Monday, December 12, 2016

Making Twine

A few weeks ago I found a new-to-me blog, Hester's Handmade Home.  Her youtube page has this super cool tutorial for making fabric twine.  At first I was like, sure, that's cool, but I'd rather make a string quilt.  But then, last week I tried to destash some scraps on facebook and instagram.. and even after filling and shipping boxes to other scrap loving friends, I still had SO MANY SCRAPS.

Like, so many.  It was obvious that I had tons and tons of strings that will probably never end up in any quilt, as much as I would like them to.  So I recruited George to help pull strings of desired width and length, and I started twisting..
And twisting and twisting and twisting.  It's pretty easy and kind of addictive.  I only stopped when my arms started to hurt.  It's very easy to change colors, absolutely no stitching involved.

I made enough to wind around the tree as garland and called it a day.  Very simple and fast project, used up some neglected scraps.. like this sheet music print that had been sitting in a bin since.. 2007??  Also great for the selvages I tear off and collect but never use.  1" wide was my minimum, but the portions that swelled to 2" were nice and hefty, giving the rope a nice weight.  Overall it doesn't really matter.  This "twine" isn't going to be weight bearing, and if it lasts for 2 or 3 Christmases, that's good enough for me.   I like having handmade on the tree (and everywhere, really) and George commented that he likes that our tree has ornaments of all shapes and sizes.
I definitely don't feel like I'm back in the loop again with all things crafty and bloggy and quilt industry-esque.  It's an awful lot to keep up with and I did voluntarily take myself out of the online quilt community for.. far too long.  Now it's kind of exciting to "discover" things and trends that other people have tried and gotten tired of already, but hey, I work at my own pace, always have.  What were your most and least favorite quilts-trends-bloggers from 2016?  Scrolling through Instagram all year, I can say there definitely were some popular ideas that... didn't quite fit with me.  But I'm curious to see what everyone else seems to think.   Have you discovered anything new?  Taken up a whole new hobby all together?   Even stopped quilting (Gasp!!)?  Please, do tell..

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My birthday weekend

So.  I turned 37 on Monday.
And the last week has been full of reflective thoughts, perhaps more so than other years.
I was very careful to plan out how to spend my time this weekend-- I have always been one to want/crave/and ask for alone time on my birthday.  I just need it.  It's my treat to myself-- that time to really reconnect, to sift through my thoughts, take stock of where I'm at, and ground myself in my reality.
With two years of midlife crisis behind me, I think I'm doing ok.

I spent most of the weekend with the guy I've been seeing (who needs to make an appearance here on the blog soon.. he's tall.  I need him to hold up some quilts for me) but I did take a jaunt into Manhattan on Saturday to get to the NYC Metro Mod Guild meeting.  It was my first time going in .. maybe 18 months?  Felt so good to be around quilty friends and beautiful making.

 I stitched on the train ride in, of course.  This blue and yellow block has fabrics from the quilt I made with George this year.  This hex-diamond is almost done.

I am grateful that the internet lets me make and keep friends, even when we only see each other sporadically.  I think that's one of the things I missed most about blogging.  Facebook is great for quick daily updates, feeling connected but not really being connected.  Instagram is better because you are seeing through your friends' eyes.  But blogging.. photos, words, feelings, all the thoughts and dreams put behind the post.  Some of my friends are simply amazing writers and I love getting to know them *that* way, through their writing. 
Bernadette has been working on her blue hexies quilt for a long time.. I'm so happy to see her determined to finish it.  I promised to help with the binding when she's ready
Nellie somehow managed to have a baby, finish this quilt, and get to the meeting to show it off.  I love the light colored crosses in the border.
This one is Lisa's and.. she's giving it away.  Who knows why we do the things we do?  But that kid sure is lucky..

Following Margaret on Instagram is such a treat, but seeing this quilt in real life and hearing her thoughts on making it (especially how she embroidered, rather than hand quilted) was really awesome.  Guild meetings, man.  Always something to learn.  

And Maureen from my library group was there too!  Working on impossibly small EPP, of course.  THAT is not my fault.
After the meeting, I went for coffee with my new friend, Kyle, then wandered across town to one of my favorite places in the city, Kinokuniya.  I could spend hours there, wandering like I used to do in Daimaru or Tokyu Hands, when I lived in Japan (at the turn of the century!).  So much to look at, take in, ponder and enjoy.  I did have a train to catch, so I made a beeline for stationary downstairs..

I was hoping to find a rooster stamp to add to my Zodiac rubber stamp collection, which I started in 2000.  Unfortunately I was told they were on order and I should check back in a few weeks.  I guess that's another excuse to make the trip then, huh?  I was able to replenish my collection of awesome pens, and now that I think if it, I should really write a post on pens because I do have strong feelings about them.. and oddly enough, my tastes have changed over the years.   (mental note: blog post about pens).

Monday I baked a cake and had Christa and her son over to help us celebrate.  The kids and I planned ahead this year and while at Party City before Halloween, we picked up these Dory candies for my cake.  Yup, 37 with a Finding Dory themed birthday cake.  I love being a mom, because you get to be a kid and make the rules at the same time.  Cake was tasty.  I plan on eating leftovers while writing Christmas cards later tonight.. 

Many thanks for the birthday wishes that came via FB and instagram (and for the dear friends who actually got me presents!!  I feel so loved).  If you want to comment below with what you were doing on your 37th birthday, or what you think your life might be like then, if you aren't as old as me.  I can honestly say, 5 years ago I had no idea that this is where I'd be.. but I'm happy I made it and I like where (and who) I am at 37.   Hope I will always be able to say that. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The contents of my TQ#5 sewing kit

Started in February 2014.. in a few short months, this WIP will be 3 years old.  The sewing kit has been the same all along (I think?), and it has collected a few odd bits and memories.  I was noticing the other night, as I planned out the last few diamonds and edge pieces, that so much has changed in that time.  So many friends and experiences.  Their stories are in the quilt, which I'll tell again once it's done (aiming to have the top together by Feb 2017), but the kit.. I didn't realize so many memories would be held in this little plastic box too.

This is everything just kinda thrown out of the case.  Pic is from my design wall sometime last winter, before I moved the bed to the opposite wall and had to take down the batting.  (I ended up stringing lights from the command hooks I left up).  More of it has been pieced together than is shown in the pic, but I'll do a separate post for TQ#5 progress soon. 
 In order to sneak time to take all these photos, I let Jack count and arrange all the loose hexies in the kit.  Most were cut with my Fiskars 1" punch during or after our road trip to Chicago in May 2014.
 This is one of the mini flyers I made for the Saturday Stitches library program I did at the beginning of the year (these are 2016 dates, NOT 2017). On the back there are names and phone numbers of people that attended, who wanted to be added to our mailing list.  I miss my Saturday Stitches group!
The green paperclip is a German one from when I was living in Athens the spring I was working on the EPP book.  So many hours of EPP that year!  New paperclips were one way to keep my motivation up.

These spools are the threads that match the current blocks I'm working on.   I know in the book I talk about keeping small bobbins in lots of colors, but that hasn't happened in this travel quilt kit.  I'm able to get by with mostly neutrals, and then when there is a specific need, I do keep that color on a spool.  I think part of the difference is that the blocks are larger (25 hexies, compared to the 6 diamonds in TQ#2 and #3) and that I just don't have the same chunks of time to sit and sew these days.  Most of the time I'll be home again to change out thread before I need a new color.  The yellow hexies are from the backing on the quilt George and I made this year (another blog post, I promise!).  And these might just be the folding scissors that I got from Grama K..   I had a pair of these as a kid, is it possible this is the same pair??

This will be the top right corner of the patchwork.  I got the red floral fabric while I was at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt show in July 2015.  I knew when I tucked it into my bag that day that it would make it into this quilt.  Didn't know it would take over a year to get there..

And these two little trinkets may be the most special-- The bottle top pin cushion that my friend Eri gave me.  I have spend a lot of time thinking about her this year, I'm pretty sure she watches me stitch sometimes.
The black pin box came from Shannon years ago, in a big box of scraps (she used to send me some every few months.. what an enabler!).  Sometimes friendships take breaks, but this is one that has withstood the tests of time.  I should call though..

And my helper, holding my thimble.  Don't know why, but it's his favorite notion.  This is the same thimble I've used since.. 2006?  My tools are just as important as the quilts themselves.  It's all part of the process.   Do you have anything special hiding in your sewing kits?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Falling Stars

Christa is making the Falling Stars quilt from Quilting on the Go.
As she laid it out on the bed last night, I was struck by how much I love this pattern.  And all sorts of twinges of memories surfaced-- the initial idea, the design process, sitting with dear friends sewing the sample for the book.
My original thoughts were to do completely scrappy background with long chains and occasional stars in white.  Shifting the color palette to blues and chartreuse really changed the impact. I had so so many ideas for 60 degree diamond quilts and most of them are still trapped in my sketchbooks or scrawled on the back of book notes, stuck there in time.  But this, the Falling Stars quilt happened.  And I love what people are doing with it.
Christa's version is so beautiful, and so her.  Even though I gave her fabrics from the original (and let her root through my stash of blues), the overall tone looks like all of her other quilts.  Strong and natural.  My quilts can tend to be chaotic and punchy.  All of my wild energies, straining to get out.  But Christa's quilts always seem to give off a feeling of peace, restfulness.
 Somehow my selfies to capture background scenes always turn out with goofy expressions on my face.  I could have taken more shots to get it right, but this is us, as we were.  Talking and stitching on a weeknight, making progress as we can.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Evolution of Selfies

Selfies.  Hmm.

 For blogging, I have been taking them since.. 2006?  setting up my digital camera (Kodak, with a 1" screen) by propping it on something til I could see myself (or, the area where I would be sitting once I set the timer and ran over there).  Then try, try, try to get a decent shot.  
I loved doing this.  The activity of taking pictures of myself quilting was part of the hobby itself. 

Then there were the pics that look more like today's selfies.  
Close ups, arm's length, looking at the camera (or not)
Still done with a digital camera (then Nikon?) and my little gorilla pod tripod.
(omg, I look like my mom in this one)

Mirrors were good tools too.

Then I got a smart phone and the whole world changed.  it was 2011 I think? 

And with that, and the forward facing camera, you could SEE yourself.  
And the selfie became a MIRROR reflection of what you actually looked like in that moment. 

I was pondering this the other day, after our trip to the zoo.  
Why do the kids fight me when I want to take their pictures, but eagerly jump into selfies with me?
Because they can see themselves. ♡♡

I like seeing myself, I like documenting things.  Paper, fabric, photos.  These make life more real to me.  I like seeing time.  And I think this is a topic I want to explore more.  Calendars, planners, letter writing, travel quilts.  It all helps me remember.  Allows me to go back, to place myself in time.
If you find that you do this too-- record yourself- words or images, how do you do it?  What are your tools?  How long have you been documenting life?  And what does it mean to you?  If you want to make an evolution of Selfies post, please do so!  I'd love to see which moments, which glimpses of yourselves you choose to capture.

Monday, February 22, 2016

I am still a quilter even though I'm not quilting.

Yesterday a friend asked me, "What project are you working on?"
and I said, "I'm not."

I have been taking some time to sort out the new sewing space and in doing so, I'm letting my mind wander.  See.  Touch.  Accept.
Every day I come back to the piles, I see new things.  Understand more.  I am looking at the story of my life and contemplating how I feel about it.

From that conversation:
Just trying to consolidate and organize
So many of my piles and deliberate separations don't mean anything anymore.   
I see choices I made. 
How I hid and tried to find happiness in this accumulation 
Grasping at slivers of joy 
When in truth it's making that gives joy 
And using handmade that brings the most satisfaction 
I long to sew again. But the time isn't right 
I can be patient there 
I think sometimes that I could make better use of the child-free evenings, but I know exploring other parts of myself is doing me so much good.  I can't hide in the cocoon of quilting that I've lived in forever. 

Quilting was coping.  Stunted growth.
I need to stretch and then come back to making.
Stretch, and then come back to making.

What is me and what were the walls I had built for myself?  I am questioning everything.  It feels good to do so, though it's not easy.   It hurts less these days though, and that is good.  Spring is coming, I can smell it.  Change and growth.  I want to wash off the old ideas that don't fit anymore.  And my stash.  Ugh. Just.. why?  What was I thinking?  And then I see it.  So many times, I wasn't.  I wasn't thinking, I was feeling.  An acquisition would give a momentary rush.  A new quilt idea would distract me for another hour, another day.  But my life, where was it?  Now I see.  It's like I was sleeping and I have woken up.