A Quilt for my own bed

The very first quilt I made was for our bed. We used it until it fell apart. It was completely made by hand, so that may have had something to do with it’ demise. Since then, I haven’t had a quilt on my bed. I have one on the bed in the guestroom. It’s a scrappy quilt, using many fabrics I’ve had for a while. I kept thinking that the one I make for my bed has to be super special.

Then I got over myself and decided it was time. I have been watching The Missouri Star Quilt company tutorials on YouTube. So far I’ve made a baby quilt. As fun as they are to watch, I’m not looking to make a quilt in an afternoon. Then along came The Checkered Dresden Quilt. I would have moved on, but Evildemondevildog went ahead and made his version. I gave in, I ordered the ruler and a jelly roll of bright colorful fabric.Recently I won a half jelly roll, the colors close enough, yet different enough. So I set to work.Sew four strips together, mixing and matching but not thinking too hard.Bright, fun and plenty of contrast.Next step, cutting all those strips into wedges. I normally don’t work like an assembly line. But I followed instructions here.

The next step was to sew the top of the blades in order to create the point.At this point, I went back to my own comfort zone. I built each plate individually. The instructions were to sew pairs, then groups of four and then using five groups of four, create the circle.  Couldn’t do it, I found it easier to pay attention, so I wouldn’t get a red next to red, or brown next to brown. After a while, I realized that was futile, so I just made sure there was contrast. These plates are so bright, colorful and scrappy, it’s the overall impression that will matter, not the details. Which means that yes, I tried to make sure the seams match, but where they didn’t, they didn’t.

And then it was off to Michael Levine’s to find the background fabric. In the tutorial, the background is white, with a print border all around the quilt. Also, from one jelly roll, you get nine plates since I added twenty-two more stripes I will end up with fifteen.  I don’t want a square quilt, so I will be working with twelve blocks and might incorporate the remainder in the outer border.This is what I came home with. Soon I will show you how I plan to put this all together.

LA in the rain

My niece and nephew came for a visit. They are from Israel but have been studying for a few months on the east coast. It was time to show them LA, but what do you do when it rains for three days?We started out at the Griffith Park Observatory. A beautiful Art Deco building with great views of the city. They had to trust us on the views – clearly this is all we saw – grey.There is something magical about being inside a cloud. We arrived two hours before opening time, so it was on to find other Iconic landmarks to show off.For myself, I can’t get enough of these Art Deco elements.

Where else does one go but to  Hollywood Forever Cemetery?

It is such an unusual unique cemetery, very representative of the city. I don’t care about the celebrities buried there, I don’t care about celebrities period.  It’s the overall crazy feel of the place.Paramount Studio was built on the property owned by the cemetery and many of the original studio heads and stars are buried here.  Mel Blank is on the edge of the Jewish section, called Beth Olam – eternal home.I have no idea who Mama Irene was, but she was perfect.Probably because she was Italian.Over 100 years ago, the tombstone or monument would be very impressive. But little information was given. At the time everyone knew who Griffith J. Griffith was, his name was all that was needed. He did donate the land that is Griffith park to the city. He probably did so because he felt it was too hilly to develop. No idea who Hart, Wheelock or Randall were. Why someone left those figurines is also a mystery to me.Today if you are famous, you spell it all out!  In one hundred years, who will remember Johnny Ramone?Or even Toto, he was buried under what today is the 101 freeway right by my house. Someone cared enough to errect a memorial to him.There is a large Russian population being buried here, and boy do they go overboard. I just had no idea that Stalin is here. The name is in Armenian, but you can understand my confusion.This is why I like this place so much, Were the Koran and Armenian married? Is it just by chance they are buried side by side?A visit to Thailand, this section is smaller than the rest, yet is quite authentic.Some peacocks have taken up residence, I hope they keep their numbers under control, unlike the LA Arboretum that is over run by these fowl.Big birds, big mess, but boy are they pretty!

We went on to Hollywood BLVD, even midweek in the rain there were plenty of tourists around taking pictures. I had to share the LA every tourist see, not just the hidden gems.Then onto Venice Beach. Our guests were duly impressed with how wide the sand is, anywhere else and the buildings would leave a small board walk and even a smaller strip of sand.

Speaking of birds, these are residents of Venice Beach, not as colorful but equally messy. The neighbor has some fake owl, keeps them off his property, but they roosted right next door.Of course they even managed to see the rest of the family. Notice how interested Cameron is in that glass of wine…  no one shared with him.

Sock weather

My friend Vivian dyes some beautiful yarns over at Hillviews Yarn, I didn’t take a picture of the skien, but I sure had fun knitting the socks.We are having real winter here in So Cal, I am wearing wool socks every day. My kids are dropping hints that one pair of hand knit socks just isn’t enough… As you can see here from the picture, one never knows how the yarn will knit up.  In one sock we have stripes and pooling, in the other, mostly pooling.Foolish me, I should have just knit a plain stockinette sock, but after the heel turn I decided to knit the leg in a rib stitch. Ribbing takes too much time! To frog back to the heel would be too difficult, so I didn’t. No one is going to get close enough to my foot to see that one sock has a little bit of ribbing….… and the other doesn’t. They both fit well and are cozy warm. They are also both beautiful, there is a time and place for perfection in knitting, socks are not that time or place.Here we have a closer look at stripes vs. pooling. Who knows why that happens? I saw a chart somewhere, an engineer figured out how many stitches would create each affect. It was a fun thing to read, but both these socks have 60 stitches and the yarn behaved differently. This is the beauty of hand knit socks – as well as how warm and cozy they are.

I mentioned another sweater, this yarn is Malabrigo. for some reason I don’t have a green sweater, well shortly I will. Also, look how bright green the grass is, what with all that winter rain we are getting.

When a bad sweater goes good.

Months ago I knit this, I hated it, rather then try and make it work I frogged it. For non-knitters, the term frogging comes from the action of ripping out a large swath of knitted fabric – rip it! rip it! Or should I say ribbit ribbit? Hense frogging.

I went back online to find a pattern that would work, since I love the yarn.

This is the sweater I wanted! Sure I would have been ok with more cables. Then again, this knit up much quicker without cables through out.I decided to make the backdrop more interesting as well.Gaping can be an issue with a cardigan, so it was time to go the extra mile and sew in a band of grosgrain ribbon. Well, it’s probably fake grosgrain, but it is readily available at JoAnn’s.Interesting  cables at the neckline, a touch of interest at the cuff. A wonderful kettle dyed yarn with subtle color changes. Although the yarn is wool, it is thin, so if we ever get back our ‘normal’ winter, I will get a lot of wear out of this. Otherwise, I am enjoying big thick sweaters I haven’t worn in years.I found the buttons at JoAnn’s as well, cute roses. I used my sewing machine to make button holes on the ribbon, so both bands are stabilized. I should really do this from now on when I knit cardigans.This shot is more about the background, it’s a little too dark for the sweater details, at least you can see that it fits nicely. Not too tight, not too loose.Another great project, I have already cast on another sweater -there is a whole story behind the next one as well.

The Mosaic Tile House

A known fixture in Venice California, the Mosaic Tile House. I went with Atlas Obscura, but anyone can get in touch and visit the house. Here we have Cheri and Gonzalo inviting us in.Here is Gonzalo behind the gate.

This is one of those, sensory overload kind of places. So much to see, too much to absorb. Cheri makes many of the clay and glass tiles herself, Gonzalo makes the mosaics, paints and creates some very interesting sculptures. To say that color is the most important aspect of their surroundings is an understatement. Every surface outside the house is either covered in mosaic or painted. The  outside of the large studio in the back is painted. The wood wall wouldn’t be able to hold the mosaics. The second story is ‘just’ painted, they are now beginning to add mosaics inside. I’m wondering how the structure holds up with all this concrete and tile. When they don’t like something, they don’t tear anything out, just add a new layer.In no particular order, I am going to recreate a little bit of the experience. These are a small portion of the pictures I took, I realize, editing is necessary, I hope for your sake, I have edited enough.A small portion of Cheri’s massive studio. Making glass tiles.That are then affixed to the exterior of the bathroom window. If one falls off and breaks – no big deal – she has plenty on hand to replace them.This is half of the sliding glass doors that connect the house to the studio.A view into the kitchen. I LOVE mosaic, no way could I live here. I am thankful that they can and that they share their surroundings with other. It all started with a bathroom, twenty some years ago and hasn’t stopped.These clay objects are all destined for a mosaic surface.You can see some here in the wall, along with the cups from a Seder plate. I think I have a similar plate. Cheri collects ceramics from all over the world. Here you also see shapes she herself made, the ice-cream cones, the lizzard. What? Plain wooden floor? And a carpet? What I love is the chair, not one that they painted, but one that gives me ideas.  Not sure I’d ever paint a chair, but who knows?Exterior stairs get different treatment.If you have a kiln, and they have many, slumping glass bottles is easy.  Gonzalo is the welder, if you are missing a piece of silverware – check out this house, you may find it. You won’t be able to remove it.They sell as much of their artwork as they can, what doesn’t sell ends up being used.These reminded me of the Dali painting The Persistance of Memory. I am sure he would approve. Gonzalo said that Simon Rodia, the creator of Watts Towers is a great inspiration to him. I’m sure Rodia would be jealous of all the color and materials here. Here I am, in the artwork. Gonzalo has figured out the perfect location to have you stand and he captures the image in one of the mirror fragments.

My visit started on a cloudy day – which is good for photography, it ended with the sun coming out. Every thing is  shiny and sparkly, but a little harder to photograph.  As fun as it is to take these pictures, just being there, experiencing the space is really what it is all about.

Last finish of 2016

I finished this quilt on Dec. 31, 2016, I still have to make a label, but I don’t consider that a reason not to call this finished.I posted this on Instagram as well, I’m getting a lot of likes. I think this is appealing to many people, it’s not a bold brash assault on the eyes with bright colors. It’s not overwhelmingly busy with no place for the eyes to rest. It has very masculine in feel. It is different from so many quilts out there right now. Needless to say I LOVE it. I am grateful that my daughter in law does as well, since I made this with my son Elk in mind, so I’m thrilled it is going to live with them.

And now for the rest of the journey as to how we got here.Using my design wall I tried to figure out a layout. This was one atempt, there is no reason why this wasn’t the winner, it just wasn’t.My sewing room is downstairs, the design wall in the spare bedroom upstairs, so I was getting a lot of exercise running up and down the stairs.  If it looks like the quilt isn’t perfectly flat, that is because it isn’t. I started playing fabric chicken. I was very concerned that I was running out of fabric and wouldn’t have enough to finish the background. The thought of running back down to Torrance, and maybe not finding any more of the background really scared me. So when I made a mistake is the width of a background strip, I left it and scrunched in the pieces.At least I had cut my borders first. This is all that was left over, I won the chicken game, barely. When I measured the quilt it certainly wasn’t an accurate rectangle. That is OK, I make my quilts to be used, not for shows. I also knew that good quilting will hide many sins.I can’t help myself, these days feathers are a go to of mine when it comes to quilting.Since my son goes by Elk (short for Elkana, even in Israel where we named him, this is an unusual name. Although and important charcter in the Bible, the father of Samual the prophet). As soon as I saw this pattern by Elizabeth Hartman, I knew I had to make a quilt for him. I had to go through Craftsy to buy the class, the individual pattern will only be available for sale in the spring. I have no regrets about buying the class, I gained some new tips for how to piece Elizabeth’s patterns.This picture is mid quilting. The animals have a simple in the ditch and quarter inch line on the larger images. The background is a combination of feather surrounded by free motion leaves.

Remember this owl? Way too big for the front, I was considering using him in a baby quilt, instead, he found his way onto the back.I bought some essex linen for the back. Not enough, but as you know I like to piece my backs. Although I hadn’t prewashed the fabrics on the front, I needed to prewash the linen because it does shrink. So I threw the top in and washed it as well, so when I wash the whole quilt – there won’t be surprise shrinkage.

Also, to the naked eye, the quilt looks like a rectangle, all that heavy quilting hides all the sins that were present before quilting.

The puckers have disapeared, which is why quilting is so amazing. It not only holds the three layers together, it really is a wonderful finishing touch. On th back you can see the image of the little owl standing out from the busy background.

I have sewn on my name, am still working on the actual label, which will be embroidered. I need to show this off to my guilds. I may give it to my son then borrow it back, since my schedule right now has me missing the first guild meetings of the year.One more image of the quilting, because I am so proud of it, it’s all free hand. I’m pleased with the leaf filler. Since it’s woodland creatures it just felt right to have a forest like feel in the background.

Handmade gifts

I know, the holidays are over! The stores are full of football and hearts for Valentines Day. I still have to share what I made and what I received.

For a gift exchange with some Facebook friends I knit a scarf.I knit this a few months ago, which is what I need to keep on doing, knitting items that can end up as gifts for the holidays. Can you see the round box?I can’t stop with one item. So I made this wonderful box, then promptly forgot to take pictures. So glad my friend took some pictures once it arrived. This is part of another great Craftsy class. Once again, I always learn something in these classes, no matter how much I think I know. I had fun with my die cutter and stamps as well. I have avoided getting a Cricut or some other electronic die cutting machine. I really don’t need one. I have the Sizzix and a few dies, which is fine. What I really need to do is get back into some mosaic work this year, not more paper.When the inside is as nice as the outside, and my label of course. In return, I got this beautiful handmade ceramic vase. No, my friend isn’t a ceramicist, but she does work at RISD, Rhode Island School of Design, so she is able to look at what students are making and choose what she wants. She chose this because I am always posting the flowers I pick from my garden. So I promptly went out and picked flowers to put in my vase.Earlier this year RISD had an exhibit of Todd Oldham’s  fashions. I wish I could have seen it, it looked spectacular. Well, at least I now have two buttons he designed. Years ago, as in 20 years ago, he had a whole collection of buttons, some were sold at Joann’s.   I bought and used them. Foolish me, when I was through with the garment I should have removed the buttons. I didn’t, so I have a small regret. But now I have some of his buttons again. I bet these cost much more than the old Joann ones! because they were bought in a museum shop. Ah the placement of an item has a lot to do with it’s worth!

Christmas is over

With the almost two month build up to Christmas, it ends with a whimper. Not for the people celebrating, but for society at large. A day later and the tree is out on the curb. I’m hoping these people got a new sofa for Christmas which is why the old one has been tossed as well.Some people haven’t gotten the message that Fall is also over. I’m happy that others aren’t in a rush to take down the decorations.
Our bright sunny days are back, unlike the north, yet I still love these ornaments that are still on display.Must be a Jewish/Christian family at this house.I know, people hate McManshions, sorry folks, they are here to stay. People want large expansive homes, if they didn’t, no one would build them. These people have used the large expanse for lovely decorations. I think this is a very lovely display. I hope it stays up until New Year.Back home we are still lighting the menorah and eating too many fried foods.  I really am ready for the holidays to be over.

… but I don’t bake!

Christmas day and we were invited to friends. Unfortunately, Joel was sick, so I sailed down to the OC in an hour. Ahh, holiday traffic.

My friends had a visitor, Minh from up north, she was busy making bialys. Despite saying that I’m a cook, not a baker I got roped in. I was immediately reminded why I don’t bake. I was doing everything wrong. So I bit my tongue and listened carefully to Minh, followed her orders exactly!  She had started the dough from scratch the night before, I had to weigh out the dough exactly and forming them into balls was no easy matter. Here they are, ready to proof one more time.

Proof the did!  Look how the yeast is working its’ magic.Henry had carmelized the onions earlier. I let Minh shape the dough, my job at this point was to press the onions into the center. Can you see the air bubbles here?  They will help make incredible bialys.Out of the oven! Beautiful and oh my! So Good!  The crust was crunchy, inside they were soft and moist!  Well worth all of the effort.  Will I be baking again soon? No, unless Minh comes back to town and ropes me in.My hosts treated themselves to VR as their Christmas gift. It is funny watching someone else doing it. I have to admit, it is a lot of fun. One really is surrounded by a three D world. Since it was a small group, we all enjoyed the experience. Henry had given me these orchids weeks ago at my party. I can’t throw them away, so he recommended removing the spent stalks, cutting back the good ones. Then emersing them in ice water and fresh water in the vase.  It’s been almost four weeks and they still look great!

A visit to a local museum

The Autry Museum of the American West was started by Gene Autry, the singing cowboy. When he started it in the 1980’s it was about celebrating the cowboys and the opening of the West. Today that isn’t politically correct, so the museum goes out of it’s way to celebrate ‘the natives’. Don’t get me started, if you haven’t figured out by now, the last thing I am is politically correct.  At least when it comes to art and artifacts – they do a good job, despite the message.I’m sure each of these paintings have some ‘deep’ meaning, I don’t care, I enjoy the bright colors, the hand of the artist. I am so tired of ‘art’ having to have a strong political message, I want art to be uplifting – please stop dragging me down.Which is why I prefer things like this. This vest is beaded, that isn’t thread embroidery. And cultural appropriate – this is a great example. Beads and images of flowers are European. Many Indians learned the craft and have made it there own. As it should be, cultures enriching each other, becoming better through the process.Basket weaving was a strong tradition among the tribes native to California. With the abundance of resources here, they pretty much remained hunter gatherers – so baskets are a necessity.  It’s nice when they can become art. No basket that was used in everyday life would have these feather, or be this small.  It is wonderful when people can turn from substance to art.Another way of incorporating feathers. The Artist is Mabel McKay of the Pomo Tribe. A true basket artist, a pleasure to see her body of work. Even she included beads in her work.

Not all new work acquired by the museum in made by ‘natives’. I love everything about this iron horse. When car becomes horse.There seems to be a whole genre of artists who make horses out of interesting materials. One of the things I love is the bright colors of the cars and how well they have survived. Automotive paints is a world unto itself.Even newer cars that are still operational. I parked next to this Thunderbird.  I have friends who would come up with very creative names for this car.The yellow continues inside, from the leather to gear shift. FUN!The cowboy isn’t completely lost, thank God. The museum owns some Remington cowboys and has acquired many newer artists who are working in the same vein.There are many old artifacts, like spurs.highly decorated guns.A wall of badges. Sorry, my images aren’t very clear, I’m taking pictures through glass.Many are the six-pointed star.Then there is the combination 8 point with a five point in the middle, must be from Texas.

I sat for a while watching and listening to Gene Autry sing his wonderful songs, yes Back in the Saddle again was one of them.

There was also a great photography exhibit, no photos allowed. Which is fine, because taking a photo of a photo really doesn’t work. Great Western photographers like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston among others. I think the exhibit is closing soon. They had a photobooth, because who doesn’t have one of those these days!  Nice image, but certainly not art!