The Gift Of An Hour

Some of my quilting buddies were relating their cautionary tales of expecting too much of themselves during the holidays, especially when it comes to making gifts for friends and family. I thought it might be fun to give each other a gift of time – say, an hour – to help sort out fabric or cut patterns or whatever. Luckily, I kept my mouth shut. Why put more of a burden on people with already slammed schedules when we can give ourselves that same gift? I realized if I reframed my usual New Year’s Project List (which was a reframing of New Year’s Resolutions), I might be able to accomplish more. Instead of challenging myself to finish a certain number of projects in 2022 (which I may do anyway around Ground Hog’s Day just to keep me on my toes), I’m giving myself the gift of 1 hour a month to do prep work/tidying/planning without worrying about my deadlines. I may not use the hour all at once. I may start out giving myself 15 minutes a week just to clear out some clutter (because there will be extra clutter after the holidays, don’t you know). The point is, this is a gift. I don’t need to feel guilty about using my gift. I can actually look forward to clearing out at least one drawer in the sewing room, because the time is a present I gave myself.

Luck and wisdom!

The Gifts Your Character Receives

What are your characters trusted with?

My mother sent me some Christmas ornaments that she inherited from a friend. Although I did not know this friend, Mom knew I would appreciate her workmanship, and wanted to make sure her legacy survived a little while longer. I appreciate the gift, not only because the ornaments are beautiful, but also because my mother trusts me to cherish them,and pass them on to someone else who will love them.

This got me thinking about character development. What is your protagonist trusted with, aside from carrying the plot? Is she the cousin who gets all of the batty uncle’s books because only she will take the time to catalog them? Is she the gardener who ends up with dying houseplants because her friends know she’ll nurse them back to health? Is she the keeper of the calendar for herself, her family, her church study group, and the neighborhood babysitting co-op? Whatever gifts she receives tells something about her (even more if she keeps them).

Luck and wisdom!

The Hijacked Journey

I should have known better – never give the universe a chance to have too much fun at your expense. The planned blog for this week was about another version of my Challenge letter project – a journey quilt. That journey got hijacked, big time.

Lani Longshore journey quilt

This is the end of the process – the destination, if you will – and I had planned to show you how I got here. You may notice the last part of the saying “it’s the journey, not the destination” in this photo. You may hear the universe laughing right about now. That’s because the photos of the journey got munched in their own little transporter accident. While moving the photos from one device to another, they were scrambled forever.

So I picked up another path, using my grandmother’s embroidered squares to make pillows. I have enough squares to make a pillow each for my brother and cousins.

Lani Longshore embroidered pillow

Lani Longshore pillow

Lani Longshore large pillow

My grandmother bound many of her quilts with prairie points. I’m using them as a design element, mainly because I could never make a long string of prairie points lie flat and straight. Three is my maximum, and even then there is much swearing and gnashing of teeth.

And in another journey/plot twist, the gnashing and naughty words are getting me a new sewing machine. My Viking is a grand little work horse, but it is old – twenty years old. Lately it has been skipping stitches, and the bobbin pops off the spindle if I look at it funny. My husband said the waves of frustration rolling out of the sewing room are too much to bear, and my birthday present is a new machine. He even found a link to a site evaluating the ten best sewing machines for quilters.

Honestly, I did not have a meltdown on purpose (but I’m still accepting the gift!).

Luck and wisdom!



The universe gave me some lovely gifts this week. The first two will find their way to other people, the last will stay with me.

Lani Longshore beaded green quilt

I finished the beading for this project last week. This week I found the perfect green to use as a base quilt. As the beads and fabric told me what they wanted me to do with them, I realized they were also telling me they could be a gift for a talented artist I’ve known since elementary school.

Lani Longshore spice basket

My daughter gave this basket of spices as a thank-you gift to a mutual friend. I helped her put it together with jars and a basket I had in the sewing room.

Lani Longshore fabric

The last gift is a new-to-me technique. My quilt guild is making pillow cases for a community outreach for local veterans. I read the instructions more in dread than anticipation. I couldn’t visualize how the fabric in the photo above could go from this:

Lani Longshore pillow case tube

to this:

Lani Longshore pillow case

Despite my misgivings, the technique is simple and fast. You can find the pattern on many sites, but click here for the About Quilting version. May you all be equally blessed in the weeks to come.

Luck and wisdom!


Valentine’s Gifts For The Artist

My husband will give me flowers and a funny card for Valentine’s Day, unless this is a mushy-card year, in which case he will give me a blank card with an interesting picture. Probably of a dog. I like flowers and funny cards, and neither of us needs a box of chocolates, so I’m happy as a clam at high tide with those gifts – from him.


Lani Longshore heart box


I’m asking for a better gift to me from me this year.


I won a consultation with Beth Barany, a writer, writing coach, and marketing consultant. We used the session to brainstorm about marketing my two novels, Death By Chenille and When Chenille Is Not Enough. It was a fabulous experience, and I’m going to put aside some money to work with her again when Ann Anastasio and I finish The Chenille Ultimatum. That is my first Valentine’s gift to myself.


The second gift is to treat myself to as many classes as I can afford. I’ve already signed up for two quilting workshops through Amador Valley Quilters, and I’ll take whatever workshops Tri-Valley Writers offers, but that isn’t enough. One of the ways an artist can grow is to explore other arts. I find a lot of cross-over in my writing and quilting. I’ve also found some cross-over with my martial arts training, and even my (minimal) musical training. Themes that appear in one discipline have a way of working into another.


My third gift to myself is my own box-o’-art-quilt-prompts.


My art quilt bag and fabric prompts
My art quilt bag and fabric prompts


I have a couple of writing and art prompt card boxes with suggested projects and inspirational thoughts. They’re great, but it occurred to me to I could make my own and clean another tiny space in the sewing room at the same time. I packaged up some of the inspirational fabrics that I bought for projects I can no longer remember. There are three projects I need to get finished for deadlines, but after those are done I can take out a bag and use those fabrics for an art journaling project, or a gift, or an experiment that I’ve already given myself permission to throw away if it takes a turn for the worse. My hope is that when another deadline looms while I’m working from the box-o’-prompts fabric, I will find it easier to get started since I’m already priming my brain to be creative.


Give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift this year, the gift of permission to get your hands dirty with whatever art you choose. You’ll thank me later.


Speaking of thanking me later, here are the links that I embedded above, just in case:


Beth Barany –



Death By Chenille – on Smashwords


When Chenille Is Not Enough – on Smashwords or Amazon or B&


Amador Valley Quilters –


California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch –





The prison quilting class began a new phase this week. I conducted my last class as leader and passed the program on to new teachers.


My last load of kits and class projects
My last load of kits and class projects


Whenever I let go of one project – rare times, but they do happen – I imagine all the new projects I’ll tackle with the extra time in my schedule. One would think by now I’d have accepted the reality of transition time. One would think.


This is the notebook I re-purposed for the FCI quilters manual.


Lani Longshore notebook


Since I had been a committee of one, the manual was in my head. Part of my transition time was occupied by writing down the things in my head, which is always a scary business.


Lani Longshore title page


There is also the scary business of transferring all the stuff I still have for the program to the new teachers.


Stuff that must leave my house
Stuff that must leave my house


Admittedly, it will be scarier for them.


More stuff that must leave my house
More stuff that must leave my house


When all that is finished, I need to finish up my Christmas projects. Mom and I bought the fabric for her gifts together. Here is the block for one of the three dresser scarves I’m making for her.


One block, just one little block
One block, just one little block


This is what all three look like on my design wall.


What do the blocks say to you?
What do the blocks say to you?


I think there is some kimono work in my future, when I really do have that extra time I’m imagining.



Gifts, Expected and Not

Mom’s visit is nearing the end. She and I made a box together.

She is taking some Christmas fabric home with her to make more boxes. This makes me happy on so many levels – we finished a project that isn’t staying here, some of my stash is going to go into a project that I don’t have to make, and Mom and I had fun together.

Mom also finished the purple hat for my daughter. I mention the color because you might not be able to tell:

My camera insists on turning the hat blue. Trust me, the hat is royal purple – not even a hint of blue!

I always considered that one of the gifts of being a fiber artist is a chance to play with color. I know that the value of any given fabric depends on what is next to it, that different light can make some colors shape-shift into an entirely different color, and that greens never come out well on film. However, I have never had a true purple disguise itself so completely as this purple hat did with my digital camera. Perhaps in my next life I will take up photography in a more disciplined fashion and play with color in new ways. For now, I’ll take the gift of the purple that wanted to be blue and keep it for future projects. I bet there’s a quilt in there somewhere.

ARRGH is Good

Some of my writer friends are typing their little fingers off as part of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. They’ve spent all of November agonizing over their plots and characters, word choice and syntax. I wanted to join them, but I’m too busy with ARRGH Time.

ARRGH Time is the quilter’s version of NaNoWriMo. We flip over our calendars on November 1, count the days to December 25, subtract the days for mailing, and calculate how many more hours we have to add in to each remaining day for the projects to be completed on time (those are the hours over and above the twenty-four that we start with).

ARRGH Time isn’t all bad. Underneath the stress is the camaraderie – every quilter you know is going through the same thing. I propose that we add one more ritual to the holidays, then, and finish up ARRGH Time with a celebration. I propose morphing the letters from a primal scream into an acryonym: Almost Ready to Receive the Group Hug. At some point in December – whatever day we tell ourselves “It’s done enough” – gather with friends and give each other a hearty “Congratulations!”

In the meantime, I am making a little progress on the projects (just don’t ask how high the pile on the sewing table is). My sister-in-law, Cindy Gorton, likes the protoype of her stadium bag and sent me a photo of her in it:

My husband likes the border for the mosaic tile project:

I also finished four drawstring gift bags that my mom asked me to make for her Christmas present.

And now, back to the sewing room. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear my scream.




I finished the first quilt of 2011 last week – the top, the quilting, the binding – and gave it away. That’s why it’s done in the first place. The quilt was a gift and I had a deadline.

Deadlines add a certain level of stress to my life, but I guess that’s what’s needed to get moving. Case in point, the background for my Taj Mahal quilt.

Without the deadline of the quilt show at the end of April, I wouldn’t have searched the tote bag with the quilt top one last time. There, on the bottom, was the piece of fabric I had set aside for the back of this quilt.

I have so many things tucked away in very safe places, it’s wonderful to find them again before the safe place becomes the lost place. I consider this a gift of spring, and I hope a good omen for the rest of the season.