The Huntington

I probably have at least on post a year showcasing the Huntington Gardens. It’s such a blessing to have this so close to home. It’s also great to have a friend with membership so we went together and just walked around, enjoying the beauty. Many of the cacti and succulents are blooming, often in orange. These wonderful South African flowers are blooming. These are Protea, they grow very well in Southern California, we have the same climate.The cactus garden here is amazing. 40 years ago, when I visited for the first time, it was one big mess. They got control of it again and it is stunning. Some of the aloe are really huge.It had rained in the morning, we still have these gorgeous clouds in the sky.  It was Valentines Day, couples were out enjoying the beautiful day. How cute is this? This comes from the anime world. Dressing up in cute dresses, looking like a baby doll. It would be fun to make a dress for someone like this.Some people were busy working, three people on one bonsai bush.Chinese lanterns for the Chinese New year are still hanging around the garden.Looking down on the Japanese garden, what a view!A lizard grabbing some rays.

Speaking of Ray, we had a cup of coffee and talked quilting. A young woman approached, she works for Hoffman Fabrics. She is the daughter of Helen from SewkindofWonderul. So we proudly showed off pictures of quilts we both have made from their patterns. Chatted about the textile industry (oy!). And told her and her husband to enjoy a wonderful day. Through Instagram I got in touch with Helen and we both had a laugh about the small world story.


Update on creativity

I’m slowing moving along with the purple quilt.I made more stars. I am very unhappy with these two. Working with mirror image and small sections – yikes! Many quilters these days embrace ‘improv’. I dislike that term and the resulting quilts. I like order, I like design. To me it’s a cop-out to throw things together haphazardly and then to pretend it’s some great design. Especially in quilting, I really like the accuracy of quilt blocks. So when I posted this on Instagram I got all kind of comments like: I don’t see whats’ wrong. Or I love the improv.

Two things, looking at these images on your phone means you can’t see the details. And no, no improv for me. So these two are joining a pile of orphan blocks. They may end up in a charity quilt. I don’t do my best work for charity. So be it, a bright handmade quilt is still a wonderful thing to give a needy person, even if it’s not my best work. I’m very selfish about my best work.I’m done with the stars for this quilt. Look closely and find the mistake, there is one. I’m not against using only perfect blocks. I like everyone else make mistakes, some are worth keeping.

So now it’s on to borders.Not bad.But does the narrow border come before the flying geese?Or after? I’m not sure yet. I really do enjoy having the design wall, it gives me a chance to try different options and step back. Right now I’m working on the flying geese border, and it doesn’t look like the picture, changes are being made.Other creative pursuits this time of year, making marmalade.I ended up not using the kumquats, I just ate them.  I found a new Meyer lemon marmalade recipe that worked really well. I may have added more sugar than I have in the past. It still is that wonderful combination of tart and sweet. I made two small batches, easier than one big batch.Knitting is happening. This will be a shawl. The interesting thing about knitting, I’m doing less of it. I don’t need a lot of sweaters, shawls or socks. I am very selfish with my knitting since it is created one stitch at a time. So I find myself knitting less. I am grateful to have reconnected with some knitting friends, we get together once a month. Honestly, it’s not about the knitting, it’s about the friendship.


Nomad Hotel

I gave a tour downtown. Here’s some advice nobody wants. If you have trouble walking and rely heavily on a cane, please do not come to a walking tour that is over a mile long, includes hills and many stairs.  I had an organized group from Orange CA, three people could hardly walk. I felt very sorry for the other tour-goers, I couldn’t abandon the slow walkers, so the tour was very truncated. At the end, I left them at the Bradbury Bldg, they were to walk another 3 blocks to Cliftons, I noticed that the three stragglers were left behind, no-one cared to walk slowly anymore.

I rewarded myself by checking out some new hotels downtown.The Giannini building was built for the headquarters of the Bank of Italy back in the 1920s. It stood vacant for years. then it was purchased and turned into a luxury hotel. A few months ago, I was watching an episode of NCIS Los Angeles, and a murder occurred in the LA Athletic Club, which is right across the street, since this building was still under construction, they got permission to film in one of the rooms, abandoned and empty. I love it when I figure these things out.The building is an example of Beaux Arts, a beautiful example.I am so grateful that none of the exterior details were destroyed during the years of abandonment.I’m sure all the terra-cotta is from Gladding McBean. I don’t know who made the metal work, but I see it all over downtown.The side entrance is small, it’s easier for cars to stop on Olive St. rather than 7th. So the Valet is here.The lobby, in all it’s glory!  So many details are original. The furnishings are new and gorgeous. I want all those lush textiles!There is a bar and restaurant in the lobby, the place was full. Always look up!I so want this chair! The guys’ hat just adds to the colorfulness of it all.Right next door is the Whiskey Bar, Seven Grand, I bet their business has improved as well. Across the Street in Bottega Louie, 7th st is one of the liveliest streets downtown.

Even the Broad Tower, the tallest building downtown shines over 7th st. To be honest, It shines over everything.

In another post, another hotel.

Santa Monica Airport

If you can’t beat them, join them.

My son lives under the path flight of Santa Monica Airport. There are many reasons not to be happy about that, but until they supposedly close it down, you live with it. So recently he told me about the observation deck. If you can’t beat them, join them. So Cam and I went to pay a visit.There may be a few commercial flights. Most of the planes are private. Also, most of the people who live under the flight path are in LA, no Santa Monica, so really Santa Monica doesn’t care.Here we are, up on the deck, feet away from the runway. I met a nice young man who was so enthusiastic about airplanes and airports. It was a pleasure talking to him, he knew the whole history of this airstrip.This plane idled for a while before getting the ok to take off. The command tower is broadcast from speakers, so it’s the whole experience.Here is it, getting ready to take off.Coming in for a landing!Across the runway is the terminal. How iconic is this picture?  Palm trees and a clear sky in February.A lot of wealthy people store their planes here. Some clearly aren’t quite in working condition. There are plenty of businesses here that cater to the small airplanes.

I think I was much more interested than Cam. This is what he really wanted to do. Luckily for us, this little park is right next to the airport, on city land. a perfect way to end the day.

Why I sew clothes

I love sewing my own clothes, there is a lot of creativity involved. But there is more to it than that. Clothes shopping sucks. From time to time I’ll go to Marshalls, or Nordstrom Rack and I’ll find a t-shirt or pants. Yes, I can sew pants, but I don’t. That is fine, but this weekend, when everyone was watching the Superbowl, I wanted to treat myself to shopping at a real Store, Macy’s to be exact.One doesn’t see displays like this at the discount stores. Cute dress, so I took a closer look. $90 before tax, which is quite high here in LA. I looked inside, the fabric is Polyester and spandex – not high quality at all. I didn’t take a picture of the inside, but it was like my sewing on my home serger. The industry has better machines than I do, I expect industry style finishing.Most of the store looked like this.Or this, an orphan jacket thown onto any old rack. Over fifty percent of the store is sales items – I might as well be at Ross.This looks like something I might wear, well no, I would have worn it twenty years ago. Once again, very cheap fabric.This is about $20, but really?? Ok, I admit it, I’m old, I don’t need to be on the cutting edge of fashion, especially, when cutting edge really means cuts.Or how about the inside out look? Ugh!Sleeves actually have more fabric than the front or the back. But that the sleeve has as much as both together? No thank you.I couldn’t even find a simple long sleeve t-shirt. You see how see through this fabric is? Most shirts were like this. Once upon a time, this was called – sleazy. It’s an industry term that describes a very cheap see-through fabric. For the last 10 years, it has been used in the fashion industry. I guess if you have to compete with H&M, you need to make sure that the cost of the garment is close to nil.

Sure, there were some clothes for Mature women, but they were soooo boring.  I bought nothing, but it just reinforces my sewing for myself. I will spend good money on good quality fabric and will make clothes that are unique to me.  And that is a real blessing.

Designing the quilt

Some people use graph paper, others use computer programs like EQ8. Me, I pull out the fabric, start making blocks and see how it goes. Here are a number of blocks I made, using purple. I have been using Deb Tuckers Lemoyne Star ruler. I’m getting different size blocks. It’s me, not the ruler, everything takes practice and no way am I going to have great results on my first few tries. Especially with an eight-pointed Lemoyne star.This is looking alright, even though the blocks didn’t come out the same size.More blocks and it’s one big hot mess.  Purple is a very hard color to work with, blue purple and red-purple don’t play that well together. My backgrounds were just too busy, it looks like a hot mess!So I went back to making new blocks, I figure – repetition is a good rule in design. So I made another star with the yellow background, just changing the position of the colors. Then I made two more stars, doing the same. I want to introduce the light turquoise, maybe not as background, but as accents, so a more neutral background it is.Much better, the mirroring, the symmetry, repeating the same star patterns twice. I think it has a calmer feel to it.Since it is a guild challenge, I brought it to share.When I got back into quilting 9 years ago, I bought this book. To be honest I was horrified at how much fabric was wasted with this technique, but I did use the book for some quilts.  So now I am busy trying to adapt these patterns using The Lemoyne star ruler, takes more work, but it’s working and I’m not having as much waste.The quilt is still going to be scrappy, I am using what I have on hand in my stash, I don’t have large quantities, so I just have to try and repeat as many of these fabrics as possible. Won’t always be possible, because some of the stash fabric is quite small.

I feel that sticking with pale yellow and grey in the background will help tie it all together. I am having fun, and that’s what matters.

Missing the quilt show

There is an Art Quilt show in Santa Monica. I’ve been meaning to go, what better time than on a Tuesday when I have to be on the westside with my grandkids. So I looked up the information, wasn’t that easy to find. I drove to the museum, only to discover that it’s not open on Tuesdays. As I said, not easy to find details about this show.

So I took advantage of being so close to the beach and had a better time walking around then I would have at the show.It started with this, full of gratitude that I have the time to spend an hour on the beach.Santa Monica Bay is amazing, mountains with right up to the water on the northern edge as well as on the southwestern edge. Most of the bay has a very large flat sandy beach. Luckily for us, the harbor wasn’t placed here and they didn’t build right up to the water, so this is an enormously wide, white sand beach.The pier was supposed to be the start of a harbor, turns out that the underwater topography isn’t good for that at all. So the harbor is further south, and we enjoy an amazing beach. Today the pier is just for enjoyment, complete with an amusement park. It was a very warm day, but not many people out at the beach. In the summer, even mid-week, this place is very crowded. The bike and pedestrian paths are very wide and well maintained. Not only people come out to walk. So did this pony, I mean Great Dane.Walking back to my car, I took a side street and admired the multi-million dollar homes. They probably started out as beach cottages, not anymore. This one has the surfboard at the ready.You know me, I love the architectural details.People certainly take pride in these homes, they are all beautifully maintained.Being so close to the ocean means a lot of paint. I’m glad they are keeping these gems up.  I really like the reflection of the black detail in the window, allows me to see the design so much better.

I have to do this more often, leave an hour early and enjoy a walk on the beach. I get stuck in my routine and forget to do these kinds of things. I need to make this part of my routine.


I exchange gifts with a number of friends around the country. This is supposed to be a Christmas exchange, but sometimes, things get delayed. It’s fine, because it’s so much fun getting a fun package in January.Vivian is from Texas, got to love Texas, Texans are full of state pride.What I really love is the shawl she knit me. Not only did she knit it, she also dyed the yarn. She is now my source for hand-dyed yarn, Hillview Yarns.January in LA means the Camellias are blooming. I have one bush, but my neighbors’ bushes always show off with a riot of color.I happen to be wearing a sweater I knit that matches this shawl perfectly. How cool is that?Then there is the gift I made. Shannon Fabrics has put out a very easy pattern for this blanket, using both their double gauze fabric and their super soft cuddle.I didn’t pre-wash the fabrics, just threw it into the machine after I put it together, it came out great.Eyal likes it.He sure is getting big. Very serious right here, although these days, he has that wonderful baby smile – where his whole face lights up. I was too busy enjoying the smiles to worry about getting a picture.


New year, new quilt

The challenge for January at my guild, Valley MQG, is to use Pantone color of the year, ultraviolet. That means, pulling out all of my purple fabrics, turns out I have quite a few.Purple is a very hard color to work with.  Some love it, others hate it.  I find that blues, greens or reds, all play nicely with one another, but the difference between a blue-purple or a red-purple can be jarring.  I’m up for the challenge.Now that I have the Lemoyne Star ruler, it should be easier to make these stars. I’m still trying to figure out the size. I thought this was going to be a 12.5″ block, it’s more like an 11.5″. Tilting the star changes the block size.At this point, I’m still playing. Needless to say, I won’t be making a pillow, or a small project, this will become a quilt. I decided to make it medallion style. I found a feather star pattern I like.Unfortunately, it is paper piecing and I wasn’t in the mood. So I tried to adapt to piecing, using the paper piece pattern and adding seams.It worked ok. As you can see, the complementary color of purple is yellow. This background has a lot of green in it, although it didn’t photograph that way. I worked along and it wasn’t going all that well.The pattern is available for 12″ and 18″. I am using the 18″, except by accident I used the 12″ center. then there were problems with the corners….Halfway through I switched to paper piecing after all.Combing both my pieced and paper-pieced sections, I put the star together!

Now, to start building up the medallion. I like quilts to be used, therefore it is much better if they are rectangles.  So right off the bat, I start elongating the block.  I had a lot of fun figuring out the first border. Now to incorporate those first stars into subsequent borders as well, and to share what I’ve done so far with the guild.



Sky Space

This image isn’t mine. I found it online, although I see this building all the time, I haven’t photographed it.

This weekend I had the pleasure of going to the top, seeing all those incredible views. I figure. I better let you see what the building itself looks like. The US Bank building, The Library Tower or today as it is known, OUE.  This picture was taken before OUE bought the building and added the observation deck and slide. They are on the 69th floor, where the two outcroppings end, a few floors before the crown.Two elevator rides up and we are on the 70th floor. Looking down on the slide. My fear of heights prevented me from going down this.  Others in my group did it and enjoyed it. Well, maybe they didn’t enjoy it as much as they claimed……I was happy to have my picture taken with the angel wings. So why did this not scare me? Because it feels stable and solid. Because that thick glass is high and I don’t feel like I will fall. That slide is 100% glass, sitting, even for a moment on the glass would have freaked me out.

Inside the building, on the 54th floor, there is a shaft with mirrors and lights going down to the ground. It is covered with thick glass, I got dizzy peering over the edge. I know my limits. The views!  The day was so clear and bright, we had strong winds the day before. So the views were spectacular.  You know me, I have a whole collection of images of the Hollywood sign from all kinds of angles. How about this one! Or the Broad Tower, with views of Santa Monica bay beyond. This is now the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The US Bank tower is on higher ground. But if they stood side to side, the Broad would be taller, and not only because of the spire. But they don’t have an observation deck.Just looking south at the massive landscape of Los Angeles.Staples Center, the Convention center and the old Hotel Figueroa. Also the cross of the 10 and the 110 freeways.Looking down on buildings I only see from the ground. This is the gas flame of the Gas Company Tower. Built at same time as the US Bank building. Both bought air rights from the library, that money was used to renovate and expand the library. Next to it, well really across the street, is the Biltmore Hotel and in front of that, Pershing Square.On the other side, The Bonaventure Hotel. A law that was rescinded recently said that all buildings over a certain height in Los Angeles, have to have a helicopter pad. The number indicates the weight that can land.  The Broad was built after the law was changed, maybe now we’ll start to see more interesting rooflines on buildings.Look at a map of Los Angeles, the streets in downtown are slightly torqued, they don’t follow the north-south grid.  When the first design of Los Angeles was proposed by Lieutenant Ord, back in 1852, he followed the Spanish tradition of having the north facing streets be more to the Northwest, so that all angles would get more sunlight. I’m not sure that the Bank of America building is perfectly on the correct axis, but it is more so than all of its neighbors which makes it stand out like a sore thumb.  As the city grew, the streets returned to a north-south, east-west axis.City Hall looks so small from above. Beyond it, Union Station with the railroad tracks.The yellow brick building is the Bradbury Building. I have often looked up at the glass atrium. It’s large. Looking down at it, I realize how very large it really is.

For those of you who come on one of our conservancy tours, you will get a coupon to visit the Sky Space. Locals get a discount as well. Otherwise, it’s $25, another $8 for the pleasure of two seconds on the slide.