Sunday, April 30, 2006


I have been spending way too much time doing laundry, dishes, the basic chores of living... I did get one chore done that has nothing to do with the house. I basted Terms of Endearment.

I just throw the three layers together over a table and safety pin. No stretching, no pulling. Just trying to not get pleats (which I've certainly done) or big lumps of batting anywhere. Nice and flat, but no stress on any of the layers. It's nice having a cutting table now so the quilt layers are higher - easier on my back. I do have the "bed lifter" things so I can make any table higher now, but there's no way I'm going to do this process on the dining room table.

Not entirely sure how I'm going to quilt it. I'm going to experiment with putting more terms into those big chunks of fabric, using perle cotton in either a stem stitch or quilting stitch. I definitely have more I want to say.

Continuing the discussion of my little Leaping Lily... I'm lucky that she only weighs 7 lb and I give her regular pedicures, which she now actively dislikes and squeals and tries to pull her foot away which just makes it harder on both of us. She hasn't managed to destroy any clothes which is good. Lois is right about the reason for Lily's leaping - my little cat is trying to get at something out of reach.

This is where I usually talk on the phone. Lily is fascinated by the clock on the wall - of course, it's out of reach and it moves. You'll notice I have kitty barricades up - none of our cats can stand to knock the aluminum cans down because of the scary noise. So that keeps them away from the clock. So my back is the non-noisy way to try and get at it. I think. She's my sweet screwball, so who really knows.

That's a locally-made embroidery up on the wall. There's a project in the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmim to teach women skills, such as embroidery, but also reading and basic math. It's "fair trade" plus. All the work is incredibly colorful and made without patterns. I adore them and would have many more, except that the price is a bit high (but more than worth it) and of course they're not to my hubby's taste at all. I'm going to have to get one or two more before we leave tho.The title is "The Shepard." He's wearing the typical Egyptian gallabiya - kinda like a dress. A really really long shirt. Nice and cool. Anyway, I'm not sure what this is supposed to be a herd of. They look like pigs, except the legs are long. The joys of folk art - don't bother about the details, just do it.

I mentioned Lois above. I recommend her blog at Thoughts of Home Quilting. She's a fellow "Liberated Quiltmaking" fan and is currently working on some gorgeously classy houses, with just a touch of wonkiness here and there. Amazing how different they look from mine, but using the same techniques. And she has cats, also good.

My bestest buddy is back in town. She's a travelling fool, but will be here for 5 days. Hopefully we'll get down to the Khan and to some other fun places while she's here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Little Woman

Sharon asked why the statue of Nefertari was so small in comparison to her husband, Rameses II. Please, do I really have to answer that? She's a woman, of course. And in this case, she really is "the little woman." Very rare was the woman who actually had power, like Hatshepsut.

Which is not to say that Rameses II didn't love Nefertari. He actually built a temple for her (as well as the goddess Hathor), which is now located in Abu Simbel along with his Great Temple. She is depicted in the two statues on the right - just about the same size as her husband (I think that's him next to her). But that was pretty rare for a Pharoah to do - to build a temple for his wife.

Which is not to say you don't see some accurate representations. The Luxor Museum had a beautiful, small statue of a man (a pharoah?) and woman, the same size, with their arms holding one another.

And this is King Tut depicted with his wife whats-her-name from the Luxor Temple.

I have seen a string of disappointing movies. I love romantic comedies, I do. But can someone make a good one please?

Saw "Must Love Dogs" with Diane Lane and my beloved John Cusack. It was a cookie cutter movie. Here, move this piece here and that one there and oh wouldn't this be cute. Unbelievable character actions. Sigh. Diane Lane looks wonderful and human, but something scary has happened to Stockard Channing. Is that a botox forehead? Creepy. But please tell me why the funny, fabulous Elizabeth Perkins isn't starring in movies. She was the most entertaining thing about this one.

"Corpse Bride" was okay. I wanted to like it way more than I did. Certainly looked gorgeous. I like Danny Elfman's music, but hate the talking-singing songs.

"Wimbledon" was merely okay. Didn't hurt to watch it, but wasn't very funny, moving, gripping, anything. Blah. Now maybe if it had been made many years ago with Hugh Grant, that would have been a different story.

I've been in a post-holiday letdown mood. Forced myself out of the house on Thursday. Some of my quilting friends are thinking about making crazy quilts. When I saw the bag of silks and velvets that a mutual friend (who lived in Malaysia and loves purple) had donated to the cause I decided I was in. Had to get some of that beautiful stuff.

Doubt I'll make a traditional crazy quilt. My incredibly creative, yet still blogless, friend Rachael mentioned something a ways back about mixing together crazy quilting with crusties. Now that is intruiguing and appealing. I actually have some ideas, just can't decide if I should do the applique first, so that I can cut out the underneath fabric, or put the whole sandwich together first and applique on the top of that. Decisions.

Lily is nuts again. She's been leaping onto my back at the slightest opportunity. If I lean down to pick something up off the floor, bam, there she is. That's not so bad and I'm kind of expecting it lately. But when she jumps onto my back while I'm standing upright - aiyeee. I started shrieking on the phone yesterday. Luckily I'd been telling my sweetie earlier in the morning that we had a Leaping Lily so he didn't panic. Just paused a moment and said "Lily." When it happened again that afternoon he didn't even pause, just kept on talking while I was squealing.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Abu Simbel

I'm not going to put in loads and loads of pics of our trip. My blasted camera, which is not very well designed, managed to lose all battery power after the first day, so I had to pry my hubby's camera away from him for shots that I really really wanted to get. Other than that glitch, we had a wonderful trip. I was so incredibly sleepy, with help from the Dramamine, that I slept for most of the flights down to Abu Simbel - ah, that made it easy.

Our number one reason for taking this trip was to go to Abu Simbel. That was the one major attraction that we'd missed on our previous trip to Upper Egypt (aka southern Egypt). As we rounded the bend we could see the smaller temple and it didn't seem all that impressive. But then, bam, there's the Great Temple.

This monument consists of three gods, as well as Pharoah Rameses the II (second from the right) who chose to deify himself. You can barely see her, but that's Rameses' wife Nefertari who doesn't even come up to his knee. The dude second from the left lost his head and torso in an earthquake centuries ago. Rameses' 62-year rule ended in 1212 B.C., to give you an idea of just how old this is.

And when I say these statues are gigantic, I mean it. Here's one with bitty people in it to give you a better perspective. You can see Nefertari better here. For some reason my camera's pics are much redder than hubby's.

And here's your tour guide:

Another amazing thing about the temples at Abu Simbel is that they were moved from their original spot back in the 1960s. The High Dam was going to flood them, so UNESCO carved apart the monuments and moved them here. That is incredible, esp after having seen them.

I loved Abu Simbel, but didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked - one of my knees (not the usual suspect) was acting up. I was worried I was going to overdo it and there goes the rest of the trip. Luckily it only gave me trouble that first day.

Karnak Temple

Our second day was spent in Aswan, since we had a 12-hour layover. On our third day we revisited Karnak and Luxor Temples. We didn't go mad with the photography since we have photos from there already.

I do so love sphinxes (sphinxi?). These ram-headed sphinxes once lined the path between Karnak and Luxor Temples. A lot of that area is city now, and these guys are all crammed in here together.

I don't know why, but I'm attracted to the bits and leftovers of statues. Such as the base of a statue that just consists of feet. Or this one, which still has legs and a disembodied fist.

Hatshepsut and Tree of Life

Remember the beautiful Alabaster Sphinx I showed you from Memphis? That may have been Queen Hatshepsut, one of the few females to rule as Pharoah? Well we visited her temple, which was built in a completely different - rather modern - style than the later work of Rameses II. You can still see some of the paint on the cheek of one of these Hatshepsuts.

Me again, next to a falcon, with Hatshepsut figures in the background.

We made our first visit to the Ramesseum, a rarely visited site. This was my favorite bit. The ibis-headed god Thoth and Isis are writing the pharoah's (Rameses II again, of course) name down onto leaves of the tree of life.

Here's a detail of the tree. I can see an applique or quilt design here. Like something Susan McCord would have made.

I'm feeling a bit melancholy. It was at Hatshepsut's Temple in 1997 that terrorists murdered 62 people, almost all tourists. I'd completely forgotten about the incident while we were there, thankfully. The recent bombings have brought it to mind. These days the terrorists seem to target mainly Egyptians. It's all horrible. I promise I'll try not to bring it up again.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Home Safe

This is just a quick post to say that we made it home from our vacation safe and sound. You may have heard about the terrorist explosions that occured last night in Egypt. Those happened in Dahab, in the Sinai, which is far away both from where we were vacationing and where we live. My thoughts are with those who've lost family and friends at this time and I hope that everyone you know and care about is safe.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Holiday in the Heat

Another one of my good luck pieces. This faience piece has palm trees and is about 7" across.

We're leaving at 2am for our flight down to Abu Simbel. I think I've mentioned before that I am not a happy traveller. I hate the travel part. I'm getting keyed up and tense and we're not leaving for another 9 hrs or so. I'm not even going to try and get any sleep tonight - if I'm lucky I'll snooze on the plane - Dramamine is good at knocking me out.

I know I should be writing something fun, but it's just not in me at the moment. Did I not say "already tense?" Yes, fun travel companion. So Abu Simbel on Thursday, spending the day in Aswan on Friday and getting to Luxor that night. We'll be spending a few nights there, thank goodness. Morning flight back on Tuesday. I think. Something like that. So I will be out of touch for a bit.

Gotta go work on that packing thing now. 99 degrees in Luxor right now. Fun. What do I have that's modest, yet cool. hmmmm. Ya'all take care.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Space 4 Rent quilting

I realized that I never showed you where I got the name Space 4 Rent from. It's from the alien fabric. If you look at the little house on the left, you'll see that the base of the house is made from a single fabric which shows a planet with a sign sticking out of it which says Space 4 Rent. That was the start of this quilt.

You can see (hopefully) that I've quilted "home sweet home" above these two houses. There's a purple block on the quilt where I've put "there's no place like home" and "take me to your realtor" goes all the way down the right hand side.

In the extremely busy bits of the quilt, such as the alien and eyeball fabric chunks, I did a not-too-straight cross-hatch, and I did that behind the letters of Space 4 Rent as well.

I think I've convinced Quilting with Ragdolls Judy to try hand quilting without a hoop. I'm hoping this will better explain how I hold the quilt with my left hand (I'm a right handed quilter - so it would be completely reversed for any leftie).

This is just a gift bag that I'm doing a utility quilting stitch on, but the process will be the same no matter what the size is. And do realize this looks a bit odd because I took the pics myself - normally my right hand would be there holding the needle...

I grasp a fold of the quilt between my thumb and palm.

And this is what it looks like with the fabric flopping back over my hand.

And this is what it looks like from underneath. Fingers spread, middle finger ready to be stabbed by the needle. Well, stabbed is maybe too harsh a word. Middle finger ready to guide the needle. Sounds less painful.

The gloves have helped me a whole lot - I don't get the numbness and tingling nearly as much as I used to. Highly recommended.

I've gotten two gift bags practically finished (they just need velcro fasteners) and have started quilting on the third. Been watching Kolchak (can I say again how much I love that show?) and Moonlighting while working. Yesterday I popped in "Only You" with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. It's a nice romantic comedy with some good bits - definitely some beautiful Italian scenery - tho its not as excellent as "Moonstruck" which was also directed by Norman Jewison.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Space 4 Rent

Here it is at last: Space 4 Rent

It finished up to 31" by 35.5" It looks so small to me - can barely see any of the details.

I asked my husband how he liked it. He says "It's not egregious." He doesn't like the wild busy stuff. He admitted he doesn't care for "Terms of Endearment" at all - that one IS egregious. Ah well - there's a reason I don't ask for his opinion as I'm making them.

I'm pretty boring these days. Happy, working on gift bags and chores, but boring. Sweetie and I watched a Season 3 Columbo last night. It was one I didn't remember at all - a rarity as well as a treat.

Speaking of letters on quilts (which I wasn't, but the quilt above does have them...), check out J's Quilting Blog. Joyce has made a really fun "Java Jitters" quilt (you should be able to relate, Darcie). She's currently playing around with an improvisational quilt with letters and stars - go give her some encouragement.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Alabaster Sphinx

Sweetie and I did some more exploring on Friday. Kind of embarrassing that there is this wealth of riches just 45 minutes from us that we've never explored.

Our first stop was Memphis, which was one of the capitols way back when. Unfortunately there's nothing left of the city, but there is some fabulous statuary. This is my favorite: the Alabaster Sphinx.

That's little me to give you some perspective. This sphinx was carved out of one huge piece of alabaster. They don't know who it's supposed to represent, there are no cartouches or markings. Our guide said she likes to think it's Queen Hatshepsut, since the face is a tad feminine. All the pharoahs were clean shaven and wore false beards, so this can as easily be a woman as a man. Doesn't this sphinx have a Mona Lisa smile? I think she's gorgeous.

We also visited Saqqara, which has some rubbish heaps of pyramids that were built with relatively tiny stones that haven't withstood the test of time. Plus this, the Step Pyramid, which was the architect Imhotep's first attempt to get a pyramid shape.

Yes, Imhotep. We've been hearing that name a lot since he contributed a great deal to this area. It also happens to be the name of the mummy in "The Mummy" which we actually watched last week. Kinda had to. Love that movie, the new one with Brendan Frasier. It's got romance and humor and thrills and chills. The heroine is a plucky librarian. The end isn't over-the-top stupid or violent. A perfect movie in my book.

Here's the photo I wanted to post of the inside of the bead store from my trip on Thursday.

Surprisingly enough, I haven't bought any turquoise here. I don't actually like real turqoise - it's a bit too green for me. I just realise this now because I've been having an ongoing "battle" with friend Rachael about the color turquoise which she claims not to like. You know what, Rach, you were right. The photos you sent me really had true turquoise colors in them (too green). I don't like that real color. I like the fake turquoise that's much bluer...

Finn asked about scarabs. Here are a few from my collection. The four smaller ones are beads, the larger ones are for display.

Scarabs, the real ones, are dung beetles. Yes, they play in poo. They push and roll it into a ball, and put their eggs in there to hatch, bringing forth life. To the ancient Egyptians, the rising sun was known as Khepri and he appeared as a giant scarab rolling before him the orb of the sun. So scarabs represented the renewal of life. Scarab amulets were placed over the heart on mummies in order to help stimulate the wearer's rebirth into eternal life.

So scarabs are commonly found in Egypt and given as gifts. Not the real scarabs - the faience, stone, or alabaster varieties. I've gotten a few. A woman I met, an American who had recently married an Egyptian, said that everyone who came to visit them brought a scarab.


I recently received a wonderful e-mail from a quilter who's been playing around improvisationally. She asked the following questions, which I'm going to attempt to answer. Anyone who can help me with answers, esp differing opinions, please leave a comment.

My biggest question for you is how do you plan the colors/fabric choices for a quilt like your Blue and White houses? And how do you know how much fabric you need? I have started on a lap-sized housing project made from leftovers, supplemented with a few fat quarters here and there, but I’m worried it will look too scrappy, that I’ll over buy, or that I’ll run out of a fabric that I want to use again. I guess these are the risks you take when doing a liberated project. I’d love to see you share your opinions on planning fabric choices for a liberated project (yardage, as well as number of different fabrics) in your directions or on your blog.

Okay, here goes.

As far as I'm concerned a quilt cannot be "too scrappy." The more fabrics you have the better they play together. One of my absolute favorite books is Scrap Quilts by Roberta Horton which looks like it's out of print. (Why does this happen to my favorite books? At least you can get it used for very reasonable prices - act now before it's too late.) Roberta addresses questions like how many fabrics do you need in a scrap quilt (no upper limit and she shows an example of an 11-print quilt that she considers scrappy).

I don't plan what fabrics I'm going to use, necessarily. I'll decide on a color scheme, or perhaps a focus fabric and gather together all the fabrics I have in those colors. (Again Scrap Quilts is a wonderful book to help with this step.) I start with all of them and then toss some aside because they don't work well with the other fabrics I have in the pile. And sometimes I'll have many fabrics that look similar (like all those tonal, hand-dyed-ish fabrics I have) and I won't need to use each of them.

As I work, depending on what colors or fabrics the quilt seems to need I'll add fabrics back in or buy some new ones. I also frequently will end up with many that never get used at all. There's no exact science to it.

Picking fabrics for a quilt like Blue and White Houses is easier than a quilt with many different colors. You know you need just two colors: Blue and white. Have to admit I have a problem with lights, so I had to force myself to use the lighter tones of blue - the quilt really needed them and they do look good in there. What I didn't use was fabrics where the blue seemed to have too much green in it. It had to be true blue.

One fabulous fabric-type to look for if you're making a monochromatic quilt is the kind that uses one color, starting out at its lightest tone at one selvage and getting progressively darker until the other selvage. I noticed an ad for Moda Ombres which would work well. (I found the Moda Ombres at this shop, which I've never used and is in no way an endorsement. But they do have quite the collection of them.) Other manufacturers have done some that run even darker to even lighter than these Modas appear to.

I never know how much fabric I need. It's always a surprise. If I like a fabric, I'll buy a quarter yard or a 1/3 yard, which is actually a great size. Really like it will bump me up to a half yard. Love it = 1 yard. Love love love love it and I know it's something I can use in many different quilts (such as my gorgeous hand-dyed Bali Fabrications batiks) then I may buy 2 or 3 yards. I don't necessarily buy fabrics ahead of time for borders, tho it has happened.

Having said that, I'm more discriminating in what I buy now cuz I have such a large stash. So my threshold of liking a fabric has changed from where it was several years ago. I rarely buy novelty or busy fabrics any more. My tastes have changed.

I have a huge tendency to overbuy. I still buy fabric for quilts that I've already finished. It's a curse (tho I'm improving). I can't help you out with that particular question. It's not a problem so long as you love the fabrics and those colors and can use them in other quilts - that's how you get a stash. Overbuying fabrics for a quilt in colors you'll never use again.... Trade, sell, or donate extra is my recommendation there.

Unfortunately it's entirely possible to run out of a fabric. I bought the orangey-yellow fabric that surrounds the Pumpkin Pie letters during my trip to Florida. At the time I thought it was rather obnoxious, but interesting, so I only got a 1/4 yard. Got it home, washed it and discovered that I love how it feels. More importantly, I love how it worked with the other colors. It's almost all gone now. I have a few short strips and squares and that's it. That's what happens. There's no way around it unless you have unlimited funding and storage space.

So in the end, I guess what it comes down to is: buy fabric you love. Don't worry about running out - just accept that it's gonna happen. You can always buy more fabric (just maybe not the same one). Too many fabrics in one quilt is not a problem...

Does that help?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bead Shopping in the Khan

I went on a bead shopping excursion into the Khan al Khalili today. We were only there for 3 hours, but I am exhausted. What a sissy girl I am. It was about 90 degrees out today, but the sun is blocked out in so many areas of the Khan by roofing or buildings that it just didn't feel that hot. Plus there weren't many tourists, so it wasn't packed.

I didn't think it was crowded anyway. I've seen much worse. A couple of the women in our group are just visiting here and they thought differently. Nope, this is definitely off-season. Or almost off. It was interesting to see their reactions - not knowing which way to look, so much going on and so many people shouting or talking to you. And you really have to watch where you are going because the streets are narrow and basically rubble so tripping is always a possibility.

Blogger will absolutely not allow me to post one of my pics, but I still have a pretty good selection for you. This is a huge bowl of beads, bought by the gram. I sifted through here for awhile and found a few cool scarabs.

Turquoise, both natural and dyed, is readily available. Have to admit I have no idea what the red beads are.

This is a glass shop next door. Of particular note are the hanging "grape" lanterns in the middle of the pic. Remember the red and green "christmas tree" lampshades that I got? This is one of the ways these can be used. I also like the giant egg-shaped lights made with mosaic'ed glass tiles - they look like something to put beside your lava lamp.

A table full of very typical souvenirs. Those are scarabs on the bottom shelf.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cat House

Whee, I'm making progress today. I've got the binding 3/4 of the way done on Space 4 Rent. And just in case you've missed seeing the houses, here's yet one more:

This is from part of the quilt where the house blocks are most definitely not square. Square can be just so square... And this is the Cat House because of the cats on the roof - it's not a bordello. This isn't the old West.

Rather than piece on a quilt, I've decided to make several gift bags for my sweetie's upcoming birthday. He's going to be getting an eclectic mix of Wallace and Gromit, Ayn Rand, and Sherlock Holmes.

I watched "The Wedding Crashers" this morning. I started out enjoying it, but got really frustrated by the passive female lead and all the rest of the absolute idiots. At least it made me laugh. That's more than can be said for that stupid "Invasion Earth" which I did finish watching despite growing more and more annoyed and bored. If you're going to be cheesy sci-fi you'd better be funny. This one took itself way too seriously. Bleck. I can't believe a friend of a friend actually purchased the DVD voluntarily.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Two Finishes

A quilt shop I used to go to had a theory that each quilt had three finishes: 1) finished top 2) finished quilting 3) finished quilt. Going by that theory I've done two finishes. Last night I finished the quilting on Space 4 Rent and today I sewed and sewed and finished the top for Terms of Endearment.

There are a couple of spots that stand out a bit much, but they'll be toned down by the quilting - undoubtedly gonna be fans. I'm thrilled that the border looks as good as it does. I managed to cut one of the border strips a 1/2" too short and another one was wonky as well. But I made it thru by the skin of my teeth. Now I just wish I had several more yards of this fabric to make something else with.

I had a little "help" today:

It's almost 6pm and I haven't made dinner yet. Gotta go and be good. Later.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Giza II

Giza II - The Revenge of My Non-Existent Muscles. I can't believe how much I ache...

Here's one more shot for ya'all. This shows all three pyramids at the plateau, as well as the Sphinx, which is actually kind of small, and lots and lots of tourists. Sorry, Sharon, I have no idea what the scaffolding is for, but I suspect some kind of conservation work.
I was going to add all of this upcoming babble to my previous post, but it was easier to just do two posts and throw in the pic. I'm feeling chatty today.

I can't believe how much the muscles in the front of my thighs still hurt, and my calves, after that horrendous cramped climb up the pyramid. I want to squeal with pain every time I stand up.

Lily, tell your Dad he didn't miss a thing by not making it to the burial chamber. It was kind of an adventure and a fun story to tell, and yes it gave me that much better of an understanding about how the pyramid was built, but I wouldn't do it over again.

Dawn, definitely wouldn't be the thing for you. I have a touch of claustrophobia myself.

Luckily there's electric lighting now (and the guide gave me a flashlight just in case it went out) but can you just imagine what it would have been like in torchlight 4,500 some years ago? At least now you know that the pyramid is incredibly well constructed and has survived several earthquakes and isn't likely to come down on your head, but they wouldn't have known that then... No, not good.

I am happy to report that my knee didn't act up at all. I was expecting all sorts of swelling, but there's been nothing. Woohoo.

Almost There

I love the process of how quilts are made. All the little decisions made along the way, some good some not, but all having an effect.That whole process thing. I'm not just interested in my own, but in other quilters' as well. So this isn't just me trying to bore you, but to give you a feel for making the quilt in case you're interested in the process as well. If it bores you silly, feel free to skip towards the end.

I just started sewing the piano keys together, no definitive size, no idea of their placement. Then when I had workable pieces, I moved them around here and there. The essence of liberated, improvisational piecing: just sew it on and whack off any extra. (When you're working with pieces with lots of seams, it's best to just unpick the seam if you would have a quarter inch or less left on a piece.)

I sewed on those piano keys and then straightened up the bottom of the block. I decided to add a strip to the Pooh unit, since it was 3/4" shorter than the Peetie unit, which I liked just the way it was. I cut a light purple strip 1/4" bigger than I thought I would need - I've discovered it's easier to trim than just get it that much too small. This is after I've sewn the two units together and before I've straightened across the top:

In the next pic I've sewn those two units together, as well as the two right above them. The Abominables row is all together. Those two pinky purple rectangles of fabric at the end came off my Fruit Punch quilt borders. They're oversized right now, cuz I'm not sure if I want to center the word on the line or shift it to one side.

Up in the top left I've added some yellow to the left and top of Booboo, as well as piano keys on the bottom and side. I don't want the word unit to go smack into the inner border, so that was what I chose to move it in some. You'll notice some larger bits of fabric that I'm auditioning here and there. I had had a strong dark pink in the lower right corner, but itwas too overwhelming.

Oh, and one other thing to note. At this stage I still wasn't sure about the border. There was a strong possibility of a piano key border, so I didn't want big chunks of keys on the outer edge of this.

Okay, that Spot spot was too strong. I cut down the piano keys and ended up moving a section of them down to Pumpkin Pie. There are a few changes in fabric chunks here and there. I've decided a stronger orange is required in the bottom left. Oh, and here's that infamous border fabric from Fruit Punch yet again. It didn't work there, but I'm feeling pretty confident about it this time.

You know, I just realized I haven't actually thought about if there's enough of it or not. This center bit is bigger than FP was. D'oh. But I'm planning on making it much narrower. Think it'll work. I'm sure Dawn will be happy that I'm using this gorgeous fabric at last.

And this is how it looks as of right now, after an hour of sewing this morning. That yellow and orange spotty fabric in the top was too overwhelming. And I love that fabric that was on the right of Spot, but it's obnoxious as well.

It's the area around Spot that is still problematic for me. I like that bit of red I'm auditioning right above it, but not sure about the orange to the left. I'm thinking I need more of that good strong red there or maybe purple, so that it will be darker than the pink around Sweet Pea. And the bottom row is still a bit short.

This is one of my favorite methods to look at a quilt in progress. The black and white effect in Picasa. I've already sewn it on, but that bit of piano key to the left of Stinker isn't thrilling me. At this point it would be easy enough to replace. Something more to think about.

Kind of embarassing to admit, but I probably spent more than two hours just staring at this quilt while listening to the tv and occasionally petting a cat. At times like that, when I can't quite figure out what to do next, I can see the advantage of working with patterns.

Hey, I've found "Charmed" again. Don't know how long it will last, but I'm enjoying it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Yesterday my sweetie and I took a guided tour of the pyramids at the Giza plateau. It still amazes me that one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world is located only 30 minutes away by car, depending on traffic. It's also interesting to compare my hubby's photos with mine. I seem to have people, he goes out of his way to have none. Anywhere here are just a few photos.

The Great Pyramid of Cheops was the tallest man-made structure until the Eiffel Tower was built. This thing is huge. I was in a better mood this trip so it didn't just strike me as a big pile of rocks... Our guide convinced us that it was worth going inside the pyramid to the burial chamber. This is what I could see looking out from the robber's entrance to the pyramid. There's Cairo right there. And loads of tour buses.

It was an interesting trip into the pyramid. I didn't panic and run screaming, tho it wasn't exactly pleasant. You have to climb a 45 degree ramp bent over double. That went on quite a ways. It's a narrow little thing and it's the only way in OR out, so you had to manage to get by people as well. The burial chamber itself was fairly small, considering how much stuff I'd expect the pharoah to cram in there to take to his afterlife. And it was damp. Didn't hang around in there for long, let me tell ya. My muscles just ache today.

This is a photo of the back of the Great Pyramid where there are hardly any people at all. Most of the hordes are in the front I guess. Closest to the parking lot.

I love the Sphinx. His proper Egyptian name is Abu Hol, Father of Terror.

And this is what it looked like when I stepped back (and down) a few feet:

Yeah, lots of people. Not just tourists either, but some of the locals were doing tours.

The horrible obnoxious sellers of postcards, bookmarks, water, etc weren't nearly as bad this trip as the last time we went. Is that because I have acclimated to Egypt or that we had a tour guide and didn't look like such easy prey? Still makes me angry to see little kids selling stuff, tho this was at least a Saturday and there wouldn't be any school. Then again, I bet they're there every day of the week.

So it was a good tour, glad we went. Made me feel happy to be living in Egypt, which is a good thing as well. It was only a half day tour, it wasn't too hot, and we had a nice breeze, which means I wasn't completely wiped out when we were done. Plus I'm now smart enough to bring an umbrella with me to provide shade - that made a difference too.

After napping a bit I managed to sew for awhile. This post is already too long for that, but you'll see my progress shortly.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sewing bits together

I'm making progress on the Endearments quilt. I was thinking of making a couple more words, but I have a certain size I want this to come out to (so it will fit on my favorite hangar) which is always dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that I sometimes make compromises with the quilt when I'm doing that. It doesn't come out the very best it could be. I'm liking it tho, so no worries, I don't think.

I decided to toss the Xs and Os I'd made as well as the house block. I think the piano keys I've made are livening things up and helping to get purples into areas they might not otherwise make it into.

So that's where that quilt stands as of this morning. I just need to finish the quilting in two blocks in Spaces 4 Rent and then I'll be ready for the binding and sleeve - my most hated part.

I've decided I'm not a Leaders and Enders kind of sewer. Even having all the little squares cut out so all I had to do was grab them and sew them together just threw me off. I can't divide my attention that way between two different quilts. I'm just going to toss my little squares into the bag to donate to charity. Here's Lily with her head under the table, sprawled out on the chair that has to-be-donated scraps piled on it.

Sweetie and I have watched a couple of the "Rebus" BBC movies with John Hannah as the Scottish police detective. They're grubbier than I expected them to be and I'm discovering that I just don't like Rebus. He's a jerk. At least in Ian Rankin's books you get more of Rebus' internal monologue so you have a better understanding of why he does things. I'm rather incensed that the DVDs don't have subtitles - those brogues are hard to follow. It is wonderful to see panoramic shots of Edinburgh tho. And all that gloomy rain - eeuw.

I just finished reading "While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within" by Bruce Bawer. Aiyee. Horrifying and upsetting. If this were a ranting blog I could go on for pages. But it's not. I think my next book better be fiction. Happy fiction.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Comet House

I had to go to some briefings yesterday about our upcoming move. Snooooze. It was one of those things where there are way too many people whose situations are all completely different and so the briefings are so vague as to be almost useless. But now there are faces to attach to the names of people that we'll be dealing with and I have a load of material to read. All written in beaurocratese zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I was rewarded with lunch at Taboula, the bestest Lebanese food around. Tried a new dish, the Shmander Salad, a beet salad with some greens. Good, but not nearly as excellent as my reigning number one dish fattoush: lettuce, cukes, tomato, pita bread "croutons" and a tangy lemon dressing. In addition, my luncheon companion told me to stop worrying about the price I paid for the Palestinian pottery the other day. She's done way more travelling than I have and lived in Jordan for a couple of years - she says I did okay. Whew.

I did a bit more sewing yesterday, in fact I was almost late getting out of here. But I have to admit I've spent a lot of time online. I discovered the blog Be*mused. Oh, I'd dropped in before to read individual posts about Gee's Bend quilts and her visit to the Tokyo Quilt Festival, but it was when she posted about her favorite quilt book, Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston (holy cow, sellers are offering the paperback used for sixty bucks? aiyeeee), that I really took notice and delved in. I've now read all of her posts (I think) way back to the beginning and had an absolute blast. Try it, you'll enjoy it, just ignore all that darn knitting :)

Okay, I've got to get off the computer now and actually do something today. I've got quilting bee in the afternoon and tho it's enjoyable and I'll get more work done on Space 4 Rent (see block above) which I'm nearing the end of, it won't be sewing on the machine which is what I feel needs to be done and which I've been neglecting.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Fringe Necklace

I'm really excited. I signed up for a jewelry making class today. The classes are only a couple of hours long, once a week in May. I've been wanting to take this class for a very long time, but all the spaces have always filled up before I've gotten in. As part of the class the instructor is going to take us down to the Khan (the souq, aka market) to her favorite bead shops. I'm hoping to find some Beduoin silver beads that I like.

I'm not really into semi-precious stones, so don't know that I'll find much else that I'll like, tho I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately we can't get good glass beads here or any of the gorgeous lampworked or dichroic glass beads. I do still have a bit of a stash of them, luckily.

This is a fringe necklace I made last year when visiting my friend Siobhan in the states. Well, I started it there but finished here on my own and I'm not sure that I got everything fastened properly, so I'm always terrified something is going to give way and scatter all these beads.

I love this necklace, but unsurpisingly my hubby doesn't. I'm banned from wearing it in public while I'm with him cuz he thinks it's so loud and obnoxious. We had quite the discussion about that one, but I did win the "right" to wear it over to friends' houses since that's not public public. I'm sure he's actually forgotten that discussion and I'm not even sure he'd even notice I was wearing it.

One of my favorite beads on here is a sculpey alien that a friend gave me. Unfortunately I put it too high up. I'm actually considering reworking this baby since I have even more beads now that would work in it and I think I could make some improvements. We'll see.

What I really need is the perfect shirt to wear it with. It looks lovely against my royal blue rayon shirt, but unfortunately it has a collar. I need a silk shell. Mmmm.

I've once again spent way too much time goofing off this morning. Does anyone here do the Bloglines thing? And how is it working out? Have to admit I've gotten tired of going to blogs and seeing that they haven't been updated.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

New Pottery and a Head

I went a bit nuts today with the shopping. Spent too much money. I'm normally very cheap (I may be cheap but I'm not inexpensive - ha ha ha) and don't splurge but today I decided to go ahead and buy some blue and white Palestinian pottery that I've wanted.

If I'd actually bothered to translate the prices into dollars, there's no way I would have bought the tray (ouch). I think it was the acquisitive part of my brain that refused to do the math so that I could go ahead and just buy it. Now that I have it, I'll enjoy it. To look at anyway. We entertain so infrequently that I can't justify buying anything using that excuse.

The phrenology head on the left is from London, England. I've now brought back two large ones and a smaller one in my carry-on luggage. No, that's how many I have; I brought back another one as well for a friend who collects hats. Don't ask me why, I just love these heads. Phrenology is the "science" of reading bumps on the head. Kind of like palm reading only different.

We had a wicked amount of rain yesterday and the night before last. Just amazing. Now there are enormous mud puddles everywhere and the trees and bushes all look incredibly bright and green. Usually all the foliage is covered in dust/sand and looks dirty.

I don't know if it's the rain causing problems with the plumbing, but our water pressure is low. Had to wait ages before I could take a shower this morning and we were out of hot water last time I checked. Ah, apartment living. It's just too hard for the water to make it all the way up here to the fifth floor.

I'm goofing off instead of sewing. I did do some of that earlier and my excuse now is that I have to ponder my next move. Yeah, that's it.