Archive for November, 2012

Have you heard of Chihuly? Unusual name, what is it?

Dale Chihuly is a blown-glass artist. You may have seen some of his brightly colored work here and there on the internet and not realized what it was.

This month, an exhibit of, I’d say, thousands (tens of thousands?) of pieces of his work are on display at Richmond’s Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA). My agency did the advertising for the exhibit and I worked on the account, too. We went with friends on Black Friday to see it for ourselves.

Can I just say, WOW!

Mr. Chihuly allows non-flash photography, which is very generous. Pictures just don’t do it justice, if you have the chance to see it in person, GO! The Richmond exhibit lasts until February 10th. The Dallas Arboretum is running an outdoor exhibit through 12/31. It looks pretty awesome, too.

These pieces reminded me of undersea creatures:

This “tree” stands almost floor to ceiling:

He dabbled in neon:

He also has an interest in blankets like this, there were probably a hundred of them mounted on a wall:

As I walked around, I couldn’t help wondering how in the world they packed and transported it all, did any of it break, how much does he pay in insurance premiums? He must have a huge warehouse to store it all.

What are you waiting for? If you’re in Richmond, make your reservations now. If you’re in Dallas, go to that one. If an exhibit pops up near you, don’t miss it.


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This woodpecker has mounted an attack on our house.

When he’s not pecking on the window frame (bad!), he’s pecking on the glass or flying into it.

I listened to that all day yesterday so I made this:

He’s a slow learner but I think he’s finally moved away from the family room window. He has moved onto the Florida room and kitchen windows and there are now 3 deflectors on the back of the house. He has mounted a second offensive this morning. He still flies into the glass. I don’t know what his problem is. I hope he doesn’t move to the front windows because I don’t think my husband would be too happy to have deflectors on the front of the house. But the whole point is to keep him from destroying our window frames.

What a pest!

Edited to add: This is not a woodpecker. It’s a yellow-bellied sapsucker. We do have woodpeckers here, and they have done damage to our siding, but that’s not what this one is about. This one has a different vendetta.


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Design Wall Monday 11.19.12

Presenting the completed top, working title “The Gift Quilt.” I started work on the backing this morning and hope to have it to my longarmer over the weekend. It won’t be back by Christmas, of course, but it would be great if it could be done before New Year’s so that I have a shot of considering it completed in 2012. More importantly, it needs to be done before the cold weather really sets in.

Also going on in the studio: the 2001 Cyberbees NC Retreat quilt is ready to be bound now that the label is done. Some fabric was purchased a few weeks ago when I visited a local quilt shop that is closer to my office than to my home. They had a quilt on the wall featuring this 2009 fabric line by Maywood Studios, called, appropriately enough, “Paisley:”

I love black and tan and this paisley pattern is so elegant! It’s more large-scale than this swatch would indicate. Each of those paisleys is 3.5 inches.

I don’t know how I missed the launch of this fabric back when it was new, but I scrambled and found some online shops that had yardage left, so I bought a little of this, a little of that and now I need to design something around it that will showcase it’s awesomeness. I’m having some issues with Electric Quilt’s ability to display large-scale fabrics correctly which is causing me a lot of consternation. I’ll figure something out.

Also purchased this weekend was 3 yards of this:

It’s called “Hip 2 B Square” by Marcus Brothers. I love, love, love the fluid lines plus I’ve been wanting to make a red, white and black quilt. No design in mind for this yet.

To paraphrase Al Roker, that’s what’s going on in my studio, now here’s what’s going on in other people’s neck of the woods (ouch, that was awful)


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Objects in Mirrow

Why do typos jump off the page and screen for me? Why do I delight in identifying them? I don’t know, maybe there’s a 12-step program.

This time, we were at the movies where a local ridesharing company currently has a commercial running. We’ve been to the movies more often than normal lately due in large part to the fact that there are a lot of good movies out now (Argo, Skyfall, Lincoln). So I’ve seen this commercial several times. I caught this typo right away but the scene goes by quickly and I wasn’t sure I actually saw it. The next weekend I saw it again, now it was confirmed. Last night we went to see Lincoln and I had my camera at the ready:

Seriously? I work for an ad agency and we have PROOFREADERS. I don’t know who produced this spot but really, this shouldn’t have gotten through.

Lincoln was really good, by the way. We were able to spot some recognizable locations (the state capitol) and others that we should have recognized (Monument Avenue covered in mulch) but those scenes could have been anywhere.


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I can finally show you that “What Was I Thinking?” is done, labeled, ready to hang. Remember my dilemma with the top being out of square? I added a very wide binding which, in person, I swear, makes it look square around the outside edges. This photo, however, does not do it justice. We even used a picture hanging level to make sure the top edge was level. I’m going to have to work out a better way of hanging quilts for photos. At least it’s done.

Speaking of hanging, I ran across the neatest thing at Quilting Adventures called Hang It Dang It. It’s a new, improved hanging rod and they say anyone can hang a quilt of any size by themselves. Watch the video on their website. I believe  I could do it. Wish I’d known about them before we hung “Fractured Crystals” on a regular curtain rod in the dining room:

They’re pricey but I want one (or more). Check them out.


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We need some standardization here

I have become a fan of eBooks. Not that I really had any doubts, seeing as how I love books and I love technology. How could a marriage of the two be bad?

Well, if you’re buying Kindle books from Amazon, OMG, they make it way too easy. I could rack up some huge credit card bills doing this.

But if you’re trying to borrow eBooks from the library, it can be a hassle. I’m still trying to understand how it all works. The problem is that there are several variables and those variables can combine to make the user experience confusing.

Let me explain.

The first 3 library books I borrowed were from James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series. I don’t remember the exact sequence of steps but I think it started like this: On my iPad, I started the Overdrive app which I believe is required for ebook borrowing. First you have to set up your library in Overdrive. As part of that process you search or browse for a title. Your search results will tell you if the ebook is available and how many copies the library owns. If the book you want is not available, you can put a hold on it. (Just like physical books, the library can loan out at one time only as many eBooks as they own.) So I set up the Henrico library and searched on the first of the titles at that library and added it to my cart. From there I proceeded to “checkout,” where I was able to select my checkout period of 7, 14 or 21 days, 14 being the default. And then I downloaded the ebook to my device. As I write this, I’m trying to duplicate the process to check the steps and I managed to lock it up. So until I can get back to that, here’s what I remember from the “real” experience: after I clicked download, I was taken to Amazon.com where I downloaded the book from there to my Kindle. What I love about Kindle eBooks is that I’m able to sync back and forth between my iPad’s Kindle app and my Kindle reader (basic model). I don’t usually carry my iPad (1st gen) around because it’s too big for my purse and too heavy. I bought the Kindle a few months ago and it’s delightfully portable. Once I finished reading the book, I “returned” it to Amazon. Now one thing I don’t understand is that these 3 books are still in my book list, marked “Loan Ended.” Does that mean I can’t borrow them again if I should want to for some reason? I can’t imagine.

Fast forward to now. I wanted to borrow Sue Grafton’s T is for Trespass. I’ve been reading the whole series over the years and I’m almost caught up. I checked the Henrico library and they only carry U is for Undertow as an ebook. So I set up the Richmond library on the iPad in Overdrive, browsed for T ( I’d already checked their online catalog and confirmed that they had it), went through what I expected would be the same process and what? It was different. I wasn’t taken to Amazon, I had to download the book and read it in the Overdrive app which doesn’t sync between devices. There’s no way I want to read a book on my iPhone, but since I downloaded to the iPad I couldn’t sync it to the iPhone if I wanted to. The Richmond library apparently doesn’t allow anything but 14 day loans and there are no renewals (I confirmed this with the librarian). I’m not sure what happens if you’re not finished with the book when it expires and is automatically removed from your device. The Overdrive app does show you how many days you have left before that happens but I’d want to make sure I’d written down what page/chapter I was on before I lost it. I would hope that you could go back through the process, download the book again and pick up where you left off (if you wrote that down) but since I haven’t tried it, I don’t know for sure. If there is a waiting list for the book, does it go to the next in line? I think if you’ve borrowed a physical book you could renew even if there was a waiting list. Somebody confirm this. Why the difference?

After I finished that book, I went back to the Henrico library and downloaded U is for Undertow. Apparently how the process works is a “library” thing? Because I got this one from Amazon and can read it on my Kindle.

Henrico=Amazon/Kindle, Richmond=Overdrive only?*

If so, obviously eBooks from Henrico are the way to go for me because they’re more flexible with checkout times and device usage. Am I understanding this correctly? I originally thought the differences were due to ebook format: Kindle/Adobe EPUB/Open EPUB. I know book publishers are trying to figure out this whole thing and some publishers have limitations on library borrowing that others don’t have.

Holy cow, I sure hope that everyone figures this out soon so that users don’t have to have a PHD in ebooks to have a satisfying experience.

Do you read eBooks? If you have a reader and haven’t tried borrowing a book yet, would you try it and report your experience back to me?

* I just looked at a flyer I picked up at the Richmond library and it says the process is “Easy to Use.” Only 3 steps. According to step 3, there is a “Get for Kindle” button that I must have missed when I downloaded T is for TrespassSo I’m going to have to give Richmond another try.

Edited to add: I finished U and wanted to get V is for Vengeance, but neither of my libraries carry it in eBook format. Heaven forbid, I’m going to have to go to  the library and check out an old-fashioned book LOL. So I looked for the next Women’s Murder Club book, 4th of July, and I can get it at Richmond. I don’t have my iPad with me and I didn’t want to go through the process on my iPhone in case there’s no Kindle version and be stuck reading it on that device, so I tried it on my computer. You go to search.overdrive.com and the process is the same: find your library, search for the book, if there’s a Kindle version (there was), add to cart, checkout, go to Amazon.com (it takes you there automatically), download to Kindle device. And there it was, right on my reader.

I think I’m getting the hang of this. If both my libraries have all their eBooks in Kindle format, it’s relatively easy, although there are more steps than I think are necessary.


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Well, isn’t this a yawner of a post? The only things accomplished on the Gift Quilt this week are the two side sashings I put on this morning, barely noticeable. I had to wait for the replacement fabric to arrive, so that’s my excuse.

I did get some labels made while I was waiting for the fabric, two for older projects that were never labeled for some reason, one for “What Was I Thinking?” and one for the 2001 Cyberbees North Carolina retreat mystery quilt that is just about ready to have the binding applied. When I can I like to sew my labels in with the binding as it makes them harder to remove (because people are dying to steal my quilts and take the labels off) plus I have less hand stitching to do on them.

Let’s see what everyone else has been up to over at Judy L’s site. I love the blocks Judy is making for Nicole.


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Design Wall Monday 11.05.12

Most of The Gift Quilt top is done, too big for the design wall, now on the floor for the photo. I decided yesterday to change the fabric for the sashing and binding, so I can’t move forward until I get it, should have it by the end of the week unless the Richmond post office delays it as seems to be the way our mail as come lately.

I don’t know why I have so many instances of that one fabric adjacent to each other, even in the different colorways. It’s really jumping out at me in this photo, I didn’t notice it when I was laying out the blocks. I was concentrating on distributing the lighter fabrics and making sure that the blocks didn’t have the same fabric/colorways adjacent. I don’t think I could have moved them around any differently.

So it’s bugging me that my shuffle didn’t work as planned. Here’s how I did it. I had the fabric numbers from the swatches that Connecting Threads provided. I made mockups of the blocks on paper and made 10 copies of block A and 10 of block B. I labeled each unit with the 20 fabric numbers. Cut the units apart and shuffled them just like I would have the fabric. Then I went to EQ7 and colored 10 block A’s with the same fabrics and did the same with 10 block B’s.

I thought I put the fabrics in the same order as the mockups, but I must not have, otherwise wouldn’t the fabric blocks have come out just like the EQ blocks?

I’m going to have to figure this out because I’m sure to make more of these.

That’s what’s on my design wall, see what everyone else is doing at Judy L’s blog.


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My sister is a new switcher from PC to Mac and she’s trying to figure things out. We had a 2-hour FaceTime chat this morning and I got a virtual tour of her new apartment and her girlfriend got a tour of our house.

Dana mentioned that she wanted to make shortcuts on her desktop to various websites like she’s always been able to do in Windows and I realized that I’ve been a Mac user for 5 years and I don’t know how to do this myself. I can make bookmarks in Safari, but heck, who can’t do that?

So I told Dana I’d figure it out and let her know. I found a YouTube video that shows how to do it, but it chokes up after 10 seconds, so my husband figured it out and I thought I’d post the tutorial here. Please note that I’m using OS X Lion, but I can’t imagine that this process is any different for other versions. Please leave a comment if your experience is different.

1.  Open Safari (or any browser I suppose) and type in the URL of the website you want to make a shortcut for. I’ll use Facebook. Start Facebook. Click on the little Facebook icon to the left of the URL and drag the URL to your desktop.

2.  Open Google Images and search for a Facebook logo. Find one that you like and double-click on the image. Click “Full-Size Image” in the pane on the right.

The image will open up in a new window. From Safari’s drop-down menu, choose Edit>Select All and then choose Edit>Copy. Close that window.

3.  Go to the desktop and find the URL you dragged to it. Right click on it and choose “Get Info.” At the very top of the info pane is the name of the shortcut and there’s a little Safari icon to the left of it. Click on that icon (you’ll see a faint blue outline) and go to Finder’s Edit menu and choose Paste. This is what mine looks like after the icon is pasted into it. (The reason mine says Facebook.webloc is that I have mine set to show file extensions.)

4. Now you have a shortcut icon on your desktop that will take you right to Facebook with a double click.

5. Want the icon in your dock? Click and drag the icon to the dock just to the left of the trash can. Do not put it in the trash LOL.

And that’s it!


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The Gift Quilt

This is the beginning of a new project I’m making for my husband. He was looking over my shoulder one day as I was looking through what was then the current issue of the Connecting Threads catalog and commented that he liked the colors of their new-at-the-time fabric collection, “Charlottesville.”

So I quickly ordered a fat quarter collection and let it sit while I worked on UFOs.

Although I’m not completely free of UFOs yet, I was itching to start on something new. I stumbled across Vicki Welsh and Anne Waleski’s “The Gift Quilt” that they offer as a free pattern. I like scrappy quilts and this one looked quick and easy. Plus, my fat quarter collection had more than enough fabrics. Sweet!

The pattern is offered in lap and queen sizes, but I wanted something more sofa-sized. So I drafted the quilt in Electric Quilt 7 and changed the 15″ blocks to 12″. And because this is how I roll, I downloaded the fabric swatches from Connecting Threads, imported them into EQ7 and colored my virtual quilt with the exact fabrics. This pattern uses a “shuffle” method of arranging the fabrics/patches prior to sewing the blocks together so I went to all the trouble of mocking it up with paper, doing the shuffle, and coloring the patches accordingly. I wanted a fairly even distribution of the light colored patches so I moved the blocks all around until I achieved what I considered a pleasant-looking design.

However, after I got all the blocks done, I laid them out on the floor using this as a guide and found that my mock shuffle apparently didn’t work as well as I thought it did. It’s not that big a deal, but it’s not going to look exactly like this. I found that I’d rotated some of the blocks to force those light colored patches where I wanted them, which is fine on paper/virtual reality, but I didn’t like it in fabric. So I stitched the blocks into rows based on their intended orientations.

Because it’s who I am, I’m going to re-do my virtual design to match the real quilt and compare the two. Honestly, no one else works this hard on scrappy quilts, I’m sure. LOL

If you’re looking for a fast and easy quilt, I recommend this pattern. Its instructions are clear and concise and thoroughly tested. Most of the seams are offset so you don’t have much worry about matching, and the ones that do match up have seam allowances pressed in opposite directions so they go together easily.

And I also recommend Connecting Threads fabric. Reasonably priced, excellent quality. No affiliation, yada yada, just a satisfied customer.


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