Posts Tagged ‘luck and wisdom’

Forward and Back

July 19, 2017

The family had a lovely reunion a couple of weeks ago. Knowing that the first week back from vacation is never entirely productive, I’ve made a habit of getting a project prepared before I leave so I’ll have something easy to work on when I return. That planning turned out to be more of a blessing than I expected, because I started feeling under the weather shortly after I returned home. The universe sometimes does that – the two steps forward, one step back thing – so I’m not going to complain (much) that my usual week of less-than-stellar productivity is stretching into two, maybe three.

Luckily for me, my back-from-vacation project was a baby quilt that has been languishing for about a year. Life got in the way when the top was pieced and the quilting part never happened. Now it has. Rather than anguish over a quilting pattern, I let the fabric tell me what it wanted. I also lucked out in finding a new spool of coppery thread that matched nothing but blended with everything. Then the universe really gave me a break and let me unearth a coppery fabric for the binding.

I think this will look great even cut into strips

This fabric has been hiding in the drawer for a long time, waiting for the perfect project. It isn’t alone. I have many fabrics, threads, and embellishments biding their time. While searching through my collections, I unearthed a doily that might go well with a fat quarter a friend gave me.

There isn’t enough contrast between the doily and the light fabric, I know, but I’ll solve that another day. For the moment, I’m going to accept that life, especially the creative life, is all about moving forward and rolling back. There are lessons to be learned in both directions.

Luck and wisdom!

Upgrades – Gift or Curse?

July 12, 2017

Some wretched app on my cell phone absolutely positively had to schedule an upgrade last week. My phone reacted poorly, and I lost all my photos, my Instagram connection, basically anything I actually use. Curses. The good news is once I accepted that I would be without a phone for a while I stopped thinking about it and began to appreciate the gift of time. The hours I  might have been on social media turned into a lovely period for handwork.

I finished the cross-stitch thistle that went off the rails a couple of weeks ago. Now that it is done, I’m actually quite pleased with it.

The next project-in-progress was inspired by some trees I saw on a family trip to Montana. The trunks were straight and tall. I started embroidering lines to represent them. I may or may not add the canopy after I’ve grown weary of laying down straight lines in varying widths. Someone asked what this piece was going to be, but I didn’t have an answer. For the moment, it is simply a bit of beauty to occupy my hands and entertain my eyes.

I still don’t know if upgrades are a gift or a curse. My current phone is toast, so until the new one arrives I’ll be living the unconnected life. At least I know that I can go back to the way life used to be if necessary.

Luck and wisdom!

Pink Elephants!

July 5, 2017

Pink elephants – need I say more? Alright, I will. I found a coloring book of animal designs. The elephant was fabulous. While considering what background to use, my eye fell on a piece of pink wool felt. I was determined to embroider myself a pink elephant. There was only one problem – transferring the pattern to the felt.

Who knew netting could become template material?

I decided to draw the elephant on some white netting, and transfer the pattern to the felt by going over the lines with a fine-tipped pen. Actually, I first thought of tracing the elephant on the netting and stitching through that on the felt, but the netting slipped around so much while inking the design that I abandoned that idea right away.

If you look carefully, you can see a fold of netting by the elephant’s ear

Choosing the thread posed its own problems. I have lots and lots of thread, floss, ribbon, whatever. In desperation, I chose a variegated thread for the outline and yellow for the tusks. I stitched those lines and let the piece sit for a couple of days until it told me what colors to use next.

This is the sort of project that could call itself finished more than once. I could have left off with the outline and tusks, but I did add some more stitching, then a piece of trim, then some beads. At the moment, this is where it stands.

Done until the elephant tells me it wants more stitching or beads

Luck and wisdom!

Cross-stitch For Those Who Can’t Count

June 28, 2017

I love cross-stitch, but I have the worst time following a pattern. Despite having a decent education, I can’t count with thread in my hands. I have the same problem with knitting and crochet, but since I have friends and family who knit and crochet beautifully I don’t mind not mastering those arts. Cross-stitch is different. I refuse to be beaten, even though I often am.

This pattern is beautiful, and as it happened I had floss in the appropriate colors. Don’t ask where it came from. One day I rummaged through my floss box and found several lengths of pink, green and brown tied together. Last week, I decided to give following a pattern another try.

Things started out well enough. I told myself this time would be different, this time I would get to the end of the project and every stitch would be in place.

Oh, how the universe laughed.

By the time I realized how far off the mark I had gone, I was too invested in the project to abandon it. That’s when I had an epiphany – the reason I love cross-stitch is that the pattern can be altered on the fly if one has the courage to seize the needle. So that’s what I did. I soldiered on, inserting colors where I wanted them, adding a leaf, adjusting the shape of the stalk. By the time I finished I almost regretted doing this project on a scrap of aida cloth with a nasty stain and a line of embroidery that refuses to reveal why it is there. Almost, but not entirely. I’ll cut around the design, maybe fill in the background with a cream or very pale green. It might end up on a card, in an art quilt, or on a tote bag. Wherever it goes, it will remind me that even for those who can’t count, cross-stitch can be fun.

Luck and wisdom!

Happy Solstice!

June 21, 2017

The sun is making itself known in these parts. The temperatures have been at or near triple digits for most of the week. While I am definitely solar-powered (if the sun isn’t up, neither am I), my productivity is restricted to a narrow range of temperature. Light, good; heat, bad. Also cold, bad – but that’s a story for another season. Basically, if it isn’t 72 degrees and gorgeous, I start whining. That is why my summer sun quilt block looks a little like a sci fi creation.

With the light come tentacles of heat

Still, any excuse for a celebration is okay with me. The summer fruit is lovely, and I have my Build-It-Yourself Stonehenge. This year, I added Godzilla.

Starting the summer with a stomp

Luck and wisdom!

When a Start = Success

June 14, 2017

I took a moment to celebrate Chocolate Ice Cream Day last week, hoping to calm my brain enough to do something creative. It worked. The next day, I had ideas for two small pieces. Yes, it’s only a start, but I’m counting it as a success.

I’ve been experimenting with sewing squares on acrylic felt, then melting the felt. This time, I thought I would lay down a grid of thread first, and put something on top of that. The dragon applique was just sitting there, so I stitched it over the grid.

This yellow fabric was on top of the scrap basket. I cut circles from it, and scattered them over the surface. There weren’t enough. “Self,” I said, “why not see if a circle of thread will work just as well as a circle of fabric.”

The next step was melting the felt with my craft heat gun. The dragon didn’t mind at all.

The yellow circles weren’t quite as pleased. I added a bead to make them feel better.

Here is the little circle of thread. It isn’t as noticeable as I expected. If I try this again, I’ll make the circle from parallel lines instead of one big meandering line.

Luck and wisdom!

Chocolate Ice Cream Day and Creativity

June 7, 2017

According to my made-up food holiday calendar, today is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. As it happens, my favorite ice cream is spumoni, which is a combination of chocolate, pistachio and cherry – a most creative combination.

I mention all this because my creativity has been missing lately. Aside from a few cross-stitch projects, I haven’t been able to get past the (relatively) clean cutting board syndrome, also known as blank page jitters. “Self,” I said, “just go in and cut a strip of fabric. Inspiration will come.” I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

“Self,” I said, “perhaps you are overwhelmed with deadlines. Do something about that, and inspiration will come.” I trotted out my favorite time-management scheme – making lists – and got to work. Most of my deadlines were met, so I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

That’s when I noticed my food holiday calendar, and had a minor epiphany. Yes, beginning a new project always gives me the jitters, yes, I’ve volunteered for another group and I have more deadlines, but my biggest problem was my attitude. I had become obsessed with being efficient, and wasn’t factoring in time to savor relaxation. Even the reading time I allowed myself was tense, because book club night is coming up and I’m not finished with this month’s assignment.

I decided to relish the celebration of Chocolate Ice Cream Day. I will scoop the spumoni into a bowl with the chocolate part on top. I might even add some hot fudge sauce. Then I will stand in front of a decorative magnet I bought long ago, and hope I remember its wisdom. After that, when I am well and truly relaxed, I’ll hit the sewing room again.


Luck and wisdom!

The Beading Version of The Song That Never Ends

May 31, 2017

When my kids were little, they learned a wicked little song:

This is the song that never ends

Yes it goes on and on, my friends

Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was

And they continued singing it forever just because

This is the song that never ends . . .

It still gets stuck in my head, especially now that I’ve put aside my Santa Fe quilt.

This is on its side, although I might hang it this way eventually

Since an overall beading design didn’t immediately leap to mind, I started beading the sections.

Beads for the Turquoise Trail

There is more empty space for beading and quilting, but at the moment I’m out of ideas.

Perhaps the turtle will tell me what to do next

That’s okay with me. I have plenty of other projects to occupy my time. Also, like the song that never ends, I suspect I’ll revisit the project now and again, beading needle in hand.

Luck and wisdom!

Toes In The Water

May 24, 2017

This week in the continuing saga of the collaborative quilt: we decided to use the “toes in the water” technique for the border. I finished the inner border, and we immediately stopped to think about what we want next.

I like the top as it is, but we had discussed the possibility of another border. We’ll let the quilt sit on the design board for a bit. In the meantime, I unearthed my quilt marking kit.

When I saw this kit, I was struck by my own lack of vision, and laziness. Lack of vision because all this kit contains is a marker, a paper towel, and a piece of plastic. You put the plastic over the quilt top and mark potential quilt lines. You erase the lines you don’t like with the paper towel and start again. “Self,” I said, “you could have thought of this.” The laziness part came when I bought the kit rather than going to the craft store and buying my own plastic. The “toes in the water” part will come when I actually use the plastic and marker to design a quilting pattern rather than sitting down at the machine and falling into my go-to quilt motifs.

Shameless self-promotion alert – one last “toes in the water” moment occurred this week. I was encouraged by Julaina Kleist-Corwin to consider video blogging. New-to-me technology is scary, so I thought I would start with a tiny snippet of video on Instagram. There was a big, beautiful bug flying around one of the plants in the back yard. Out I went with my cell phone, finger on the video icon. To my absolute amazement the clip was in focus and I posted it without tearing my hair out. I tried posting it here, but discovered that would require an upgrade. As far as I’m concerned, upgrade is the single most frightening word in the English language. So – and here’s the shameless self-promotion part – if you want to see a beautiful flying critter (I think it’s a bee of some sort, but I’m not going to swear to it) you’ll have to find me on Instagram (under Lani Longshore).

Luck and wisdom!

Going Blank

May 17, 2017

Last week I discussed the quilt top my husband and I are designing together. We started with two collections of hand-dyed solids, which I am showing you now because I’ve never shown you the beginnings before.

Here’s what we bought at the quilt show

We managed to get to the last border before our concepts diverged. I found some other fabrics this week and put this draft up on the design wall.

A double border, dark blue and yellow then light blue and beige

He likes it, I like it – but here it sits. Why, you ask? Because now we have to decide exactly where those stair-stepped borders will actually step. I said he could have final approval, but then the weather got nice and the chores in the garden called him, and deadlines for my latest volunteer position piled up on me, and we have yet to sit ourselves in the sewing room and decide about this last (insert naughty word of your choice here) border.

In the meantime, I would like to begin another project but my mind has gone absolutely blank about what that project should be. Oh, there are stacks and stacks of potential candidates waiting for me, but it seems my brain is stuck spinning its wheels until we make a decision on that border. So now I’m hoping for rain over the weekend just to get him out of the garden so I can get this quilt top finished, at which point we start all over again to design the quilting pattern. Argh.

Luck and wisdom!