Saturday, October 30, 2010

Restore Sanity Indeed

Well, today was Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, and if I could have been there, I would.  I believe in what he is saying: that it is possible for us to disagree and still respect each other, that, in fact, most of us, despite all the loud noise coming from the cable channels, manage to do  just that every day of our lives.  Still, there is a lot of rancor out there, and over the past years (make that decades), it has distressed me to watch partisan disagreement escalate into ever more bitter partisan rancor. 

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a home where my mother was a Democrat and my father a Republican.  They had a pretty steady routine for their evenings.  My Mom sat downstairs in the living room, watching a little TV and reading.  My Dad went to the upstairs spare room to read the newspaper and “rest his eyes.”  Sometime around 11 o’clock, they’d meet up at the kitchen table.  Whenever election time would roll around, I remember overhearing them hold some pretty lively discussions over beer and Cheese Nips, but never, never, was there any question about the love and respect they held for each other.  They disagreed, but they knew down to their bones that the other was a person of intelligence and integrity. 

If I hadn’t already grown up knowing that disagreement was not synonymous with contempt, the quilt community would teach me that lesson all over again.  As we all know, quilters are a diverse lot, and I see that diversity reflected in my own quilt groups.  We do not all vote the same way, but we all respect each other.  And we know how much we share in common.  We all love our families and want the best for them.  We all share the most basic of values, believing in honesty and integrity.  We are all thoughtful, informed, and, without moving, I hope,  too far into arrogance, let me say, people of good character.  There are women in my quilt groups who vote differently than I do, and I couldn’t respect them more. 

I remember seeing a Bill O’Reilly segment with Ann Coulter where she said, in all seriousness, the problem is that liberals have no values.  And O’Reilly, looking equally serious and profound, nodded his head in agreement.  Just whom does this nonsense serve?  (Well, in the spirit of satire that rules the day, I can say the bank accounts of O’Reilly and Coulter seem to have done quite well).  I wondered what my father, the Republican, would have had to say about this commentary on his wife.  Both my parents were devout Catholics who were highly active in their church community.  My Mom not only volunteered at the church, she volunteered at the local hospital, the soup kitchen, and several local nursing homes.  When my father suffered the terrible and debilitating effects of Alzheimer's, her care and devotion was profound and never wavered.  She worked hard all her life, and her moral compass was unassailable.  My Dad was a gentle man who was rare to anger, but I imagine he might have had something to say to O’Reilly and Coulter as they blithely said my mother, by virtue of checking a different box on the election ballot than they themselves did,  had no values.

I think this is the insanity that does us no good at all.

It is inevitable that we will disagree over how best to serve our country.  But I think it is very hard to use those disagreements to serve us well (so that conservatives and liberals might temper each other) when you demonize those who disagree with you.  After all, you don’t debate with Stalin.  And so I loved one of Jon Stewart’s suggested poster messages, “I disagree with you but I don’t think you’re Hitler.”  Well.  Yes.

And, because our flag mixes both red and blue, I’m doing a little patriotic project in honor of Rally to Restore Sanity day, my homage to the diversity of idea that makes our country as rich as it is, because, as another suggested poster saying goes, “ALL Americans are REAL Americans.”


As usual, if you are interested, you can find the pdf file for the patch requirements and Quilt Layout Diagram on the Projects 2010 page of my website.  This little quilt finished at 11" by 11" – a very happy little quilt, just what I had in mind.  And I kind of liked the symbolism of using the foundation grounded in 13 for it.

On a note unrelated:  My own true love and I usually go out to lunch on Saturday’s at our favorite Indian restaurant, but the last week I have been battling some serious crud and the last thing anyone would want is me sneezing and wheezing in a restaurant.  Being the wonderful guy he is, Jeff went to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant for take out so I got to eat spring rolls while watching Jon Stewart.  My fortune read: “You will spend years surrounded in comfort and material wealth.”

Jeff’s comment:  “Do you think it meant fabric?”


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pretty, Pretty

Usually I just hang my little quilts by using a dowel over a couple of pins.  It works great and they are easy to switch out.  But I saw this little display stand and couldn’t resist.  What a perfect way to display a miniature quilt!


The size of the stand could have been designed to go with the quilts from Miniatures in Minutes.  The fit is that spot on.  Here’s another one.


I think these would be perfect for gift giving, a little quilt and a stand to display it on. 

I ordered my stand from Patchwork & Paint.  They have a whole selection of cute little hangers.  Giving me a severe case of the “I wants.”

Like this one perhaps?  Surely I could figure a matched set of three little quilts to show off in that . . . .


Or this cute little seasonal hanger for a winter themed quilt?


And it’s a well known fact that you can never have too many Halloween quilts.  This could surely inspire one or two.


Perhaps I need to start putting my list together for Santa.  Fortunately, I know Santa quite well and he’s a very indulgent fellow.  (He has to be since Mrs. Santa – aka me – approves all his game purchases.  There it is.  The key to a successful marriage: enabling each other’s hobbies.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree

Here’s the second of the Pyramid Triangle foundation projects.  It measures 11" by 11". 


The Pyramid Triangle foundation has 8 rows, but for this project I lopped off the bottom row which means the finished foundation measures 7" by 7".  I like how the project is both bright and happy and scrappy.  I’m wondering though, does it need a little bling?  Perhaps adding a few crystals or charms?

Still thinking.  Meanwhile, the patch requirements and quilt layout diagram are posted as a pdf file on the Projects 2010 page of my website

Early in the summer my dearly beloved got a new job in Denver.  He’s been commuting (fortunately, it’s north Denver so the drive is about 50 minutes), but we wonder if we’re going to move.  As Jeff says, he’s willing to put up with a fair amount to be able to stay in Fort Collins.  We do love this town. 

Here’s one reason: a number of years ago voters okayed a tax that would fund the city buying a number of natural areas to keep available for recreation.  We like to have a variety of places to walk Cooper (aka Mr. Demolition) and, fortunately for us, one of the areas, called the Ponds, is less than a ten minute drive away.  Isn’t it lovely?


Cooper loves to go there, too.  (And we love that it helps tucker him out for the evening).  Here’s a happy dog wondering why we keep stopping to take pictures.  Shouldn’t we be moving?


Isn’t he a cutie?  And it’s a good thing, too – or we might feel a little more strongly about the hole in the carpet, the hole in the mat we put over the hole in the carpet, the chewed up library book, the shirt with a shortened arm, the two sets of reading glasses gone phhht, the throw-away throw rug, the two crate pads that are with us no more, not to mention the changes to the landscaping in our back yard.  We love him anyway – sweet as can be and not a mean bone in his body.  Though it’s still true that his evil twin spends an awful lot of time with me at obedience class.  He likes the socializing.  The obedience part?  Not so much.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tote Bag Pattern Up

Remember the tote bag that I was showing off at the end of August?



Well, I finally got the directions for making the tote bag written up.  You can find them on the Projects 2010 page of my website.

I had a very hectic summer and got wa-a-ay behind on my goals for posting projects using the foundations from Miniatures in Minutes.  I’m trying to catch up now.  I’ve got that other Pyramid Triangle foundation project in mind.  There’s a stack of exams on my desk, but perhaps when I’m taking one of those  I-GOTTA-take-a-break-from-grading-NOW moments, I’ll start cutting triangles.

Someone sent me an email recently asking about the projects on the website.  Have I explained this before?  I can’t remember.  It’s like this: quilt books are expensive.  I think they are worth it, of course, but still – pricy.  So, what I wanted was to be sure that anyone buying my book would feel she (he?) really got her (his) money’s worth.  By now, there are not only the 24 projects to sew up that are presented in the book itself, but an additional 19 projects on my website, everything from new quilt designs using foundations from the book (like last post’s entry) to projects such as this tote bag (other ways to display quilts made using the foundations from the book).

My other goal was to have the book remain alive.  I hoped that the book wouldn’t be one somebody bought and then just left on the shelf collecting dust.  I wanted there to be regular reasons to take the book out and give it some more use.

I don’t really know how well I’ve met those goals as far as others go.  I know, on my part, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new patterns using the existing foundations and new projects for displaying them.  I hope they can inspire others.

Which means it’s time for me to start grading, so I have time later to get to those triangles!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Road to Kansas

Next month, I’ll be visiting Olathe, Kansas, and giving a lecture and workshop at the Olathe Quilter’s Guild.  Since the workshop will be on making Pyramid Triangle quilts from Miniatures in Minutes, I thought it was time to make up some new designs for the Pyramid Triangle foundation.  After some thoroughly enjoyable playtime on EQ7, I have three new designs.  Here’s the first of them, which I’m calling Road to Kansas (because, hey, that’s where I’m going).  It measures 11 3/4" by 12 3/4".  The pieced foundation center is 7" by 8".


When I began making quilts, reproduction fabrics were my first love.  The Smithsonian had recently come out with their second fabric line, and I just fell in love.  What a wonderful introduction to the quilt world that was!  I still love reproduction fabrics, only now there are so many available, it’s enough to make my head spin.  One of the things I love about them is how many beautiful small print fabrics there are, just perfect for showing off in a miniature quilt!

So, I began by digging into my scrap bin of reproductions bits and pieces (ignoring, for the time being, the two dresser drawers full of reproduction fabrics).


Once again, I am loving how I can use the Fons and Porter Pyramid Triangle ruler to cut my patches.  The size  of the ruler is a little bigger than I’d like for when I’m cutting miniature patches, but that is more than made up for by the ease of using a ruler rather than a plastic template.  After cutting the patch out of the fabric rectangle (as directed in Miniatures in Minutes), I simply rotate the ruler to trim off the other points.  Loving that. 

Here it is after using the ruler to trim the rectangle patch to a triangle.


Then I pivot the ruler and trim off the next corner.


And pivot the ruler one last time to trim off the final corner.



I received an email from my website where a quilter said she was using Aleene’s glue and was having trouble with glue gunking up her needle.  I sent a reply but it bounced back to me (for reasons unknown).  I thought I’d answer her question here and hope she is reading this. 

For one, I use Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It.  I don’t know if that makes a difference, but, for the record, it’s the glue I use.  With the needle tip applicator, I am able to get very small dots of glue placed exactly where I want them.  And, definitely to the point, where I want them is in the seam allowance – that way I don’t sew through glue and my needle remains clean. 


I love the way this little quilt came out – must mean my trip to Kansas is going to be a good one!  You can find a pdf file with the Quilt Layout Diagram and patch requirements for this mini quilt on the Projects 2010 page of my website.

Meanwhile, that’s it for today.  Stay tuned for more Pyramid Triangle quilts on the way.  The next one, I think, is going to be Christmas themed. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

String Blocks Galore

For another one of my block swaps, the latest challenge was to make up string blocks.  We were given the fabric.  Isn’t it fun and cheerful?

I had also asked for string blocks when it was my month in June.   I sent out a pile of Heather Bailey fabrics and a white on white to use for a center strip.  The blocks are all in now and when I laid them out on the floor, this is what I have.  My little sweet pea kept trying to sneak off with the odd block (Cooper, aka The Artful Dodger, aka Mr. Chipper Shredder, aka Jaws).  Here he has accepted that I’m keeping a close eye on him, but he’s got a block or two ready to snatch, just in case I look away for like, I don’t know, two seconds?

The blocks are actually very colorful. Here’s one before the block was trimmed down to size.

I’m thinking this might make a fun lap quilt.  I could make up more blocks and have it rectangular.  But that would require making up twelve more blocks.  Hmmmm.  I’m thinking square isn’t so bad.  Wouldn’t this be a bright happy lap quilt to snuggle under while the winter winds blow?