Monday, June 30, 2014

What is Next?

Someone once said that the race is not always to the swift but to those who keep running. I cannot believe how much I am dragging my feet to get back to my routine here after that lovely trip back to the midwest. Its called de-briefing or the law of cure when you need to re-group your energies. Over the years, I've taken time to refresh myself every time I taught a seminar or weekend retreat. Its just smart.

Yet, for some reason, I am trying to stiff-arm it and get back to the swing of my quilting as if there hadn't been a 2-week vacation.  I got up around 5:30 this morning, put on the coffeepot and started piecing the 4 blocks I had cut out yesterday.  Of course, working before the sun comes up is not always smart. Its not so much about the light, as it is not having coffee and not reading directions. This 6" block is not right. I might be able to figure how how to fix it but have gone on, just pinning the pieces together for later.

The other 6" and the two 12" blocks are in progress. I discovered that I used that leafy fabric in a previous block and hope they will look different enough for it not to matter.

I think about the choices I've made in quilting, buying fabric, choosing patterns and doing the work, and know that all quilts made in the early stages are practice pieces.  As a matter of fact, everything we do is practice for what comes next.

As I compare quilting to running a race, then I see myself plodding along, being patient--or at least recognizing that I need to find some patience--and knowing that what is called for from me is putting one foot in front of the other and doing it again and again.

Honestly, what I am feeling is more from the trip. I spent time with relatives and friends, and saw how much older my Mother has become, how the kids are all growing up so fast and changing in ways I probably don't even see. I saw some friends and listened to the changes in their lives and know that the more we evolve that the greater the chance is that we will evolve differently and have less in common.

I can hold off the block that didn't come together the way it was meant to be and set it aside to work on later. But there is so much that I cannot hold off and if I put relationships on hold or tuck them away for the next visit, the cost is more probable that they will be lost. I think this is really what I am feeling. I don't want to just go on as if nothing changed, however, going on or going forward is the best thing I can do. 

It is my responsibility to be true to myself, to continue growing, to continue making connections. Sure that's how life works when its flowing right and clear and good and clean; and its also about quilting when I make sharp cuts, sew steady seams that match points. 

This is a day to be gentle, to enjoy tea, listen to the birds outside and feel the warmth of the sun. Change is inevitable and all I have is this moment.

These blocks will be finished before Wednesday when my local quilting friend comes by for tea. Most likely they will be done this afternoon!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I've Always Liked Red

The smaller pieces to the B&W blocks are at my work station.  I want to finish those blocks before starting on the 12" ones. A completely B&W quilt is a bit boring for me so I do like to add a splash of color.  

As I thought about colors, I know that red has been my all-time favorite, but it can be way too intense to use it alone in anything. This old picture of me surfaced recently. It was taken in Barcelona, Spain in an empty bull ring. I made that cape, but good goddess look at how cute I was with my bell bottom pants and tiny body!

Red is recommended for the center square on the Log Cabin blocks, representing the heart and hearth of the home. Just a little red is often enough. (Here is a close-up of a block on the lovely quilt named "Brother's Gray" that I made last year.) The entire quilt is so gorgeous and was fun for me to create.

When I have taken those psychometric tests that ask questions like, "If you were a color, which one would you be?", then my answer was always red.

Like red, I am the kind of person others can handle in smaller amounts. Like a red cape flashing in front of a bull, I can be the kind of person shakes others into a wake-up mode. 

However, I am also the beauty of a Cardinal calling out "Cheer, cheer, here-e-e-e-ere", or like the red of a bird feeder attracting Hummingbirds with color & sweet liquid nurturing. (This is a quilt I made last year that uses Cardinals for the border and some inside pieces of a Twisted 4-Patch, simply named "Cardinals".) The gold in the fabric tamed the reds a bit, but its a stunning quilt.

I smile seeing red shown as hot & angry, because I can be that energy as well. Red has many faces and many uses.

Like most quilters, I am careful to use red sparingly. This was part of what I made as a mug rug, and sent to my swap partner for the HandMade Gift Exchange. Reds among fabrics can be just a slight bit different and yet can work together. I loved making the 6" block with yellow half square triangles and got a chance to practice some machine quilting on it. The backside has just one of the red fabrics with the stitching showing so if she wants to flip it over, there is a less busy look to it.

Funny thing is that a few years ago (OMGoddess, is it that long ago!!!) I put together a holiday quilt using mostly reds in it, and its too much for even me. I am hand quilting it, and its taking me so long to finish. If I think that B&W alone without color is boring, I also think that reds alone on a quilt are too much. I like it, will work on it again this year, and maybe even finish it. It has been a good lesson for me in learning about balancing colors as well as energy.

I am not sure why I am in such an evolutionary state of mind right now, but clearly something is going on in or around me to bring on this change of thought. I know I want to finish the projects listed on my sidebar for the next couple of years. I am also committed to learning more about quilting, and learning more about myself as I quilt. It seems like something comes to my attention every day and that its all about being aware of the little things that make up the bigger things.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Be Not Afraid of Quilting

Not that I am, consciously, at least. Afraid. 

I jumped right in when I got home from my trip and made those great Friendship Star blocks. Got three packages sent this morning; among which were the 6" block swap and the other Handmade Gift swap.

After coming home, there was so much to do, that not knowing where to start seemed to block me from getting much of anything done. 

I had promised my #3 Granddaughter to make and send recipe templates to her other Grandmother, as well as fill some out myself. That took me time to find and print what I liked. I did find four templates, then went out and bought some tabs and a 3-ring binder for her new family cookbook. I know she'll love it.

The next project I want to work on is the BOM that my local quilting friend & I just started. I am doing mine in B&W and so laid out the strips and pieces of scraps. This BOM is not coming out as one per month but is a bit more frequent and somewhat random. My friend is working on #2 and I want to cut #4 & #5 out this weekend. We are meeting on Wednesday to talk about how its working & share our results. HOWEVER, this is as far as I got. Laid out on my ironing board and going no where tonight.

Its not fear of quilting that holds me up. I believe that quilting is worth doing and that belief helps create the quilts I make.

I am bone weary from the trip. Weary into my heart for having to leave the darlings in my life who live 2000 miles away from me; Weary also from my thoughts that resist the changes in who they are, who I am; and more, Weary from what I saw in the environment as I flew across the country.

Its so big, change. Even when we fail to notice the gradual ones in the mirrors or the obvious ones during droughts or floods. And although I know that I am responsible for my part, for my small part in the world, I also know I have a part to play.

All risks or changes do not end in devastation or losses. 

That's what those little rippers are to a quilter. Whether we are quilters or just living in this great big, beautiful World, we have built-in abilities to do it over, to try again, to keep going, and to pick up the myriad of pieces, making something really wonderful from them. THIS is one of the best reasons I know to quilt.

Its not about fear. Not really.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friendship Stars

What a profound opportunity for this month's 6" swap. My June partner requested hers in Kaffee Fassett-like fabric with yellow and done in either the Double Windmill or the Friendship Star.  

Friendship Star. Here is the link to the pattern I found. Friendship-Star . I went to one of the stores in town to find the fabric line, which they do not carry, so bought a solid yellow & a print that seemed to work. I made the two for the swap by reversing the solid with the pattern. It made me think about the friendships I have as well as those simple ones made through the various swaps.

On my visit back to the Midwest, I spent time with family of course, but also with some of the friends I have back in the Twin Cities. Some of them I've known for decades now, and the quilting swap friends are all pretty recent.

Friendship evolves for most of us over time. I remember enjoying that phrase that says we have friends for 'a reason, a season, or for our lifetime', and that is still true for me.

I think I pull in relationships with people who share my values. These are the ones I laugh with, cry with, think with and even find sacred spaces with. People who think I am eccentric or too loud or just not like them tend to leave. And honestly, I can find myself wondering why I stay with folks who are different from me too.

Things that don't matter to me so much is who they sleep with, what they eat or how much money they have. What does matter to me is if they are kind, if they have a positive outlook on life and if they want to keep evolving.

With the new quilting or fabric friends I am making through the swaps, what matters to me is their commitment to their work, and if they 'ship on time'. A plus to those friendships is what I learn from them about their work. 

For instance, I asked my June 6" block swap partner what she planned to do with the blocks she received. She showed me a picture of some of the blocks laid out on point over a piece of fabric she may use as sashing. It gave me an idea what she's received, and also about her creative juices for this work. I could see how my blocks might fit with the others, and then felt ok with the fabric and color choices I made.

Through this all, I know I want to up my game as a friend. I've been thinking how this would play out and the first thing I want to increase is my generosity. Oh sure, I am a generous person. My parents taught me this, and we come from a nationality where people are generous beyond belief. So how does this work?

Well, I think we live in a culture right now where more people are scared of running out of material resources and operate under a scarcity mentality. 

Not so with folks I know. Folks I know open their homes, give freely of their resources and share what they have, all of what they have. I do that too. But I want to do more. I want to be more generous, and surprise myself with sharing. I have already begun to think and to plan, and to give. 

I started thinking about the circles of people I surround myself with. In the first circle are members of my family and close friends. The 2nd circle is made up of folks that could be acquaintances or people I meet or know but are not involved in my life. The 3rd circle is the rest of the world. Its easy to give to people I know, and also to people in the 3rd circle who are people I don't know, such as making a comfort quilt for kids in a hospital or for a fundraiser. Its that 2nd circle of folks that I think are people I have overlooked or neglected. These are the ones I want to think about more.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back Home Again!

My two weeks away were a wonderful experience seeing some family and friends. I learned a lot while I was back in the Midwest, and one thing that came to me was about transparency. Transparency meaning authenticity. This is something I want to cultivate in myself, in my life, and in fact, all aspects of my life including this blog. More about that to come.

Of course I stopped at a local fabric store and bought this amazing piece by Hoffman called "Woodsy Winter" with complementary pieces for borders, charm squares and binding. (Scarlet-Silver, and Silver Ice Dots. The wood slices fabric didn't have a pattern name.)

It will be a quilt I make for myself because of both the Cardinals flying on it and the birch trees...both of which I love and are so Minnesota. There are still travel wrinkles on the main piece and I might not get to it right away, but just love the look. The shop clerk was just pulling the packing wrappers from it. The piece is a vertical pattern and I would HATE to fussy cut it so have a pattern that will work perfectly. 

Also waiting in the mail were two of the June Swaps. This first one is my 12" Christmas block swap from Rev. Traci in NC who made these two lovely Card Trick Blocks. My friend Rex sent me a link from You Tube Quilt as you Go that I think I will use for this quilt that has so many styles for each of the blocks. 

My other swap was from Rina who is in MO and was not feeling well the last few weeks. She sent a dear family member/friend out shopping for her and also made the little pic for getting into the corners a quilter / seamstress needs to turn. What a treasure of fabrics! And I know I will use everything she sent.

Home. It felt good to sleep in my own bed last night and to wake up to coffee in a familiar cup and watch birds at my familiar bird feeder. I've tossed clothes into the washer, and am soon going out into the gardens to see what changed while I was gone those two weeks.

Getting back to the transparency. Its something I wanted for myself some time now but held off because of this reason or that. All those excuses or reasons are gone now, and its just me left at the keyboard. I wonder if I need to start a new blog or if I can let it flow into this one. When I started this blog it was meant to record my quilting projects and process, with only the hint of deep.

Deep is who I am. Quilting is one of the ways I express that deep. Writing and storytelling are other ways. I need to think about it and see what happens.

The feature on this blog (that I set up) lets a reader comment to me from the sidebar or the check boxes at the bottom. If you read it another way, you might not see those options and find others that work too. However, feel free to e-mail if you have comments or ideas, knowing that it will come to me for my eyes only and not go public. I didn't mean to have my blog become a dialogue but know that part of communication is chatting and sharing opinions. If folks email and ask for something more, I may have to reconsider the set up and see how I can make it work. If no one connects with me, then it will simply work as is.

Blogs have taken on various faces over the years, and have different reasons for being. I am going to work on the intention I have for mine, and want to simply say that its not a journal or diary as such. It is or can be a stepping stone for anyone who reads it to measure their own deep.

I need a place to express my deep, and this is the place I am choosing for now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

MN Vacation (June 11th-25th)

Its hard for me to pick one photo of what MN represents to me. First of all, my adult Sons live there with their families. 

They were young here in this photo; younger than their own children are right now. Of course, I can hardly wait to see all of them. And to see my friends and family living nearby. And the state with its pine trees and birch trees, its green humid land. I want to ride across a bridge over the Mighty Mississippi River singing to her often as possible. I love Minnesota, though its been said the crop of mosquitos is quite heavy this year & they are wicked. It will be lovely to visit gardens, and homes, parks and the cabin up north. It will be fun to attend parties and water parks, picnics and potlucks, and visit my favorite restaurants to laugh the days and nights away. And it will be like heaven to hear songs of the Cardinals in the trees and the Loon on the lake. 

So its true that I will be away from home here in Cali, away from my computer and this blog, and away from my sewing machine and quilts. Away until my flight back to Bakersfield on the 25th and the drive home through the mountains that night after 7 pm.

The only thing left for me to do today is to putter outside in the gardens, water the indoor plants, and put all my quilting away so that when I come home its like walking into a space that is clean, cleared of energies and consecrated. This is my sacred space, this area where I create. 

Sometimes I wonder if living so far away from my family and most of my friends that 'home' is more of an ideal than it is a reality. With the two being thousands of miles apart, its like I am a traveler who always wanders in heart, ever reaching for one place or the other, calling both places home because my heart is in both places.

Some years, when I traveled more, I made it a special point to stay online to stay in touch, but anymore, what is important to me is living in that present moment, with the people within my grasp. I am so often without them, that when I return for even a short stay, I give them my full attention.

I hope you return when I return. There will be stories to tell about what I learned when I was in Minnesota.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Admitting my Obsession

I remember signing up for a reminder email about a homemade gift exchange, so when I got one last week, I read the website again and signed up.

It goes by quickly for the month of June, and signup for this round is over. However, if you follow the link to craftaholicsanonymous blog and are interested, the next one is planned to start on November 1. You can sign up for a reminder email. The organizer runs it through another program called 'Elfster' which actually pairs the swappers. That program has its short-comings for a first-timer to navagate. AND this swap is for handmade gifts from people who make  crafts of any nature, & is not for commercial purchases. It took me several times of browsing links to get it. It might have been set up for Secret Santa events & people who buy gifts.

The person I got is called 'my draw' and after answering questions I posed to her, I learned enough to start making her gift. With only a short month to create something and get it shipped by the July 1 deadline, my guess is that the gifts will be small. My draw sends to someone else, and another person who got my name as her draw will send to me.

Risky, isn't it? Putting childhood fantasies of receiving a gift made just for you into the hands of a stranger! As the pre-schoolers say, "you git whatchu git, and you don't throw a fit!" 

If all goes the way it is supposed to happen, I will receive a homemade gift from my secret elfster after the first of July! 

We all have an important part to play in the circle of life as well as in the circles of our life. We struggle to believe in the stories we heard as children about fairness and honor, and to believe in the heroes and heroines we discovered who expressed our deepest values. Reality can be that hard-fought struggle that gets played out every time we take a risk.

We learn. We learn to trust ourselves to make our own way, to even buy our own gifts. Yet we allow others to find treasures we appreciate around us, and cannot even see within. We wait for approval and validation, forgetting to look in the mirror and simply claim it. There is no guarantee in free will, and free will is my obsession. I want free will for myself and hope I honor it in others even with all the risks.

All I have is this moment. All I ever need to be is who I am right here and now. If someone sees me and hears me, and wants to share their true self, then this is what risking is all about! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Learning by Mistakes

I am not sure any choice we make is really a mistake. Oh sure, our choices will cost us, and sometimes in quilting, just as in life, an ill-made choice doesn't produce the results we want and costs us in resources, time or relationships. Bottom line, is that it must become a lesson learned or we are going to make it again and again until we do get it right.

I made eight mug rugs using the batik squares my friend Virginia sent me. I loved how seven of them turned out. The squares are quite unique & came from her Mother's estate, so may have been purchased many years ago.

One didn't quite do it for me. I tried something different on it because I ran out of the batik strips I had in my stash, and used a larger piece of batik that seemed to coordinate with its colors. The batik fabric, for all its beauty, overpowered the square. It was too much and focus on the square was lost. Perhaps I should have cut it into strips and centered the square rather than put it in the corner. With so small a piece, having only one focus might have made it work better. 

However, it gave me an opportunity to practice some free motion quilting. I am donating it to the give-away table at the clubhouse where I baste. Someone will like it or have a use for it, even if they give it to a cat as a cozy landing place. The backside is one fabric that is ok too.

My projects wizz by quickly and other than this blog, I haven't taken notes to say what works and what doesn't. Like most people, when I choose unwisely, I just brush it aside and keep going. Hopefully, somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, there is a memory stored that can serve as an inner voice telling me to chose differently and better. Most of the time, we don't share our own mistakes as much as we share our successes. Yet, perhaps we should so that others can benefit in their lives and with their choices. 

But then, would they? Or does a person have to walk their own path to find their own values and meaning?

I have had other 'failures' with some mug rugs I've made and called them practice pieces. Some quilts are like that too. And when I think of it, some relationships I've had that didn't work out were practice pieces. I learned first of all, what I didn't want in my life, learned to self-identify so that I discovered my values, my behavior & how I fit in the various circles. Its not a failure to evolve. Its not a mistake to step away from dysfunction. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to get the process of living down & right, honorable & authentic. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Balance of Highs & Lows

As in everything, our experiences can swing like our moods. Some days are exciting and productive and others not so much. If a person is lucky or really works at it, they have balance in their days. Some great philosopher probably has a theory for it. I think I just simply live it out.

This morning, I cut & pieced Mystery Block #3 in both the 6" and 12" sizes. My friend Carol dropped off a bag of scraps either from her own stash or from the guild give-away table. I pulled out the smaller pieces first to use on this 6" block; cut what I needed and tossed the end tiny bits. They really were bits to start with, and while I know some quilters save those bits too, I do not. The white daisy on black is in every block so what I am making has it as a tie-in fabric. When I saw how this turned out, I realized that I had stopped looking at the actual pattern when I put it together and had come up with a very different block, which is still nice.

My 12" block is done too, & made to specs. Its not that either is 'wrong' because the entire quilt is going to be quite scrappy. AND the 6" blocks are meant to be the back of the quilt & will in no way be coordinated with the front blocks.

This quilt is all about my appreciation for the intensity of black fabrics. Black is interpreted in various cultures and in various religions. In many ways, it is almost the metaphor for the extreme swing between highs and lows.

They say the color black is the absorption of all other colors and is the absence of light. Too many of us have assigned black to the dark side, to what hides and is negative. It can be almost a racial profiling.

Black also protects us, and implies independence, transition, and a strong will (see Goth-dressing). It can be sexy in how we dress, can emit the look of power and authority.

I also know that if it is combined with white only, it is actually argumentative, which is why I chose to make this quilt with colors too. I think the colors brighten the energies of a strict black and white look. 

Its almost 10 am here in southern Cali on a Sunday. I have three of the Dream Pillows to close, and one more mug rug to make, all of which go with me on the trip back to the midwest on Wednesday.  Then there is some more weed-pulling in the gardens too. Its a day balanced by many things I love.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

No Small Task

When I pulled out three of my fabric bins to organize, it was no small task. And already, it seems like I worked against having the pieces all cut, marked and set into the size system when I took out some pieces to make another mug rug.

Its amazing that the jumble of fabrics folded into three of the bins & now fit into one. Everything is tied with the selvage edges ripped from larger pieces before I used them. Everything is colored too from light to dark.

I got to thinking that while I did find the sizing for all the pieces, I didn't know how many pieces went into them for sale  in the stores.

  • A Dessert Roll is 20-25 different fabric pieces that are cut 5" wide and Width of Fabric (WIF) long. Some fabric manufacturers stopped selling them, but I did find a pattern I want so I can use these up and make a back for a quilt.
  • A Jelly Roll is 40 different fabric pieces cut 2.5" wide and WOF
  • A Charm Pack is 40 different fabric pieces cut 5" square WOF
  • A Mini Charm Pack is 42 different fabric pieces cut 2.5" square
  • And the Layer Cakes Pack is 40 different fabric pieces cut 10" square
There are abundant choices for quilt patterns that use these sizes, and the ones for sale in the stores are really sold as seasonal promotions for the fabric lines.

As I looked at what I cut and organized, it came to me that these are wonderful scraps that I can use and make as quilt backs. All I need to do is get a coordinating fabric from the front design and use it as sashing or borders, and be able to use up what I have.

It takes a lot of work, thought and planning to use what I have. I think I have been mindful of so many ecological issues for my life. I compost my kitchen veggie cuttings, I use up the dregs of household products before buying something new. That sort of thing. So it makes such sense to find uses for fabric scraps.

My next task is to go through all the small bags with smaller scraps and decide if I can use them or if they need to be given away to someone who can. I put all of them into a bin, and at least they are in one spot.

Preparing for my trip back to MN/WI next week is really a top priority for me right now. I want to finish loading the dream pillows with the Lavender and sew up the seams on them. And I want to make sure I have the mug rugs finished as well. 

The tasks awaiting my touch fill me with anticipation and joy. I am not a procrastinator and so each seems like an opportunity for growth. I really like being this organized even though I can create chaos in a New York Second and I often will change my systems if I think something else will work better. Change is delightful!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lavender Dream Pillows

I've been a long distant Granny for almost all their lives, so have found ways to connect to them, one of which is making Lavender Dream Pillows. Finding ways to make connections to family and friends can be uplifting and challenging.

This year, with the drought in Cali, the flowers are blooming ahead of their usual season so I was able to harvest Lavender from one of the older plants and dry it in a couple of vases in my office and on the dining room table. This means I can bring the Dream Pillows with me and give them to each of my seven darlings on my trip back to the Midwest next week. I used to take harvested Lavender and Dream Pillow forms with me so the Girrlies could load the herb and hand stitch them closed themselves. They learned how to thread the needles & do the simple stitch. Ahhh, such grand Memories.

I posted photos on Facebook of the plant before cutting it and shared my plan to make Dream Pillows for my Grandchildren. It wasn't too long before they were replying with the colors they wanted for theirs! Memories and Traditions pull at us for all our lives. Those Memories & Family Traditions are the moments that either build self-esteem or take us down. This is definitely a good moment for all of us. With all the fabrics I had been cutting the last few days, I went to the pile of 10" squares to make the Dream Pillow forms.

They are double sided, and I simply flipped them over and kept them in the same positions here. They are filled with a poly batting and after the Lavender is completely dried, they will get several tablespoons full of Lavender and be hand stitched closed so they are finished when I give them to my darlings. They will fit into a larger baggie with the air sucked out to go into my suitcase.

Lavender is one of those herbs known for its calming fragrance and has been used for centuries to help sleep. I've seen it added to baby oils and bath soaps, as well as to detergents and dryer sheets. Yesterday I bought TP with it infused on the cardboard tubes.

For myself, there are a couple of small pillows on my bed that have been there for years. I reach for one of them in the night and within a breath or two relax and sleep well for the rest of my time there in bed.

I did finish the cutting, measuring and tagging the fabrics from three of my bins. They lay so perfectly in order that one bin is empty now and can be repurposed. I've found a couple of patterns that call for either fat eighths or fat quarters, but have yet to stumble on one asking for that "dessert roll" size. Two and a half days for this task of cutting, measuring and tagging. I must say that towards the end of it, I hated all the standing and sorting and really wanted to pack it away and give up on it. Making the Dream Pillow forms was a welcomed  relief that made it easier to return to the cutting project and get it done. Also, the Lavender scent helped relax me.

The cutting project had its benefits to my entire work as a foundation. There is satisfaction and sense of value in the task now that it is done. I don't think I have developed enough of a tradition to do this with new fabric because I don't often buy new fabric. I want to hold the memory of it like I do with the memory of making Dream Pillows. 

Well, its a good plan.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

For All Those Who Stand & Cut

I spent most of yesterday standing and cutting fabric, and am only half way through the project. As I worked, it struck me that cutting fabric is a metaphor regarding the separating that we must do for other things in our lives. Sometimes, its about cutting people or situations out whose time has come for us or them to leave.

Like cutting fabric, I tend to let that go for far too long. Its a hard act to do, this cutting away. Its not always that someone or something is dysfunctional, though sometimes that is the case as well. We simply don't have enough role models showing us how to do it, and that we will survive.

 Cutting into fabric when you are using it with a pattern is wholly different than cutting the leftovers into the various pieces (I listed some sizes on my blog yesterday). Then, its the thought of "What If?"  What if I need something different? or whatever.

The first pile I made from the three bins was all the smaller scraps. They were easy to cut into 2.5", 3", 4", 5", 6", 8", 10", the 2.5" strips, and the dessert strips of 5". I could imagine these easier cuts as leaving school, or walking away from low paying jobs out of necessity.

The second and third piles from my stash had larger & longer pieces, and so I was able to add fat eights and fat quarters. As I continued to the third pile of stash, it became a matter of measuring for 1/8 yard, for a 1/4, 3/8, a 1/3, 5/8, 2/3, 3/4, 7/8, and a yard.

Measuring more and cutting less, yet still cutting in some cases, and in other cases, letting the inch or two ride with the piece. Measuring was like evaluating, assessing and yes, judging. More thoughtfulness came with this part of my task, as if I had learned what it meant to cut or to say good bye, and it had taken on a whole other dimension to the metaphor. 

It seemed to bring a new level of personal confidence in what I was doing. There was less doubt in my relationship to those pieces of fabric and I was aware that whatever was right would be there at the time I needed it. In fabric.

My thoughts stretched to my life, and the people in it. If how I quilt is a great teacher for my spirituality, was I learning that it was ok to cut out situations and trust that what I need at the time I need it would be there because I was doing the work to clean up my spiritual and emotional stash and bring order to it?

This had become an opportunity for me to take stock of my material assets and see what counts, how I count, how people in my life count. It can be hard to believe that what is right will come to us. Its hard to make those cuts because we fear our judgment about what we are destroying to go forward. And now, onto Day #2 for the rest of the project.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rockin' Wednesday

There is a happiness in knowing who I am even if what I do makes me smile at myself. When I was growing up, there was a standard in my home for organizing, for cleaning, in caring for our possessions. Like all kids, I resisted the work and the essence of it all. And of course, here I am, being uber organized.  

Recently, I posted on Facebook that I was adding labels to my WIPs (works in progress). Someone emailed me with a concern for my well-being. Guess they took it that I was organizing my things for someone else to step in. 

Organization, in my opinion, is about easy retrieval. I want to be able to go into a bin and see what I want without having to tear everything apart.

Yesterday I finished cutting the second group of fabrics for one of the Mystery Quilt projects I am doing. The author made her pattern corrections and so now, both groups are cut and ready for the next step which I will do when I come home from my trip to the midwest.

My next step, however, was to put away the leftovers. I read somewhere that when you shop for fabric, you buy an extra half yard so you can cut it into two fat quarters. One goes into a fat quarter container, and the other can be cut into various pieces. 

Wow, that was easy. I am in between project deadlines and so this is a perfect opportunity to keep doing the organizing.

I pulled out three bins from my closet and pulled the fabrics out. No one is standing over me telling me how to do this or what to do. I am on my own. This morning, I sorted the fabrics into four piles; One is smaller scraps, one is larger squares, one is strips and the last one is larger pieces. 

What I plan to do next is to cut.

I looked up the standard sizes that fabric companies sell and how their fabric is cut & sold. I plan to go through fabric piles from my stash and cut them into the largest parts first, then sort into color and label them all.  Label for organization, for retrieval. Some cuts include the following & there are probably more:

  • The mini-charms (2.5" squares) 
  • Charms (5") also called nickels, 
  • and they go with the 10" squares (called layer cakes) making the five & dime combo. 
  • There are jelly rolls (2.5" strips) 
  • and the dessert rolls (5" strips).
  • Then there are fat quarters (18" x 20")
  • and fat eighths (11" x 18").
  • A regular quarter yard is 9" x 44"
  • 1/8 yard is 4.5" by the width
  • 1/4 yard is 9" by the width
  • 3/8 yard is 13.5" by the width
  • 1/3 yard is 12"  by the width
  • 5/8 is 22.5" by the width
  • 2/3 24" by the width
  • 3/4 is 27" by the width
  • 7/8 is 31.5" by the width and 
  • 1 yard is 36" by the width.

Of course I smile at myself this morning. All that grumbling I did when I was a child learning this standard was part of the experience. I think about the patience Mother must have had to deal with me over cleaning & being organized. Suddenly, with this new enlightenment, she attains sainthood where before she was the embodiment of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You Never Know

Quilting can be a form of dreaming. I find myself saying things to myself like...if I only knew what this would look like...follow your dream...take that one step at a time... don't settle for less....

Dreams actually give direction to my life. Some mornings, just before I am really ready to get out of bed, I find myself thinking about the day to come. Is it visioning? Is it still dreaming? Either way, what I think about becomes my guide to taking those next steps.

Quilting, like life, is a series of steps. Success comes inch by inch and stitch by stitch. Failure? Well, in quilting there is a ripper. In life, maybe all you can do is make an apology.

The next step for the Mystery Quilt came out yesterday, but was fraught with errors the author didn't catch before publishing it. She scrambled to make corrections, some easy and some really hard to make work. Any time a person puts themselves out in public and screws up, they are subjected to a LOT of criticism. 

This photo represents the first cuts I made from the corrected pattern. There are more steps yet for me to cut squares out of the wider strips before I can set it aside and wait.

I don't wait easily. It could be another time for dreaming, this waiting stage. However, I scramble to fill up the time with something else, some other part of my dreams or visions. 

With these Mystery Quilts, you never know how they will turn out no matter how carefully you select the participating fabrics. If there is too much time for me in between steps, its too much time to think and I start second-guessing my choices.  What I did to help me in this process was to set aside two groupings of fabrics to do two MQ's for quilt backs. I have another one to cut after I finish this first one. 

You never know. I never know. And that's what makes my world go 'round.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Reciprocity & the Power of Giving

There have been many studies regarding the exchange of gifts between people, between nations. Some believe that the function of giving is benevolent, can be used to strengthen relationships, to create new ones, and can also be used aggressively to place others in debt so that one can control them. The innocence of a person's gift really depends upon their intention. Studies indicate that sometimes people receiving gifts are disappointed and either want something different or something more. 

Humans. We can be a funny lot.

Recently, my friend Virginia sent me some lovely Batik Squares and yesterday, I put these together as mug rugs to take back with me to MN on my trip next week. It is my intention to give them as thank you gifts to the women who  transport me around town. I was able to use some of the 2.5" strips I have in my stash as well as some other hand-dyed fabric for the backs. I was also able to test out decorative machine stitches.

They look similar in construction for a selfish reason; I am on limited time before flying off on the 11th. Making them with the same concept or pattern allows for variety of fabric selections. They still turned out very different. I personally love the size of 6.5"x10.5" to fit on my workstation and hold my cup of coffee or glass of water throughout the day.

I happen to cherish my friends and family back in the midwest. Giving these mug rugs is simply a token of my appreciation, and has nothing to do with having power or control or feeling obligated. Its just what I do freely without strings attached because I care about my relationships. Back in the day when travel was less expensive, they might have flown out to Cali to visit me and I could have shown reciprocity by picking them up at the airport, driving them to various sites, and driving them back to the airport. 

And of course, with every time I use one of the Batik Squares, I am thanking Virginia for her lovely gift. What goes around comes around.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Decide to Act

I guess the principle of the Red Cross 1st Aid classes is to help a person know what to do in case of emergency. It was a full day of seeing and listening to scary stories, scenarios you hope you never encounter. There is so much info crammed into the day that asking questions or questioning anything is not really appreciated. For instance, no kid I know will sit quietly if they have a glass fragment stuck in their arm and are bleeding profusely. But when I said that out loud, the instructor told me it was my responsibility to control those kids. Humpf...what?

Anyway, this morning, I took the one bit of yesterday's training which is "decide to act" and took stock of my storage bins. These two hold projects that are ready to machine quilt. I don't like the container covers on them because that cuts off air circulation. My machine is ready for Cody's quilt, and it will get completed through attaching the binding by machine and then go to the next set of bins ready for hand binding. 
They go into another bin in this area. One holds holiday fabrics and future projects separated with a pattern and what needs to go into the quilt and below it are where I keep larger pieces good for backing. I keep left-over batting in one bin and use the smaller pieces for things like mug rugs, and candle mats, joining larger pieces for quilts too. Most of those bins have the fold over flaps so that there is air circulation. I go into them often enough and move things around too.
This last pic is another closet where I keep more stash and have smaller containers for individual projects. Its also got a thread keeper, a ribbon box, embroidery flosses and hoops, and is a place where I keep family photo albums I work on from time to time.

My organization for my stash and projects helps me when I want to do something different that day. Every project I have going is in a particular stage.

Being selective in choosing my activities, in choosing my friends, in choosing material possessions fosters appreciation for them. I am deliberate in those selections, deliberate in steps to being organized.

Yes there are things that go bump in the night, yes there are things that go hewy-screwy with my quilting, but I am not a person who wants to focus on anything negative or scary for long. I know that crisis can happen and that our bodies are fragile. Yet, in it all, through it all, we are strong like silk thread, durable like 100% cotton, bright, glorious and varied like bolts of fabric in our stash. 

And underneath it all, we have a choice. We can decide to act and make the world a beautiful, safe place. Happy Sunday. Happy June.