Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Slow Week

Not much doing here this week, except that I did have a birthday. The summer lazies are definitely keeping me out of the studio. I made my way down to city beach, a favorite place for me to spend time normally, but I've been avoiding it, worried about crowds and virus spread. But couldn't resist this particular day, finding none of the crowding I feared. As I've noticed other summers, I caught bits of conversations in foreign languages and the nearby restaurant looked to be doing a good business. As you can imagine, businesses wondered just what the tourist season that they depend on might be like. While personally I worried about outsiders bringing in covid to make our relatively low case numbers spike, the town really can't survive without them.


Another reason to avoid city beach was the messy goose poop which was everywhere the last time I was here. Many things have been tried over the years to make these geese go elsewhere but they've discovered this is a good place to winter over rather than fly south. There was quite a kerfuffle when it was decided that, not for the first time, they would need to be captured and relocated. A group complained that the geese were being stressed and injured in the process, but I didn't agree. They are not endangered by any means and they really do cause health issues for those visiting the park and swimming where the geese swim. I was relieved to see all the walkways pristine and no geese in sight. Just the ever present gulls who stroll about as if they own the place.


A lovely light breeze brought out the sailboats and made for a pleasant walk. Any haze you see against the mountains in the background is from, believe it or not, the fires in California a thousand miles away. Strangely though, it has not messed with our air quality, apparently sent so high on its way here that the particles get dispersed.

As for the birthday, with all the negative things in the news and on line, I made a point to have a quiet day, with my biggest treat being a huckleberry milkshake and a beef brisket barbecue sandwich from a food truck in the neighborhood. Had a lovely chat on the phone with one of my brothers too. But perhaps the best part of my birthday was receiving this card from a good friend. I extend its greeting to all of you.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Roadside Attractions and a Quotation

I see deer behind my place fairly often but I rarely see one on my daily walks that take me along sidewalks and across a heavily traveled main cutoff road. I've been taking this maintenance road that runs between it and McNearney Park, dog park on one side and a narrow wooded area between it and houses on the other side. I nearly walked by this one less than a half block from the street, my eyes somewhat concentrated on the ground before me, and perhaps that is what it hoped I would do. Stopping stock still upon seeing it so close, we began a rather long stare-down. It was as if it was thinking, "If I don't move, she won't see me," while I was beginning to wonder if it really saw me. Surely when I reach into my pocket for my phone (which apologies, has a terrible camera capability), it will bolt into the underbrush, but no, just that steady gaze while a snapped away.


At one point it did turn its head at a sound coming from the other side of the trees, but then turned back to me. I tried a few steps forward to see if it would move. It was unconcerned. But eventually it tired of me, I suppose, and started picking its way through the bushes beside the road. That's when I got the second surprise - it had a black-tipped tail. The skittish deer I'm used to seeing, the ones that must be responding to my movement off the couch as they bound away before I can get to the patio door for a closer look, are whitetail deer, distinguishable by their fat fluffy tails that have white hair on the underside. When they spook, that tail goes up, showing like a white flag in warning to their buddies.


Naturally, I thought this was a black-tailed deer but decided I'd better look it up. And sure enough, it actually is not, but a mule deer of which the black-tailed deer is a sub-species. It really did have huge ears like a mule that should have tipped me off. As it emerged from the brush, it still was not concerned about me being there, following along as it slowly ambled up the road.


Eventually, it decided it didn't appreciate being stalked like this and made its way back into the wooded area. I love being able to have these encounters without making my way outside of town.


So that's some fauna. How about some roadside flora? I do love Queen Anne's Lace (sometimes known as wild carrot) that thrives in the ditches and along the shoulders of rural areas. If you look closely at ones that have not opened up, they are an amazing complex bundle.


And then they open big and flat, often with that black spot in the middle. For the longest time I thought that was just a bug, but no, it is on all of them, a part of the flower.


This flower is not wild or a weed but part of the landscaping in the park. Don't know the name but I've been taken with the shape of the petals, how they pinch in a bit where they join the center the way some dimensional applique flowers do. Apologies again for the limitations of my phone's camera to get a clear shot.

And now for the quotation. I was watching the documentary "Good Work: Masters of the Building Arts" (which I highly recommend you watch) and about fell off my chair when the featured stained glass artisan, Dieter Goldkuhle, made this comment when talking about the warehouse where he buys his glass:

"It's fatal to go there because I always end up with so much more glass than I initially wanted to buy. And it just begs me, "Purchase me"."

He goes on to say he brings them home and puts them in his bins, and from time to time he will just get out pieces to hold to the light and marvel in the colors and patterns. "It's that intimate" he says of his relationship to the glass he buys.

He may as well have been any one of us talking about going to a quilt shop or any other type of art store where we buy our supplies. "Fatal" he calls it, to walk through those doors and start looking and touching and trying to block out the siren calls begging us to gather up so much more than we need and bring it home. I found it rather comforting to hear this older, much experienced man talk this way, as I picked myself up off the floor. I doubt I will ever cross the threshold of another quilt shop without thinking, "This is gonna be fatal!"

Friday, August 14, 2020

Goldilocks Returns

Just like my ample fabric stash, I have an ample thread stash. Seriously, I have a lot of spools of threads of different thicknesses and fiber content and colors and values. And yet, when it comes time to find that perfect thread for the project at hand, the perfect one I have in mind is not in my collection. Too dark, too light, too shiny, too matte, it shades too much toward green or too much toward purple. Rarely do I find the thread that is just right. Even with stitching out samples, the thread I thought would work suddenly changes its characteristics on the quilt. Suffice it to say, choosing thread is not one of my favorite parts of quilting.

And the differences between the threads are often subtle, so subtle that most people would not understand why I am dithering over my choices. Chalk it up to experience, to quilts in my collection that still make me cringe at a thread choice that wasn't quite right. I persevere to get as close to right as I can. Clicking on the picture should help you see my test of threads as well as width of satin stitch and tension. The top one was too reddish brown and too shiny - sorry that it does not show up well but you can see the spool of it here. The black was, well, black, and this fabric really isn't black. It has a lot of reddish brown undertones in its darkness. Maybe a grey would work, but my darkest grey was way too light. I rooted around some more in my thread rack and by chance noticed several spools of dark brown twist that looked slightly different from the one I had tested. It turned out to be a much better match due to the fact that the twist included a strand of black with the strand of brown while the other one was just browns. That black toned it down and it was not as shiny either. It still wasn't exactly what I had in mind but I decided it was close enough. And it was a big spool, no worries about running out.


I was right in my suspicion that the Misty Fuse would be stabilizer enough so I got to satin stitching around all those raw edges of applique. I was nearly done with the long sections when I ran out of bobbin thread, and lucky thing that I did. When I pulled the top out of the machine, I noticed that my stitching now looked black instead of brown. A trick of the light? No, there's definitely a change of color. What happened here? I have my suspicions but have not had time to test them out yet. Just glad I only stitched about 8 inches this way.


In the meantime, I decided it was time to get my thoughts about quilting out of my mind and into something visual I could study. I scanned the pattern photo of the quilt, changed the colors closer to "my" colors in Paint Shop Pro software and started adding quilting lines. Very rough, not to scale of course, but it gives me a general idea of how my ideas will actually look. This is my first idea, simple, straightforward and not detracting from the design. Probably done in the dark green twist thread which would show up on both light and dark fabrics, although maybe more than I would like on the light side.


In the meantime, I'd been going back over that mark making exercise with circles and realized one of them could be adapted here if I turned half of the lines vertical, ending around the big circle encompassing the Chinese character. I didn't want to make all the lines vertical because of the bars in the upper left. And I didn't think I wanted to continue lines through the circle.


But I'd also wondered about treating the area outside of the applique frame like a separate border. Any thoughts or preferences? All input welcome. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Mask Tie Solution

Remember the first mask I made, the one with carefully picked hand-dyed fabric from my stash and sporting ties rather than ear loops? The one that I struggled with and was never happy with the results? Well, I'm not one to just toss something, so all this time since, my mind has wandered back to it now and then, wondering how I might make the ties work better for me. My mind really got clicking when I ran across the hair ties I'd tried on the no-sew mask, thinking I could loop the tie ends through one giving me a pull on version like regular dust masks. But on a recent trip to Wal-mart, I may have found an even better solution, albeit a bit pricey one. Instead of having to pull the elasticized ties over my head, this Pony-Connect separates for an easy clip together.

I haven't trimmed the tie ends yet as I'm still working on getting the length right, but I think I like the way this is working and the fact that I don't have to do any sewing to attach tie to elastic.

To my delight, this solution made the mask magically fit with no gaps, something I'd not been able to get it to do when tying the individual ties. No getting around the fact that it messes with my hairdo but I think I will be able to find a use for this.

In the meantime, I don't think I've shown a picture of me wearing this mask, one I toss in the car when I'm running errands. I took this pic on my most recent grocery run to send to friend Sherrie who is collecting such pics for a future post on her blog - see this post. If you are so inclined, I'm sure she'd enjoy seeing how you, my readers, are showing off their masks.