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!!

Almost Missed the Deadline!

Oh gosh, I've been so consumed with life that I almost missed the Blogger's Quilt Festival from Amy's Creative Side!  I even saved up a couple of quilts I wanted to enter, but if Amy hadn't sent that last chance notice, I would have missed it, and been so bummed.  Still, I can always look at and be inspired by all the entries even if I hadn't gotten
a chance to enter.  However, I'm going to throw a couple of entries in, just because.    Here's the first one:  It's called Drops of Jupiter.

This piece was inspired by a friend's child's Op art piece that he made in a summer camp last summer.  He was proudly showing me his piece and naturally I got an idea from it.  His piece was a drawing, with his hand, but naturally,  being the circular woman I am I turned to circles.  I had the drawing but it wasn't until I saw all these cool fabrics that I really got excited about the piece.

This reminds me of how drops of water magnify what is beneath them.  I quilted the spheres to look like Jupiter, and made parallel wavy lines over the rest of the piece.  I didn't want to add too much to the piece with the quilting, because I think the fabrics are what shines here, so I used white thread.   I so enjoyed doing this and I would like to make another at some point, using the same idea of displaced shapes, but with an entirely different fabric/style.

Sigh.  Now I just need some time to spend in my studio...

Once again, big thanks to Amy at Amy's Creative Side for conceiving of and doing all the work to make this fun, inspiring festival happen.

                                                 Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Housekeeping

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The 'War of the Thistles' and Other Distractions

I have the great fortune to live on a beautiful cattle ranch in the Texas Hill Country. 

Happy pastures full of grass means contented, happy cows!

  My father has spent forty-five years trying to return the land as much as possible to its natural state. This means that every spring we have the "War of the Thistles," where I go out daily through the fields with a special hoe (designed by dear old Dad) and seek out the lairs of the dreaded thistles that threaten to take over and infest our lands with more of their kind, crowding out the native grasses we so lovingly protect.  I actually really enjoy it because I love walking, I love being outside, and I prefer it to spraying chemicals all over the place. Now I realize the relative futility of the thing - there's no way we can beat the things entirely. However, we can keep them hidden in the dark labyrinths of uncut, ungrazed forests of trees like the evil hydras they are. 

You may see a beautiful, majestic plant, but to me it is evil Medusa and her monstrous sisters trying to take over my peaceful, pastoral world!

A friend of mine recently went to a ranch where she noted to the rancher that she didn't see any thistles.  He replied that he did have some, but he didn't worry about them; that if you have enough grass the thistles can't take over.  Now, we have a ton of grass and I'm not entirely convinced - those thistles are clever and extremely prolific.  I've fought with patches of  hundreds of them at a time (we'll call those battles a draw) and we've been warring with them for years and still they keep insinuating themselves back into the mix.  So I'm not gonna just sit back and take the chance that they might not actually take over my beautiful ranch, no siree - I've seen it happen to unwitting fools who don't pay attention to their land and it's NOT PRETTY!  It's devastation - I mean, acres and acres of them and not a lick of grass!  So I'm stickin' with my trusty hoe method as long as I can walk and swing, thank you very much.  I'm doing my best to keep the pastures - well, pastoral.  Happy grass means happy cows, goats, chickens, horses, geese, and of course, happy ranchers...

We've had a magnificent spring this year, too.  There's been lots of rain, bringing tons of breathtaking wildflowers...acres of grasses swaying in the wind...and also lots and lots of these evil, powerful, growing-genius, WEEDS!  Anyway, I try to spend only a couple hours per day on it, maximum, but it is definitely a daily time suck.

Another thing that has consumed a large amount of the last couple of months is that my husband and I have been working on some projects which  have involved not only a lot of computer and phone work, but a lot of driving around and meetings.  I'm quite excited about them, yes, but still, they only have allowed me a couple of hours here and there to create.

And finally, my son is graduating from high school this year, and there's always so much to do during the spring, school-wise, anyway.  But this year there are way more awards ceremonies, concerts, meetings, etc. than ever.  And I admit, I don't want to miss a thing, because he's going to school a thousand miles away next year. And I will miss him a great deal.

For the above reasons, I really haven't had much time in my studio in the last month, which is okay I suppose; I've been truly obsessed with creating for almost two years.  I've had idea after idea - last year I started and completed something like twenty-two (or more) projects , all my own designs, all completely done by yours truly.  I was a busy, busy bee.  And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

But since I've been away for a few weeks, with just a snatched hour here and there, I seem to have lost my Mojo.  I'm not feeling particularly creative, and I'm questioning the purpose of all this creative frenzy I've been in for two years.  I mean, yes, I certainly created a lot of stuff, but was it time well spent?  I'm wondering.

And I'm a little grouchy about it, too.  Yesterday, for example, I was most unproductive.  I actually could have been in my studio working, but I didn't do it. Instead I spent hours reading a book (which wasn't actually all that good although I got a kind of adolescent enjoyment out of it), I played with our new adorable kitten, Angus MacKitty, and, oh yes, I actually cooked dinner (a rare occurrence around here these days as I've discovered recently that after twenty five years of doing so, I'm just not all that into cooking dinner every single night anymore).  Those things - and running some errands -  are about the extent of my day's accomplishments.  

I wouldn't say I was depressed, but I was definitely un-motivated.   I mean, it's not as though I have a bunch of deadlines I need to meet, or people waiting for me to write my blog or to see what I've created.  I've been creating because I've been driven to do it by some big creative force coming through me; and yes, it's brought me joy and I've learned soo much. But, too -  I admit I have had hopes that something more will grow from it, too.  I almost feel arrogant admitting that - I follow lots of blogs, and I know how many incredibly talented, creative people are out there...but I've hoped and believed there is room for more.  So far, not much has happened on that front.

So suddenly I'm having a "crisis of creating."  I've really tried to create with no real outcome in mind, just let it flow through me and enjoy the moment, but admittedly there have always been goals lurking in the back of my mind.   I haven't really known how to pursue them, and I haven't been sure I should - I sort of figured if it was meant to be, it would happen.  I've been walking on this path, just letting it take me -  wherever.  And I've liked where it's taken me.  Until now.  Now I'm wondering if it's just going to meander around forever, never leading anywhere.   And if that's the case, do I need to continue on it, forge a new path, or get off the path entirely?

To my mind, this is a seriously spiritual question.   Whether I even should want this creative journey to go in a certain direction at all.  And if it's okay to want it to lead somewhere, should I set short and long term goals and list ideas of ways to reach them and then take actions to reach the goals?   Or should I just keep doing what I'm doing, letting the ideas flow, sharing thoughts and ideas on this blog whenever, and not worry about where it's leading at all?   

When I examine this question, I come up with the following.  

What I know for sure: 

  •  Creating brings me joy.  
  • I'm on a creative journey.  
  • I'm a teacher. 
  • I want to share it.  
  • I will continue to create.

What I would like to have happen: 

  •  I would like to teach quilting classes. 
  •  I would like to publish patterns. 
  •  I would like to write a quilting book (or books.).  

When I ask myself the question of why I want the above, in complete honesty I come up with these answers:

  •  I get so much joy from it and I believe other people would also get joy from it as well. 
  •  Because it's coming through me so strongly, because the drive is so great, I hope - I feel that it has a purpose other than self-discovery or self-actualization or my needing validation. 
  •  I think , I really do, that it wants to be shared.
  •  And (in the spirit of total honesty), I want all the time I spend on my art to be worthwhile, and not just for me.  

What I don't want is for it to be ego-driven.  I don't want to be striving too hard or feel disappointed if I don't reach those goals.  

So after exploring all this quite publicly and in writing, I guess this is how I will proceed.  I will gently try to go in a certain direction, and I will set aside time regularly to set goals and take steps toward reaching the goals.  I will continue to create as it comes to me but - and this is the challenge - I will NOT be focused on the outcomes.  I will be accepting of and contented with whatever does (or doesn't) happen.  It's not a particularly easy path, because I DO want those things to happen, I'm not gonna lie, but I know that I need to be just as joyful even if they don't, and not spend an entire day reading adolescent fiction or watching television and stuffing my face every time something doesn't happen.  

So, dear readers, stick with me while I'm on this ride, will ya?  I'm pretty sure I'm gonna need lots of advice, some reminding, and yes - an occasional kick in the ass.  

It'll be challenging, of that I'm certain.  I won't promise not to screw up,  but I can promise complete honesty and an open heart.  

Here goes nuthin'...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Little Time to Sew, but Something to Show WIP Wednesday

In the past two weeks, I've only had an hour here or there to sew, which, I've discovered, I don't like.  But we've just been super busy with other stuff around here so that's the way it goes.  Still, I have a couple of projects to share today.  First I am almost finished with my Magnetism Table Runner.  I had made extra squares when making the original quilt and I decided to turn them into a table runner, or rather, if you like, a Skinny Magnetism Quilt.  I put it on my table, and I thought it was fun there:

and then I put it on the narrow wall by my stairs, and I also like it there (although the stairs are on the right and I didn't include them in the picture...oops):

It just needs a little tweaking and then it will be finished.

Second, I will share a project I'm really excited about - a new design I'm calling Triangle Jungle.  It features Black and Whites and Botanicals by Marcia Derse, and Poems from Pebbles from Malka Dubrowsky - two lines I'm gaga for and I almost think were created for each other.  It's only the top but I'm pretty jazzed with it:

I had an absolute blast making this, despite the challenges.  I'm planning to make a pattern for it soon. 

Finally, a finish - I'm done with the tree and here it is:  

I admit I'm quite please with this piece, too.  It turned out so well I plan to make a couple more using different tree shapes and backgrounds.  I'm crazy about that batik fabric I used to frame it - it comes in several different color palettes and I think it's perfect for this tree.  I didn't even quilt the frame, because I like that it looks like a frame...

That's it for me this week - can't wait to take a peek at what all ya'll are doing out there!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Start and a Finish, of Sorts - WIP Wednesday

Wow - can't believe it's been an entire week since I last posted.  I've been immersed in a new design this week.  I got the idea on Friday and I already have a finished top!  But I'm not quite ready to share it, yet.  So here are a couple of other things I've been toying with in the last week or so:

First, none other than Lorna MacMahon's Zany Zebras!  

These are for a pillow I'm making for my cousin's daughter.  Obviously they are unfinished, but I enjoyed making them.  I have to say I'm pretty impressed with Lorna's designs - they are challenging!  And cleverly done.  I made them in pink as you can see.  I'm going to make a big floor pillow with Harper's name on it.  I think they're super cute!  Gonna do the elephants next, for her twin brother.  

Also, I made a throw pillow cover , too.  It was completely improv but I'm pretty happy with it. It features Marcia Derse and Malka Dubrawsky prints that I got at Quiltcon.  They are wicked cool prints that go together so well I almost think were made for each other...

The piece I finished also features both these fabrics, and I was originally going to put this on the back, but now I think it is perfect for a pillow.  It needs a little tweaking, too - as I accidentally flipped one of the borders and one of the corners is just a little too small (I wanted them wonky but this is a little bit much!) but even if I leave it the way it is, I like it. I'm trying to decide if I should quilt it or just add a back and make it a regular pillow.  I'm thinking that white space needs to be filled.  

Last, I've finally come back to visit my tree.  And I'm so glad I did.  I started experimenting with canopies and this is what I ended up with:

I  considered leaving it leaf-less, but I was staring out my studio window at one of the Post Oaks with its new green leaves and they looked like blobs of different colors as they danced in the wind.  Of course it's exaggerated, like the rest of the piece but I'm diggin' on those blobs of green and I think it adds a lot to the piece.  I'm just appliqueing them on.  I seriously love this tree - those aboriginal fabrics make me so darn happy.  I'm waiting for my next design inspiration for them - I adore working with them and I have a lot of it left!

So that's me for this Wednesday.  Can't wait to see what everyone else is doing - it's so fun, thanks Lorna at Sew Fresh and Lee at Freshly Pieced for doing the linkys!  

Oh and I wanted to add the finish of the hexie baby quilt I made for my temporary daughter's (my exchange student) new baby bro:

It's so fun!  and I have to say I'm pretty gaga about the binding - it turned out perfectly!  Don't have a photo of the back, but wish I did -it's super cool, super soft yellow and gray chevron MINKY!  I also want to keep it for myself...but I made if for the baby, so off it goes.  Boo hoo...NOT!  Because I have a bunch of hexies from the same line left, so I CAN make another.  Hooray, Huzzah and all that - lucky me.