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!!

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'...