Friday, September 27, 2013

My creative (and messy) process

I marvel at the quilters/fiber artists/crafters out there who have neat, tidy studios. I spent a lot of time reorganizing my studio earlier this year and am coming to grips with the reality that I just can't keep it clean and neat. This is what my studio looked like this morning:

You see several projects scattered over my sewing table and hanging on a cabinet. I cannot work on one project at a time; this ADD brain of mine takes me to different ideas and part of me says, "I want to start it now." Other things filter in such as our son's request to make a quilt for someone that stops whatever I'm doing. On the table you see the pattern schematic for David's gift quilt, fabrics pulled for auditioning for that quilt, my serger set up on the other side of the table with red threads for the other school bus shirt I'm making for the hubster (part of it hanging on the cabinet and the sleeves are draped over the back of my chair), Trick or Treat is in another bag, and some blue fabric I used to mend some jeans (mending is always last on the that's an epiphany). My light box is on my pullout tray where I have been tracing patterns onto fusible web for Love Endures.

I know really organized people who tidy up their spaces before shutting it down for the day/evening--this is part of their makeup--and they have to do it. I want to get there, but not if it costs me in creativity. I am driven to get into the studio every day and do something, anything, to keep the creative process flowing. 

This week is the first time I have not spent a portion of each day in the studio in almost 4 months. The week has been chaotic between getting ready at work for the shutdown of the federal government, and someone will be moving into our house this weekend (more about that later). I felt poorly on Wednesday and stayed home from work. I realized I needed some downtime and have not worked in the studio in 2 days. 

I'm recognizing that my creative process is much like my work process; I seldom am able to work on just one thing at work, just as I don't work on only one thing in the studio. While my office at work is somewhat neater than my studio, it's not pristine and never will be. Neither will my studio be pristine, and I am finally accepting it.

We're continuing our progress on Love Endures, and David will return Sunday to make a big push on finishing the applique. Jack sent the last pattern to me yesterday. My goal is to have it on the longarm by next weekend. 

What are you working on this weekend?

Happy quilting,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A glorious weekend with The Girlfriends

I've mentioned before how lucky I am to have not one but several besties. This weekend several of us gathered for a bunking party at my home and we had a wonderful time--the hubster prepared dinner for us on Saturday night and brunch for us this morning and us girls got to relax and TALK! 

We have known each other since the ninth grade--41 years. Our relationships with each other have gone through dry spells every now and then as life intervenes and throws up a road block or two, but we always manage to get back to each other, especially in times of need. The best part is that we love and like each other, and always have a great time when we're together.

I told the hubster this morning after everyone had left that I marveled at how strong each of us was in response to life events--and each of us is going through one now. Each one's is different--one's husband has macular degeneration and is now on disability--an extremely active man--and his wife is struggling to find him something he can do to bide his time; one's husband just passed away after a lengthy illness; one lost her job and her husband walked out on her an hour later, and has a teenaged son who does not want to move to another town because he's in the International Baccalaureate program in our school district and there's no such program in the new district (so she's actually going through 3 events). The last one is about to take the aforementioned teenaged son into her home so he can stay in the school district.

We came together this weekend to rally around the one who is going through the most at the moment. While we are all strong individuals, I am amazed at our strength when we band together. I have been blessed beyond measure to have these girls in my life and I consider them my family. I pray that we always weather the storms that come our way, but know that I can always reach out to them in times of need. I hope we helped ease some of the pain that one is experiencing right now, and she knows we're at her side.

David came over this afternoon to work on Love Endures - here's the progress from today:

I hope you had a fabulous weekend! Happy quilting!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Super Secret Project #1, a/k/a Love Endures

We're going to give this Super Secret Project #1 the code name "Love Endures," not to be confused with "Love Entwined" that I blogged about back in July (and no, I have not started it). I have to be really careful while showing you my progress photos in an effort to not give away the surprise. I don't believe its recipient has a clue that I blog, but I'm still being cautious.

So our youngest son, David, is the instigator of this project. He came to me a couple of months ago and said he wanted to make a quilt for a special someone. He told me his idea for the quilt, which was taking the special someone's favorite things and make a block of each, and putting the quilt together sampler style.

I told him I thought it was a nice idea, but I thought we could try something else. I am a huge fan of Mary Lou Weidman and her story quilts. With all of the items David was wanting in the quilt, I thought this would be a great opportunity to create a story quilt. He finally warmed up to the idea after I showed him some examples of story quilts, and we set about designing the layout and creating the applique patterns. 

We've had so many interruptions trying to get started with the actual creation of this quilt and yesterday morning I was able to piece the background. It's not much, but it's a step completed. David will be over Sunday and we'll slap on the applique elements. Due to time constraints, we're fusing.
The lower portion of the background looks like a grid from a distance, but that's just the repeat of the fabric. This is the ground up close; it's Danscapes by RJR:
The night sky was from my stash and was used in Jack's graduation quilt in 2000--I love it when I can use something up! It's an old Hoffman that they printed in black and also in blue; I have both and David selected the black:
And so it begins! 

I have a bunch of besties coming in this weekend for a bunking party, but will get to work on Love Endures after they leave Sunday. I hope you have a great weekend!

Stay tuned, and happy quilting!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Labor Day mini retreat and some finishes

LeiLani, Katrina and I had our third annual Labor Day quilting retreat recently--we didn't bring our machines and only had handwork. I brought 3 quilts that needed binding sewn down and was able to finish two of them. Katrina finished the binding on the charity quilt and LeiLani worked on a landscape quilt by fusing most of the pieces to the background.

We arrived early Friday evening and checked in. After putting away all the food, Katrina prepared a wonderful meal of gluten-free pasta with her homemade pesto sauce, and an avocado/tomato salad. Dinner was fabulous!

Saturday morning, Katrina was the first one up and made the coffee. The condo sits on the golf course and we have a small deck on the back where we drank our coffee:

Early in the afternoon things started heating up--we had a heat advisory and we headed inside to stitch on our projects. It got hotter and hotter in the condo and Katrina looked at the thermostat and said it was over 90° inside! LeiLani called guest services and told them to FIX IT. LeiLani and Katrina decided to run to the little grocery store and pick up some supplies (and ice cream). Within 15 minutes of their return, Katrina became overheated and was sick the rest of the weekend. When the maintenance guy showed up, he thought the a/c unit needed a recharge--by this time we had Katrina in bed, doctored her up with fever reducers and covered her with wet towels. The maintenance guy showed back up about 30 minutes later and said the unit was dead. The resort handed us the keys to another condo and you should have seen LeiLani and I packing like mad women. By Monday afternoon Katrina was feeling somewhat better but still dizzy. If this wasn't proof of how hot it was in the condo, LeiLani fished out her cutting mat only to find it warped beyond use...that's how hot it was.

I cooked dinner Sunday night:

I typically add more color at dinner, but this is how it worked out--and it was delicious. Seared tuna, roasted cauliflower and asparagus, and spinach, mushroom and quinoa salad.

The finishes:

Italian Meatballs - another quilt from the International Mystery Tour at the shop. This is the one Katrina told me to practice my feathers on--they are miserable but I don't care! It gave me the confidence I needed to quilt feathers on Katrina's charity quilt (which you'll see below).

Barn Chicks will be shown in all its glory when it's gifted next month.

TOMS Quilt - I finally finished quilting the charity quilt and Katrina brought it for binding. IT'S DONE. I handed it off to Katrina last Saturday before I could get any photos of it, so I was able to finally get the photos on our retreat. I said before that I used this quilt to practice some things and I didn't think I would ever get it done, but I did it before the deadline! The fabric of this quilt is from the TOMS shoe bags and flags and shifted every possible way--I stitched it down on all four sides and basted at various places before quilting and am so glad I did. 

Katrina would have been happy for a good allover meander, but I wanted to try some other things. There are feathers in each of the "One for One" sections. The solid blue areas in the outer border have a wavy line grid. The outer solid black border has the same filler design I used on David's graduation quilt. On the areas with the word "TOMS" I pebbled in the white area, outlined the letters, and did a water-style filler in the blue sections. The inside black border has a squarish cross-hatch. If you'd like an opportunity to win this quilt, please drop me a line and I'll have Katrina get in touch with you.

I used So Fine on top and Bottom Line on the bottom--I have to confess that I'm a snob when it comes to quilting thread and have used 100% cotton exclusively on my longarm, but I was so pleased with the results on this quilt that I will use it again. And now I'm turning into a thread junkie. Instead of thinking about how much fabric I can get my hands on, now it's thread!

So what's next? Two super secret projects are in the works, and my oldest and youngest sons are either assisting or the instigators of the projects. I'll try to post progress shots if I can without revealing the recipient or total idea. In the meantime, I'll also get some quilts on the longarm because I still have the goal of completing 12 projects this year. I'm now up to 7 but had hoped to be up to 8 at this point.

One thing I have learned this past month is how much I love working on my longarm. I am now understanding the draw to be on that machine all the time and will probably have to make myself schedule time on both it and actually creating (and finishing) other projects. 

And in conclusion (sorry I rambled on so), I am linking up soon to the Sew it's Finished blog (hey--anything to keep me on track AND help others reach their goals!)--I am looking forward to adding my finished projects to the list!

Hope you had a great holiday weekend--just keep quilting!