Sunday, January 29, 2006

So this is where I am, embellishment wise. It's a little hard to see but I'm quite happy with some areas, less with others, but still have lots of time to work on it, tweak until I'm happy.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I am so excited!!

I just registered for Sharon Boggon's "Encrusted Crazy Quilting" on-line course. Sharon has an amazing website where there is such a wealth of information about fabric arts in general and crazy quilting in particular. Although I am working away on my crazy quilt, I think a foundations course would be beneficial. Right now, I'm winging it, not too badly but I would like to be able to say "so that's how it should be done!"

In the meantime, I am moving along on my cq piece. I have decided that instead of calling it my "cq thing" to name it "Auf Simchas" which has a double meaning, for me at least. In the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition, at funerals or shivas, participants say to one another on parting "nor auf simchas". This Yiddish phrase means [we should meet] "only on happy occasions", those happy occasions being joyous life cycle events -- births, bar/bat-mitzvas, weddings. "Auf simchas" in this case is a collage of memories in the form of a crazy quilt using fabrics, jewellry, and embellishments of family members, some who have passed away, which were worn or used on happier occasions.

So as "auf simchas" progresses, I can already see the improvements in my stitching, ideas, and daring. And with each stitch I think about the possibilities of doing this thing that I love for others. People who are loath to get rid of clothing or costume jewellry because they holds memories. I could translate their memories into pillows or wall hangings.

On the up the down staircase front, I have climbed the [22 storey]stairwell four times this week. My climbing partner was too busy on Friday. I should have just done it on my own but didn't. I'll try to make up for it by taking a long walk this weekend. The temperature is rising and it's sunny out so maybe this afternoon.

Right now Menachem is working on removing the final drywall screws from the upstairs bathroom and then I'll give him a hand with the new cement board to be installed. After that, I'd like to get out to buy some suitably coloured beads and embroidery floss which I'm running low on.

I hope to finish block 10 of 20 today and post some photos. And while I'm at it, I'd like to post a picture of the ketuba that my daughter Inbal made for her cousin's wedding.

Anyways, if I don't return to stitching, I won't move forward.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mission accomplished

So, productive weekend.

I worked on the cq thing. I removed a row of four blocks. The overall proportion of the piece looks better this way. (five rows of four blocks) Maybe I'll do something else with the extra blocks. The embellishing is coming along. I have "finished" seven. "Finished" because I'm sure once I've done all of the blocks, I will revisit them and make adjustments until I'm happy with the overall picture. out.

It was 2 p.m. and I hadn't done anything on the baby fish quilt so I dropped everything and set to work. I joined two pieces of batting. Just butted up the edges and zig-zagged. It looks and works fine. Then I sandwiched and spray basted the quilt. I'm using a flannel backing this time (because that's what I had). So I met my weekend sewing goals.

I find the sandwiching process quite frustrating and aggravating. And that's with baby blanket size quilts. So I am thinking more and more that I will not quilt my lap quilt by myself but rather get someone to quilt it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed making the top, the results are lovely, and I don't want to spoil it by either doing the quilting less well or remembering the quilting experience by the aggravation and frustration attached to finishing it. It may just cause me to rethink the whole sane quilting thing. But this is today and who knows how I'll feel about it tomorrow.

I am invited to Mintzy and Rafi's for dinner and am gearing myself up mentally for the walk there. I'm taking this getting fit thing seriously so am going to walk over instead of being picked up. It's only about a twenty minute walk but that's twenty minutes more than I usually walk. And yesterday I went up and down the stairs in my house. Gotta keep the momentum going.

Menachem returns tomorrow so I'm excited about that. It's nice to be on your own and with your own thoughts, but it's nicer knowing that it's only temporary.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Winter wonderland

I'm looking out the window and it's gorgeous. Everything is coated with a dusting of snow. If it's snowing, it means the temperature is hovering around zero so that's good. I may go out for a walk a little later. Since I've started the exercise thing, I don't want to lose momentum. And it's so easy for me to get lazy. I did the stair climbing at work on Friday too. Still huffing and puffing but getting to a higher floor before it starts...

I just ripped some stitching on the cq thing. It was a shell pattern crochet seam embellishment. It just didn't look right. I replaced it with some crocheted ribbon, not silk ribbon, the regular kind. Actually just a chain of crochet. The texture is lovely. I have been embellishing square by square but I think I will do all my ribbons, then my embroidery and beading and then buttons. Once the ribbons and crocheted cotton is down, it will give me a better idea where and what to embellish with embroidery and beads, I hope.

I also want to do some quilting today and tomorrow. I know that's what I said last weekend but I did get the baby fish quilt top done last weekend and maybe I can quilt it this weekend. I also have my swirly quilt to finish. I should just bite the bullet and get started on it. At least sandwiching it so it's ready for quilting.

My brother is doing the Haftorah at shul today. Since it isn't his or one of his kids' Bar/Bat Mitzvah's, I didn't really feel the need to attend. Also, I don't own clothes appropriate for synagogue services. The last time I purchased any shul appropriate clothing (i.e. a skirt or dress) was for my nephew's Bar-Mitzvah about three years ago. It's also the last time I wore a skirt. Another nephew has a Bar-Mitzvah in May. And then I have Sari's wedding in July. So I will have to shop. Or maybe I'll just buy some material that I would like to use in a quilt, sew a skirt for the occasions and afterwards cut it up for quilt squares. An interesting thought...

The past few weekends, I have stayed at home, just listening to the radio, sewing, reading, watching TV and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I don't know if it's the winter, my age, or what but I often prefer staying home to going out.

When we moved to Toronto I thought that I would do all the things I didn't do on a regular basis when we lived on the moshav -- go to the theatre, concerts, museums. Ha ha. I've heard maybe two-three concerts, visited one or two museums and seen very little theatre (in 18 years!) Not that I feel that deprived, but perhaps I should make more of an effort.

Enough musings for now. I'm off to sew and hit the snow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Up and down the staircase

Do my muscles ache from yesterday's first stair climb? Why, yes they do.
Did I tackle the 22 flights up and 12 flights down again today? Why, yes I did. And it took less time. Yay me!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Machon Lemadrichei Chutz L'aretz

or in English, the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad.

In 1968, I was very fortunate to spend a year-long study-work program in Israel. There were about 110 participants in the program that year. Over the years, I had lost touch with most of them, but about half a year ago, I got an email from the Machon that our group was reconnecting in cyberspace. In a relatively short period, from the original 20 or so whose whereabouts were known, we have managed to track down most of the group through the miracle of googling and emailing.

A website is in the works, people have been reconnecting with long lost friends and catching up. And a reunion is being planned for 2008 -- 40 years after our original stay in Jerusalem. And 2008 really isn't all that far away.

I just finished a lovely Skype conversation with Mo in England. I am starting to get quite excited about seeing these people. And to figure out how to plan the reunion so the plans meet everyone's expectations, we have plenty of opportunities to talk and reconnect one on one, and everyone gets their money's worth.

Let me rethink that new year's resolution...

A few days ago, a colleague at work asked if anyone would be interested in stair climbing at work. I figured, sure, why not. Today we started. After climbing up 22 flights of stairs and down 12, I'm not so sure. I'm doing it to get fit, burn calories. So I'm thinking -- if going down stairs only burns half of what going up does, why not just go down twice?... I hope that Gwen, who does the annual CN Tower climb, is right when she says it will get easier as I get into better shape.
And bless her for her patience. She can do the office stairs in about 6 minutes but she went along with me at my pace, stopping so I could gasp for air, and it took us considerably longer. I'm hoping I'll be able to stop less often and too embarrassed to quit...

Slip sliding Away

Yesterday we had freezing rain. For those who haven't experienced this, every surface is covered with ice. And yesterday I had a dentist's appointment after work and took the bus home instead of getting a lift with my DS and DBIL (I don't know if those are recognized initials but figure it out). When I got off the bus, I started sliding backwards towards the bus. Anticipating this, the bus driver waited until I had advanced a safe distance before continuing to drive. The one minute walk from the bus to my house took a lot longer as I shuffled along gingerly. And then when I finally reached the approach to the house, an incline. An uphill battle on an icy surface -- not a pretty picture. Fortunately, I made it to the door without any mishaps.

And as consolation, in the mailbox there was a catalogue from Keepsake Quilting! Not that I've every purchased anything from them but I enjoy looking at the colours, combinations, gadgets and get inspired.

Sunday I made another baby fish quilt top. I was going to finish the whole thing, including piecing the batting, but got sidetracked. I did a few more seams on the cq. And since Sunday, I haven't done a stitch (pun intended). Not to say that I haven't been busy creatively -- I had downloaded embroidery stitch diagrams to use and have decided to make a "stitch book" where I keep all of them so I can refer to them from my work table and not have to run to the computer room to consult the on-line diagrams. So I've been cutting and pasting in the non-computer sense.

I also joined the French crazy quilt list. I'd love to go to the exhibit in La Bourboule in the fall. Maybe on the way to Israel. I would love to put forward an entry to the exhibit but I'm not sure my stuff fits their criteria for showing or if it's good enough. But I will not be timid and will look into it. The worst they can say is "no". I'll be crushed but I'll get over it.

Off to work. Hopefully today I'll get back to stitching.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The sun is shining.

So when the sun shines so brightly, one must be optimistic. I won't mention that it's also minus six degrees...

Yesterday it was so cold and windy outside that even though I had wanted to go buy some beads and get out, I decided that the house was too cozy and stayed put. I sorted my current stash of beads -- the container they were in got all the colours jumbled. I put my buttons in the former bead container and am thinking about getting those clock maker's containers for the beads. And something for the ribbons. I guess I do need a shelf on the wall over my work table in the studio. I just have to figure out where to put it so I can easily access it and return stuff to it. Anyways, I worked away on my cq embroidery and embellishment. I must say that I'm getting bolder (and I hope better) with each seam.

I wish I could show photos but my camera is in Israel. It was supposed to be taking pictures of the wedding and email them to me so I could "take part" from afar as soon as they returned from the festivities. Several family members have digital cameras but none of them took their cameras to the wedding. I wasn't going to say anything in keeping with my efforts to keep the blog positive but it's been several days since the wedding and I'm still annoyed. There. I've said it and hopefully now I can get over it and move on.

Today I feel lazy. I was up at 6:30 a.m. but decided to put on the classical radio station and return to bed. And I slept until almost 9 a.m. -- and for me that's quite unusual. I have plans to continue embroidering and maybe finally do another baby quilt top. I didn't rush right into it because I don't have a single piece of batting big enough for the entire thing. My friends on one of my needlework lists answered my question about how to join pieces together and now, armed with this information, I'm off to battle.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Just checking in

Just checking in, in case anyone's following.

I wish I could say that I've been stitching up a storm and haven't had time to write. Well, not exactly. I have made a little progess, a very little. Yesterday, I decided to go through some magazines, tear out the relevant pages and throw out the rest. Today I may go through some other paperwork. I review the things which caught my eye in the past and maybe get some inspiration to do so something new.

Did I mention that I bought some more fabric? I went to buy a printer cartridge for the office and Fabricland, the fabric store, is in the same mini mall. They were having a sale -- it seems they're always having a sale -- so I bought two more yards of the fish fabric at 25% off (because it is so adorable and when next I need it, it may not be available). I also bought two yards of bright yellow pique fabric because it really was on sale ($5/meter). Maybe I'll whip up another baby quilt this weekend. I already have the squares cuts from the previous one which I dropped off to Nafisa and Eddy for their baby son whose name is pronounced phonetically "eye-den", no clue how to spell it. Haven't received any feedback yet.

Today's is Rachel and Yannai's wedding. After 12 years of being together, they have decided they're compatible and are tying the knot. Did I mention that the wedding is in Israel and that my DH went for the wedding? I am waiting anxiously for photos. My DD, Inbal, made the ktuba which I heard is beautiful and I'm waiting for an emailed picture of that too.

Off to the salt mines.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Lazy Sunday

Today was a very relaxing day. And very quiet. I know that people go to retreats where they do not speak for days. Well it's only been one day since Menachem left for Israel and there was one incoming phone call. But other than that it was just me, classical music on the radio and the stuff inside my head.

And the sun was out so I made sure to sit in front of a window, embroider and bask. I got some embellishing done. And removed some which I wasn't happy with, mostly on seams between the crazy squares. And then it dawned on me that I don't have to do the same seam treatment the entire length of the square but can break it into smaller bites. Alas, no photos. The camera is on vacation in Israel.

And I did some housework and cooking. OK, pick yourself up off the floor. The shmutz was calling my name. I usually ignore it but today, with the sound of silence, heard it... And the veggies were either going into a vegetarian stew today while still edible or into the compost on Tuesday...

So all in all a productive day. Now I'm going to do something mindless like watch TV before I go to sleep.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Time flies

I can't believe it's already Saturday night.
I didn't get much done creatively today -- Menachem is flying to Israel in a few hours and we had last minute shopping and laundry to do.
We went to Walmart to get presents for the great-nephews. Nothing too special but just something so they'll know we were thinking of them. Hope we chose well. It's so hard to know what to get when we only see them once a year.
Actually, that's all we went to buy. But they were having a sale on some clear plastic containers and I needed (i.e. wanted) some for my studio. I bought eight which fit neatly under one of the tables. Now that I'm embellishing, I also wanted something to house the various threads, ribbons, findings, that I can gather them up quickly if I feel like doing some quilting or something else which requires a clear working surface. I found a three drawer clear plastic container, the drawers come out for easy access, but also can be quickly returned to their place and the whole unit taken off the table. I'm still thinking about how to house the ribbons for easy access. In the meantime, I have taken a hanger, cut it open on one end, put the ribbon rolls on it, twisted the neck and fit the neck over the table but I'm still not pleased with the result and am still looking for a better solution -- maybe something suspended from the ceiling. hmmm. I also bought a tatting shuttle and hope I can make sense of the instructions so I can teach myself to tat.
Anyways, while we were there, Menachem bought a few shirts, I got some salsa and peanut butter and we got some wool for Rotem. Then we went to Staples to get Carmit some labels and I went into BouClair looking for "tiger tape" so that I can use it to get my embroider stitches more evenly spaced. I only found 1/4" quilters tape but I will try using that and make my own markings on it.
We came home, I did a few loads of laundry, Menachem packed and I organized my studio.
Tomorrow, my plan is to continue embellishing. And maybe start another baby quilt.
Or maybe just veg. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Embellishing cont'd

As much as I enjoy the embellishing phase, it is not all enjoyment. I look at other people's work for inspiration and ideas and often end up being discouraged that my effort isn't up to par.
I'm trying to have the seam embellishments as varied as possible. I'm never quite sure what to do or how to do it, but if I get a seam or two done a day, weekdays, I'm happy. I did one this morning before I left for work. It is a crocheted mesh with ribbon pulled through. It's a tiny bit short. Should I redo it or try to add on at the ends to elongate it? I'll revisit it when I get home.
I am finding others' websites with stitch directions, especially Rissa's Pieces, very helpful.
And yesterday on one of the web lists I read, there was mention of a site of Victorian embroidery and crafts. The internet is such a wonderful resource.

And with that, I'm off to surf.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Embellishing Started

Yesterday was a very nice day. I had the whole day to dabble in embellishment and got a nice start. I did a little embroidery -- it's not my strong point, but I did some ribbon placement and incorporated some of the jewellery. I'm just waiting for the sky to brighten a bit so I can sit with natural light to work. I have the whole day ahead of me so I can work at a leisurely pace. Maybe this evening, I'll post a photo of what I've done so far.
Yesterday evening, ner shmini, last candle of Chanuka, we had a family get-together at my mother's house. It was very relaxed. The only "non-family" person was Charles, a former pupil of my father's. I say non-family lightly because since my father's death, he has been a godsend to my mother, visiting her often and helping her around the house. Charles is an artist and lives out of town. So he will often come into the city to visit art galleries, etc. and stay over at my mom's.
Charles is a real character. He is teaching himself Hebrew with such dedication, not to mention Jewish customs and culture. When he said to me last night "Siz shver tzu zayn a Yid", I knew we had to give him a Hebrew name. After much family debate, we dubbed him "Chaim".
I would like to make a quilt of one of his pieces of art, but I'm leaving that til later.
Off to embellish.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!!

I celebrated by falling asleep at about 9 p.m. I figure the ball will drop whether I'm awake to see it or not. And I was right. Happy New Year. Don't quite know where 2005 went but I am looking forward to 2006.
I like new years, whether Jewish, Gregorian, school, whatever. Just like I like a new day -- I'm an optimist for the most part so there's always hope for a better day, year, life...

The logical next step is New Year's Resolutions. Not too many -- to try to do something creative each day, to let my loved ones know they're loved, to minimize negativity, to take better care of myself. Nothing concrete like climbing Mount Everest, well maybe to sell something I've made (as a means of validating myself) So maybe I should add getting rid of the need to validate myself...

Anyways, as part of the something creative each day, I think I finally figured out what to do with the white expanses of Sari and David's chuppah. The flowers at the bottom of the white panels are in purple and lilac. I bought purple and lilac tulle yesterday at Michaels. If I attach the tulle at the top and just above the flowers and then in between, but make tulle pieces longer than the silk, then when the chuppah is suspended overhead, there will be soft draping of tulle. If I stagger the middle attachments between the purple and lilac, it should be a lovely effect. And if I randomly bead the tulle, it might be even nicer. A few chamsot and/or birds here and there and I can see it coming together. And with deep purple ribbon between the panels and maybe on the edges, it should be rather striking. Now to see if theory translates into practice.

About Me

I am in my mid 50's, have been married (happily) for 38 years, have 3 adult children who live an ocean away... By day I am a legal secretary. The rest of the time I play with fabric but I still won't run with scissors...