Camels make me smile

At some point a witty saying will materialize here. Right here. Watch for it.

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January 24, 2019

Cat Bullet

Happy New Year

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 3:31 pm

I hope all of my readers had a safe, healthy and fun holiday season and have been enjoying a Happy New Year!

So… how is the Octopus progressing?  Funny you should ask…

When last we spoke, I was enthralled with my Octopus Garden project.   A little too enthralled, actually.  I spent a lot of time over the holidays applying the kit fabrics to the sticky fusible material, and a lot more time carefully cutting out intricate fish and seaweed and other briny denizens to get them ready to apply to the project.

Only to find out that was the last part of the project that I was supposed to do!!  Oops.  And then the paralysis set in.  As usual.  *grumble grumble*      According to the directions, I, apparently, have to start with the background first, from the bottom up, but once I get to the area where there are tentacles, I need to put them down first, but not permanently, and work the background behind, but not too much behind the tentacles so that there aren’t too many layers and… and… and…

*crickets chirping*  *head banging on desk*

What???   Her instructions just didn’t make practical sense.  Not at all.  She has some videos on YouTube, which I watched and re-watched and which made sense at the time, but when I went back to my fabrics and my project, just didn’t seem to translate.

Frustrating.    However, as luck would have it, I was in a quilt shop in mid December  (stop laughing.  I said I would TRY to stop buying so much fabric; I never said that I would completely quit) and in the course of completely normal conversation, was informed that there was a Laura Heine collage class being offered in January.  I decided to sign up for the class in the hopes that it would provide practical help and explanation of the collage process.     I looked at the selection of patterns that they had on hand and selected a Flamingo called “Pinkerton” as being fairly simple and straightforward.  I figured that it would be a good place to start.

One thing that I neglected to look at was the size of the pattern.   Which I didn’t open until the start of the class, at which point I took it out of the envelope and unfolded it (and unfolded it and unfolded it and unfolded it).    It is more than 5 feet tall!!!!!!    That is a lot of pink.   Yikes!!

So, here I am, picking up an easy and quick class to figure out what the heck is going on with the Octopus and now I have another big huge and unexpected project that I’ve dumped on myself.

Be careful what you wish for.   Also…   read the pattern size before you purchase, dummy:-)

So, where does that leave me?   The first day of class started out a bit chaotic, but quickly started providing tidbits of useful information.  Lots of those lovely “Ah HA!” moments that I was needing for clarification.

I started with the face, because that is what I do, and putting down what is called the “underlay” layer of base color.  It will be overlaid with frilly flowers and other fluffy things so don’t be too shocked by the solid light color line across the head…  That will be masked, eventually,

Her Underlayers continued to develop…

Back home, alas, my supervisor seemed unimpressed.

While I was working, I found a rather weird thing happening, though.   Whispering in my brain was a feeling that this was no simple “Pinkerton” but rather “Florinda, the Fabulous Flamenco Flamingo” and that she was going to be more than a little bit out of the ordinary.

This was evidenced when I started working on her tail feathers…

I am inordinately proud of the basic shape that evolved for her tail…  She was really telling me how she wanted to develop, that was for sure.    It was at this point that I headed off for the second day of class.

She did not disappoint… LOTS of fluff.  Lots of bright colors. There are butterflies and mice hidden in her feathers, which I find very amusing.   I need to figure out how to work in a fish or two, just to keep my normal thing going (I always try to have at least one fish hidden in every project).   I still need to do a bit of work on her tummy (the light colored area that doesn’t have any embellishments) and really work on the neck and face.  I also think that her headpiece needs to be more… MORE, if you know what I mean.    But all in all, I’m really pleased with how she is developing.  I’m going to redesign the legs because they drive me nuts the way that they are currently (crooked).

The pale hummingbird that you see floating near the top left is going to be worked in the background of the final piece somehow.  I have a plan for that, actually.    I’m working on developing Florinda’s life story, and want to print or write it out and attach it to the front so that everyone will appreciate her for the strong individual that she it.   I think the hummingbird and its reversed sibling will support the scroll just like cupids in a Renaissance painting.

I’m collecting “f-words” (GOOD ONES) like fantastic, fluffy, flowery, flittering,  so that I can really have a lot of fun with the story.  There are a few aspects that I have already.  I know for a fact that she auditioned for Swan Lake but was refused because she made the other dancers (who were only plain boring swans) look very short and pale.   I also know that she identifies strongly with Jonathan Livingston Seagull because she believes in doing her own thing rather than following along with what everyone else is doing.  I know that she fell in love with Flamenco because of the quick movements and bright colors and sense of joy…

So that is what is going on in my crafting life right now… and unexpected twist and a detour into a completely unexpected direction.

  As John Lennon said… “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

 

P.S. Lest you think that I’m completely off my rocker, I would remind you that flamingos do, in actual fact, dance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW8GX2n4qbY

 

P.S.S.   did I mention that there will be shiny crystals added to her feathers???

 

 

 

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December 12, 2018

Cat Bullet

Octo progress

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 9:57 am

As of last night, I finished tracing the Octopus. Boy that took a long time!!

 

The backing/foundation material that was recommended has a rough texture and is hard to trace onto.   My pencil kept poking through.  Nonetheless,  I persisted and finally got everything traced.      I can’t show the whole thing because I want to respect the artist’s copyright, but you can see how convoluted it is.

I found that tracing the suckers (circles) was oddly soothing.   Weird.

My next step, I think, is not in the directions.  Because the foundation material is kind of translucent, I have a  hard time seeing it up on the design wall OR on my white work table.   So, I think I’m going to mark the edge with a colored marker so that I can better estimate the visual proportions of the entire piece.    The edges will be eventually buried under layers of fabric, so it really doesn’t matter (in my opinion), if I add some extra marking at this point.

After that point, it will be time to start putting down the fabrics for the background.   They are mostly aqua, with a greyish/brown emphasis.   Some are more blue. Very water-esque.  It will be interesting to see if I have any stash materials to enhance the selection. I don’t tend to collect aqua all that much.

 

Onwards and upwards.   Though, to be honest, I’m not sure an octopus would be very comfortable going “upwards.”   They like to lurk in the depths.

Or am I thinking of Giant Squids?

 

 

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December 7, 2018

Cat Bullet

Poor Blog

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 12:39 pm

Poor, long abandoned blog.

 

I’m surprised that it hasn’t wasted away entirely…

Have been really busy at work on top of computer problems reported earlier.   But, happy to say, the computer issue(s) seem to be sorted and today is my last day of having students around, so YAY!     I will still have lots of work to do in the interim period, but let’s be honest…  it is much easier to get things clean and organized when there aren’t hordes of other people around.

I’ve done nothing, really, with regards to crafting.  Other than purchasing… I’m still good at that!   I wasn’t really planning on buying any more kits because I really wanted to head out in my own direction with my own designs.  That determination lasted until this was on the market…

https://www.fiberworks-heine.com/shop/c/p/Octopus-Garden-Collage-Pattern-by-Laura-Heine-x34584896.htm

How could I possibly be able to resist such a wonderful project?!?!?!

I haven’t been able to work on it much.  I did open it up and press/steam the fabrics. They are beautiful.

I love all the circles/dots that they provided for the suckers on the tentacles.

They included several sea creature motifs to add extra interest (sea turtles, fish, mermaids).  Of course, I added a few from my own stash…

I’ve been working on getting the fabrics applied to the fusible.     It will take a while.  Once the fabrics are all applied, then I’ll need to cut out “interesting shapes.”    That will be fun!

My personal opinion is that the range of fabrics that they provided for the octopus itself is rather limited.  They are really pretty, but all nearly the same value.   So, I will definitely be enhancing the selection from my stash.  Just because I can…

I bought her suggested base material, she calls it “pattern ease.”  I’m not sure what it is, but the closest I can describe it is interfacing with out the iron-on sticky part.   It had some creases in it which were somewhat difficult to iron out, but I eventually persevered.      I also had to iron the octopus pattern (the only thing you get is the outline of the octopus – the rest of the design is left up to your own imagination).     It took me several days of moving the pattern around behind the base material until I found what I considered to be the optimal placement.   I’ve been working on tracing it in the evenings (a little bit at a time).   There are a LOT of tentacles to trace!!!

So, it will be a really fun, but long-term project.   At least the progress photos, once they start, will be fun to post, eh?

I’ll leave you now with a fun picture of our oldest and newest family members…

Glory seems to have settled in well, right?

 

 

 

 

 

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September 7, 2018

Cat Bullet

Friday musings

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 8:50 am

As we speak, On Ringo Lake is in the car, waiting to be dropped at the quilter this afternoon. YAAAYYYY!!! Once I get it back, I will have three quilts to bind (the two that got quilted in January are still unbound).

Which is strange, really, because I really LOVE putting on binding.   It is my second favorite part of the quilting process (after “starting a quilt”).  I find it very soothing to know that I’m finishing up a project that has taken a long time.

What else have I been working on?   Last weekend, I started designing my very own art quilt.  Yep, all out on my own, nobody’s directions to follow and all the choices will be mine alone.  Scary and fun, all at the same time.    The process is going well and I’ve learned a few things already…

1.  Don’t put anything into ink, even if you are absolutely positive that you won’t be making any changes to it.   Because guess what… you will almost instantly need to make changes…

2.  Acquisition of a 24 pack of multi-colored thin point sharpie markers will make it very difficult to follow rule number 1.

3.  Use up the ugly “hot fluorescent pink” markers in the first stages because you know you will never use them in any other type of art project.

4.  Rubbing alcohol takes marker residue off of plastic quilting rulers.

5.  Cats don’t consider paper and pencils to be impediments to walking on a newly cleaned off table and will act accordingly.  Be prepared to remove felines from working area during the creative process.  Repeatedly.

And, perhaps the most important lesson to date:  You don’t have to put all of your ideas into one quilt design!!!  

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August 27, 2018

Cat Bullet

Mr Fish and other accomplishments

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 10:00 am

Mr. Fish was completed in time for the Woodland Park show and enjoyed his time swimming in the fish pond.   There really were some fabulous fishes to keep him company (and turtles and seahorses).

I’ve spent a lot of time the past couple of weekends cleaning up my studio.   The main activity has been putting all of my fabric away…  the yellow-orange/orange container was nearly empty when I started, but jam-packed full when I returned all of the fabrics that I had pulled out as contenders for the fish project.       All of my containers are completely full.  I’ve even started removing some pieces and setting them aside to give to my friend Donna who sews a lot of kids quilts for donations through her quilt guild (the same guild who hosted the show).    Anyway, the containers are full, the cabinets are full and every time I think that I’ve finally gotten everything put away, whoops!  another bag appears.    Who keeps buying all of this fabric??  (oh, wait, that would be me!!!)

I’ve either got to start sewing faster or quit buying fabric.  Both, probably.

I’ve also been spending a LOT of time playing with the settings on the Jazz sewing machine, trying to get the perfect settings for free-motion quilting, walking foot quilting and regular straight sewing.   The internet is full of lots of suggestions and I think that I’m narrowing down the perfect settings (or range of settings) for all activities.    I’ve even started a notebook to record trials and errors (how geeky is that??)

Against all laws of physics, I get better results with Free Motion quilting if I DON’T drop the feed dogs, but instead, set the stitch length to zero.    I never would have anticipated that…   But the internet was not wrong in this case.  The bobbin tension is much more secure when the feed dogs are up.

Yesterday, I finally got the guts to rip out the backwards strip in the Bonnie Quilt. I had help… (but note, please, the fact that the sewing table is clean and empty other than the furball!)

Pulling out the incorrect strip took a very long time, and caused some seams along that line to start coming unsewn, just from all the handling.   I’m still thinking about how to handle this – currently, I’m considering running a line of stay stitching along the edges to hold them together until I get them re-attached.

I’m hoping to get it back together so that I can drop it off with the quilter sometime this week.  Wish me luck – it would be lovely to get another finished project before the end of the month!

Temporarily have picture ability – I don’t think they look very good, but better than nothing, eh? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 8, 2018

Cat Bullet

Updates

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 10:27 am

What’s been going on? Still having computer problems at work, so no pictures. The “Summer 2018 UFO Camp” suggested by my friend Glenda has really influenced my crafting activities lately…

I’ve “finished” the Bonnie Hunter On Ringo Lake quilt.  In this case, “finished” is in quotes because after I had the finished top on the design wall for a day or two, I discovered an entire sashing strip that is reversed.   Grrrrr….   It will be a simple fix, but it had to go on hold until I finished the next project (which had a deadline).

Last Friday night (late), I finished Mr. Fish.  I’m really pleased with how it came out, though it is more heavily quilted than I had originally imagined.    Currently, he is visiting my friend Donna, who will kindly drop it off on Thursday to be entered into my first ever quilt show.   The show will be this coming Saturday (the 11th), and I can’t wait to see my version of the fish swimming in the pond with all of his cousins (who were all started in the Woodland Park class/seminar last February).

So, what is next?   I’ve got to fix that reversed strip in the On Ringo Lake quilt and then get it dropped off at the quilter.  I can’t wait until that project is finished and spread across a bed in my house.  Probably the guest room bed, but I might just have to sleep under it for a couple of nights so that I can really bond with it.

Once Mr. Fish returns from his premiere, I want to figure out where to hang him so that I can see him a whole lot.   I have a couple of ideas, but will have to wait to see where he will fit.

Project wise, we still have the rest of August to work on UFOs, as per the “camp” directions.   I haven’t decided which UFO that I will work on next.  There are so many to choose from.   I have two quilt tops that I’m planning to quilt myself (one of which is already pin-basted and is ready to go).  I have another that needs to be dropped at the quilter, but has to have its backing put together.   I have one set of blocks that is all trimmed and just needs to be sewn together and have a backing made.    I have the portrait of Taffy that just needs a background and then quilting.  I have the two Jaqueline de Jonge paper pieced projects in progress.  I have two quilts that are already quilted, but need to have binding attached.

Maybe I should have signed up for an UFO-completion year.   Or decade.  One summer just doesn’t seem long enough.

Everyone have a great rest of the week!

 

 

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July 2, 2018

Cat Bullet

Monday update

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 10:53 am

Well, still no pictures. But at least an update.

Mr. Fish has been glued, mostly.   I think he looks really good.   Unfortunately, even though I thought I was being REALLY VERY CAREFUL, some of the edges are down harder than I would like, so it will be difficult to get the background down behind the fish.     I’ll figure something out.

I’ve started with a trial background of dark blue strips cut with a long wavy-shaped edge, overlapping.  I think it looks pretty good, but might be a bit plain.    I thought about things overnight, so have a tentative plan as to how to deal with the glued down fish edges.   Further details as events warrant.

Also, the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt is officially one half done.   I hope to keep moving on that one.   At least from this point onward, every row will be getting shorter.  So… it is like they go faster, right?

(Don’t point out the errors in my logic.  I still have the feeling that if I knit faster, I will reach the end of my project before I run out of yarn.)

 

 

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June 15, 2018

Cat Bullet

Huh…

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 11:05 am

Well, even I am bored with looking at the last post on my blog.

From March?  Seriously??   Ugh.

I’m having computer issues at work and haven’t been able to upload any pictures lately.   So, I’m just going to have to put a couple of posts up without pictures until I can figure out how to handle this…

What has been going on?

1.  I started and finished a new project – a richly colored table runner as a gift for my Aunt and Uncle. Yes, a picture would be nice, but as discussed…   Here is a link to the kit/pattern.  Everything went together exactly as in the picture, but I changed the binding because the one they sent didn’t really match (in my opinion).  Instead, I used the same wine/plum colored batik that I used on the backing.

https://www.keepsakequilting.com/morocco-runner-pattern

2.  I’m finished with all of the blocks for the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt.  I have almost half of the quilt top sewn together (only one more row to do to finish the half), so I’m getting there.   This one has been REALLY hard and I will be so glad to have it finished. I’m definitely planning on getting it professionally quilted, and I’m probably going to buy the extra-wide backing fabric for it, just so I don’t have to worry about piecing together the back.

3.  Mr. Fish is in a resting phase… I am fairly certain that I have everything in the body completed, and I’ve got ideas for the background.  I need to start gluing.  Am hoping to work on that one after I finish the Bonnie Hunter mystery.  There is actually a deadline on that one as I am supposed to enter it in a quilt show in Colorado Springs in August (along with the people I took the class with).  Hmmm, maybe I should track down when the date of that show is…

4.  No progress has been made on either Day Dreams or Enchanting Stars, my two Jaqueline de Jonge paper piecing projects.  I’m really itching to get back to work on both of those.

My friend Glenda suggested that we have a UFO finishing summer, so those are the projects that I want to focus on.  That is a good idea, actually.   Finishing things is always good.

Oh, and I’ve been continuing the cleaning process on the studio.  I realize that, by typing that statement, I am implying that I have been working on the cleaning/organizing process all along.   Instead, I am forced to admit that it stalled, and stacks got massively out of control.   Out of control to the point that I lost important tools and had to replace them.   At which point, of course, the original was located.    It isn’t a tool that I will be unhappy to have a duplicate of, but I’m still annoyed with myself.

Speaking of annoyed with myself… I opened the DVD player last night so that I could watch a movie and found an old movie in the player.   An old movie that belongs to the library, so apparently I returned an empty case…  *gulp*   I’ll have to stop by this afternoon after work and throw myself on their mercy.    Which I hope is… merciful… because it was one of the “Lucky Day” DVDs, which means that you can only keep it for a very short period of time.  I suspect the fine will be hefty.

Good family news:    Mom and Dad got a new dog last weekend.  She is extremely sweet, about 1.5 years old and is a terrier mix of some kind.   She is really people-oriented and loves to be right next to you…

Oh well, that is about all that is going on right now.   It has been insanely hot and dry and the whole state is a tinderbox waiting to blow.   Summer semester has started and the usual crazed attempt to keep up with that is keeping me busy.  My Colorado Rockies show moments of brilliance balanced by absolute imperfection.  Par for the course.  Or, whatever the baseball equivalent would be.   Batting 0.500?  No, that would actually be a really good thing.

Hope things are going well with everyone and that you are keeping busy and well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 1, 2018

Cat Bullet

Something fishy going on…

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 2:58 pm

Last Saturday, I went down to Colorado Springs to attend a quilt guild class on fabric collage. It was a really great day (except for the long drive) and I had a really good time.

The point of the project was not to create something biologically accurate.  It is much more fun to cut random “organic” type shapes and see where they fit into the general idea of things.

This was my progress in the class on Saturday.  The design is drawn on the muslin backing fabric, and then you just kind of fill in as you wish.  I’m not being super careful about exactly following the lines.    I feel like such a rebel…

I got a chance to work on it again on Wednesday after work.

I picked up a new fabric that was HUGE mums in yellow, orange and rust.   It has been perfect.   As a matter of fact, I’m going to have to be careful to not use it for the whole fish!!     None of this is permanent yet, by no means.  I’ll be moving things around some more before gluing everything down.

It is a fun project to work on, though messy.  I’ve got little bits of fabric all over the house now.   The cats think this is a really fun development.

 

 

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February 20, 2018

Cat Bullet

More progress

Filed under: It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 12:07 pm

Well, we finally got some winter. Snow and really cold this morning. Brrrr. I’ve been living in my new thermal underlayers but will have to do some laundry tonight if I’m going to stay warm the rest of the week…

Progress is being made on the Bonnie Hunter mystery.    I got all of the parts done…

That was a LOT of sewing.  The parts on the left (not in the basket) were problematic because I read the directions incorrectly.  The Flying geese (black/white and red/white) were also problematic at first, but then I found a way to cheat.    The Half-red squares were not as bad as I feared, which was great (they are in the lower right corner of the basket).  They went together quickly.

Here is what the blocks look like.  Currently, I have 18 out of 50 done.  It takes about 15 minutes per block (ish), once I have the rhythm going.

 

I’m pretty pleased with how they are coming out.  They will be sewn together “On Point,” which means that if you tilt your head to the left, you will see what they will look like in the quilt.    There will be sashing (red and white) with cornerstones (black, or possibly blue, depending on what I decide looks better in the long run).   Around the whole outside of the quilt will be blue triangles.   Probably scrappy, using the same fabrics I’ve already used, or possibly uniform, using a relatively large piece of blue that I have in my stash.     Again, I’ve not decided.  If the stash blue is large enough to use for all (or part) of the backing, then I will save it for that to avoid having to buy more fabric.   If there isn’t enough for that, well, then I may just make the outside consistent to give the eye a place to rest.

Time will tell, I guess.  These blocks are going together quickly, so I’m still hoping to get it finished by my birthday (the first week of March).   I’m not sure that I’m going to make it, though, as I lost about two weeks of sewing time to a head cold.   Bugger…

 

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