Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No news

Perhaps because I never update it, because there's nothing to update. Still hand-sewing hexagons, which doesn't move fast enough to justify photographing more than once every six months, but mostly still drinking beer and exploring Wisconsin.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Radish the Slacker

I haven't been doing anything but working, cleaning my apartment for people who never show up, and waving the water bottle threateningly at the cat.

So much for my exciting new life outside of Iowa.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Can't live with 'em. Can't eat 'em. Can't sell 'em for parts.

Friday, July 21, 2006

My sordid quilting past

I thought I'd thrown out all my truly awful quilts when I moved (...I'm averaging one move a year, I don't know why I have so much stuff), but after today's QuiltArt thread about old work that is so bad it should never see daylight, I checked my boxes and found "Two polar bears in a snowstorm." I thought I was being clever--it's a total of five traditional bear paw blocks with very pale blue for the paws and scrappy white-on-white backgrounds--but it's just BAD. The "whites" are all various tints of blue, pink, yellow, brown and look gross together, and if you get more than two feet away there's no contrast at all, just a big dingy blob on the wall. The quilting is straight-ish vertical lines that don't follow the blocks at all--what the hell was I thinking?

I actually exhibited this monstrosity in 2001 at a guild show. I'm embarrassed now.

I hung it on the wall of the sewing room (where I will never see it, because 60-hr weeks at work start tomorrow). It's approximately 51" square (although I'm sure no two sides are the same length) and all plain-woven cotton so I suppose it would make a great blanket for homeless animals, but it could be interesting to remodel it. And by "remodel" I mean "utterly destroy."

If it's still on the wall when I move again, I will give it to the no-kill shelter.

NO, I'm not posting any pictures.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Radish Flix

I started a new blog, Radish Flix, to keep a record of what I'm watching while I do hand-sewing.

Nothing exciting, just hexagons.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Six inches square

My best friend Chele sent me some pictures of "boxed art" on sale at Target for $19.99.

I scoffed.

So then she told me to make some--just the quilt part, she'll take care of the box. Then she requested "beige, brown, gold..." Not my usual palette.

But anyway. These are six inches square. I've been thinking quite a bit about a) the principles of design and b) one of the properties of fabric (as opposed to, say, paint) is that it frays.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More ass in chair

Still on the 3.5" pineapple blocks, but also pulling out scraps and fabrics and arranging them in pleasing combinations, so something may happen this weekend. I'm thinking a lot about the principles of design, after some discussions on QuiltArt; I'm confident I can use value, balance, etc. well, I just don't know where to start.

Also signed up for the Tiny Treasures challenge on QuiltArt.

Major weirdness from my furry roommate, though. Every time I sit down at the sewing machine and turn it on, he sits on the table, whines, then bites my left arm. To get anything done, I have to throw him out of the sewing room and close the door (which sucks because the the apartment is cooled by a wall unit in the living room--it gets hotter'n blazes with the door closed) . When I emerge for more soda he runs back in and sits in the window like nothing ever happened....until I sit back down, then he bites my arm again.

We've been here almost two months. When I worked on Ron's quilt he would sit on the table and watch or play with the binding. He only started biting when I started the paper-piecing. I guess he doesn't like pineapple quilts.

Cats, sheesh.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Daily blog posts are SO Web 1.0...

Why blog post frequency doesn't matter. Whew!

I have nothing new to report today. I dyed some fabric yesterday but I don't like it...I may or may not take pictures. It might be a better use of my time to go sew something instead of documenting the unsuccessful.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ass In Chair

I'm having trouble thinking up a new project to start, and the frustration of not having any ideas is making it harder to come up with new ideas. I need a mentor or a small group...

This week I've been practicing the ancient art of Ass In Chair. The idea is that if I'm creating something it will be easier to dream up new things to create; if I'm covered in little thread snippets it will be easier to get started than if I'm just staring at the thread box.

Fortunately(?) a few years ago I started to make 3.5" (floppy) pineapple blocks from tiny scraps, and I kept the patterns and the yellow centers in the same baggie. This is about six hours' worth of paper-piecing (maybe I should have tried making one block before I committed to making 300):

I'm finding some real forgotten treasures in the scrap bins. I've even found a use for the leftover Cheefs fabric! It's not so awful on such a small scale.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My car is dead. Long live my car!

Busy, frustrating ten days, illustrating my love-hate relationship with Iowa.

On yet another !#*$&!% trip back, this one for a family reunion June 17, my car broke down on US20 in the middle of nowhere, where even wads of cash can't get you a tow truck on a Saturday morning. It took three days to get it towed and another two to get a diagnosis: I could spend $2000 on a car worth $450 in working condition, or I could send her to the Wide Open Highway in the Sky. So long, dear Edna.

I was able to borrow my dad's car for a week to return to MKE on the condition I return it this past weekend. I was thoroughly panicked about trying to get a new car, since I have a lot of unpaid bills from prolonged unemployment and my current job is a finite contract, but when I called the bank in the town where I grew up, they not only loaned me the money, they gave a check to my brother two hours later and told me to drop off the paperwork when I drove through on Sunday. Try that in a metro area...

Corey Taylor from the band Slipknot once gave an interview with a trade mag where he explained his love-hate relationship with Iowa. I saved the clipping but I don't know where it is...the gist of it is that "Iowa is a very conformist, normalist culture, and it's just hell on anyone with the least bit of creativity or unusualness. But if we hadn't all suffered there, we might have been well-adjusted kids with pleasant childhoods, and we never would have gone on to write our music. So in a way, we owe a great deal to Iowa." I identified with that statement so much...I just wish I was a better artist so I could express it better.

Or as my friend Jason (born in Fort Dodge) puts it, "Iowa is a great place to be from. And the key word is 'from'."

Anyway. I've lived in Milwaukee for six weeks now, and I've driven back to Iowa five weekends. That shit stops NOW.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random thoughts

  • The picture from the last post of FUZZ ensconced in fabric would make a cute quilt, if I replaced the Cheefie-Weefies motifs with something I don't hate.
  • I've remembered why it's been three years since I've made a quilt big enough for a human being to wear.
  • I don't like working with one-way geometric designs, either.
  • I really really really wanna do batik this summer.

I cooked a real dinner last night for the first time in about six months--chicken with tomato, artichoke, rosemary, and feta. It was good.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Satan's Little Helper

I hate the Cheefs, but Ron asked me to make him a Cheefs quilt to use now
and be buried in later. I haven't told him that I bought the fabric with my first paycheck.

I'm trying to get it done by Thursday so I can take it to him on Friday, so I'm just using two 58" x 72" lengths for the front and back and quilting with straight lines. Of course, my four-legged roommate had to get in on the action! Eventually I gave him his own fabric to
play with.

Stash enhancement

On my way back yesterday from a short trip to Iowa to visit Ron, I stopped off at Sun Prairie WI to visit the quilt shop there and found they were going out of business because the owner was retiring. I hauled off 25 FQs of cotton lamé (yeah, twist my arm...), two yards off a bolt, and some thread for $31. I felt like I was taking advantage of her, and I'm grumpy that a store with fabrics I can actually use (i.e., not just "country colors") is no longer available.

And at an antique store in Mt. Horeb I got a quart bag of buttons and belt buckles for $3.50, which shocked the cashier because most of the booths were selling quart jars for $20-25. Even subtracting $5 for the jar, that's just ridiculous! Also loaded u
p on thirty-two 80s-colored zippers for $5. I don't know what I'll use them for; I'll probably put them in the box with the vintage trims that I bought at that estate sale in Indianapolis in 1998.

I still haven't been to any local Milwaukee fiber-art or quilt sho
ps. Maybe if I ever get to stay in town for a weekend...

I also dro
pped a whole lot of money at Hobby Lobby in Dubuque on a new cutting mat, non-stick pressing sheet, and magnetic heart-shaped pin dish (from the new Fons and Porter line of accessories).

I'm just buying stuff to disguise the fact that I'm not MAKING anything (and because, well, I have money again!). I haven't even finished un
packing the kitchen to a point I can start dyeing. Sigh. Self-sabotage.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Moved in, unpacked...

All my stuff is out of storage and in my new digs in Glendale, WI. Yesterday after work I set up my sewing table and started sorting through all my UFOs and random art supplies...funny, after several weeks of jonesing for something to play with I couldn't think of anything I wanted to work on at all and spent the night reading a new Jennifer Cruisie novel. :p

Sunday I went to the J-store and saw a sign that said "75% off remnants" and grabbed a bunch of interesting textures, both cotton and synthetic. Turns out the sign meant "75% off original price" and not "75% off marked price" but I was feeling bitchy and literal, so I got a whole bag of goodies for $9.01, including tax. Heavy home dec and sequined prom fabrics, because I already have more cotton prints than I'll ever use... Most interesting is cotton crepe--actual highly twisted threads in a crepe weave, not mere plain weave with wrinkling mercerized in--that tonight I'm scouring with some other stuff to dye this weekend.

DYE! THIS! WEEKEND! Colors to be determined on the spur of the moment. Usage to be determined later. I just want to get my hands dirty again.

Ron's kidneys are beginning to fail, his cancer is spreading to other organs, and he was in a car accident trying to drive out to Milwaukee last weekend--he's a lot sicker than he wants to believe. He doesn't call me when he's in the hospital, so I don't know how his post-crash surgeries went this week. :( I feel bad I can't be there to help him, but when I was living an hour away he wouldn't let me help him, so what could I do if I was still there? Sigh.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

I'm in Milwaukee. I started a software testing job yesterday. Yes, that's about 720 degrees from where I was planning to go. But I like Milwaukee, and they're giving me obscene amounts of money. Not to mention I'm finally out of Iowa. YES!

All art is at a standstill while I learn the new job, find a place to live, etc. Work continues on Hexagonamania. I think I'm up to 45 "flower" blocks.

Ron is really sick, we talk about once every 10 days. I've invited him to come here to live with me, but he's getting his cancer treatments at UIowa and they have a really good research program there.

Monday, March 27, 2006

New Directions

Ron's been in and out of the hospital the past two weeks, and I'm not going to be moving in with him after all. :( All my stuff is going into storage and FUZZ and I are going to bounce between my parents' and sisters' houses until I find a job somewhere. WHERE is the $64 question; probably the outlet mall where my sister Megan works.

Artwise, I'll have: a notebook, a set of watercolor pencils and water brush pen, the hexagon project (I'm up to 22; I'm sure I'll need 80 or so more for a bed quilt), and maybe some plain white fabric and fabric paints (if I didn't already pack away the brushes...uh-oh). I can store threads and beads at my parents' house.

I'm not sure which is going to drive me more insane--the uncertainty, or not being able to act if I have a good idea. OTOH, if I'm back to the very basics of quilt art--color and thread--and all the extraneous paper, found objects, books, ephemera, etc is unavailable, maybe it will be easier for me to get back to making quilt art.

When I originally got into quilts and then art quilts, my main talent and the thing that I loved most was color. I think I got away from that with all the embellishment and experimentation. So I think the break will be good for me artistically, even as it sucks in other ways.

Mostly I'm worried about Ron; I promised to help take care of him, and now I don't know if I'll be able to do that if I'm working in western Iowa. :( He needs me; I'm the best friend he has in Iowa and his family is pretty flaky.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Everybody's a critic.

OK, so the fussy-cut cat head is cheesy...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Iowa's commercially viable wearable art scene?

Tomorrow I'm going to my parents' house to work on my dress (because I don't want black fur in the seams...), and then the next day I'm going down to Des Moines to check out some of these shops in the local T-shirt scene.

I can't wait to get moved. I'll have less time to work on art (there's that huge vegetable garden...), but I'll have more support.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Life Notes for March

  • I quit school.
  • FUZZ and I are moving in with Ron.
  • We're spending two weeks in April driving to Florida for my friend Kenny's wedding in Destin, then visiting some of Ron's friends in South Beach, then wandering back north at whim. I hate Florida, but it's been 8-9 years since I've been south of Indianapolis, so I look forward to being in Paducah, Nashville, Alabama, etc. again.
  • I really hope we don't kill each other.
  • Travel makes me think I can/should make clothes; tonight I bought a dress pattern and some really nice (expensive) embroidered fabric.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I've finally gotten into a rhythm with temporary spray adhesives and repositionable glue stick; the first hexagon took a whole day but now I can whip one out--from fabric selection to complete flower--in about four hours. Sewing the flowers together is a little more tricky and time-consuming, but at least the cardstock is staying in place until I want to remove it!!

The colors of State Center High School were Red and Black. The colors of West Marshall High School (State Center) are Black and Gold. I wonder if my color choices were unconsciously affected by recent explorations into how growing up in a small crappy town and being subjected to a small shitty high school adversely affected my expectations of life as an adult. But on the conscious side, I've been collecting Red and Gold (Iowa State) fabrics for many years, and Black makes a better accent to that pairing than blue or white (ISU's current and previous third color in athletic uniform design).

I still don't understand my recent fascination with hand-piecing a very traditional pattern.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

From the Department of Why Didn't I Think Of That First?!?!

Subversive cross-stitch samplers.

They're a little pedestrian. I think greater irony could have been achieved with more elaborate traditional elements.


I've been trying to avoid knitting because I already spend enough money on supplies that I don't actually use, but if I can buy Legos AND yarn, maybe I'll give this a try:

Lego Knitting Machine!

Further proof I'm a geek first and an artist second, I'm more impressed by the Difference Engine.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Purple Postcard

I broke down and made a fabric postcard, after resisting the bandwagon for over a year. My very good friend Jason is getting married in California on Saturday, and sadly I cannot afford to attend (I feel AWFUL; he's come back to the Midwest to help me more than once, I should be able to do this simple thing when I had a years' notice...*sigh*). So I made a purple postcard for him and his bride, so they know I'm thinking about them even though I'm stuck in Iowa. :( I mailed it yesterday, I hope they get it Saturday.

This is the best picture. *frown* I need more light in the living room if I'm going to be photographing small works.

El Gato Diablo "helping" fuse the hearts to the postcard:

What would I do without him? :)

Monday, February 27, 2006

January Quiltlets

These are the little cheesy quiltlets I made in January. I finally broke down and took a snapshot of them on the ironing board...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Things Fons and Porter don't tell you

Yesterday IPTV showed an episode of F&P where they showed you how to do English paper-piecing with temporary spray adhesive instead of pasting around all the little shapes. They used pentagons to make a 3-D cupped shape instead of hexagons, but the beauty of technique shows is my ability to extrapolate...

So off I went to my LQS (as always, forgetting the envelope with my Iowa quilt shop punch cards...), and they had die-cut cardstock 1" hexagons, so I was able to try this out right away without cutting.

Now, when F&P did this, they had no problems at all.

When I did this, the temporary adhesive was too temporary--the papers did not stick to the fabric long enough for me to complete the outer layer of the Grandmother's Flower shape. It did, however, cause: my fingers to stick to paper, fabric, and each other; cat hair to stick to myself, the paper, the fabric, and the thread; paper and fabric to stick to The Cat.

Eventually I worked out a complicated system of adhesive and paper clips...the whole process still seems horribly time-consuming and not yet relaxing.

Oh, and the Grout Museum in Waterloo didn't call me for their annual "Treasured Quilts from Beloved Iowa Quilters" show AGAIN. *snicker*

Thursday, February 23, 2006


For school, I'm doing a little research on an early 19th-century wool shawl, patterned with unusual woven paisleys. The paisley shapes are not a stripey outline with a floral inside, as I usually think of the 70s-style paisley, but are composed of geometric leaves arranged in a shape that reminds me of a stylized blue whale.

Here's the shawl concept (shown in an 1817 fashion plate from the ISU University Archives), although this shawl's pattern looks absolutely nothing like the pattern on the one in the ISU Dept. of Textiles and Clothing collection.

I hate paisley, and the research has been very frustrating. Digging through the 1810-1825 fashions has been mildly interesting; I don't have much interest in fashion design but the ribbons, trims, and artificial flowers on the dresses and hats I viewed today were really over the top, and I feel a curious need to start sewing artificial flowers all over a hemline. Or a quilt binding. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Too much non-art going on around here...

Since my last post, I've learned that my quasi-boyfriend Ron has terminal cancer and expects to be dead by Christmas. We adopted an adorable sweet kitten named Mischief Maloo (we added the Mischief after she discovered a pan of oil in the garage, not three hours after I brought her home) to keep him company. He's also still the primary caretaker for his dad, even after starting chemo, so when I talk to him, he's completely exhausted. :(

And yet, he seems more worried about me than about himself. I'll be sad but I'll be OK.

I'm also losing a lot of time to general anxiety. Too much thinking and not enough sleeping, walking, journaling, etc.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Lately I've had a strange craving for hexagons. Like a Grandmother's Flower Garden. I actually went out looking for templates, but they were all too large or two small (also really expensive, yow!).

I got a piece of mylar template plastic; The Cat has already tried to wrestle it.

Speaking of, The Cat is in trouble. He's been flinging poo around the spare bedroom, which is where my art stuff lives. I cleaned his box and mopped the floor, but I'm concerned the fabrics are going to absorb his foul stench.

Heh. Tonight playing Scrabble I scored a bingo with ODORANT.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Goal for the week

I was asleep for four days straight. Usually I don't sleep much at all, I wonder if my brain finally blew under the electrical load and shut down.

I've located a flatbed scanner; now I just need to remember to take the quiltlets (holy cow, it's been two weeks already) to be scanned. I worked on a fourth quiltlet tonight, but I think I've carried the cheesy heart motif further than I really should. Certainly further than I ever wanted.

My goal for the week is to walk outside more. Somewhere I got out of the habit of setting and achieving goals...I'm starting soft and while I walk I'll think of a real goal for next week.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


What's the point of a blog that is never updated? Life got in the way, including babysitting my nephew and obsessing over historical dress research. OTOH, there's no point in updating a blog about textile arts when I haven't been creating any textile art, either.

Instead, I offer this picture of my fearless assistant, FUZZ, subduing a perle cotton insurgency.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

First new work of the new year!

It's only been...most of a year since I last started something new. But yesterday, since my DSL refused to lease an IP address for 30+ hours, I sat down with a bunch of pre-prepared 3" squares of hand-dyed fabrics and batting, and my 15-qt tub of perle cotton and made two itty bitty quiltlets. They are multicolored hearts on squares; one is beaded and the other is plain--I don't seem to have the correct shades of pink and purple beads, so rather than ruin it, I've left it unembellished.

They are a little too "cute" to be "art," but they fit my recent need for some stress-reducing handwork.

Photos coming...sometime. I need access to a flatbed scanner...

This comes on the heels of several nights spent watching the History Channel and beading a piece I painted in 2004 (in a class taught by Susan Shie and quilted in 2005.