May 15, 2013
Getting back into a routine is one of the hardest tasks I face when I return from a trip. I’m distractable at the best of times (insert your favorite labrador retriever and squirrel joke here), but the week after getting back is one long bounce around the house.
I had two unfinished pieces, so that helped slow me down a bit. The first was the calendar block for July, which I finished.
Ready to celebrate Bastille Day, Canada Day, and Independence Day
The second unfinished piece was my Challenge, The Surface of Infinity. I didn’t finish, but I’m making progress.
Auditioning fabrics for The Surface of Infinity
The rest of the time I tried to figure out what I do around here, which means poking into odd corners to see what’s hidden there. On one of those expeditions I wandered outside, and noticed that some of the plants would do very well as scenery for a sci fi movie. I ran to fetch my son’s Godzilla action figure (which he intended to pitch out years ago, but I saved) and my camera:
Take me to your snap peas!
What a strange and lovely planet this is
Now that you’ve seen what’s in my garden, tell me what’s in yours.
May 8, 2013
Last week I was in New Mexico, enjoying the Studio Art Quilt Associates conference in Santa Fe, then helping my friends Ann Anastasio and Gale Oppenheim-Pietrzak with Art Quilt Santa Fe. Even being on our best behavior, we had more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
Ann, Gale and me
Coming home with my treasures was lovely, too. I had a blissfully uneventful flight, pleasant seat companions, and a few moments to dream of all the projects I would make after unpacking.
Oh, stop laughing.
Yes, it has been a week and I’m still scrambling with my to-do lists. My treasures wait patiently. Here are some of them:
This is the project I brought with me. It is a cross-stitch and bead kit that I bought last year in Colorado. I got most of the center cross-stitch done before I remembered that I always get confused by the little symbols and end of up losing my place. The border isn’t anything like the pattern but I can live with that. The spider is very cool, and that’s all that counts.
This is one of the pieces I made at Art Quilt Santa Fe. It is fabric paint on muslin. I had in mind the Challenge theme of “the surface of infinity.” It seems to me infinity would be gray, like a cooling universe.
This is the other piece I made – fabric paint on silk. This also has a space theme, as I wanted to portray a spiral galaxy. I’m not sure that’s how it will end up, because I’m seeing beading and Chinese embroidery now. If I ever get caught up, I’ll let you know which idea won out.
May 2, 2013
I’m in Santa Fe right now, first for the Studio Art Quilt Association conference and then for the third Art Quilt Santa Fe. I don’t usually do the conference circuit, but this year I have something to promote:
Our new book!
Yes, the sequel to Deathy By Chenille is now available! When Chenille Is Not Enough can be found as an ebook on Smashwords.com, and is also available in paperback from B&N.com and Amazon.com.
Ann and I are over the moon about getting this book finished, especially since the first book took us fifteen years to write, and this one only took fifteen months. The final book in the series, The Chenille Ultimatum, will be available soon(ish).
When Chenille Is Not Enough is another sci fi adventure of quilters saving the world from space aliens. This time, Susan and her family and friends have to make an alliance with the cousin of the shape-shifting creatures they defeated in Death By Chenille. By a delicious happenstance, they discover they can bond over ice cream. Need I say more?
April 24, 2013
Amador Valley Quilters had their quilt show last weekend. It was a fabulous show, with Alex Anderson as the featured artist and a special exhibit of Quilts of Valor projects. We also had members giving demonstrations of various techniques, and I demonstrated beading.
Me in yellow and blue for Boston
Beads can substitute for embroidery, and enhance bindings. They can be used to hide piecing or quilting errors, or can be scattered over the surface just because you’ve got them. I like to turn otherwise unusable jewelry into embellishments, too, and I lump that under beading when I’m giving a demonstration.
Being me, I have my beads squirreled away in many corners of the sewing room, some in containers with projects in various stages of completion. Pulling the stuff together for a demonstration requires me to paw through bins, boxes and stacks – which means I’ll get distracted and come up with another dozen or so projects before I remember what I’m doing. This year, I decided to turn that character flaw into a teaching moment. I brought a sample of the various sorting systems I have used over the years.
This collection does not show how well they work, but illustrates how many choices there are and (I hope) serves as a warning to those who have a a tendency to buy these systems because they are so darned cute. I also hope it will encourage others to do what I have found impossible, namely develop an organizational system and stick with it. Of course, if I could have done that three years ago I wouldn’t have anything to write about in my blog, and that would be sad.
April 17, 2013
The title of this blog is the theme of the next Challenge project. I’m not complaining (mainly because it is my idea) but I wish I had known before I issued it that the universe was just messing with me. I read the line in a book about philosophy, science and religion and lost all track of the argument being presented as I considered what the surface of infinity would look like if translated into fabric. I even had an idea of where to start . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.
My personal challenge for the last few years has been to make the assignment from fabric I’ve already got. I give myself extra points for adapting a project I had already started. My plan for this assignment was to use my extensive collection of gray fabrics, maybe even create a gray series. As well as the fabrics from my gray tote bag, I also had these:
As I separated the fabrics, waiting for them to tell me what to do, I noticed one of the pieces had a little bit of pink. That reminded me of my pink, black and gray collection:
- and my pink and brown collection:
So I guess my assignment should have been called “the surface of infinite possibilities” – which, now that I think of it, is a very good description of my sewing room.
April 10, 2013
I am a quilter, which means I have tote bags – tote bags I’ve made, tote bags I’ve bought, tote bags I’ve acquired as gifts or give-aways. You know this, because I’ve said it before. Still, came the day last week when I needed a little pick-me-up and chocolate wasn’t an option. That left making myself another tote bag.
Here’s what I started with:
While I haven’t consciously been collecting gray fabrics, I discovered I have quite a stash of them. They go together well, and started begging for a project of their own. I really was planning to make a quilt, but then I found a fabulous jacquard that threw itself at me in the store. I knew it would make a wonderful tote bag.
I also found some left-over black piping and square black handles. These two items suggested solutions to my least favorite parts of making bags – including something fun in a utilitarian project that won’t get a second glance from most people, and finishing off the top of the bag without going nuts. I used the Soft and Stable product from my fabric vases, which gives the bag a lovely shape and is easy to sew.
The good news is I’ve reduced the size of my gray stack, and used up some things I’d bought on speculation long ago as well as left-over products. The bad news is my family is wise to my tote bag addiction, but that’s a worry for another day. I can have chocolate today, so life is good.
April 4, 2013
My daughter gave me these for Easter, and nothing I did in the sewing room this week comes close to the amusement value:
March 27, 2013
I celebrated spring with another skirmish in the scrap wars. The dedicated scrap bins had long ago overflowed, so I replaced them with a large woven basket.
Some labled, some not
Then friends gifted me with lots of cut squares for kits for the prison program.
Gifts from friends, waiting to be filed
I vowed the next time there was a lull in the rhythm of creative chaos I would do some sorting. That day came over the weekend, when I was caught up with friendship group deadlines, had enough kits for the prison class to take a brief rest, and didn’t have enough brain power to start a project on my “some day I really want to make this” list.
The sorting went well enough, but the real discovery was how much stuff I had tossed into the woven basket. It was worse than realizing you ate the entire bag of cookies while watching that silly TV movie, and you didn’t like either the cookies or the film! Having no brain power for creative thought worked to my advantage, since I didn’t have the energy to get bored cutting scraps. I worked until one of the family poked a head in the sewing room to ask about dinner, then returned to put things away.
Labeled, sorted, tidy – for now
The woven basket is awaiting repurposing now, and I will use the clear(ish) bins to hold the scraps. They may fill up sooner, but knowing what I’m really squirreling away is essential to keeping up the effort of taming the piles.
March 20, 2013
The challenge project this time is glass. I thought about the fabric I have that looks like glass, wondered if I could find it, and only then thought about what I would do. My sewing room is stuffed with wonderful fabrics, and notes about projects for those wonderful fabrics. They are all in safe places – safe even from me.
The fabric fairies were kind to me, and I unearthed a few pieces that fit with my evolving plans. The first piece was one I had planned to make into a fabric postcard (my friend TheaM does beautiful cards). It was quilted and bound, but not embellished. In the right light, it looked like a pane of glass at sunrise. I thought about what happens to panes of glass, and decided it would look fabulous with a bullet hole.
Since I’ve never actually seen a bullet hole in a pane of glass, this may just be a 4″ x 6″ piece of pink lame with open work.
The next thing I wanted to make was a glass house. I thought about frosted glass blocks, and what they would look like from the outside and the inside. This is what I started with:
Well-rounded glass bricks
I figured if you were inside you would see landscaping, so here’s my panoramic view:
The loops of ribbon are to anchor future embellishments.
The roof was a puzzle, until I noticed a square of screening and decided my glass house would be part of a hothouse:
There may be beads in the future for each of these projects, but that’s going to have to go on the to-do list for another day.
March 13, 2013
I love made-up math days. Today is one – 3/13/13. It occurred to me the numbers can also be spread apart – 3/1/3/1/3. Then it occurred to me that I could make a block based on those dimensions. This is the block:
There are 3 squares in a row. They are 3 1/2″ squares. The three rows are separated by 1 1/2″ strips. I put two extra strips on the side so I could set the squares like the Twist and Turn pattern.
By the time I got to the third block, I realized I was making a split 9-Patch, so started paying more attention to color placement. Still, when you get four blocks together the result is very scrappy.
My original plan was to sew a 2 1/2″ border around it using the same fabric on all four sides. Then my eye fell on a small pile of 2 1/2″ strips and I decided to audition a scrap border.
I’m not sure where this piece is going, but I suspect it will become a sample for my prison class. In the meantime, I have to prepare for tomorrow, which is another made-up math day. March 14 is Pi Day – 3.14 – and must be celebrated with pies. I believe I’ll start with cherry.