Sunday, April 13, 2014

Learning to exhale

All I want to do is make quilts. I don't want to go to work or vacuum rugs or make dinner. I don't want to go for a walk or read a book or take a nap. I don't even want to blog. After the years when my 'free' time was not really my own, I am finally learning to expand into my unscheduled hours. I'm (more than) a bit selfish & stingy with my now really free time, but that is beginning to fade.

A dog story I read on Instagram reminds me of myself. A woman I follow there fosters pedigree dogs. She recently took in an adult male dog, a  sweet & good fellow, but very nervous & un-used to freedom. She can only guess at his story -- not abused, but neglected & often confined, maybe from a puppy mill. At his foster home, the ability to run & play then rest was just too much for him; he'd pace until he was weary but couldn't rest until he was back in his kennel. The good news is love & nurture is bringing him around.

That's where I am now. I sew until I'm exhausted. I have to make myself stop. I just finished my 5th & 6th quilts for the year. Tops 7 & 8 are done, basted & ready to quilt. It isn't like I'm in a race, mostly I am enjoying myself, but I'm trying to pull myself back, kennel myself so to speak, so I don't get burnt out.

Quilts 7 & 8 will be Christmas gifts for our 14-year-old nephew & 12-year-old niece. They are terrific kids! The last quilts I made for them were their baby quilts, so they're due some new ones. The tops were made using the Fat Quarter Shop's Charm Pack Cherry pattern. (The whole time I was assembling them I was humming the B-52's song, Love Shack -- I guess because "Charm Pack Cherry" made me think of "Love Shack Baby". Anyway...) 4 charm packs worth of fabric in each quilt, they were easy & fast & are pretty cute -- well, one is cute, the other is manly. ;-)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

One year

It has been one year since my Mom's death.

In my small experience with loss, the first year is the worst -- all the milestones -- a year ago we were doing this or that -- and anniversaries. It is a little different losing a person who had dementia, you've been 'losing' them all along, but the finale is so very, well, Final. I feel a bit changed by her years in memory care, then death, kind of tempered -- stronger I hope, not harder. And it is a strange not having parents anymore. The child in me feels unattended, a little uncared for. The adult in me does not feel ready to shoulder the mantle of being the Senior Generation. I can't be a Matriarch (or Aunt-riarch)! I don't know anything, I'm just a kid!

The last time I saw my Mom was about 6 weeks before she died. During that visit, I went with her to get her hair done. Very often with dementia suffers, if they don't understand what is being asked of them, they'll just answer no. Do you want to go for a walk? Do you want to eat lunch? Do you want to have a bath? Do you want to get your hair done? Saying "no" is easier than trying to understand the question in their plaque-addled brains. My Mom's hair, permed & set all her life, had become long & straight because her permanent had grown out, the only 'do' she had was what the aides did after they gave her her shower. So we went together down the hall to the beauty/barber shop where she got a wash, trim & set. She looked nice. Then I did something I had not done in her 3 years in the nursing home:  I snapped a photo of her. She looked directly at my camera with this heartbreakingly clear, blank, bleak expression. I love this picture, can still see a glimpse of my Mom there. Then a new filter app that let me turn this photo into a 'watercolor; it took a bit of the edge of the original, making it even more beautiful to me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Remember me?

I blog here from time to time. :-}

I've been sewing away on a couple of things I'm hoping to have done to enter for this year's Quilt Festival. One will certainly be finished, the other just might make it too. Sorry, but I'm going to keep them mostly under wraps until I get the official thumbs down or up. Either way, I enjoyed planning & making them, so I'm already a winner!

Shug's Mom came to visit. She's pretty weary of the long, cold, snowy Midwest winter, so came South for some warmth. One day she & I went to a local quilt shop, another day all three of us went to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo -- we saw barrel racing, mutton bustin' & pig races, we ate some good BBQ, watched some wild midway rides & had a good time.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Easily amused

Yes, that's me -- Easily Amused.

The combination of this quilt block, the maple leaf, representing a traditionally cold-climate tree, with these tropical Hawaiian fabrics just pleases me.

I unearthed the fabrics recently (yes, yes, my stash is just this side of infinite), a long ago purchase at the Quilt Festival. I got them from a Japanese vendor who had a lot of tropical prints. I got 6 & later found some other fabrics that coordinated. But I hadn't a plan for how to use them, so they all got stowed away.

Re-finding them, they jumped to the top of my Make-Me-NOW! list. I liked the colors when I got them & am really loving them now -- golden yellows, peanut butter tans, avocado-y greens. With large-scale prints, sometimes I like to cut them up, making the print hardly recognizable. But this time I wanted to show off the ukuleles, plumeria & hibiscus, so I wanted a large-scale block. The Modern Maples pattern from Lark Crafts -- the blocks finish at 12 inches, a chunky leaf -- was perfect.  My fabrics were funny cuts, kind of fat half yards, I used nearly every bit to cut out 4 leaves from each print -- nothing left for stems. So my leaf stems are 2 different browns. My background solid was something I found on my shelves, but again, I ran out. And again, no problem: I can substitute in a text-y, texture-y print.

Soon I'll have an Aloha Maple quilt!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jessica's Color Party

Last month, the very darling, Jessica Darling led a color workshop for my guild, HMQG.

I loved it, I learned a LOT. Though my lesson was not so much about color. What I learned was a lesson in improvisational piecing.

Grids, perpendicularity, parallel-ness, -- those things make my heart soar. Does that make me anal, right-brained, a control freak? Maybe, I don't know. I do know I love & admire quilts that aren't like that & I really do want to, at the very least, experiment with that sort of quilt making, but for now this improv quilt is all right angles & straight lines but with a "use what's there" approach. Who knows, maybe this is how *my* improv looks -- not so much about wonky angles & wavy seams but use-it-as-you-find-it scrap combinations.

Anyway, Jessica led a very entertaining & educational workshop. I like the little quilt that I made. And I tried something new to me when it came to quilting -- I quilted it to death! Straight lines, 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart! Unfortunately, I love the look & feel of this quilting. Why unfortunately? Because it takes FOREVER!
Things worth having are worth waiting/working for -- or some such nonsense. Right?

Sunday, February 09, 2014


A while back, I was going through the mountains of stuff in my sewing room -- a Sisyphus-ian task -- and came across a large stack of vintage, printed tablecloths. They are bright & cheery; I have some that belonged to my Mom & Grandmas, some my Mom bought for me, some I bought myself. Back in my denim-skirts-and-vests days (don't judge -- though I'm sure I looked a pretty frumpy), I made clothing with them. I have a shirt & a vest or two & had plans for more, but never got them made.

Last year, HMQG had a garage swap day. We brought in our unwanted fabric, notions, patterns, books & other craft supplies, let our friends pick through our piles & take what they wanted. (I brought home less than I took to the meeting! Yay me!) As I was making my pile to give away, I added several of my old tablecloths.
Then I took them out.
Then I put them back in.
Then I took them out again.

So I *still* have that large stack of tablecloths -- now, what do I do with them? Well, as I was piecing my pine trees, I was wondering what I could use for the back. With all the white, I wanted something light in color, maybe something with green & red. Then a lightbulb come on. I pulled out a cowboy print tablecloth that was a good size, but I didn't like the cowboys with the pine trees; none of the florals nor the plaids quite did it either. Then I found a smallish, square green & white one -- my search was over! I added some bands of leftover Christmas prints, a back was born & a quilt was finished!

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Thrill is back!

First, let me thank you for your very, very kind & supportive comments & emails about my hurt feelings at the hands of the QuiltCon judges. {Very Big Hugs} to all of you!!!
What great friends I've made through my little blog!!!

Secondly, let me share what I've learned from the quilts-for-show process:
  1. You need a thick skin. If you are putting your quilts out There for more than your loved ones to see & evaluate, you really should try to not be hurt by negative comments.
  2. The judge that didn't like your Quilt A, just might love your Quilt B.
  3. If Quilt A did poorly in one juried competition, it might do very well in another juried competition.
  4. Lastly, most importantly, don't take it personally!!! Negative comments -- positive ones, too -- are about the thing you made, not about you. There may be merit in the comments, or maybe not, try to learn from them -- then move on!
But, back to my regained Thrill:

I am very happy to report how Very Happy I am in my sewing room. I am having So! Much! FUN! with my projects! I have 10 (!) going right now! One is nothing more than a stack of pulled fabric, 4 are partially cut out, 3 are cut out & are being pieced, 1 is being quilting & 1 is being bound; HMQG is doing a mug rug swap this month, so I'm playing with mug rug-ish ideas & I'm working on a few small birthday gifts. Oh! And I'm excited about a sketch that I may try to get made to enter for this year's Quilt Festival -- getting back on the horse!
That makes what, 11? 12? 13?
Who cares?!?!
I'm! Having!! FUN!!!

And you know what else? Lucky is proudly on display in our home for the first time in a year!