Monday, April 18

Finishing a Quilt

I don’t get nearly as many regular visitors to my blog as I used to. I suspect maybe there was too much golf talk and not enough quilt talk, plus it seems most/all of my cyberpals have switched to Facebook and Instagram. I think people’s attention spans nowadays are shorter, too. Facebook is faster, but I still blog because I like to. And it’s a good diary for when you can’t remember when you did this or that. Or you just want a trip down Memory Lane. I guess Facebook could be that too.

I finished this Little Grapes Quilt, I didn’t name it officially, it is a hostess gift for some dear friends who live on the central coast where we used to live. We are going to visit them in May and they are always generous with their wine, food, and accommodations. They are big into the wine scene there.

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It’s a small piece, 19 x 23. I wish I had made the leaves more colorful. It lacks a punch of bright color, but I know the subtle colors will look nice in their house.

I thought I’d share some of my finishing techniques because they are a little unconventional. First, I hate to hand-sew. I hate it so much that I will find every way possible to avoid it.

I don’t bind art quilts. I bind lap quilts and such, but my art quilts get a facing. I don’t like the look of the strip around the edge. I sew the facing onto the front and then I turn it to the back. I don’t even do a proper turn-and-poke corner, I achieve a better, more square corner just sewing on four strips and folding. I fuse it down with Steam-a-Seam that comes in a thin roll like tape. It doesn’t need to be sewn. I do, however, stitch the facing where it meets the quilt edge, as seen in the upper right corner of the picture below. I always use a dark color for the facing because it disappears. Anything light you will see. 

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When I gift a quilt, I make a little hanging apparatus for it. My own quilts, I often hammer very fine nails right through the quilt to the wall. Yep, true. If I decide to take it down for some reason, a spritz of water will make the tiny pin-holes disappear like magic. This has never been a problem in all my years of making quilts, but if I wanted to show the quilt I would have to make a hanging sleeve like below.

I do have to hand-sew the hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt, without the thread showing on the front. That’s a big oops and I have to start all over again. I am not good at hand sewing but I don’t trust the fusible tape to hold.

I buy long strips of lath from the hardware, in what—three or four foot lengths I think, and we (JJ and I) saw them off to size as needed. Then I screw tiny eye-hooks into the wood. I provide the little nails. You get out a level, hold the strip up to the wall, mark through the hooks, pound in the nails, then slide the quilt onto the “stick” (that’s what we call it) and slip the hooks onto the nails. You don’t see any of the wood behind the quilt when it’s on the wall, only a half-inch of stick shows beyond the sleeve.

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I get good wood that has a light finish on it because bare pine might leach oils into the fabric over time. Not a chance I want to take.

I don’t make a proper label for the back, I sign my name to the front because it is a piece of art. I sign the piece before I quilt it, with permanent fabric pen. If this was a show or competition quilt, I would have to make a label with my name and address, etc. and the quilt would have to have a proper title. They tell you exactly what they want the label to say, how big the sleeve should be, etcetera. They are very specific and an infraction will disqualify the quilt.

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Saturday, April 9

Pizza and a Movie Saturday

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I can hardly wait. When you can’t eat wheat you occasionally miss bread-things. I don’t miss bread per se, but sometimes I miss cookies. Gluten Free pizza and cookies aren’t terrific, but they’re better than no pizza or cookies ever again. And they are coming out with more and more G-F products, and improving them, all the time. So I can’t complain. You get used to it and not having arthritis, asthma, or migraines is totally worth it.

I have been benched from golf for six weeks. I’m getting  physical therapy for tendonitis in my rotator cuff. Its quite painful and PT is pure torture. The therapist I see is a performance specialist; he knows everything about sports and the muscles used in each sport. He understands the biomechanics of golf and the kinesiology. I learn a lot from him as he digs his knuckles into the sore spots and pulls my poor painful shoulder into positions I’d rather not be in. His goal is not only to heal me but make me better than before. Bonus! Cool!

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He told me I could practice my chipping and putting, no problem. Not playing 18 holes of golf every week will give me the time to practice a part of my game that needs serious improvement: Putting. I’m going to dedicate these next weeks to finally getting my putting where it should be: Look out 90s, here I come!

This physical therapy place is in a community I don’t often visit, Rancho Santa Margarita (we love long Spanish names here). I travel on a road called Antonio, and turn left on Avenida de los Banderas (Flags Ave in English). It gets shortened to Banderas on the street signs.

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You can’t get a picture of the two street names in the same shot, but yesterday on the way home  I saw a bus, and on the front of the bus where they have the sign that tells where the bus is going, it said Antonio/Banderas. Hilarious!

I shelved Golden Poppies for a while and started piecing this little grape thing for some friends we are going to visit next month (a hostess gift). I made the grape cluster one piece instead of fusing many individual circles, and when I quilt it the grapes will pop. I ordered some deep purple thread from Red Rock Threads. While I’m waiting I can tidy up the studio. It needs it! Fabric and freezer paper everywhere!

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I fused the branches but not the leaves or grapes, I simply do not like the look of fused applique. Yes it’s fiddly, but it looks so much better—to me. I’ve already decided to do the background quilting in the same shapes as what’s in the border. It was a fat quarter that came bundled with the bunch I ordered a few weeks ago. I had absolutely no use for it but it’s perfect for this border! I don’t know how the free-motion quilting will be on my shoulder, I hope I’ll be able to do it, I’m actually a little afraid to jump in…

Saturday, April 2

Same Stuff, Different Day

It has been pretty much the same old thing around here. Sewing, golf, cooking, eating, reading. Every day. I am a creature of habit.

I am nearly finished piecing Golden Poppies, I just need to add some foreground leaves and some background poppies. They’ll be fused. If I’m diligent I can have it ready for quilting today.

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If I put my shoulder to the grindstone.

Speaking of shoulder, I’ve had a shoulder problem lately and I’ve had to put myself on the injured list for a while. It’s quite common in athletes people of a certain age, and my geezer golf pals all had sympathetic stories to share. Boy, you mention sore shoulder and they all meander over to your cart and start commiserating. A couple weeks ago it was stiff at the start but it actually felt better after I played. And I played brilliantly that day, my best round at that course. 100.

Needless to say I was eager to get back out there and get a 99.

But I decided to quit after 14 holes, thinking I might be doing some damage. This gave me an opportunity to get a couple photographs of the Prickly Pear cacti on #16 while the others were putting. I saw some Golden Poppies close to the cart path but we were going way too fast to get a shot. You really can’t stop and dawdle when you’re golfing.

Aren’t these little puppies cute?

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The flowers should be in full bloom next week.

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I went to the doc, hoping it’s not a torn rotator cuff. I have yet to know the results of the X-rays, but Doc seems to think it’s most likely tendonitis and he prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory drug. I have PT next week. I sure hope it works because we are having Cheryl and Alan from Los Angeles next week and it’s all about golf. Right now the jury is still out on whether I’ll be able to play, but I think so. It is feeling a little better every day. The doctor, who specializes in sports medicine, says he gets it. His mother was a die-hard golf nut and club champion, so he totally understood when I said I had a big-deal golf team-tournament next week. Okay, so I embellished a little—it’s not really a team tournament or even that big of a deal, but I still want to play.

Rain was in the forecast, which would have worked out nicely for a postponement, but now it looks clear. Clear and cool, which is just how I like it.

Friday, March 18

Poppies

I have begun work on Golden Poppies. But I am seriously low on greens and blues for the background, so I ordered some fat quarter bundles and I am awaiting their arrival before I continue. I ordered from Hancock’s of Paducah so I know it will be a while. I have other sites that I get faster delivery from, but I wanted bundles to build my stash back up. The closest quilt store is over 50 miles away, can you believe it?

The poppies don’t look like much against the white background, but when I lay down some dark blues and greens they should pop. And the quilting will help as well.

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I have been playing golf as usual, and the California Poppies are just beginning to sprout in the chaparral. They are seriously a lot more vibrant orange than my poppies. Oh well. Orange thread should ameliorate that problem. It is what it is. In another week or two the prickly pear cactus should be in bloom—the blossoms that will become pears are just now budding. I’ll get pictures.

Around here, the bougainvillea is goin’ to town. I just love this magnificent bush. It’s not only beautiful, it provides privacy and blocks the streetlight below our bedroom. And it knocks me out every morning when I open the doors.
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Everything is waking up on our terrace. The photo hardly captures the vibrant colors of the succulents. We had a good storm recently, which knocked off a bunch of the red bracts from these bougainvillea. The flower is a tiny 1/4” white flower. You can see them in the above photo if you look real close.

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Here is the definitive on the house—they sent an independent soil engineer out to look at our houses and he says the soil our house sits on, which is clay and expansive (it’s quite infamous in these parts), and when it got wet it expanded around the perimeter of the house, creating a “bowl” effect, which is why only the interior, non-load-bearing walls are affected. Makes sense. Houses in California are very flexible because of earthquakes, so settling cracks are the norm. Although these are not true settling cracks, the idea is the same. They are going to watch it for a while (i.e. bide their  time) to see what it does through the wet winter, which so far has not been very wet, and then they’ll fix it. I have to say, nothing has gotten worse, in fact the biggest crack seems to have closed a tiny bit—but that could be my imagination, no way to tell. They don’t have to lift up the whole foundation or anything, just re-attach the walls and ceiling and move the baseboards. One day of work. We were thinking we’d have to move out. Nope.

Here’s today’s golf picture. This is the Greg Norman course at PGA West (La Quinta) where we used to live. I forget which hole this is, 15 maybe. So beautiful. Speaking of golf, my game is okay, this week was not as good as last, but I have a little shoulder problem I can blame. Not rotator cuff, but “Frozen Shoulder.” Who knew…it’s age-related…but they say to move it and stretch it a lot, and golf actually makes it feel better, so there you go. It does limit my range of motion to an extent, but just on the front nine. By the time I hit #10, it’s all loosened up.

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Friday, March 4

Alive ‘n Kickin

I haven’t posted in a while because it has been business as usual around here, but we are going great guns.

Our weather has cooled down somewhat and there is [a little] rain in the forecast. We and our neighbors went golfing yesterday at Casta del Sol, which is a challenging executive course with many elevations and drainage culverts to get over. I shot a 94. If only I could putt…

JJ went with us, and he played! This was a momentous occasion as he has not played in over ten years. The “Golf Gang” has been after me to get him out there. He started out great, our jaws dropped (he used to be a pretty good player). But it wasn’t long before the “old muscle memory” kicked in and things went downhill. He has an odd twist/loop in his swing and he tries to “kill” the ball, which never works. He sat out a few holes and said never again—final answer. He doesn’t like it enough to want to learn all over again. You have to get up early, which is definitely not his thing, plus it’s a long process to learn golf. You have to practice. Thinking back, I remember all the lessons I took, how long and hard I worked at it, and the grief I took when I first started playing club golf. Oy! I don’t think I’d relish starting over at this stage of life either.

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Casta del Sol: Not the prettiest golf course, but nice enough. And short. And cheap.

It is early spring in southern California, and that means golden poppies, our state flower. If we get a wet winter, which we didn’t, whole hillsides  are covered in beautiful golden blooms for miles in every direction. Maybe up north…they got a good soaking in northern Cali. But not here, not yet anyway.

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I am thinking of doing poppies for my next piece but I am having trouble finding the perfect color fabric. Golden poppies are closer to orange than yellow, but the oranges I have are ORANGE, and poppies are not yellow. I guess it doesn’t really matter much, but whatever it is, I need to get into the studio. I’m getting twitchy!

Around here, we got our pavers sealed and they did a terrible job. It got late and they ran out of light and they didn’t get up all the sand before they applied the sealer. They came back and repaired it and it looked worse. Then they sent out the A Team and wire-brushed what sand they could and it looks better, but still a disappointment. I am looking forward to the rain this weekend because there is a fine layer of dust on everything.

It’s always something, right?

The gaps between the walls and ceiling/floor have not gotten any worse. We appear to have stabilized. The builder sent out a structural engineer and a soil engineer who determined that our problem lies  under the slab, where the soil is clay and therefore expansive. In layman terms, the slab torqued. They’re actually flexible, who knew. Next, the building engineer is going to map out the floor to see where it needs shoring up. This will be interesting—what do they do, lift the house off it’s foundation? They all assure us it can be fixed, that they’ve seen worse. I am tired of people marching through my house looking at and taking pictures of the damage, but I am strangely calm about it. I mean, what can you do? We can’t move, we’d never be able to sell, and we love it here. Meanwhile our neighbor on the other side is now having the same problem. That makes five homes on our street. That I know of.

That’s all the news. We’re healthy, and that’s the most important thing. Everything else is just stuff.

Tuesday, February 23

Just Another Week in Paradise

I spent a good deal of time leading up to and executing work on the first panel of the ocean triptych.

How’d it go? Well, it was fairly easy and quick compared to my usual method, but I found I actually missed the sewing part. Seriously. The ol’ machine sat idly by while I cut and fiddled with Wonder Under and the Freezer Paper pieces. I resisted removing the freezer paper because I would lose my registration lines, but about 1/3 of the way in I could stand it no longer and I started removing the FP from the fused pieces.

Whew. Big mistake. Not in removing it, but in NOT removing it before I laid down (fused) the pieces. I couldn’t get all the FP off and it pulled up the edges. I suppose I could re-fuse them if I could get all the FP off, but I don’t like the look anyway.

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I decided to cut my losses. I threw the piece in the trash, folded and stashed the fabric, and tidied up my studio. I won’t even mention how fiddly and frustrating it was working with the Wonder Under. Hated it.

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Fuhgeddaboutit. I did learn something, though. I realized the value in the clear vinyl drawing—it takes the place of the registration lines. Be that as it may, I am not going out to buy vinyl, because I don’t like the look of raw-edge to begin with. So there.

In other news, I played golf at San Juan Hills, a course I usually say no to. But it was there or nothing, so off to SJH I went. The good news is it’s very close to home, as indicated by the blue circle. It has that going for it.

 

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But that’s all. It’s a very challenging course. They don’t call it San Juan HILLS for nothing. I don’t love this course.

This is the first tee. You have to hit your ball OVER the plants and the water. That’s just so unfair. They must fish hundreds of balls out of here every week. Three of us donated a ball to the cause, I was able to get over (brag, brag, brag).

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It is long, and mostly uphill. I don’t know how they managed to make it more uphill than downhill, but they did.

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When I joined the gang in the 19th hole and they asked me how I did, I said, with negativity, this is a really tough course for me. It’s hard for all of us, they chorused. I wrote down 103 but I think I probably scored closer to 109. Sometimes I estimate a little. I no longer carry an index, so the scorecard goes in the trash and doesn’t count for anything.

 

Back in the studio I am cogitating my next move.

 

Friday, February 19

Turdus Migratorius

You know it better as Robin. But don’t you just love that name?

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We don’t see a lot of robins in these parts. A few now and then, but not many.

So when I saw one the other day, it was worth mentioning. And then I saw another one, and another one… And then Sunday, when we took our morning power walk, we noticed something had dug holes in the wood chips in our front “yard.” Yard isn’t exactly correct. It’s more like a one-foot deep patch of mismatched plants. JJ thought it must have been the work of Holly, the adorable cocker spaniel next door. Holly does sometimes run through the plants if we’re outside and she wants to say hi. But no, look up the street, everyone’s house has holes dug in their chips. If fact, the entire neighborhood was a mess with wood chips scattered everywhere. Must be rabbits. And then I noticed them—the robins. Hundreds if not thousands of them swooping this way and that. We have a young tree behind our house and the branches were heavy with robins, sometimes as many as a dozen on its puny branches. They were everywhere. And then they were gone. I’m thinking they must have stopped to rest and refuel on their northward migration. My neighbor told me they comandeered her fountain.

Hey, I played a great round of golf the other day, I shot 100. I really wanted that 99. Just think if I could putt. I am hitting the ball really long these days. Oh, and it’s mountain lions, not bobcats, that are on my home course. I saw the sign.

This is the view from the clubhouse. #18 is on the left of the water and #17 is on the right. I hate that the last hole is so long (Par 5, 450 yds) because you’re tuckered out out by then.

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Here’s what’s been happening in the studio: Mostly cogitating the ocean triptych, but I finally have my course of action figured out and I’m ready to roll. My dilemma was how to do this project the easiest/fastest way possible. There are so many avenues to consider. I won’t bore you with the details of which techniques I threw out, but I decided to fuse. Not with the messy Liquid Thread, but with good ol’ Wonder Under. And then, fuse to what? Did I want to bother with batting and backing and quilting?  I decided to skip all that because I am going to mount them on stretcher bars. I can always add a quilt line later should I choose to.

I had this big piece of deep navy fabric with white dots on it that faded out where the light hit it, even though it was stored in a cardboard box in a closet. It’s worthless for its original intent, which was a night-sky piece I dreamed up after a stargazing session in the hot tub, watching for meteors in the dark desert sky. This is really crappy fabric. It’s very thin and I bought it a long time ago when I didn’t know as much about fabric as I do now. But it should be fine for this application. And I have more than enough of it. Jeez I can’t hold my camera still.

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I drew the design and proceeded to number the pieces and add registration marks (the orange lines).

96 pieces? Uh, I don’t think so! 96 x 3 = 288. Not gonna happen. Redraw.

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40 pieces. Better.

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Well, I’d best get to it.