Thursday, August 13, 2015

Riley Blake Challenge Adventures

Before I went to Europe this summer, I signed up for several challenges.  Don’t ask me what I was thinking because I can’t tell you.  It’s not as though I had any time to work on art before I left, so what the heck made me think I would have time when I got back?  
Oh well. 
Following is the tale of the Riley Blake challenge  It is not for the faint of heart; but I tell the tale in order that you may learn from my mistakes, grasshoppers. (For the young ones who didn’t get it, that was a reference to the 70’s show Kung Fu, btw.) Also, be warned, there is some explicit language, as there often is, in this entry.  I can only say it is necessary to the telling of this tale.
This quilt was a challenge from the get go.  So many times I thought "I should just quit, dammit," but I felt totally compelled to see it through - every time I walked away, I came back.  I can't really know what it was for certain, but I've decided that there was just something I was supposed to learn from it.  Hope I did...
         I got home on July 3rd from being gone basically all of June.  This meant I had a few weeks to make this thing.  Since I knew I would need more than the fat eighths and some other fabrics too, the first thing I had to do was find and order fabric.  This was not as easy a task as I thought it would be - both the assigned fabrics AND their matching counterparts had to be ordered from several different places.  So I lost a week waiting for fabric to arrive. Some of the coordinating fabrics weren't exactly as coordinating as I thought they would be, but no matter, I had no time or money to order more, they would have to do.  So now I had  less than three weeks to design, make and quilt.  Normally, this would be plenty of time, but right now my life is anything but normal.  I’ve got so many irons in the fire I have trouble remembering what day it is.  On the other hand, I really wanted to participate in this challenge, because I had an inkling of an idea, and well -  I had committed and been sent the free fabric, so I felt I needed to at least try to do it.  
Before I left I had made a few sketches, but after seeing all the amazing art on my trip, when I got back I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate some of the tiles from the amazing tiled floors I had seen in the Medici house in Florence.  And since the challenge was to do something I’d never done before, I was going to attempt to do hand turned appliqué and paper piecing.  So far, so good.  But for some reason I just couldn’t get the layout of the piece to flow.  Everything I did looked boring.
Ugh I can barely stand to look at this - what a mess!

 I could only steal a couple of hours here and there to work on it, so all the interruptions didn’t help I’m sure.  I decided to just work on one square at a time and deal with the layout later.  Again, sounds doable, right? Well, huh!
       I was pretty pleased with the first square, which I pieced - until I tried to add some hand-turned appliqué ovals.  I had watched several different Youtube videos and it looked pretty easy.  Well, it was not in fact easy at all.  I was so disappointed in the results, I re-did them three times and I still hated them.  

Let's face it, people, these ovals suck! Look closely at the finished piece for how they look now...
       I left them on, though and went to the next square, which I was paper piecing with reverse appliqué.  Everything went pretty well on this one at first, but when I went to take the paper off, somehow the purple marker I had used bled all over the white!  And no water or alcohol was used during the making of this square, I promise.  Couldn’t deal with it as time was of the essence,  so I just continued on with the square trying not to see the bleed marks ALL OVER the edges as I attempted to hand appliqué a skinny pink ring around the center.  No go. After three attempts I admitted defeat and did raw edge appliqué.  I liked the square design, but it was a damn mess. If I had time at the end,  I thought, maybe I could remake the square, or at least get the marks out somehow…but I had to move on.
I was two weeks away from the deadline.  The next square I did do the turned under hand appliqué - this time took me only three tries to get a just somewhat passable result.  Whatever - at this point,  done was good enough. 

This was the best I could do?!

        I kept stealing whatever time I could the next week to work on the last tile square, on which I completely wimped out and did all raw edge appliqué.  This square, naturally, looked really good.  Now I had to nail down the layout, which I did, mostly.  I decided to use the side shapes in my original sketch, but no way in hell was I going to attempt to do hand-turned appliqué on them - I went straight to raw edge.
In the meantime, I began experiencing problems with my new, fancy, expensive 750 Bernina sewing machine whom I had lovingly named Audrey for her grace and beauty.   First it wasn’t so bad - I was unable to thread the thing using the threader - it kept giving me a message to bring the threader down and restart the machine over and over, so I just threaded it by hand.  Annoying, but not a big prob. One day, however, I walked in to sew and turned Audrey on and nothing happened.  I mean, she wouldn’t turn on.  I checked the plug, checked the connection, etc. and turned her off and on a few times and finally she came on.  Over the next days she changed from “Ahh - Good morning, lovely Audrey,” to “Turn on, bitch!”  I could get her on by flipping the switch about twenty times and then walking away for ten or so minutes, but it sucked., and every time I turned her off I felt a twinge of anxiety that this might be the time she went off for good.  I didn’t have time to take her to the shop to get fixed (remember I live in small-town Texas, so I would have to drive a couple of hours to Austin for repairs and I didn’t know how long it would take…) So by the last week before the deadline, I just left her on permanently  - except for the time when I accidentally switched her off and it took me about 45 minutes to get her back on… it wasn’t pretty, but I was trying to finish. this. quilt. dammit. 
Busier than ever in my life, I was really quite put out with the whole deal  It was not at all fun and worse, I was not at all zen.   It was and had been from square one (pun intended) a major exercise in frustration.  There were so many flaws - from the purple marker disaster to the crappily done hand appliqué, that I  seriously thought about cutting (more likely ripping) the thing up and throwing off of the roof of my house.
      At this point, I decided that maybe the universe was telling me it was time to cry uncle.  I mean, it wasn’t imperative that I participate in the Riley Blake Challenge 2015 - the MQG police weren’t going to arrest for me for accepting fat eighths and then not completing the challenge…were they? And maybe I just wasn’t supposed to spend any more time on this piece - maybe I needed to give up, it was okay, it’s not as though it was a commissioned piece or anything.  It wasn’t all that important, I got it.  So - I left the thing for two days - didn’t even look at it.  
On the third day, which was about five days away from the deadline, I came back to try one more time.  I had decided that while I did not have to finish, I had come so far that I did want to try.  But only if I could do it properly.  So I repeated out loud to myself 
several times “I will try to finish this but I will enjoy it and be pleasant or I will stop.”  I meant it, I really did.  And for the next two sewing sessions (and in the spirit of being completely honest, I will admit that both sessions were late evening with a glass of wine nearby) everything went down quite well.  I got it all put together - I finished the top - hallelujah!  
No matter that I was only three days away from the deadline and still had to 1) come up with an idea for the back 2)sandwich and 3)quilt the thing - I was certain I could do it.  I would use the somehow not really matching solids for the back with what little floral I had left, and certain sandwiching is not fun, but it’s easy.  And although I hadn’t the slightest inkling of how I was going to quilt it, so what?  I told my husband I needed the next two days off to finish this sumbitch, (This is code for "Don’t ask me for one teeny tiny little thing  - not even a kiss or any attention at all!" Luckily for him by now he knows my code pretty well)  Suddenly I was feeling pretty optimistic.
Got the back done, was oddly pleased - check! On to sandwiching. This piece is a little larger than my usual art pieces, but not as big as a lap quilt so I decided to sandwich it on the dining room table in order to save my aching knees  from doing it on the floor.  Then, for some truly inexplicable reason, I made the (nearly fatal to me and the quilt) decision to use the clamps I had inherited from my mother but hadn’t used in years intead of tape, and to only pin baste, not use any sticky spray or real basting - after all, the quilt only hung off about eight inches on one side and not at all on the bottom, so it would be fine.  
It was a disaster.  The clamps worked not at all (thus reminding me why I hadn’t used them in many years) and the back was a buckled mess.  I tried to fix it, but after much (sadly) more un-zen behavior I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  So I huffed it upstairs and tried to do it on the floor of my studio using the usual duct tape, but the thing was having none of that either.  It simply would not stay stuck to the floor, no matter how much tape I put on it.   So I tried clear packing tape.  Nope, would not stick!  By this time I was worse than un-zenlike - I was a towering fury, and my mouth ranneth over.  My husband had come home, and he got really (justifiably) mad at me.  He told me that it was quite unpleasant to listen to me, and if I was made so unhappy by doing it, maybe I should simple stop quilting altogether.  It was as if he had poured a bucket of cold water over me - he was totally, completely correct.  There is no excuse for a grown woman to mishandle frustration that way.  Chastised, I walked away and I apologized to my husband and the universe for my un-adult-like behavior.  I resolved to give up on finishing the piece once again.
     That night I could not sleep, I felt so small.  Was I really not meant to quilt anymore?  No, that couldn’t be it.  But I needed to learn from my mistakes.  Never again was I going to put so much importance on something that I would completely lose my cool.  Nothing is that important.  And to prove it, I was going to calmly finish. that. quilt. 
The next morning, two days before the deadline, I thought “Okay.  It doesn’t matter in the least whether I finish this thing, but for some reason, I really, really want to try.  The only rule is - not ONCE am I allowed to sigh, curse, or otherwise be impatient.  If I do, I am done.  
       Okay, okay -  I was unable to COMPLETELY follow the rule, but I did follow the spirit of the rule.  No cursing, no anger, but I did catch myself sighing a few times.   I had no earthly idea how I was going to quilt the thing, so some precious hours of the next day were spent figuring it out.  I went back to the pictures of the Medici floor and decided to quilt it only using shapes from the outlined areas of the tiles.  THAT part went somewhat better than I expected, based on well - EVERYTHING that had happened so far - my expectations were pretty low, and then having an unreliable machine as well as just kind of quilting blind, as they say.  Once the squares were quilted to my satisfaction, I worked on the floral elements.  This too proved way better than my non-expectations - I could do it and it really, really actually looked GOOD! Hooray!  But now I had these huge open white spaces on the sides - what the heck was I going to do with them?  Once again, I went to the tiles, and came up with an idea of sorts.  But I was scared to free motion it - it needed to be precise so I decided to make a template and use my handy water soluble marker to mark the quilt.  This was fine, too, but I really used that marker - I mean, I made lines all over that white and it turned out that the water soluble marker wasn’t so water soluble after all!  It didn’t come off with just a sprinkle of water - it needed a dousing!  And even with that, there were still marks on the first side when I finally went to bed that night, July 30, miraculously I had the thing about 60 percent quilted.  Tomorrow was the deadline, but I went to bed thinking I still might make it…

To end my tale, I will say nothing more, because a picture says a thousand words, right?

Monday, August 3, 2015

When a hero is not heroic, and other off-quilting musings...

First off, I need to make a disclaimer.  This particular blog entry is not about quilting, so feel free to skip it.  It’s the middle of the night and my middle aged hormones and too much iced tea have me awake, and this particular, heavy happening is weighing me down.  I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to be controversial or in any way stir up trouble, but I really feel the need to work through this thing.  I know I’m not the only person who is upset about this and unfortunately we are all damaged by it whether we think we are or not, so I hope that in working through this aloud I can maybe help others with it.  This is a blog about creativity and the journey, but it’s also about spirituality, and this weighs on my spirit.  The “this” I’m talking about is Bill Cosby and all the allegations, some he has already admitted to, of using drugs to rape scores of women.

 [Please read no further if you don’t wish to, I get it. In fact, skip to the very last paragraph of this blog, also in red.

I keep asking myself, does what he did negate the good that he did?  Is he nothing but an evil predator and liar?  Did he actually mean anything he said, ever?  I feel so keenly about it that I want to try to make some sense of it not just for me but for us as human beings.

Years ago - when I was first married I think - it was revealed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had had one or more affairs.  I was devastated.  He had always been such a hero to me, I was crushed to think that he could be so venial as to cheat on his wife.  I cried buckets over it.  I felt so deceived, my entire view of him was tarnished.  He wasn’t the man I thought he was.  He was a liar and a cheat, I said to my husband, and I could no longer admire him.  It changed everything, I thought.  My husband sat quietly and hugged me.  He then asked me one simple question “Does his cheating on his wife change what he accomplished?” Of course the answer was “No.”  He may have been a less than admirable husband, but he still made this country a better place, he still did what he did, he was still a hero, and while I would not model my marital behavior after his, I could still learn so much from him, his philosophy and the good that he absolutely did do and say was done, and this revelation didn’t take away from it.

Just that one question has had a huge impact on me over the years.  Of course it’s naïve to lionize anyone – we all have feet of clay.  Just because we’re strong or true or even extraordinary in one way doesn’t take away our humanity or struggles (Michael Phelps comes to mind).  I realized, too that maybe our expectations are too high for people we consider heroes.  Because in the end, no matter what anyone accomplishes, they are still in this human skin, and we are all deeply flawed and make mistakes.    
So a few years later, when The Monica Lewinsky scandal broke I was able to see that it was not the only or even the most important thing about the Clinton presidency.  And over the years, with some or even a lot of effort at some times, I’ve come to see that this realization leads to forgiveness and helps me let go of judgement a lot easier, even of myself.  (At least sometimes, anyway.)

But this stuff about Bill Cosby – this cut is deep.  What he did, his pattern of behavior is deeply destructive.  He has long been a hero of mine.  I grew up listening to his records, and watching his specials and his Jell-O commercials, and the Cosby show is, or at least it was, one of my all-time favorites – I mean, it was perfection.  This is one of those go-to shows for me over the years  - when I needed a laugh or just wanted to be entertained by life, this was one of the ones I could count on to bring joy.

I admired what I thought he stood for, what he said and did, and how he, in my mind, helped our struggling country with deeply divisive race issues.  He was erudite, classy, and he stood for something, I thought.  He wasn't afraid to say what he thought, even if it angered the African American community.  I listened when he talked, because I really thought he had some wisdom to offer.  And he was hilarious, to boot!  For me, there was an innocence to his humor that was delightful – he wasn’t crass or crude, didn’t curse too much or talk about private things – he made us laugh, at least I thought, in a pure, genuine way. 

When all the allegations against him came out I was outraged.  I was convinced that some ignorant racist (black or white) scumbag was trying to punish him for speaking out, for being defiant.  He had just written a letter which I had read about being tired of putting up with other people’s ideas of how he should think or be, and it was controversial, so I figured it was just the usual jerks trying to make him look bad.  I resolved to ignore the whole thing.

There was a point, however, when doubt started to creep in – I mean, there were so many allegations, and it just went on and on.  I remembered something else my husband had said in a similar situation a few years earlier – “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  That axiom has been proven right in many circumstances over the years, too.   But my heart squeezed -- how could this incredible person be a sexual predator – not someone who just cheated on his wife, but someone who has so much anger, disdain, and maybe even hatred for other human beings, namely women, that he would actually plan how to drug them and then degrade and rape them?  

It’s so much darker, and so seemingly completely incongruent, with what Bill Cosby has said and done publicly over the years.  So I’m wondering here - these things he’s done - they mean he’s not an admirable person, right? He’s a disgusting pig, right?  His so-called “contributions” were just lies - right?  It’s unforgiveable - right?

That is my struggle with this thing.   If I believe my spiritual teachers (and I do), the answer is, easily, that he does deserve forgiveness. Okay, that part’s not so hard to accept.  But the other questions’ answers don’t come so readily - does this heinous behavior change or even erase the positive contributions he made?  Will anyone ever be able to just sit and enjoy an episode of The Cosby show again? 

I admit that I’m devastated at the revelations that a person who influenced me and whom I deeply admired could have such a deeply distressing, horrible side.  I’m also admittedly, more than a little angry at anyone who could have spoken up about it years ago who didn’t.  But I know too that our society tends to blame the victim - why did they go to his room alone,blah blah blah…But - I can tell you in all honesty that if he had invited me up to his hotel room, I’d have gone – I thought he was completely devoted to his wife and family, I thought he meant what he said about people and equality. I’m not saying I would have definitely ignored warning signs - if there were any - but I might have.  I mean, he literally was a father figure to me.  So no - I don’t have any admiration left for him or those who helped him cover up, and the simple truth is that anyone who took hush money from him was basically enabling him to continue his inexcusable treatment of women.  That is a fact, by the way, not a judgement. 

I can also unequivocally say I believe he deserves any consequences that society imposes - including jailing his sorry old ass - he gets. 
Because there are consequences for that kind of sick behavior, Bill.  Karma does exist, dude, and you have created a helluva a lot of the bad kind.  I don’t know if you can fix it in this lifetime; I can only hope you will try, but even if you don’t, it’s still there, and it’s still yours to deal with – whenever.
Well now.  Having explored this in writing and thinking and meditating about it, here’s my personal conclusion:

Like other flawed heroes, Bill Cosby still achieved what he achieved.  He still made me and millions of other people laugh – a lot. And he did have some important and relevant things to say and he thought he meant them. He is not a completely evil person – he does have a shiny goodness inside him still – and that part is real, too. It just got overshadowed and overtaken by a gargantuan ego. 

While Bill Cosby's behavior is completely unjustifiable, and in some ways does take away from his achievements, his contributions, while diminished, still stand.  The Cosby show was funny, and I don’t have to feel bad for laughing at it or for believing the truths that he did say when his ego wasn't running the show, because truth is still truth, even out of a snake's mouth..

But what it really means is that Bill Cosby is not the admirable person I thought he was, and worse - he's not even the person HE thinks he is.  What he is in fact, tragically, is someone who knows nothing about and has experienced even less, true equality and even worse - love.  I feel so very sorry for him.

It’s not too late for him to learn, but it’s up to him.  I hope for his sake and for all of us that he does because it would create an opportunity for all of us to show true love and forgiveness.  And we could all benefit from that.
 If you’ve stuck with me through all this, I just want to say that I’m off my soapbox now, and promise to go back to writing about art and creativity again.  In fact when I sat down to write I thought I was going to write about my struggles with my Riley Blake challenge quilt, which I will share next time.  But again, I really believe that this situation affects us all as human beings – we all struggle with forgiveness and being flawed. As I’ve repeatedly said, that’s in part what this blog is about – my struggle with my own flaws.  So I hope I don’t lose you over this, dear readers and quilting community – you mean a lot to me in so many ways. I hope that if you chose not to read this you will still come back again.  But I’m sharing this because I feel compelled by love and humanity to do so.  I’m not going to promise it will never happen again, either, because like I said, I’m human. But I can promise that this blog is mostly about creativity and art and the journey, and that I will laugh at myself often and that I will be open and honest about the zigs and zags and zippers I meet along the creative pathway.   

Monday, July 13, 2015

Blog Hop Post

It's my turn to post for the New Blogger's Blog Hop.  I've been following the hop faithfully, (Even while I was on vacation in Europe!) and I already feel like I've made a lot of new friends.  I've learned a lot, technology-wise, too, and I've bookmarked a lot of stuff to look at later so I can even learn more. Those who know me well know that while I completely embrace technology as a tool, I also find it vastly - I was going to say annoying, but for the sake of being positive I'll go with - challenging..  As a former teacher I know that communication is one of my strongest points, but unlike with humans, I can't tell a machine what I want it to do, or even show it - I have to KNOW what to do, and there's the rub.  I often don't.  But I am determined to make my blog better and to utilize social media in a more - well, useful way. 

And, as in all my endeavors, I strive to be zen while doing it (which is perhaps the biggest challenge of them all...heck, it may never happen, but I'm not giving up). 

So while it's mainly about quilting, on my blog I often share the spiritual lessons I've learned from pursuing my art.  I've found that often the two converge in very interesting ways.

Sooo - about me, I live on a ranch in the middle of Texas, have been married to a transplanted Berkeley, California boy for 24 interesting, challenging and joy-filled years, and have one child, Jonas who is just about to spread his wings (literally, he wants to be a pilot) and go to university (a thousand miles away from home, I feel compelled to add). 

I've been obsessed with creating since my son was born (I think something opened up in my soul when I was pregnant) and specifically focused on quilting for thirteen years. 

I decided to share a few of my earliest projects with y'all, some I've never shown before.    

Here's an early one which currently hangs in my stairwell.  

I didn't really know what I was doing here, so there are lots of mistakes.  It's far from perfect, but I still like it.

Then there is the one I made early on for Jonas - it's faded from many washings, but still fun.  (The design is from a Mary Mashuta book, called Cotton Candy Quilts).

Love the modern look of this one - reminds me of the Jetsons.

Also, there is the (sadly) faded quilt I made for our bed, which I have loved all these years although it clearly needs replacing - I think it is the second quilt I made.  I've actually thought about trying to recreate it because I love it so much, but I'll admit it's difficult for me to make the same thing twice.

It was really bright colors when I made it.  Now it's faded and torn but I can't say goodbye to it yet!

So that's where I started, and you can check out my gallery tab to see where I am now.   All my quilts are self-designed, and many of them are art quilts, although lately I've been getting back to bed and lap quilts, too.  

Since I can't wait to get up in the morning and create, and I'm also a teacher through and through, I've decided to try to make it a business.   I'm really focusing on trying to make patterns, teaching, and I even have a book idea or two I'd like to pursue. I admit I have a hard time balancing creating with the developing of a business - I tend to be more focused on the making, not the marketing.  And - I'm trying to go about this is in a spiritual way - yes, I will set goals and attempt to achieve them, but at the same time, I'm not going to make it into some relentless pursuit of "an outcome."  I see every piece as a success, since I've learned something from each of them.  

My advice is (and this is hard-won, believe me):  When you're feeling frustrated and are not having fun, get up and take a walk, or just stop working for a while.  When you come back you'll be in a different frame of mind and problems will almost solve themselves.  And - don't be afraid to go with your gut.  If you like what you're doing in the moment, you'll like it when it's finished, too.  Be fearless - take that leap - the worst that can happen is you'll learn some new lesson (even if it's simply that you just don't like pink)!

I love to hang with my friends, I love to laugh, I love to read, discuss just about anything, and watch movies (all except horror and stupid puerile humor).   Oh, and something that people might not expect of me is that I'm really fascinated by all things science, but specifically by physics.  I won't say I completely grasp the subject, but I love reading about it. 

And a question for all of you out there:  What are some things you are/have been afraid to try, quilting-wise?  And if you braved it and tried it anyway, what was the result?  Can't wait to hear your answers!)

Thanks so much for stopping by and by all means, stop by the blogs of our supportive and talented sponsors

Stephanie Palmer at The Late Night Quilter
Yvonne Fuchs at Quilting Jet Girl
Cheryl at Mountain Mist Designs
Terri Ann at Childlike Fascination

as well as the rest of the blogs on the hop this week. (Yes, there are a lot of them, but yes, it's fun and you can do it!) Here are links to the my hive:

It's fabulous to meet and be inspired by others; it's one of the best thing about being part of the quilting community.  Hope to see y'all again, either in cyber-space or at some fun quilt show or class.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Well, it's a start, anyway...

Yippie - I'm back from my vacation and ready to get moving on some of my projects. Yesterday I actually got to spend a number of hours on my design for the Riley Blake Challenge, which was inspired by - yes - something I saw on my trip in Italy. I'm pretty excited about it, but as usual, I have literally no idea how I'm actually going to construct it.  The challenge is to try something you've never done before, so I'm trying paper piecing, but the design is pretty elaborate and I don't know if I can actually paper piece the entire thing.  So I think it's going to be both paper pieced and turned under applique, which is another thing I've never before tried.  I have one more drawing to complete and then I have to wait for more fabrics to arrive before I can begin.  
Am I cutting it close since the deadline is the end of this month?  Yes, absolutely.  But what's a girl to do?  I was so busy for several months before I left that I didn't have time to work on it , and then I was gone for a month ( in which a fabulous time was had; however it is a really long time to be away from home).  Anyway, I am determined to make my best effort to get it done in long as the fabric arrives soon I might just be able to pull it off.  I feel like I made a commitment and they sent me the free fabric and I need to do my absolute best to participate like I said I would.  Fingers and toes are crossed as I hopefully wait for it to arrive.
I also had a little down time while I was recovering from jet lag to work on a scrap quilt inspired by Amanda Jean's (Crazy Mom Quilts) Scrap Vortex quilt.  I'm just at the beginning stages, and I hope it will look as good in reality as it looks in my mind.   With a project like this, one can't be sure...

Here are the scraps, sorted by color and waiting to be used - it's already quite a vortex, isn't it?

The only problem is, I gave a lot of my scraps away and now I don't have as many as I thought I did, sooo it may end up being rather small...or I'll actually have to go begging to my sister (who graciously received many of said scraps) to please throw me a bone and give some of them back.  The irony of the situation is not lost on me - at the time, I thought I was dumping them on her, you see.  Ha - it seems karma is, indeed, karma.

Anyway, here is what I've gotten done so far:

Not much, but it's a start. But I have the entire afternoon to work on it, so I'm totally psyched. And also, it's fun, just a-sewin' and a-cuttin'.  

So happy to be linking up once again with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts once again, because I'm so (finally) back to the quilting party!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

So Much To Do, But I'm Sewing Anyway, Dammit!

Here's a quickie post on what I've been working on this last week:  Potholders!  Now, before you think "What a NERD," I've decided that potholders are one of my favorite kitchen items, besides dish towels.  Why? Because I always need more, and very rarely do the good ones come in satisfying shapes and colors that I like.  And yes, even in my kitchen, I'm all about colors.  I used to have these different colored plates - red, yellow, blue and green, and I couldn't stand to use two of the same ones unless I had used all of the colors once, AND they couldn't be next to each other.  I did the same thing with glasses...I know, I know, I'm strange.  But it was somehow so satisfying to have the table look artsy.  What can I say? I know, I know.  I'm obsessed.  It's not really OCD, I don't think because there was no anxiety involved.  I just like my table the way I like my table.  And since I'm the one cooking, I can do it the way I want!  

Anyway, back to potholders.  If done well, they too can add a satisfying touch of color and style to the kitchen.  Plus, I'm going to Europe next week for a month, and staying with families and in Airbnb, and I thought it would be nice to leave a potholder wherever I go, just as a thank you.  I've made five so far, but I gave one to my friend Stephanie, who just happened to come over on the first day I was making them so I gave her one.  I didn't get a photo of it, but here are the four remaining ones - only three more to go - hope I have time to make them... It could be that I'm spending a little too much time on them, but I can't help myself - it's so FUN!





Now let's talk about anxiety - I won't be able to sew for an entire month!  The thought brings me a little chill, although come to think of it, the last few months I've had so little time to sew I guess I've been practicing sewing celibacy already. 

 I'm really excited about the trip, of course, but I kinda wish I could stuff Audrey (my lovely graceful machine) or at least Thor (my small but powerful one) and a few bags of scraps in my suitcase.  Ah well, at least I will be seeing a lot of amazing sights and art, even if I can't create any.   Hopefully I'll at least come back with some design ideas...

 I'll still be around while I'm gone, luckily cyberspace can follow one anywhere.  (How DID we ever live without the internet, I wonder?)  

So Arrivaderci, Tchus, Adios, mis amigos.  I'll be writing you from Europa next time.  

Super. Lucky. Me.

Joining up with my fellow bloggers at Sew Fresh and Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday...haven't been able to ogle in  a few weeks so I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I Actually Had Time to Work in My Studio!

Can't take too long because it's past my bedtime already, but I so love linking up and checking out everyone's WIP's.  Of course I looked at all the quilts on the Blogger's Quilt Festival, done by the amazing Amy of Amy's Creative Side this week, so that was fun, too.

But I'm so thrilled because after almost three months of being unable to work in my studio due to other things, I actually had an entire day to sew this weekend, and have snatched a few hours in the last couple of days to work as well.  AND - I have something to show for it!  It's a new design, called "Prayer Kites."

This quilt reminds of two things: One is the prayer flags that you see all over Tibet, because they are strung together and when they blow in the wind they sometimes fold over and look like kites.  And It also reminds me of some of those Mid-Century Modern designs with the stars and the lines and the bright citrus colors against a creamy background.  I plan to blog more about this piece when I'm not so tired.  There's still some work to do on it, but I have to say that I like it  - it will make a cheery throw, I think.  (Oh and don't worry, I caught that the greens in the middle were going the wrong direction BEFORE I sewed it together)  

I have the squares sewn now, but don't have a photo.  Drop by tomorrow or Friday for more info on this - I had some - er - adventures putting it together!  See you all at WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social

Friday, May 22, 2015

A True Orginal...?

You know how they say that if one has an idea, you can bet that it's already been thought of before.  There are so many people in the world and have been so many people before, that I imagine that's kind of true.  Then how can anything ever be original?

I've thought about this a great deal, because I know that I'm often inspired by other people's ideas, art, the design on a fence or wallpaper or whatever! I am often inspired by something I see in nature, too, Sometimes ideas that seem to come out of the blue are actually from somewhere I've been or something I've seen but I don't remember it consciously.  So when we talk about original design, I've come up with the following. Original design is something you didn't copy exactly from something else - a pattern, for example.  Although it may have been inspired in an obvious way by something else, you aren't just copying what's been done before in that you are creating it in a different medium, say from a painting to a quilt.

This piece, called "Magnetism," is an original design that came from an art deco design I saw.  I sketched the design, which was metallic against white, but as I started turning it into a quilt it morphed quickly into something quite different.  I actually blogged about this piece earlier, because I spent a lot of time getting it just right - I even had to take out a lot of the quilting I had done once I realized it didn't fit at all with the sensibility of the piece!  (See the blog titled "When is a Failure not a FAIL if you're interested.)

Anyway, the final result of all the planning, thinking, doing, ripping is this:

I definitely put a lot into this piece, but it was worth it, as I am so satisfied with the outcome now.  It's a testament to how much I wanted this piece to turn out that I was even rather zen during all the processes of changing and fiddling that needed to be done on it!  I made a table runner with the rejected squares that my little kitten Angus loves to sleep upon.

Good thing he matches, otherwise I don't know if I'd let him stay!

I'm entering it into Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival  in - you guessed it - the original design category.

                                                   Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Housekeeping

.  My thanks to Amy of Amy's Creative Side for her hard work and willingness to take so much time to put this together.  Can't wait to see all the beautiful creativity in the festival!!