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Fibonacci’s 55th piece

Fibonacci Flower Part 2It was almost a disaster. I lost the 55th piece of my fibonacci flower. Some people may have just decided that it had to stay with 54 pieces but I could not. I hunted through sewing bags; down the back of my sewing cupboard, under the sewing machine, on the floor, in the scraps. I was looking for a piece of fabric about 3/4″ wide. Once I stopped looking, I found it.

At the moment, the flower looks a little silly as it is without stem. That piece of gold and orange batik will be reduced once the stem goes on. I tried two methods of ‘needle-turn’ applique for the main pieces. The first I stitched the line on the sewing machine and then clipped and turned under with the iron. The second – the gold one – I used a palette knife and glue stick. This is because I’m not very safe with an iron – or at least my fingers aren’t!

And on a completely unrelated subject, here are the girls, grooming themselves simultaneously. I often think to myself when Cat Protection Society said they were inseparable, they were absolutely right. In this short video they even turn to each other’s name! (Saffron is on left, Licorice on right).


A cat’s prerogative

I want to know why it is that a cat attempting to sit in your lap – especially when you don’t want it to – almost always manages to put it’s paw right where your bladder is? (For anyone interested I haven’t had children, my pelvic floor muscles are good so there has been no cat induced accident in this house)

Secondly, I want to know why when you sit on the couch doing nothing, the cat sleeps on the floor. As soon as you pick up a laptop, it’s anti-sharing instinct kicks in and the cat is determined to displace said laptop.

This is what Licorice is doing at this very moment. Now consider this: I am attempting to type this post with an 8 kilo weight on my left hand wrist. I’ll show you. (My right hand is free to use the iphone camera and it’s within my reach).

IMG_3462Those are my fingers emerging from heavy cat. Do you notice the two empty cat beds on the right hand side of the photo. Those would be the beds they are NOT sleeping in, even though I have turned the heater on. If I want them to actually sleep in the beds, then I need to turn the heater off and then they will go close to those beds and look pitifully at me and meow their request for the heater to be turned on.)

Ah relief. Licorice has decided to get off my hand. My wrist thanks her.

Of course, this cat displacement technique is not just unique to the laptop. Any computer is fair game as illustrated by Gesso here, relegating Andrew to one hand typing, unless Andrew wants to risk Gesso slipping off and falling down his legs. Not really a good risk on careful consideration really. We all know how cats use their claws to climb trees.

Andrew and Gesso

Andrew and Gesso

And while I’m asking questions about my cat’s interpretation of her rights in this household, I have a few more to add.

Why does Saffron so confidently claim ownership of any ‘green’ shopping bag? Is there some title deed written into such bags via cat scent that upon returning home with one, your cat as the right to take immediate possession of it and not return it for 3 days? (Excuse any typos from here, Licorice is back on wrist…. and part of touchpad). The royal cat prerogative exempts her from having to give the bag back for it’s original use. It is as if Green Bags are subject to squatters rights.

And why is it that cats are never interested in fitting themselves into a suitable size box, green bag, cat bed etc. Perhaps the things I have heard about a cat using her whiskers to judge whether it will fit through a space is just bunk. I can assure you that my cats either have ridiculously long whiskers, or when their whiskers sent the alert signal to their brain, they just ignore it. When I bought the cheap cat bed recently (a $5 purchase in a two-dollar shop), I deliberately chose the smallest one I could find because I am so used to my girls turning their noses up at anything which is of reasonable size. And regular readers of my blog will know, what happened then.

Can't we share?

Can’t we share?

I’m not finished yet. I have a few more questions about my cat’s prerogative. I want to know why when it’s really cold and you want the cat to sit in your lap and act as a pseudo-hot water bottle, she just isn’t interested. Crank up the temperature to a Sydney hot day of 30 something degrees and my lap is the most desirable location in the house.

And why is it that I can buy a ‘covered’ litter tray so in theory when the cat kicks the litter around it will hit the ‘roof’ and land in the box, that I still seem to have a trail of kitty litter across my bathroom floor. Kitty litter is the cat equivalent of Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs, though I really don’t get why they need them. I would expect if the cat wanted to re-trace her steps she would only need to follow the smell back to the bathroom. Unless of course, I’ve been the obedient cat servant that I’m supposed to be and cleaned the tray within 5 minutes of usage.

And why is it that anytime I want to photograph something, a cat must help by inspecting it at the same time I’m trying to take the photo.

Pickle inspecting the subject of my photography

Pickle inspecting the subject of my photography

They have an inbuilt instinct which must say ‘quick walk on it now!’ And lastly, why is it that given all the trouble they cause with flea management and cat hair and little nail shards at the floor of the scratching post, that we still love them as much as we do? I’m sure many servants dislike their masters but I will not include cat servants among them. In fact, we humble servants seem to enjoy having a laugh at how much privilege our cats bestow upon themselves. Here’s one example of that that I saw via Facebook recently – it’s had a few million views so I’m sure that it’s done the rounds and you may have seen it. For those who haven’t, I’ve included the sad cat diary below.

Of particular note for me is one of the opening diary entries about cats and keyboards – I think Licorice must have heard that when I played it the first time and she is now just demonstrating the point. With that, I think it is time for me to stop blogging and give her a proper cuddle.

Paw prints in paint… almost!

Mixed Media Collage June 2013Lately I’ve been stitching more than painting. I’m not convinced that they aren’t the same practice for me but in a different media. I’ve had a few paintings on the go. All very small scale (A3 or smaller) and mostly unclear in their direction. The one above has been floating around on and off as an A3 piece for ages. I had layered Golden Fluid Acrylics in my usual fashion – here using Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Transparent Red Iron Oxide and Phthalo Blue.

The choice of colour combination was extremely scientific. Those particular bottles were almost empty and I wanted to use them up so I could toss the bottles out. (My little unit is very cluttered and while on a practical day I can see that removing 3 small bottles is really not going to do much, at the time it seemed like a good idea).

However it was going nowhere fast.

It’s probably been on the table for the better part of a month. So I did what I often do when an art piece isn’t progressing – I do something drastic! In this case, I got a stanley knife and cut my A3 piece down to A4. From there, after some rummaging in my collage materials, the piece ‘appeared’. I can’t explain how this happens; it just suddenly comes together.

It was almost ‘adjusted’ by Saffron planting her bum on the table. Fortunately, she was about 1 inch from the wet paint. Of course, it’s the only time she has sat on the table in recent history. She rarely leaves the heater. Even when it’s not on she sits next to it in hope! As does her sister… here they are at it again!

Licorice and Saffron loving the heater

Fibonacci Floral Lap Quilt: Part 1

Fibonacci Floral Step 1Recently I was fiddling around with some fabric and ended up creating these ‘mushrooms’ by hand stitching using perle cotton. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I had an idea to incorporate them into a small lap quilt.

After some pondering and meddling by my dressmaking teacher, the idea of a Fibonacci Floral Lap Quilt was born. I loved the lines in the ‘mushrooms’ and wanted to use the colour of this background fabric (a faded grey-green to blue; not unlike the leaves on some wattle trees) in ‘strips’.

Fibonacci Floral Step 2Step 1Make a life size template

I daresay a sophisticated photocopier may have come in handy here and an extra big piece of paper. However I adopted the thrifty method. My piece of paper is in fact 6 pieces of paper stuck together with masking tape. With a ruler and a pencil, I carefully enlarged the drawing to actual size (about 18.5″ X 20″ – no there’s nothing fibonacci about the dimensions!)

Step 2: Dividing the Flower by the fibonacci number 

You may be wondering where’s the fibonacci piece of this quilt. It’s coming! As I was choosing fabrics, it was suggested to me that I should try to use fibonacci numbers (e.g. 2,3,5,8,13,21 etc). I knew that I wanted the fabric pieces to probably be between 1/2″ and 1.5″ in width. So I had a choice – 34 strips or 55. The former made the strips far too fat. So I had no choice but to try to divide the flower outline I had drawn into 55 strips without making any of them too small to sew and also trying to vary the widths as I went along so it didn’t look too predictable.
Fibonacci Floral Step 3

Step 3: Selecting fabrics and cutting strips
So I now had a template of 55 strips, and 13 fabrics selected. (13 being a fibonacci number). The next challenge was whether I could use on a fibonacci number of each fabric within the 55 strips. Now any person halfway decent at math would be able to figure this out quickly. I have to confess that it took me a while.
Fibonacci Floral Step 4
The end result is:

  • 2 fabrics at 2 strips each
  • 2 fabrics at 3 strips each, and
  • 9 fabrics at 5 strips each.

Of course, while you are laying out your fabrics and deciding the order, cat help is critical! Licorice supervised. For once she didn’t ‘help.’

By this point, I was chuffed that I had managed to use only fibonacci numbers – 55 strips, 13 fabrics of 2, 3 or 5 instances each. I was also starting to wonder what the point was. Dr Google told me that fibonacci numbers are common in nature – in Irises, sunflowers and pine cones and they were naturally pleasing to the eye. Oh well… it was worth a go.

Step 4: Tracing the template onto stitch and tear

When it came to tracing I cheated and used a lightbox. Saffron thought she’d help be sitting on the lightbox. Unfortunately, the lightbox is not designed for a 6 kilo cat, so I had to continually kick her off for fear the perspex was not going to withstand her weight – it’s loose as it is!

Fibonacci Floral Step 5

Step 5: Critical. After cutting the pieces. Drop them.

It really would be no fun if you didn’t have to put them back in order at least once!

Iron pieces onto the back of the fabric strips.
Fibonacci Floral Step 6
Fibonacci Floral Step 7
Step 6: Trim them up!
I left 1/4″ seam allowance on the long sides and a very rough half an inch or so on the stop. I figured I could always tidy up the ends later.

Fibonacci Floral Step 8
Step 7: Sew the strips together
This was the fun bit – watching it start to take shape. I’m about 70% done. (Hence the part 1). I’ll be sure to post pics when I have finished the flower.
Fibonacci Floral Step 9

Meanwhile in cat land, a territory dispute is at play. I bought a cheap cat bed from the $2 store. They only had 1 in this size. Licorice and Saffron both want to sit in it. Generally, they seem to alternate – every now and then one ‘hijacks’ it from the other. Tonight, Licorice wouldn’t give it up. So Saffron just sat on top of her!

Can't we share?

Can’t we share?

Licorice and Saffron: the heater whores

My Cats: Heater whoresI’ve been abandoned. My lap is no longer good enough. The heater is better!

Saffron in slumber

Saffron in slumber8 weeks without a stable phone and internet and finally, it has been restored!

To celebrate, I’ve posted a photo of Saffron I took about a month ago but haven’t been able to upload.

I love this shot. It shows how I bought a couch to blend with my cat (and in theory hide the cat hair which, judging by that segment of black on the cushion, has not worked!) It also shows my troublesome little companion relaxing. This is a nice change from when she has cystitis. Also, I just had to post a cat pic to celebrate Licorice and Saffron’s 4th birthday with me. This makes Licorice a grand old age of 11 and Saffron 8.

PS: It seems while I’ve been offline that I have some new followers. Welcome to my blog!

I want my Internet back

I have no Internet. I feel as if someone has deprived me of food! Typing a blog post on a iPhone is way too slow. Not quite as slow as the telephone company is about fixing my access. What makes typing this post even more painful is that Licorice is wailing. She’s been put in the bathroom for the night with sister Saffron, who has cystitis again. Saff is the sick one. Does she complain? No. But licorice thinks howling like a banshee is going to get her out of there.

If anyone has any tips re managing cat cystitis please let me know. I’ve tried feliway, rescue remedy, zylkene, switch to wet food and trying to maintain a routine. Of these the feliway and wet food seem to have some impact but she is still having recurrences when I have to give her anti-inflammatories.

Anyway, my one fingered typing is getting worse and worse. Attached – I hope – is a picture of a mad hatters hat made from fabric pieces.

I had someone ask me today whether this was a example of crazy patchwork. My dressmaking teacher replied: ‘no, it’s patchwork by a crazy woman.’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

Saffron making herself at home

Saffron making herself at home… on the quilt no less!

When I saw the weekly photo challenge was on the theme of home, I was kicking myself for not owning a pair of red sequined shoes. Even if I did own the right pair of heels I’m not sure where it would take me when I clicked my heels together. Sometimes I feel as if I have 3 homes: Mum’s place, Andrew’s place and here – with cats at every one!

So it seemed fitting when I decided to quilt this evening (yes, I’m still working on it!) that Saffron leapt up onto the table and made herself right at home. I had my weekly photo. Not to be outdone, as I write this, Licorice has curled up next to me encroaching as best she can on the keyboard.

Home is not where the heart is… for me it’s where the cat(s) is!

Art quilt update

It’s been a week of dealing with Saffron having cystitis again combined with the first full week back at week and very hot weather that leaves you drained of energy. When I let Saffron out of the bathroom I was watching her like a hawk to ensure there weren’t any accidents outside the tray. The shower recess became a favoured spot but, quite frankly, I was happy with anywhere in the bathroom. That’s what mops are for! She is improved but still not back to normal.

Needless to say with a full week of work and sick cat, there has been little ‘art-ing’ or quilting going on. So I’m uploading photos of what I did in between Christmas and New Year. I tried to take a photo of a larger area and encountered cat assistance. I think it won’t be until I have some humans to help hold it up that I can get a wider shot… so I’ve gone for the detail instead!

Tree Roots in free motion
Tree roots Free motion and I are not good friends. In fact weren’t not even acquaintances. Every time I try to meet free motion, I end up meeting my unpicker instead!

I, like many others, have trouble keeping the stitches even. When it came to tree roots I figured that even wasn’t important. I went over them quite a bit as I didn’t want them to appear too delicate – it’s a bloody big tree they are holding up! Also doing this, unpicking was not an option. Perhaps when you just have to go for it, the result is better?

The chequerboard floor

Details of chequer board floorI needed an quilting pattern which would fill that expanse of purple around the bottom of the tree. I also needed something matching my level of quilting yet still in keeping with the quilt being about Andrew and I.

A chequerboard pattern seemed a great option at the time – I only had to sew straight lines! It was pretty easy, just length with all the tying off. The chequerboard pattern also fit with me. I have been known to throw the odd chequerboard into a painting:

"In Time": Completed work

I supposed it’s related to Alice in Wonderland and the chess pieces. It could also be because I’ve seen them used so beautifully in the work of artist James Christensen, one of my first art book acquisitions and still a favourite. He often puts a fish in his paintings. (If your not familiar with Christensen’s work, the link I’ve included is to a slideshow of his art). I’ve just realised looking at the above painting of mine, that perhaps I’m getting a thing for teacups! The one above has a hippo in it. The one in the quilt has a lizard… and a licorice allsort…

French Knots
Lastly, a photograph of my French knots. I’ve never done these before I think they look a little more like French grubs than knots, but never mind! They are a little added texture. Most of them are 1 strand of brown silk and 1 of reddish-brown cotton. (I was told not to mix n match but it seemed to work ok). There are a few which are just two strands of cotton. I really can’t see any difference in ‘grub’ quality between the silk-cotton mix and just the cotton. So mix n match it will be!

French Knots

Da bird is da success!

Tilba the Devon RexPurchase cat toy with excitement, take cat toy home, and watch cat look at it with disdain. Not with “Da Bird”. I read many reviews saying Da Bird was the ultimate cat teaser toy. It looks like many others – a rod, string and attachment on the end. The one difference I knew pre-purchase was that you can replacement ‘feathers’ without needing to buy a whole new rod.

Well, Da Bird arrived at mum’s house (the place for all parcels when one lives in a unit). I gave it a test drive on my brother’s cats who have been staying there for the last month, while he travels the states. Willow, the 8 year old burmese (pictured) gave it the thumbs up, as did ‘brother’ Tilba the Devon Rex.

Willow the brown burmeseEven at about 8 years of age, Willow took to this toy with the vigour of a kitten. Once he’d caught the ‘prey’, he got a little cranky when Tilba came a little close.

Successfully road tested, I packed it up and headed over to Andrew’s. While this was a present for Saffron and Licorice, I couldn’t wait to see what the ginger ninja would do with it.

Pickle did not disappoint.

He leapt, twisted and grabbed for it. When I did pack it away, he was quite annoyed at me.

Finally I brought it home to Licorice and Saffron. At ages 10 and 7 respectively, I wasn’t sure what to expect. (Although Willow is a similar age and he’d gone nuts over it). Saffron had more activity than I think I’ve seen since I got her. She was doing somersaults trying to catch this thing! Licorice tried. She didn’t quite leap. Ok, she didn’t leave the ground. But she did energetically bat at it when it was close enough… which for a 10 year old, 8 kilo cat isn’t bad!

I didn’t have the camera handy but here’s a link to another blog with some great pics of a black and white kitty in action with Da Bird.