Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I have not

dropped of the face of the earth. I am still here, but I am a bit overwhelmed with various things going on, and the result is no quilting and no blogging. I am reading people's posts, but commenting seems a bit beyond me right now.

I did manage to finish my Gamelan top (wall hangings are so fast!), but I am going to change the proportions a bit to fit the space I will use it in. I hope to have pictures in the next several days, but in absence of those, I thought I would share this:
If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
John Kenneth Galbraith
US (Canadian-born) administrator & economist (1908 - 2006)
It gave me a laugh.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WIP Gamelan Quilt

I decided to go with the black background fabric for my Gamelan quilt because that was how it was in my head, and I had enough black left to make a few blocks without ordering anything. Here are my blocks so far:

I have pictures of the individual blocks following the above picture in my Webshots Quilt WIP album if you want to see in more detail These blocks are so much fun to make and really quite easy. I love that each block turns out so different from the others with just one fabric. The pattern in The Modern Quilt Workshop calls for only 3 blocks for a wall hanging, but i think I am going to make at least one more and make mine longer. They are just too much fun to pass up.

Other good news is that we have decided to get a sewing table made for me. That will mean my family can have the dining room table back when they want it, and I will get a set-in machine for easier quilting. DH was worried the table would be beyond the ability of carpenters here (wish I had a confused smiley here) and he was coming up with all kinds of strange solutions, but someone at About helped me find the links to pictures of how other husbands had made tables, and now he is convinced it can be done. Hurray!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Seven things

Debra tagged me for the 7 things meme, and I am really enjoying learning more about all of you, so I will play along. Let me see...

1. You all already know that I travel quite a bit, so that is not new. But you may not realize that when I am not traveling all I want to do is STAY AT HOME! I don't want to do anything, go anywhere. I want nothing more than some quiet time to sew.

2. I love all things computer and gadgety. Though in truth I probably know just enough to be dangerous, I love to play with new gadgets and am usually fairly capable of sorting out computer problems.

3. I love to read, though because of living in an apartment and the high cost of books here, I now "read' mainly ebooks and audiobooks. I am a big mystery and sci fi/fantasy fan. I almost never read anything educational! Well, I guess that depends on what you consider educational. Among my latest reads was Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. It was fascinating, funny, and yes, I think educational. Aww, now no one will want to be friends with me!

4. I love to learn languages. Each language gives a new insight into a way to view the universe, bringing some things into focus that weren't obvious or important in another language. I speak English, Japanese and Chinese at native or near native level, and I understand a bit of Cantonese, French, and Spanish. My French used to be fairly good, but it has been drowned out by Chinese and Japanese.

5. Okay, you may have already figured this out from my posts, but I am not very domestic. When I was about 12 I set the oven on fire by trying to cook frozen pizza without taking off the cardboard underneath (luckily nothing else was damaged), and though I can now cook and quilt, I don't sew anything else (except for pillow cases!). No one who has known me from childhood can believe I quilt.

6. I basically don't wear skirts. I am a pants person. Though there are one or two long skirt styles I like, I have entirely given up the short, straight "business suit skirt" that is so popular for working women. When I got dressed up once for a special event and actually wore a dress, my son, then about 5 looked at me and said, "Mom, you look like a girl!"

7. Should I reveal this? When not sewing, I like to play computer games, especially role playing games like Final Fantasy. I use my son as an excuse but truth be told, even without him, if I weren't so busy I would probably play a lot more than is good for me!

Oops, forgot that I am also supposed to tag 7 people. There are lots of you I would love to get to know more, but for a start Joyce, Dorothy, Quilting Fitzy, Beth , Flippytale, Weronica, and Diana.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

WIP - Log Cabin

Although I feel like I have been posting right and left, I will post again today for WIP Wednesday. As I said in an earlier post, I finished my Log Cabin top, and now I am waiting to buy backing (though I could still piece the backing). Here is the design chosen by my family. The pictures aren't very good because it was a bit too big to photograph well where I had it. Ah well. By the way, that grey spot is apparently dog hair. It isn't there now. I checked.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Beginnings

Although my blog focuses on my quilting, I wanted to share a recent work-related development that will also give you a taste of Macau life. I work for a non-profit, non-governmental organization (The Badi Foundation) that promotes human resource development for social and economic development in China. One of our projects is a formal school called the School of the Nations in Macau. Yesterday we had the ground breaking ceremony for the new school facilities, which will also house my office. This is a very long awaited development, achieved through a government grant of land and other much valued support from various government departments, as well as ceaseless work by the Director of the School and other staff.

We had a formal ground breaking ceremony in the Macau style. After some songs from students and speeches, there was the actual ground breaking. Luckily they caught me (I am on the far right) before the hat slipped over my eyes.

Then there is the ceremonial cutting of the suckling pig, with incense surrounding

Finally, there are firecrackers set off to scare bad spirits from the construction site and as celebration. I don't have pictures of that, but they were the long red trails of firecrackers, and they were hung from a construction crane. For those who are interested, the picture below shows what the new school will look like (I am in the picture at the bottom of the article helping to cut the roast pig).

Monday, May 7, 2007

I may have found my inner domestic goddess

Well, probably not, but I did discover pillowcases. After a search of the department stores found no acceptable pillowcases, I made my first pillowcase to go with my new spring-themed bedroom decor. Could it be? Yes, it was really quite simple. Granted, my pillowcase was so stuffed it looked like it might explode, but I could do it! I had made an item of home decor! Perhaps there was a domestic goddess lurking somewhere inside me.

Bursting with confidence and newfound domesticity, I began my second one. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to topstitch the hem of the opening on the back of the pillow, and then when stitching the pillowcase together, I discovered that I had not put the tension on my machine back to normal (I had loosened the top tension to try to zigzag stitch around the edge of the hem -- another story in itself!). Ugh. The resulting stitches were not going to hold that pillowcase together. No problem, I simply fixed the tension and stitched again on top of my first line of stitching. No one would be able to see it, right? Having done that, I realized that while my poorly stitched seam would have been easy to remove, I had now made it near impossible. No matter. I also somehow managed twist and turn the now completed pillowcase so that I could stitch down the fold that should have been a hem at the back of the pillow. Almost topstitch it anyway. The gaps wouldn't be too noticeable. I happily put my pillow into the finished product and it was about 3 inches too big! What did I do with the measurements? In the end, the large size was a good thing, because it allowed me to turn the pillowcase inside out again and simply cut off all the bad seams and start again without having to remake the top. Though the proportions of my original pillow design were lost, in the end, it turned into a pillowcase once more.

On the third pillow I was back to very carefully following the directions, and it turned out fairly well. By that time, though, I had run out of backing fabric for the pillow, so it does look a bit odd on the back...Despite all this, my husband has actually encouraged me to make more pillowcases, and to make them for the large bed pillows.

My updated spring decor is now:
The white cover on the headboard is temporary. It may someday be covered by a wholecloth quilt in either white or blue, and I may add some applique to my first pillow. Someday I may even make a set of pillows based on the ring of the single wedding ring in my Flurry of Feathers quilt. For now, my domestic goddess is tired and has gone into hiding.

First pillow. Imagine it with some flowers appliqued there like in my Butterfly Trails quilt

My second pillow

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Look what I got!

Debra and I traded fabric at the Trader's Village -- I had some silks that I would probably never use, and in return I got these beautiful batiks. They are beautiful! Now I have to come up with a quilt to use them in.

On other fronts, I think I am leaning toward using the black background fabric in the Gamelan quilt. Although I think the other fabrics would work, the quilt in my head has a black background. I will probably go with Kona Black or similar solid black because of price, but I am tempted by black and black tonals. And, when I am ordering the black fabric, I can also order some variegated thread, some dissolving thread, and maybe even a wide quilt backing for my Log Cabin. I have never used a wide backing before, and it sounds nice! Although I could wait until I am in the US to get the basic black and white fabrics I need, it seems rather a waste to fill up my suitcase with plain fabrics when I could be filling it with so many other quilty things.

Friday, May 4, 2007

It's spring, maybe even summer

It is really warm here now, so in honor of Spring, or Summer, I took the brown store-bought quilt off the bed in our room and replaced it with A Flurry of Feathers, which turned out to be a rather large quilt. It doesn't cover the pillows on the king-size bed, and I had thought of making a pillow topper, but I think it is okay without one. I rather like the way it looks except for a few details...First, the pillows/headstand/headboard (what is that thing called?) behind the bed look really grungy next to that nice white quilt, and second, those small pillows need to be changed to a lighter color! Then there is the mess on my husband's side of the bed...although mine isn't too much better!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Somehow Wednesday went right by, and Thursday had almost passed before I realized I had missed WIP Wednesday. I was so tired from my trip that I was in no state to cut or sew anything until today, but I promised today to my son, so not much has gotten done sewing wise. I have added the first borders to my log cabin, but no photos yet. Instead, I would like some advice for my next quilt.

I have been wanting to do a quilt based on the Gamelan pattern in The Modern Quilt Workshop, and I found a great fabric to use for the circles. My original idea had been to do the background in black so that it would be an elegant fall-like quilt. However, I have somehow managed to go through the 10 yards of Kona Black I bought in December (and almost all the Kona Snow as well!). I could order more and wait for it to arrive, but that seems rather silly as I will be in the US in about 2 months. I do probably need to buy some to have on hand, though.

I also have these two fabrics in my stash that I could use. I am a bit worried the end result would look too Christmasy, plus the quilting wouldn't show up as well. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

More on Mongolia

I am back in Macau, recovering from a wonderful and productive trip. Leaving Mongolia proved much more difficult than I had expected. First, the Mongolian government declared the day I was leaving a "no car" day to show their concern for the environment. That meant I had walk with my suitcase to an area outside the "no drive zone" to be able to get a car to the airport. That limited the time I could spend in Ulaan Baator in the morning. I was able to join a devotional meeting among the Baha'is in Ulaan Baator, but then had to run to the airport.

I arrived to find that because there were heavy winds, my flight was delayed until 7:30 at night. Apparently, Air China pilots are known for their fear of Mongolian winds, and even when local flights take off, Chinese pilots turn back to Beijing rather than facing the winds on landing. Flights are almost always delayed! So I headed back to join a Baha'i community meeting and the celebration of Ridvan, a holy day commemorating the beginning of the Baha'i Faith. It was great to get to share time with all the friends there and to see how creative and dedicated they are. My flight was successively delayed to 9:30, then 11, then 11:30. In the end we didn't take off until after midnight, and it was 3:30 in the morning by the time I made it to my friend's house in Beijing. I had a morning flight to Macau, so what was going to be half a day with friends in Beijing ended up being spent in Mongolia. I was thrilled to be able to spend more time there, but I am tired today!

I actually spent most of my time in Mongolia meeting with friends, so all I have are two pictures taken of the streets where I was meeting. You can see that most of the building are not very tall, and it has quite an open feeling. There are lots of interesting buildings and statues, but I didn't get pictures of any of them! The buildings are clearly built for the cold weather of the long Mongolian winters. They all have thick double doors at the entry way, and the apartments have two sets of windows separated by about 8 inches. The layer of air between the two sets of windows is good insulation.

Since I am quite pathetic and did not manage to get photos of this incredible country, I have decided to share some from other people that show what Mongolia is like. A ger in the middle of the city
In the outer parts of the city, you will see ger, the traditional Mongolian housing. These sections of the city are usually the poorer parts of the city and you may see lots of small fenced areas, each with a ger. This picture by yuki_tsatraral shows a traditional ger in the middle of the city.

This is quite close to what things looked like outside the city, although with less snow. This trip I didn't actually get to spend time with herders, but this is such a wonderful shot, i wanted to share it.

by brog740: Horseman  <span class=Terelj National Park, Mongolia">

Although when summer comes all will be green, at this point everything is still quite brown. This photo by Pokrandt of Inner Mongolia is what much of the countryside in Mongolia looks like. I don't know the current percentage of roads that are paved, but it is not too high. When you visit the herder families, often you end up driving off road. The driver identifies hills and other natural land marks and suddenly heads off the road and toward the mountains. Then you basically keep asking people you meet where a particular family is, until you find them.

Mongolia is really one of my favorite countries. Because I have always gone for work, I haven't ever been able to really explore it, so now I am thinking that next year I should get my family to go with me for a real family vacation. If any of you have a chance to go, you really should take it. It is well worth the trip!