Sailboat Block

March 13, 2019

One of the Progressive Projects had us doing individual blocks of houses or transportation. This sailboat, although lovely, didn’t fit in the quilt I envisioned with the other blocks. I kept it aside for “the perfect project.” Now it is one of my PIPs (projects in piles), and it will be made into something.

I read that humans like pictures of meadow-like landscapes surrounded by trees because we evolved in that environment. I prefer seascapes to meadow-scapes, but the palm tree fabric gave me the idea of combining the two views. The next problem to solve is how to quilt it. I’m auditioning phrases that incorporate the word ocean or sea so I can use this for the Challenge assignment, “Use Your Words.” Getting double or triple duty out of one block would please me out of all proportion.

Luck and wisdom!

In Honor of Our Tools

March 11, 2019

My book club is reading Thomas Cahill’s How The Irish Saved Civilization. Cahill describes how the Irish became literate, and Irish monks copied every book they could find (as well as preserving their own stories). When the monks went to Europe to evangelize, they brought their books with them. I marvel at how fragile knowledge can be, and honor the dedicated copyists and writers who saved all they could. I also honor the dedicated souls of my time who provide me with the tools I need to write – the ones who assemble reference material. Not a writing day goes by without my consulting some dictionary, thesaurus, or collection of odd but useful facts. I think we should all take a moment to honor our tools and the people who made them.

Luck and wisdom!

Decision Tree for the PIPs

March 6, 2019

I jumped into a new PIP (project in piles), and both succeeded and failed. While the part of the project I worked on went as the instructions promised, the product isn’t what I expected. Now I have to make choices, and I think a decision tree will be useful not only for this PIP but all the others.

My plan was to make a bunch of new tote bags from a collection of brocades. The good news is the bag turned out exactly like the pattern. Actually, this is astounding news. I can’t remember the last time I followed a new pattern and ended up with a replica of the picture in the book. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand all I was seeing in that picture, which is why the good news is also the bad news.

The tote bag is pretty enough, and well-made enough, but it isn’t functional enough for me. The handles don’t feel right, and it isn’t as large as I thought it would be (yes, I read the dimensions before I started – don’t ask me why I expected something different). So, I’ll spend the next few days on my decision tree, deciding whether to abandon the project entirely and fold my brocades into a different project or use a different pattern for more bags. Whatever happens, I’ll probably call this particular PIP finished. The beauty of decision trees is you can follow at least one branch to a conclusion you find satisfying.

Oh, drat, that’s a new project – a quilted decision tree!

Luck and wisdom!

Avoiding Hard Work

March 4, 2019

I have been avoiding hard work lately. I tell myself I have an excuse, since I’ve been under the weather (see tissues above). I mean that literally – what I have is non-histamine rhinitis, which is triggered by changes in temperature and barometric pressure. Some people can predict rain with aching knees, I predict it with stuffed sinuses. Given that it is winter, and rain sort of goes with the season, I’m in a pickle. Either I get my fanny in gear, or I give up any hope of writing until the spring. Since I don’t want to be a fair weather writer, that means I have to stop using any handy excuse to avoid the hard work of revising the outline for my latest novel.

The problem is, avoiding hard work is easy and fun. I can switch on the computer and get lost in must-respond-now emails, or check social media to see if my friends are still okay, or even decide that the kitchen floor absolutely, positively must be washed today. I haven’t resorted to that excuse yet, but I can see it coming. The truth is, revising my outline is terra incognita for me. I’m more of a pantser (as in writing by the seat of) than a plotter, but this novel requires a different approach. So, I’m finding myself digging out my mom voice and turning it on myself. Let’s see if works better on me than it did on the kids.

Luck and wisdom!

The New Challenge Begins

February 27, 2019

I finally decided how to approach my new challenge to finish half of the projects I can reach. Since most of my projects are in random stacks I’m calling this the PIPs Challenge – Projects in Piles. Many of those stacks are on the floor, so that’s where I’m starting. Rather than trying to catalog the projects ahead of time, I’ll see what I find when I peel off the next layer. The top you see began with four demonstration blocks and a collection of fabric that had a watery theme. The main border fabric reminds me of a swimming pool.

I’m hoping that a side-effect of working through the piles on the floor first will be that I can reach the projects at the bottom of my shelves. Those of you who have seen my studio know this is not a trivial task. Some of those projects have been waiting there so long they may have evolved into something else, perhaps with language skills and a higher devotion to tidiness than I have achieved. I’ll keep you posted.

Luck and wisdom!

The Fox Story

February 25, 2019

The latest photo prompt in Writers Digest has hijacked me. I am juggling so many projects now that I trip over them as they drop, but there in the latest Writers Digest issue is this wonderful picture of a fox in a tree. A backstory for this fox popped into my head and won’t let go, so I’m throwing it out to you in hopes the blasted critter will leave me alone.

The fox is from Japan. An earthquake opened a crack in the ground near the edge of the Edo Road, and the fox tumbled down. She fell into the Mad Hatter, who promised to lead the fox to safety if she agreed not to eat him. As soon as they reached the surface, the Hatter whacked the fox with his pocket watch and disappeared. The fox climbed a marvelous tree, and found the children.

That’s all I’ve got, which isn’t enough for the contest, but is more than enough to distract me from my other work. What would you have the fox do next?

Luck and wisdom!

Completing the Challenge!

February 20, 2019

I am working on the last project for the guild’s Unfinished Quilt Challenge. This is actually project 14 on my original list of 18. I turned one project into a tote bag and one project was shared early by mistake, so I’m completing more than 12 projects in this year-long challenge.

This top started with a square that my grandmother had marked to embroider. She used the famous blue pen, which is supposed to wash out but probably won’t as it has been sitting there for at least 25 years.

I may attempt to take out the blue dots by carefully applying water with a cotton swab. If that doesn’t work, I can always bead over them, or just keep them as a design element that will anchor the piece in a specific time of quilt history. As long as I’m finished, I’m going to be happy with it.

Luck and wisdom!

Shorthand and Character Development

February 18, 2019

We inherited some of the family papers. Going through them is a hoot, and sometimes a howl. Trying to read handwriting from 100 years ago is the howl part. My mother is translating a ledger that her father acquired, although he did not make the entries. Whoever did write those entries wrote hurriedly, and probably used his or her own personal, private shorthand. That got me to thinking about how I could use handwriting and notes-to-self to develop my characters. What would it say about my antagonist if he consistently wrote with perfectly formed letters, and in complete paragraphs? What if my hero preferred his original emojis and doodles to real words? I generally have pretty good handwriting, but when I’m in a hurry, or making lists (like the one pictured) that I expect to be the only one reading, my letters turn into random squiggles and spiky lines. Don’t get me started on the abbreviations I use that even I can’t decipher a week or two later. Keeping my own penmanship in mind as I create my characters could give me a whole new appreciation for who these people want to be.

Luck and wisdom!

Fabric Design = Quilting Pattern

February 13, 2019

I hate to mark quilting patterns. Sometimes I’ll quilt loops or leaves when nothing else comes to mind, but this quilt included fabrics that didn’t call out for either. The fabrics convinced me to use their designs for my quilting pattern.

I didn’t concern myself with restricting the quilt design to the square. If there was a flower that I could extend to the next square, I did.

By the time I finished the center, I felt comfortable enough to try outlining most of the butterflies in the border.

Next time you just can’t make yourself mark even a simple grid for your quilt, listen to the fabrics. You might like what they suggest.

Luck and wisdom!

What Are The Odds – Coincidence In Life And Fiction

February 11, 2019

This past weekend I was confronted with the reality of coincidence. Both events were of limited scope, but both made me ask myself what the odds are of getting a break when I thought it was a setback.

The first was buying flowers for a friend. I picked up some lovely blooms, and called to see if I could bring them over. Turns out she was out of town, but as it happened I was having a meeting at my house so I could use them as part of the decorations. Then I went to put them in a vase and discovered I had bought almost too much even for my largest vase, and the resulting display weighed a ton. Given that I have no idea what sort of vases my friend has, but I do know she’s been having back issues lately, this was definitely a case of the universe saving my hinder.

The second event was of similar magnitude in terms of the greater scheme of life. I had brought a donation quilt to the guild meeting. I planned to show it during Sharing before turning it in to Community Quilts. A friend asked if she could examine it, and as I took it out I noticed I didn’t put the Amador Valley Quilters label on the back. We always label our donation quilts, and in fact I HAVE some of those labels at home. I simply forgot to sew it on. Luckily, Community Quilts had extra labels and a hand sewing kit, so I stitched it on before Sharing started and was able to turn the quilt in as planned.

There are times in my writing when I wonder if the coincidence I absolutely, positively must have for the plot to work is all that credible. The last weekend gave me my answer – sometimes, the universe does provide.

Luck and wisdom!