Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

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!

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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!

When A Quilter Gives Thanks

November 23, 2016

Despite fighting a ridiculously resilient bug (the kind that requires antibiotics, not a call to technical support), I managed to clear off my sewing table. That lasted about a day, and I couldn’t stand the empty space. So I started another project, and got far enough along to call it good. For that, I give thanks.

Lani Longshore twist and turn top

There are a few gift quilts I want to make. This is one of them. None of the quilts I have in mind are Christmas presents. I figured if I could make the tops and backs before the holidays, I would be more inclined to get back into the sewing room in January. It always takes a while to remember what I do around here at the end of a vacation or celebration, so having a project waiting for me is essential.

The other reason I’m giving thanks is I think this is going to become my go-to pattern. I learned it as Twist and Turn.

Lani Longshore twist and turn blocks

The whole thing goes together in a flash, and is ideally suited to my preference of letting the fabric do the work. I hope this Thanksgiving you can find many things, big and small, that you call a blessing.

Luck and wisdom!

Next Steps

November 16, 2016

Before the holidays really kick in, I’ve sorta kinda maybe vowed to clear off my sewing table. I do this every year, sometimes successfully. This is the season when my studio turns into the scary room. We clear out stacks and piles in other rooms to accommodate guests and the Christmas tree and presents needing to be wrapped and extra supplies and . . . anyway, I did finish the tree project

A few beads, a little silk cord, and done!

A few beads, a little silk cord, and done!

I also made a project for myself with another patch from my collection.

Lani Longshore celtic horse

While I was rearranging piles, I found a painted block of Cannon Beach. The block will go on top of a pile for inspiration once the holidays are over and I need something to distract me before I check on all my new deadlines.

Lani Longshore Cannon Beach

Luck and wisdom!

Bribing Yourself: A Disciplined Approach To Finishing Quilts

July 27, 2016

The paths in my studio are wide enough now that I no longer have to do the Sewing Room Shuffle to get from the door to the sewing machine. This is great news, because it means I’ve consolidated enough of my piles to get some swinging room. The less great news is I can see the only way I will make more progress clearing up is by finishing projects.

Falling Flowers - finished and logged

Falling Flowers – finished and logged

Most often I finish projects based on deadlines. If the quilt is a gift, there’s a deadline. If I’m entering a contest, there’s a deadline. If I’m entering a quilt show, there’s a deadline. The hard part is finishing the art quilts. I usually have no deadline for them, because I’m trying to create a body of work that I can use for contests and shows and thus avoid the panic of meeting the cutoff date.

Now, the disciplined artist would just get herself settled into the studio and do the work. Me, I need a bribe. Currently, that bribe is my log book. I note every quilt I finish, and at the end of the year compare the number of projects completed to previous years.

Lani Longshore log book

The clever part of my discipline bribe is that I’ve defined finished as quilted, bound, labeled and sleeved. Until all of those things are done, the quilt isn’t finished. When they are done, the quilt goes in the log book, and is available for contests and shows. My output has been low, but now that I can actually get to all those unquilted tops there is always the log book bribe to keep me going.

Bound, not labeled, not logged

Bound, not labeled, not logged

Luck and wisdom!

Where The Buffalo Roam

April 6, 2016

Since I didn’t have a plan for the embroidery on my buffalo collage, I put the threads and a couple of pattern books next to my place on the couch. When I watched TV, I also picked up my needle and thread. Hey, if buffalo can roam, so can my stitching. This is what I had by the end of the week.

Lani Longshore buffalo collage

Most of the stitches came from one of my crazy quilt pattern books.

The stencil is probably an auroch, but that's close enough for me

The stencil is probably an auroch, but that’s close enough for me

The backing comes from leftover pieces in my collection of High Plains and Southwest fabric.

Lani Longshore collage backing

I might add more embroidery later, but for now I’m auditioning beads in my new sorting container, which is the carry-out shell from the really cool cupcake place downtown, Cake Delight. When I finally finish the piece, I’m heading back there for my celebration treat.

Lani Longshore beads

Luck and wisdom!

I Deny the Reality of Finite Space

January 20, 2016

The return of rain to California is such a miracle it is spilling over to other things, like my to-do list. I actually finished the piece for the Quilting Arts readers challenge. This represents my super power, which is putting more stuff into any given area than one might think possible. I call it “I Deny the Reality of Finite Space.”

I Deny the Reality of Finite Space - a study in beads

I Deny the Reality of Finite Space – a study in beads

This piece will also be my Challenge Group project on the theme of holes. There are holes in the beads, holes in the button, and holes in the quilt itself.

Lani Longshore quilt detail

Here is a shot of the real secret to my success in stuffing (hint: I cheat).

Perhaps my real super power is hiding stuff on the back?

Perhaps my real super power is hiding stuff?

Luck and wisdom!

Starting the Year with Determination

January 6, 2016

Long ago I gave up New Year Resolutions for New Year Projects. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t, but there’s a lot more to be learned from having a project go wrong than from having one’s resolve disappear like the Christmas fudge. This year started with my determination to work on projects even if I don’t have a clear plan.

Basted and ready

Basted and ready

These small pieces have been waiting to be quilted for weeks. That in itself isn’t the problem. I’ve got tops that have been waiting for years to be quilted. The problem is I want to quilt these so I can bead them and use the collection for a quilt show (no, I don’t have a show scheduled, but I have to have a body of work before I can approach anyone to arrange something, yes?). January arrived, as I knew it must, and I decided to let the quilts suggest designs.

When all else fails, follow the lines

When all else fails, follow the lines

The first quilt on the stack had a section that needed a quilting design to keep the fusible applique in place. I followed the lines of the roses. The empty white space seemed to say it wouldn’t object to continuing the rose motif. I liked the result.

Letting my fingers do the work

Letting my fingers do the work

The next section seemed a good candidate for roses, too. I did the work right then, while my fingers still remembered how to flow from petal to leaf. The rest of the quilt went silent at that point. No matter. Tomorrow I’ll start again, determined to listen to the piece. Eventually, it will talk to me.

Luck and wisdom!

Wanted: Minions

December 23, 2015

It is too late in the season for sustained creativity. Well, technically it is early in the season, which is winter, but late in the year, which is the holiday season. Perhaps you can see why I want minions. I’m no longer capable of following patterns, or recipes, or the point I’m trying to make. If I had minions, they could do all that for me.

My husband doesn’t want to be my minion. I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to be anyone’s minion, either. Aside from that, he is busily working his way through his own projects, including turning a less-than-ideal bathroom mirror into a lovely bedroom mirror. He made a frame for the mirror this week, and will install the piece as soon as the varnish dries.

The frame is made from stock molding

The frame is made from stock molding

You might ask why I am showing his work instead of mine. Well, I didn’t finish any creative projects this week (aside from the Christmas cookies, but I gave them away or ate them – no photo op there). Also, he decided he wanted to paint the leaves on the frame gold, and asked if I had any gold paint. Of course I have gold paint. I have several varieties of gold paint. And this year, because he made new shelves for the sewing room and I sorted like there was no tomorrow, I found all the varieties of gold paint. Hallelujah, and Merry Christmas.

Luck and wisdom!