Lions and Earworms

February 15, 2017

So, I was starting the next assignment in the design book my art quilt critique group has been using, and I got myself one doozy of an earworm – The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Couldn’t get it out of my head. Here I’m supposed to be exploring a dancing grid, and instead I’m dancing around the sewing room singing “awim away, awim away.” Then I spied a scrap of fabric that tied the two together.

In the jungle . . .

In the jungle . . .

I pulled out one fat quarter with a geometric pattern, and some other scraps that played well with my background and focus fabric.

Lani Longshore fabric collection

The piece ended up being more dancing columns than a dancing grid. It also needed something, so I tried the Laura Wasilowski method of adding embroidery.

Lani Longshore embroidery threads

Of course, there must be beads.

Lani Longshore beading

Here is the piece in it’s current stage.

I still have more room for embellishment

I still have more room for embellishment

So far I’ve kept the embellishments on the subtle side. You have to get pretty close to see the blue embroidery and blue beads on the blue fabric. That may change, but I have a feeling I need to let this piece marinate a bit – at least until I get that silly song out of my head.

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!

Choices

February 1, 2017

Anyone walking into my sewing room knows I like to have choices. There are stacks of fabric everywhere, waiting to be chosen for the next project. Sometimes the stacks are organized, and sometimes they just exist.

Lani Longshore fabric stack

I used to feel guilty about this need to collect fabric, until I noticed all the other choice categories around the house. Some are mine alone, like the hand cream collection.

Lani Longshore hand cream

Others are collective choices. The whole family loves tea, so I keep a variety in stock.

Lani Longshore tea

What brought me joy, however, was recognizing I am not alone in my desire for choice. Only one person in the house eats breakfast cereal, and here’s the shelf where the cereal lives.

Lani Longshore cereal

It occurs to me that I will only be judged a hoarder by those who don’t appreciate what I collect. In the greater scheme of things, I am providing employment for those who make and sell the fabric that I love, I use my fabric (albeit slowly) for gifts and to make art, and I try to share when the opportunity arises. That makes for a balanced ledger in my mind.

Luck and wisdom!

Yellowstone The Quilt

January 25, 2017

Amador Valley Quilters will host Quilted Treasures XVII this April, and one of the quilts I want to show is from my Yellowstone patch series. That means I have to finish it first. Here’s how it started.

The itty-bitty beginning

The itty-bitty beginning

I wanted the patch that features two people looking out a window to appear as if the viewer was looking out a window. However, when you start with a 4″ center patch, you aren’t going to get a king-size quilt. I think this piece is 6″ x 10″. I added a boatload of beads, but it is still only 6″ x 10″.

Lani Longshore yellowstone detail

Since using an underquilt worked well for one of my Colors of the Vineyard quilts, I decided to do that again. After auditioning a bunch of browns and blacks, my eyes fell on this piece.

I let the print do the work

I let the print do the work

I love this fabric, and had just enough to bring the quilt to a respectable 16″ x 20″.

Finished

Finished

All that’s left is the sleeve and filling out the registration forms. See you April 22-23 at the Robert Livermore Community Center in Livermore, California.

Luck and wisdom!

The Landscape of My Memory

January 18, 2017

Once again, the Challenge Group project has given me a chance to explore my beads, my stash, and my world view. The theme is “I Remember . . .” but I’m rapidly reaching that time of life when I really don’t remember. The little gray cells are aging. I thought of the implications of the graying of the gray cells, and started this project in the brain quilt series, which I call The Landscape of My Memory.

My mind as a map

My mind as a map

The central background is one that the Progressive Party made when I asked for small art pieces to embellish. It really is a landscape. I added the borders and the beads. First I quilted lines with little blue crystals that represent those ideas/memories that seem to bubble up without a care in the world. Then I added the pearls, which represent those ideas/memories that bubble up but are actually worth capturing.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

The twisted red border comes from my brain fabric stash, and represents my neural network. Bless its heart, it tries so hard. I added some dark beads to represent the little nuggets of neurons that keep hanging in there, anchoring me to reality as best they can.

Work those neural nets

Work those neural nets

The bottom dark gray border represents the memory swamp where ideas go to hide. They aren’t necessarily bad ideas, but they don’t have a lot of staying power. Still, I always have hope that if I’m very lucky, someday I’ll be able to reach those ideas/memories. That hope is represented by the thin line of shiny crystals, just because I can.

Who knows what lurks in the shadows? Not me!

Who knows what lurks in the shadows? Not me!

Luck and wisdom!

The Year For Design

January 11, 2017

I prefer to make New Year’s projects rather than New Year’s resolutions, and this year’s big project just made itself known. My art quilt critique group started the exercises in Art Quilt Collage by Deborah Boschert. The latest assignment was in design basics. I had a few minutes and very little brainpower, so I knew I wouldn’t overthink things. I grabbed some scraps of fabric and batting. A long strip of batting and a piece of watery fabric became the beginning of a high horizon seascape.Lani Longshore seascape

I decided to continue with the water theme, mainly because I unearthed a strip of trout fabric and a batting strip of the appropriate size. The next step was to experiment with grids, so I quilted the trout to the batting, cut out nine squares, and zig-zagged them together again. This is the back, showing the basic grid.

Lani Longshore grid back

I didn’t mind the back seams showing, but I wanted to cover the ones in front. Narrow strips zig-zagged in place did the trick, and I added some extra strips to enhance the grid.

Lani Longshore grid design

The best part about these exercises is that I really like using commercial print fabrics in my art quilts, but a lot of fiber art today is made from hand-dyes and solids. If I cut into my stash, I feel as if I must have a brilliant idea to complete. Since I’m only using leftovers, my ego investment is limited. If the project works, great; if not, at least I’ve reduced the size of the scrap pile. As it happens, I like what I’ve done so far, and have some ideas for embellishment that will turn these exercises into art. Someday.

Luck and wisdom!

The Zipper Journey

January 4, 2017

I unearthed a fabric collection that called out for a project. I knew it would make a more useful tote bag than a quilt; however, I have a gazillion tote bags. I also have a gazillion patterns for little zippered bags, so I decided to try one of them even though I’m not great with zippers (they never turn out as pretty as I would like).

The fabric, and the dreaded zipper

The fabric, and the dreaded zipper

For this bag, I decided to try putting tabs on the ends of the zipper.

This tiny rectangle of shoe fabric makes a difference

This tiny rectangle of shoe fabric makes a difference

I also decided I would take the time to baste the little critter in place.

Lani Longshore basted zipper

Who knew taking the time to do things properly was worth it?

Done!

Done!

Somewhere, my junior high home ec teacher is saying, “I told you so.”

Luck and wisdom!

Of Reindeer and Chenille

December 28, 2016

Despite the approach of 2017, or perhaps because of it, I’m starting this post off with something cheerful and cute:

Lani Longshore reindeer

This is a Christmas present from my son. The kids sometimes tease me about my odd collections, but they know how to make me smile. Having something to smile about will be important in the coming weeks, because my Christmas present to myself was permission to ignore the projects in the sewing room.

I did manage to start one project, turning chenille into products that might be marketed with The Chenille Ultimatum. My co-author Ann Anastasio saw a tote bag with raw seams that we thought would work well for chenille.

Lani Longshore chenille tote bag

The bag is made from one long strip of fabric and two small rectangles for side panels. I added the pocket. The raw edges are ideal for chenille, since managing those thick seams isn’t fun at all. Here is the reason I know that:

Lani Longshore chenille pillow

Turning the pillow corners took nearly as long as sewing the entire envelope. I’m not sure if it would be easier to make a round pillow or to try inserting tassels in the corners to hide any irregularities.

Those are questions for another day, however. Today, I’m going to admire my new reindeer, and ignore my projects as my New Year’s gift to myself.

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!

Golden California

December 14, 2016

California is called the Golden State for the 1849 Gold Rush, the golden hills, the gold in Hollywood and Silicon Valley . . . and now for gingko gold. Our one tree puts out enough leaves to turn our front yard into a natural Klimt painting (and you know there’s a quilt in that!).

Lani Longshore gingko variegated

We live in an area that gets white, frozen water snow maybe once a decade. The golden snow comes every year.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves on rock

By happy coincidence, the tree lost its leaves just as an iris bloomed, so we got a double gold effect.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves and iris

Nature being what it is, there’s no way of knowing how the yard will look next year. I remember once our back yard looked as if it had been festooned with white lace, but the next year the blooming schedules didn’t work out as well. Time to be in the moment for the moment and enjoy my golden state.

Lani Longshore gingko leaves and orange

Luck and wisdom!