Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

Discipline and Diligence

June 6, 2018

I wrote a blog for the Tri-Valley Writers website about discipline, diligence and productivity. Even as I was writing it, the snarky angel on my shoulder snorted. “Honey,” it said, “if you could actually be disciplined and diligent, you wouldn’t still have a messy sewing room.” So I decided to break down some of my tasks to help achieve my goals.

Four projects on the list, ready to be basted and quilted

I have finished the tops for several quilts on my Unfinished Quilt Challenge list. The number for the next project we need to complete will be drawn this week. I had a little extra time and decided to make backs for those quilts. I won’t layer them until their number is drawn, but when it comes up I can do that immediately.

I’m also working on one of the projects, a baby quilt. It’s small, but it’s also a traditional quilt, and I lose focus making the same block over and over. I’ve been sewing a few blocks here and there, and will be able to put the center together soon. The final border and back will be the same fabric.

Today is the anniversary of D-Day (6-6-44), and I’m taking that as a good omen. Diligence and discipline may not be my forte, but I can learn.

Luck and wisdom!

Fun with Finite Space

April 11, 2018

I think I may have created – at least temporarily – a partial TARDIS in my sewing room, because at least one of my fabric containers must be bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. I took out my pink and brown collection to work on quilts that will probably be donated to charity through the guild’s Community Quilts program. I was looking forward to filling that space on the shelf with something else. That’s when the fun with finite space started. This is the collection I removed from a blue container on my shelf.

This stack is about a foot high

That’s a lot of fabric. You would think there would be lots of space, but no. In fact, there wasn’t any extra room. This is what was left in the container.

The fabric expanded to fill the space available

I have no idea how I managed to cram all that fabric together. While I would love to have my own personal private TARDIS in the sewing room, I’m not betting the farm on that explanation. I am a little worried now about what else I’m going to find on the shelves once I take the stuff in front down, or how long it’s going to be before something explodes and I have fabric scraps everywhere. Of course, in my sewing room, would I really even notice?

Luck and wisdom!

Quilt Dreams

January 17, 2018

In my quilt dreams, all my old projects are finished. The fabric for new projects is washed, ironed, folded, and stored in drawers. There are no scraps. The reality is so very different. If my quilts have dreams, they probably feature me finding the perfect fabric already in my stash to finish them instead of using what sorta kinda maybe fits because I can reach it and there’s enough of it. Dream on, quilts, dream on.

Although I do smoosh things together that I probably shouldn’t, sometimes the results are interesting. Here is another collection of house blocks I made with two orphans and a scrap of a novelty fabric.

Three houses for jungle critters

I’ve found some fabric in my stash that holds a promise of turning these blocks into a cool baby quilt. That is a project for another week. I am currently working on creating transportation-themed blocks using another novelty fabric.

 

Quilters in space

These are for the Progressive Party. We’re exchanging blocks with either a transportation or a dwelling theme. The novelty fabric will appear in the windows of either the transport or the building.

Snarky quilters in space

I’m not sure what kind of quilt I will make from these blocks, but I’m certain there’s a fabric in my stash that will sorta kinda maybe go with them. If only I can reach it . . .

Luck and wisdom!

The Shiny New Year Will Have To Wait

January 3, 2018

I can still see carpet in my sewing room. To be honest, I haven’t put back all the stuff I squirreled in other places, and I just barely started a new project when my iron died. I took that as a sign from the universe that the shiny New Year will have to wait for a bit. Having no wish to revisit all of 2017, I decided to enjoy an extended Christmas. A bit of carpet still showing is one of the holiday happy things. This moose is another.

Karate Moose and Raku Moose

My daughter sent me a collection of karate forest animals. The moose, of course, will have premier status.

I know this period of limbo won’t last forever. The new iron will arrive tomorrow and I’ll be forced to review my list of project deadlines. The first is a collection of blocks for Community Quilts.

After I finish the blocks I’ll need to make some blocks for a friendship group, then start a new project for that same group. I’ve promised to make some baby quilts, and there’s the guild challenge to finish a project a month. In the midst of all that, I hope I remember my own personal, private challenge to restore some order to the sewing room. Perhaps this book will help.

My guide for 2018

Luck and wisdom!

The Seven Levels of Cleaning

December 27, 2017

We are having guests for the holidays, so that meant getting the sewing room packed away enough to put a cot in there. Going through all the piles is never first on my list of fun things to do, but I always find some reward in it. This time it got me wondering if creating a cost-benefit list might encourage me to go through the process more regularly, and The Seven Levels of Cleaning is what I came up with. But first, I want to show you my studio floor (yes, it actually exists):

 

I can walk on this floor!

Now for the list:

The Seven Levels of Cleaning

Level 1

Reason for cleaning: I want to get to the cutting table to work on a project.

Cost (time, effort): 15 minutes to clear a path; requires a steady hand to rearrange stacks.

Benefit: I might find something I can put away.

Level 2

Reason for cleaning: I need to finish a project.

Cost (time, effort): 30 minutes to clear space to cut, sew and iron; requires discipline not to get distracted.

Benefit: I finish something, and perhaps free up space on a shelf or in a drawer.

Level 3

Reason for cleaning: I need to finish a quilt for a gift.

Cost (time, effort): 30-45 minutes to clear working space; requires finding room on the floor to put the stacks so they don’t fall onto the quilt while I’m working on it.

Benefit: The project will not have odd scraps quilted into the back (yes, this has happened – more than once).

Level 4

Reason for cleaning: I’m having a meeting at my house and the guests are quilters.

Cost (time, effort): 1 hour, minimum; requires neatly folding fabric stacks and consolidating book/magazine stacks.

Benefit: My friends will appreciate the effort enough to pretend they think my sewing room is clean.

Level 5

Reason for cleaning: I’m having an event at my house and the guests are not quilters.

Cost (time, effort): 90 minutes, minimum; may require finding a place to hide stacks.

Benefit: I might find things that don’t belong in the sewing room (more space for me).

Level 6

Reason for cleaning: Company is coming to stay for a few days.

Cost (time, effort): 2 hours,minimum; definitely requires finding a place to hide stacks.

Benefit: I will force myself to admit some projects will never be done .

Level 7

Reason for cleaning: Mom is coming.

Cost (time, effort): Days; requires chocolate.

While the benefits of cleaning are clear and attractive, I suspect I will always need a pressing deadline to actually get in there and clean. After all, it is much more fun to create art than tidy up afterwards. My goal for 2018 is to keep the sewing room floor open for at least two weeks after company leaves. We’ll see if I can be that disciplined for such an extended period of time.

Luck and wisdom!

 

From Orphan Blocks To Art

December 20, 2017

My art critique group challenged itself to transform leftover quilt units – orphan blocks – into another piece. Since I have a boatload of orphan blocks (some of which I inherited from other quilters, don’t ask me how), I was overjoyed by the project. I pulled out some leftovers that Ann Anastasio gave me and started cutting. One of the units looked like it could make a great house. I searched through the pile and found something that I thought would be a blue tile roof. It didn’t turn out that way, but the yellow triangle made a nice capstone for a mausoleum, so I continued with the theme. I call the piece The Road To Quilters’ Heaven.

While I was searching for other orphan blocks, I ran across the center to a space quilt that I never finished. The robot blocks were still on the design wall, so they became part of the new space quilt.

I used Alexandra Von Burg‘s technique for making trees to make a spaceship.

I think using up orphans, scraps and unfinished objects to make new art really is the road to quilters’ heaven. I know it’s made me happy.

Luck and wisdom!

The Music of Deadlines

November 22, 2017

Deadlines have two kinds of music. The first is a lovely “tah-dah!” when you finish everything on time. The second, which I hear too often, is a sad cello solo followed by a soft “whoosh” as the deadline passes.

I’ve explored all sorts of systems for keeping on task, with varying success. The last attempt for my quilting projects involved putting fabric collections in clear plastic bags. The idea was that if I could see the collections I would be more likely to have an inspiration for them.

Fabric collections waiting for inspiration

It didn’t work quite as well as I hoped. As you can see, both shelves are crammed with bags. There might be good news next year, however, because Amador Valley Quilters will offer a challenge to finish our projects.

Step one is to identify all them. That is more complicated than you might think, as some of my unfinished tops are nearly inaccessible.

I have no idea what is under this stack

I stacked my unquilted tops, some with backings and batting, on a shelf in the closet. Over time, stuff got piled up in front of the closet. I can clearly see (and probably reach) three projects here, so they’ll go on the list. Heaven only knows what I’ll find when I manage to extricate the projects on top.

The brilliant part of the guild challenge is that we’ll be paired up with another quilter. Accountability is essential (at least for me), so I’m hoping my buddy will be on the taskmaster side of the personality scale.

All of which is to say if I’m ever going to take over the world, I’d better have a friend help me meet the deadline.

Luck and wisdom!

Creativity with Clutter

October 18, 2017

I made a quilt with tea towels, because I needed to get creative with my clutter.

Scotland forever, warming up my toes

The towels were gifts, so I knew from the get-go that I could never dry the dishes with them. I still wanted to use them, but for the longest time couldn’t figure out how. The absurdities of aging gave me an idea. I very often have cold shoulders and hot feet, so I made a small snuggle quilt. It is also a good size for when my shoulders are hot and my feet are cold.

The borders and binding came from my blue and green fabric drawer. I pulled out the smallest pieces, the ones that were essentially cluttering up the drawer, cut them in strips and sewed until I was satisfied.

My guard hippo and lucky egg

This is one of the non-fabric collections that lives in the sewing room. I call it a decorative display. My family calls it clutter. My friend Bettina suggested I write a story about monsters hiding in the sewing room. I glanced around at my toy collection, and an idea was born.

What secrets does the black-eyed seal hide? Will the roadrunner tell?

I think my toys are cute, but those are the things that make horror stories even more frightening, yes? So, now I’m thinking of the stories as well as the quilts that can come out of my sewing room clutter. There are still a couple of weeks before Halloween, so maybe I’ll come up with something to celebrate, either in words or in fabric.

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!

Projects For Fidgety Fingers

February 8, 2017

Last month I attended an all-day writing workshop with some friends. I filled my tote bag with notebooks and pens. Then, for reasons I barely understand myself, I threw in a beading project.

So far, this is untitled with pearls

So far, this is untitled with pearls

My friends asked what the project was for. I said I wasn’t sure, but the truth is I knew my fingers would get fidgety. The workshop included a lot of time for discussion, and we all know that quilters/beaders/knitters/needleworkers can run both the mouth and the fingers at the same time. Sure enough, by the afternoon I was desperate for something to do with my hands when we weren’t actually writing.

When I got home, I noticed once again all the little boxes and bags I’ve collected over the years for portable projects. I opened a few and discovered that while I had indeed used all of them at one time or another, I had never cleaned out a single one.

A darning box for socks I no longer own

A darning box for socks I no longer own

Some of the boxes are big enough to hold several projects. This plastic stacking bin is a good example.

Lani Longshore small tote

I have no idea why I didn’t put another project in the bin. Heaven knows I have enough work in various stages of completion.

A cupcake container makes a wonderful sorting tool

A cupcake container makes a wonderful sorting tool

I’ve collected fabrics that I think would work well together so that when the need arises for a quick gift I can grab a bag and get started. This year, one of my goals will be to clean out the bring-along boxes, and have projects ready to pick and go when I suspect I’ll get a case of fidgety fingers.

Lani Longshore fabric collections

Luck and wisdom!