Sunday, December 25, 2011
I had Thursday and Friday off from work, and we cleaned and prepared to host Christmas Eve dinner for my Honey's family of nine, so today is a true "free day." I'll set up an air mattress in my sewing room for the overflow guests, precook a meal or two for later in the week, and otherwise I have the entire day to sew.
I began two projects this week in the time I left myself each evening to "reward" myself for busy days. One was a comfort quilt for the guild with fabric they supplied. They put in six inch squares to sew together for a quilt top, but of course I couldn't leave it at just that:
Monday, December 19, 2011
Michele! She wrote, " My recent favorite books are all by Lisa See. Try her first one, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, and you'll be hooked by her." Actually, she's right. I love historical fiction, and last year for the family book-themed Yankee gift exchange, my Honey's sister contributed that book, which my Honey ended up with ... but I was the one who spent the day after Christmas reading it from start to finish. Since then I've also gone through her books, "On Gold Mountain," "Peony in Love," and "Dreams of Joy." I've also read several Anchee Min novels (slightly more history than fiction), both "The Painter from Shanghai" by Lisa Cody Epstein and "The Concubine's Daughter" by Pai Kit Fai which I received for my last birthday, and Ha Jin's "Waiting" is next on deck.
However, I want to thank everyone who contributed the names of their favorite books. Be reassured that I have already read the Hunger Games, Percy Jackson series, and Harry Potter (I do have an 11-year-old boy, after all), and am a huge fan of Jane Austen, rereading her books every few years. I've read nearly all the classics, including everything by Dickens and Dostoyevsky, and much of Dumas (LOVE the Count of Monte Cristo), and Edith Wharton is another favorite author. So I really appreciate a lot of the modern literature that others have recommended - I'm going to filter through the list and start adding some things to my library wish list!
Now, on the quilting front - the guild just posted photos from the December show & tell, including the Kaleidoscope quilt I made for my dad, so I'll share the photo here:
4Patches4Hope, and pillowcases for the Million Pillowcases Challenge. Does anyone else have any special sewing plans during the holidays?
Monday, December 12, 2011
My Honey and I had a wonderful weekend away together. We went to a lovely B&B in Goshen, Virginia called the Hummingbird Inn, saw a hilarious one-man Christmas show at the American Shakespeare Center, and had delicious dinners at Brix Wine Bar in Lexington and Zynodoa in Staunton. We also enjoyed a wine tasting at Rockbridge Vineyards and did lots of holiday shopping, but for me the best part was finding a new quilt shop - the Quiltery in Fairfield, Virginia. They don't have a website but it was SUCH a lovely find.
One purchase at the Quiltery was a Honey Bun of Moda's "Neptune" by Tula Pink. I'd never seen the line before, and that's probably because it was released in early 2009, when I was moving from Baltimore to Roanoke and had a million other things on my mind besides being up to speed on new fabric releases. But I just LOVED the colors and could not resist buying it:
And then, I learned that the Quiltery carries the entire Marcus Fabrics Civil War Chronicles line that my BOM is from! Oh, I wish I had known that earlier when I had the little cutting accident, ran low and had to use a different fabric! But I did buy the 108" wide backing fabric from them on Saturday.
Speaking of the BOM project, here is what I have put together/laid out so far. Yes, I worked on it a little bit when I got home last night:
here. I finally heard back from the local sewing guild and they will help me in finding new homes for all of my mom's stuff, but in the meantime, it's taking up space, and there will be more (patterns, books, notions) coming home with me from my dad's house this coming weekend. In addition, this is generally where I hide and wrap Christmas presents, so they are also stacking up at the edges of the room. But when I get downstairs, I'm in the mood to sew, not wrap! Still, I need to do something before the weekend, since my Honey's daughters will be coming this weekend and I am headed north to spend it with my son, so I will need to clean up and stash presents so they're not found - intentionally or accidentally.
What do YOU do to help stay organized during the Christmas season?
Thursday, December 8, 2011
As I mentioned previously, I'm participating in the Quilter's Blog Hop Party, which includes a giveaway at every site they list. As of last night, they were up to 226 participants! It begins on Saturday, when the page I linked to above will be updated with the complete list of people participating. This is my entry.
I just began blogging this year, even though I've been quilting for twenty years now. When I look back at what I've accomplished in the quilting realm this year, what I see more than anything are quilts made with 2 1/2" strips, including Moda jelly rolls. So I am going to give away a jelly roll as well as the pattern for a quilt I recently made with one!
1) Become a follower of Ten Quilts, and leave me a comment that says you have done so.
2) Leave me a comment telling me the best book you have ever read. I'm looking for something new to read by the fire during these winter months, so help me out!
As a reward to my current loyal readers, I will double your chances of winning if your comment is dated before Saturday, December 10, when the giveaway party links are posted. So if your comment is dated before midnight Friday telling me you're a follower, that's two entries, and if your comment is dated before midnight Friday about the best book you've ever read, that's two more entries, for a possible total of four. Beginning on December 10, the most entries anyone can get is two. And remember, I will ship internationally!
The giveaway week ends on December 17, so I will post a winner on Monday morning, December 19 after I get my act together and randomly pick someone from the entries received. Please be sure that I can email you, either through your Blogger profile or the info you leave.
Thanks for visiting - take a look around while you're here - and good luck to all!
I had not been completely lax in my sewing room. One day, I managed to get in there for a brief project. When cleaning out my mother's sewing room, I took her bulletin board off her wall and moved it home with me. I decided to cover it with some home dec fabric I had laying around so that it would be slightly more visually palatable. It now hangs above my cutting station and is a convenient place for all the slips of paper and fabric I want to keep handy.
I want to post separately about the Quilting Gallery Blog Hop Giveaway that starts this weekend, so I will do that next.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I know that I've been a sporadic blogger lately, and in part to apologize, and in part to keep in the spirit of the holidays (and in part just because it's fun!), I've decided to participate in Quilting Gallery's Quilter's Blog Hop Party, which means Giveaway! Actually, as of today, it looks like there will be more than 150 bloggers with giveaways! It will begin on December 10, when the list is posted, and culminate in giveaway day on December 17. I need to have my post up here by this coming Friday to let you know what the giveaway will be, or I won't be included in the count.
I'm thinking that it will be jelly-roll-themed, since that has been the name of the game in my sewing studio this year. Unfortunately, the timing throws a bit of a wrench into this, since I just gave away a whole lot of goodies from my sewing room, including a jelly roll of Prayer Flag, to the quilt guild for last night's silent auction. So I will have to put a little more thought into it than usual.
I showed off the almost-completely-bound Kaleidoscope last night at quilt guild and will put the photo here when one is posted. I have labels to make for my three Christmas-gift quilts and then they will be ready to be wrapped. I've not had a heck of a lot of time to sew lately, and didn't think I would. Not that it's all bad - some of the insanity in the last week or so has been due to my Honey presenting me with a gorgeous engagement ring! - but I miss the ability to center. I got my Civil War Chronicles BOM for December yesterday and hope to get back in there over the next few nights, especially while Honey is traveling this week.
So come back on Friday morning to check out my giveaway and link to the full list of them! I will ship to an international winner, so if you're not in the USA, don't take yourself out of the running!
Monday, November 28, 2011
I did drop off this quilt with its new owner, my great aunt, at her nursing home. She's 92 and had no idea who I was, even when I explained it to her. But she seems happy enough, even though I don't quite think she understood that I was giving her a quilt.
It's Cyber Monday, and a lot of online quilt shops, including my favorites Green Fairy Quilts and Burgundy Buttons, are having big blowout sales. I'm not in the mood to buy anything. Our kids still have stuff from last Christmas that they never even took out of the package. It seems sometimes like we are just inundating them with stuff, most of which they either don't want or don't appreciate for long. I'd like to take them on a vacation this year instead, but I'm waiting on others to decide what's happening there. To me, money is better spent on making memories than buying things no one needs.
With my Honey's family, we do a round robin gift exchange. This year, we've decided the theme is "things associated with the letter A." So I could do an amazon.com gift card, a homemade apron (gender-neutral, of course), a gift basket full of things like apple butter and artichoke dip, or maybe a pair of agloves, like I just bought myself and love. It's hard to think of something that might suit anyone in the family, male or female, married or single, aged 40 or 70. Do any of my readers have any suggestions?
I hope you all enjoyed your holiday and are not yet swept up in the craziness of December!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I brought home four sewing machines from Mom's sewing room this past weekend - I didn't realize she had a Bernina Activa 140 as well. I posted on Craigslist (local to Dad) for the free fabric stash. I hope I get a taker. Nothing so far. Selling the machines will take more organizing than I can do right now.
I don't really post much about giveaways and sales, but here are a few worth mentioning. First, the giveaway from Lily Pad Quilting includes a tutorial for a star block she named after my own little town and our star. You could win a Go Baby or precuts from Green Fairy Quilts. It's open until Monday so you have a little time. Second, SewCalGal made a great post about Black Friday quilt sales. If you're in the market for some goodies, or want to drop a hint to someone who is(!), check it out! Burgundy Buttons has Terrain on sale through tomorrow and I've already forwarded that tidbit to my Honey since it's on the list I sent him!
I hope that it's a safe and happy holiday for you and your family if you're somewhere that celebrates American Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
People assume that because I sew, I would want all of her stuff. Honestly, our work rarely overlapped - and only in the home decor arena like curtains. She was an apparel seamstress, and loved her embroidery machine for personalizing things like towels, tote bags, aprons, hats and shirts. Her closet is stuffed with 20-30 boxes of fabric sorted by fabric content, but none of them is 100% cotton. She was also a smoker, and confined her habit to her sewing room, so I wouldn't even want to sell it, just give it all away. But to whom?
Her machines are another story. When she retired, she spent her money on her hobby and bought two Husqvarna Viking machines: the Designer I embroidery machine, and the Huskylock 936 serger.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I managed to get out of hosting any of the holiday meals this year. My Honey's older sister will be having us all for Thanksgiving, and his younger sister will be hosting Christmas. With my Honey and me debating whether we should have put up the Christmas tree this weekend, it felt like we were hosting a holiday dinner when in fact we were just having his father and friend over, as well as sister, BIL and their 6-year-old son. Still, I put out all the good family china, and lit the candelabras, and put out placecards in these adorable little holders I just got from socialcouture.com:
First course (appetizer):
Black Bean Chipotle Dip and chips
Winter Squash Soup with Chipotle Chili Peppers and Cream
Quinoa Goat Cheese Risotto
Pumpkin Pie tartlets (100 calorie!)
Apple Cherry Pastries with Vanilla Cream
Dinner was a hit and enjoyed by all. I especially liked the miniature desserts - everyone could partake without feeling like they were overdoing it, they were easy to make in advance, and it was so easy to pack up leftovers to send home. And the soup was phenomenal. Had I to do the whole meal over, I might try the sweet potato side mentioned in the steak recipe. I was aiming for a protein-rich meal and nothing beats quinoa on that level. I was raised to believe that each meal includes a protein, a starch and a vegetable, and when I'm making meals with multiple courses I try to combine the starch and the vegetable into one. The quinoa worked given the pound of spinach that went into it, and the sweet potatoes would as well.
We have lots of delicious leftovers for this week, so hopefully that means less time cooking and more time sewing!
Friday, November 11, 2011
I began this quilt around 2003 and the start of the Iraq War. I hadn't any special intention for it, really. A friend was being deployed and I just began sewing. His deployment was eventually canceled and I still had a quilt top I wasn't sure what to do with. I thought about finishing it and raffling it as a fundraiser for something military-related. But then I left my ex-husband and all my sewing room was packed up for years while I moved from tiny apartment to tiny apartment to tiny house, and then eventually here to Virginia.
It was the first quilt top I gave to Star City Stitchery to stitch. Laura there quilted a star design into it, which you can see from this picture:
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I wandered around my sewing room for a bit trying to decide what I really wanted to work on. Baron von Quilthausen wasn't threaded for Dark Star, so I passed on that. Whatever it was, unless it was Dark Star or Ready Set Star!, it was going to require some cutting. And then I remembered that I received my Block of the Month for the Civil War Chronicles series. Remember that? This is the finished picture:
Frankly, I'm surprised how fast the year has flown by - this BOM is almost at an end. Each month I enjoy getting the squishy packet in the mail, reading the story, and admiring the fabrics. I really believe that undertaking the entire project as a whole would have been too much for me right now with all the other junk I have going on, quilting and otherwise. I'm glad I spent the money to do this since I'm really enjoying it and I'm actually keeping current with it.
Speaking of stories, yesterday I bought and downloaded Tori Amos' "Night of Hunters" album and I have been unable to stop listening to it. I even put it on my phone so that I could sew with headphones and not miss calls. From Tori's website: "Night of Hunters is a 21st century song cycle that finds Tori drawing on themes from Satie, Granados, Chopin and other great composers. It tells a modern love story that is only unraveled after a journey to Ireland's mythic past. Guests include such esteemed players as The Apollon Musagete Quartet and the Berlin Philharmonic clarinet soloist Andreas Ottensamer." Her 11-year-old daughter Natashya also sings on this release. I love both Tori Amos and classical music and frankly, I was worried that whatever she released next would be a disappointment after Midwinter Graces. Each of the songs is inspired by some classical piece - Wikipedia has the list - and I will be listening to this one compulsively for quite some time.
Today I'll work from home in the afternoon so that the plumber can come fix our hot water heater. I wish "working from home" meant sewing, but not quite. My Honey and I have plans tonight when he gets home but if he heads off to man night later as is typical for his Thursdays I might do a little more work on these Civil War Chronicles blocks.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
My Honey left on a trip yesterday morning and won't return until Thursday. Yesterday I worked out after work (I am up to twice a week and my mile run is now around 14 minutes) and then went to the grocery store before returning home to remember his words yesterday morning that we had no hot water in the shower (I often shower or bathe at night and wanted to last night!). Sure enough, the best I could get out of the tap was lukewarm, which made for a very quick and uncomfortable shower this morning. Luckily we have a shower in the ladies' room at the office, which I will take advantage of tomorrow morning before the plumber comes tomorrow afternoon. However, we have no electrical outlets in our ladies' room, which means no hair washing (and drying). Ugh. If only I had had the foresight to bring a towel to work today.
On the bright side, his being gone means I can do some sewing tonight. I would like to rearrange those Ready Set Star! blocks in a few other ways, sew a block for my son's quilt, and maybe piddle a bit on some other projects. Stay tuned for photos
If you aren't already aware, Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, volume 4 is being released and the quilting blog world is talking about it. Go to Quiltmaker's blog and get in on the fun to win an issue or other prizes! I was fortunate enough to have won volumes 2 and 3 this past spring and one of my UFOs is from those issues using blocks designed by Quiltmaker's own Denise Starck. She has now created an adorable paper-pieced hat:
Of course, I only have one pair of shoes done so far but seeing her hat has gotten me itching to get back to it.
Friday, November 4, 2011
But I did manage to trim up the Ready Set Star! blocks and lay them out in a couple of different layouts according to Kimberly Einmo's book.
Friday, October 28, 2011
here - this pattern is about halfway down but there are so many other little delightful patterns by her that it's worth taking a look at them all.
The other day, the Ghastlies fabric I ordered arrived - with a huge bonus. First of all, I wanted a selection of the fabric so I was searching all sorts of online places to get a variety. I wanted both the original "Ghastlies" scene and the "Ghastly Night" dinner party scene that I pictured in my earlier post, along with some coordinates. Most of the stores I found were out of some or another, but I found a vendor on a storefront called Artfire who was advertising everything that I wanted, at some really good prices ($5.50/yard for some). So I placed an order, paid, received confirmation, and waited. When it arrived, I found that I got only about two yards - not four - of the Ghastly Night in green that I'd ordered, but like EIGHT YARDS of the same print in the mauve background, which I hadn't ordered at all. I emailed the seller to be sure it wasn't a mistake and she confirmed that she was out of the green but the mauve was end of bolt and she thought I might be able to use it since she wasn't going to carry Ghastly fabrics any longer. Absolutely I can use it! Now instead of making just a quilt, I can make all sorts of Ghastly Ghear like I've been seeing in the blog hop.
However, it's going to have to wait since this weekend I am headed up to visit with my son, and on Sunday I will get home in time to go to my Honey's sister's house for his family birthday celebration they put on hold for me. I'm not even taking any handwork with me so I hope I don't get all antsy thinking of the sewing piling up without me. I WILL be going to Jo-Ann Fabrics at lunch today to use the 30% off entire purchase card I got during my shopping last week and stock up on some basic fabrics, as well as some coordinates to go with the Ghastly project. Maybe I'll see a pattern or two that will be perfect for all that bonus yardage.
We're supposed to see some snow in the Mid-Atlantic area this weekend ... a stark change from these sunny days in the 70's we've been having. Stay warm and enjoy your weekend, wherever you are.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
A few years ago, my mother passed along to me a copy paper box stuffed full of raw silk remnants in every color imaginable. I used them to whip up a few of these business card holders as Christmas gifts in 2009. It was time to make some more this year.
I made two for my Honey's sisters - their mother passed away last year and that embroidered slate blue silk on the bottom left came from her stash; the other is the open one and also has the embroidered silk on the outside. The other two go to colleagues. The grey one has a bright yellow middle pocket and the other is in Virginia Tech colors - burgundy and orange - and both have a pretty little thing sewn on the outside for visual interest, a finding from the jewelry aisle at Jo-Ann's.
I might slip a gift card into each one of them before presenting. I'm not quite sure yet. But at least these are four gifts to be checked off the list.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I also have "Ghastlies" fabric arriving in the mail, hopefully this week - and just today discovered a "Ghastlies" blog hop happening this week. Check it out - maybe there will be some inspiration!
As for comments - I am grateful whenever I get them. I wish Blogger was easier about letting me make comments to my own blog than it is - whenever I try to leave a comment on my own blog, Blogger tells me that I do not have permission, and I have to log out and log back in. Every time. But I know, from reading so many quilt blogs myself in Google Reader every day how special it is to have someone actually make the effort to leave a comment. So if I don't reply to your comment, or if you don't see a public response to a comment left for me, please don't take it personally. I may just get around to it yet. And I really hope Blogger fixes that glitch with the login soon!
Everyone have a great week! My Honey is home all week so I don't know how much sewing I'll get done, but I hope I work a little bit before headed off to see my son this weekend.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Here is a sneak peek at the project I've been resisting pouring myself into - Kimberly Einmo's Lone Starburst from her newest book, using Ready, Set, Snow! fabrics. I am really trying to pace myself and get through all my "must-do's". I have a few more guilty projects I want to work on but the timetable of Christmas presents calls.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
And I didn't work out ... next week!
After doing some straightening, I went up to the TV room to watch Eat Pray Love as I sewed some more of the bias strip onto Kaleidoscope. Being 41 and having gone through my own midlife
Fab ShopHop. In doing so, I came across a great little Halloween fabric line by Alexander Henry called The Ghastlies. I realize that I'm a little late to the party here, since the Ghastlies is in its second printing already. I began wracking my brain to figure out a way to use these fabrics, which have a pretty large scale scene, and then bought some today.
Aren't they just adorable? Apparently the table on the left is 12.5" wide, and the tallest witch on the right is 10" tall. So I've got to design something that uses them well. One will be backing fabric. The other I'll cut in 12" blocks and alternate with pieced blocks. They remind me so much of Edward Gorey's art, which my Honey just loves:
For now, I'm headed out for a sushi lunch with a colleague. It's the first time all week I've left the office for lunch and it's sorely needed. Plus, I'm famished! I can't believe that I never had sushi up until about a year ago ... what did I spend so many years missing!?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
In reading this morning's blog feeds, though, I learned from SewCalGal about a project called 4Patches4Hope which consists of making light/dark 4 1/2" four patch blocks along with a $4 donation for each to the American Cancer Society. It really can't get any easier, since those are 2 1/2" squares making each corner, the same size as a jelly roll, and goodness knows I have a whole drawer full of 2 1/2" strips waiting for inspiration. Regina Arlauckas, who initiated this project, has a goal of 1,000 blocks and $4,000 by February 28, 2012. There is also a PDF you can download from her site that gives everything you need to know about the project on one handy-dandy page, including cancer awareness colors you might want to incorporate into your block(s).
Now I have to say that as of a few years ago, I really didn't know anyone who had had cancer. We're smack in the middle of breast cancer awareness month and I still don't know anyone who has had breast cancer. But over the last several years I lost my Aunt Joan to brain cancer, my Honey's mom to esophageal cancer, my childhood friend Soo to ovarian cancer, and my aunt Maryalice to metastasized melanoma. So I will be making several blocks that memorialize them in the colors representing the cancers that took them: gray, light blue, teal and black, respectively. The blocks themselves will be made into comfort quilts for cancer patients.
We are all, so often, asked to do and give so much. But $4, one little four-patch block made from some jelly roll scraps, and a first class stamp is is not a lot for any quilter to manage. Do what you can, but please, consider doing something.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Sigh. And this is probably one of those "sew simple!" patterns they like to push on people! The whole time I was working on it, I imagined the recipient saying, "oh, I love it! Now I need one for my OTHER cat!" to which I would reply, "I will happily give you the pattern and you can make it yourself!"
Tonight I will reward myself by returning to my quilting in some way. Kaleidoscope needs mostly hand work, so does preparing applique, and I have to cut more fabric before I can do anything on Dark Star. I really, really want to use that "Ready Set Snow!" jelly roll to make the Lone Starburst quilt in Kimberly Einmo's book, and I have so many charm packs itching to be tossed together into something pretty, but I think I will do some cutting for a few hours and then hand sew on Kaleidoscope so I can get those two quilts out the door soon. But first I'm going to work out before I head home.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
My Honey just hit the road to spend the next week on site at the Extreme Home Makeover build going on in Joplin, Missouri (will be aired in the spring, I think), where our company will be prominently featured for its contributions to the houses replacing some of those destroyed in the tornado. We had planned to go to my Dad's this weekend to spend it with the kids, but my son wanted to go to a birthday party at an amusement park on Saturday instead, so my Honey will fly back there to spend the weekend with his girls (in a hotel) and hopefully come home on Sunday, although there's a chance he'll have to fly back to Missouri instead. That leaves me almost an entire week, including a weekend, all by myself. I really want to bang out some sewing room work, including the following:
- finish Kaleidoscope and get that and Jelly Girl to Star City Stitchery
- finish the cat house as a Christmas present
- whip up some business card holders as a few Christmas presents
- cut fabric for Dark Star and do some piecing on it
- prepare at least one block for the needle-turn applique demo at the November guild meeting
- and maybe, just maybe, start something new.
It will be odd to be on my own at home for almost a full week but hopefully I make the most of it.
Monday, October 17, 2011
But even better, late on Friday I heard that I was a winner of the August FabShop Hop! Yes, my name is on the list of those who won a $100 bonus prize! My particular prize turns out to be a quilt kit and a bundle of 20 fat quarters! It's already en route to me. I wasn't super crazy about the photo of the kit quilt, but I have a few options ... I could donate the entire thing to the guild's holiday silent auction, or I could remove the coordinating fabrics and donate just the panel to the auction, or I could sew up the quilt and give it away to charity. There is no way it will go to waste just because it doesn't suit my taste!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Over the past several months I've been reading, "The Gifts of Imperfection," by Brené Brown. Although I've read the entire book, I keep going back to re-read and absorb parts of it. In the book, she writes that the gifts of imperfection are courage, compassion and connection, and then goes on to challenge "the things that get in the way." Her sixth guidepost is entitled, "Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison."
Although it's nearly an impossible work to paraphrase, I identify with so much of what she writes because my mother instilled in me a psyche that says that what others think is more important than who I really am or what I really feel, and the only way to be safe from criticism is to be perfect ... to fall short of that is shameful. It takes A LOT of work to undo this mentality, to believe that I am good enough the way I am, and worthy of love and praise, and to adopt realistic expectations for myself. As a result, I tend to firmly grasp any resource I can find that helps me reroute some of those mental pathways I've had since childhood.
In the chapter on creativity, Dr. Brown encourages us to express ourselves by being creative and unique; that the cookie-cutter mentality is what leads to comparison and negative self-talk about not being "enough". Mind you, the entire book is very tightly woven and nearly all of it refers to other parts, circling back to prove various statements. It is a quest to learn how people live "wholeHEARTedly" and how traits/practices/characteristics like spirituality, gratitude and authenticity contribute to that, and how we can help those things thrive. With creativity comes a power of self-expression, and it is the only unique contribution we can ever really make in this world ... with creativity, she says, we cultivate meaning. It helps us stay mindful to the beauty of the world and what we bring to it.
The funny thing is that I am one of those she calls out as telling myself and others that I'm not really an artist, or not really creative. When I quilt, I follow directions. I take fabric that truly creative people have designed, and I cut it up and sew it back together in patterns that other truly creative people have designed. I don't give myself any credit for being part of the creative process. What's more is that I tend to take that comparison to others into my creative life. My work isn't as good as others', my points aren't as perfect, my stitches aren't as even. I guess it doesn't help that as quilters, we often enter our work into shows to be judged and critiqued by those we consider professionals; that I have a dollar value put on my work by an appraiser. I struggle against making these constant comparisons, because even if I were told that my quilts were horrible and ugly and worthless, I'd probably keep making them anyway.
See, Dr. Brown goes on to write about cultivating "calm and stillness," especially as an antidote to anxiety, which I think I experience more than the average person (and her book well identifies exactly how and why I end up with so much anxiety). Cultivating calm and stillness is exactly what I do when I sew. I once told my Honey when he was with me in my sewing room that cutting fabric into uniform, precise shapes and then sewing it back together - again, uniformly and precisely - is an extraordinarily soothing antidote in the chaos of today's world. I have control. I have power. I can take these ingredients and turn them into whatever I want them to look like. At no other time as when I'm working on a quilt can my mind so well focus on things. Dr. Brown writes firsthand about my own experiences in trying meditation - how I spend the entire time trying to avoid working on a mental to do list or waiting for the allotted time to be over. But she writes that "stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it's about creating a clearing. It's opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question." And for me, the balance of thought and planning required and free time allowed for my mind to roam while I sew is the perfect breeding ground to create that clearing for fully free thought.
I had recognized this long ago. I know that when I get most anxious and rundown it's because I've been lacking time in my sewing room. I know that I require that sense of balance and creativity for happiness. And it's more than just the creating that's in process; it's the form of meditation that transpires while I'm doing it. It's like the dust that gets stirred up by being an active part of the world has time to settle. It's where my emotions pour out into my work, and the sadness I feel at the loss or illness of a loved one is turned into a quilt; the love I feel for someone else is turned into another quilt; the joy I feel at a friend welcoming a new baby into the world is turned into another quilt; a fond memory is memorialized in another quilt. To me, my quilts don't represent anything particularly creative or artistic. They represent my feelings put into fabric. And when I present that quilt, it feels far less vulnerable and awkward than trying to put into words how I feel (although, for the record, I do try).
When I speak about why I quilt, I often tell the story about my experience after 9/11. The world was in shock, and when that shock wore off, people wanted to do something, but no one knew really what. Blood banks were turning donors away, overwhelmed. I was living in the little canal town of Delaware City, Delaware, and our mayor (a woman I quilted with at the town library every Wednesday night) decided that the town was going to go ahead and have our Canalfest which was scheduled for that Saturday, September 15. It was kind of an arts festival, with vendors set up in the city park, and the informal local quilter's group set up in the gazebo ... not selling anything, but just plying our craft for people to watch. Well, when the tragic events of 9/11 happened, I knew that there would be a call on the internet for comfort quilts, and so during the evenings of that week, I whipped up a red, white and blue log cabin quilt top from scraps I had in my sewing room. I put the sandwiched quilt on my floor frame and, on Saturday, had my then-husband take it down and set it up in the gazebo with a sign inviting everyone to take a few stitches in a quilt that would go to comfort a survivor of the attacks or a victim's family. I will never forget how the line of people to work on that quilt stretched across the green of the park. There were children, old men, teenage girls waiting to learn how to wear a thimble, take up a needle and sew a running stitch. I had everyone who participated sign their names on a piece of paper, and by the time it was finished by the quilters later, we had over a hundred people work on that quilt. We were overwhelmed that day, but I think what stuck with me most was seeing the NEED that people had to find a way to help ... to contribute, to do something to send their love and prayers and healing thoughts to strangers somewhere who needed it. I felt such pity for them, since I have been using my quilting as a way to do that for decades now.
People who don't sew look at my quilts and tell me that I have a gift. I don't see it that way - I think I have a learned skill that anyone else can have. But the process of creating the quilt - the evolution of emotional energy from planning to presentation - and recognizing that I can accomplish that amazing spiritual journey with fabric, needle and thread, to me, is the real gift.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Yes, I know, I already have too many jelly rolls. But I don't have any CHRISTMAS jelly rolls, and I had to pick up some of Me & My Sisters' "Ready Set Snow!".
Before shipping, my price came to only $26.05! It was hard, but I resisted buying their Amelia jelly roll too (I think I already have a charm pack of Amelia). I have to leave something for next time!
So go stock up on jelly rolls! The sale ends at midnight CST tonight and I think that something new comes along tomorrow since it's a four-day Columbus Day sale. And get on Burgundy Buttons' mailing list if you're not already because I can't tell you about all the sales! They have some of the best fabrics at the best prices out there!!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
*Incidentally, this is Pete (who is notoriously camera shy):
In the midst of all this insanity today, somewhere I checked email on my phone, wondering who needed something from me next, and I saw an email from Kimberly Einmo, telling me that I won a copy of her new book, Jelly Roll Quilt Magic, which I blogged about on Monday! What a wonderfully, surprising, uplifting addition to my day!
I follow a few dozen quilt blogs, and I know that every day there's at least one giveaway to be entered. But honestly, I don't enter most of them. If it's a book I don't want or fabric I don't love, I'll let it go to another entrant rather than throw my hat in the ring. Not only do I not want to be greedy, but I've pared down my sewing room twice - once when I moved house and once when I divorced - and I'm more judicious about what I add to it nowadays. So I am tickled that I won something that I wanted as much as this book.
I also texted my Honey to crow about this exciting news and he replied that a few "quilt-related things" arrived in the mail since I've been gone. I'm assuming that it's the Prayer Flag yardage to finish Jelly Girl in my last post, and my Civil War Chronicles BOM. Or maybe one of my magazines. Either way, it's always so exciting to return home to new stuff in the sewing room.
Tomorrow I get my son for a three-day weekend ... at the end of which I will return to work from my medical leave ... and then I will be back to sewing during evenings and alternate weekends only. But before I go, since this *IS* a quilting blog, I'll post the photo taken of Pink Profusion at Monday night's guild meeting. Until next week!