Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Farewell, Miss Cat

Today is a very sad day for my family. We unexpectedly had to say goodbye to the sweet little girl that has brightened our lives for almost 7 years. Our consolation is that we still have her brother, but we will never forget our Missy. It was a pleasant September day when we first met her. My husband, our 9 year old daughter and I were out picking the last of the blackberries. In the midst of picking we heard a small but insistent meowing. We saw a pair of the tiniest kittens in the midst of a pile of bramble. Concerned that their mother wouldn't like it if we handled them, we left the area to give her a chance to come and retrieve her babies. After half an hour we came back and the moment they heard us, out they came again.

My husband and I looked at each other, knowing that even though we weren't sure that we wanted the responsiblity of these two little lives, we also couldn't bear the thought of what would likely happen to these two helpless little ones if we just left them.

So we brought them home with us.

We soon realized that the little pale colored female with the crooked short tail had some type of urinary tract infection as she was passing puss with her urine. She also had a lump on her lower belly. I called our veterinarian and she was sweet enough to see our babies, just charging us for medications and not her normal office visit charge.

She advised me that the little ones were only three weeks old and would need a great deal of care if we wanted them to survive. They were both treated for massive flea infestations, and the one we simply called sister was given a course of antibiotics. We fed them cat formula with a dropper until they were old enough to take kitten food. We had to toilet them, then train them to a litter box when they were bigger. Soon brother and sister became Buster and Missy. Missy was a pretty scraggly and sorry looking kitten for quite some time. She had a short tail, about half the length it should have been and it was bent like a lightening bolt. We don't know if she was born this way, or if it was injured before we found her.

Her beautiful blue eyes stayed blue while her brother's turned green. They grew and became playful and sociable - we had to keep a close eye on them because of their curiosity - we rescued them from various spots like desk drawers and under the refrigerator! As babies they would curl up together, looking like yin and yang. Missy (or Miss Priss) would groom her brother with authority, whether he wanted it or not! She probably would have been a terrific mother, but we decided to have her spayed as soon as she came into her first heat at four months. I think that was the worst thing she went through in her whole life, but she recovered from her surgery and became the sweet, though slightly wild, little cat that we shall always remember. She had a thing for shoes for a while and would delight in sniffing and rolling on them.

She loved to chase the laser mouse, and would often toss and chase the little catnip mice we would buy for her. She loved to chatter at the birds out of the second story window, and even caught a few in her days. She brought one into the house this last Christmas and let it go, prompting a wild chase through the house and the fear that we would end up with a bird in our (artificial) Christmas Tree! (We did catch it and released it, no harm done)

She was always a very nervous cat, jumping at any strange noise. She hated the sound of plastic bags rustling - and just about jumped out of her skin at any loud noise. She wasn't fearful of people, though the only dog she ever tolerated was our Tipper dog. Missy would flop on the floor near the dog and roll on her back, stretching and flirting! It was the funniest sight to see both of them rolling on the floor side by side!

She had a funny thing about sitting on paper. If there was any newspaper or magazine on the floor she could not help but sit on it - we figured it must have felt good on her paws or something! She was a bit of a clutz, there are scars on the upstair stair railing because of her near misses. She walked with a heavy tread, a bit like a bulldog, and always had an attitude. She couldn't stand to be picked up and cuddled, you should have seen the "Dr Evil" face she would make when subjected to this humiliation! We jokingly called her Miss Touch-Me-Not because of her attitude, but when she wanted to be loved on she let us know in no uncertain terms!

I took her some time before she would sit on a person's lap. She was always affectionate, but on her terms. We called her "Stalker" for her habit of walking around you while you tried to pet her. Eventually she came to love sitting on my lap, but always on her terms and when she wanted to. She loved to knead on the soft blankets around the house, and would purr so loudly.
We always felt like she missed her mother because she would knead and purr so intently.

She was a nosy little cat, always checking out anything new that came into the house, and she loved boxes. If she spotted an empty box she would be in it before you knew it! She would even squeeze into the teeniest boxes! We recently discovered her love of cardboard to scratch on. For the last year I kept a box upstairs for her to destroy and she really liked that. She loved to hang out with me in my sewing room, but never messed with my stuff. She would just sit on the ironing board and try to distract me with her cuteness - and it always worked! Sometimes she would insist that I quit what I was doing and just pay attention to her for a while, and it was always a pleasure. She would roll on her back and give me a look with those gorgeous eyes - how could I ever resist!

She was a quiet cat, rarely vocal except when outdoors. When she wanted in she would meow her little head off! Occasionally she would let me know her water dish was empty, but other than that, her purr was the loudest thing about her. We always said she talked with her eyes. I have never seen a cat with more beautiful eyes. And her sweet little pink nose was so adorable. Even the pads of her paws were mostly pink. She was definitely a girly cat, hence the name Miss Priss.
She was quite the socialite. Last year I discovered that she made a habit of visiting the church school across the street, even strolling into the classrooms when the doors were open. Our entire neighborhood will feel the loss as she loved greeting people as they walked by - she didn't let anyone pick her up, but she loved to get a little pet on the head and a hello.
We were stunned this morning when we found her cold and silent. It doesn't seem right that such a sweet cat should live such a short life. We don't know the reason for her death, but we take consolation in the fact that she didn't look like she suffered . We buried her in the side yard, where she liked to sit under the hydrangea bush and watch us work in the yard.

I can't put into words all the things I will miss about my little Miss Cat. My sewing room will be a lonely place now. She was a one of a kind cat and her short stay with us enriched our lives and gave us so much pleasure. She will live forever in our thoughts and memories, though, and she will not be forgotten.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pink Heart Cross Stitch Quilt

Not a very clever title, but sometimes I just don't have words. Not that my husband would agree with that statement, but that's my story and I am sticking to it. At least for today!

I finished this custom quilt order last week, and my customer picked it up today. She was absolutely thrilled with the results and can't wait to show it to her mom, who did the cross stitching. Mom thought this was a table runner, but after looking at it we decided that it is actually the center panel of a quilt. The other two panels would probably have been borders to bring the quilt up to size.

I made two queen size pillow shams to match the quilt by cutting off the top and bottom sections of the long panel. I added Kona Snow to the top and bottom of the borders to make them big enough, bordered the whole thing with 2 1/2 inch pink strips for the flange, then free-motion quilted around the cross-stitching. I added quilted hearts to the plain sections. They are backed with panels of Snow that overlap for the closure.
For the quilt itself I took the large center panel of cross stitching and added a border of pink. The original plan was to simply make the quilt larger by adding a border of Kona Snow, but that was too much white. I designed a border with squares on point to go around it and am very happy with the results - it adds to the quilt without taking the focus away from the lovely center cross-stitch panel.I quilted the outer border with simple diagonal lines. We were trying to stay within a budget, so I didn't do a lot of quilting, but it looks nice. The pink border was quilted with a meander and hearts (using pink thread).I quilted around the motifs in the cross stitch and it really looked nice. I suspect that the lines of french knots may have been intended to be the quilting lines, but we don't know for sure. It took me a while to figure out that the green shape in the hearts is a fleur de lis. It was actually fun to quilt the cross stitch section, except for the french knots. There were several feathered sections stitched in them and it was really hard to stitch by them without stitching through them!

The mom found this panel (unstitched) at a garage sale and spent all winter doing the stitching. It's really a beautiful piece and I am glad that they allowed me to transform it into a finished quilt. I know it will be very much cherished and loved!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Very Charming Baby Quilts

Wow, I certainly don't know where the last two weeks has gone! Well, actually, four days were spent in Portland visiting our kids and grandkids, two full days and a half at the quilt shop - so that's about half of it! In the mean time I've finished three baby quilts and a Christmas wall hanging, altered a few dresses and re-lined a leather jacket (and what a job that is!). I've got two more quilts basted and ready to quilt, and some window shades to finish and.....that's where all the time goes.

The baby quilts have been an off-shoot of a custom request, and while you are making one, well you might as well make three or four, right? They are just simple quilts made using charm squares and pretty border fabrics.
I pulled a great vintage piece of fabric out of my stash (very sad, things I have purchase myself can be called vintage!) for the backing of three of them. It was supposed to be window curtains for my little girls who are now grown and out of my house - but it makes great quilt backs.

When I am finished with the girl quilts I'll have to make a batch of boy quilts to go with them - baby quilts are always fun!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Project Quilting - Challenge Four

The fourth weekly challenge for Project Quilting was a fun one for me - the challenge was to make a quilt less than 36 inches square using log cabin blocks - one fabric had to be used right side up and back side up. I was extra careful to pay attention to that one detail, because I have a little problem with details sometimes! Check out the link to see all the entries, and make sure you vote!
During the process of thinking about what I wanted to do, I ended up spotting a really awesome selvage log cabin on the Selvage Blog. Since I seem to be in the midst of a selvage fascination I decided to use this as a starting point. I really didn't want to make another wall hanging, so decided to make a small tote/purse. I used some 6 inch squares of muslin for foundations, and got out my shoe box of small scraps (which is starting to overflow!). I chose four different fabrics for the centers, and cut two 2 inch squares of each. I originally intended to use the back side of the pink, but forgot to turn it over, so ended up using the purple square wrong side up! Oh well, at least I didn't have to remake a block in the end!

I used my selvages for the light halves of the blocks and chose a variety of colors from my scraps for the dark sides of the blocks. After completing all 8 blocks I sewed them together to form the body of my bag. I then backed it with Warm and Natural batting. I then used a bright variegated thread to quilt the piece in a swirling design. Unfortunately it was not easy due to the thickness of the foundation with the tight weave of the selvages, but I got through it and it looked lovely when done.
I then made a lining and handles out of blue, adding patch pockets in a pretty blue and purple fabric. I sewed it all together and ended up with a beautiful quilted purse. For sale, but definitely one of a kind as it was a bit too labor intensive for making on a regular basis, so someone will be getting a nice original bag!

Happy Stitching!