First Discovery of 2018

January 10, 2018

The Progressive Party will start a new round soon, and I resolved to design my project rather than throw a random block in a bag with some fabric that I could reach (which is what usually happens). I hauled out my bags of tree fabric, and made the first happy discovery of 2018.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this landscape. I think I got it from Ann Anastasio in a pile of fabric she didn’t want to move to another state. In any event, my Progressive Project once again will be a random piece in a bag with fabric I could reach. So much for new year resolutions.

My replacement iron arrived, and revealed the second discovery of 2018 – ironing is a lot easier with an appliance that works and a clear space to stand.

I must admit that the space around the ironing board is clear because for yet another week I have left the bags that once lived there in the hiding places I stashed them before Christmas. Eventually I will have to bring them back to the sewing room, but that’s a chore for another day.

For now, I will admire the last project I got back from the Progressives. I started with a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired fabric, and they made this.

The new year may bring many more new discoveries and challenges, but one oasis of stability is the creativity of my quilting friends. I hope that 2018 will find you surrounded by creative, supportive people.

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!

Chenille Is Coming

December 13, 2017

Thanks to the gentle prodding of my friend Paula Chinick of Russian Hill Press, The Chenille Ultimatum is one step closer to publication.

Coming soon!

The proof copy arrived this week. There is still one more round of revisions before we can hit the print button (and you can read about our heroines saving the space aliens from civil war). Given that Ann Anastasio and I had intended for this next novel in our series to be published last spring, we’re happy. There’s nothing like having someone keep you accountable to get your projects done.

Another friend, Julaina Kleist-Corwin, helped with the first bit of pre-publication publicity. Julaina interviewed me for her Facebook group for writers and entrepreneurs. She is letting me post that interview here:

As well as the last round of revisions, I’m also working on projects. This is another in my silk ribbon experiments.

Here’s hoping all your projects come together!

Happy birthday, Mom!

Beading Projects, Holiday Miracles, and Me

December 6, 2017

The first of the holiday miracles occurred this week. I finished the beading-projects-in-progress. The shy little orange piece finally told me what it wanted.

I considered making more tassels, but then I saw some other large beads and knew that less would be more with something that measures only 4″ x 6″.

The less is more school of beading worked for the green stripe piece too. I added a few extra lines of embroidery after I did the running stitch around the edge and called it good.

The piece begged for minimalist embroidery. I used a turquoise silk ribbon. This is my first foray into silk ribbon embroidery, but definitely won’t be the last.

This piece really kept its wishes hidden. I put on the two small gold beads, waited a day, beaded the lines with the large wooden blue beads, waited a day, and attached the bronze rectangle. By that time I was done listening to the piece. A double row of running stitches seemed sufficient.

My holiday wish for you is that all your projects go well throughout the season.

Luck and wisdom!

When You Inherit Fabric

November 29, 2017

Being a quilter is a little bit like being a crazy cat lady. There’s always one more cutie that needs a good home, so you open the door and say, “Come on in! We’ll find a corner for you someplace.” The problem is when you go to that Great Fabric Store In The Sky someone else has to find a new home for your treasures. I’ve inherited a little bit of fabric from relatives, but a lot more from other people’s relatives. I don’t feel bound to finish someone else’s project, but I do enjoy seeing if I can be inspired by it.

My friend Sue Waldron gave me a small bag of fabric cut and ready to make pins. I actually intended to make a few, but when I looked through the bag some of the pieces whispered, “Say, wouldn’t we make great miniature beading pieces instead?” So that’s what they’re becoming.

Pretty fabric, beads, and black felt – what could be easier?

This turquoise one wanted to be minimalist. A disc and a few beads and snap! We’re done.

How fortunate to have beads that match the green stripe!

This one begged for a little loop. It might be begging for a fringe or a tassel, but I’m not sure. It could be the extra piece of chocolate-cherry trifle I ate talking and not the art piece.

Still in progress

This one is a little shy. I used a variegated thread to attach the silk to the black felt, then put down a squiggle of beads. It needs another squiggle or two, but after that, who knows. I’ll have to listen a little more carefully, and avoid overindulging in cherry-chocolate trifle.

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!

Rodeo Robots

November 15, 2017

I took a workshop from Alexandra Von Burg. She planned to teach free-form piecing for boats or houses, but mentioned she also has used this technique for robots. That was enough to make me pack up my sewing machine and schlep it down to the class. As she demonstrated making robot legs with feet, I was seized by a compulsion to make boots for my robot.

That was just the beginning. One of the other students said I ought to make a cowboy hat for this robot. Sondra cut the pieces for me and shaped the hat.

I already knew this robot was going to be female, so I gave her a waist, which gave her a bit of attitude, which tickled others in the workshop to no end.

She may be a robot, but she’s also a baseball fan

She needed a companion, so I made another block. Someone suggested I put a bandanna on that robot. She even had some fabric I could use. I made the scarf from a prairie point.

Here’s the finished robot.

I want to make a spaceship for them, and maybe a steer (for the bull riding competition, of course). This doesn’t resemble the quilt I had in mind at the start of class, not one little bit. And that’s fine with me.

Luck and wisdom!

Surprise and the Lesson of Letting Go

November 8, 2017

Two words – origami frogs.

I didn’t make them, but I do treasure them

These little darlings were the surprise in the bottom of a container I cleaned out this week. They were under an old flip-phone that I never got around to recycling. My husband discovered the manuals for the phone and decided it was time I had another lesson in letting things go. My reward was finding these cute frogs.

The universe gave me another surprise reward when I decided to let go of my desire to make the perfect piece of art. I wanted to combine a batik and a wool square, but couldn’t come up with an ideal design. Tired of the frustration, I basted the batik to the square and started embroidering lines. Then I cut the fabric away from some of the lines. Here is the result.

I added more embroidery and some beads.

Always let your materials tell you where they want to go

Now I have to decide on a finishing technique. One of the candidates is to add a beaded fringe that has been sitting in my lace and trims box.

Learning how to let go is a lesson I’ll probably need to study again and again. As long as I get the occasional surprise at the end, I guess it’s okay.

Luck and wisdom!