February 29, 2012

Fabric=Yes/Design=No -"Hawaiian Bird of Paradise"

I'm pleased with the way this photo turned out. It gives you a fair idea of this Hawaiian print (purchased on Maui). The bird of paradise flowers take up a space roughly 5" square. The big leaves are massive.

I saw this in the shop and fell for it instantly. The fabric is a polyester/cotton blend and has a very silky feel to it. It also wrinkles easily, so I'm thinking it might have to be quilted carefully to avoid large areas where creases would show up.

The drama of this print is just glorious. Perhaps the best thing to do with this one is make a bedspread using this print, uncut, as the center, and surround it with bands of coordinating colour.

February 24, 2012

Quilt 10: What Happened to My Momentum?

(My desktop PC is working again - so I'm no longer depending on hubby's laptop - which I was starting to think was possessed!!!! Back to regular posting...)

Last year I bought a quilt kit which has Japanese prints in it - "Forbidden Palace". I started working on it, but somehow lost momentum through the winter. Now it's nearly a year since I bought the kit (got it in April) and I'm just short of half-way through the quilting on it. It's true that I have woven other projects around it - but even so, this project should have been done months and months ago.

Here it is draped over the stairwell:

So OK... I'm back in the saddle and ready to ride. I picked it up again week before last and have started in on it. I'm determined, DETERMINED to get this thing finished and bound before the one-year anniversary of the day I bought the kit.

The quilting on this one is a lot slower-going than other projects, and that's due directly to the template I'm using. I wanted to use a pattern that would look nice on the back, but not be obtrusive on the front. Definitely found what I was looking for with my swirly template - but, as I said, it's slow going.

That's because the template has you stitching one long stitch line, turning the quilt this way and that as you go. Although Quilt 10 isn't huge, it's big enough so that doing that turning, especially on the blocks near the center, is, well, fiddly. Here's a photo of the back, you can see the swirls (the backing is solid black, although with the reflection in the camera flash it looks grey, and is stitched in silvery grey).

Each of the rectangular "snowball blocks" on the front has 2 swirls in it, and when you think about the fact that there's 160 blocks in the quilt, well, I rotate the top by 360 degrees twice for each block. Yup... fiddly.

But worth it!

February 22, 2012

The Bain of all Bloggers...

Computer problems.

I'm on a clumsy laptop using wifi and pulling my hair out. I'm using some pretty choice language right now... with this machine... I think it's possessed... It's taken 30 mins to type this much. I'll get to the bottom of this (or beat this laptop with a hammer...) and put something worth reading up in a day or so.


February 15, 2012

An Anniversary (Life After Breast Cancer)

One year ago today, I underwent the final surgery to reconstruct my breasts after a bilateral ("double") mastectomy. One year ago today.

Living with artificial body parts has required some adjustment, but... ...in the 18 months before my cancer was found, I had eleven biopsies, some of which were pretty darned uncomfortable and frightening. Nobody has been after me for "tests" since August of 2010 - and I call this a good "trade". I'll take these implants, over the pain and anxiety I was living with, any day.

I'm marking this anniversary and noting a few things about how this has all affected me.

To start with, I have some trouble thinking of myself as a "cancer survivor" - even though I am one. I can relate to the term "Mastectomy Survivor", but cancer? It doesn't seem completely real, somehow. Perhaps that's because I didn't have to undergo any treatments beyond the surgery. They caught my cancer so early that chemo and radiation were deemed unnecessary after the mastectomy. As my beloved cousin Beth (who did undergo chemo with her breast cancer) observed - I lost my breasts but got to keep my hair. If I'd had to deal with additional treatment after the mastectomy, maybe the cancer would seem more real. Or perhaps my feeling about it isn't all that unusual - I do remember Toni (Beth's mom - who also has survived breast cancer) expressing the thought "why are they doing all this to me when I don't even feel SICK?!?!?!"

In many respects, I feel more energetic, more in control of my life. I'm also finding myself doing things I've never done before - such as writing and self-publishing my book, appearing on a radio program to promote the book (I've certainly never done anything like THAT before!), and pushing myself a little harder to confront some fears I've harboured which hold me back. Facing down those demons - and even admitting they exist - is drawing my focus now, and I often think about a provocative challenge I once heard:

"What dream might you attempt today if you could be 100% sure of success?"

I love that question because often the dream to pursue isn't as far from our grasp as we think it is. Often it's just silly, irrational fears that hold us back - fears which dissolve the moment we look at them in the clear light of day.

One of my favorite books is "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Dr. Susan Jeffers. In her book, Jeffers offers the notion that running away from what we fear isn't really a good anxiety-management technique. She proposes that nobody gets a fear-free life; we all are going to be afraid of some things. But what we can accomplish is living boldly enough so that the things that scare us are things like, say, "climbing Mount Everest" and not "driving to the post office." Fears we don't face down can develop the power to cause our world to contract. If we fail to push outward against our fears, the world of the "scary" will push us inward. I look around me and can see many examples of how this is true. I'll bet you can, too.

And so today I am celebrating. A little of that is "where I've been", but mostly I'm celebrating "where I'm going".

February 8, 2012

Fabric=Yes/Design=No - "Blue Hawaii"

Is there such a thing as "too much fabric"? (No... don't answer that question...)

Here are three prints from Maui. I found this one first - a large print with diagonal white and blue lei bands:

This green compliments the green in the first one beautifully:

And then I found this one (my favorite of the three):

I also bought some solid turquoise for backing. When taking each of these photos, I took care to hold my camera the same distance from each fabric, so you can get an apples-to-apples comparison of the relative size of the prints on each piece. The largest of the green flowers (in the middle piece) are 3/4" across.

As you can see from the photos, the fabrics are very prone to wrinkling and don't lay neatly. The bolts weren't marked, but I'm pretty sure all three are 100% polyester. I love the colours and the silky feel - but suspect that when the time comes to quilt, I'm going to be pulling my hair out; I doubt that needles will pass through the fabric as easily as they do 100% cotton. We'll see...

February 1, 2012

Lead me not into temptation...

It's called "The Fabric Frolic", and from what my friend and quilting guru Pauline tells me, it's an annual event.

You start out with a "passport" and visit the seven different participating quilt shops. After purchasing a meter or more of fabric, your passport will be stamped, bringing you closer to being eligible for the prize drawings at the end of the "frolic" period. If you manage to get a completed passport (ie: stamps from all seven shops), you're in!

Last year, when Pauline told me about it, I bowed out with some lame excuse (can't remember now what the excuse was). This year, however, I was honest and told her the truth: I'm AFRAID of this thing. I've already got heaps of fabric brought back from the US (I haven't even finished telling you about it here on the blog!) and, well, OK... I DID walk through Spotlight last week without buying any fabric - but that was last week. Folks, I'm just not strong enough to resist the gravitational pull of a Fabric Frolic.

So in the interest of my credit card balance - and knowing my own devils... I'm abstaining again this year.

Well, I was, until I drove by Foothills Fabric and Threads (in Tecoma) today and saw the "Fabric Frolic" banner waving enticingly above their shop window... ....no, no, no... I will not give in. I will be strong....