Posts Tagged ‘mistakes’


June 29, 2020

Symbols are powerful tools for artists. In my writing and fiber art I make use of symbols that I hope will at least entertain the reader or viewer. However, not all symbols are mine to use. I try to remember that in my writing, which is why any social equality messages in the Chenille series come through the aliens. Although we have quilters of color in our cast, Ann Anastasio and I decided with our first book that the most important aspect of any of our human characters’ personalities would be that they were quilters. We didn’t want to appropriate symbols from another culture. That isn’t always the case with my fiber art. I use commercially produced fabrics and embellishments. Some of the symbols used in those materials may not mean what I think they mean, much less what I want them to mean. I discovered that the week I posted a picture of Nightmare Catcher for 2020, then read about some of the deeper meaning behind Native American dreamcatchers. I’ve decided the dreamcatcher isn’t my symbol to use, so I’ll make another version of that quilt. It’s a little harder to unwrite an appropriated symbol from a published story, so I’ll probably have some regrets about my work as I discover more about our wonderfully complex world. That’s not the worst thing that could happen to me. Life is about learning from our mistakes, right?

Luck and wisdom!

Oh, The Mistakes I’ve Made

February 19, 2020

I’ve been doing this quilting thing for 35 years, so I’m usually competent. If I’m going to mess things up big time, however, it seems to happen when I’m working on my friend Jeanne Brophy‘s quilt. The latest Progressive Party project from her is a wonky row quilt. I read the instructions, ironed the first fabric, measured it wrong, and cut the pieces both too narrow and too long. Totally ruined the fabric. Couldn’t be saved. Luckily, Jeanne has a good sense of humor and a huge fabric stash, so she found a replacement. It was also fortunate that I realized my mistake after cutting only one fabric, not all of them.

At my second session on the project, I remembered that making wonky blocks means you are sewing on the bias. Usually I just pin the living daylights of stretchy things, but since this is a Progressive project and many people will be working on it over the next few months, I decided to be kind and sew a stabilizing line 1/8″ inside the cutting line before I cut, as shown in the block above.

Much to my delight, the blocks went together as they were intended. Those of you who actually read those helpful hint books on quilting technique will not be surprised, but it sure amazed me.

Luck and wisdom!

My Secret Weapon

March 22, 2017

I made a little progress with my lobster-beetle quilt. I’m definitely going to use embroidery, but it will only be sashiko-ish – I don’t have the right thread, and the motif is definitely not Japanese. To be honest, I’m not sure what shape the motif will ultimately take. That made me hesitate to do any marking at all until I remembered my secret weapon, soap.

I learned to use soap slivers to mark cottons from Maria Sakiyama, a good friend and fabulous seamstress. It lasts long enough for hand-work, but washes out easily. It’s readily available, easy to store, and easy to use.

That is, it is easy to mark a line. That doesn’t mean my needle will follow the line that my hand has drawn. Let me explain. This is the top with borders.

I drew a long, swooping line from the totem square down to the lower beetle strips.

Then I started embroidering. Lo and behold, my hand strayed from the line.

I have no idea why I couldn’t follow the line, but there it is. Now I have to decide if I’m going to keep the lines I’ve sewn or take them out and begin again. Since the soap line will wash away, I actually have a choice. If only all my mistakes were as accommodating.

Luck and wisdom!

Don’t Mess With Halloween

November 2, 2016

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but this year I decided to scale back and not carve a pumpkin. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was second-guessing that decision. I went to the grocery Monday morning, pumpkins were on sale, and I took this as a sign that I should carve a pumpkin after all. My third mistake was picking the wrong knife.

Lani Longshore bandaged thumb

Yes, that is my thumb with the bandage covering a proper jab. My husband helped me clean up, then finished the carving.

Lani Longshore carved pumpkin

My husband was really sweet about the whole thing, especially since he is always warning me off knives. I come from a long line of women who can’t cut straight. My grandmother made fabulous bread, but her slices looked more like a sandy beach after a particularly vigorous wave washed over it – all ripples.

My other decorations were far less hazardous to make. I found some delightful orange pipe cleaners, and made a bow-tie for my monster-head scythe.

Lani Longshore Halloween decorations

I also found some bats on clips. Twist a few pipe cleaners together, attach the bats, and you’ve got a door hanger.

Lani Longshore bats

While we may have a pumpkin next year, I can guarantee you I won’t be carving it.

Luck and wisdom!

One of Those Years

January 8, 2014

If you can predict the future by the first week of the year, 2014 will be the year of “oops”. This was the week I forgot to put the yeast in the yeasted pastry. My daughter discovered the blooming yeastie-beasties in time for me to make another batch, and the unyeasted pastry tastes just fine toasted.


The next “oops” came when I tried to read the letters on a decorative textile. I was certain the word was in Russian, but there was figure that looked too weird. Then I rotated the piece.


Clearly a chicken, clearly not Russian

Clearly a chicken, clearly not Russian


If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to laugh at myself all year long.


The week also brought some lovely surprises. The first surprise came when I stopped at my local quilt store to buy some thread. I took a brief glance around the shop and discovered this amazing fabric.


Lani Longshore Viking fabric


How often do you find Viking fabric? I bought two yards.


The next surprise came when I helped a friend with an estate sale. She let me pick whatever I wanted as a thank-you, and I found the cutest little lunch sets and a 50’s-era cup and saucer.


Lani Longshore lunch set


I’ll be eating in style at the next brown bag event.


Last, my friend Ann Anastasio gave me my very own miniature flamingo set.


Lani Longshore flamingo


Yes, I’ll definitely be giggling all year long.