Happy Solstice!

June 21, 2017

The sun is making itself known in these parts. The temperatures have been at or near triple digits for most of the week. While I am definitely solar-powered (if the sun isn’t up, neither am I), my productivity is restricted to a narrow range of temperature. Light, good; heat, bad. Also cold, bad – but that’s a story for another season. Basically, if it isn’t 72 degrees and gorgeous, I start whining. That is why my summer sun quilt block looks a little like a sci fi creation.

With the light come tentacles of heat

Still, any excuse for a celebration is okay with me. The summer fruit is lovely, and I have my Build-It-Yourself Stonehenge. This year, I added Godzilla.

Starting the summer with a stomp

Luck and wisdom!

When a Start = Success

June 14, 2017

I took a moment to celebrate Chocolate Ice Cream Day last week, hoping to calm my brain enough to do something creative. It worked. The next day, I had ideas for two small pieces. Yes, it’s only a start, but I’m counting it as a success.

I’ve been experimenting with sewing squares on acrylic felt, then melting the felt. This time, I thought I would lay down a grid of thread first, and put something on top of that. The dragon applique was just sitting there, so I stitched it over the grid.

This yellow fabric was on top of the scrap basket. I cut circles from it, and scattered them over the surface. There weren’t enough. “Self,” I said, “why not see if a circle of thread will work just as well as a circle of fabric.”

The next step was melting the felt with my craft heat gun. The dragon didn’t mind at all.

The yellow circles weren’t quite as pleased. I added a bead to make them feel better.

Here is the little circle of thread. It isn’t as noticeable as I expected. If I try this again, I’ll make the circle from parallel lines instead of one big meandering line.

Luck and wisdom!

Chocolate Ice Cream Day and Creativity

June 7, 2017

According to my made-up food holiday calendar, today is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. As it happens, my favorite ice cream is spumoni, which is a combination of chocolate, pistachio and cherry – a most creative combination.

I mention all this because my creativity has been missing lately. Aside from a few cross-stitch projects, I haven’t been able to get past the (relatively) clean cutting board syndrome, also known as blank page jitters. “Self,” I said, “just go in and cut a strip of fabric. Inspiration will come.” I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

“Self,” I said, “perhaps you are overwhelmed with deadlines. Do something about that, and inspiration will come.” I trotted out my favorite time-management scheme – making lists – and got to work. Most of my deadlines were met, so I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

That’s when I noticed my food holiday calendar, and had a minor epiphany. Yes, beginning a new project always gives me the jitters, yes, I’ve volunteered for another group and I have more deadlines, but my biggest problem was my attitude. I had become obsessed with being efficient, and wasn’t factoring in time to savor relaxation. Even the reading time I allowed myself was tense, because book club night is coming up and I’m not finished with this month’s assignment.

I decided to relish the celebration of Chocolate Ice Cream Day. I will scoop the spumoni into a bowl with the chocolate part on top. I might even add some hot fudge sauce. Then I will stand in front of a decorative magnet I bought long ago, and hope I remember its wisdom. After that, when I am well and truly relaxed, I’ll hit the sewing room again.


Luck and wisdom!

The Beading Version of The Song That Never Ends

May 31, 2017

When my kids were little, they learned a wicked little song:

This is the song that never ends

Yes it goes on and on, my friends

Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was

And they continued singing it forever just because

This is the song that never ends . . .

It still gets stuck in my head, especially now that I’ve put aside my Santa Fe quilt.

This is on its side, although I might hang it this way eventually

Since an overall beading design didn’t immediately leap to mind, I started beading the sections.

Beads for the Turquoise Trail

There is more empty space for beading and quilting, but at the moment I’m out of ideas.

Perhaps the turtle will tell me what to do next

That’s okay with me. I have plenty of other projects to occupy my time. Also, like the song that never ends, I suspect I’ll revisit the project now and again, beading needle in hand.

Luck and wisdom!

Toes In The Water

May 24, 2017

This week in the continuing saga of the collaborative quilt: we decided to use the “toes in the water” technique for the border. I finished the inner border, and we immediately stopped to think about what we want next.

I like the top as it is, but we had discussed the possibility of another border. We’ll let the quilt sit on the design board for a bit. In the meantime, I unearthed my quilt marking kit.

When I saw this kit, I was struck by my own lack of vision, and laziness. Lack of vision because all this kit contains is a marker, a paper towel, and a piece of plastic. You put the plastic over the quilt top and mark potential quilt lines. You erase the lines you don’t like with the paper towel and start again. “Self,” I said, “you could have thought of this.” The laziness part came when I bought the kit rather than going to the craft store and buying my own plastic. The “toes in the water” part will come when I actually use the plastic and marker to design a quilting pattern rather than sitting down at the machine and falling into my go-to quilt motifs.

Shameless self-promotion alert – one last “toes in the water” moment occurred this week. I was encouraged by Julaina Kleist-Corwin to consider video blogging. New-to-me technology is scary, so I thought I would start with a tiny snippet of video on Instagram. There was a big, beautiful bug flying around one of the plants in the back yard. Out I went with my cell phone, finger on the video icon. To my absolute amazement the clip was in focus and I posted it without tearing my hair out. I tried posting it here, but discovered that would require an upgrade. As far as I’m concerned, upgrade is the single most frightening word in the English language. So – and here’s the shameless self-promotion part – if you want to see a beautiful flying critter (I think it’s a bee of some sort, but I’m not going to swear to it) you’ll have to find me on Instagram (under Lani Longshore).

Luck and wisdom!

Going Blank

May 17, 2017

Last week I discussed the quilt top my husband and I are designing together. We started with two collections of hand-dyed solids, which I am showing you now because I’ve never shown you the beginnings before.

Here’s what we bought at the quilt show

We managed to get to the last border before our concepts diverged. I found some other fabrics this week and put this draft up on the design wall.

A double border, dark blue and yellow then light blue and beige

He likes it, I like it – but here it sits. Why, you ask? Because now we have to decide exactly where those stair-stepped borders will actually step. I said he could have final approval, but then the weather got nice and the chores in the garden called him, and deadlines for my latest volunteer position piled up on me, and we have yet to sit ourselves in the sewing room and decide about this last (insert naughty word of your choice here) border.

In the meantime, I would like to begin another project but my mind has gone absolutely blank about what that project should be. Oh, there are stacks and stacks of potential candidates waiting for me, but it seems my brain is stuck spinning its wheels until we make a decision on that border. So now I’m hoping for rain over the weekend just to get him out of the garden so I can get this quilt top finished, at which point we start all over again to design the quilting pattern. Argh.

Luck and wisdom!

A Reminder About Favorite Fabrics

May 10, 2017

The universe took note of my efforts to finish projects quickly and decided to remind me of a few things. The project that I’ve been documenting on Instagram is a collaborative effort. My husband and I saw the hand-dyed solids at the Amador Valley Quilters recent quilt show and thought we could come up with a design together. I actually had the beginnings of a design, and he agreed it could work, but I consulted with him on each round just in case.

Design for us, and for Challenge Project “Deconstructing Stars”

Things went as I planned until the very end. We had decided on a concept for the final border, but not the fabric we would use. I chose to start this way.

This was when I discovered we had different visions of the perfect border

He still liked the concept, but the quilt was getting too dark for him. He suggested a very light – almost white – print. It didn’t work for me. I wouldn’t even take a picture of it, that’s how much I disliked the effect.

Then I remembered what Mary Ellen Hopkins said: “If your quilt isn’t working, take out your favorite fabric.” I also remembered that this quilt was intended to be a collaborative effort, and sometimes collaboration means you start again.

We’ll start again from here

We’ll be auditioning more borders over the next few days, or weeks, or however long it takes to get it right – which is always more satisfying than getting a quilt done quickly.

Luck and wisdom!

The No-Longer-Loved-Fabric Project

May 3, 2017

The Instagram experiment is showing success, and just when I need it. This month the Progressive Party begins The No Longer Loved Fabric Project, where we pooled our abandoned, no-longer-loved fabric and each chose three pieces. I posted a picture of a panel I colored in Betty Busby’s class at Art Quilt Santa Fe on Instagram, and in so doing realized I could combine this panel:

with this collection.

I made one round of auditions.

The panel inspired me to use black and yellow strips (black for structure, yellow for glow), and scatter the challenge fabrics over the surface. This is what I will give to the Progressives:

By photographing the piece over a period of days – and then looking at those pictures when I posted them on Instagram – I was forced to think about design elements in a deeper way. I also thought about what I was trying to say with these challenge fabrics, as well as what the fabrics were trying to say to me. Some of the fabrics from the first audition are still yammering at me. The cow tried really hard to fit into the start of the project, but didn’t make the cut. However, she and some fabric with other cows will go in the bag. Perhaps she’ll appear in one of the additions to the top.

Luck and wisdom!

Social Media and the Solitary Quilter

April 26, 2017

Creating art is usually a solo journey. I am lucky enough to have collaborators for some of my fiber art and fiction, but most of my work is done alone. Social media is useful for promoting one’s work, but first you have to get something finished. I started this blog to help me move from solitary quilter in a quagmire of a studio to fiber artist with something to show for it. It was a daunting experiment.

I called this corner Fort Longshore

I’ve worked diligently, finished some things, but my studio still looks like this.

The foundation of a fort on my sewing table

The sad truth is, I have so many stacks of works-in-progess and ideas-that-deserve-more-attention and oh-isn’t-this-a-cute-fabric that my studio will probably always look like the aftermath of a warehouse explosion. However, I figure if one part of social media could make me a little more productive perhaps another part could help as well. Julain Kleist-Corwin, a good friend and wonderful writer, recommended Instagram, and now I’m on that. I believe you can find me as lanilongshore, but if you search under #artquiltsantafe you should find my posts.

My intention is to post once a day, and focus on what I’ve accomplished. Yeah, that was the plan. I’ve already put up many days of flowers blooming in our garden because I did bupkus in the sewing room.

There is always art in the garden

I’ve also posted art quilts I made a long time ago. This is one of them.

Called Window, because it reminds me of a window open to the stars

Blogging once a week helped me to get over my fear of messing up a project, because I wanted to have something to write about. I’m hoping that posting on Instagram once a day will keep me working on a project even when I’m out of ideas because a picture of something is better than a picture of nothing. Check in on my progress (or lack thereof) if you have a free moment.

Luck and wisdom!

Happy Garlic Day

April 19, 2017

According to my food holiday calendar, today is Garlic Day.

A decorative member of the garlic family

In honor of this made-up celebration, here are my favorite garlic recipes:

Garlic and Sage Chips

1 tablespoon – 1 stick of butter (depending on how decadent you feel)

1 tsp olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced REALLY thin (basically shaved)

1/8 cup fresh, whole sage leaves

salt

Melt the butter over medium heat in a frying pan. Stir in the olive oil. Turn up the heat to high and spread the garlic slices/shavings evenly in the pan. After about 30 seconds, stir in the sage leaves and salt. Fry until garlic is golden brown, stirring often. The garlic chips can turn into garlic charcoal in the blink of an eye, so stay alert. Use the chips as a topping for baked potatoes, salad, soup, or Brie.

Garlic and Split Pea Soup Base

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

10 cloves garlic, peeled

1 pound yellow split peas

4 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions in the olive oil in a medium-size pot. I prefer my onions to be nearly caramelized, but you can stop when they are translucent, or even leave them a little crunchy. Add the garlic cloves, and cook for another minute or two. Add the yellow split peas and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until split peas are soft (about 20 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste. You can strain the liquid and use as a clear soup base, or puree the lot for a creamier soup base. This is a great substitute for chicken stock when you are cooking for your vegetarian friends.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half

1 tablespoon butter

cream

salt

Put the potatoes and garlic in a medium pot and add cold water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are mashable. Some people like a little substance to their mashed potatoes, others want it to be as smooth as yogurt, so you get to decide what done is. Drain the potatoes, put into a bowl, toss in the butter and mash away. Add cream until you like the consistency (or you start freaking out about your arteries). Salt to taste.

The proper keeper for those who really love their garlic

Luck and wisdom!