Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Well Dang

I admit that I have become addicted to quilting. And like all addictions, this one whispers in the darkness of my mind. It says, "Stay with me and I will take away all your disappointments. I will make you feel better when you are alone and feel isolated." Hah. Naming an addiction means you have to be willing to see the truth of what happens when you use.

Try as I might, and that was three times ripping out a seam, when I finished this block, I discovered most of the points on it do not work.  I've spent hours on it trying to fix it so I could feel better about my efforts.

Thing is, now I need to make a trip to the quilt store to get some more fabric. I had been concentrating so hard on getting the inside points to work that somehow I missed most of the outer points and need to start again. This might have happened when I trimmed the blocks to make them a 4.5" square. This block is a simple 9-patch, but hey. That's what practicing is all about.

If quilting is an addiction, at least for me, it comes out of the closet with its buga-boos mighty fast. 

Right now, with this failure, I know I could pretend that I am not disappointed, could pretend that I feel ok about it. But that is only living with dishonesty and dysfunction. Freedom from any addiction is facing reality and the truth no matter how it looks or feels. Gahhh, I say. Gahhh and snort!

Monday, June 29, 2015


Its always amazing to me the different kinds of friends that I have made in my lifetime. I got a call from a grrrl-hood friend tonight and we chatted for over 70 minutes which is a record-setting phone call for me. I don't like the phone.

Part of the time was spent catching up, but more of it was affirming who we are and that we are connected. Memories flooded in about the teenage parties we went to, the ups and downs of being young Mothers and Wives, and the shared losses of Elders who have gone into the light ahead of us. We didn't need reminders of those times, because they are delicious memories that exist in a forever warm space. Just hearing our voices was enough. We talked about growing older and laughed how we never paid attention to that part of life looming before us when we were so young. As she said good-bye, she told me she was glad she called. 

I will often ask what was the best part of my day, and this day, it was those 70 minutes.

Earlier, I chatted with a new friend, a quilting swap partner who lives on the other side of the world. We have a lot in common too, and a lot about us that is dissimilar. Yet, we are quilters. This July, we will each make the other a quilt block and do our best. Doing one's best is always a given, however, when the swap partners take the time to know a little bit about each other, our best becomes even better.

Friendships are quite fragile no matter if they have been long-term or ones just started. Say something that is taken in a way you didn't mean and the other person can write you off. Friendships do have a purpose. Some teach us lessons, some guide us, some stop us from making fools of ourselves, and some help us make foolish choices. It just depends.

The more I quilt, the more I realize how much a solitary practice it is or can be. Its a time I use to think about people in my life, especially those I am creating quilts for. I can actually say to a person that I had been thinking a lot about them and never call or email. And that may not even count in the greater scheme of friendship...they don't know they have been on my mind any more than I know if they think about me. Making those mini connections is really so easy and yet few of us make the call.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Feeling the Extremes

Someone once told me that 'all' Aries think in absolutes, such as believing that 'all risks will cost you something' or 'all relationships come to an end' or 'everyone will let you down' or 'no one will ever like you'. I remember hearing that 'every Aries is good at starting something and horrible at finishing'. 

Its hard to write new stories about yourself and even harder to give people a chance to change. 

Rob's Quilt is nearly finished. The backing on it is really stunning. There were two pieces of coordinating gold, so I used the larger of the two for the center and made the paisley the first border. Then that dark blue stripe is on the outside. It really looks nice. This quilt was started several months ago, like most of them I work on. 

I am an Aries Sun, Mercury, Rising and so with that combination my tendency is to love new things, to start many things, and keep them going. 

I DO finish projects and love the sense of accomplishment that brings.

The front of this quilt makes use of 10" blocks joined randomly together. Well, in truth, my version of 'random' is a bit planned so that the color values of light, medium, bright and dark play off each other in a way that only makes it look random. True random, such as tossing them into a bag and drawing them out without planning is way too chaotic for me. I guess it is something I know about myself and know that when I make a quilt such as this one, there needs to be some forethought.

The brave new world that is possible for me in quilting, in the fabric arts, is one wholly created by my positive efforts and desire for a positive outcome.

I am not sure how we plug each other into areas of behavior or attitude. Not all people born under Aries or any other sun sign are the same or react the same. Not all men are the same, not all women, not all children. Not all dogs or cats. We are simply not the same even though in many ways, we really are.

Currently, there is a theory that "all people born in this younger generation have their heads bent over their cell phones". But that cannot be true if one factors in countries of young people who are simply seeking medical care, food and water and want desperately to feel safe.

To live with absolutes is an arrogant attitude. It generalizes, judges, assumes. I want to look at how I might still be doing this and change it. I really think it is fear-based thinking.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Late Start Today

Hard to believe I slept in this morning. 9 o'clock. That kind of morning is a luxury for me. Its surprising to me how a couple more hours of sleep is both restful and leaves me feeling groggy.

The binding is machine sewn on Rob's Quilt and now it needs to have those clippy things added to turn it over, and be hand sewn, which usually takes me three more days. All of it is scrappy. I used 10" blocks for the top, and put the back together using some of the larger scraps from Lee's estate, plus that interesting stripe border which had just enough to do the binding. I even used up scraps of thread on their spools. And, ta da, the batting is also leftovers from other quilts that I joined to lay between top and bottom.

The practice part on it was using quilting stitches away from each block seam...that might be a form of echo quilting. It really turned out nice, though next time I do that kind of stitch, what I learned was more about spacing. Although it is summer hot here and in Minnesota, it may get shipped out some time in July just to have it out of the house and give me more space.

I've joined a table runner swap with the International group, though I requested a partner here in the states. We do not tell who is our partner, who is able to request colors and then either a square or rectangular shape. It is required that we make them from a charm pack. I spent time looking for both patterns, and will be making a practice runner in both styles.

We are headed out to the park for a 'Battle of the Bands' event, so I do not plan to do more quilting until later and then it will be to work on this binding. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Small Machine Quilting

I spent the day working on small machine quilting a practice project I am making for an old friend of the family. Well, he's not any older than we are so maybe that is better that I call him a long-time friend of the family. It surprised me when he signed up for one of my PayItForward projects because its been decades since I've seen him. My Sons have great memories of him & encouraged me to make this for him. 

Facebook, as one of the social networks, restores a lot of those friendly separations caused either by changing interests or locations, and joins us to one another electronically. Our busy lives would normally keep us separated but social networks match us up again. We can pop onto our news feed and see what each other is up to. FB works for me here at home.

This will actually be the last PIF project that I have planned. Going forward, my practice quilts will be made from the random scrap pieces, and will go out to family and friends as comfort quilts as need arises. I want to use up scraps without patterns and go for the random scrappy look. I might do Random Acts of Kindness without asking for folks to keep the giving going.

And then, there is the 'Mother Watch' goings-on, even though I am not a physical part of the discussions and planning and enter into them from a distance. It takes work to stay in touch across the country without adding to stressors that those who are working with it in real time go through. I listen more than I speak which is always good.

For those rare times when I get to feeling out of sorts, I own a few classic videos that help distract me. "Aliens" (1986) is one of them, and no matter how many times I see it, it still helps me get out of my own head. I don't jump the way I used to when the aliens appear, & I could probably recite every line, inflections and all. If all I wanted was to jump of my own skin, I'd watch "Jaws", and that is NOT going to happen. The characters in the videos never change, never age. The storyline begins and ends the same way every time. For me, with this one, its always seeing the Maiden-Mother-Crone played out against the patriarchy (seen as the military and big business). It is a SciFi classic. I think that it also speaks to the enemy without as well as the enemy within and so there is always a lot for me to think about as I view it.

Its always a new story in some way for me and I do take care to watch for certain things I know I missed the 50 jillion other times I watched it. Today, I did a search for the SciFi Queen, Sigourney Weaver's net worth to discover that after 30 years in the industry, she is worth $40 million. Most of the other actors in the film didn't amount to much. 

Most female actors disappear around age 40, however, Weaver is one of the few that kept going and got recognition for her work through the Academy with 3 Oscars. That is huge. Huge for a female, huge for scifi, huge for her age.

Some time ago, I learned that she is anti-gun and in this movie slings a very bad ass weapon and shoots like no body's business. Sometimes I see myself toting that gun and blasting my inner demons in the moment. It has become good therapy for me as a way to vicariously express righteous indignation and rage.

I've never been much of a lover of violence and cannot watch when people beat on each other or are otherwise mean and cruel. I need the imaginary antagonists even though in real life, I do understand their point of view as well.

How does this relate to quilting? Well, its about the energy that I feel as I work. If a movie or video that is all about make believe can distract me from falling victim to a negative loop, then I can work on my quilting projects without damaging the energy I put into them. 

I am a storyteller and love a good story. I am a quilter and put a lot of love and myself into my work. No one will give me the equivalent of an Oscar for this work. Its all about me and personal satisfaction I find in doing this fabric art. And it is enough.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Family Matters

Its exciting to watch the start of a new generation come into our family. My Cousin's Son (then my Cousin-Once-Removed) and his Wife are having their first baby. So there is a baby shower in July. While I cannot return to MN for this event, I did spend time today making a couple of fabric baskets. 

I had some cute aqua fabric with frogs on it and matched it with a royal blue. Most new parents disregard that old tradition of blue for boys and pink for grrrls. Jenni likes blues in her home, and all shades of it will be welcomed. I did get to the store and bought a few things to stuff in them, such as a baby thermometer, a little rubber fireboat, and a dishwasher basket to hold bottle top/nipples. 

I've been told by more than one person that people in the younger generations are not so much into holding onto family traditions, and so are pretty specific what they want in their lives. I am still in a state of observing the truth of this. 

I honestly believe we need a level of connection to our tribes to meet our desires so belong somewhere. Admittedly, our family of origin learning ground can be mighty hurtful, so I understand the appeal of social circles. I do see that some folks say they like choosing their families and place a lot more value on those relationships. Maybe its easier to walk away from friendly relationships than it is to sever bloodlines when they become hurtful. Less guilt or something.

I will ask preferences when I plan to make a gift for someone, but know that after hearing them, I will still need to do my own thing based on what I can afford, what I have on hand and what I care to do. I am strongly committed to using what I have first. And that certainly breaks with old traditions as well as current consumerism patterns. Its part of personal self-care. I really want to come as close as I can to pleasing them. And of course that means, in some cases, my actions might cause people to roll their eyes and to use my gifts a little while and put them in a thrift store for someone else.

By the way, I just call the guy having a baby my Cousin. That whole family tree hierarchy is for honest genealogy buffs keeping records or tracing parentage, and because we are still living, we know who we are. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Second Sunday Simplifying

I guess I need to make appointments with myself to get things done. I've been retired from teaching more than a year now and still have so much on shelves, in closets and...well, everywhere that needs a new home.

Quilting has helped me re-focus. OK, my gardens did too, but they are seasonal and once the work was done in them this year, all I need to do outside is water and weed, and enjoy the view. With quilting, there is always a new project or an older project calling for my attention.

My friend Rex helped me with this photo that has a 2S logo on it for 2nd Sunday. Goddess, she is talented!

I put in place those once-a-month tasks like doing paper crafting or various paper-oriented projects, as well as the monthly time spent working on Winter Solstice gifts. Now, there is another focus and that is taking time out on the Second Sunday of each month to simplify my house and my life. Good goddess, it sure piled up over the years. And not only does it take dusting, every time I look at something on my shelves or in my closets that is not being used, I wonder why I keep it.

This is my life, these are my shelves and my closets. Unless I hire someone to clean for me, and then I would need to sort stuff anyway, I am the only one who is going to get the job done. Its sometimes hard to think of doing yet one more activity that takes me away from quilting. I love it so. Yet, if I can honestly free up space in my home, it will change the energy. 

When I was in school, one of the classes on the Environment asked us to set in place one thing each year that was good for the environment. I did such things as creating a compost section in my yard, having a compost bucket in my kitchen. One year I did start the practice of filling up a grocery bag of things to donate either to the thrift store or the giveaway table. This is simply another step in that process.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


For whatever reason, our culture often teaches us how to focus on our flaws and short-comings more than on our accomplishments. I wonder if our parents and early teachers wanted us to learn modesty rather than to cultivate vanity or pride. They taught us to avoid being conceited. I have taken that to an extreme and feel shy in sharing my accomplishments. In fact, sometimes I down play what I am doing as if it has no redeeming social value.

Truth is there is so much good about each of us. About me. And the lists are long. As I quilt (and swap) I have been learning about personal generosity, open-heartedness, being open-minded and opening my soul to other beings. I see my own evolution of spirit; of being on the planet, and relating to others. I see so many good, good people in the world.

Yet there are times when I spend most of some days working on smaller projects that I have been valuing less than they deserve. Here is my progress on a very simple apron, a ritual broom for a swap, and July's Prayer Flag.

I think that until I face my entire truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me....that life is only a partial truth. And living in habitual self-deprecation isn't a virtue. Its a self-imposed disability that needs healing.

I cannot say I have this concept solid. I am working on it and it starts by not beating myself up over things I didn't get right the first or second or even third time I tried it. I want to think I am becoming skilled at what I am doing, but because there is always something new, there is more to learn.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Winter Solstice in June

My decision to work on Winter Solstice gifts throughout the year has been a good one. I am surprised at how much work there has been to do and how much time it is actually taking me to get things done.

This month, I worked on a ruffled apron for my eldest Granddaughter. It had been planned earlier, and cut, so in this session, I pressed 1/4" seams over, and top-stitched bottom and side hems. Then placed two running stitches at the top for gathering. It was only one step on the pattern with many, many more to go. Aprons are not easy to make. Mine has hung on a cupboard drawer knob for years. I forget to put it on. However, I like the idea of having them.

Aprons give me a sense of connection with women in my life, my Grandmothers in particular. Both wore them. My maternal Grandmother Lizzy used to wear gingham aprons she cross stitched over. Her favorite color was red. I some times wonder if that is why mine is red too. I don't cross stitch and maybe someday I will make myself one. 

Working on Sami's apron gave me a time-out from the re-do on the Cat quilt. That old adage of 'no pain, no gain' seems nonsensical to me when it comes to quilting. Its not that I avoid stress, however, I do like to think I manage it. I really dislike putting any sort of negativity into my work. There are a lot of projects on my sidebar lists in their various steps that I can do without missing a beat in a regular work day. I like the variety and do not see it as multi-tasking.

Stress is an interesting concept for me. I know that its not always as manageable as I would like, but I do work at keeping it a bit more balanced. Over the years, I have taken various steps to reduce it or at least recognize it, and then find alternative ways of coping. Still, there are plenty of times when I reach for the Rescue Remedy, and other times when stressors get the better of me and I start running down that proverbial rabbit trail of anxiety.

Quilting, on the other hand, is a stress reducer for the most part, so when something is not going the way I want, then I do step away from the project.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

RE-do Nightmare

As I started to work on the backside of the top for the Cat quilt, clipping threads, checking seams, I discovered that there were consistent mistakes on more than half the blocks, both the batik and the black. 

It took hours and hours to rip those seams apart that joined several points forming what is the back of each Cat silhouette. Hours. At first I thought there were only a few. Not so. At that point, it seemed wise to me to open all of them up that need re-doing as the first step in the process.

And then, shaking my head here, when I think of healing any relationship, it is also that before we can go on to something or someone else, we DO need to go back, not looking at what shows on the outside, but really looking at the construction of what went right and what didn't. Before we can go on, we MUST take those steps to fix or heal ourselves. And also, before we can go on, we had better recognize all our negative choices and figure out what will work better or we will find ourselves saying and doing it all over again.

This quilting nightmare (I can call it that because it is like my worst nightmare!) pointed out how little we actually see the damage to self, and others, that can happen just as we go along doing our thing in life. We might say or do things we think do not matter and even repeat them many times before becoming accountable for our actions.

I want this quilt to be loved and welcome. I am not beating myself up about the mis-adventures on it. Not really. I know I was doing my best. And my best was done with what I knew how to do. The small set of instructions seemed easy enough and while I often felt over my head, it seemed doable.

So it is in our interactions. And maybe that's what therapy and soul retrieval, confession and all those rules and regulations are for. Somehow as humans, we know we won't get things right all the time, every time, and rarely for the first time. Most of my "Mother watch" conversations are pretty short and uncomplicated. Every once in awhile, I slip out of my role as Daughter and into one as Priestess. There in that role, I am able to tell her she did a good job as a Parent; perhaps doing the best she knew how for the times and with what resources she had. It is left to me alone to pick out the threads that connected us and find a way to heal. In those moments, I know that every Mother's child longs for more no matter how much they had, no matter how it looked to others or felt inside.

I guess what I see in this quilt top is that my best wasn't good enough for me, and that ripping seams and re-doing them is a bit of a nightmare. However, its got to be fixed before it gets basted. I can do this. I can make it better.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cat Borders

I've been thinking about parent/child relationships more because my own Mother is closing in on her final days. In her mid-90's already, she is quite diminished from the woman whom she once was. Our relationship changed quite often in the last decade. 

Genuine love, as it seems to me, lifts us up and sets us free. To that end, I find our simple phone conversations (she is in MN 2000 miles from me here in southern Cali) free me to say things to her that she might need to hear to pass on.

The black fabric for the Cat quilt frame went on, and then two thinner batik borders of teal and purples. Next is a wider black border and finally the last batik. It will probably work with black as binding. I've been told that if you do batiks on front, the back is best in another batik. The one I purchased is stunning on its own and will make a perfect reverse. I know that I will need to look at the back of the top again at least once to ensure it is good to go.

What a lesson that is. Its no different from how I feel about my "Mother watch" conversations. It seems to me that no matter what stage we are in our lives, or our quilts, for that matter, making simple adjustments to ensure the work is complete, looks right and is ready for the next step is vital.

The end is in sight for the Cat paper pieced quilt. Its provided me with a number of challenges, made me feel inept at times, as well as given me a sense of accomplishment. I've kept at it because of the depth of love I feel, and had so many wishes that it would come together faster, better, clearer. Yet. Its been all about the journey.

So it is with being a Daughter. We fight for individuality, for our sense of place, to test our limits, to push against someone who remains in life to push against. Being done is not the endgame. It just readies us for what is next.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Little This, A Little That

I did work on the family scrap books, mostly replacing photo pages I removed for one reason or another & sorting photos for each book. Many years ago, I was involved in a program year of my studies that was entitled 'retrospective'. I went through all my grandkids' photos for my final project and made each of them a scrap book and sent all those photos off to them. Then I decided to make one for myself and one for the family photos that I had. Those are the two books that still need my attention.
 I forget that looking at old photos takes a person (well, me any way) back to the moment, and the memories, and the people. Suddenly a flood of emotions comes rushing in with memories and wondering and ...well.

Next I created a dadaist-type poem. You cut out an article from the paper as long as you are tall. Small town newspapers have very short articles, so I needed about six of them for the project. Cut various words or phrases out, and then pull them from a container one at a time. The result is 'you'. Here is the order I pulled. Hmmm.

  • Well, I soon found out Spring is also the time of year where there is no previous experience required 
  • Learn to make a sensational presence in the community through information and fun activities
  • You'll have the opportunity to meet them as a reward for your hard work 
  • After years of a wonderful, delicious festivity, the fun, creativity and individual expressions are encouraged and nurtured
  • You can bet your life on it.

I came back into my studio to do the little bit to work on the borders for Amy's Cat quilt. I put the frame on first. The pattern says to put the thin border strips together and sew them on as one piece before adding the final border. It didn't look right to me, so I've brought out the ripper to re-do the corners.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Paper Projects

Its hard to turn away from quilting to work on other projects. My desk out front is at the ready for more than a few of them for the next couple of days. There is good light out there and I can watch the birds at the feeder too.

While its no longer a paper project, I just bought three fabrics for the Cat paper pieced project, and of course, that filled me with the desire to keep on keepin' on with it. Luckily, the store was empty and owner had time to help me select what I needed. (Amy left the fabric choices up to me, and while I know she likes pink, none of the pinks in the store worked for either me nor the quilt middle.) 

There are five borders to the Cat quilt, beginning with a black frame, the black of which is repeated again as the 4th border. It was almost stressful for me to cut off the edges of the middle section even though there was a basting stitch around it to help the bias seams hold their line. The first border is on, and the second one ready for pinning. 

Like any relationships we walk away from, once fabric is cut, it is cut & there is really no going back without a LOT of hard work and more investment to replace what was lost. I checked seams again after ripping off all the paper and did have a few that came loose. 

At least all the scraps go to good use pet beds I've donated to the Humane SocietySurprising to think that each pillow is filled with scraps that would otherwise end up in the landfill. This one is the second one filled since the first of the year & stuffed pretty full. The pet bed may end up getting used and then tossed, but at least the fabric got repurposed.

My 3-ring binders for quilting patterns are organized after about an hour. Lots was tossed that either I knew I would not make again, or knew I would never make. There is still so much in them that may never get used. However, they are much more organized with divider tabs and sheet protectors. Ideally, I would like to go through all the magazines and rip out the patterns I want to save and toss the mags to save on space. Unfortunately, I have discovered that many of them only have one pattern I like. Such a waste.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Changing Nature

Usually we have no power to change the nature of anything. However, once a person evolves from a beginning quilter to a quilt-maker, something happens and we are able to change, to adapt, even to nurture our projects.

I cannot say this is an easy project, but it is coming along. All the sashing and cornerstones are on, and with a frame in green that matches. It took just a little urging to make the top and bottom rows of blocks fit with the center, and then a good press finished it off. The hardest part was measuring for the fit, which had to go block by block. It was only two rows of sashing, so not a big deal. 

I added a 5" border all around with cardinals on a golden background and it really is lovely. Not sure if I plan to do more or just finish it with the same green for binding. It needs to be measured now to see what comes next, if anything more.

The rest of my time was spent making a huge batch of chowmein for several meals, and then cutting up strawberries for a chilled pie. I am also making refrigerator tea...tea bags in water left to brew in the door. Temps have sky-rocketed into the 90's already, so planning ahead is always a wise choice. 

Again, the only change that is every really successful to make is in myself. Everything else will do what it will in spite of what I want.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Starting in the Middle

It always surprises me how long it takes for me to do something without a pattern, not that I always follow them anyway. I look forward to the challenge and know that sometimes it will take even longer just because I am trailblazing, so to speak.

In the past, I've whined about those mystery quilts, but any more, I realize that all the quilts I make are a bit of a mystery in that I never know how they will turn out.

This one of Jake's is a good example of one surprise after another. This represents the middle section of the 12.5" blocks joined with a green print and gold cornerstones. I had it all laid out and pinned it the way I wanted it to go, and yet, lo and behold, the blocks shifted, from my original layout, and really it is ok. It is a sampler quilt made by different quilters using their own choice of blocks and holiday fabrics.

There are two more rows to add, one on top and one on the bottom. Those are the 12.25" blocks and so will need a slight increase for the side sashings to make them line up with the four middle row blocks. I'm trying not to get too ahead of myself with the borders and am taking it one step at a time.

I also spent time washing some of the fabrics I bought at the estate sale last week. Those red FQ's bled into three Color Catcher sheets turning them pink. I know that I might like to pre-wash this quilt before giving it to Jake just to make sure it stands a chance of NOT going pink.

My purchases at last week's estate sale included two lovely, lovely cardinal prints. One of them is more golden with a number of winter berries, and one is more off-white with pinecones, so the golden one will go great on top and the off-white one will make a great backing. Its an evolution regarding sizes and I know I will do some calculating to make it work. So fun to create it as a sampler quilt.

I have one last Winter Solstice quilt to make that has more of a wonky style to the blocks in two sizes (12" and 6"), so if there is leftover fabric, most likely those pieces will get used in some way for that one as well. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Shifting Seasons

Its getting hotter here every day, and as evening is at a place where it is cool, it is still 73 outside. I am not a fan of the extreme temps and have started thinking about alternative ways to make meals without cooking. I haven't owned a microwave in decades by choice, so it is not an option for cooking. Time to make more ice tea too. Its so easy to get dehydrated and having a pitcher of tea in the fridge makes it easy to fill a glass for a cool-off.

Its hard to have windows open with such heat, so the AC goes on and blows cold right in front of my sewing machine. I haven't figured out a medium temp yet, so am up and down in order to keep my core temp stable. Summer colds can be difficult. Luckily, I will have quilts to keep me warm as I hand sew binding.

I created another fabric box for one of the WTA's I am in (Winner Take All). The theme for it is 'tulips' and so I used a 12" square of fabric with a tulip print on it. I really like this pattern of all the fabric boxes or baskets I've made, even though it takes me the better part of a day to make it. Everyone of them turns out different and yet seems to me to be so useful in endless ways.  

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Saved From Shopping

Someone once said there is always free cheese in a mousetrap. I got another invitation to buy more fabric and notions at a deeper discount at the estate sale, and even considered it.  Luckily, I learned that the seller opened the very small house up to another 20 quilters to come and shop. That was enough for me to back away. Sometimes there is almost a shopping frenzy that goes on when that many women gather with money in hand.

I've actually gotten caught in those frenzies a few times in my life. In the moment, I had to have 'this one special thing, no matter the cost' and once I got home, wondered what I was thinking. It was surprising that my initial mental response to the invitation was that I would just look. Maybe thread. I could use thread. I learned that her thread supply was almost all sold. No need to go and look. Chances are that if I were to go, I would come home with some really great purchases, and stuff them in the closet. 

I learned about online shopping a few years ago, and it all got so much easier. Living away from the big city, I calculated that it cost at least $15 a round trip, depending upon the price of gas. Shipping charges are rarely that much, so it is worth it not to go for impulse items. When I do go out of town, I go with a list and stop at several stores.

I stayed home and focused on Jake's quilt first. Most of the blocks come from other quilters in a swap. Although there is a standard to send 12.5" blocks, hold to piecing with 1/4" seams, and keep the points off the seam line, when I started to trim up the blocks for my Grandson's quilt, I found 8 of them squared up to only 12.25". Some points even come to the end and are lost in the seams. Then came the challenge to lay them out.

What I decided to do is put four smaller blocks on the top row, and four of them on the bottom row. It is my plan to adjust the sashing by adding 1/4" to it, and then making certain the cornerstones work on the first and last row connectors. I love the variety in the blocks and cannot imagine removing any of them from the quilt top.... mistakes and all. If they are really mistakes. Its going to be a lovely quilt and he will love it. I have, however, withdrawn from the 12" Christmas block swap. I want to go onto other themes with the quilts and will use up what is in my stash to make smaller items like mug rugs, table mats, and napkins. 

In fact, I had a small amount of vintage holiday fabric from my friend Virginia's Mother and didn't have the heart to cut into it & make smaller scraps. I made a couple of mug rugs of out what was there for her & Dan. I quilted a simple grid over them, so nothing fancy. I wondered what her Mother had in mind, or if she had already used it and this little bit left was a leftover. This is exactly what I mean about putting what I have to good use. It brought joy to my heart to use the fabric this way. It felt like I honored her. She was one who did not have a lot to her quilting estate, and I am making good use of what was given me. Each time I work with it, I send good wishes across the rainbow bridge to her.

I've finished pulling threads and removing the paper from the Cat Paper Piecing project. I need to go back and check the seams and then am ready to by fabric...yes, buy...for the borders, backing and binding. It has specific needs that my stash cannot meet.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Re-thinking My Stash

Southern Cali is experiencing interesting weather. Not real rain. More like lightening, thunder and then flash floods that started mudslides. With new watering restrictions, we are not to water after measurable rain. I'm not quite sure what that meant with what we got or didn't get, so I did water my new plants, and then it rained. Not a lot, but some.

Meanwhile, I finished the Pay It Forward for my friend Susan and have it wrapped and ready to ship out early next week. I have one more PIF in process, and I've been thinking that I might not offer any for the remainder of the year. 

With my new focus on doing Random Acts of Kindness, it seems to me to be an act of unkindness to leave behind a huge, demanding task to clean up years of fabric / quilting purchases that evolves into an entire houseful of stash. I question if it is a gift for the survivor at all to dispose of the goods. Yes, I know this is tradition in many families. I am not judging other people's choices, but looking at myself and what I am doing. Everyone gets to chose how they live, how they spend their money and how they do their art work.

My choice, as a result of seeing the inheritance of stuff (that is more a liability than it is an asset) happen way too many times lately, is to get as much as I can completed with what I have, and not buy more if it can be avoided. I want to finish my family quilts and Winter Solstice projects first. Its also time for me to finish all the projects that have been started and are in various stages in my closets. 

It is not that I am ready to stop quilting or stop living. However, I do want to stop building my stash faster than I can quilt. Its my responsibility, and my RAK to others in my life is to actually carry these projects to completion. 

Obviously, some things need to be purchased to complete the project. Things like thread. Most of the projects I have going right now will need fabric for backing. I have made some creative backs on quilts and have even done creative binding.

I pulled up the border segments to the Constellation quilt, pinned them and pieced one side of each segment, pressing them too. I want to pin them to the center piece before creating the entire border in case seams need tweeking. I'd rather not have to rip anything out. 

I have dedicated one day a month to working with paper projects, and one day a month to working on Winter Solstice gifts. I've decided to do TWO days a month on each of them for awhile just to make more progress on them.

Friday, June 12, 2015


The topic of borders has always held my attention, personally and professionally. I remember doing a class that considered the rights of people to have their own space, to erect fences & what you could and couldn't do if someone fenced you out. 

I thought of that again while working on these borders. The second dark red is made of two fabrics, one going E-W & N-S and the other going W-E & N-S, as was suggested in the pattern. It actually worked for me here because there wasn't enough of any red from Lee's stash to make all four parts. Fabrics coordinate but often were leftovers, so I really had to make do. What I found is that when fabric becomes vintage, as much of hers was, then the dye lots change and you cannot just go out and buy colors to match. Many of the green pieced segments were done last year when I first got her fabrics, and it was a matter of joining the bits and pieces, and trimming them to a 5" width. There were not enough to do the vertical sides, so while I worked on it most of the day, it is set aside with Notes-to-Self for the next step. I am liking it so far.

Over several hours I thought more about borders. All kinds of borders. Not just those we quilt with. Thoughts about property borders, walls we put up in our lives and laws we have to live with because of borders... took me so many places and stirred up a lot of emotions.

I'd like to say that it was all positive thinking but that's simply not true. And when a person entertains darker thoughts, other people run away. I hesitate to stray from being positive here because it looks like something more than it is. Every once in awhile, I do entertain thoughts that push borders and get pretty wild.

Next on my list of things to do was a PIF (Pay It Forward) project, which got cut, pinned and a lot of piecing done. I tend to avoid taking photos of those projects just because I'd rather keep them between me and the person I make it for.

My thoughts did turn more positive because I got to thinking about the people in my life who touched me in ways that make me feel enough gratitude to want to pay it forward.

This particular quilt made me see how I enjoy the unusual and look for patterns that stimulate my curiosity and creativity. If its a border or two or three that make the quilt special or the color combinations, then it holds my interest.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Exciting Moments

Patience has been a strong quality of many other people I know. Passivity is something I see as more of a challenging aspect for a few others. Neither of them are words I would use to describe myself and neither of them mean the same thing, though the appearance of someone sitting with patience and someone sitting passively tend to look alike.

Me? Well, I've always leaned toward action, toward presenting a more bold determined energy. And when I just went rushing out without a plan, I've had to either back-track or live with my choices.

First thing I did today was to work from my plan to measure and cut dark blue segments for the Constellations quilt. It was laid out on the design space until the new cat decided it was fun to slide on. I pulled the center piece out. The dark and light pieces are ready to pin. It would have been nice to work with the center as I go, however, I am not a person who scolds cats for being cats, so removed the slidey-fun.

Then, I took the Cat Paper Piecing center into one of the fabric stores in town to start gathering fabric for borders. I have a black, but need enough for two inside borders and one larger one. With all the colors used for the tessellating cats, it would seem any fabric would work, but after half an hour laying bolts out, I realized that was not the case. I've got a call into Amy asking for color and a sort of genre for the outside border. 

After getting back home, it was onto my Brother-In-Law's quilt, Winter Golfers. Its being made from vintage fabrics I got from Lee's estate. The very center is one of the panels my friend Carol gave me, and I've been adding specific borders from a quilt pattern idea I got from a Nov/Dec '07 issue of Quiltmaker originally called "Holiday Homes". It had a center panel of 4 house blocks in it that were the same size as the golf panel. The other change I made was to make it longer than square and did that by simply adding an inch or so of width to the top and bottom segments. It was meant to finish at 46x46 and I wanted it much larger but still a personal lap quilt.  I left it with great notes-to-self, so it was easy to pick up and work on again without needing to re-trace my steps. I've kept all the coordinating fabrics with the evolving topper in the event they were needed as borders. Its 30x40 right now.

One thing the pattern did was to use two different colors for one of the borders as a framing technique, as well as to add interest. That will be perfect because I didn't have enough red for the next border to make all 4 sides. The pieced border follows the pattern next. 

Not patience. Not passivity. Neither is it rash and unplanned action.

Calculators/Border was my next stop to get a visual and calculation of borders. To get to the size of 62x72, I need four borders measuring 3.5", 4.5", 5", and 3". There is enough fabric to do it. Eeehah! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Another Needle Keeper

Circumstances really do not change me. After all these decades on the planet, I am still the one who has to change my attitude, make my choices and take action no matter what is happening in me, to me or for me.

While waiting for the window guy to come this morning to caulk and do some last minute checking, I finished up the work on a needle keeper, and was able to get it ready for shipping.

My friend in CO saw the knitting needle keeper I made for a mutual friend, and asked me to make one for her partner in purple and aqua. The background on this print is more a light purple or lavender, but it was the best I could find at the stores. Actually, I hope she loves the butterflies because that is what sold me on the fabric. Its an easy pattern to make.

In addition to the needle keeper, I ran a stitch around the edges of the Cat Paper Piecing project so the paper can be removed without damaging any bias-cut fabrics. I took of most of the larger pieces of paper and now just need to pick at it to get threads cut and the papers off the edges and corners. I've learned a lot with this quilt.

The next few days and nights are all going to about hand work for a few mug rug bindings.

My 'design' floor is open now, and once I wiped down the floors to clean up after the window installer, it was ready for me to lay out the Constellations quilt. All the light triangles for the border are cut and laid out, and now to cut 18 dark border segments 17.5" long with both ends cut at 45 degree angles. It calls for clear thinking as I do this to make the border work. My plan is to do the shorter sections first. It will be magickal when it is done.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Star Flower

Windows are almost in. He's coming again at 7 am to finish up. Wow, does it brighten the inner world, not only with clear glass but also with white frames. They slide wonderfully!

I went with my friend Carol to help a woman deal with a quilter's estate. The woman, the survivor, does not quilt but was good friends with the quilter who passed, and is the recipient of the home and its contents. The quilter, bless her heart, has ROOMS and endless boxes filled with fabric and notions, including several quilting machines. There is no way she could have made a quilt with every kit she bought. Her friend, the survivor, tried to put what she sees as like fabrics with like. It is an overwhelming task at this stage. I helped look through the boxes and started separating items so they could be listed for sale. Some projects are still in their bags as kits and have pricetags on them. Most fabrics and notions are not priced and are often in their original bags, sealed and unopened.

When I returned home, three of four windows were in, and the last one, in the bathroom was going to shatter because the frame was so tight around it. It did. He is finishing the outside by caulking the frames and has a bit to do inside as well.

I finished one block called the Star Flower Block. (link to Star Flower block pattern) My partner for this swap is making a Seahawks quilt, so she asked for that bright blue and bright green. I do hope this works for her. There are two different blues in it that match.

Yes, I bought fabric and some thread at the estate pricing. One bag holds more than enough fabric that will work for a Valentine's Day quilt; one has 4 yards of cardinals and 23 shades of red FQ's; one has B&W cat novelty fabric, panel and 3 coordinating prints. While I paid a fair price for what I got, I need to watch what I buy when I go back to help again on Wednesday. The Valentine's Day quilt is the only one I actually wanted for 2016, and will be made for a specific family member. The other two, are purchases 'just because'. That is a very scarey way to spend money.

Seeing yet another estate like this shows me how easy it is to gather and stash. And having my day disrupted by the window installer shows me how easy it is to step away from a routine and get little done in a day.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hiring Help

I spent a good amount of the day cleaning house so as to ready four areas around windows being replaced. It was more freeing up the spaces than as much cleaning so the installers have an easy time of it. 

Once again, I used Q-Tips to pull dust out of the machine and re-loaded bobbins. Its interesting to see how long it takes to do mindless tasks, whether its general housekeeping, gardening or even quilting. They can fill up a day and suddenly it seems as if nothing got done. From time to time in my life, I have hired housekeepers to do these kinds of tasks and I sure have been thinking about it the last few weeks.

There is a fine line to get into the mindset of hiring help. While there is a lot to be said for delegating some of the chores, on the other hand, it takes a lot of courage to give up control in doing things on my own. In the past, when I did hire help, I would often work in the house at the same time. My list of tasks was divided between what I wanted to do and what I wanted them to do. It always seemed to make the time go fast and a lot got done. 

However, once I got into the "Fly Lady" system of having zones and doing 15 minutes a day in a zone, it seemed that things didn't pile up or become too intimidating. 

As of yet, I have not hired out my quilting projects. Both fabric shops in town offer long-arm quilting with about an 8 week wait time. Adding the cost of quilting to the project makes it pricey if one is on a budget. 

I have thought nothing of hiring companies to install windows, paint the house, re-doing the plumbing and put in an electrical socket outside. These are projects beyond my desire to do. I take my car to have an oil change, tires rotated and recently had a throttle box replaced.

Yet, I have not made the jump to getting a quilt done by someone else. And I am starting to wonder why. Thinking. Really thinking about it.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Campfires and Dream Pillows

I've been thinking about how we give so much power to people in our lives, from our parents as children, our bosses at work, our partners in our homes and even friends within our various groups. How we learned to respond to them formed who we are and what kind of confidence we have. In a way, I think this sort of behavior exists in me as I quilt.

This month's 12" Block Swap Adventure quilt block swap was called 'Cathy's Campfire' and all I could find for the pattern was one for 6". I emailed my partner to tell her that and she gave me the size conversion. With this swap, each of us can say what kind of block pattern we want and what colors we prefer. The block-maker (me with this one) still has the choice of finding fabrics.

I texted my oldest Granddaughter to see if she wanted a Lavender-filled dream pillow or one to go in an underwear drawer. Her response was immediate, and asked if she could get both, and then asked if I wouldn't mind making another for her Step-Daughter. She wanted pink. I am so not a pink person, but found enough to do both a small dream pillow and a flat insert for a lingerie drawer. Again, its not so much that she has power over my choices as much as I GAVE her the choice to say yes or no and then asked her color preference. Once she made her choice, then I had to make it that way.

I had some small leftover pillow forms from when I taught a middle school class last year and will give Jess one of them filled with some of the lavender from this year's crop. The others will go in some swap-bot swaps as unexpected extras.

I retain a lot of choice in how I quilt and yet, sometimes question if that is really so. For the most part, my choices are first to use what materials I do have. And then I have chosen which groups to continue with. By staying with certain groups, it means following their guidelines and keeping to their standards. Even with my personal quilting for family and friends, I do try to ask and respond to their desires. 

Maybe we cannot get away from issues of personal power because it means either negotiating for a mutually beneficial balance, or finding ourselves either being oppressed by someone or oppressing another being. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Different Perspective

After posting my recent BOM square, a member in the group suggested turning the bottom corner. I had not seen how the placement was just a little off. It didn't take much to go back with a ripper and piece that part the other way.

I could have left it and a non-quilter would not have seen it. I didn't see it. With the dark blocks lined up, they make the 'holding bar' for the ladder.

I know I have blogged about the ripper tool before, but it is really an essential item and one can easily rip all the way until the quilt is basted, changing one's mind and changing the outlook of the quilt. This switch-out took me maybe 15 minutes to do and its such a subtle change that it was hardly worth mentioning.

Hardly worth it, except that it demonstrates the difference of our perspectives, the way we see a thing.

And the act of making a re-do is so precious. Many times there is no chance of making something right as easily as this was. The thing about these mystery quilts, or any art a person makes, is that its deeply personal and dependent upon the artist's vision and expression.

For instance, I am not a fan of Jackson Pollack's work, even though those silly little tests you take to see who you are most like showed that I was a Jackson Pollack kinda person. When I first looked at his drip painting or Abstract Art, it seemed like some toddler created it. There was too much chaos and lack of identifiable form. It was hard to sit with it without pushing something inside me out. It was action painting. I tried to make sense of what I was seeing and that was not the goal.

Evaluations of his work say that he pushed the boundaries of what the medium of paint is capable of expressing. He explored innovative ways of creating art using liquid paint, and was less concerned for tradition.  He used to say he got "in his painting". When I gave into actually seeing the work, looking at it, suddenly I felt a lot of emotion within the canvas. Maybe I am like that. Less concerned with tradition. It has been said that his work was an unorganized explosion of random energy. Maybe this is me inside too.

One thing that seemed to mark him was the ridicule he experienced from traditional painters who could not see this new art form as valid. This piece is called "Moon Woman Cuts the Circle". I tried to like this one. Here it seems like he created the image of the fearful goddess, the fateful godmother, the poisonous nurse of all the moonstruck in the world. Its too much for me to take in and get. Its a different perspective that makes me step out of what I know and what I believe to be good.    http://dhowell.com/the-favours-of-the-moon-by-charles-baudelaire/  

While I want to quilt beyond convention and tradition, to stay within the groups I have joined, means I need to quilt the way our mother's mother's mothers quilted. Whenever I get to the point where I can step outside those boundaries and have a new perspective, then...well, I will.