The Bear

Back at Spring Quilt Market in 2017, I kept seeing images of this quilt.I fell in love, I knew the pattern wouldn’t be available until at least September. When it was, it seemed to be sold mostly as a kit with these specific fabrics. Makes sense, Annie Brady is a new fabric designer and to showcase her line, she designed this quilt. Luckily I was able to purchase just the pattern.With most of my quilts, I’m happy to dig into my stash, but it’s always fun to buy a few new fabrics as well.I like calling this method of construction the Elizabeth Hartman method. Using half square triangles, all kinds of snow balls, one creates the animal. In this case Annie Brady used some pattern pieces as well.At this point, I called the quilt done. I hadn’t paid attention to the size listed on the pattern, 60″x 70″. Numbers don’t mean much to me, but this is a baby quilt. Another row of 10″ blocks all around would make this a very nice youth or lap quilt. So I stopped here. I usually use cotton batting for a baby quilt. No more! All I had was wool and it made the quilting so much easier! I used my ruler on most of the bear, you can see it in the ear. I also did ruler work to create diamonds in the background. It worked really well.Then I went off on vacation in Belize. I was anxious to get back and finish up this bear. This picture is taken after a wash and dry in my machines. Unlike cotton, it crinkled up some, but not a lot, which to be honest I prefer. I find that with cotton batting crinkle, you lose all the quilting definition.  Here it isn’t quite as crisp as it was before washing, but the quilting designs still stand out.See what I mean? Especially on the background.  Where you can’t really see the quilting is on the very busy print fabrics. I mentioned having fun with rulers. I used them all over the bear itself. I’m so happy that my ruler work is improving. Using wool batting is a big part of that success. Working on a small quilt is also much easier.Using up stash fabric for the backing. You get a better sense of the quilting on the back. Some artistic shots.

The baby for whom this quilt is intended was born the day I finished this. I will be visiting him in Israel next month and will hand deliver the package.

I loved this project, I’m also excited to start working on some new quilts in 2018.

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Flora and Fauna

These dogs at Duplooy’s have a very good life.So do the birds, they have their own special feeding area, this Aracara is related to the Tucan.  I love the markings on his beak, that make it look like sharp teeth.Yellow wing Tangier, lucky for me they had a bird guide right there. Although I must say, the people who work here do know all the names.A vulture cooling its wings. The Kinkajou, a little marsupial that comes down for bananas most nights.Not all birds are alive, this is the doorknob into a resort in San Pedro.A spider monkey enjoying the Mayan ruins. We also saw an agouti, the picture was so blurry, not worth sharing.How often have you seen a Charlotte’s Web spider web??  Tiny but so perfect.I wasn’t very close to this iguana, we were floating by in the river – he is yuuuuge!A frog decorating a fence. Happy fellow. A tunnel made out of living bamboo.A very narrow tunnel in a banyan tree.Doesn’t get any redder than this.Or otherworldly than this.

I have one more post with odds and ends. The vacation was wonderful, it was even better coming home. That is the sign of a good vacation when we have a great time, yet we really appreciate our life here at home.

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San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

A ride out of the jungle and a quick puddle jumper and we were in San Pedro. An interesting thing, as we drove through Belize City to the airport, we passed a food shack that was called Jew Boy, written all over it I didn’t have time to take a picture. I’ve always said id root for a sports team called the Jew Boys, so I’m rooting for the success of that business.our resort, Ramons’ Village, is lovely. Cabins set in a jungle like,e setting, as small as the property is, we’d get lost at night trying to find our cabin. Here is the view down the path to the beach. The beach, this island really doesn’t have much beach, this resort built out a sea wall and imported a lot of sand in order to create a large beach. The colors are pure Caribbean. some structures need help.Old anchor School is one block up in town. They have an hour and a half lunch break. Some kids go home, some hang out on the beach. Christmas isn’t quite over, I tried hard to frame the elf, Jesus, the church and the palapa in the background. Sort of tells the story of this town in one shot. Many buildings in town are painted brightly, every street sign has a fish atop itThe whole area is tiny, so seeing the back of houses is not unusual. If you think these people are poor, take a look at the air conditioning unit. The tropics take their toll on buildings quickly. The traffic is like LA but with golf carts, bikes and a few vans. I have no ice what this caveman in the traffic circle represents. we rented a golf cart and with a young couple we had met at DuPlooy’s we drove 10miles north to Secret Beach. It isn’t secret anymore, but the last 4 miles were on a very bumpy dirt road. There were a lot of people here. Because of the road condition we didn’t want to stay for sunset, so we went back and stopped at a place called the Truck Stop. A bar and food trucks all in shipping containers. They had an area for games, they show movies outdoors on Wednesday nights. It’s only two years old, but it is thriving. They are on the lagoon side, so this is no joke. We didn’t see one, but other people told us they had. someone’s heaven.It was the perfect place to watch the sunset. Goodbye to Belize and a wonderful vacation.

Canoeing down a river

Our last day in the jungle and we decide to take advantage of the canoes at the resort. They offer an option of floating down to the town of San Ignacio, with a guide of course. Here we are on the Macal river, with a canoe and no guide. Joel went up to ask where he is, he’ll be right down. Nope, he never showed. Our salvation came in Roxanne, the resort accountant, although she had never canoed down the river she was game. So were we, let’s go on an adventure.A group of canoes came upstream, luckily for us, we were going downstream. We had to navigate some rapids, being in a metal canoe meant we scraped up on some rocks and had to avoid low hanging branches. No one fell out!Cows grazed along the shore. Roxanne told us her story. She was born in San Ignacio, due to an aunt in Tulsa OK, she was able to go there and study accounting. Now, she is back home, working at DuPlooy’s.A tiny waterfall. We joked about her job description. How this can be an additional part of the job. Over two and a half hours rowing on the river is a long time. By the end, the river was wide and flat and we were tired. Of course we were thrilled to see the bridge that indicated that we had arrived! Just make it under the bridge and we are there. look who else came out to greet us, a very large male iguana. He is yuuuge!We landed. we made it safely. We wore the life vests, for whatever they worth. Roxanne otoh didn’t have one. Ah Belize.Since this is her hometown she now became tour guide. The resort sends everyone to a certain restaurant in town, that is where the oars and vests are stored. That is where pickups are arranged. I’m sure the food is good, but we wanted local. So we went to her favorite local place, yup, just as good as Benny’s. Then she borrowed her moms car, and we drove back, seeing her home, her elementary school and her moms restaurant. We would have gone there, but it’s closed on Mondays.

Belize has is a gathering place of many people. On her fathers side, the Family is from India, by now mixed in with many others. She is resourceful and kind. The best kind of guide for the day.

Xunantunich, or Tuna Sandwich

 

Not a lot is known about the Mayans. Not much of a written record left behind. Yes they had an alphabet, later I’ll explain why I think few people know how to decider it. Anyway, there are all kinds of Mayan ruins, throughout the Yucatán, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. We didn’t want a three hour ride, so we stayed local. this is a small archeological dig, but just right! To get there we needed to cross a river. we crossed on a hand cranked ferry. For years I toured the Central American gallery at LACMA, so I know how little we know about the Maya. I take information with a bowl of salt. At this site most of the structures or this Temple were rebuilt. People won’t come to visit an area that only has faint footprints of buildings. So they rebuild. The smooth rocks are original, the jumble of rocks above are what was rebuilt. Clearly the Maya took more time and effort. One of the ideas about the smooth stones is that they burned the limestone, ground it to dust and then created smooth bricks. That takes a lot of clear cutting and burning trees. So no, the Maya weren’t great stewards of their environment. These glyphs are reproductions, based on the remains they found. Gives you an idea of how tall the Temple was. This would never be allowed at the bigger sites, or heaven forbid in the US, very different rules here. Just so you can see how high up we are:There is a small ball court. There are so many theories about the game, I think it was just a precursor to soccer.A very compact site. There is a lot more to uncover, but it’s not clear there is the money to do so. The Mayans were a very stratified society, rulers, who could read and write. Middle class who did most of the higher level work and then the masses of hard working laborers who did all the manual work. So as the surroundings were degrading, society fell apart. The lowest class probably melted back into the distant forests, with the skills to survive. The other classes, not so much. With them was lost the lore and The ability to read and write. Many claim to be descendants of the Mayans, genetically, they are, but none of the culture survived.On our way back we watched horses go on the ferry, then it was on to the best restaurant for rice and beans and stewed chicken. These foods are common throughout Central America, yet each country has it’s own spices and flavors. The Mayans May have had beans, but no rice (Asia) or chicken either. They probably ate the local rodents.

San Ignacio

Belize is a poor country, although everything is relative, neighboring Guatemalans come here for work. On our two hour drive up into the mountains showed a third world country. A lot of brightly painted houses along the way, but due to the climate and the economy, I could see how simple the lives are here. At one point I asked a guide where the rich live, he said: The US.A visit to San Ignacio, the nearby town. You can see what I mean by bright colors. A three story building is unusual, I was wondering, is this Art Deco, or Mayan influence? I’m going with Mayan.The colors! The population here is one big melting pot, native, African, European, East Indian and Chinese. They all seem to mix. One the surprising things was to learn that there are. There are Mennonite and Amish communities as well. Most of the Amish are up north, we did see one woman with a long blue dress and a Mennonite with her tiny bonnet and floral dress. Love the name of this street. Just around the corner we stopped for a rum tasting. We got a history lesson along with many tasty rums. I do enjoy visiting local distilleries when possible. Who knew rum was so good on its own. The Macal river, the bridge was built in 1949, the other side is Santa Elena, but they operate as one town. So glad we didn’t stay in this ‘hotel’. A row of typical houses. Especially the unfinished second floor, that is a hallmark of third world countries. I like how the blue house on the corner fits into it’s unusual shape, especially that roofline. A church, the countryside is full of them, every denomination is represented. English is the official language since Britain controlled Belize till independence in 1981. Most people speak a Creole or pidgin. I just Love these signs.

Belize

It’s the new year and we are off to an adventure in Belize. Why here? Joel wanted to try some place new, we’ve been to Mexico, to Costa Rica. Belize offers both jungle and beach. We started in the mountains, at a Jungle Lodge. We were greeted by a Goddess and by Rosie. This is the way I see her every day. No work for her.More garden statuary.These fearsome Collared Aracaris get first choice at the fruit. Only later can other birds join in. A Kinkajou is tempted down most evenings with bananas. 30 years ago this area was stripped bear for farming, but wasn’t doing too well. The DuPlooy Family bought the land and painstakingly brought back the jungle. Along with the lodge they have created the biggest ecological garden in the country. some of the flora in the garden.Jungle and bridge.Bamboo is not native to Central America, it thrives. Look at the tunnel it creates. The beach, and the cliff on the other side of the Macal river.

It is a little chillier here than expected, part of that is the horrible winter storm up north. Part of it is because it’s been cloudy with a dense canopy. Now to go out and explore.

Final projects of 2017

When I got back to knitting about 15 years ago I made a scarf out of Noro yarn for my son’s girlfriend, soon to be wife.This was the first brightly colored yarn out on the market that I remember. It is still going strong. So my DIL requested a new scarf, just like the old one, which has been destroyed from use. I had made another scarf a few years ago, but not with this yarn. So I placed an order and it arrived right after Christmas.A simple garter stitch on the biggest needles I own.I found another skein of Noro, in pinks and orange and combined it in.I haven’t blocked this, I won’t. With time the scarf will simply stretch out on its own.Sometimes the old tried and true are the way to go.And then there is quilting. In May, at the Spring Quilt Market, this fabric line and pattern were debuted with Moda. I fell in love with this pattern. I had to have it. What is shown at market usually doesn’t make it to the stores until months later. So I stalked an online store that said they’d notify me when the pattern arrived.  Turns out that they were selling it as a kit with the fabric.  You know me, I don’t like kits, and I really don’t like working with just one fabric line. Luckily I was able to buy the pattern on its own.Got to work, this bear is similar to Elizabeth Hartman’s animals. But it is much larger than I expected.Love seeing how the bear grows from row to row.Here the bear is complete, now to add the borders.I’m stopping here. Yes, the pattern calls for another round of borders, but that will make this too big. This is a baby quilt, it is quite large enough. I might make this again and if I do, I might make a larger size, but not on this project.

No, I didn’t complete this in 2017, I still need to quilt it. It is always a good idea to have a project that carries over into the new year.To end on a bright note, while the rest of the country is suffering record-breaking cold, my roses are sending out their final blooms of the year. In a month or so, the gardener will prune them back, so they can build up strength for next years blooms.

With the grandkids at LACMA

Everybody was at LACMA last week, there was no parking anywhere.  So the visit included a nice long walk just to get there from blocks away.This is a sight to see. For years we were forbidden to call it The May Company – it became LACMA west and the language police were very strict with anyone connected to the museum, especially the docents. Then a deal was made and it will become a Hollywood museum and now one can call this the May Company again. I wonder if this museum will deal with the abuse of women and children that goes on in the industry or if it will be another puff piece that shows us the unreal veneer of the industry.

At least they are repairing the lovely gold tower, that is worth a lot.It is amazing to see what becomes an icon. These lampposts have certainly become iconic. Not so sure about the floating rock, we never even went to check it out. The Chagall exhibit was bright, colorful and fun. Shira said that she loves this costume and wants to wear it. That in my book in a big success.Aytan wanted to go visit the Japanese pavilion. He really likes these pots, go figure, one would think that he’d be interested in big bombastic things. But no, it’s the pots. Then I got smart and I gave him my phone.  He ran around and took pictures of everything, here are just a few.It is wonderful seeing something from a different angle. From my point of view I see the god more than the dwarf. I didn’t check out the label, but to me this looks like the Japanese version of Siva stamping out the dwarf of ignorance.I cropped this a little, what I didn’t crop out is the person, because it was part of the picture that Aytan took.He took this picture again, without the person,  he was going for the ceramic vase.  I love how he captured this man as well.Another image I love, just because I’d never take this, but he did.There was a special exhibit on Japanese cloisonne, what interested Aytan was taking pictures of the catalog, these are just two, but he did take quite a few.As well as many pictures of the painted panels. I think the theme is the atmosphere.  Even in this image, that waterfall is incredible, IRL it is all the more so.I think these are rocks, I may be wrong, they may be made of fabric. For me, this visit was all about letting Atyan lead the way. It wasn’t about reading labels.

Sometimes it’s not about learning something new, it’s about letting a child run around and capture what interests him.

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Oops, making big mistakes

One of the big complaints about blogs and social media is that we only share our successes.  There is a reason for that if I whined all the time I’d have no followers at all, but, sometimes it’s important to share the big major goof-ups.

As you know, I’ve been busy sewing shirts. You saw me wearing this, I didn’t see any reason to have a full post on yet another shirt.Four of them together? Why not? You can see how different fabrics really change a shirt. Time to make another one, for Joel. I bought the chambray at the Pearl Soho outlet in Irvine. I wasn’t crazy about their fabric selection. Chambray is wonderful to wear but not that easy to sew with.Here was a tip from the Craftsy class that I had not used on any of the other shirts, not even the silk one. This piece of embroidery thread gave me something to hang onto while topstitching. It really does work and I should do this even on a cotton shirt. You can see that the tip of the collar is a little rounded, that is how chambray behaves.Unlike silk where one gets a very nice sharp point.So far so good. I sewed this while Joel was up skiing at Mammoth. I used the large size, I measured the body of the shirt against a shirt he owns and it looked very similar. What I didn’t do was check the length of the sleeves…When I measured them against the store-bought shirt – they were a good 3 inches too long. Uh-oh! So Joel got home, tried it on and those sleeves were too long. So I started out carefully unpicking the underarm and sleeve seams. You guessed, the seam ripper slipped and a big gash in the back of the shirt.

No, there is no photographic evidence. I was so angry, upset and pissed at myself. I just balled it all up and into the garbage went! So no more pictures of this shirt! I’m sad that Joel can’t wear it. I’m sure I will make another, but just so you know, this happens to all of us.I don’t want to end on a sad note, so here are my new socks, after I wore them and before I washed them, a little dirty, as socks should be.Another hat for Eyal, he outgrew the first one, that kid is growing very very fast.Even with life’s little mishaps, always remember to celebrate the wonders.

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