Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Filling Holes

January 13, 2016

I spent a lot of time filling holes this week. There was the hole in the blog line-up for Tri-Valley Writers, there was a hole in the flavor profile of my persimmon sauce, and there were holes on the contest quilt for Quilting Arts magazine readers’ challenge.

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The theme is your superpower. I decided my superpower is the ability to ignore the reality of finite space if I have more stuff to cram into any given spot. To translate that into an art quilt, I picked a limited palette of beads and started stitching.

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I also did some hand quilting

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There is every possibility I will miss the deadline for this challenge because I will keep trying to cram more beads on the surface. That is my superpower, after all. Not to worry. The Challenge Group project is about holes. I can easily rewrite my artist statement to say this quilt represents the absence of holes.

Luck and wisdom!

Mary Ellen Hopkins and the Joy of Simple Blocks

November 25, 2015

The holiday season is staring off with three gifts from the universe. First, I finished my project before the deadline. Second, I pulled out my copy of Mary Ellen Hopkin’s The It’s Okay If You Sit On My Quilt Book and rediscovered the joy of simple blocks. Third, I made a special place on the shelves for my Hopkins collection.

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Mary Ellen Hopkins was the first important quilt lecturer I ever heard, and her advice shaped the way I approach the craft. She is the reason I have such an impressive collection of graph paper notebooks – you never know when you’re going to run across a design you can turn into a quilt block.

I wish I could credit Hopkins with an equally impressive collection of finished quilts, but at least I crossed off one more thing on my to-do list. The project with a deadline is for the Progressive Party. I made two blocks for a soft and feminine quilt.

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Pink, green and yellow quilts have the same effect on me as blue and yellow quilts – immediately calming. This block is great for using leftovers from a large-scale print.

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I wanted to add some yellow to this block, too, but the fabrics wouldn’t play nice together. Ah, well, pink and soft green works, too.

Luck and wisdom!

Barriers

February 25, 2015

It’s funny how easy it is to put up barriers – to creativity, to acceptance, to progress. In this case, the barrier is to my sewing room.

Not exactly the door to the clean room

Not exactly the door to the clean room

We’re not talking the Great Wall of China. This isn’t crime scene tape or a picket line, this is a piece of plastic tarp, kindly put up by the remodeling crew, to keep dust out of my sewing room. Still and all, I have not been able to cross this line.

Part of my reluctance is due to the condition of the room.

The chaos, the chaos

The chaos, the chaos

I had to move some stuff for the guys to get access to the attic crawl space. Now I have to put it back to get access to my work space. I sorted enough stuff to reach my sewing machine, but there is still a barrier in my head to face. Once I quiet my inner kindergartner (the one who wants to follow all the rules), I’ll get back to being creative. In the meantime, I’ve been sewing on strings of beads.
Lani Longshore beading project
                                                          Luck and wisdom!

Sense and Flexibility

November 30, 2011

My mother has the gift of intuition. She never let me take ballet lessons because she was afraid it would hurt my feet. When my daughter’s dance teacher started a mothers’ class, I was first to register. Two months later I broke my ankle practicing a tiny leap at home.

My intuition isn’t nearly as good. I usually get everything completely backwards. Now I discover one insight I had that really was accurate.

When my kids were little, I discouraged them from considering organized sports. Between my friends’ complaints and the little voice in my head, I was convinced sports would take over our lives. As it turned out, my son played baseball and football without completely disrupting the family schedule. Even karate didn’t consume all our time, if you don’t count the weeks of preparation before the black belt exams

However – and this is where the prophecy came true – karate did get into my blood. The kids stopped taking classes when they left for college. My husband stopped taking classes this month. I’m still going.

I could have quit at the same time, but I realized I like the same things about karate that I do about quilting. I like the camaraderie, and having a safe setting where I’m pushed to expand my abilities. I’ve even been able to incorporate quilting into karate.

Made for my one and only gold medal

I mention this because tomorrow is the first day of my holiday panic, and the sewing room is not ready. There are piles and stacks and unfinished projects as far as the eye can see. Well, you won’t because I’m too embarrassed to take a picture. Still, I find that I do manage to walk around in that minefield without tripping. Then I realized the strength and flexibility exercises I do for karate allow me to stretch over the stacks, crawl around the piles, hoist the boxes and tote bags.

Although my intuition about sports taking over my life was correct, it wasn’t a warning of coming disaster. Sometimes what we dread turns out to be just what was wanted. So, on this last day of calm before the holiday storm, I leave you with my favorite mantra – Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

The Beading

April 21, 2011

I spent a lovely day beading Taj Mahal but couldn’t photograph the results to save my soul, even with my husband’s camera (and his help). Nevertheless, I’m going to show you the best pictures of the lot.

Most of the beads came from my collection, but some are new. I happened to be at my local craft store – looking for something else – and a few items leaped off the shelf into my shopping cart. Still, I managed to combine things I already had with the new things.

I put eight of these on the quilt, four on each side. The silver square is a slide for a bracelet. I added the loop of seed beads on each slide.

I made two of these bead strings for the top of the quilt. The top bead is a painted, wooden bead.  The crystals are out of focus, I know, but this is the best I could manage.

This combination is in the center of the quilt. It is made of two pendants linked by a seed bead loop.

Here I put together three buttons and a cell phone fob that I had made months ago. The buttons were on a card in the sale bin. They simply begged me to rescue them and do something clever. I hope they’re pleased with their new home.

I finished the quilt with a fringe of wooden beads and pink pony beads on a gold cord. These items all came from my collection. In fact, I think I wooden beads for a project for my daughter when she was in elementary school (she’s in graduate school now).

Taj Mahal will be hanging in the Amador Valley Quilt show next weekend. If someone else can get a decent picture of it, I’ll beg a copy and run it after the show.

Stories of our lives

September 15, 2010

I spent a busy week in the sewing room making up kits and cutting the scraps into usable squares. Usually I just toss the scraps into a bag, promising to deal with them later. Unfortunately, later rarely comes. This week was different, and I felt delightfully productive.

It was good to feel productive at something, given the length of my to-do list. Although my kids are in college and graduate school – and don’t need me to buy them pencils and notebooks – I still feel the same impulse to be organized and ready by Labor Day. Perhaps it’s just a lifetime of living by the school year, perhaps it’s just knowing the holidays are coming, but I feel I ought to be getting ready for something.

Although I may have a sense of accomplishment, it didn’t lead to anything worth photographing, so I thought I would show you a couple of things that don’t actually live in the sewing room, but which are fabric-related. I went to a book signing for Kathy Boyd Fellure, who just published a children’s book called When The Birdies Came To Tea. The story is based on Kathy’s own experiences with her grandparents at their cabin in Lake Tahoe, and she writes lovingly of her grandmother’s aprons. She and her illustrator researched 1950s fabrics to make sure the aprons looked just right.

That got me thinking about my own apron collection. I have two. The first is dancing lobsters. Hula-dancing lobsters, if you must know.

It was a class sample in a quilt shop frequented by my good friend Gail Sims. She saw the apron, knew I would love it, and talked the shop owner into selling it to her, so she could give it to me as a birthday present.

My other apron has a skull and cross-bones and the caption Don’t Make Me Poison Your Food. My own kids laughed when they saw it, but I’m thinking this might not be so amusing to little ones. I can just see the youngsters, seated at the dining table (assuming I can clear it off enough to hold plates), poking at their pancakes and stealing worried glances at my apron.

If I ever do become a grandmother, I might have to take lessons from someone who knows how to do it right. In the meantime, there’s always the sewing room to clean. And don’t let me catch you laughing at my attempts to organize my creative space – you could find yourself wondering if I’m really joking:

Nests

July 14, 2010

The next Challenge Group assignment is on the theme of home. We can do anything we want – home as house, home as country, home base (as in baseball), home is where the heart is. Coincidentally, the next all-guild challenge is on the theme of home and hearth. I love having overlapping projects, so I started thinking about what I could do, and how much fabric I could use up (especially the fabric already in piles on the cutting table).

Some of the piles are animal prints, which gave me an idea – I could do a quilt on animal homes. Better yet, I could do a series of small quilts on animal homes, which would eliminate the problem of mashing up fabrics that really do not go together. I’ve made quilts like that before – juxtaposing patterns, colors and themes – to greater or lesser success, but I’m always happy to make life a little easier for myself.

At any rate, in thinking of the various animal homes I would attempt, the idea of bird nests leaped to the top of the list. There are so many different techniques that could be used – some of which I even know how to do – and the possibilities for embellishment are most enticing. Then I looked around the sewing room and realized why the bird nest idea really grabbed me.

I live in a nest.

To be precise, my creative spaces are nests of nests. For example, I have a basket of Halloween fabrics waiting for my attention.

Will a hobgoblin hatch from here?

As you can see, the basket is a nest, and I’ve nestled a spider pin in the collection.

Then there is the nest of “these really belong together” fabrics.

A clutch of cloth

The pile grew too large on the cutting table – it kept falling over whenever I tried to work – so I put it in a lovely purple folding fabric box. A nest.

Then I looked at my writing desk. Imagine my surprise to find that it, too, is a nest.

I used to call it a fort, but I like the connotations of nest better. So now I know what home really is to me – a place to weave my dreams, with bright shiny objects tucked in at random. A nest for those whose wings are of imagination, not feathers.

Collections Revisited

July 7, 2010

In searching through the stash this week, I came across several small collections – fabrics I thought would go nicely together but that didn’t add up to enough yardage to make a quilt. As often happens, once I realized I had these collections squirreled about, I started noticing them again.

To be specific, I started noticing my space stuff. Now, you might think that having made three space-themed quilts already this year I would have reached my quota. Not so. I could probably make enough space quilts for a one-woman show and still have things left over for a couple more.

These buttons, for instance:

In the right light, they look like little Star Trek communicators. My first thought was to make costumes, but the kids are too old to have their mom dress them up for Halloween. I could make one for myself, but I’m pretty sure my husband would enlist my friends for an intervention if I hinted at wearing it in public.

Putting them on a quilt is OK, as is just keeping them in the sewing room. Which leads me to the two other items, my tribble, and Star Trek the Telephone.

The tribble was a gift from another quilter and Trek fan, I think. Either that, or I gave her one and kept one for myself. I don’t remember when or why it arrived, all I know is that is occupies a place of honor near Star Trek the Telephone.

This was a gift to my husband which I appropriated with his blessing. The red lights flash when a call comes in, and instead of a ring you get the “red alert” alarm from the old TV series. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to hear anyone. That didn’t keep me from using it for many years, but I have a functional phone next to it now (but, yes, the Star Trek phone is still plugged in so I can hear the alarm).

I had hoped by this time in my campaign to clean the sewing room I would have fewer collections – fewer piles – but at least now I see why that might be difficult. Sometimes the items in the collection just can’t be used but, like Star Trek the Telephone, I can’t bear to part with them. Other times the items can be used but, like the buttons, I’m not sure I could get away with it. So, they stay in the sewing room, both taking up space and giving me endless delight.

Random Scraps

June 30, 2010

The Progressive Party is undertaking a grand experiment this time. Not only will we be passing our projects from person to person, we will be passing around a bag of fabric in the opposite direction. Each month members will receive a work-in-progress from one person and a bag of fabrics that was chosen by someone else. The object is to see what beauty you can pull out of whatever comes your way.

Lest you think we are merely torturing ourselves, we each agreed to collect 20 pieces of fabric, no less than 1/4 yard each, with a good mix of lights, darks and mediums.

I haven’t pulled out the 20 pieces that I’m going to send out into the world, but I have decided what the beginning of my project will be. We’re doing row quilts again, and I have some pieces left over from another project that are too good to toss.

I have no idea what the original project was. I don’t recall finishing it, so perhaps some day I’ll unearth the unquilted top and can compare it with what comes of this Progressive round.

Preparing for this project made me notice all the other random scraps that I have scattered around the sewing room, waiting for me to remember them.

There’s the frog square, for example.

I read an article about creating stars with strips. The technique is to sew two long strips on the diagonal, trim, and use as a border for a center square. It’s actually a lot of fun, but as is my habit when I learn a new technique I practiced on whatever was at hand. If it works, great; if not, well, the scraps were two inches from the trash basket anyway.

The thing is, I really like the frog. And I don’t have any more fabric just like it. Which isn’t to say I don’t have any frog fabric. Not only that, I have a series of frog quilts. The last one is called, “Yes, More Frogs. Deal With It.” But I don’t have any more of this frog fabric and I’m not sure I want to spend the time or money acquiring it. Still, I like the block and someday I’ll do something with it.

The same is true of my Tower of Scraps.

There is an experiment in paper piecing, little bits left over from trimming, one pulled from a packet, and some just separated from their own kind. At the time they went up on this section of the batting wall I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do with them. The idea is long gone, but the Tower remains. I’d like to think of it is a testament to the power of creativity, but if I don’t do something with these scraps soon, I’m afraid it will just be a testament to my inability to throw things away.

Uncovering Treasures

June 23, 2010

Having a monster collection of unquilted tops can be a godsend sometimes. I earned many brownie points for donating a quilt to a fundraiser, and giving the committee a choice of tops. This is the one they chose:

The top has been waiting years for a good home, and finishing it for a silent auction seems a reasonable way of finding one. And if the winning bidder is looking for a drag-around blanket for the grandkids, well, I don’t need to know.

As well as uncovering quilt tops, I found some other treasures lurking in the piles. The first was a small picture frame. I have no idea why I bought something that size, except it was gilded and cute. I have no photos that small, but I did have a leftover logo for the California Writers Club. I made a sheet of photo transfers of the logo for magnets for the board of our local writers association, and thought I would make something for me. Since I have way too many magnets on the fridge already, I cut the transfer fabric to fit the opening and slid it in the frame.

Frame - 4" x 5" Opening - 2" x 3"

I also found some applique initials that I bought for my kids, and realized that with very little effort I could make make gifts to fit in the other frames that clutter up the sewing room (I tend to buy them on speculation, the same as I do fabric). Then I unearthed an applique patch that I know I bought because it’s red, and decided I should really make a practice piece before I start on the kids’ presents. This is the patch:

4" x 5"

I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but I’ve got plenty of frames and lots of fabric scraps, beads, threads . . . you get the idea. It’s one more step – out of a million, no doubt – on the path to cleaning up by actually using some of the treasures I’ve collected.