Thursday, December 24, 2009
At this special time of the year, I am grateful for my family and friends, and that includes those of you who follow me here. This is such a wonderful time of year, full of light and celebrations of many kinds. I am grateful for this space to express myself and the things that I am thinking of. I promise you I will have more for you to look at in the coming months. I think I should be spending my winter in the southern hemisphere so that I can be more vibrant and interesting!
I hope that you are all safe, happy and warm at this holiday season. Cherish the wonderful things in your life because they are the real gifts we have.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
I have a confession to make. I'm not ready for Christmas. I hear songs on the radio and I can't believe the Christmas season is already upon us. It's overwhelming to me when I think of all the things I want to do.
We don't have big families and they're kind of spread out around the country. Our jobs don't allow us to get away for the holidays, so we usually have to find other times for catching up with family. Nine years ago, when my youngest was only 6 months old, my husband's parents took the whole family to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. All 16 of us! It was truly the most wonderful Christmas and one of my favorite times. Another time we all went to Grandpa's house in Arizona. I really enjoyed the cacti decorated with lights and Santa hats.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
It all started when I taught him how to sew on a button. He has made repairs on clothes for his clients like holes in pockets and missing buttons. He is always brimming over with ideas for different designs. He does fun things with photo manipulations and makes a new wallpaper for the computer almost every day. You never know what will come out of his mind.
I know he's made dozens of these, but these were the only ones I found in our photo collection. Well, I have a few more that I can share later. Now that the Christmas season is approaching, he's started making his ornaments again. It's a good sign.
This week he went shopping for a sewing machine. I'm thinking I may have to make room in my sewing room. Although, if you knew my hubby, you'd know that he likes to be secretive about what he's up to until he's ready for you to see it. He's the same way when he's cooking. I don't think he'd like me to see what he was doing because I might criticize. Funny thing is, though I have my talents, he's the real artist in the house. You'd know it if you saw his stuff.
And now you, my blogging friends, get to admire his talents as well.
I hope you enjoy them.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I meant to post this yesterday but ran out of time helping with the homework, etc., last night.
I have been thinking about some of my special experiences with creative expression. I am a singer, classically trained. Once a long time ago I sang a full senior recital while I was working on my music degree. I love classical art song. Bringing to life the words of the poet, through the musical interpretation as provided by the composer, is an amazing experience. I sang several groupings or sets of song for my recital. One of my favorite groupings was a collection from the works of Ned Rorem, a 20th century composer. He wrote this marvelous gem of a piece from the writings of Gertrude Stein, called "I Am Rose". The song takes about 23 seconds to sing. I loved this song and it suited me so well. Afterwards my faculty advisor told me it was his favorite part of the recital. It was mine, too. I could feel the connection with the music, the voices of the character, the author and composer, coming out through me. It was a powerful moment and a special one for me. It was about letting the colors of the song flow through me and letting the audience experience the feeling with me.
I studied voice for many years and loved every minute of it. It's very difficult and takes a lot of practice, just like with any instrument. But when you hit those "I am Rose" moments, it is amazing. I am no great opera singer and nobody is offering me a recording contract. So maybe I shouldn't keep on studying or practicing, because that kind of success is out of my reach. Often the deepest pain for an artist is that expression that falls just a little short of what you meant to say. But then I'd never have my amazing moments to keep. And they are so valuable to me.
The same is true of my quilting. I have made some truly special quilts and some that will get you by. I'm still learning about FMQ and if I had the money or space for a long arm machine, I'd be going gangbusters. I believe that if I keep trying, I will reach my goal of making amazing quilts, just like the ones I drool over every day. I'm just a caterpillar, inching along, hoping to get a glimpse of the butterfly I can become. The more I try, the more I see that it is attainable.
I want to convince anyone reading this that you, too, have the power to find your colors and sing them out into the world. Find your voice in what you love and treasure the moments when it all comes together.
This is a little long, but I'm glad I got to share. Thanks for listening.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Here are a few pics from our evening of frightful fun. The boys hung out with their best friends as we went around our hometown neighborhood. Then we had a fire in the backyard and toasted marshmallows. Good times!div>
A nerd and a headless horseman--a perfect pairing!
Hope you had a safe and fun Halloween!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Well, yesterday I managed to drag my kids away from screens of any kind (except the digital camera, of course) into the great outdoors. We took a walk in a nearby state park late in the afternoon. It was a little cloudy, but I was glad it was not raining. I also included a picture of a colorful tray of stones from the rock show. The pic was on my mind and I wanted to include it today.
I stopped into my LQS today and found this cool ruler that I saw demonstrated at a recent club meeting. It's the perfect solution to my raffle basket table runner. You can take any border fabric and make a neat table runner in no time at all. I didn't have time for pictures today, but i put together a sample and it's fantastic.
Gotta go. I'm getting tired and brain dead.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
1) "new fabric" backpack -- Well, that was to be the practice piece for my FMQ goal and the backpack pattern I hadn't done yet. I have finished the quilting on that block of fabric. But I went back to an earlier panel of beautiful orange/brown/red fabrics that I had created to make into a backpack. I quilted this panel in no time using the techniques I have been practicing on the "new fabric" piece. I plunged right into finishing the backpack and, voila!, it is done.
Here's the picture of my beautiful new backpack in my signature color, orange. I was waiting for a project that would put this fabric in the spotlight and I think it was a good choice. It goes with everything I'm wearing this season. I will finish the "new fabric" one sometime, but there are other projects looming.
Here's the back:
And a close-up of the FMQ:
I love the button on the front, too.
2) snowman table runner -- That piece kind of fell to the side while I worked on my practice piece. I'd better pick it up again and just get it quilted. I have a lot of projects that are mostly waiting to be pin basted. I just need the space and time to get it done. Piecing is easier because you don't have to do it all in one sitting.
3) casserole carrier -- I don't even have a pattern yet. This one may not happen.
4) hexagon rosettes for the Australian challenge -- I brought this up at my quilt club and now I am scheduled to do a demonstration on this technique at the November meeting. I have a lot of prep work to do to get ready.
Well, that's the update on my previous list. Now I need to list the newer projects I've been working on.
1) Venetian dream -- I saw this neat pattern in a recent Fons and Porter "Easy Quilts" issue and decided I would just pull fabrics from my older blues and greens just to move some of my fabrics off the shelf. I cut out the pieces in no time. Now it's a great little project to just piece on when I need to fondle fabric for my mental well-being.
I also picked out fabrics to do a Christmas version. Sometimes the planning bogs me down, especially when I don't have the right fabrics on hand. I'll do the sashing in white again, too.
2) Christmas panel quilt -- I picked up this cute snowman panel by Deb Strain at my LQS along with some coordinating fabrics. They had a cute little lap quilt someone from the shop had created to showcase the fabrics, so I decided to try to recreate it. This week I cut out the blocks and sewed strips log cabin style around them. Now I'm ready for sashing and whatever I want to do with the borders. It will work up quick.
3) "Ray of Sunshine" quilt -- This was originally a quilt intended for someone else. It's kind of a large baby quilt. The colors weren't right for the original recipient (my decision), so I've substituted another quilt. This was from a pattern in Quiltmaker, I think, that I wanted to get some of my quilt club members to use for a charity quilt pattern. It uses 2 1/2 " strips and would be perfect for a jelly roll quilt, even though the pattern was written before they introduced jelly rolls.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The idea of memory as a key element of personality is a theme that has been on my mind lately. "What you leave in, what you leave out." The key is in the editing. No one remembers things with 100% accuracy. The way we remember things, the things that stick with us, the things that we believe are important to remember, these shape the decisions we make in our lives. Without memory, we cannot interact with our world in a meaningful way.
I love to hear stories that people tell about their lives. I love to tell stories about my life. When I was growing up, I loved to hear my parents tell stories about themselves before they were married. Now that we have kids, they love to hear our stories. It holds their attention longer than anything else I can think of.
Last night I went out with several friends from work who share October birthdays with me. Dr. Tang, our favorite physiatrist, started the tradition. She was a fantastic doctor to work with, the best any of us can remember working for. She listened to us and to her patients and she still kept her authority. Anyway, she took us all out to dinner and we've been doing it for five or six years now. I'm the oldest, so I'm the first one to be looking 50 square in the face. I haven't come up with a plan for my 50th birthday, so that will be one big task for me this year.
I'm kind of losing my narrative thread here, though. I started out thinking about pretty views and now we've veered into memories and the passing of time. Actually, even though it's been kind of a wet fall, I have enjoyed the changing leaves more this year than in the past several years. Sometimes I see autumn as just the lead-in to winter, which I don't enjoy at all. But this year it doesn't seem to bother me as much. In fact, I'm just amazed at every little vignette I see--a cluster of colorful leaves against a curb, a mass of mixed foliage colors around the road, a stand of bright red trees in a median at the mall. They're everywhere I look.
This year I'm bravely taking on tasks in my sewing room. This has not been possible the last few years. Right now, I'm itching to finish this and post it so I can go sew a little. So stay with me as I venture into the uncharted waters of another winter!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
My "Rays of Sunshine" top is together, and I thought I would put a white border on it, but I'm not loving it as I thought I would. I may not border it at all. My backpack is officially in use now, as I took it to the rock show yesterday. I haven't got the drawcord the way I like it yet, but it's functional and I love it.
I got a chance to visit with more of the club members yesterday. Marie Z. teaches a technique for making little gem trees with twisted wire and bits of gemstones glued on as "leaves". But she is a true artist and draws and does all kinds of creative things. Her husband makes cabochons and bits of polished stone. I think I would love to do that too, but how many things can a woman do and still have a house and home?
Here is a closeup of one of her trees:
It was a fun event and educational for the kids as well.
This morning I decided I would just cut fabric because I have orange thread in the bobbin and I didn't feel like changing it out today. I'm doing a Christmas quilt with a set of panels I bought recently. I also am doing a quilt called Venetian Tile from the most recent issue of F&P's Easy Quilts with fabrics from my stash in light blue and greens. Originally, I was going to do it as a scrappy quilt with as many fabrics as I could find from my stash. But when I realized I could do it with only 6 fabrics, and hardly make a dent in my pile of fabric, I decided it would be good enough. The pattern would be a good one to whip up in several colors. It uses squares in sizes from 2 1/2" to 9 1/2 " so I can just save bits as I go along and cut the squares as I go to make a scrappy version.
Well, this post is my first one with pics, which I've been promising for some time now. I'll get a few more taken to bring everyone up to speed.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
You have to understand that I rarely get things finished and I was very slow to get this project started. I knew it would be a great project to practice my quilting skills on. I had the main panel sewed back in July before the kids got back from camp. I was supposed to take the machine quilting class on Aug 1 and this would be my first project. Then the kids came back and my life was no longer my own. Then the sad events of September came along and it's only in the last few weeks that I'm getting some time for myself.
Out of my sewing time has come 1) my backpack, 2) my quilting sampler panel that will be worked into another backpack which is made completely with scraps, and 3) my "Rays of Sunshine" top that is just waiting for a border. The pieces are cut, I just have to cut iron and measure the top again.
Tonight my son is working on another school project that he left to the last minute. I have an apple cake in the oven that I threw together while supervising his work. I have Project Runway to look forward to tonight. It's always Sunshine and Shadow.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I know I have a lot to learn and I want to try some new ideas and products, but Rome wasn't built in a day. So, I'm finishing up a WIP just so I can try to quilt it. And I have 3 more waiting to be finished. I want to be like crazymomquilts and have all these cool quilts flowing out of my hands. I can see it and it's finally within my grasp.
Of course, this is all pretty boring chatter without pics. That's my next goal. First I have to get the camera charged up and get my DH to help me get the pics loaded right....
But I am JUICED now. Tomorrow I put on the borders and Thursday I'll go to the library and pin baste it. They have such nice big spaces to lay everything out. I'm ready.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I still haven't got a camera and my recent paltry efforts together for a photo shoot. Maybe that will happen this week. But I've been strolling through the Blogger's Quilt Show and studying quilting techniques I've found there. It's reassuring to see some of the same ideas I'm using in my filler sampler that I'm working on. Eventually the panel I'm making will be made into a backpack. I'm learning about the importance of space to give the batting room to breathe. My favorite filler is a feathered vine that I FMQ'd, similar to Leah's Fern and Stem.
I cam across a recipe for a One Bowl Apple Cake that I will make today and report on. It looks fantastic and just what I was looking for. Maybe I'll make one for work, too.
I have to escape to my sewing room while I can to do something before everyone is up and about. Not an exciting post, but something at least.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
One of my favorite quilt tops is one I made with solids in the center in a Churn Dash block, using orange as the background color. It's a signature piece for me. (I need to get it quilted.) I used a colorful batik that kind of had a lot of bubblegum colors in it, but it worked with the center. I call it Exploded Amish style.
Orange is my signature color. My friends from quilt club tease me and compliment my unique sense of combining color. I don't necessarily like things to match exactly. I never buy a whole group of fabrics from a line to make a quilt with. I believe that color is a language that we use to express our individual personalities. I love the nuances that can be seen in different color combinations and the ways that colors can change depending on what's in the mix. In a way, that's also true of the dynamics between people.
Enough musing, I need to go bathe myself in color in my sewing room and see if I can make any sense of things.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
We went to The Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival in Huntington, IN, today. I saw a cute knapsack made of rabbit fur, hand sewn of course, that I would like to help my son make for a school project. I would really like to find him a piece of garment leather to make a bag with. I'm going to check out the web and see what I find. I need a gloving needle to sew the pelt by hand, whatever that is. My favorite part of the fest is usually the spinning and weaving demos. I watched a woman hand shear a 250 lb. sheep--quite impressive the way she handled him. I wish I had time to do half the projects I like. Oh, yeah, and twice the money I need to do them, too! Might as well wish big as long as I'm wishin'.
This entry is boring. Some days are just like that. I want to try the Whoopie Pie recipe I saw on another blog tomorrow. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Julia Child had something to say about being unsure about trying something new. In "My Life in France", she relates an occasion where she made lunch for a friend. The menu was simple and something she was familiar with, but she had to make some substitutions because she couldn't get the right ingredients. She said that she knew right away that the combination she chose was a mistake. So did her friend. But Julia does not believe in apologizing for her food, even for the mistakes. And she did not publicize it when she was unfamiliar with a recipe. So they ate lunch and visited, and both knew that the food was not that good. Julia learned from her mistake, but she did not embarass herself or her friend with apologies and explanations. Julia felt that it created uneasiness in a guest to share your feeling of failure because something didn't work out in the kitchen. She would serve her food as best as she could and move on.
So, we learn. Don't point out your mistakes, your unmatched points, your missed attempts. Live with the imperfection and continue to try to improve your craft.
Live with the apple crisp the way it turns out.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
But I love them and all they do. It's "no big deal" to come up with all these ideas that make the lives of kids richer and more interesting.
Georgia, my friend's mother, along with her husband, Tom, touched the lives of hundreds of kids. She was Mrs. Claus at the cottage down by the courthouse every winter and passed out the candy to the kids at her daughter's house every Halloween. She got right down and talked to all these kids face to face and made them feel interesting and the center of attention. It's such an important thing to do for a child.
I am inspired by her life and the way that she passed on these qualities to her daughter who does so much for her family, her church and her community. I am proud to know them and I learn things from them all the time.
Today is to honor the life of Georgia Clark, one of the millions of invisible heroines, an amazing and magnificent woman.
Monday, September 21, 2009
In going through my stash, I came across a couple of small tops that would be great to finish and maybe embellish with some applique to add something special. I'm energized and excited. I know these projects are just the right size to try out some FMQ techniques that I've been studying. Yea!
I also love piecing scraps into new fabric. The other day I was just noodling around and found a bag of scraps and end pieces I bought at my LQS (they look like pieces left over from cutting kits) and just started piecing atrips from the bag along with some other scraps I had on my sewing table. Before I know it, I have a sizeable piece of new fabric. Originally, I just wanted to practice FMQ on the piece and leave it at that. But...I have a backpack pattern that takes a piece just about the size of my created fabric, and well, the wheels are really turning now.
I buy all kinds of fabric in big chunks to make a fantastic large quilt that starts to blossom in my brain, but what I really use is all the small chunks that fall into my lap. Sometimes it's hard to cut into that beautiful piece of fabric if you're not sure what you want to do. I feel very free when I am working with something I don't have to worry about, like a pile of scrappy strips.
So, let's see. Current project list:
"new fabric" backpack with FMQ
completed snowman table runner top that needs a cool quilted filler design
design a casserole carrier for a 9X13 stoneware dish for a Xmas gift
hexagon rosettes for Australian challenge
That's all I can think of. Now, who's cooking dinner?
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I've been thinking about how my sewing activities give me this little island of control in the chaos of my life. I have strict rules about people not getting into my "stuff" and my sewing room is the only sacred room in the house for me.
I think that another reason I'm drawn to hand work--hexagons, quilting, embroidery, applique--is the immediateness of the work. It is in my hands and I make it successful. I love the feel of the fabric and the repetition is soothing.
I haven't worked on any hexagons for a few days. My best friend's mother passed away on Friday. My stepmother is terminally ill as well. The kids still have their activities that keep us so busy. I'm thinking of some tiny hexagon rosettes to applique on a baby quilt for a friend's first granddaughter.
I can feel my mood sinking a little with the approach of autumn. The low angle of the sun affects me almost immediately.
I have 2 Christmas projects to lift my spirits and a whole slew of blogs to follow and inspire me. I love seeing the clever things people do--how do they find the time! Not that anyone will read this, but Thanks for the positive vibes you all send out! Leah Day makes my day everyday with her new FMQ patterns. She is my inspiration.
Well, that should do for today. I've got to keep the momentum going.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Primarily, I am a quilter, though I don't have that many finished quilts to show for it. But I compose quilts and quilt projects in my head all the time. I am inspired by passion in others. I was drawn to this blog space because of Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting blog. I want to do FMQ to finish all those tops I have laying around. Her site is inspirational and makes it all look so accessible. It is genius.
In my musing about genius, I have been thinking about Julia Child. I read the book "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell about her quest to cook all the recipes from Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," then I saw the movie made from the book. Julie Powell was disappointed that Julia Child was not a fan, but it's no surprise. Because of the huge scope of her project, Julie never set out to cook the recipes well, she just had to do each of them once. I am now reading Julia's autobiographical (with Alex Prud'homme) "My Life in France." Julie's attitude toward cooking would never evoke a positive response from Julia. Julia had such a joyful, ebullient view of the world and she was driven not only to do something, but to do it until she had mastered it. This is one reason Julia was so well liked by the French people she came to know in France. She loved the way that the French did not put the emphasis on productivity in terms of numbers, but preferred the approach of the artisan, whether it be in the making of cheese or wine, or a simple and elegant meal.
I love Julia's joy for life. I love how it showed in her cooking, her art. And it was never just about doing it, but doing it well.