Saturday, December 29, 2012

Now Hanging in our Dojo

We have a new design element in our dojo. The area under the clock in the photo above houses some old fire hose from back when our building was an active post office. We have hidden the area with some simple curtains for years.

We now have an 'aikido appropriate' covering for the area. Thanks to the talents of Shawn Birmingham who took a wonderful photo last winter of one of our members rolling out of a throw; and Julie Brandon of Red Dog Enterprises who scanned the photo onto cotton for me, I was able to create a custom curtain for the area - a great way to start the New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Work In Progress

This piece is teaching me as I proceed. The quilting is about 1/3 completed  (lower half). It is definitely a process of meditation and listening.

What is it? It began as a photo of an old tree. I will keep you posted as it transforms.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Journey

A year ago, I was on the National Georgraphic Explorer voyaging in Antarctica. On Christmas Eve, we traveled down an icy bay and sent out two zodiacs to pick up two volunteers and transport them to Port Lockroy for Christmas dinner. The volunteers had been repairing huts used by scientists studying in Antarctica.

My art quilt, Journey, captures the zodiacs journeying through an icy channel to pick up the volunteers. It was an amazing way to spend a Christmas and last night I hung Journey in our dining room to remind us of how fortunate we were to have the experience.

Happy Holidays to All

and Wishes for a Peaceful New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Little Bit of Quiet

While last minute frenzy is a popular theme in the US media these days, our small household is enjoying a well earned oasis of peace. Our children are grown and holiday packages were shipped in mid-December. This might be our last holiday at home for a bit as a grandchild will arrive in the New Year and that might draw us out west for the 2013 holiday season. But, for now, we are home together and using the time to relax and catch up on miscellaneous tasks.

For me, that involves fabric and sewing. I have a number of projects in process. Here is a glimpse at one.
For over a year, I have wanted a new lap quilt for our family room. I almost got one made earlier this year but then I decided it needed to go to our new grand-daughter's room.

While going through my fabric stash for another project, a few fabrics jumped out at me and I just had to make something from them. I remembered a pattern I had made several years ago that might work. Requirements were that it be fast and easy :) and that I had enough of the three colors to make the quilt.

The pattern is called Turquoise Diamond and is from Southwest Decoratives and dates from 1997. You can still get the pattern online from them. I know that I got it at one of my favorite quilt stores in Sedona, AZ - Quilter's Store Sedona.

It is a really easy pattern to piece - all strips. You don't actually need as much fabric as the pattern states and I tend to cut the pieces in groups, rather than all at once, so I don't get too confused.

This is the second time I have made the pattern and I have yet to use the suggested color pattern. It is actually easy to adapt - I believe the last time I used different colors for the center area that for the rest of the quilt.

The pattern comes in two sizes - bed size and what they call 'wall hanging' size. That is actually the size I use for a lap quilt.

If life stays calm for the next few days, I expect to finish this up and be enjoying it as I welcome in the New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beauty in the Most Unexpected Places

A view like this from a lanai on the west coast of Maui is definitely not unexpected. In fact, it is one of the reasons we keep returning to this beautiful island.

However, on my most recent trip, I brought along a copy of Michael J. Totten's Where the West Ends. Michael is a journalist who, in his spare time, travels to some fairly unusual places that are off the beaten path for most tourists --- like Iraq.

He and a friend traveled to Northern Iraq during the recent Iraqi war. To understand why and learn more about his experiences, you will have to get his book. All I will say is that the first story in the book is about his 24 hour trip to Iraq and it was intriguing enough to hold me attention through a bit of turbulence on a recent trip to the Isle of Maui. :)

Michael and friend visited the city of Duhok which is in Kurdish Iraq. In recounting his adventures, he describes Duhok as follows:

Duhok is unlike even the other Kurdish cities in Iraq, not to mention the Arab cities, in that it's colorful. Even from a distance the city has a pleasing aesthetic character thanks to the reds, blues, green, yellows, and oranges of the buildings and houses. ...........If you squint hard enough at it from a hilltop, it looks a little like Italy.
So, Michael had me hooked. All my images of Iraq related to the battle torn southern areas which have been ravaged by violence in recent years. Pleasing aesthetic? Italy? I was fascinated and wanted a photo or two. I googled 'Duhok images' and there was the proof. You definitely could see the color that Michael referred to.
 But what surprised me even more were some of the other images of the general area that I found:

Amazingly beautiful, aren't they? A good lesson for me in remembering not to quickly judge any area of this globe!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Great Case for Sewing Tools

At a recent RAFA (Rochester Area Fiber Artists) meeting, one of our members, Margaret Reek, shared instructions for creating a handy case for toting around sewing essentials. I have always wished I had such a case, but, of course, I only think about it as I am packing up for a sewing class somewhere.

Using Margaret's instructions, I took the time a few weeks ago to finally create my own case.

 I kept my design fairly simple and was able to use up some of my stash. Margaret chose to make hers much more colorful and varied the fabric for the various pockets.
You can see the attention to detail that Margaret put into planning the case. The upper row is a zipper compartment made with vinyl. It is subdivided to fit four conventional needle cases and the vinyl allows for easy viewing. The pockets in the middle can be varied in size for items that you usually carry along to a class. I just followed Margaret's directions and found her choices totally functional. The bottom third is supposed to have a pocket for a business card - I didn't do that piece. Eventually, I could fuse in my name and website.

If you have questions on the case, or are interested in the directions, you are welcome to contact Margaret at

Sunday, December 2, 2012