Posts Tagged ‘piles’

Six Inches – As Wide As The Ocean

May 8, 2019

I was working on the quilt pictured above when I detected a burning smell. It wasn’t strong, just a hint of something metallic and unhappy. Since I didn’t hear a pop or see any change in the light, and I couldn’t really tell where the smell was coming from, I asked my husband to check out the sewing room. He couldn’t tell what was causing the smell, either, but the damage was done. “The only way this room could be more of a fire hazard would be if you stored cans of gasoline in here,” he said.

He’s right, of course. Everything in a sewing (or crafting) room is flammable. As stuffed as mine is, I’m surprised my sparks of imagination haven’t burned the place down. I’m working on reducing the clutter (oh, stop laughing), but his concern was more immediate. “You need six inches around that electrical outlet under the ironing board,” he said.

Lose six inches, was he kidding me? The space underneath the ironing board was – in my opinion – prime storage space. I use the past tense because there are no longer as many piles as there were. Although six inches seemed as wide as the ocean, I cleared out space.

You don’t want to see where I put the stuff that once lived there. Some of it got sorted into other bags, some of it went away, but most of it is in another pile in the aisle. And I’m really hoping my husband has forgotten about the other outlet in the room until I can figure out how to clear six inches around it.

Luck and wisdom!

In A Safe Place, Or Abandoned?

October 22, 2014

The new Challenge is an alphabet project. I drew the letter ‘J’ and so my quilt will be based on a ‘J’ word. Funny how all the ‘J’ words disappeared from my head as soon as I drew my card. I had to sit down with a dictionary and pad of paper. I came up with a few ideas, then realized I already had the perfect project.

Notes to self

Notes to self

Years ago I bought fabric and paints for a jazz-themed quilt that would feature a stylized woman’s head. I looked at that collection a long time before I admitted that my drawing skills weren’t up to the task. Then I put the bag away. In a safe place.

I didn’t have the moral fortitude to take apart the entire sewing room looking for that bag. The best I could manage was to poke at the bags within reach. No luck. “Self,” I said, “pull up your big girl britches and look again.”

This time I tackled a pile of “lightning” fabric – stuff I thought would go in a project I might do soon if lightning struck and the perfect project revealed itself. Some of the pile went into other project bags, but most of it turned out to be more pink fabric (one of these days I really have to stop buying pink fabric because as I keep telling myself I am not a pink person).

Pink fabric in a pink crate - but I'm really not a pink person

Pink fabric in a pink crate – but I’m really not a pink person

The jazz fabric still eluded me. In desperation born of the horrible memory of letting the project go, I looked in the neutral drawer. Tucked in the corner was a remnant that sorta kinda maybe reminded me of the background fabric I wanted to paint.

Base fabric for the jazz project

Base fabric for the jazz project

So the question is, will I find the original jazz project materials in a safe place, or did I abandon it?

Luck and wisdom!

Forward, Backward, Sideways

August 20, 2014

I made some progress, had a set-back, and slid to the side in my on-going battle of the piles. The step forward is we rearranged some of the furniture we are minding for our daughter while she is in graduate school (or at least until she moves to a larger space).

My purple plate collection

My purple plate collection

This collection of dishes began with a purple plate that Margaret Misegades gave me. The top bowl is from a Progressive Party outing to the local paint-your-own ceramics place to celebrate Maya Madhavan’s birthday. The collection used to live on my ironing board. Now it can be admired.

Unknown bags - maybe mine, maybe not

Unknown bags – maybe mine, maybe not

The step backward was discovering another collection of bags in our daughter’s room. Two of them are mine, I think. It’s been so long since I’ve seen them that I can’t remember acquiring them.

Something more to sort

Something more to sort

The sideways step is this new pile of my stuff that had been road-hogging our daughter’s closet. Now it is in a corner of her former room. My husband has rearranged that room to suit himself, which is only fair as I have colonized almost every other room in the house. The new pile is at least tidy, and I don’t have a deadline to sort it.

Of course, given that I’m pathetic without deadlines, he might regret telling me I can deal with the pile at my leisure.

Luck and wisdom!

The Spirit of a Dog

January 15, 2014

Although I delayed the vacuuming until someone was around to comfort Abby, the dog decided to be brave. She retreated briefly when the vacuum monster roared. Marshalling her courage, she crept forward to meet it. She stood her ground for a time, then realized this was not a battle she could win. Still, I think she considered the confrontation a victory.


Abby on the clean(ish) rug

Abby on the clean(ish) rug


Abby’s courage, while ill-advised given that the vacuum monster isn’t going to eat anyone, inspired me this week. I’m running away from the pile monster, and that needs to stop.


My plan was to take some of the treasures that I’d hidden in other rooms and bring them to the sewing room so I could a) admire them and b) store them where I could see them so that c) I would eventually use them. I started with my notebook collection.


One part of the collection

One part of the collection


Then I found another corner with notebooks.


Another part of the collection

Another part of the collection


Next to the second stash of notebooks I found Christmas stuff – “just in case” presents, stuff to add to presents, stuff to use for decorations.


Forgotten things from a scary corner

Forgotten things from a scary corner


I’ve made progress on tidying the piles in the sewing room, but there are still mountains to face. Who knew I was so good at finding corners to stash stuff?


At least the thread pile is next to the sewing machine

At least the thread pile is next to the sewing machine


So this week I’m going to channel the spirit of a dog. Although I retreated from the piles many times, I will throw myself once more into the breach. I may retreat again, but someday – someday – I will taste victory.





Detour To The Next Big Thing

November 8, 2012

Between hiding from the political telemarketers, getting back to the tyranny of the daily routine after my mom’s visit, and gearing up for my pre-holiday fretting, the sewing room went into free-fall:

The view from the hall


The view from the sewing machine

There was a little time for creativity – the pumpkin carving, for instance. My kids both found images to copy and transfer to their pumpkins. Not trace, copy; like art students have done from the beginning of art instruction. Meredith carved a witch on a broom in front of a full moon, and Alexander carved the Sith lord who killed Qui Gon. And my pumpkin, the one from the fiber artist who loves Halloween? I carved a candle.

Can you see the face?

Maybe next year I’ll be more adventurous.

In the meantime, a writing friend of mine, Marlene Dotterer, tagged me for a blog chain. Marlene writes science fiction and fantasy, at one time had her own business as a free-lance personal chef, and is a birth coach. Marlene and I are in a science fiction writing critique group – the wordsmith equivalent of a friendship group. You can read her blog about her next big thing here.

This blog chain is about the latest writing project of the taggee. I get to tag other people, and the people I picked are:

V.Z. Byram, who writes poetry, historical fiction, and spy thrillers. She isn’t a quilter, but she sews with her grandkids. She was born in post-WWII Europe to refugee parents, whose stories formed the basis of some of her work.

Violet Carr Moore, who is one part of Carr Twins, a former foster mom, and a writer of devotional material as well as mysteries. She also is not a quilter, but used to sew period costumes for Civil War re-enactors.

J.K. Royce, a retired attorney whose “simple” snack buffet will make you weep for joy, and who writes hard-boiled crime thrillers. She has made one quilt, which proudly hangs on her wall, and (I believe) might be persuaded to make more someday.

Elaine Schmitz, a quilter, quilt judge, quilt lecturer, and writer. I had the privilege of helping her edit her cookbook, Recipes & Recollections of My Greek-American Family. She also writes fiction in a variety of genres.

So, here is my Next Big Thing Q&A, ten questions you may or may not want to ask about other things I do:

What is your working title of your book?

When Chenille Is Not Enough

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is the sequel to Death By Chenille, the quilting science fiction book I wrote with Ann Anastasio.

We had a few loose threads, so we thought we ought to weave them into something fun.

What genre does your book fall under?

Quilting Science Fiction, which is a new genre that Ann and I created. We also created the musical comedy genre of Quilting Vaudeville.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would love to see Sigourney Weaver play the main character of Susan.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Quilters save the world, again, then set off for outer space.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

We’ll be self-publishing. That’s what happens when you create new genres – people get a giggle out of what you’re doing, but the marketing department doesn’t have a clue how to sell it! Ah, well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

We’ve been working on this book a little over a year, which is a huge improvement over our last book, which took fifteen years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I hope you could find some similarity with Douglas Adams, because he was absolutely hilarious, and that’s what we were going for in the Chenille series – a good laugh.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ann and I wrote a quilt design book. An editor found our project interesting, but since we didn’t have a name outside of Northern California, we didn’t get a contract. We thought if we wrote a novel and made our reputation we could get someone to publish our design book. You know, when you don’t know something is hard, you jump in with both feet. Fifteen years later we published Death By Chenille as an ebook, started a sequel, and think about that design book now and again.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Ice cream figures prominently, as does a crazy quilt.

Hidden Victories

September 19, 2012

The good news about having the kids in the house is that I feel obligated to be busy. You know, make sure I’m being a good example. The bad news is, I can’t always be creatively busy. So I do the next best thing – I putter. What I learned about puttering this week is that momentum can be your friend. After tidying up the obvious stuff in the sewing room, I started tidying up the stuff that I had been ignoring for weeks.

The scrap pile is almost gone. I cut, sorted and put fabric away. While putting fabric away, I noticed some of the bins could be consolidated. When I consolidated some of the bins, I sorted larger pieces of fabric that had been in piles and put that in the now-empty bins. When I got to the bottom of a couple of piles I discovered a bin of fabric that I knew I wouldn’t need soon. That went in the garage, because there was a tiny bit of room from the consolidation project. The empty space in the storage unit was filled with books and patterns for the prison program, and that bought me a foot of floor space:


I can stand in front of the closet again!

No one else in the family will even notice, but I do. They also won’t notice that getting the scraps under control gave me a bit of clearance on the cutting table:


I can see over the stacks!

The piles are still there, but now they are low walls, not the foothills of the Himalayas.

While all this was going on, my eye fell on some leather cording. To be precise, my eye fell on the cording as it fell on my foot. Repeatedly. After the third or fourth time it fell from someplace that I had put it down (as opposed to putting it away), I remembered my tree quilt. It still needed a binding; the fabric bowls and vases I made last week used piping as a binding before zig-zagging the sections together. The technique worked well, and the leather cording was exactly the right color for the quilt, so I used it:

Almost done


I couldn’t have made a better match if I dyed it myself

So, in the end keeping busy resulted in creativity. Who knew.