Slow creativity

You have probably noticed that there haven’t been a lot of creative posts lately. The malaise has set in. I have ordered two Koala sewing cabinets and a Horn cutting table. It will probably take about two months, overtime I walk into the sewing room it just looks like one big mess. Which it is.

Time for another purge. A couple bags like this went into the trash. I do this periodically. No I haven’t read Kondo or seen her netflix show. I am not a minimalist, I throw things away. As a creative person, a certain amount of ‘stuff’ is my palate.

A few years ago I organized my buttons. Then I received about twenty salesmen cards of buttons. Some I used but most weren’t functional. One of each size or color. A friend gave me her mother’s button collection. I decided that I don’t need to be the dumping ground for others. When I want buttons, I’ll go buy them. I kept some buckles as well as sets of buttons. Then I set about creating a decorative button jar.

I kept many of the mundane ones, as many as the sparkly ones as I could as well as some large glass beads. If I need one special button, I’ll check this out, otherwise, it’s off to the store I go. Meanwhile, buttons as art are always welcome in a sewing room.

The sacrilege! I threw away books! Nobody wants these books, don’t tell me to donate them to a school or library. Sorry, they are overloaded. Sometimes simply throwing something away is the thing to do. I wonder if Kondo agrees. A number of books were what I call Knitting magazines with hard covers. Others were art books I referred to when I was a docent, such as publications from LACMA. When my mother died she didn’t leave a lot, she had already moved to a one bedroom apartment. So we divided up what we wanted. I’m sure she would have wanted me to take the art books – she had some really incredible ones. I didn’t want them. So the Judaica books went to people who wanted them and the rest of the books, art and history went to a used bookstore in Jerusalem. The owner was very impressed with my mother’s intellect. I’m sure some of the books were tossed.

I gave this painting of my mothers’ to my son. It is now beautifully framed and in his office.

Btw, once the furniture arrives, I’ll do another very large purge and will get rid of as many of those plastic drawers as I can. Which will probably mean that I’ll go through my fabrics and threads and throw more things away.

I have been busy sewing for almost 4 hours every Tuesday at Quilt’n’Things

It has to be easy sewing so I’ve sewn plenty of pillowcases. I don’t think I need to share more pictures of those. Nona at The Valley Modern guild puts together kits to sew tops for charity quilts as well. I didn’t take a picture of the before, but you get the idea. She gave me a package with the center block as well as the other fabrics and said: go to town! I did!

Nona chose lovely fabrics. I made sure that the print in the first border runs in the same direction. That is one of my bugaboos, I don’t like mono-directional fabric! Another great choice was the checkered fabric. It really helps highlight the texture in the bunny. I am also glad that I used the batik in the middle and the multi colored print for the final border.

I will not be quilting this. Although once I get my new quilting table I will be happy to try and quilt some of the smaller charity quilts. It won’t be such a strain what with all the extra space for the quilt to sit on while I move it under the machine.

After the rain

After a week the rain stopped, the sun came out and people came out in droves to hike in the beautiful green hills.

The air is clear, the San Gabriel mountains are shiny and clear.

Rain in the valley means snow in the mountains.

It also means that this section of fencing, that has been here forever has fallen down. I wonder if they will fix it or simply do without a wall.

I love how in the winter, after rain, there are things like this that don’t look like CA at all. Of course one has to get the exact right angle.

This is for sale.

Not sure if this in on the same property. In a very expensive neighborhood there always are those run down derelicts. Unless it’s one of the planned communities – where you can’t breathe out of turn.

Here is some multi purpose holiday decorating. I’m wondering how long this will stay up. We are getting to the point where lights are fine, because it still gets dark early, but it’s time for the decorations to be put away.

Looks like someone decided to put the Easter decorations outside, and then the bunny collection just grew…

… and grew.

From my own garden, with a little help from the neighbors – camellias in bloom. With one rose.

It’s raining!

It’s raining, like Seattle here! Look how green everything is. I love the green, I miss the sun. Oh well, it will be back next week and I’m not seeing much rain in the forecast.

The billboard guys work in the rain

At some point I need better pictures, I also need to find someone to take a closer look at this, although I don’t want to spend a fortune. This is a real Navajo rug.

When it stops raining, I’ll take better pictures. In the 20s or 30s my grandparents travelled through the southwest a well as Mexico. There were no fake Najavo rugs at the time. They probably bought this at one of the many trading posts that nowadays sell a lot of trinkets.

This rug is much more impressive than I had thought. I thought it was just stripes, which would have been fine. 30 years ago my mother moved her mother to Israel. She brought along the silver, her own watercolor paintings from when she was a girl. And this rug. She knew it was special and valuable.

It is woven in two parts, you can see the seam coming apart here. The looms were only so wide.

My grandmother may have displayed this, my mother never did. Which was probably a very good thing. Kept it stored away, out of the bright Israeli sunlight. Look how strong and vibrant that blue and black are. I love the details of the design, s intricate.

There is a hole, it looks like a mouse chewed through. This wool is so dense and tight, I don’t think it was moths.

After my mother’s funeral, I brought back an afghan my great-grandmother had made. I didn’t have any more room. So my brother had this cleaned and along with some other items my sons asked for, shipped it here.

So it’s back stateside. No, I’m not watching Kondo do her minimalism thing. Because this grandmother ended up being a hoarder, I’ve learned long ago to throw things away. The only things I regret getting rid of are textiles. From the same grandmother I used to have a lovely Chinese embroidered cloth, (no, she didn’t buy it in China). I also had an old Beduin embroidered dress. Those are the things I regret getting rid of. Textiles.

Now, I need to find out some more about this rug, I’ll keep you posted.

Upgrading the sewing room

I am very fortunate to have my own sewing room. No need to use the dining room or even a guest room. I will be upgrading and getting new furniture and cabinets – from Koala. Yup, I’ve cut corners and bought things cheap for years – it’s time to treat myself like a queen.

First off, here is the room in all it’s messy glory.

There are many doors and windows as well as a built in closet. This is my sewing machine cabinet – one of those $150 ones. The lift never worked. This is where I both piece and quilt. The serger just moves to the floor, but I have no extra room to lay out the quilt. Which to be honest means I’m really impressed with how good my free motion quilting looks.

This is my longest wall, right now there is a dresser, a small plastic cabinet and a folding table. The iron is sitting here as well. It is very messy right now, I have all my red fabrics out for this quilt. I cut the fabric on this table, which is why my clothes sewing machine is off in the corner.

Then there is all this mess underneath. I doubt I will ever have a pristine work room, I’m messy, but I could do a lot better than this.

The wall with the french doors. Bookcase, plastic drawers and to be honest, I don’t use the dress form as a dress form, so it should go.

I hate this closet and would love to remove it. I did install some Alfa shelves, but there is so much wasted space here. At some point I may just rip this out and have more usable space.

I do have a moveable design wall, but it lives in the bedroom upstairs, no room here, so the floor gets a lot of use. Now that the star is finished, I am going back to my red and white.

I finished this shawl! It used up a lot of the yarn from the frogged sweater. You can’t really see the lace patterns because of the yarn. But I like the shape and it is pretty.

Just took a selfie with my phone, my selfie stick stopped working a long time ago. I need to pull out the tripod and get better pictures. I love the shape of this shawl, covers my shoulders well and doesn’t have long ends like a scarf. Meanwhile, I need to knit some socks.

First finish of 2019

It’s finished! And the results are beautiful.

Quilting this was very interesting. I did some ruler work as well as free motion quilting on the star itself.

I outlined the star with an inch wide border, using the ruler. Then I filled in with pearls.

For most of the background I did free-form concentric arcs.

It’s hard to see the quilting in these squares, it’s there. Then Chevron quilting with the walking foot. It was easy on the outer border, I could quilt across the whole quilt. Then I’d go back and starter, without having to worry about turning the quilt.

I love the purple background. It was clear that with all the depth of the Grunge fabric, I’d be wasting my time quilting perfect feathers.

I’ve had this background fabric for years, It felt good using it up. I even had to patch in another color way.

I brought it in to Quilt and Things where it was duly admired.

As well as to the daytime guild, where it also got a lot of love.

While I was in the yard taking artistic shots, I noticed how the colors of the quilt coordinate very well with my ceramic garden sculpture. I wouldn’t say the sculpture influenced the choice of colors, but clearly, this is an esthetic I like.

Now, to gift this to a special person, I know she will be both thrilled and shocked. She has no idea that she is getting this.

Capturing the old valley before it disappears.

There certainly is a need to preserve old buildings, but not everything can be saved. Progress means the old comes down while new buildings get built. Right now old houses are becoming McMansions and old apartment buildings are being torn down for bigger newer ones.

So I take may camera with me to document what I can in my neighborhood.

These old dingbat apartments were built after the war, all over the city and the valley. They took the time to give them fancy names as well as interesting decorations. A simple carport in the front with small apartments on top.

Some of these have been retrofitted and others will meet the wrecking ball. This one doesn’t have a name, but does have the decoration. Two buildings down, a new apartment building is replacing an old dingbat.

I’m not sure how long this house will be here. It is yellow and pretty, but I think it’s unoccupied and will probably be torn down soon.

A lovely Spanish style apartment building. I love all the details and the trim. My guess is the apartments are rather small and don’t have washer/dryers in them. I understand that some people are fine with this, and others want larger apartments with more amenities.

Next door is this lovely Streamline apartment building. That bridge between Art Deco and midcentury modern. Sure this is considered Art Deco, but they the late 30s’ things were streamlined and simplified. I bet the rooms with the rounded corner are quite lovely. And of course, and iconic bird of paradise bush. Something else I don’t see as often as I used to. Like everything else, there are fashions in landscaping, just like everything else.

The valle is not known for Craftsmen houses. Right down the street from me there is this lovely little one. Rock base for the balcony wall. Solid pillars. A window divided into three sections. Yup, pure craftsman. I wonder if there is a lot of dark wood inside or not?

And finally, not in the valley but from downtown.

What a great massive advertisement. Channeling Roy Liechtenstein. This is in the Jewelry district and yet it’s advertising a Mall jewelry chain. Actually, now that I think about it, it does make sense. This is where they get their product, from the wholesale jewelers. Most people don’t know where to go downtown and are more comfortable at the mall. Although there are so many businesses open to the public here. I guess you need to do your homework, just walking in doesn’t mean you will get a better deal.

The joy of grandkids

New Years came and went. But the kids don’t go back to school right away. Saba and Savta to the rescue.

First, fun in the jacuzzi with Saba. Yay for nice hot water. No, I didn’t go in, someone has to stay out and take pictures right?

Dinner at Hometown buffet! A little slice of heaven for kids, we allowed only one dessert. Cameron chose wisely – chocolate cake with frosting.

So good he licked the plate clean.

From the moment I picked them up, they informed me that we have to make pancakes for breakfast. It’s a tradition! To make them special we added oatmeal and blueberries.

Put some sliced bananas and a little bit of real maple syrup and we have silence for 10 minutes while they are busy eating.

Then if was off to have a day of fun with the cousins. We went to one of those massive indoor playgrounds. They had a blast, I got a headache.

Back home, they both napped on the ride home, which is a very good thing. This is what quilts are for right? Building forts and climbing in and out.

I knew when I bought this camel, he’s be used for more than just display, sure enough, the boys had to ride him. Btw, the bandaid on Westley’s cheek. Yup, Cameron threw a toy at him. It didn’t hit the eye, so we’re good, boys will be boys. And these sure had a lot of fun! They stayed through dinner and off home they went. And yes, we slept very well that night and enjoyed a nice quiet day on Saturday.

Goodbye 2018, hello 2019

Our annual New Years Eve party got pushed off to the weekend. We did have Aytan sleep over, which was nice, but New year doesn’t feel special in any way. I didn’t even watch the whole parade. I must be getting old and jaded. The floats are lovely, the bands are nice, the horses regal and yet – two hours is just too much. There is this massive build up to Christmas, then in one day it’s over and done. I’ve even seen people throw their Christmas trees out in the afternoon of Christmas day. So I guess, rather than a massive let down, there is a slow let down, ending with New Years.

I don’t show a lot of my cooking here, but I do love to cook. One of my favorite tools is the Instant Pot. I use it all the time. So on New Years Eve I went to the market, hoping to buy some Israeli salads, specifically, Babaganuche, the kind made with Tehina, not mayonnaise. There was only one woman behind the deli counter and she didn’t really appear to want to help much. So I bought eggplants, cooked them for about 7 minutes in the pot – so they’d be cooked through. Then I burned them on the stove top!

The deli just lost a customer. Not a lot of work and amazingly good! The burnt flavor, adding a lot of garlic, lemon juice and Tehina. OMG! It was superb!

I have been knitting. I bought a kit, it’s odds and ends of stripped yarn. The intention is to make exactly what I did – two socks that are a pair but don’t match. I even have enough leftover to make fingerless mitts.

I knit this back in the summer-fall. I wasn’t happy with the result at all. Sure it looks fine here, but that is because you can’t see how awkward the cap of the left sleeve is. Also, a little short. Here I knit a whole sweater and I’m not happy.

You know what’s nice about yarn? (unlike fabric). I can frog the whole sweater and save most of the yarn. Which is exactly what I did. So here I am, knitting myself a shawl.

It will be a repeat of this shawl. The yarn is thinner, so it might be a little smaller. I am adding some rows. We’ll see. This shawl went to a friend in Texas.

Look what I got in return. She crocheted this beautiful delicate scarf, as well as sending a mug and chocolate. Life is good!

Indian Star

That is what I am calling this quilt right now, not sure the name will stick.

Here I go, adding the background. Yes, the instructions were to cut the square in half. Being obstinate, I didn’t, and I will pay the price, this doesn’t lie perfectly flat.

Loving this star against the background.

Adding a border, this is going to be a large quilt.

Trying to get a picture of the guilt top in the wind. I included a border of the background purple all around.

Next try. I really like how before I quilt, the light shines through like stained glass.

Onto my least part of the process, glue basting the quilt. Luckily the wind did die down! As I was doing this I discovered that I am going to have some big problems quilting. I think I mentioned that this top isn’t flat, it really isn’t. Somehow I will need to ease in a fair amount of fabric.

I snapped this picture completely by accident. I was about to delete it and yet there is something about this. There is movement and most of the image is out of focus. I like it!

Quilting the star, one thing I can say about quilting, it adds dimension. The Spines will have the same quilt pattern, the rest of the blade is a simple orange peel.

This is a better image of the quilting. Simple yet effective. I am dreading the background, I can already see that I will have plenty of fabric to ease in. I was thinking of some walking foot quilting… now I’m not so sure that will work. Oh well, on to finish the star!

Birdhouse in Paradise

William Mellenthin built over 3000 homes in the LA area, mostly in the San Fernando Valley. The one story ranch house was king. He put a special twist on his – a cupola facing the street with Dovecotes, or bird houses.

Some are falling into disrepair or being torn down to make way for McMansions. So now, when I’m out and about, I’m busy taking pictures of them.

The cupola isn’t always in the same location, and on this house, it appears there is room for more birds.

People get creative by putting birds in the bird houses.

Or putting a weathervane with a bird on top.

Here is a very well loved Birdhouse ranch style home. Look at the stained-glass ‘shutters’. Very much in the Frank Lloyd Wright tradition, as well as the planters underneath. I wonder if the shingles are new, many of these homes are simply stucco.

Right down the street there is such a home that is already behind the tall green fence – that means one thing. It’s getting torn down.

I don’t know if I’ve shared this teardrop trailer before. It sits outside a home. I was very pleased to see that it merits it’s own Christmas decorations.

Speaking of Christmas – which is now over for the year.

I made this quilt back in the spring. I’m selfish with my quilts, if I don’t keep them myself, they go to people I really care about. Michael has been a dear friend for many years, I love that he loves the gift.