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2019: Bring It On

My word for the year is BALANCE. It seemed to be easier to balance work, family, and everything else when I was working. Perhaps that was because I had a 7-4:00 job, which pretty much organized a good portion of the day.  Now, I have free reign (more or less) and need to parcel out the day according to what needs to be done, or what I want to do. The down side to that–there is a lot of leeway for avoidance tactics and for focusing in on what I love to do (work in my studio) and the remaining business of life. Over the years, between chronic illness and trying to get back to the things I love (quilting is at the top of the list), the more unpleasant and overwhelming tasks have been somewhat neglected from time to time.

Enter The.Monster.List. This concept, writing down every stinking thing you want or need to do, was totally overwhelming to me. I put it off for about three years and then was recently reminded of it again by Jackie Wolven (#DoGoodWork).

(Hire Her.) I met Jackie when she gave a series of workshops on branding, social media, and marketing that was geared specifically for writers. I used to be a creative writer, but now basically just write this blog (often about quilting projects) and took the workshops mostly so I could help my daughter who is self-employed as a dance instructor and performer but also writes in an epic way. She is multi-talented; she also has permanent brain injuries, with some cognitive issues, so I often take notes. Right now, she is working on a new venture, on-line instruction in creative movement. (I’ll let you know when she launches–then you can Hire Her, too.)

After making my Monster List, I still felt overwhelmed. (I know about Trello and other electronic aids, but I prefer notebook paper/Uniball.) Then I started checking off tasks and giving myself silly, smiley-faced stickers. I started out slow, doing things in my studio that would not take much time or effort but that needed to be done. Then one day, I brought in my long white table, plopped it in the front room, and thought about The Photo Project. Then after ignoring that for a week or three, I pulled out one of the boxes full of photos. It only took me a few days to go through this box because it only held three years of Christmas card photos, graduation/wedding announcements, etc. There was also the rest of my loon collection I had been looking for and greeting cards which I was going to donate and never did. After placing everything in my latest album, I pulled out the other box and dispatched most of the contents of that. My problem now is, I do not have room for another album so I’m going to combine the two oldest into the new square archival kind (versus the magic page kind) only so I can get more on each page. Most of my photos now are digital, but that is another overwhelm which will be dealt with later this year. In the meantime, I sent most of my picture frames to Goodwill–just don’t have shelf or wall space–and will make a large collage with some of the family photos. Here are photos I rescued from a fabric book of a fishing trip with my in-laws. Fourteen, count ’em, walleyes that day at Lake X, somewhere in Northern Minnesota.

Balance. I tend to get obsessed with my projects and let everything else around here go until it screams at me–ankle-biting dust bunnies and near bio-hazardous bathrooms, for instance. The cupboards and drawers have been screaming at me for months. Sometimes a small event will precipitate action. I wanted to make Red Lobster-ish biscuits but my Bisquick had live weevils. It took me several days to clean my pantry. A huge box of brownie mix, use by 2007–really?–gone. Old flour–gone. Rubbery shelf paper–gone. Other expired foodstuffs–gone. Now my pantry would rival that of Julia Roberts’ character in Sleeping With the Enemy. Cue Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
P1140356.JPGIf you are bored, cue to joke about the lesser of two weevils (Master and Commander).

Sometimes The Monster List is too vague. Clean kitchen cupboards and cabinets, for instance. List them out and tackle one at a time. Tackle a task, do something fun–that will be the balance I try to achieve this year.

NYE at our house is boring. Dinner, Netflix, probably in bed by 10:00 as usual. I’ll go to sleep picturing the ball drop. May 2019 bring you health, healing, and, yes, Balance. And, hey–be careful out there (Hill Street Blues). Till next time (and next time will be shorter).




Happiness is …

avoidance. For awhile. Real happiness is putting an end to procrastination. I blocked my first quilt (Migration) yesterday and was surprised that the t-pins did not leave holes. The top and bottom are still a little wavy, but overall, the quilt is now square and flat and will hang on the wall more nicely. I had planned to send this quilt to Wisconsin for the Modern Mini Quilt Challenge at Quilt Expo, but after reading the rules, it was not eligible, having been already displayed in public. Rats.

Less is More is drying. I really had to tug on it to square it up–the drawback of matchstick quilting. Next time I will make sure the design does not go to the edges and that I do more initial stitching to prevent so much warping. I am going to face the edges and then email a photo/s to be juried for a modern quilt display at Houston International (deadline June 22) if it turns out.


Speaking of procrastinating, I still haven’t contacted Janome about my needle bar not staying centered. In the meantime, I decided to finish this donation quilt with straight-line stitching in the borders (instead of free-motion) and darned if the needle bar didn’t center itself after engaging the dual feed device–I guess it didn’t have any choice.  Happiness is also a new pair of Machingers quilting gloves.

I finally hung Elefantino in my studio next to Mini-Tumbler (no fabric repeats, with scalloped border), a 2012 swap with Mini-Masterpiecers
P1120828Till next time–


It’s easy being green

Green was popping up everywhere last week.  This is 2.5 pounds of packing paper that came in a box of late Christmas presents.  All I can think of is a papier mache dragon.  Where’s the chicken wire?


Then I found a newcomer in the common area (Queen Anne’s Lace).  Some people here complain about them growing on the side of the road, but they are one of my favorites.  They dry well for floral arrangements.  They also do not bloom until August in Minnesota.


The vines are incredible here, especially in years when we get rain after June 1.  We have several varieties including Virginia Creeper–I haven’t learned the difference between that and the poison oak yet.  I guess they can become a nuisance and invasive, but I’m glad they cover the scraggly looking black walnut trees.  There seems to be a line of demarcation between here and Missouri as I don’t notice vines growing there on our trips north.


But wait, there’s more.  I redid the green portion of my orange slice–it needed to be longer and I didn’t have enough fabric to just add on so I ripped the piecing out and cut up 3-inch squares of two green fabrics and pieced them back together.  I added a 2-inch strip to every other row so I wouldn’t have to match up seams and pressed all the seams open to make it lie as flat as possible.  Chain piecing (reminds me of prayer flags):



One more green item.  I took a personality test some years back and I ended up in the green category, green meaning that I fit in with five percent of the population.  It’s a wonder that I get along with so many people being that 95% of the population most likely think I’m weird.  Why be normal?

In an effort to do something on my orange slice, I decided to make a fiber leaf.  I took all of my otherwise useless orange scraps and cut them with the rotary cutter.  When you do this, be sure to put your other hand in your pocket or use a wooden stylus to hold the fabric.


Then I used a piece of cheese cloth as a base and added fibers and threads from my orange collection.  (I usually throw a piece of cheese cloth in the container when I dye fabrics.)  On top of that I put in some gold thread for a little sparkle.


Finally I sandwiched it all between two pieces of heavy duty water-soluble stabilizer, stitched around the edges to hold it together, traced the leaf shape with a line of stitching, and then free-motion stippled the entire piece.  I finished the edges with satin-stitching, rinsed out the stabilizer and let it dry overnight.  I don’t know if I’ll actually use this leaf in my slice but it will be used somewhere.


I’m couching some orange cotton yarn scraps for veins.


One of the Cotton+Steel fabrics on my design wall was really bothering me so I sewed the ends together to make this eyeless creature.  Then I started sewing the other scraps together in coordinated subsets.  This may sound constructive but it was actually an avoidance maneuver.


I still do not know why I have had so much trouble being excited about my orange slice.  Perhaps because it was such slow going with all the tiny pieces.  Now that I have added slime green and larger leaves, I find it not quite so onerous.  Unfortunately, I will have to replace the green.  I used some of my hand dyed fabrics and even after starching, I cannot turn under a crisp, smooth edge so these will have to be raw-edge appliques.  Here is my wall of shame with experiments, rejects and mistakes–there’s another quilt here somewhere.


I flipped the large orange leaf the wrong way so I’ll just use it on the bottom.


And here is the bottom half of the slice so far with faux wrought iron pieces that will cover the seams.  I need to design a couple more leaves–I’m thinking Monstera (has natural holes) and Alocasia (has heavy white veining).


Well it’s off to the races for the day.  I hope it’s a great one for you.

Magazines and solutions in the the middle of the night

Sometimes I feel guilty for buying magazines. I have no more room for magazines. But sometimes they catch my eye and they give my mind a breather when it’s too full. or they play into my avoidance psyche when ijustdon’tfeellikedoinganything. Last night I woke up with a solution to a problem that has been plaguing me for months. I used to use large trifold boards with examples and samples for demos and block of the month displays–you know, the boards you use to display your science fair project. So what to do with a board that’s full of pinholes and areas where the tape tore off in uneven patches. I have been trying to put all of my photos in albums and ran across an extensive packet of holy cards. In the old days, we picked up holy cards all the time in school. My missal was stuffed with them. I couldn’t just throw them away so I started collaging them to one of these boards. It is almost filled up–I filled in a some blank spaces with pages from little prayer books. One day inspiration hit–I decided I would cut this large board up and make a series with large lettering–words like faith and hope came to mind. But how to finish the edges. Last night it came to me to try some molding paste, something I see used in a lot of mixed media project. I happen to have molding paste and a slew of other Golden products that are still unused–I won them in a give-away on the Cloth Paper Scissors newsletter and have only dipped into a few jars. The gritty ones really appeal.  After cutting, the edges are going to be somewhat mashed I am guessing but I’m not looking for perfection–just a way to make the edges look like I cared about finishing them.  This is huge for a recovering perfectionist.  Perfection is over rated and an impossible goal.  Edges sometimes need to be finished.  And sometimes not.  I’ll get back to you on this.  I have nowhere to go today–except my studio.  May inspiration come to you today (or in the middle of the night).