Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a Hoot!

Well isn't this a nice surprise! I discovered from BillieBee's Blog that there is another quilt show, with a particular emphasis on telling the story behind the quilts.

Those of you who know me know that I am legally blind and therefore those descriptions and stories behind quilts (and any other fabrications!) is what matters most to me!

So I jumped straight on to my blog to write this entry! The show is Blogger's Quilt Festival (Fall 2011) over at Amy's Creative Side so get on over and look at all the lovely quilty things, and if you've got one of your own to show and tell, go write your own story post for the festival!

Hopefully this code will put a button to blog in my post:
Amy's Creative Side

So here it is, my first quilt. It's the only one I have to show, though quilt number 2 is well in progress! I was thrilled when it recently took 3rd place in the Men Quilt Too! show on Pigtales and Quilts blog, and although I've rambled about it on my blog, I haven't really sat down and told its tale succinctly in one place!

So let's start with the quilt. Here it is,

Owls All Around


photo of the quilt with a sneak peek glimpse of the reverse shown in a superimposed circle

another photo of the quilt top, looking from a standing perspective at it laid out on the lounge floor

and finally a photo of the reverse of the quilt, showing the material with many owls alternating with apples. From what I recall the owls are various colors and the apples are kind of a cross-hatch pattern

It measures approximately 72"tall by 45" wide. The top is hand stitched, and then I used my Brother sewing machine to do some basic quilting in the ditch, and then adding the binding. I began this quilt back in Atlanta where I was at the end of some vision rehab training helping teach me how to do daily things and work tasks with my limited sight. I have played the piano for around 30 years, and had recently been realising that I would find it difficult to play that well now I couldn't really see the music or the keys! When the center's quilt club re-started it was perfect timing for me to get back into doing something creative, so I signed up!

It was great to be part of a quilt group, especially one where the other attendees had similar visual difficulties to me. With the help of a couple of sighted supervisors we all managed to make great progress with our projects! They selected a bunch of squares for me, based on my color preferences, and helped me pair the squares up and start sewing them together.

A couple of weeks and in I was exploring Intown Quilters, a nice local quilt store in Decatur, GA, and found a fat quarter with some very cute owls on in colors that complemented my quilt squares. So they became part of the quilt top, and when it came time to do the backing I selected an owl fabric to make the quilt reversible and that's how the quilt eventually came to be called Owls All Around!

Of course I'm jumping the gun a little... shortly after starting the Atlanta club I got a job way up north in Rochester, NY so quilting got put on hold while we packed and moved and settled in to our new apartment!

Jump forward into September and the deadline for Thearica's Men Quilt Too show was looming, and I managed to get all the final touches done and my quilt entered in the competition! It was one amongst almost 30 entries from male quilters, and it was fantastic to meet so many other men doing great quilty things! I can't wait for next year's show!!

So this quilt celebrates a lot of things. It's the result of wanting to find something creative that I could do even with little sight... and as time goes on I'm managing with less and less help... but it's also the result of having lots of help and encouragement from people, friends and family, some of whom I've known a long time and others just a matter of months having met them through their blogs!

And obviously it's my first quilt so has to have a special place! I love its littered mitred bindings, the abundance of owls, but most importantly all the people who helped me get it made, and the fact that it's opened the door to the world of quilting for me!

I've enjoyed getting to show and tell about the quilt at Irondequoit Quilt Club which I've just joined, and talking about it to other quilters at the Elma Quilt Show, and hopefully at the forthcoming Lockport show (Nov 4-6).

You can follow the whole process of my Owls All Around quilt by reading back through the older posts in my blog, Touch And Sew and please, if you follow me, do leave a comment because that makes it much easier for me to find your blog so I can follow you back :)

Happy quilting!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Just because the best tailoring you've ever seen is above your f***king appendix doesn't mean anything!"

So I made it to the hospital in time for my 6:15am check-in. By 8:30 I was ready and waiting to be wheeled back into the OR. 5 minutes later it was sleepy time and then 2 hours later I was awake. I got a $50 discount because when I told them I was a quilter they let me sew myself up, so I used a bit of free motion quilting and hopefully the stitches will hold ... ;)

Unlike the last surgery I had (on my left eye in Atlanta) where my blood pressure esclated into the 200s after the anaesthetic wore off and it took me maybe 5 hours to get through recovery... here I warned everybody who would listen that my BP might do that and so they were able to control it and I was out and home by 2pm! :)

Boy am I sore now! Well I'm not in any great pain, but the area of my stomach feels it whenever I inadvertently stretch it... my throat is sore from the breathing tube, and oddly my shoulder blades ache something chronic! I wish I'd booked tomorrow off work, but I thought this would be a bit quicker and easier procedure... and plus I really need to keep hold of my meager days off because I'm sure I'll have a need for them when I need training for dialysis and goodness knows whatever else!

... I might call in sick though tomorrow if I'm really sore in the morning. We shall see. I've had a handful of sick days in 10 years of working, so it's not something I like doing, but if I'm aching too much I will do!

In other news the loss adjuster adjusterised the Jeep... and despite my fears of what value the insurance company would use, they didn't use the low trade-in value, and they didn't use the middle value price a private seller would charge... they took the mid-point between the private seller and the dealer price, which is a huge relief! That means we've about $5000 to look for a replacement vehicle with, about the same value as what we paid for the Jeep. There seem to be a choice of the same model we had, a slightly smaller model, or possibly some some 2-wheel drive options... most are year 2000 with around 140,000 miles, about the same as the old Jeep... but there's a 2003 with slightly higher mileage, and similar permutation!

We have a week to find something and then the insurance company stop paying for the rental car. If we can find something local our nice mechanic will give it a quick inspection gratis if we can stop by on a test drive... very kind indeed (though I'm sure a vehicle of that age and miles will be headed to him for attention at some points of its time with us haha!)

BTW, the quote is from the film "Withnail & I".

Righty ho, that's it. Thank you all for your kind wishes for the surgery.Send me some ache-relieving vibes if you get a moment :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Snip Snip

Well here's a story of sharp objects! Today I got a nice snazzy haircut after work. I'm a big fan of haircuts at salons... I know most men don't pay $35 and up and visit a salon for their hair cuts... but I had long hair for 14 years back in my uni days, and when i took the plunge and got it severed, I went to a nice posh place, Ken Picton's in Cardiff Bay and I've never looked back!

In Atlanta I frequented Oh La La in Decatur and here in Rochester I've found Michael Avery hair salon, and I've liked them all!

Here's the results of tonight's attack of the scissors...

photo of me with a slightly spikey new haircut

So what happens now? Well I'm going to have a nice long hot bath in case it is my last one for a while... I go for surgery tomorrow so they can instal a catheter which I will use for dialysis in the near future. They tell me "no baths" ... which I'm not quite ready to take litterally yet... me, being me, thinks there might be some work arounds, like using anti-bacterial Fairy Liquid (dish soap) instead of bubble bath, even if it only works if I don't tell them!

... and after that long hot bath, which can't really be too long because it's 9pm and I have to be at the hospital at 6:15 ... so I have to draw a line on my stomach / waist where my belt goes, and then they'll probably put the catheter just above it. It'll take 2 weeks to heal and then I'll be able to start using it whenever I need to start dialysis... I'm tempted to draw a little pair of scissors at the start of the marked belt line, though I'm a little worried they might take it seriously and just amputate my whole torso by mistake!

... I've just supped a cup of tea ... I think there's time for a couple more cups before bed. And I also just polished off a rather tasty lemon meringue pie - well if it all goes wrong... well what if they forget what they're doing and sew up my stomach? I'd want my last food to be something yummy!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Competition Climax

After 3 weeks of a fantastic Men Quilt Too! show, the voting closed yesterday and the results have just been announced! ...

Let me just say a big thank you to everyone who voted for me, and for putting up with me badgering and cajoling people with incessant regularity on here, FB and Twitter ... and special thanks to Amy (Magpie Mimi), Sarah, Narcoleptic in a Cupboard), and Rhonda (Quilter in the Gap) for mentioning the competition and my quilt in your blogs and podcasts, and for getting all your friends to vote for me too! ... another special thanks to the people who helped me get my first quilt started and all the way to finished... the lovely folk at the CVI quilt group in Atlanta where I learned to quilt, all my bloggie friends who often answered my questions, and of course Michelle for unpicking all my errors, keeping my machining in a straight line, and threading probably 100 needles!

It was a great show and I've met a lot of new lovely people through it, which is surely the most important thing! I've tried to follow all my new followers back but sometimes it's difficult for me to track down your blogs... I'll do a post listing those that I'm yet to find and maybe y'all can point me in the right direction!

So yes, I think any of the 20-odd quilts would have been worthy winners... and I'm just thrilled for all the votes I got ...

haha, stop prodding me, I'll tell you now how I did ...

I finished third! and I win a load ofwonderful threads, which will be brilliant as I have at least half a dozen projects, including quilt number 2 and a fairly sizeable charity block either on the go or planned!

Feel free to urge me to return the favor and vote for you if you've got quilts or other sewing projects entered in any competitions!

And finally, another big thank you to Thearica at Pigtales and Quilts for putting on a magnificent show... if you don't follow her blog already you should head over and do so now! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Squish Squash Sandwich

First, a public service announcement:
It's almost the end of the Men Quilt Too! competition on Pigtales and Quilts...Thanks to everyone who has voted. I'm biting my nails wondering if I'm in the top 4, the prize positions! I just hope I get a respectable number of votes and don't finish last ;) If you've voted you can rest assured, I won't be sending the hitmen round to help you remember to cast your last minute vote :)

Voting closes on the 22nd so if you haven't voted yet, just send your email saying "I'm voting for 14. Owls All Around!" to ... and a huge thank you to Thearica for putting on such a great show and exposing us male quilts to the world :)

OK, onwards and upwards... there's rainy clouds in the sky... well, rainy fabrics! The rainy day quilt is progressing well. I did several more squares whilst listening to Quilter in the Gap's latest podcast. If you haven't listened to the previous one which interviewed me, do go check it out, it's number 13, and the new number 14 is full of more Rhonda quirkiness and enjoyable ramblings about quilting and life.

It's sew night again tomorrow, so I'll be hopping on the bus and taking my bag of quilt tricks to do a couple of hours quilting after work. I'm going to concentrate on the charity squares since I haven't made a start on that multi-colorod assortment of fabrics yet! I'll post photos this weekend of the fabrics I'm working with.

In other news... I managed to thread my first needle tonight! Well not my first ever, but first since I became blind. I'm using the neat needles with tiny hooks at the top and which divert the thread into the eye of the needle. I'm very happy about this, it feels like a new kind of freedom!

On to the subject of today's post... bye bye Jeep. It became a squished sandwich between a car which stopped with warning and a big Chevvy truck which totally failed to do the same. So it's a write off :( I wasn't on board, and luckily Michelle and Tazzie dog are both ok... aching from the whiplash, but no serious injuries. Keep your fingers crossed that the insurance decide the value of the Jeep is a respectable amount else we will be struggling to afford anything that will work in the big snow we get up here... I suspect it will be a couple of thousand dollars short of what we really need... life sucks sometimes :(

And final news... I've got my appointment next week to have the catheter put in to my stomach ready for dialysis in the near future. I have the surgery on Thursday, full aneasthetic, but if all goes well I should be discharged by lunchtime... You all know me, I'm not very good with doctors, needles etc, so wish me luck because I'll need it! :)

So that's it, all my current news... now go vote if you still haven't done so! ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hot Stuff! Everyone wants a bit of the male quilters!

If you've been following Men Quilt Too! competition page, you'll no doubt notice the ever-increasing link list of blogs by male quilters. It's tremendous how male quilters are out there quilting and doing some great quilty things!

At a local quilt show in Elma, NY the Carriage Quilt Company stall owner was telling me about a quilt club in Canada that is in fact men-only and has a large membership - maybe 400, though I may be making that number up!

And now I saw a link to this on Ye Olde Twitterphone... there is more info on their web page but it says not to copy it without permission, so I'm just quoting the bare essentials:

"Bengal Tiger," a fabric piece by Rob Appell, owner of The Cotton Ball quilt shop in Morro Bay, is part of the "Men Quilting!" exhibit at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula.
Guys demonstrate their skills with needle and fabric in the "Men Quilting! Quilts Made by Men" exhibit at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula, on display Sunday through Feb. 5.

The 13th annual Heritage Valley Festival of Quilts exhibit will showcase the creations of male quilters from Ventura County, Los Angeles and Morro Bay.

read the full story here

* * * * *

And don't forget to vote (if you haven't already) ... voting is open until October 22 in Men Quilt Too! and there are more men linking up their blogs / websites every day.

Seems like men are hot stuff in the world of quilting at the mo... heh, remind me not to take myself too seriously (like there's any chance of that! happening, I mean, c'mon ;) )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


On Monday I had my second iron injection and I've been so full of energy I've been zipping around, haven't slept a wink, pins and needles jump out of the pin cushions as I pass and stick themselves to my arms.....

erm, or not! I can't explain it but I've been shattered this week! I get home from work and promptly take a nap before dinner! weird... where's the extra energy boost?! maybe we'll give it a week and let it catch up with me.

Don't forget, anybody who hasn't cast their vote in the Men Quilt Too! competition, hop along and send Thearica an email with the name and number of your favorite quilt... that'd be number 14, Owls All Around ... there's a lot of cute little owlies on that quilt and they all need a vote, so tell everyone you know to adopt an owl! ... if you vote I'll even tell you which owl is yours when the competition closes!

... and there have been several more male bloggers linking up on the blog listing too, so go check out their blogs... seriously, there are some really talented guys there and some have been quilting for a long time and have some fresh ideas about quilting :)

In other news I tuned in for the #TALKNT chat on Twitter last night. This is a 2-hour chat about all things quilty and sewingy, and frankly it moves at one heck of a pace! I struggled to keep up - even setting the speed of my screen reader (which is called Jaws, so I'm going to start calling it that because it's so much shorter than "my screen reading software") up a couple of notches to the "motormouth" level, even then I was mostly 5 minutes behind the latest tweet!

I enjoyed the conversation and threw in a couple of comments. However, does anybody else do the TALKNT chat? I visited the blog page about it but couldn't find the "Add" button anywhere to show that I was participating... I think that's how you get entered in the sessions giveaways... the night seems to be often sponsored by the great Fat Quarter Shop :)

... if anybody has any insights as where I'd find the add button so I can appear on the list of chatters, please please please point me in that direction!

I think I'm going to turn some of my attention to the charity quilt block I've said I'd do. Watch out for some pics of the fabrics for that, and also some progress shots of the Rainy Day quilt which is becoming a neat little stack on my desk as I sew squares whilst listening to the likes of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Coco Before Chanel ...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"There are so many colors in a flower, so let's use every one"

I thought this was a very good quilt show by the quilters of Des Moines, Iowa ...

Blind People 'See' Quilts At Exhibit - Des Moines News Story - KCCI Des Moines

when I went to Elma quilt show I ran my fingers lightly over the exhibits to get an idea of the patterns and stitching... I hope nobody minded... well, they didn't say so if they did ;)

So here's a challenge for you... when you're thinking about your quilting, try to make at least one quilt with a tactile difference - that could be in the choice of fabrics, using applique (fabric textures or I've seen some people use little bits of batting to make the applique puff out a little for example), designs using beads or things that would stick to the fabric (sequins), I'm sure the thread could be used in imaginative ways so that it is noticeable to the touch... really, the possibilities are as wild as your imagination!

And if you have a local quilt show, please do encourage your fellow quilters to encourage any blind visitors to touch your quilts and really appreciate all the work that's gone in to them!

... and don't forget to tell your local vision rehab organizations that your quilt show will be blind-friendly! :)

And here's a link to the song from which the title is taken, with a rather cool animation which I can see most of :) on YouTube

And here's a poem about colors and some of the ways they can be seen:


Because everything touches and leaves a little differently every time

Colours are the way you feel,
The tickle of grass under your feet
Is green, emerald when it's warm, darker when it's wet
The skies are blue
Singing with birds and be-anything clouds
Grey are the paths and brown the park benches
On which linger the people you've never met
The conversations you'll one day have
The future you do not know quite yet

Yellow is the warmth that wraps an arm around
Your shoulders, quiet and happy,
Simple, and simultaneously profound
Whispers, in orange
That tomorrow is going to be fine
And never let you down;
Black is the unknown
The enptiness of someone gone
The fears we do not like to own

Pink is a birthday, immediately unwrapped
Giddy with ribbons and party friends
The kind of day that runs until we're super tired, then ends,
Collapsing into purple shades and closing eyes
Your favorite bed
With freshly laundered pillowcases to rest your head.
And lavender, the scent of tiny bags
Exquisitely capturing the garden
Where we walk, hand in hand.

The stories and the dreams, white
The sheet of paper, the field of snow
Wating for footprints to bite
An open canvas to scribble or write;
Curl up, share the flickering fireside
Dancing with gold and ochre and violet
Or the gentle candle light
This heart, red like nothing else
The essence of love and life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

20 Questions

Let me start by saying, I deny everything! haha! Go to Quilter in the Gap's blog and look for Episode 13 of her highly entertaining podcasts! In this episode she's interviewing some blind guy who quilts with the help of his tearaway cat... yep, that'd be me!

So go and look for the link to listen either on iTunes, or to the web player, or if you prefer to download the mp3 there's a link for that on the web player page too.

I enjoyed answering all those questions, and Rhonda's ramblings and insights into quilting are as fun as ever. So definitely set aside an hour this weekend to listen while you're doing your quilting and sewing! For all my new followers this is a great way to find out a little more about me and my quilting! Don't forget to leave a comment and let me (and Rhonda) know you enjoyed it :)

... and while you're online don't forget about the Men Quilt Too! show and competition over on Pigtales and Quilts blog... if you've already voted you'll still find lots of great blogs from male quilters listed in the link-up, several more have come and added their blogs since the start of the competition, so do check back (and leave a comment to say hello!)...

And if you haven't voted, please do so! There are some great prizes for the winning quilts, and if you leave a comment there are great daily prizes for you too - so comment every day until Oct 15 if you like! You can only vote once though, so please don't forget to do that... pretty please with cherries on top!

To vote you can look at all the entries by following the Competition Album link, and then cast your vote by sending an email to ... simply state the number and name of your favorite quilt (hint: mine is 14. Owls All Around)

Tonight I go to the first sew night at Irondequoit quilt club, so I'm looking forward to spending a couple of hours working on my Rainy Day quilt, and maybe the charity block I'm doing too :)

And if you're a new follower, do leave me a comment with the name of your blog so I can follow you back... with many it's hard for me to get from your name to your blog in my list of followers!

And finally, thank goodness it's Friday :) :) :)

Monday, October 3, 2011


It's been a busy day of doctors appointments, mostly involving my arms so I was too tied up to do any quilting! first off it took 2 hours to do the paperwork ready for me to have a catheter put in (minor surgical procedure) for my looming start of dialysis... this involved some not-very-papery things too, namely chest x-ray, EKG, and the obligatory blood test.

After a couple of hours gap, next up was an iron injection, tying up an arm again as they did it like a blood transfusion, taking about an hour again (including the half hour observation period to make sure I wasn't going to react badly to the jab ... not sure what they expected me to do, run around madly quilting?)

But that was that, all went smoothly. i get another iron shot in a week, and should get an appointment for the catheter surgery in a couple of weeks. What a hectic month!

Time for some quilting news! Here are some pics from the Elma quilt show which we went to this last weekend. The theme was very definitely triangles, and this first one was one of my favorites

Blue Dahlia
Blue Dahlia

And here are a couple more:

Jess & Lou's Wedding
Jess & Lou's Wedding

Prairie Flower Patchwork
Prairie Flower Patchwork

My Grandmothers Rose Garden
My Grandmother's Rose Garden

Back to work tomorrow... more rain in the forecast! Looking forward to sew night at Irondequoit Quilt Club on Friday - I need those hours behind a needle, I've got lots to do and today's needles didn't help! ;)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Elma Quilt Show

First of all, thanks to everybody who has already voted in the Men Quilt Too! competition, and a double thank you if you've been telling people about the show... and a triple thank you if you ask your friends to vote for my quilt ;)

Next, a big hello to all the new followers who have found my blog through the competition! I am in the process of trying to follow you all back, but Blogger is far from friendly to my screen reading software and it can be very difficult for me to actually find out what your blogs are! Sometimes it'll let me go to your profile page, but more often than not it won't, so I'm just left with your posting name and no way to get to your blog! .... grrrr to Blogger!! .... I'll get there in the end though!

Yesterday Michelle and I went to a local quilt show in Elma, NY, somewhere on the road to Buffalo. It was really well attended, with lots of quilts being exhibited. The preference certainly seemed to be for triangles - there were many examples of triangular and diamond patterns... very few circles or hexagons!

The day certainly started well - there were door prizes and I picked up a fat quarter size of a velvety / fleece type fabric of a purple color along with a selection of 8-or-so hand colored threads, and everyone was able to take a small Christmas tree ornament, so I picked up a red one with a teapot on!

Then I went shopping! First stall was Carriage Quilt Shoppe, and I had a nice chat with the owner. I picked 5 fat quarters since it was buy 5 and get 1 free... and then on hearing about my quilt and the Men Quilt Too! competition she let me choose another fat quarter for my next project! ... and when I gave her the link to my blog so she could go see my quilt, she said she will print a copy and display it in the shop! how awesome is that?!

I have a vague idea that the fabrics I got might go with the selection of black and white fabrics that Thearice of Pigtales and Quilts sent me when I won a giveaway on her blog! The one on top of the left-hand pile is the extra free one I chose! ... the green batique (if that's how you spell it) might come in handy for the quilt flowers I have in my future projects queue!

photo of my fabrics, the stack from Carriage Quilt Shoppe is on the left, a mix of blues and purples mainly, and a green fabric, one with images of dump trucks on it, and another with dogs are on the right

I had a nice bowl of French onion soup and some cheesy bacon fries on the way home, but when we stopped to pick up a coffee I couldn't resist challenging myself to beat this Mile High Cheesecake too! mmmmmmmmm, I won!

photo of a very large slab of cheesecake, topped with some berries and custard sauce!

I also brought home a tasty rice krispie treat with chunks of minty Orea cookie in it... I'd show you a photo of that too, but nomnomnom it's gone! that was breakfast ;)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Male Quilters - Shout About Your Blog!

I know I don't have any male readers (yet), but if you know any other male quilters, please do tell them it's not too late to link up their blogs on the Men Quilt Too! listings page.

Men Quilt Too! logo

Entries for the competition itself are obviously closed now that voting has started, but the listings page is still open, so send any and all male quilters over and get them to shout about their blog! :)

And thanks again to Thearica for organizing such a fab quilt show! and to all of you for your awesome support and help!