Friday, July 31, 2015

Basting Friday

I am taking two quilts into the clubhouse to baste. One is considerably larger than the other, and yet both will go quickly. I've got the system for this step down after all these years. I try not to take anything for granted in what I do, because as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, being a little arrogant can cost a person.

I've pressed both tops and bottoms, checked the seams, and put one of the batting into the dryer to ease out the wrinkles. The other one goes in too. When the manufacturer packages the batting, they fold and press it tightly for easy shipping and shelf sales. Those creases come out with just a little tumbling and heat. 

The table runner for the swap is completed too, with even the required label on the back with my name, the date, the name of the swap and the name of the runner on it. It turned out larger than I thought but did use up all the charms from the pack. I've noticed that some folks are including other gifts with theirs and I am not sure what my plans are. I will head to the PO on Tuesday of next week so there is plenty of time to consider what I want to do.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back of the Quilt

Dramatize it! Dramatize it!

Well, not for most things. However, when it comes to Halloween quilts or decor, that makes me smile. I rather like The Great Pumpkin quilt. The front of it started with a panel and the back of it is a horizontal print. I was able to cut it in half length-wise, join it (see that orange that looks almost a solid?) and then it fit top to bottom, but not side to side. I added more of that black with orange dot as overage for side borders, though most might be trimmed. It is ready for basting on Friday. It will only work as a throw over a chair or one side of a sofa and will be easy enough to shadow quilt the main panel and maybe just the frames of the smaller ones and then borders.

I have an idea that leftover strips of these fabrics can be used in a mug rug so that they will not get tossed. I think I love this holiday best of all and love these fun, fun novelty prints.

It is smart to check the back of the tops for loose threads and seams that need reinforcing. After finishing this one, I went back to do the Constellations quilt, however, it was done. Both are ready for basting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Funny Me

I went down to the big city with my list, however, what I had written down was the number of packages I have, not what I needed, so came away with one package less. And dang, they were on sale too. Oh well, there is time to buy one more, and maybe there will be leftovers to make up the third quilt. 

Luckily, The Great Pumpkin quilt came along for color matching because I didn't buy olive green as I thought I might but got an off-orange with a light dot, and a black with an orange dot. Its going to be a nice little throw. 

My day in the city was exhausting. An hour on the road, two hours getting my eyes examined and glasswear ordered, a little lunch, then almost two in the fabric store, back to the optical store to pick up my glasses, and on the road for another hour. I am not fond of shopping, though the drive is nice.

I came home thinking I would quilt. I guess its quilting to buy fabric and to load thread onto bobbins. Because the fabric choices were different that originally planned, new calculations were required for the width of each border, and also a bit of thought to keep it looking like comic book pages. I got enough of the black to go between the yellow and orange and again between the orange and what I have for the binding. I am not sure how the back will work, but have enough of the black to do that comic book framing back there too. I would like this quilt done to baste on Friday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Into the Closet

Going into my closets reminds me of the movie "Into the Woods" where all sorts of adventures await. And John Muir who said that "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." So it is with closets. A wilderness.

Mine are filled with storage containers of fabrics, projects in bags with or without notes-to-self. I plan to go into the big city soon and want to check out what I have or don't have in my stash before buying something more. I have a list.

My batting supply is down to one package of cotton and two packages of wool. 

If I complete all the quilts on my list for this year, it seems that I will need three more packages of batting. Next year is another story. First things first. I do not want to buy anything that needs storage. I need those three to finish up now.

Most of my fabric were pieces that came from friends or estates of friends. Each time, I sort things into 'kits' of measured matching fabric with pattern ideas. I pulled everything out and sorted into projects that I might get to this year...or not, made lists of the contents and set them back for another day, with huge notes-to-self on every container so I don't have to take it apart when I go looking. There are a LOT of 'kit' projects. And now there is an order for me to see and to pull out when I want something to do. Only one of them is a UFO (UnFinished Object). All the others are simply bagged fabric coordinated with a pattern. Easy for anyone to see.

I am making a promise to myself. Is that a vow? Maybe so. The promise is to make up what I have in 'kits' and only buy supplemental fabrics (and of course batting) to finish them.

My next task was to, once again, go through the bins of fabric scraps and cut them into easy squares. The only bin I went through held Halloween fabric. I didn't cut into anything that was larger, but went through the smaller pieces. The bin I am using for those sizes is stuffed. Next, there are two smaller boxes overflowing. It seems like a continuing process that seems more manageable if it is a regular event.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

All At Once

There might not be any such thing as 'all at once' whether its in quilting or in life. It might be unrealistic to expect a quick, flawless, or smooth journey. 

For me, its more about my expectations. If I have learned anything, it is that no one is perfect, and no project is perfect. Often, I seem to get the skills I need as I go along, especially when something isn't turning out the way the pattern says it should.

Three of my quilt tops are not quite done. One (The Great Pumpkin) needs at least one border, maybe two. This will take a trip into the big city with the unfinished quilt in hand so that the olive green I think it needs for that last border can be a close-to-perfect match. The second border might be just black to continue the comic book frame look.

One quilt top (Winter Golfers) needs appliques on it. I haven't started on them. I haven't even started thinking about them. 

One (a Mystery Quilt) needs piecing of all 30 blocks. When that work is done all all three quilt tops, they each move into the stage of basting. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Measure of a Quilt

As I start to work on the backs of some of my quilts, I am using my tape measure. Its that old adage of measuring twice to cut once. In this case, its measuring twice to ORDER once. 
I am still using an online calculator for such things once I get the numbers. I know you can find apps, but my phone is not smart enough for such things. There are plenty of such sites around, and I use this one from Quilter's Paradise:

Funny thing, you can measure two ways depending upon how you want your seam to go, either horizontally on the quilt or vertically and have quite the different yardage.

It took me a fair amount of time to find fabric that I thought might work. I ordered a golf course print for the back of my Brother-in-Law's Winter Golfer's quilt. Just to be sure, I ordered the larger amount. I would rather have leftovers than be short. I was surprised how many options there were. I tried to download the photo, however their store was set up not to do that. It should come in about a week. It looked to be a brown background with green numbered holes and some blue spattering as bodies of water. I think it will be nice.

The other back I measured for was my Grandson's Holiday quilt (yet unnamed). Its going to need two different Cardinal fabrics to do the trick. Last time I was in Minnesota, he and I walked a block or two to get to the park swings and could hear Cardinals singing in the trees. We stopped to listen and to see if we could find any. When I write to him, I seem to mention Cardinals, so these fabrics might serve as a subtle connection. 

And as I watched a movie called "Serena", I did more hand quilting on my Table Runner Swap. There are 5 weeks to the shipping deadline and I have to keep going on it. The center is done so now its onto the edges. The movie was one that didn't hold my interest all the way through it. It was a period piece, which I enjoy, having some interesting Depression-era history. I think I expected more from the storyline than it was able to give as historical fiction. People were conflicted in it & did not resolve their issues in healthy ways. Maybe this was an example of how a strong woman caved in to the times she lived in, and how men were evolving as well. Scenery was great. The acting had potential and lovely, exciting moments, but was not enough to distract me from quilting, which was a good thing.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Winter Golfers Quilt

This quilt is modified & created according to the material I had on hand. It started with part of a panel my friend Carol gave me (4 blocks on the panel), continuing by coordinating fabric that came from Lee's estate & using a pattern that turned out perfectly for the project. I am loving it!

I kept doing this one, step by step, trimming, cutting fabrics that were in the 'kit' I had made from coordinating fabrics, measuring to add a border and another. As it evolved, I kept wondering what would happen if I tried this or that, and found myself using up the fabrics as they would seem to fit. The original pattern I took some cues from calls for appliques on that white-ish fabric in the middles of the sides, top and bottom. (trees on the sides, lines top & bottom)

The top borders are on now and so I have to figure out what the appliques will be and will look like. There is enough fabric for something. I may try something like a simple star block. The quilt fits across the top of my queen size bed so is a nice size for a personal nap / lap quilt. Binding is cut, and something has to show up for the back. Back to the pattern ideas for what to put into spaces as appliques. These photos do not do the quilt top justice. It has so many parts to it, using up scraps. I have a lot more that didn't go into it. I want to buy 4 yards for the backing to keep it simple for quilting. Maybe flannel. Maybe not. I have time. It is still July.

This is more the kind of quilting I want to do, sort of more free flowing, and definitely something where I can use up the fabric I have. As soon as I decide upon those appliques for the spaces on that white-ish fabric, I need to spend time cutting the scraps from this quilt into those 10"-2.5" blocks. 

Meanwhile, more work on Amy's Cat Quilt. This stage pins more sewing lines from the back. I have got to get it done!!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Bold Escape

One of my former students came into town for a couple of nights. I suggested a day trip to the Pacific while she was here. I mean drive all the way from Wisconsin and not see the Mighty Blue? We headed out early and got there for low tide, grabbed a quick lunch, and went back to the Ocean for more. I could have stayed on the beach all day.

I love the Ocean. I love how refreshed I feel after being in the sun and sand of the beach. Morro Bay is one of my favorites because if you get there during low tide, you might see marine life before it gets eaten by the seagulls. We got there about half an hour after the official start and within a short time, the waves were rolling in. Signs are posted about not getting caught in the undertows, and the motion of the ocean is real. It can suck you off your feet and out in a flash.

There are two sides to this huge rock in the bay, one with a pounding surf and one that is a lot more tame. One of the episodes on 'Taste of China' showed a man harvesting kelp from their shores. I never noticed that it grows here too and, don't really like the taste of it so have never bothered to harvest it, let alone do I know if this is the edible kind. Its shows up on all the rocks here in the bay during low tides. Its the dark looking part on these rocks....kelp, not shadows.

I think I am too spoiled to harvest and eat a food that is unfamiliar.

Maybe I am similarly spoiled about trying new fabric arts in quilting. It's possible that I have a fear of failure about that because, unlike eating an unknown food, I am not going to get sick or die from it. Nothing to fear.

I am thinking more about next year's quilts. I know, this year's haven't been finished as of yet. However, envisioning possibilities are always fun. I am familiar with how long it takes me to create a quilt done with standard methods, but not one where I go a little wild and crazy.

Today was a bit of a bold escape from the quiet little valley town. In just three and a half hours on the road, the ecosystem changed and changed and changed until there we were. Breezes. Children laughing. Sunshine. Sand. A perfect day.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Life in Process

Energy travels within us no matter where we are going, no matter how we feel from sad to happy, no matter what happens to us from joy to crisis. Our lives are always in process, moving, changing, evolving and sometimes even crashing. 

We don't travel alone. Some of us can sense the spirit guides on our path. I feel lucky to have healthy relationships with some members of my family and friends. Every time I take out a quilt project, I look at it and observe just how it changed or how I might have changed to see where I am going with it. Better to say, perhaps, where it is taking me. Even a quilt can be a spiritual guide. Clearly, it IS part of the process.

I took out Amy's Quilt again to re-do some of those errant seams. So many junctions need repair. Its a project for night time under the Ott-Light because the black fabric is really, really hard to see. What I did for today was to pin-to-mark the points that need new seams. I also loaded a couple of bobbins with dark thread so when I am ready, the machine is too.

One of the stores in town will quilt it on the long arm. I confided in her what happened to the seams and how disappointed I was in how it had come along. She told me she gets tops in a lot of ill-fitting shapes and once they get stretched and quilted, they turn out nicer than expected. She also told me I do not need to baste it before bringing it in. In fact, she doesn't want it basted. I just need to keep working on it.

With dark machine thread at the ready, I brought out my Brother-In-Law's Winter Golfers quilt top. My notes-to-self indicated that I was to cut and join 1.5" x 5.5" pieces for two side borders. Some are horizontal and some are vertical. One thing that happens when I work on a number of quilts in rotation, is that it can be difficult to get back the energy that I started with it. My notes are making it more clear, and that helps a lot. On a positive note, I return to it with fresh eyes. If memory has failed, then at least, I am not living in the past.

My energy changed. Its energy changed. The challenge is, always, will I try to recreate what was or go forward to what is possible? Each quilt has its own process and pulls me along with it, sometimes with joy. Sometimes not.

These pieces forming the border are supposed to be random. And there is nothing left to randomness in construction it if it is going to look good. I cut and chain stitched them by pairs and then laid them out, in either horizontal or vertical blocks, until the length worked. I have two side borders that look like they coordinate. The next steps involve piecing them to the center, and adding a triangle on each corner that might need appliqueing. It really looks good to me.

I decided to come back fresh to it another day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Winter Solstice in July / Day 2

Waist bands are not easy. I cut according to the pattern, and then decided to make them longer. The apron is made from several FQs so adding another fabric is perfectly ok. It did mean, however, that the waist bands need to be cut in half to accommodate the additional pieces, front and back. 

I am not sure how this sewing would have worked if I was making the apron under stress for time. Aprons are simply difficult to make, and take time to do the pfutzy steps. Luckily, one of my Quilt Block swap partners just sent me two FQs in beige, so the waist band went together quite nicely. It took most of the morning to do on the apron, which is probably why adding the waist band is the last step, but now, this one is finished. Even the threads are clipped on it. This was actually the fourth apron using this pattern that I have made. I am putting the pattern away and will not make another from it, at least for awhile.

While I brought out another apron to work on, and looked at what was next, I admit to feeling like I had done enough for the day. Someone told me recently that my "stop doing list needs to be longer than my to-do list". I honor that today and am really happy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Winter Solstice in July / Day 1

As I looked in the drawers where I keep my Winter Solstice projects, I found some pot holders and oven mitts with Insul Bright pieces. I was given some left-overs of it recently that added to this stash. There was an empty box containing books that are now listed, so I put all the Insul Bright and the projects into it, labeled it and found a place in the closet. I think it will be a good project box for next year. 

I am going to stick with small sewing projects for this year. Aprons are actually more difficult than one would think. I re-arranged these projects so that the aprons to be finished are in the top drawer: One for my younger Son's lady; next is a ruffled one for my older Granddaughter; and one is a heart-shape for Granddaughter #2. Also, there are two holiday tree wallhangings for my Sons. Its JULY!

Things get interesting from that point. This represents fabric I set into a drawer for projects. Blues go to bluework as does the fabric adhesive. I've included the pattern and given them their own bag. Its a project for next year as well.

The red/gold/white print is a panel that will make a holiday tote. I need to get a tote pattern out even if I use it only for a guide, and then find fabric for lining and straps. 

The small cut pieces are being added to a quilt project whether or not that was my original thought. No notes to self, this is what happens. Looks like they had been 5" charms cut in half, and then one half cut in half again. What was I thinking? 

The pins are for folded ornament balls.

But then what are all these more colorful pieces with the butterflies, purple, yellow and hearts? I'll keep them out for awhile in hopes they jog my memory, and of course, I am writing many notes to self about what I do know is there. Jeeze the time it takes to remember! I am getting better at labeling my projects, so I don't have to spend this much on them figuring out what they are, and who will get them. 

I feel sad for anyone who has to go through someone's stuff and they have no idea what goes with what or what the plans were. Sometimes I feel sad for myself when I find my own things in this state! Like most people, I think I will remember.

Time. I never turned on the sewing machine, nor did anything with the fabric. It will be easier tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2015


My working with paper (not the paper piecing) project for this month was listing more of my books for sale on Amazon, and then sorting the ones I had listed in alpha order on the shelves for easy retrieval. It was really exciting for me to have finished this project.

This has been a huge undertaking that is complete for this year. I own hundreds and hundreds of books, and have donated many to the library, thrift stores and even to friends. This represents a few of my book cases and I am done for now. 

My goal is to list all my books so that those worth selling are out there. Its surprising the number of people who still want hard copy books. Just because they are listed doesn't mean they WILL sell, but unless they are offered, no one knows I have them. 

I've thinned out my personal library over the years, releasing books that I am either never going to read again or do not need or want for resources. Sometimes its hard to part with them because they are like old friends. It was a task long over due. It feels so good to have it done for the year.

It always seems that when I have something undone (quilters call them Unfinished Objects or UFOs), the stress of avoiding the task takes more out of me than if I just handled it. Now this project is done. Everything is in our control at unconscious levels and we do create our own reality. When something I leave undone actually harms me, it shouldn't fall the bottom of my list but better rises to the top.

Harm is an interesting word. It harms me to want to do something and put it off. The longer I put something off, the more guilt settles in and the more I start sending myself subconscious messages that I am 'failing' myself. Well, done is done. At least until it rubs me the wrong way.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Purple? Hmmm

My partner for the table runner asked for purples and said she was ok with greens and vanilla with the purples. Well, with only one Charm Pack with any kind of purple in it to chose from in town, I am doing my best to make it happen. Luckily, she is ok with the greens and vanilla, and hopefully that camel-color as well.

I used a FQ in purples to do a border and the same fabric will make the binding. I pushed myself to finish this top because I am hand quilting it. My machine quilting is so awful yet that I want to make this as nice as I can. First of all, the pattern is pretty simple and secondly, the charm pack doesn't 'read' as purple as my partner might have wanted. Purple runs through many of the squares so I am probably being picky. While it seemed squared, I measured & trimmed so that I was sure the lengths and widths were equal to each other. A gorgeous purple is on the back and the quilting thread is leftover from my Granddaughter Baylee's grad quilt last year. Its going along smoothly and might take a few more nights to finish. 

Unfortunately, in order to do and finish this one, my other projects have been put on hold. The more this happens, the more convinced I am that stepping back from these swaps is a good thing for me. As soon as this table runner and the blocks are done for this month, I can focus on my personal quilts and other projects.

When I first took on the swaps, it was done so I could gain experience, make new friends and get a variety of fabrics for the blocks. All that has happened and now its time to move forward with a different agenda.

It feels like more of the minimizing work I've been doing. I am always reading people say they are buying more and doing more and its not where I want to be. Its not that I want to do less as much as I want to enhance what I am doing.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


My new cat thinks he's my helper. What he does is to get me to rest. How he does it is to get into tight places so things fall, and hearing the crash, I have to come see what happened. It is not my preference to give negative attention so before 'running into the crisis', I make some educated guesses about what might have happened.

Funny thing about cats, they know how to make their people run. Eventually he got tired of it all and snuggled into his bed. I put it on the highest storage shelf in the room so he had to climb to get there. My house, my rules. For today.

I was able to join the two halves of the flannel backing, and next need to measure to make sure its the correct size. Its folded now and I'll make an appointment at the clubhouse to baste it. Next week is busy and so it will work better for me in two weeks. 

I did another couple of rounds on the blocks & table runner that are for various swaps this month. Its piece, unpin, press, pin again. Everything is getting real close and should be ready to ship at least by Tuesday.

Most quilters have a theory about accuracy. While most patterns do not say so, they work best with a scant 1/4" seam, which is a few threads off the 1/4" line. Its dang hard to be accurate with a minute measurement and if you are not, then the block size is off.

Pinning is second on my list, that helps nests seams at the corners. Next comes the spray starch. My preference is Mary Ellen's Best Press. And of course, pressing the work up and down rather than ironing side to side.

Sometimes I blog about these steps almost as a reminder. However, they are my helpers and as I said, I would prefer not to give attention to the negatives. I just get in trouble with my own silly self.

Friday, July 17, 2015

One Step Forward

Usually when a sentence begins with that phrase, what follows is 'two steps back'. Today was easy piecing.

I pressed the Constellations quilt to ensure the seams were joined correctly (found two that need reinforcing) and clipped forgotten threads. Its a bigger quilt measuring 80" by 90", and so it took awhile on the ironing board. I pre-washed the flannel for the back to equalize it with the 100% cotton on the front. There is a 3% shrinkage for batting, and it just seems to me wise to plan ahead for some of it. The two Color Catchers did their job and pulled out loose dyes which might have tinted white pieces on the front with a pale but dark blue dye. It is pinned to piece tomorrow. One step forward.

With all the blocks-for-swaps segments pinned, they were easy to chain stitch, and are actually four different blocks, plus the table runner, so it helped to busy me most of the day. My next step is to press and pin again.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Starting Anew

All beautiful things take time. Telling the difference between yesterday, today and tomorrow may be easy for some people, however, it isn't that easy until you learn to draw the line between then and now. 

I wonder where yesterday ended and today began even when I stay awake. It isn't a ringing gong at midnight. Its a point in time that is more flexible and stretchable. One minute you look up and everything has changed. Yesterday is gone. Choices are made. Done is done.

Good mental health is living in the moment.

With that in mind, I pulled out my to-do list, selected patterns for the block swaps I am in, and put together the fabric colors each of my partners requested, spent time cutting and have the pieces pinned ready to join.

The flannel fabric for the Constellations quilt arrived and is lovely! Its from Robert Kaufman so the feel and quality of it is divine. I'll get to the seams it needs and then make an appointment to baste it some time next week.

I am back quilting, and have a very clean & organized house, plus gardens, yards and the outside of the house in tip-top shape. Love it. In a few days, my monthly schedule will have me handling paper projects, and then Winter Solstice gifts. I like the rhythm I've set in place now, which should hold a few months or maybe even for a year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Getting Started Again

Someone once told me that we judge our progress according to our own standards. We have to run our own race, sing our own song, and quilt our own quilts.

I didn't look at my projects again until later in the afternoon. I mowed the patch of lawn in the back, made a few food items for the fridge that I can munch on for the next few days, opened & answered mail before I was ready.

All the WIP projects are here. My sidebar tells me what I am doing for the month. The block swaps need to go out VERY soon. Re-entry is actually hard. I never even considered that it was hard. I thought I would jump right in as soon as breakfast was over and quilt until dark. Some of these will go back into the closet. For instance Constellations is in the foreground and I am waiting for the material order to come for the back.

I want to do the next round of repair on the Cat Quilt seams. Its getting close and will soon be ready to take in to the store for the long arm. 

As I look at my opening quote on today's blog, I wonder what exactly is the standard I use to judge my progress. I didn't turn on the sewing machine. I didn't cut anything to make the blocks for my swaps. I've been comparing my connection with quilting to having an addiction and I am not sure about that any more. All I did today was bring out the projects I am working on and look at them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Day 7 - Not Quilting

Sometimes its difficult to give people your honest opinions. Perhaps that comes from a fear of rejection, or fear of not fitting in, or fear of criticism for how and what you believe. Bottom line is that we often do not think we are enough.

That has been a huge issue for me. While I still get anxious in many ways, I often find myself either mentally or physically snapping my fingers at my own silly self and moving along. Life is too short to be caught in trauma drama.

This is the last of my 'Not Quilting' days. My first plan for today was to paint the outside of my two entry doors, but I could not find painters' tape, so this is a job for another time. 

It is still risky for me to be in close proximity to my quilting projects, even though this is the last day of my time away from them. Luckily, they got put behind closet doors so are out of sight/out of mind.

As I walked into my studio, it was apparent spending time in here cleaning, and clearing would be a good thing. There were still magazines to go through or at least put on a corner shelf in here. There were papers to sort and either file or toss. All of them were on my work station and so had to go somewhere before I could even start quilting again. I smiled wondering if this had been a sub-conscious plan all along and that I need to trick myself into some behaviors or actions.

My writing desk was cluttered too. The stack of books to list was going to take me more than one sitting to get it done. That process is so very time consuming. The process for Amazon seller's listings have changed so I spent a fair amount of time learning how they want it done now. I am able to get at least 5 of them done at one time, and just estimating what is in these overflowing boxes might be close to 100 more. 

I worked for two publishing houses when I lived in MN editing their raw manuscripts. They sent me huge boxes of product, a lot of which stayed in the shrink wrap or didn't come with boxes. I got almost 20 listed this time, but it is a lot of work to follow the links, compare prices and click to sell.

And then there is the shelf I use to hold Swap-bot exchanges. What a mess that got to be. Every time I go through it to organize, things get put in a logical order. Then I join a different kind of swap and everything changes. Needless to say, my attention is drawn to this room like a recovering alcoholic tending bar.

I do not consider myself a recovering quilter just because I took a time out. I intend to quilt again.

One by one, as the piles were handled, the bookcase in here was organized with all my 'absolute keeper' books and things, the work station was cleared off. Papers were sorted for filing, Swap-bot projects got separated out from family photos & cards and everything was put into a more reasonable system on that shelf unit. I found more items to list for sale as I went through the 'keeper' books and put them in alpha order.

Everything got dusted. Wait. What?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Day 6 - Not Quilting

Once I realized how many areas of my house and yard needed work that have been neglected because of my focus on quilting, it seemed easier to get the work done during this week because I have taken time away. It was an opportunity to embrace. And in truth, because of the diversity of tasks, the obsession I feel towards quilting seemed less today. 

Well, for part of the day. For a person to deny that they have an addiction of any kind could be part of the addiction. I do not think it is easy to face. To fight thinking about it is still thinking about it. As the week progressed, it was like the cliche of an angel and a devil on each of my shoulders battling for my sanity. Voices telling me to quilt or not to quilt were constantly zapping me.

It was important for me to get outside while the weather was cooler this morning and before the sun was so bright I couldn't see what I was doing. Three years ago, the house was painted a dark, yummy chocolate over a very light & faded pastel green. Over those years, I had been noticing some of the light color showing through where the siding panels joined, and so got the paint out, stirred it and went around the house touching up where needed. It will most likely be good for several more years now.

Its not like the job took long, and was one of those things that wasn't important, so for three years, it had gone undone. I am not sure anyone else noticed. 

It always takes longer to prep and clean up paint than it does to do the work. I threw away the sponge and small rag rather than spend time cleaning. (I do have a lot of new rags from my old clothes.) I would have seen this as ecologically UN-sound some years ago, but that was then and this is now. 

One thing I have learned is that I can only do what only I can do, and that I really have to prioritize my energy expenditures to maximize it all.

Then I came back in to finish setting up the bookcases. I've made enough space on the bookcase in the Entry and the Northside bookcase for more books I want to list for sale. And in moving them around, I pulled off even more that I am ok to release. And yes, I alphabetized the 'keeper' books at the same time. My pile of books to list actually tripled. Some will list, some will need to be given away if they are not worth selling. However, when a book sells, it does provide a bit of income, and goes to someone who either wants or needs it.

These are the art supplies that had been on the Northside and need to go on the Southside bookcase where most things on it are 'keepers' right now or just books I haven't gone through yet. I won't do much sorting on it for now.

Just a little dusting. Maybe.

Its not that I dislike housework. I actually do keep at it all the time, and enjoy the benefits of having a clean home and being organized. These bigger tasks I've been doing this week have just gone undone for far too long.

Part of what happens for me is that I keep thinking I will get to what needs doing, and then I put it off. Quilting drew me away from housework because it seems like it is a much more worthy activity. Quilting satisfies my soul, provides an opportunity for artistic expression, and a way for me to connect to family members. Few people see my home, and fewer yet would notice the house unless it was really trashed.

Well, one more day to go.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Day 5 - Not Quilting

Change is something not everyone likes because it usually brings chaos first. And so it does.

 I was not content with how cluttered the shelves were looking as I alphabetized the for-sale books. I took down the books on all shelves in that first bookcase so it would be free for me to stack books listed online for sale in alpha order. It meant moving everything around. They still look chaotic because they are not finished. The dust! Holi Ka! 

I took all the quilting books and magazines filling half the 3rd shelf in the 3rd bookcase and moved them into the studio for stacking in here. And I pulled more from the 1st and 2nd bookcases that I am willing to release and sell. 
Obviously, as books get listed, they will be put in alpha slots for easy retrieval. Its still pretty much a WIP (quilting term for work in progress). Needless to say, its more the state of chaos right now than it is anything that is or looks completed.

Then, another thing I am doing that is NOT-quilting is that I joined a group called PostcrossingIt is a post card exchange with people from around the world. I printed off the five profiles for people I send to going in Monday's mail. Its another activity I will enjoy. My people for the first round come from Germany, China, the Russian Federation, the Czech Republic and one here in the states living in Maryland. Here is a link for more information. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Day 4 - Not Quilting

My plan to minimize isn't overwhelming. My expectations are.

There are left-overs from each of the projects I've been doing. And for whatever reason, going back to work on any of them to complete the original task seems like a big chore. 

Books-for-sale fill an entire book case and several additional shelves. This took a lot longer to alphabetize than I thought it would. The project is done and next, I have to start consolidating the rest the bookcases and see if I am able to release more of them.

The sorting solution for that stack of periodicals was to place them onto the Friends of the Library shelves and let FotL sell them. The quilting magazines & a few other odd periodicals are on a top shelf in my studio, and no work is needed for them, because I don't feel like more browsing or sorting or dusting.  your-guilt-free-guide-taking-mental-health-day

I have been wondering if the quilting I do is like any addictive drug, where by cutting off my supply to it triggers a sudden drop in the release of the feel-good brain chemicals. If this is true, and I continue to think it is, then if I stay away from it too long, the lack of the feel-good chemicals could very well start bringing in a lack of energy resulting in sadness. Its not like there is a helper-drug to get me through. 

I've been considering the associative words like 'obsession', or 'withdrawal' and think I am feeling both of them. I want to say that its not so bad, and then know that 'denial' is yet another word people who are addicted use. What I think is funny is how we (quilters) use the word 'stash' which was always associated with users who hid their bottles, food or drugs. Maybe, however, quilters have made this a good thing to have and show their pride. 

As time goes on, I wonder if there is a value in maintaining the non-quilting days for a full week. I wonder if my desire to stop it all of a sudden signals my addiction or if not-quilting is beginning to wear on me. I decided to turn my attention to out of the house activity for my next day. That will get me out of the studio and really-really away from any fabric. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Day 3 - Not Quilting

I don't really know what an addict to drugs or alcohol feels like, and maybe to compare my addiction to quilting is like a fluffy way of thinking. However, its almost hard to maintain my sanity against the pull to let it come back into my day. I assume this is similar to what drug or alcohol addicts feel about their chemicals.

I got an email update about the Charm Square Table Runner swap. Seems my partner is ok with adding creams and greens to the purples, so my Charm Pack will work. That got me inspired to look for a pattern again, so I started going through some 50-60 or more quilting magazines I have on the shelf. Going through these magazines is an entirely different project not related to quilting as much as it is getting the ones I don't need off the shelf and out of my life. I pulled out patterns that I want to save and tossed most of the magazines, saving about 10. 

This was part of what it takes to quilt. The agenda to clear them out was different. It is extremely difficult to separate the work of clearing unneeded items from what I do as a quilter. I got up from it, and walked away. The pull to take the next step in quilting was unbelievable.

The wooden file cabinet that was under the table and against the wall is emptied and moved into another room. I used my quilting work station to look through both the magazines and files. I sorted them to see what needed to be tossed or saved. It surprised me to see how empty the vertical file cabinet is now. There had been no 'Note-to-Self' letting me know why these papers were saved, so all I can assume is that last year when I did this, what was left were things I thought were important. My sorting filled the wastebasket three times, and then I filed what remained. Some things need to be done in stages. 

There are three main topics left to put into the vertical filing cabinet: 1) Health / Legal papers; 2) Research for the Befana book; 3) Spiritual Research. 

I don't always make the connection about the psychological issues in my life now that I am not teaching. However, grief and loss show up in the strangest ways. Just because I made the choice to retire doesn't mean it wasn't a loss. In fact, it was a huge change in my life and of course came with a certain amount of grief. And then there was the loss of my Niece. I have not forgotten her and all the losses her passing left us with. 

There is no timeline for grief.

As I went through the quilting magazines, I realized that my goal for quilting in the next few years is to first of all, finish what has been started & stored in bins; and then to use up the scrap squares by joining them in a sort of random order for quilts. I don't need nor do I want to make the more complex patterns. Going forward with all parts of my life is that I mean to travel lightly.

So here I am, finding new strengths, creating new patterns (not just the quilting kind) and trying to pull myself out of the deep dip. A day or so ago, I wondered where I was and where I was going, and this chart helps me see that the walls of grief are slick and steep, so if I tumble back down, and start feeling the disorientation, panic and guilt, I know I need to find a way to climb up and out. There is no shame in being where I am about feeling grief and loss. It is what is is and at least I got to a place where I could see it and see how it was affecting my work. And yet, guilt is a stage of it.

This has been a good few days of not-quilting.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day 2 - Not Quilting

Having a sweet life starts with progressively living in favor of what might BE & what IS rather than what might have been. 

After coffee with my next door neighbor, I went to work on the 5-drawer cabinet, my PJ drawer, and hanging bin to go through my clothes. Its one area of my life that is hard for me to deal with, hard to release, and has piled up. These storage places are overflowing with worn out clothes and clothing I will most likely never wear again. Junk.

The first thing was to get them all out of their containers, fold them, and try things on for fit. Next, a few things got tossed, a few wearable things went into the thrift store giveaway, and then the rest was re-folded and re-organized into my closets and drawers. I don't need all these things. And when I look at them, they ARE junk. True down-sizing might mean that I need a few changes for daily use, a couple of 'for-good' things and a few PJs. 

What I don't get about me, and how I deal with these raggy clothing items, is why I keep them. It might be in my best interest to wait a day or two and then do it again. Pull them all out into a pile, sort and cull. 

If there is truth to progressively living in favor of what might be & is, AND my goal is to live more as a minimalist, then I see how I am caught and stuck in what was. I think I have been avoiding a lot of other things in my life when I quilt. 

Its possible that I need to convince myself that it is ok to let go of what no longer serves me, EVEN IF it never gets replaced. I think one of the issues is that I don't know what I am doing here & now, or how I am going forward. It is probable that these tasks will shed some light on what the next steps are. 

It makes me smile. With all those 'notes-to-self' I write on my quilting projects, I don't do that with my clothes. Keep/toss?

Part of this might be a residual effect from retiring. All that change had a lot to do with releasing a particular lifestyle of traveling and speaking in front of groups. Our culture doesn't give us a lot of training in releasing old ways. It is caught up in the consumerism of wanting more, buying more and having more.

My next task was to pull out a stack of periodicals, saved because, in my head, it is a grievous sin to throw away any printed material. Over the years, I might find one tip, one recipe, one photo that is worth the magazine. And I discovered that I can actually RIP that one precious page out and put it in a 3-ring binder to save for reference. I don't NEED a stack of magazines taking up shelf space and collecting dust.

Maybe I cheated. About half of them focus on gardening, so they are in one of those flat rate mailing boxes going to my friend Rex, who is still gardening. I didn't open one of them. This stack is more manageable. 

I needed to find and bring some health documents to my chiro appointment. My really lovely maple 2-drawer filing cabinet was moved under my work tables, and shoved back to the wall. Last time I opened it was just after retiring over a year ago when I cleared out and sent all the student documents, and tossed old lesson plans. Most of it is empty and its time for me to go through it again, toss the rest of what is not needed, and move it to a better location. 

And yet, I was still not done for the day with things I have been neglecting. Some time ago, I started listing my books for sale online, and they sell a few at a time for whatever reason. The problem I have is that I wasn't keeping the listed books separate enough on my shelves from the non-listed ones. I emptied out this corner shelf in my studio and switched books that I do not plan to list from the great room. I need to spend time putting the ones I do want to sell in an alpha-order. The 'keeper' shelves are thinning out and yet there is a pretty big pile of them waiting to go on the for-sale list. 

It was a good day not-quilting. And it feels like I am starting to live a sweeter life as more of a minimalist. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Day 1-Not Quilting

I've said it before, quilting has become an addiction for me. When I went into town today, I could have just run all the other errands and skipped going into the quilt shops. But no-o-o-o. Not only did I visit one, but I stopped at both of them.

Its not like I planned to pull out the projects again. However, my first purchase was for borders on The Great Pumpkin quilt.  The measurements I took said I needed 3/8 for the first border and 5/8 for the next one. I have a yard for the last border. I didn't need to pull out the project, and did. Just to see. However, I put it back with the new fabric and closed the closet doors.

The first shop doesn't sell Charm Packs and that is what I needed for that project; the table runner swap I am in has a specific rule about using a CP rather than building the runner from stash. Rules ask for a photo of the paper wrap from around the CP with its name. I could have stopped there with the purchase, yet opened it to discover that it doesn't have entirely the look for what I wanted to do for the table runner.

Yes, I laid the colors out to see what was there. I mean after all. The pack is real 'woodsy' or has a 'nature' feel to it. It is named for the Minnesota state flower, the Lady Slipper, and of course, it is going to be lovely. It has enough color to add a lot of interest. That's what charm packs do. This was what was available to me. My partner requested purples. The first one I started uses purples and is going to be stunning. 

I wasn't happy with my choices for the patterns and went back online looking for 'charm pack table runner patterns'. This one is going together in uncut blocks as squares. 

Here I am 'not quilting' and spending hours online looking for table runner patterns using charm packs! I've laid out those 42 squares in endless ways and with all the green, vanilla and sand colors, the purples get lost even though there are more of them in the pack. 

The swappers are allowed a little bit of background, binding and backing fabric to finish, and so I pulled out some other good quality purple fabric that draws out the flowers on the various squares, and adds more balance & brightness to the layout. I plan to finish the other one that used up charms from my stash in time for holiday giving, once I get back to my quilting projects. Just not this week.

Whew. I did ok not quilting today. What happened confirms that I am addicted. No one is fooled by anything. Just because I didn't sit in front of the sewing machine doesn't mean that my attention was taken up by it all. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the week goes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stepping Back for a Week

I decided to put my quilting projects aside for a week. While there was some progress on a few things, I found myself coming up against too many obstacles. I have been successful with the triangles, points, and suddenly everything I tried wasn't working.

I pulled out a stack of magazines I had been saving to get recipes and tips from. I am not really interested in making new meals and like how I eat and what I eat. 

One thing I have been doing at night is watching this Hulu show that focuses on China, and how they eat and cook. One of my undergrad minors was Chinese History and so I love learning more about the country. They call this series "Food for the Soul". Its not about the recipes as much as it is about the process the people go through to make their food. 

Setting aside my quilting seems a way to shock my system. Before I get back to actually working with fabrics and my projects again, I want to watch and read tutorials on making those points. Also, new fabrics are ordered and on their way, so its ok to focus elsewhere for awhile.

The sense of frustration had been growing inside me. I was mentally beating myself up for not getting it. I was ripping all the time, and as I took out the seams that were not working, I found myself thinking more about what wasn't working than what was. And the more I let that happen, the worse things got. I simply do not like working on something I plan to give to a person I love. I need to get my head and heart clear again.

This is something that happens in any endeavor a person makes. When I watch this series on "A Bite Of China", the film makers show the faces of people as they work...all the intensity, all the struggle, all the joy. What I see in the series is how they work with what is available as a food source in their part of the country. The land isn't always as fertile, and most of the time, they are working with their hands rather than machinery. The show talks about the old ways and the younger generation as unwilling to work as hard as their parents and grandparents.