Thursday, February 26, 2009


Barker's work is known to many in the art and quilt worlds. Her beautiful, colorful designs combine the joy of quilting with the simple, everyday beauty of a field, a home, a butterfly, etc.

I've included her website in the sidebar, and I'm including it here as well. Take a look at all of her note cards, originals and prints. She also happens to be a fellow Miami University grad (Linda, Darren and Philip are all graduates) and lives nearby.

Since Linda is re-feathering her empty nest, we're eager to put some of Ms. Barker's work onto our walls.

Kittens on Wedding Ring


Monday, February 23, 2009

Puppy Piecing

We're still working on our paper-pieced puppy. Well, Linda's still working on it. I got tired of waiting. Here's what I did while she puttered around the house instead of sewing.
With some things changing at home, someone has to be willing to get into the small spaces to really measure what we have. I volunteered. I think there's about 30" of space between this shelf and the top shelf. I wasn't allowed to play with the tape measure. Hmmm, think I could talk Linda into putting my cat bed up here?

Meanwhile, in the sewing room, this is what Linda was dealing with.

This is the book we're using. It has really great designs with tons of wonderful teeny tiny pieces. Just take a look at the puppy pattern. Can you count the sections? Each section has a letter of the alphabet and must be done independently. Then the sections will be sewn together. Paper-piecing always takes some getting used to if we haven't done it for awhile. You have to do everything in reverse, like looking into a mirror.

So did you count? The sections are labeled from A through R. And most sections have about three pieces. This is only a 7" block. Can you imagine trying to work with those itty-bitty bias pieces without foundation paper? Yikes!

Consequently, we've managed to complete only one section so far. So here is Section A done. Doesn't look like much yet, does it? The dog's ear is in black, the blue is the sky. Only 17 more sections to go!

I think I'll head back to the closet for a bit.

May all your hairballs taste of tuna.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I don't have any deadlines. I do what I want when I want and everyone around me accepts that. I sleep at least 22 hours a day and still manage to find time to scold the kittens, help with the needlework, rearrange accessories around the home, eat, and lick myself.

My human staff, on the other hand, seems to always be fretting about this appointment or that obligation. I just don't get it.

Linda started freaking out a couple of days ago when she realized that she hadn't even started a block that is needed for a challenge she entered. She's notorious for that. She gets all excited about a new project and then gets involved in silly things like her job outside the home, leaving the new project as a mere daydream. Until someone reminds her of it.

This challenge involves making a block of a four-legged friend. Naturally a cat would be the preferred motif, but she's going to do a dog instead. She found a paper-pieced block last night in one of her books. I put my paw of approval on it. Today I'll help her select the fabrics and tomorrow will be sew day.

I love paper-piecing and we don't do enough of it, in my opinion. I really like to help Linda trace the pattern onto foundation paper. I stand in the middle of the paper, holding it down for her. I don't understand why I so often hear an exasperated, quiet sigh from her as she breathes out the words, "Pi, give me a break." Where's the love?

I also like it when she tears the foundation paper off. It is a lot of fun to play in the curled bits as they fall to the floor. I've been known to knock over the trash can to get to them. She should save herself the trouble and just put them in a paper sack for me. I LOVE paper grocery bags!

I expect you'll be seeing a picture of the completed block in a couple of days. And now it's time for my after-breakfast snooze. I will dream of brown paper grocery bags.

Have a purr-filled day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bargain Day

You gotta love a bargain. Lately our home has been undergoing some difficult changes so Linda is thinking positively about moving forward and turning the house into one that is a comforting refuge for her, and welcome place for friends and family.

She wants to repaint and reorganize some areas, and add accessories to others. But with this economy she needs to do it on a very skinny shoestring budget (ahhh, shoestrings...such fun to play with!) One of her friends recommended shopping at thrift stores, Goodwill and estate sales to get some great deals. So today Linda took the plunge and visited the Goodwill store for the first time.

It was a bit different going into the store instead of dropping things off to be donated, but she quickly got over the trepidation. Look at what she found!

This old tea box had a few little dead and live bug-a-boos in its crevices. Think that's why she was able to pick it up for only $2? It's all wood and after a good cleaning and disinfecting it's just the perfect size to hold charm packs and jelly rolls.

Take a look at it filled. I'm having a blast batting at the ribbons around the jelly rolls!

As if that weren't enough, she was hoping to pick up a couple of interesting (non-quilty) items for the built-in bookcase in the family room. With some books and pictures going to a new home, there were some definite bare spots that needed to be filled.

So she moved most of our quilting and cross-stitching books down to the family room. Then she wanted to add something that would bring height, color and/or inspiration. She finds a country palette soothing.

She was delighted when she found this mustard-colored crock at the Goodwill store. In the picture it's on the right shelf, second from the top, right next to a small tilted mirror. The tag on the bottom says it was made for Target in 2007, so not an antique by any stretch of the imagination. But it adds the color and height that she needed in that spot.

So no sewing for today, but we did accomplish some rearranging and organizing. It's all good!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Superior Thread Contest

Superior Threads is having a contest give-way. We are desperate to win their terrific thread and are likely to hiss and spit at anyone who gets in our way.

Quilters' Tools

Many times Linda comments that today's quilters have so many wonderful tools at their disposal it's hard to keep track of all of them. And there are constantly new innovations hitting the market.

Quilters seem to be divided occasionally over whether or not it's "truly" quilting if an item is machine-pieced and quilted versus hand-sewn and quilted. I say "poop" to that argument. Both have their place and it completely depends upon the joy that the person who is doing the work receives. What a silly human debate! We cats would never sink so low as to denigrate another cat just because she shows a preference for dry food over canned. And if our foremothers had ways of making their jobs easier, you can be sure that they would have used them.

Today's rotary cutters, mats, sewing machines that will also bake a cake, automatic shut-off irons, templates, quilt designing software, the list is endless. In addition to the above, one of our favorite quilters' friends is the audio book.

Audio books are a godsend when you're cutting, ironing or chain-piecing. Those tasks are repetitious and don't require a lot of brain power. There are times when we're chain-piecing that Linda prefers just my purring and the hum of the sewing machine. She feels in tune with God and the universe. It's a meditative time. But the audio book is a frequent companion.

Linda's tastes are pretty eclectic, and she's an avid reader by nature. Always has been. She can read just about anything but romance novels, and even some of them have drifted their way into our listening pleasure.

We've enjoyed the entire Outlander series by Diana Galbadon, all of the Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay, When Character was King by Peggy Noonan, Shiloh read by its author the late-great Shelby Foote, and we're going to be re-listening to Max Lucado's It's Not About Me. We've listened to plenty of others as well. Murder mysteries, biographies, inspirational stories, everything.

The skill of the narrator can make or break how engaging an audio book might be. The narrator for the Dexter series for instance is beyond perfect. Having non-fiction books read by their authors is a distinct pleasure. I Feel Bad About My Neck, written and read by Nora Ephron is a riot and any lady nearing or in middle-age can relate to it.

We always get our audio books from the library. For those of you with IPODS or MP3 players, there are a lot of services you can download.

In our queue right now are The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones was fantastic) and Body Surfing by Anita Shreve.

The rest of the day will be spent organizing the stash by color and working on a log cabin quilt. Our CD player is ready and waiting for us.

Have a purr-filled day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


This is Trouble. Trouble is 17 months old, but even this picture, taken when she was much younger, shows that she was going to be a whiz at quilting quality control. This is a baptism quilt that Linda made. Wonderful warm flannel and cheerful kitten design. Trouble gave her approval and off it went to church.
Trouble came to live with us when she was eight weeks old. She and her mother had been dumped at a shelter when Trouble was still nursing. No idea what may have happened to the other kitties in her litter. Naturally, she was too young to remember. Anyway, Linda just brought her home one day much to the surprise of the entire four-legged and two-legged family members. Amazingly, she fit right in. I liked her right away, as did Logan. The picture below proves it. We all like to share the kitty condo.

That's me on me throne, Trouble on the shelf below me and Logan on the next shelf. The three of us get along great and always have.

Trouble is a huge help to Linda in so many ways. Not only is she a terrific quilting apprentice, but she is also Linda's companion when it's time to cross-stitch. Linda doesn't like it when I try to critique her needlework. I am insistent that I can thread the needle, separate the floss, or stitch better than she can. Trouble, on the other hand, likes to just snuggle and watch. She always approves of what Linda is doing. These humans and their need for validation. Sheesh!

Trouble also likes the new babies in our house. Butch and Sundance were rescued the day after Thanksgiving when they were only six weeks old. They were really hard to catch and came out of a hole in the wall. Butch is the orange tabby and Sundance is another dark beauty like me.

Logan and I are not too crazy about sharing our home with kittens, although we're starting to get used to them. Butch has an especially winning personality and one does have to feel a bit sorry for him since he's the only boy. But look how Trouble treats them! Not only does she care for them as if she were their mother, but she's shown them to the pinnacle of the crow's nest and sleeps with them there. That is just not right! That's my throne and I really don't like sharing it with these young whipper-snappers.

So excuse me. I need to give Trouble a talking-to immediately.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quilted Chaos

Tonight Linda went to her small neighborhood quilting group, Quilted Chaos. She hadn't been since November. I tried to convince her that it was fine to neglect her human friends since she has me, but she was feeling guilty anyway. Humans! We cats never feel guilty about anything.

She had a good time catching up with the other quilty ladies. I had to be content just licking myself and sitting in a box.

Or cuddling up with Raggedy Ann on the day bed in the sewing room. Just waiting. And waiting. But no, she didn't come home until almost 9 o'clock. And then do you think she spent any time with me? No! She immediately went to the television and watched some guy called Jack Bauer kill some people. I just don't get it.

Since Linda hadn't been to Quilted Chaos since before Christmas this was the first chance her friend, Dominique, had to give her this very funky quilted clock. Dom made it herself. Since Linda is a teacher, Dom used school-themed buttons as the numbers. I personally really like the second hand movement. I've tried to get it a few times already. I believe that when Linda leaves the house I will organize a game with my siblings to see who can capture it.

And now our new clock tells me that it's time to get ready for bed. I've only had 19 hours sleep so far today.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tea Roses Top Finished

Linda and I have been sewing most of today. We put some more strips onto our pretty log cabin quilt, but the big news is that the borders are on the Tea Roses quilt.

We are purring with delight. This quilt has been in the works for about a year. The next step is for us to pick a backing fabric. And then we get to baste the backing, batting and top together. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! That's the favorite part for those of us of the feline persuasion.

Imagine all five of us kitties as we rearrange the batting, crawl under the top as Linda tries to smooth it out, and steal safety pins. Good times.

This is Logan. That hand petting Logan belongs to Darren, a member of our human family.

Logan was rescued from the woods. She was emaciated with matted fur, covered in burrs, had worms (including a really nasty tapeworm) and had a bite wound on her neck. I've asked her to tell me more about it, but she prefers to concentrate on her present life. If Keith and Linda hadn't brought her home from Hocking Hills, she probably would have died.

At first, I wasn't very happy to share our house with someone else. But now she is my favorite sister. We're about the same age. We are both having to get used to new kittens in the house.

We'll save the story of Butch and Sundance for another day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow Again

The past couple of weeks Linda has been home a lot. I like having her home. She likes being home. But both of us are saying "Enough is enough!"

Linda is a teacher. Last week she missed a whole week of school because of snow days. And today she is off again. Yesterday afternoon our area was hit by what one weathercaster is terming a "snow bomb." We were supposed to get a light dusting, and ended up with 7 inches dumped on us in a period of about 8 hours. My siblings and I watched it all from the safety of our cozy, sheep-lined covers next to the living room window. There were very pretty, big fluffy flakes of snow.

Children were in Linda's classroom until 6 p.m. watching Disney's "Hercules," playing hangman, chatting and listening to Linda read stories. All while they waited for their buses that were running two hours late. It took her 90 minutes to get home. I was hungry and glad to see her.

This is one of my LEAST favorite things.

Linda's been almost as lazy as me today. She did bring home some papers to grade. When it was time for us to work on a project together, she decided that some spring colors would give her a lift rather than the dark reds and blacks in "Tea Roses."

So we pulled this out of the UFO pile.

It's a kit called Building Blocks by Benartex and uses Eleanor Burns' fabrics. Linda started working on this in November when she attended a quilting get-away at her friend Trice's house on Cumberland Lake.

Here are some of the blocks in progress. We're doing a Chain Log Cabin layout. All of these blocks will get additional strips. There will be a total of 20 blocks each about 12" big.

I always looks forward to helping with the layout of the final blocks. Linda will get things just how she thinks she wants them on the floor or a bed. That's when I take over, along with my crackerjack quality control team. It's our responsibility to shift things around and make them better. Sometimes Linda just doesn't appreciate our help the way she should.

May your day be purr-worthy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some of My Favorite Things

I have a very full life and enjoy many, many things. Here are just a few....

Decorating the Christmas Tree
Having a full dish of food

My "snake." I have to protect the house from this snake over and over again. It just won't stay dead. I grab it by its neck and then drag it from room to room, straddling over it and dragging it through my middle in between my legs. I hunch over and have been told it looks as though I have a second tail . I also make a very funny noise that apparently can be heard only when I have my snake. The family knows that my snake has been resurrected when they hear me throughout the house, making my high-pitched growl. And then they discover the snake in a new area of our home.

My kitty condo. It is six-feet tall and I enjoy the throne (or the crow's nest as my family calls it). This is what it looks like. That's my baby sister Sundance on it. I don't like her much. She's only 15 weeks old and pretty annoying.

Here I am rolling around in my crow's nest. Good times! And just look at my view of the family room. This is the ideal way to supervise all of my inferiors.

The quilt spread out on the couch is a recent completion. It's Idaho Beauty, one of Pat Speth's patterns from More Nickel Quilts. Notice that from my perch I can easily supervise my 17-month-old sister Trouble. She's moving up from an apprenticeship and going into a junior management position. She owes it all to me.

Here's a clearer view of the same quilt.

This quilt is called Tea Roses and is the next UFO we plan to complete. It needs a couple of borders and setting triangles before the top is done. We'd like to finish it in time for Valentine's Day, but no promises. My lady, Linda, always seems to go to work just when I'm ready to sew.

Be nice to cats. Not because we'll thank you, but just because you should.

And I'm going to instruct Linda on how to take better pictures. These sepia tones are making my cat eyes crazy. And the images are HUGE. Bear with her. She's only human.

Monday, February 2, 2009

And So It Begins...

I am Piwacket. I make quilts.

Well, the lady of the house, Linda, has the easy job of running the sewing machine and cutting. She leaves the hard jobs to me.

When the bags of fabric come home, I climb in to make sure that they meet my standards. When she's looking at a quilting magazine, I lie down on the one pattern that's perfect for her. When she's ironing I climb up on the warm fabric to ensure my perfect tortoiseshell feline fur embeds itself into the fibers. When she cuts, I hold down the cutting mat. When she sews, I lay down on the pedal to keep her foot warm. I point out every dropped pin. I make sure no bobbin goes untested. I see if the binding clips will hold securely. And I allow my siblings to do a group quality control test prior to any quilt being considered truly finished.

Oh yes, I do have siblings. I'm the eldest of our little rescued kitty family. I'm six. I'm the best. I am the cat who can convince dog people that they are wrong.

I'm named for a Siamese cat (stupid blue crossed eyes) in a movie entitled "Bell, Book and Candle." This movie came out a long, long time ago and stars Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. Ms. Novak is a witch and her cat, Piwacket, is her familiar. My family usually calls me Pi for short.

There are four other cats here. I like two of them. You'll get to know the others in a later post.

And you'll see some of the quilts I've made, too.

I hope you enjoy the ride, but frankly, I'm just doing you a favor by even deigning to include you in my daily life.