Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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!

A Time To Sparkle

December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice! Over the years, I’ve become entirely solar-powered – if the sun isn’t up, don’t expect me to be. While I don’t actually believe the sun won’t come back if I don’t do my bit to help, I do enjoy putting lights and other decorations around the house. Here is a sampling:

Lani Longshore stuffed reindeer

Rather than amassing my reindeer collection, which takes more open space than I will ever have, this year I decided to scatter selections throughout the house.

Lani Longshore moose reindeer vase

Here is another grouping. Yes, the stuffed toy is actually a moose. I don’t care. One day I might even make a reindeer-moose convergence quilt for the holidays.

Lani Longshore birds in basket

I also have a bird collection, and a basket collection. Combining the two seemed reasonable.

Lani Longshore TARDIS tea ball

My son gave me this TARDIS tea ball. I used it for tea once and decided it was more pleasant to look at it than to clean it. It is now a decoration in my kitchen. This is the first year I’ve displayed it on the tree.

Here is my gift to you – a link to The National French Toast Alert System. Plug in your zip code and find out if it is cold enough to stock up on milk, bread and eggs (the usual items people seem to grab when the weather gets cold and nasty). Enjoy the holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

Luck and wisdom!

Don’t Mess With Halloween

November 2, 2016

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but this year I decided to scale back and not carve a pumpkin. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was second-guessing that decision. I went to the grocery Monday morning, pumpkins were on sale, and I took this as a sign that I should carve a pumpkin after all. My third mistake was picking the wrong knife.

Lani Longshore bandaged thumb

Yes, that is my thumb with the bandage covering a proper jab. My husband helped me clean up, then finished the carving.

Lani Longshore carved pumpkin

My husband was really sweet about the whole thing, especially since he is always warning me off knives. I come from a long line of women who can’t cut straight. My grandmother made fabulous bread, but her slices looked more like a sandy beach after a particularly vigorous wave washed over it – all ripples.

My other decorations were far less hazardous to make. I found some delightful orange pipe cleaners, and made a bow-tie for my monster-head scythe.

Lani Longshore Halloween decorations

I also found some bats on clips. Twist a few pipe cleaners together, attach the bats, and you’ve got a door hanger.

Lani Longshore bats

While we may have a pumpkin next year, I can guarantee you I won’t be carving it.

Luck and wisdom!

Ready For A Brand New Bag

August 10, 2016

We just returned from visiting family (three states, two flights, one road trip), and while it was a wonderful trip I always return with a subtle sense of dissatisfaction. This isn’t a bad thing, because when I see what other people do with their houses and gardens I often realize my house or garden could look much cuter with a few simple changes. This year, my sense of dissatisfaction is centered on my handbag. It is getting on in years, so I knew I would have to replace it sooner rather than later. My travel bag has all these zippered pockets that are delightful and efficient, but I haven’t seen anything for at-home use that seems right. “Self,” I said, “you might just have to make your own handbag.”

The clutter doesn't stop in the sewing room

The clutter doesn’t stop in the sewing room

I bought a couple of patterns that sorta kinda maybe have the features I want. With a little mixing and matching, perhaps I could come up with an plan. If any of you know of the perfect pattern, please pass on the information!

My starting point

My starting point

Once I find (or adapt) a pattern, I’ll have to decide on materials. I once thought of making a handbag from the collection of fabric pictured below, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps the silkies would be better as a lining than an outer shell. Dang, I might have to force myself to go fabric shopping.

These patient packets may finally have their turn to shine

These patient packets may finally have their turn to shine

Luck and wisdom!

Forgotten Collections

August 3, 2016

I cleared off another bit of shelf the other day. Imagine my surprise when I discovered one of my thread boxes also has a collection of thimbles.

Lani Longshore thimbles

I bought most of these thimbles, in person, with my own money. You would think I would remember them. Not so.

Lani Longshore grandmother's thimbles

These are thimbles I remembered that I have. I inherited them from my grandmother. Some of them might be fifty years old or more. I’ll never know, because they arrived in a box after she died. I used to feel sad about that, the not knowing. Given that I’ve forgotten the history of my own thimbles, I’m going to stop feeling sad, and just be happy that I have them, and that connection with my grandmother.

Luck and wisdom!

Shark Week!

June 29, 2016

There are things I do because I enjoy them, not just to embarrass my children. I wear tie-dye in public, I squeal over puppies, and I watch Shark Week. Don’t ask why I enjoy it – sharks are not my favorite critters, and I don’t like seeing documentaries of animals eating other animals. I just like Shark Week. Since this is Shark Week, here are some of my shark possessions.

Lani Longshore shark peeler

I think I got this as a stocking stuffer one Christmas. It doesn’t work well. Okay, it doesn’t work at all. I’ll keep it, however, because I think it’s cute.

Lani Longshore stuffed shark

This is major cute. Come on – a plush shark, what’s not to love! It’s right up there with plush lobsters and plush armadillos.

Lani Longshore shark chart

This chart was in the latest National Geographic. I might use it in a quilt some day, or I might not. It could be one of those things my heirs unearth and say, “My god, she really was a dotty old bat, wasn’t she?”

Lani Longshore fabric collection

The reason I might use the shark chart in a quilt is that I still have a collection of water fabric. I made one undersea quilt a long time ago, and it’s about time for another.

Until that day, I will continue to embarrass my kids with the tie-dye and the squealing. I won’t embarrass them with Shark Week, however. Who do you think got me hooked on it in the first place?

Luck and wisdom!

It Needs Light

June 1, 2016

Despite having the blackest thumbs on either side of the Mississippi, I have committed myself to growing an orchid. The plant was a gift, so I’m motivated enough to research it. By research I mean I went to Alden Lane Nursery and asked Sue the orchid guru what to do. She said the variety I own thrives on neglect. Then she said something that I knew I could adapt to all my creative endeavors. “It needs light.”

This bit of wisdom applies to my stacks in the sewing room. They need to be turned over once in a while so the bits on the bottom come to light.

My orchid, trimmed and basking in shaded light

My orchid, trimmed and basking in shaded light

She also said if I paid attention, the plant would tell me when it needs water. As long as the roots are green, they’re hydrated.

Still green, still growing

Still green, still growing

That definitely fits with my fiber art and writing projects. The fabric and my characters often refuse to talk to me, but they will send out clues now and again. When I pay attention, I know what they want and the project goes smoothly.

I discovered other lessons I could transfer from the garden to my work. This is harder than you might think, as my husband is the gardener in the family (see above if you’ve forgotten why plants dread my approach). Still, he has created a garden that reveals surprises at different angles.

The lily bed

The lily bed

Here are massed lilies. I am especially fond of this view because I’m the clutterbug in the family. Yet here for all to see is the value of letting things run riot, creating their own beauty.

The shrimp plant

The shrimp plant

We bought this shrimp plant because I thought it was cute. It had one itty-bitty flower when we brought it home, and look at it now. Thus we see the value of planning for the best despite evidence to the contrary.

Trevor the garden gargoyle

Trevor the garden gargoyle

Here is my last lesson from the garden – find yourself a patron saint. Trevor the gargoyle doesn’t actually solve my artistic problems, but I laugh whenever I see him and sometimes that’s enough. When it isn’t, I’m taking a cue from my orchid and finding myself some light.

Luck and wisdom!

The Front Garden – A Progress Report

April 13, 2016

We’ve essentially completed the front garden. Of course, when I say “we” I mean my husband because I have the blackest thumbs on either side of the Mississippi (at least that’s the excuse I give for not gardening). The grass is gone, the weeds are as gone as weeds ever are, and some of the plants are flowering.

The center section iris plot

The center section iris plot

Our son commented on how the spiky weeds actually looked like they belonged below the great log wall, so we bought some spiky lilies to put there.

The great log wall and spiky stuff

The great log wall and spiky stuff

The leucadendron from the back garden gave up the ghost. We replaced it with another one called golden tulip, or some such thing. It advertises beautiful yellow flowers with brown cone-like centers.

The leucadendron is on the right

The leucadendron is on the right

The plants for the charging station boxes are doing well, too.

Lani Longshore planting box

All in all, this is the prettiest our yard has looked since the drought started. With any luck from the gardening pixies, it will continue to be pretty if the drought continues. If so, there may be a quilt in here.

A shrimp plant for inspiration

A shrimp plant for inspiration

Luck and wisdom!