking deck to the store. It took me a long time to climb them after which I collapsed over a shopping cart feeling extremely ill. After resting for several minutes, I was able to continue exploring the store. The next morning at the airport, I had great difficulty pulling my heavy bags, legs like lead, gasping for breath and once again feeling ill. My thoughts? "Man, I'm more out of shape than I thought!"

Once home, I noticed a continuing dinner-plate sized pressure in my chest - not discomfort but something I knew was a bit different. But because the Charlotte air is sometimes bad and I have asthma, I chalked it up to that. It wasn't until early this week my DH and I realized something serious was going on. His clue? I had discomfort in my left arm, was overwhelmingly nauseous and apparently as white as a sheet.

I'm just beginning to realize how extremely fortunate I am. I could have had a massive coronary, I could have been left disabled, I could have had brain damage, I could have stroked, I could have thrown a clot which would have killed me. How often have we read that women's heart issues are ignored because they're so different from men's? The differences are real - I never did have what I'd call pain.

We are so lucky to have one of the top ranked heart hospitals less than two blocks from our house. I'm so lucky to have been taken seriously in the ER and to have gotten to the cath lab quickly. The results could have otherwise so easily been dire.

Listen to your bodies. If something feels odd, don't put it off like I did. Get help immediately. The life you save may be your own.
Love - Ellen. xoxoxoxoxo

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lazy Saturday

I should have been outside all day - it was that beautiful. Instead, I kind of lazed around. We stayed up way too late watching the spectacular opening ceremonies of the Olympics. My DH nailed it by predicting an athlete would go airborne to light the torch. Amazing! We both thought the fellow had slipped - and gasped loudly - when he adjusted his position and began running.

I made a fast batch of red raspberry jam - confiture de rouge framboises (French translation courtesy of Google Translator, which is probably why it is confiture and not bourrage). The color is gorgeous (photo tomorrow) - one I'd like to achieve the next time I dye fabric. My DH decided to serve warm rolls with dinner just so we could taste the jam. Yum - with just a hint of tartness. I reduced the sugar significantly as we thought yesterday's strawberry was delicious but a tad too sweet.

BTW, my DH loves to cook and prepares dinner every evening. I asked him tonight if he was in competition with the 1833 Burnsville NC NuWray Inn www.nuwrayinn.com which serves meals country style at long tables. Our menu was extensive: grilled salmon, NC pole beans with a topping of tomato, cucumber and onion salsa, silver queen sweet corn, deviled eggs, rolls, a bit of leftover fried okra and fresh fruit! Oh my.

I'm off to watch Atonement, the last in a trio of movies I recently rented. The others were: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke were fabulous, but the plot was disturbing) and Vantage Point (good, but the story line was not as intriguing as that in BTDKYD.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Frais Bourrage - Ooh La La

Crushed strawberries ready to be made into jam.

Making jam is a hot, fast-paced job. Having your area set up before beginning is essential.

Jars and lids ready to be sterilized.

Sixteen jars of beautiful strawberry jam!

All planned activity went by the wayside today when my DH decided we needed to make strawberry jam. We'd frozen lots of the fruit last year - still uneaten. Jam seemed the logical solution.

Plans went awry when we couldn't find enough jars. Earlier this year I'd gone on a rampage giving tons of things to our church for a yard sale. Among the plunder - most of our canning jars. We also couldn't find our ancient waterbath canner or our largest stainless steel pan - the one almost too big for any burner on our stove. Also lost, our jar lifter - essential when dealing with boiling hot liquids!

We finally found enough jars and made do with a large LeCreuset pan for the strawberries. It proved a little small when the jam came to a boil, but we caught it just in time. We ended up using the bottoms of a 35 year old pressure canner and an equally old Charleston rice cooker for the waterbath.

When I was a kid, it was very typical for midwestern farm families to have a canning set-up in their basements - with at least a sink and a stove. We also had a refrigerator and two chest freezers.

My parents canned and froze produce from their huge garden all summer for as long as I can remember, giving our family of six enough food to last through the winter and into the spring. Seeing the long shelves where Ball jars full of colorful peaches, green beans, tomatoes, beets, pickles and many other foods were stored is still one of my favorite childhood memories.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Making Progress and Search for Fabric

Border blocks.

Anyone have this fabric? The polka dots look as if they've been finger-painted on and are just slightly smaller than a dime.

Shown are a few of the just completed wedding quilt border blocks. I wanted to use as many different fabrics as possible, and chose many shades, tones and types of blues, oranges, greens and yellows. My plan was to use a wonderful polka dot fabric as the first border, but do not have enough. When I bought the fabric I just bought a yard to add to my dot collection - isn't that always the way? I'm fairly certain it is a 2001 P&B called Graphics although I just bought it this April. An all-day search on the net and calls to quilt shops for more yielded nothing. Anyone out there have a yard or so they'd be willing to sell me? LMK.

Note added Friday afternoon: I have a piece of the same design but in white with black polka dots. The selvedge reads: Graphics by P&B Textiles 100% Cotton Copyright 2001 It is definitely not a batik but a printed cotton. It's much more evident on the white/black than black/blue.

Click on photos for a closer view.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Creative Exercise

A Warholized photo created on Flickr. I think the automated color choices are really horrible!

Since no two Warhols are the same, I attempted a reshuffle and then PhotoShop with equally bad colors. I do like the center black and white and the top center blue, however.

I was less displeased with the image created in PhotoShop, but think it needs a ton more contrast.

Credit for original photo: Suzie Guerrant avocadophoto.com

Since my stitching fell through today, I decided to play once more on Flickr. I Warholized a photo of my son taken by his wife Suzie on a trip to the Linville Gorge. The colors assigned by the program were really horrible, imho. So I then went into PhotoShop and tried to get an image less jarring by using different adjustments. The results were awful once more. My final decision was to desaturate the color. I should have ramped up the contrast first, but this will do for tonight.

Light at the End of the Tunnel Continued

I finished the last of the 44 blocks last night. Yes!!! Most of today was spent working on the border layout. I soon decided this was not the day to be in the studio trying to create. My mojo just wasn't working. What began as a fun auditioning process of additional border fabrics soon became an exercise in frustration. The solution should have been obvious from the beginning: I need more fabric. So it's off to Mary Jo's in the morning to find a substitute for the originally chosen polka dot, since I ran out of it. It's amazing how much better I felt once I decided I didn't have to continue struggling with something which just wasn't working.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I'm down to the last eight border blocks for the wedding quilt! Although I'd planned to be finished by now, I've run out of lots of blue and orange fabrics and am having to scrounge through my stash. This is a very scrappy quilt, so I'm using as many different fabrics as possible. And each block takes me 30 minutes to sew, after I've chosen the cloth. Additionally, I do not have an orange the right value for the second border - another roadblock.

My DH took pity on me after seeing the pix I took of the rubbing plates yesterday and will reshoot them for me. And yes - I did know to take them out of the plastic bags first but I was in a rush and losing the light. So.............

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Such Fun!

Four sets of the rubbing plates found through an educational supply catalog.
My apologies for the reflection of the packaging. I'll try to reshoot later.
Click on the photos to get a closer view.

When my nephew and his family were here recently, we went to Discovery Place - a science museum in Charlotte. The little girls had a great time exploring in one area where I found several interactive dinosaur rubbing plates. I wanted to buy my own but alas, the gift shop did not carry them.

My nephew's wife found not only the dinosaur plates but several other sets while browsing through an education supply catalog. Thanks, Lisa! The sets and the number of plates in each are: bugs (6), leaves (16), flowers (16), insects (16) , ocean fish (6), flowers (16) and dinosaurs(6). The bug set has each creature in a setting such as flowers or leaves, while the insect set has no ornamentation.

The plates are recommended for ages 5+ and come with fun text such as: Learning about insects has never been so exciting! I can't wait to try them. I really could have used the plates several years ago when I created a quilt entitled "The Fly - Ode to Jeff Goldblum."

The Fly - Ode to Jeff Goldblum
22" x 21"
Commercial along with repurposed, hand-dyed and overdyed fabrics, rubber stamping, embroidery and photo transfer. Silk screened fly fabric from Friday Fabrics.

Detail #1

Detail #2

Friday, August 1, 2008

Subversion Anyone?

Whew! That was a close one. While several of my family/friends think I'm an extreme left-wing activist (only most of the time), I thought for a moment yesterday that Rupert Murdoch had taken over the blogosphere. My blog (and apparently thousands of others) were charged with being spam blogs and were locked. Blogger wrote that, after an investigation, they hoped my blog would be unlocked within TWENTY DAYS!!!! Are they kidding me?!?!? Twenty days is a lifetime in blog land. I did check with members of Quiltart, an internet group, and received lots of responses from those who were likewise hit. Seems the groups most largely targeted were artists and politicos. Oh...........now I know what happened. I used the words Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground in yesterday's post. Oh my. How scary is that?