Friday, December 8, 2017

Thomas Fire

My city/county has been on fire since Monday night. The Thomas Fire started northeast of us in the next city over, and due to severe Santa Ana winds, rapidly burned through 10-12 miles of dry brush in the foothills.   We lost power about 9 pm and, along with our neighbors, tried to find out from our cell phones what was happening.  This was the scene from our upstairs window as flames crept down the foothills a mile or two away.

Evacuation orders were soon announced as the fire began to consume neighborhoods.  Our son was under mandatory evacuation, living very close to the hills, and he packed a bag and bugged out to his sister's at the beach. A nephew went to his grandparent's house. Our other daughter and her family packed up essentials for themselves and the kids and waited for word of evacuation, as did we.  It is funny what you find yourself picking up and considering valuable at a time like that.  We loaded the cars and dozed, on and off, through the wee hours of the night, but never received notice of need to evacuate--all the flames continued westward, away from us, miles toward the western edge of the city.  Our power was restored by about 9 am and we were able to watch news coverage of the horrible devastation of homes in the hills.  My brother's house was threatened, near where a rehab/psych hospital burned to the ground.  He evacuated to his son's house.  Other family and friends were evacuated and waited for word if their homes were spared.
Towering smoke viewed from our backyard.  The wind picked up again in the afternoon and whipped the fire towards Ojai.  It jumped the highway and began burning all the way to the ocean, and even now has continued northward into Santa Barbara County after burning through La Conchita and the beach communities. 
This very blurry photo was the smoke cloud as I left work Thursday.  All our offices were closed but one; this is looking  southwest to the  ocean.  When the winds were calm, the smoke sank to the ground. 

I had never seen this "Smoke" designation before on my weather app. Fires are still burning in Ojai, which was blazing all night with winds 30-50 mph with gusts up to 80, and it is heading to the national forest northward, with firefighters battling multiple other fires in LA and further south.  The Thomas Fire has burned more than 130,000 acres and is still only 10% contained.  There are at least two more days of Red Flag Warnings from the Santa Ana winds.  

439 homes have been destroyed, in the hills of my city, where most of the nicest and more expensive houses were.  My doctor boss knows at least 10 other doctors who lost homes.  I watched a former doctor employer on TV as his house burned and collapsed in 30 minutes, while firefighters tried to keep adjacent homes from catching fire.  There is still danger and evacuations in place, plenty more dry fuel in the hills and embers that could be carried miles.  Amazingly, only one death has been attributed to the fires, a woman died in a car crash trying to escape the flames in Ojai.  The community has risen up and offered much to the evacuees and the fire and rescue personnel.  Rebuilding will be slow, and the bare hillsides may take years to recover.  I have heard of no one who wants to leave our beautiful city by the sea, and know the community will continue to offer help and reassurance.  We remain on alert, until this siege is over.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Design Wall Monday--11/27/17

On my design floor is a Bonnie Hunter quilt.  No, I'm not talking about On Ringo Lake, her new mystery quilt that just debuted, but one with plenty of pieces, still.  This will be a brown version of her Narragansett Blues quilt from the More Adventures with Leaders and Enders book.  I made a lot of 4 patches and cut the rectangles, so a trial layout attempt seemed timely.

This is what the center looks like.  I need to cut a bunch of brown squares for this section as well as for many other rows.  I'm making a throw size for my uncle, whose favorite color is brown.  I always wonder why so many people dislike brown--it is all the primary colors mixed together, which is therefore why brown GOES with every color.  

So far the 4 patches are standing out just fine against the brown.  Naturally, as is usual for me whenever I change the size of a pattern, MATH happened.  I need about three times as many 4 patches for the layout I want.  Lots more cutting and sewing to be done, but that's not worrying me--I have plenty of scraps and am glad to have a place to use them!  I was tempted to sew up some of the vertical rows, but seeing as my sewing room is still disassembled for Thanksgiving Day furniture rearranging, back in the box they went.  Well, once I evicted Mini the cat from it--she can never resist an empty box.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching 11/26/17--Thanksgiving Wrapup

A little late to the party, but I do have slow stitching to show.  First, progress on the Lizzie Kate cross-stitch. 

We watched the grandsons last night and after they were in bed, I finished the rest of "forever" , after pulling out most of the V and redoing it, and got a start on the S for Stitching, while watching a PBS show on the Beatles.  I put a few stitches in today before diving into the ongoing binding job, a baby quilt for my daughter's best friend. 
 I had to get creative when I didn't quite have enough of the pink solid for the binding...

 ...though it disappears on my beige carpet :)  The label is next, as baby Grace is finally here, a week overdue.  After a bath, the quilt will be on its way to the newly expanded, happy family--she's the first grandchild for both sets of parents.  Linking up to Kathy's Quilts.

Thanksgiving was a rather quiet affair, with us hosting as usual, but without the big crowd.  One could actually hear oneself and others at the table, since there were only 11 of us: two of our kids, my mom and dad, brother, sister, uncle, and nephew with his girlfriend.  

We even ate together at one long table.  I enjoyed pulling out my Grandma's Red Apple dishes I love so much.  My sister Kathy was a big help to Grant and me in the kitchen, as always.  She peeled and seeded a pomegranate while I put together the fruit salad; she toasted walnuts and almonds for dishes, and made the green bean dish, while I tried to get out all the bowls and serving pieces. Brother Kevin carved the turkey, Mom and Dad brought pies, Erica made the special potato dish we all love.  Everything came out well.  Later, two nephews stopped by, one with his expectant wife, and Kathy gifted them the quilts she made at our retreat at Sewtopia--can it be only three weeks ago? 

First was the wedding quilt.  The couple are ski boarding enthusiasts and got married 18+ months ago in Mammoth Lakes in winter, at 10,000 feet.  Kathy used a panel and coordinates for a snowy mountain themed throw. 

The wedding quilt being late, they got an additional matching quilt for their baby boy due next month!  Mama-to-be has been on bedrest and is hoping for an earlier delivery.    The marrieds also stopped by with the grandsons so we all got to play (wind them up!) with them for a little while.  We had a lovely day and clean up took way less time than normal, lol.  The men even helped empty the living room of the 15 year old couches we were giving away, in anticipation of a new set to be delivered the next day.  Grant and I ended the evening by pulling dining room chairs to the TV to watch WALL-E.  

He had to work Friday, but I had the day off and not only did I not go out and shop on Black Friday, I never left the house. Bliss!  There were a few visitors to enjoy and plenty of pottering time after the busy days before.  Back to work tomorrow, and the mad rush to Christmas.  We'll wait until Dec 1 to get the lights up and house decorated, though plenty of our neighbors took advantage of the holiday to do so. Lots to do in the next month--but there will still be stitching time :)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Design Wall Monday--Nov 20

I'm late to DWM but do have progress to report.  Over the weekend I got the Star baby quilt for my daughter's best friend pinned at last, and set to quilting it yesterday. 

I was lucky to find a match for this Kona Flesh in a door prize Aurifil thread pack.  Wavy lines randomly spaced was my plan.  I quilted a number of rows before realizing that the horizontal lines I thought I was stitching were actually vertical.  Oh well!

Some rows I sewed to overlap and make a ribbon.  Mom-to-be is a week overdue and hoping to deliver soon.  Meanwhile, binding has been made and attached and last night I started stitching it down while watching TV, a process whereby it seems I really only stitch during the commercials!

I've also been getting a few stitches in a new cross stitch project, which I started on the plane to NOLA.  
Lizzie Kate's Stitching Forever, Housework whenever design.  Love my octopus needlekeeper. 

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

More Sewtopia NOLA

My sister joked that we flew 2000 miles to keep sweatshop hours, sewing all day and night at Sewtopia, but we enjoyed every minute of it.  Kathy, the speed sewist, made four quilt tops and completely finished two quilts!  I think she was the only one with that number, but there were many finished bags, blocks, quilt tops, and new projects going on all around us.  Our tablemates were our Guild president Tisha and her mom.  It was nice to have familiar faces but of course we met lots of other quilters.  Me, I cut and sewed, cut and sewed, and used two design walls to help me with my word quilt.  

Lots of color choices were made, plenty of switching around as well, as the quilt grew.  The letters were made from Laura Hartrich's Simple Shapes Alphabet, although I changed the dot of the "i" to a curved block instead of plain square. I used a 4" finished Drunkard's path template set from Jen Carlton Baily for my design.  The curves required a few pins but were not too difficult to sew at that size.  Many attendees were interested in my project and stopped by to ask questions and take photos.  Jen herself said she wanted to make a word quilt, and in her free moments as part of the staff, she sat down to design.  I fed her squirrel project by giving her some cat fabric:)

Lots of people signed up for a secret swap project.  The staff swapped them overnight and there were lots of squeals of delight the next morning as we found them by our sewing machines.  Too funny, my sister found her own swap item on her machine, which was quickly switched by staff.  Here's the beautiful item I received, full of goodies, made by Nela.

Gorgeous zip bag with the pineapples and polka dot lining.  The gnome fabric was made into a bag the items were in.

Tisha's mom's item came in this sewn paper wrap.  Very clever.  The girl who got my item seemed to like it; the house blocks runner I showed in progress a couple of posts ago.

Simple straight line quilting to keep it modern. 

I had fun with the back with this fabric from stash.  The runner looks crooked in this late-night-thrown-on-the-floor shot, but wasn't!  My word quilt grew slowly, letter by letter. I enjoyed choosing all the different colors. Many of the fabrics were from a Dimples charm stack of every color that I won at Superbuzzy a few years ago. 

In progress shot...with Tisha's intricate block project sharing the design wall.  Having the design wall was so great.  Wish I had room for one at home.  One gal the next table over couldn't wait to see what came next and helped me make decisions about the clover I designed to add. I begged additional greens from other attendees.
 It came out looking great, with her help.

By the noon witching hour on the final day, I had managed to sew all the pieces for the letters, clover and stars, and sewed over half the individual rows together.  I stacked and rolled them up for transport, pinning the loose rows and the clover pieces together in order.  They made it just fine in the luggage.  Last Sunday I sewed the rows together, then made the final decisions for the missing section.  Sew, press, sew press...
Hooray, a finished top!  The top is 60x76".  I am pleased with how it turned out and would make another word quilt with this simple alphabet.   What phrase would you make?