Obsessing Again

Thanks to my friend Miranda, I was inspired to try sewing a La Passacaglia rosette a few months back, and stitched it using the EPP (English Paper Piecing) method. It took some real time to get it done. I really liked how it came out and wanted to make another, but felt there had to be a better, faster way.

I had the *oh-so-original* idea of tracing the stitch lines from a template on the back of fabric and using a running stitch and no paper pieces – this worked really well. The only two negatives were:

  1. The running stitch doesn’t seem as strong as a whipstitch.
  2. Tracing the shape and cutting took almost as much time as EPP method.

After some research, I found out that many people use the running stitch, and if you’re really good, sewing the 1/4″ Y-seams comes naturally. For the rest of us, we need to draw in those stitch lines to know where to sew and where to stop for the corner of the Y-seam – and that is some seriously tedious work. So then, I had the idea of screen printing those shapes with cut and stitch lines on the back of solid fabrics to see if I could cut some time.

While we have a screen printing business, there is still some time and cost involved to create a print. After I design something on the computer, I send the final to a camera-house that outputs a piece of film-positive (opposite of a negative) that we can use to ‘shoot’ a screen. Once we have a piece of film-positive, we lay that onto a screen that has been coated with photo-sensitive emulsion and shine a light on it to ‘burn the screen’. The light hardens all the exposed emulsion, leaving the part under the opaque black of the film to stay soft, and after washing it out with water, there is a hole or ‘open’ part of the screen where we can push ink through and onto the fabric. read more

Since screen printing is quite a process, I wanted to make use of the time spent.
Then Fabric Depot ran a sale on Kona solids for $5/yard and I knew it was time to try this crazy plan.

I purchased 3/4 of a yard of fabric in 21 different colors – one of the biggest fabric purchases I’ve ever made… so it’s a little scary not knowing how this will all work out!

My husband printed 4 different layouts for me, using as much of the fabric as possible in printing, while leaving good cut lines. I appreciate him taking the 2 days in set up and printing time to print for me…  he likes my idea and has always been completely supportive! The part I wasn’t planning on was the cutting. I’ve been cutting fabric pieces for 2 weeks on and off. I can only cut for an hour or two at a time without hurting my wrists. I honestly did not think that the cutting would take so long…  but I’m close to having all the pieces from all 21 fabric colors cut and ready to sew!

I have a few patterns, and my idea was of a kaleidoscope – so the colors are bright and contrasting. I started with the La Passacaglia layout, but wanted to try my own layout. I think I have enough pieces to do a full sized quilt and still have some left over! I even have an idea of possibly selling these pieces in kits for smaller projects so people can try hand-stitching for a small project. I’ve been playing with a decagon layout that would make an awesome pillow cover – here are 3 versions:

There are so many possibilities!! My goal this next week is to try to do enough layouts to use up all the pieces we printed… or all in one quilt – not sure just yet how I’m going to use these, but it will come! It looks like treasure on this table right now… part of me wants to throw them all up into the air and roll around in them – but the organizer in me wouldn’t allow me to make a mess of this. 😉

Have you ever hand stitched using a running stitch? Do you have any tips to share?
So excited to have finished all the cutting for all the pieces we printed.  I think that’s why it hasn’t been done before – the cutting has to be done by hand to work with the printing… and that is extremely labor intensive.

This whole project is a learning process, but I also think it’s going to make a kick-ass quilt! I’ve been having a hard time keeping this to myself… I wanted to be done with the cutting before sharing. Or maybe I should say I’ve been totally obsessing on the cutting and so haven’t spent much time doing anything else!

I’m so excited to start sewing on this… but I need to finish some layout plans first. Time to practice a little patience and focus on the designs.
THEN I can jump in 100% and sew to my little hearts content. 😉

Hexie Patterns – Ready!

I’ve been working hard over the last month or so to create patterns for all of my hexie quilts and projects, and I finally finished them all! I have them up at Craftsy.com where they might be seen a bit more than here. I’m really happy with the work I put in, I think they’ll be good.

It was interesting going back in time and looking at my notes to how to do certain things, and how those things evolved over time. I really do love working with the hexie shape!

Do you EPP? Which one would be your favorite? Leave a message below telling which pattern you’d choose and why.  I’ll do a random drawing for a winner who will get the pattern of their choice in a digital .pdf format! Drawing will be on September 5, 2017.

Meditating on Direction

I’m very ready to start a new quilt.
However, I’m a little lost in the direction I’d like to go. Does this ever happen to you? I have so many ideas, but I’m always unsure which to run with first. Since quilts take a chunk of time, I want to be sure before I start.

Right now my top 5 ideas are:

  1. Throat Chakra Quilt – (blue with yellow and purple) to go with my chakra-series quilts
  2. Scrappy Rainbow Unicorn Quilt – an idea given by a friend, and I’d love to use up some of my scraps
  3. PMQG Block of the Month – I’d like to catch up on this project with my guild
  4. Word Quilt – for PMQG group show next year… still haven’t figured out which word(s) I want to use
  5. La Passacaglia quilt test – instead of EPP, I’d like to try printing seam lines on the back of fabric and just sew together without papers. This is something that if it works, it could be an amazingly fast way to sew one of these together!

 

I may need to make the Throat Chakra quilt first – I’m still working on some healing and this Chakra seems rule gut-brain connection and the Vagus Nerve. I think completing this quilt will be a therapeutic boost to help me muster the energy to work on these other ideas.

The other big thing on my mind is working on trying to create a good well-written quilt pattern. I don’t use patterns myself, but I make one for every quilt I’ve sewn. I just would have to write it so it’s understandable to others… which is a lot harder than it sounds!

I’m open to suggestions for my next piece… I plan to start one new hand-pieced project and one machine-pieced project. I like the hand work for traveling, or even in front of the tv, however, the pace of creating and finishing a quilt on a machine is extremely satisfying – so I like to have two projects going at a time now (instead of just one).

 

A New Project and One Lovely Blog Award

Cutting Solar Plexus Chakra Quilt

The other day I got a message on one of my posts from Handwroughtquilts, letting me know she nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. Like she says in her blogpost, it’s sort of like a chain-letter with a nice sentiment.

I think it’s very thoughtful and sweet! She is new to me, so I took some time to go over her blog, and it is quite lovely if I do say so myself! After questioning if I should continue blogging, this has been a nice mental boost to continue. Thanks for thinking of me!

one-loveley-blogger

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and give a link to his/her blog. done
  • List the rules. you’re here now
  • Display the image of the award on your post. see above
  • List seven facts about yourself. see below
  • Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award, and notify them to let them know you have nominated them. that’s way at the bottom, after all the embarrassing stuff about me

Hmmm… 7 facts, let’s see…

  1. I have 8 tattoos: a fairy, two seahorses, a dragonfly, an infinity symbol, three different flower tattoos, and a dragon across my shoulders.
  2. I usually listen to punk or disco from the 70’s & 80’s while quilting.
  3. I haven’t had a drink in over 4 years, haven’t been drunk in over 20.
  4. I was a single parent till my daughter was 5 and then I met my husband who adopted her as his own. I have ultimate respect for single parents.
  5. I am a daily cannabis user, and proud of it.
  6. I’m dyslexic – so typing, writing, and paper piecing can be quite a bit of a challenge for me.
  7. I strive for positivity in all things, it’s what keeps me healthy – and health is a big priority for me.

Now I am to nominate a few blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award.  I don’t read blogs as often as I used to… but when I do, these are the blogs I like to follow. I know a few of these people personally, and I find everyone on this list very inspirational in their own unique ways:

  1. First Light Designs by Dawn White
  2. Pieces of Contentment by Karen
  3. The Hexie Blog by Julia Wood
  4. Grit’s Life by Grit
  5. Rossie Crafts by Rossie
  6. Wonkywolrd by Bill Volckening
  7. Bits and Bobbins by Tricia Royal
  8. A Few Scraps by Christina Cameli

 

Today is Sunday, and I plan to spend the rest of the day working on my newest quilt. It is another ‘therapy’ quilt, in that I’m working through some intense, but very old, feelings while stitching. Actually the whole design process was a week of intense personal emotional outbursts. It’s again based in the chakra system, this time I’m working through the Solar Plexus Chakra – which is the 3rd chakra and is represented with the color: Yellow. It’s already been ‘labor-intensive’ emotionally… but it’s going to be even more as it’s all foundation paper-piecing, and I’ve never done that before.

Cutting Solar Plexus Chakra Quilt

Luckily at our last PMQG sew day, I was able to learn some valuable tips from my friend, Rozina Dee who was visiting from MN. She was making some beautiful pickle-dish blocks using wax paper, and was able to show me first-hand exactly how it worked. This method is working splendidly, thanks Rozina!

Institutionalized Sexism – The Conversation Has Been Started!

I love the quilting community!
Recently there has been a discussion started about men in the world of quilting. (see links below post)

I wanted to let it be, but I can’t. I need to speak up, because sexism affects all of us and it is rampant in our society. So much so, that we all fall victim to ingrained sexist thinking and reacting. Read on if you like… but today there are no pretty pictures.

I’m not here to point fingers. I have many male friends, some even in the quilting world. With that in mind, I want to share my personal take on the institutionalized sexism of our society as a whole. This post is only meant to bash gender rules, not people. Communication is the way to start making changes. It’s hard to talk about, and feelings can easily get hurt, but we gotta start somewhere.

My personal experience with sexism is lifelong. I’m going to share a few experiences for the sake of showing just how much this affects the lives of women. (… and I can’t even begin to know what it would be like as a woman of color, or disabled, or transgendered – but I know it would be even harder)

Raised in a religious household where women were basically owned by their husbands/fathers, college was never a thought for me because I was just supposed to be a good wife. I was taught: cooking, cleaning, and sewing. When I turned 13, I was no longer allowed to play with boys without adult supervision, as my father said: “you don’t want to turn into a little slut, like some other girls”.  My mother was always concerned about what ‘everyone else thought’ and raised me to have utmost respect for my father and all other men of our congregation (regardless of their abusiveness).

I was raised with the thought that rape victims “asked for it”. So… when I was date-raped as a teenager, I told no one because I knew I would be blamed for being promiscuous, as others in my congregation were… and I didn’t want to bring ‘shame’ upon my family.  I had immense guilt for years, like it was my fault. This guilty feeling only attracted more terrible boys/men into my life and I felt like I ‘deserved what I got’ as more terrible things happened to me.

This is how I ended up in an abusive relationship. People always wonder how anyone could ever allow themselves to end up in a relationship like that, and I’ll tell you right now – it’s all about self esteem… and I had none. I thought it was my fault, and I wasn’t ‘good enough’. It’s what most religions teach. Luckily I had strong women friends who physically moved me from my abusive home and kept me from going back, and taught me I was someone, even without a man.

I’ve been homeless too, and I can’t tell you how many times I heard things like: “why don’t you go use what the good lord gave ya” in regards to getting a stripping gig…  or “beggars can’t be choosers” as someone is trying to force their dick in my face. Yeah, homeless men have it bad too, don’t get me wrong… but the level of degradation is one step lower for women.

As a single mom, (because the sperm donor decided HE didn’t have to do anything to help) – I took out a loan and went to vocational school to be an auto-mechanic. While some people like to think it’s the same thing as a man going into quilting – I wholeheartedly disagree! I did not have men fawning over me, like everything I did was genius… no, no, no. When I did well, I was humiliated with butt/breast grabs in front of the class. I was called slut (and much worse) because… why else would I want to be in a room full of men??? I certainly was never respected for the skills I learned and was never awarded a great internship for it. At best, some men were nice to me because it was ‘cute to see a girl in overalls’, but no one ever wanted to be my partner. In fact I couldn’t even finish due to the harassment involved.

When I was getting off welfare and working as a single parent as a waitress and bartender – I can tell you a thousand more stories about groping, and men thinking they have a right to your body just because they feel like it. Once I was assaulted and reported it to my manager, and the manager tells me to chill out, “he’s harmless”… then docked my hours. Frustrated, I complained and was promptly fired. Another time I was bartending someplace for years, then the male manager gives my job to the 21 year old guy right out of bartending school, with more pay… because “people respect men behind the bar more – you should be a cocktail waitress, I bet you could make good money with that rack”

I had a printing job once where I printed, scored, folded, assembled, and shipped custom wedding cards for $9/hr and quit because I thought I deserved more… when I found out they rehired, it was a man, and for more than double what I was making.

Or… how about going to the doctor? Doctors are trained to somehow not ever listen to us. I don’t know how many times I’ve been frustrated by a doctor NOT LISTENING and prescribing drugs for anti-depression no matter what it is I’m in for… and if you protest, you are reactive and obviously in need of said drugs.

With a daughter of my own, I see in every single ad just how much women are objectified and made to feel as they are just a man-hole. Every style in fashion is made to make a girl feel ‘sexy’. I hate that word. Girls should never WANT to feel sexy- why? Do we want to be considered a man-hole? Why not the word beautiful instead of sexy!

Women even call each other things like ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ to put others down, however – they are putting themselves down too with words and thinking like that.

We live in a world where religions are male dominated, our country is male-dominated, and our business world is male-dominated. How can a white male possibly ever consider himself a minority in America ever?

Geez… just walking into the bar as a woman and hear things like “looks like we have some vaginas out tonight” or walking down the street: “hey baby, give me a smile… why do you have to be like that… what, are you a lesbian?” or going to the bank for a loan “is your husband going to join us?” or going to the gym and hearing “c’mon, you can do it… think how great you’ll look in your swimsuit this summer”  or talking to a client, who upon hearing your daughter became a teenager says, “she’s pretty, better keep her locked up”.

In a time when pain as a rape victim is diminished because you were raped by “such a great comedian and family man” – and for coming forward you are humiliated and called a liar… we really need to start seeing the problem and stop blaming women for things men do. Another step forward would be to speak out for women when they are not around. When you hear “heh heh, I’d like to stick my dick in that” while you’re at the bar…  that would be a good time to talk to your friends and let them know just how fucked up they are for saying stuff like that. ESPECIALLY when it’s in “only in jest”!

Even at the football game the other night there was a player who gave the football to a girl earlier in the game and later the football was given to a boy. The announcer described the girl as a “little girl” while he used the term “young man” for the boy. It’s these subtle terminologies that infuriate me.

I think it’s the same type of terminology that is infuriating some women in the quilting world – and if you’ve had a past like mine, you would be highly aware of every single sexist word said.

I haven’t read all of the posts, but what I’m getting from it all is that there are other women besides me, that are a little sick of hearing disrespect in these subtle, yet very important ways.

So if you are a male quilter reading my post, the main point is this: Enjoy quilting! Feel free to market your quilting! Quilt with me!
… but please be aware that I’m not the only one with a story like this – so many of us are trying to heal, and women have used quilting as a way of healing, and connecting with others for so long.  If someone says you’re being sexist about something, just listen – put yourself in a woman’s perspective before speaking about the difficulties of being a man in a woman’s world.

Using ‘male-minority’ status in quilting only elevates men, there is absolutely no detriment to having a penis while quilting. However, all other minorities are devalued in everything they do. There is a huge difference.

There is also the topic of hiring experienced women quilters to do sewing, and quilting work for men. While the men pay for this work to be done, I don’t think they should get credit for ‘making’ those quilts. I firmly believe they should credit the piecing and quilting work of the women crafting for them. This is a common practice in the male-dominated art world, but I really don’t like seeing it in the quilt world where crafting skills are important to the title “Quilter”.  This is a much larger topic and spans sexism, but there are other things about it that are questionable to me, and I look forward to reading more about it soon.

So… let the quilting rest on it’s own merits, give credit where credit is due, and let’s all learn and quilt together!

I’m open to comments – only if they are non-threatening. I’ve read some comments on these pages, and no one deserves death and rape threats for speaking up. (yeah guys… this is another thing I’m sure you are clueless to – when you make an opinion public, most people give you accolades for being strong and standing up for yourself, while women get threatened to a scary degree)

Recent blog posts about men in quilting:

Rolling Into 2016

Z Finished Front

This past year flew by. I think one of the things I’m most thankful for are the friendships  I have with some of my quilty friends. It’s great to be surrounded with so many creative people who are problem-solvers. In this time of craziness in the world, we need more problem solvers than problem makers.

I’m happy to have completed a few quilts over the year… but I would like to try to find a little more time for sewing in the new year – it feels so wonderful to complete a quilt.

Speaking of which, my daughter just made her first quilt, while I tried my hand at teaching! I think it all went over very well:

Z Finished Front
Finished Front
Z Finished Back
Finished Back – Minky

It’s hard to see in my bad photos… but she free-motion-quilted a crow in the quilting, then echoed around that. She used Minky for the back, so it made quilting a little more difficult, but she did great, and the quilt feels amazing! She made it for her friend who just had a baby – and now is thinking of making another quilt already – I’m excited to pass on some knowledge… but I’m more excited to get my sewing machine back!

Rolling into the new year, my wish is for peace and learning to work together. The more we cooperate and collaborate with each other, the more we learn about each other… the more reasons we have to stand up for one another and make the world a bit of a better place.

Happy New Year!

Unmotivated.

Have you ever gone through times with no motivation? I do fairly consistently. I think it stems from a physical state of being – if my body is not doing well, I just have no energy to create. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but sometimes it seems like it.

Luckily I have great friends who inspire me every time we talk or see each other (you know who you are!) so this will be short-lived. I just happened to decide to blog today, so you get to hear about the other side of being creative… that internal ‘side’ that questions everything you do and makes you doubt every decision you make.
To jar this feeling, I’ve been re-arranging my studio space. My business office is in the same room, so it can be a tight fit, but I think I have a good thing going right now.
studio North

You can see my current project (quilt back) on the design wall – the top is hanging on the rack.

studio South
There is a closet next to the squid quilt where I keep all my fabric, and another closet next to the computer where I keep all my business paperwork. The shelf above the window holds many tools, books, supplies, etc. My cutting table is on wheels so I can easily move it around.
I think this will help my work flow – everything is easy to reach, and I have a nice standing mat for when I cut fabric. Now I just have to shake the cobwebs from my head and get busy!
What is your “go-to” solution for beating the doldrums? Let’s make a big list for reference!!

Holiday Time

HST’s on the design wall

This is a tough time of year for me, and for others out there too, I’m sure.  I actually can’t wait for the “shopping season” to be over! I know most people LOVE this time of year, and I want you to know, I love it when people are in a celebratory mood – so I can roll with it!

Since I was raised JW I never celebrated anything growing up. Nothing. Not even birthdays. The hardest was Halloween because we would turn off the lights and not answer the door when trick-or-treaters came to the house… and that always felt sneaky and dirty. Now I always make sure to have candy for the cutie costumed kids who come by!

That said, since I have no reference to how things are “normally” done for the holidays. In general, they kind of freak me out because I have no idea about the traditions most have grown up with. Even gift-giving seems strange, and I never know what to get people… so I don’t do holiday gifts. If I find or make something for you, you’ll get a gift right then and there, no matter what time of year and no reason necessary.

If I had to pick something to celebrate this time of year, it would be the Solstice! With the days getting shorter, it seems like a no-brainer as far as something to get excited about. Getting dark at 4pm does nothing for my creative intentions, all I want to do is curl up and go to sleep. I can’t wait for the days to start getting longer!

The cooler weather also is taking it’s toll – haven’t been able to sleep through a night without achy-pain and stiffness waking me up every few hours. I can now say I’ve tried every diet alteration for pain relief, and so far – no great help in the nutrition department. So now I’m trying a medication: low-dose-naltrexone – it’s supposed to be very helpful in pain management. We’ll see.

As noted earlier, I’m not very motivated when the days get so grey and dark – so I haven’t done much sewing recently. I did go to the PMQG Sew Day last Saturday and attempted some half-square-triangles (pictured above) I’m loving the colors and looking forward to doing an improv quilt with these pieces – should be interesting to see how that goes. I’ve also started French-Knotting the Jellyfish, and boy does it feel good to be working on that again – hope to finish in January sometime.

 

The Wild Cock

So I just finished a super fun project for our basement bar! You may not know this, but the name of our screen printing business is Phantom Chicken… and we do have a thing for the bird.  The chicken is a major theme at our place. When we moved here last year, we put our orange metal roosters up over the bar, and we love them there, but the space still seemed a bit empty.

Then Sam Hunter came out with a new book called Quilt Talk with patterns for the alphabet, and I had an idea.

With some fervor, I went forward with a sign for our basement bar… I had so much fun making these letter blocks! Sam’s patterns are awesome and easy to follow.

Putting the letters together was much easier than figuring out the sign around the metal roosters, but once I got it, it went smoothly… of course I had to add some hexies.

Then I followed that up with some echo quilting with my walking foot – who doesn’t like a quilted cock?

Gregg hung the quilted sign this morning… doesn’t it look great? Yes, there are many things I could have done better – but I LOVE The Wild Cock sign! It makes our little bar really fun and festive.

Now I’m looking forward to see what else I can add letters to in my quilting projects!

Testing Options

My progress on the Jellyfish quilt has stopped as I start to weigh options for how to quilt it. I was considering hand-quilting it, which would make the whole quilt hand-done, and that sounded great… at first.

I needed to test my hand-quilting skills, and on a flat piece of fabric, I did okay:

You can see the two rows of running stitches I quilted in the test above… this wasn’t too bad, but I wasn’t sure how it would work with the hexies since there are more fabric layers to go through. That meant I had to do a test on actual hexies.  So I stitched a few of my extras together and tried hand quilting AND thread basting on this little piece.

After trying 4-5 needles, and 3 different threads, I’ve decided that I’m NOT going to hand quilt it. It’s really hard on my fingers, and the end result is not that great.

I will, however, thread-baste this quilt. I saw a good tutorial on it here that I’m going to use. You can see the basting stitches I tested at the top of the test piece.  Since it’s a smaller quilt, this option should work great. Then I’ll quilt it free-motion-style on my Singer.

In other news, I finally signed onto Instagram. It may not be a huge deal, but I’m really excited that I can finally see all the photos that my quilty friends post there! I’m using a reader as my device, and it has a terrible camera on it, so my uploads will be few for now, but if you’d like to follow me there, here’s a link: http://instagram.com/gweiss23

Office Redo

It’s been a little over a year since we moved into our new place, and I got a bug up my bum to redo my whole office space… which is also my sewing room. In our last house I had two separate areas, but now it’s all in one room.

I feel I need to do this to clear space, so when I’m working, I don’t feel overwhelmed with too much messy-ness going on around me.  I’m not done yet (not by far!) but here are some photos of what I’m working on:

In this picture, you can see my sewing machine, and cutting table in the corner, the new shelves my husband just put up (near the ceiling) and the new curtains for the sliding glass door. My computer is to the right. I still need a curtain for the window too.

Office SouthWest Corner

This view shows my office area, it’s mostly in the closet, soon to get a curtain. The other closet will hold fabric, as well as the shelves shown in the middle. The big file cabinet is the hardest piece of the puzzle – it doesn’t really fit anywhere, so I’m leaving it float in the middle of the room. When these closets get covered by curtains, it will help A LOT!

Office West

Here you can see my soon-to-be design wall, the board is resting on the floor, but that’s going up today! Then I get to start filling it all up with stuff (mostly fabric!)  I’m hoping this layout will be inspiring to me when I get it finished.

Office North

OH… and by the way:

This is all I have left to sew onto the Jellyfish!! That and the half-hexies down the two long sides to make the edge straight… then I’m done with the top!!!! I’m so excited. I will be bringing this to show and tell at the next PMQG meeting… even though it’s not quilted yet. I think people might be more interested to see the stitching on the backside before I quilt it.

Living Life

With so many terrible news stories, it’s hard to live life happily these days. It affects everyone to some degree – and mostly folks just fuel the hate.  I just want to send a bunch of love to every mother out there who has lost a son or daughter in the last few months. Whether in the Gaza strip or in Ferguson MO., no mother should have to bury their child due to the anger of others.

So I’m trying to find and give thanks to all the good things in my life. One of the best things is having friends to talk to, and in the PMQG, I am lucky to have many friends.  I’m trying to channel some of my frustrations to motivate me in my sewing. Thinking of mothers, I’ve decided to make a quilt for the new Providence NICU center. Our guild is collecting premie quilts for them, and Sam Hunter gave me a layer cake of some beautiful batiks at our last sew day (so sweet!) so I’m using that fabric to make this charity quilt.

It feels great to sew on my machine again… it’s been a while since most of my time is spent with hexies. It’s also great to free-motion-quilt again, although free motion quilting on my machine just makes me desire a new machine.

Here is what it looks like so far:

It’s an attempt at improve piecing, but my mind was elsewhere, so I’m still unsure if I really like it or not. I’m FMQ’ing straight lines with a few circles… they kinda look like buttons to me.  I plan to quilt it more densely, this is just a progress shot. Hopefully the quilting will pull this whole quilt together for me… and that the receiver will like it.

That’s it for now, go hug your kiddos and spread the love not the hate!

Block Builder in GenerationQ

YAY… nothing like a little win to make the day a little brighter-  I just read the GenerationQ blog which just posted the Block Builder Challenge that I submitted!  It’s so cool to see – which is great, I can use the inspiration right now.  Go see – I have 5 other block designs listed that didn’t make the magazine. It was a really fun exercise… you should give it a try!

I’m also working on the back of my “unbe-weevil-ble” quilt. I have the opinion that if I’m going to piece a back at all, I will make a double-sided quilt. I love the challenge of using all the same fabrics in totally different ways for the opposite side of the quilt.

Here’s where I’m at… I used up all the blue and orange fabrics that I used on the front, but as you can see, I’ll need a bit more fabric to finish this up. I laid my back blocks out right over the finished top so I could see placement issues.

 I’m thinking of getting more of the dark teal that I used in the circles on the front. Still deciding… since I’ll have to buy something – I want to get exactly what I want. What do you think?

back blocks laid out over the finished top for placement

Heavy Thoughts

When I was younger, I was into the gutter punk scene because it was totally anti-status-quo.  We were dirty because we tried to save water, we wore found clothes to avoid “being a consumer”, we dumpster dove for food and shared with friends, we squatted abandoned buildings to give them purpose, and we drank a lot to drown out all the stupidity around us. We were rejects from our families who bought into the”American Dream”: that if you worked hard, you could attain anything. We knew that wasn’t true, and that our national over-consumption was killing the planet.

There was never a group of people I felt more comfortable with. Too bad many of them are no longer with us. Living in reality is sometimes too much for those who let themselves feel.

To stay with the living, I have had to change a lot. I also realized I can’t change anyone but myself. However, it’s just not enough and I sometimes get frustrated (and have to practice kindness!). I know the way things are going on this planet are not good… the duality of knowing better and not changing anything is ripping this world apart. This can bring me to the brink of depression that I fight so hard against.

Sewing strips together for the Jellyfish Hexie Quilt

When I feel like this… I sew. I’ve been sewing a lot! I feel like I want to stitch the world back together. Lately, I’ve been picturing all the all the different fabric colors as people… and how, if connected, we could celebrate our contrasts instead of having to fight because of them. I stitch with love because that’s what I want people to see when they see my quilts. I also want them to see how all fabrics can work together: old and new, bright and neutral, busy and low-volume, cheap and expensive.

Yeah… I’m a utopian dreamer. It’s true. But it’s the only thing that keeps me going sometimes – to think that maybe possibly we could start working together instead of finding differences to divide us apart… and just maybe we can put the value of human life above the value of the dollar.

Thanks for letting me vent my heavy thoughts! I already feel better.

Be Kind.

*this post is more about philosophy than quilting – back to stitching next time*

Two simple words that, if acted on, can create great change.

This world is full of terrible things, mean words, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings.
The best way to combat this is to simply be kind.

This might come off as a bit “woo-woo”, but here’s my philosophy: We (all humans) are made up of billions of atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons, the same as any other thing on this planet, or in the universe for that matter. Connected as one organism is our universe and everything in it, including me (and you). Even though small, our actions create energy that affects everything around us. 
Everything you do matters.

Energy flows, it never stops and we have the ability to charge that energy with positivity or negativity. I think most people unknowingly pump out negative energy all the time, and that negative energy creates anger, frustration, fear, anxiety within us and then manifests into becoming our reality. Just thinking something negative can create that reality. How many times have you heard someone say: “what if something bad happens?” I think just giving thought to something bad happening will make it actually happen.

For instance… I had two neighbors. Neighbor A planted a poor choice of tree in her back yard. It was a tree that grew really tall, really fast, and happened to be right over Neighbor B’s house. Neighbor B didn’t like the tree from the start. She started saying things like “boy that tree grew fast… I hope it doesn’t fall over” or “that tree is right over our yard, what happens if there’s a windstorm?” Then it became the only thing she said when she saw me. Guess what… after a few months, the tree eventually fell over.

That’s just a simple one… but if you start listening to how people talk, you’ll notice they are so negative they tend to set their own limitations. “What if” statements are the worst. I used to say it ALL the time… mostly when I was in need of money: “What if we can’t pay the rent?”/ “What if they turn off the electricity?”/ “What if I end up all alone?”

I never say “what if” anymore. I practice kindness towards myself and say things like: “I believe the universe will provide what I need, so if I can’t pay the rent this month, I will enjoy looking for a new place to live.”/ “Luckily I’ve lived without electricity in the past… so if it gets turned off, I’ll know what to do.”/ “Being alone allows me to find my true self, until I’m a whole person, I will not be ready to be a good partner in a relationship”

From experience I can tell you that this works wonders. Hard to believe, but it’s true.
This is why I find it so important to be kind.

When you start searching for the positive, it’s a challenge. An hour to hour vigilance is necessary. We are conditioned to be judgmental from a young age – which makes you search out the negative things in people and situations. Even TV shows applaud the singling out of people, rather than the joys of working together.

It’s been a long journey for me to re-learn my thought processes and see the good around me, and I have a long way to go!! What’s interesting is that the more positive things I see in others, the happier I become… and more opportunities are available to me.

Test it yourself! I dare you to do these four things daily for the next two weeks:
1. lift your head and smile at everyone you see in your day to day – even total strangers on the street.
2. in conversations, give one compliment to the person you’re talking to (or at least think of one)
3. for every negative thought, find one positive thought about that subject.
4. when you catch yourself feeling envious, SEE the good in your own life and be thankful. Seriously thankful. Even at my lowest, there were others that were in a worse place than me.

After 2 weeks, I bet you’ll feel better, and I KNOW without a doubt, everyone you came in contact with over those two weeks will feel better too… and maybe they’ll spread that positivity too. Just imagine all the amazing things you can inspire with just a simple smile and a kind thought.

Busy Season Has Begun

Today marks 1 year that we got the news we had to move from our old rental. With all the ups and downs, I can hardly believe where one year has taken us and ever so thankful to have a home of our own!

That said, business has finally picked up after the winter! Phantom Chicken is our screen printing business and over the winter with the move, it’s been a little lean the last few months so I’m extremely happy to be busy.

The only down side is my sewing takes a backseat to work time. I do a the graphic design and prepress (for the t-shirts that Gregg prints) and all the bookkeeping for our business, and since it’s tax time… I’ve been kept away from fabric for almost a week now.  I’m super anxious to do more work on my Jellyfish…  I’m currently picking out a border color. Thinking wild orchid or raspberry would be a nice color to offset all the blue in the piece.

Anyway… just wanted to post my progress, which is “not much” – sometimes, it’s just the way it is.

Motivational Friends Rock!

It’s funny how you can have an idea in your head for years, and never act on it.  Or start a project and give up on it because you’ve lost the creative flow and you just can’t stand to look at a project any more.

That used to be me.
I had a love-hate relationship with sewing up until the interwebs connected me to other quilters out there, specifically with the Portland Modern Quilt Guild… if it wasn’t for meeting other people who both inspired me and could teach me things and help me grow, I would still be a frustrated quilter.

A girl with new fabric is a happy girl – POOF!

We had our February PMQG meeting last night, and it was like x-mas eve for me… I received quite a few very nice scraps from a few different people for my Jellyfish quilt. I have about 700 of the approx. 2000 hexies made, but I ran out of fabrics in my stash that
fit the bill… YAY friends to the rescue!  Big THANKS! to Anne, Cath, Lisa, AnneMarie, and Michelle M. – I just went through what you gave me and most of it will work!!

Beyond getting yummy goodies from friends, I’m also very thankful to the handful of quilters who have helped me learn new skills, given me ‘real’ critiques, and freely offered information which helped me grow as a quilter… and a human being. I would list names but there are just too many! (you know who you are!!)

So… YAY!  Thanks quilty friends for keeping me motivated, inspired, and teaching me so much!

Oh My!

2 months?… bad bloggy lady here!
Oh well, I guess I don’t have too much to say these days since I haven’t been doing too much quilting.

That’s not completely true.  I’ve been to a couple sew days recently to work on charity quilts. I finished a quilt top for one, and binding for another baby/lap quilt.  It really did feel good to do some sewing for those who need some warmth this winter.  Now I really would like to start a new quilt (or two) of my own, but my sewing area is a little smaller, so to audition fabrics I think I’ll need to abscond the living room for a few hours.  It will work out fine!

Speaking of which… we love our new home. I still have to pinch myself every so often.  At the last PMQG meeting, Ann Marie gave me this super sweet quilt which goes perfectly in our kitchen area:

It was so sweet ~ thank you!

You can see the new curtains I made here too… now that there is no wall between dining and kitchen, there were three windows that needed to match, and I was super lucky to find this home-dec fabric on sale at Fabric Depot recently – I thought the fabric matched my paint colors well… and for $4 a yard, who can complain!  I learned how to make a blind hem and I used drapery tape.  They are fully lined and turned out so much nicer than any other curtain I’ve made.

I’ve been on a house kick for a while, we need a few things and I don’t have tons of cash. So I’m always trying to find things I can make better.  The cabinet in the photo was found for $15. I cleaned it up, I painted it, put casters on the bottom, and used the hardware from the old cupboards for handles. I love it!

Here’s another little project I’ve been working on: my husband found a set of four barstools at a garage sale, and picked them up for $16! I was able to redo the cushions:

Amazing how much of a difference a change in fabric can make!! I love fabric.
I am excited to be getting some of these projects finished… I plan on starting a new quilt soon.  I’m thinking of staring another hexagon quilt.  Yep, I’m totally addicted and am jonesing for a new hexie project. The only thing holding me up is a design.  I want to design something fresh and I’m not sure if it will be pictorial or more abstract.  Who knows… when it comes to design, I’m blank until it hits me… and I never know when that will be. 
There are a couple other quilt ideas rumbling around in my head. Hope to pull them out and make them happen real soon.
 

New Work Space

I’ve been working on my office since 3pm today unpacking and setting up.  Now my work space is starting to work for me! It’s a little tough mixing my office and sewing room together, and into a smaller room than my sewing room at our old place!  However, I think I’m doing okay with the space… here’s where I’m at:

From patio door looking at the NW corner of the room. Cutting table to the right. 
Looking straight in from patio door – facing WEST

Looking at the SW corner – my computer is behind the file cabinet

Looking at the South wall – sewing machine to the left

Office space/closet

Office – West Wall

From office looking EAST – hello sewing machine!

from sewing machine looking North – patio door to the left behind curtain

From sewing machine looking NW again. Hi Mr. Squid!

I think I’m almost ready to start sewing again.  Whew… I don’t know how much longer I can go without!

Homeless… Never Hopeless

The title of this post: “Homeless, Never Hopeless” was my mantra for many years.
Since we recently bought our first house, I’ve been thinking back to the times when I used to be homeless with a heart full of gratitude.

Last night we were at a friends party and the conversation was about homeless camps in and around Portland… and none of it was positive.  So I had to speak up.  I figure since most of my quilty friends probably feel the same way, I thought I’d share a few thoughts as a person who has come out of homelessness.

5 big points:

1. While some young people choose homelessness, it is usually NOT a choice.
2. Homeless people are the same as people who have homes: human beings.
3. Some homeless people work harder and more hours than those that have homes.
4. The hardest part of being homeless is losing respect of those around you.
5. To actually fall asleep outside you NEED to be sedated (drunk).

I know most people automatically judge homeless people to be lazy and drunk and that’s WHY they are homeless.  The reality is that those people were no different than you (unless there is mental illness) until they lost their job / partner / parents / health… then they became homeless and THEN the drunkeness and listlessness follow.  Can you blame them?

For me personally, I was kicked out of my house at age 17 because I was questioning my faith, and I didn’t feel comfortable going to others’ homes and tell them they were wrong and I was right.  So… my Dad kicked me out.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are meant to go door to door and if I didn’t do that, my dad (who was a statewide overseeing elder) didn’t want me in his house.

So my first time homeless I was more naive than you can possibly imagine.  Growing up, the only thing I was allowed to watch on tv was Little House on the Prairie. I couldn’t read anything that was not published by the watchtower bible and tract society.  I was raised outside of a small town in MN with no neighbors for two miles.  I had absolutely NO social prowess, and in the city streets, I was taken advantage of over and over again.

After a while I became cold hearted, didn’t care about society as it is. I hated people with money (like my parents) and decided to live as other unwanted kids did back in the eighties… frugal and punk.  We formed our own little family of rejects and I’m still tight with those people, because they became my sisters and brothers. I found places to live on and off with my new friends, but money was always an issue.

Me and my friend Rob in 1988 on the road.

I was turned onto the idea of squatting ~ sleeping in abandoned buildings ~ and that was great! Any day you could sleep without snow, rain or waking to the cops arresting you is a good day. I was actually squatting a building in San Francisco when I became pregnant, which changed the whole thing for me.  I could no longer drink (or do any other drugs) so I could no longer just sleep anywhere.  I became so tired my first trimester, because all I could do was walk around all day / all night.

That’s when I started my mantra… walking around SF being sick and pregnant and homeless in 1990.
Homeless, not hopeless.

I ended up staying with friends at the end of my pregnancy and through the birth of my daughter, and I’d like to say that I found a home and never had to deal with homelessness again… BUT, in 1994 I was living with an ex and we moved from MPLS to PDX.  He got us evicted from our first apartment in about 4 months (long story) and so I bought a van and built beds in it and I moved me and my daughter into the van and broke up with the crazy boyfriend.

As a single mom, I was working full time as a waitress at a few places… and living out of my van, homeless again.  This stint lasted a full year and a half.  The hardest part of being homeless with a child is waking up in the morning and trying to find a bathroom before they have an accident.  Man… people HATE homeless people.  I would go from store to store begging to let my daughter use a bathroom.  No store ever obliged except the restaurants I was actually working at… and they really frowned on me using their facilities that way, but what else can a person do?

I was hated, judged, looked down upon, etc… even though I was working full time as a single mom, doing it all alone (NO parental help EVER in my life).  I would get envious of other mothers at the park with all their gear and treats for the kids. In winter, I would get pissed off at all the single men driving expensive cars past me at the bus stop at 5am on my way to daycare, never giving me a second glance as we shook and froze… let alone a ride.
I kept my mantra.  Homeless, never hopeless.

I became a fraud victim during this time, and I couldn’t even fight it because I had no address to “prove” who and where I was.  I was looking at jail time and losing my daughter due to other people using my name in lawless activities… until one woman was caught with an ID with my name and info.  Her fingerprints didn’t match mine and FINALLY I could plead innocent and have others believe me.

Eventually, I met this guy in 1996 who actually listened to me, gave me a chance, let me sleep on his couch, and eventually became my husband when we married in 2004.  If it wasn’t for him and his family taking me in and truly helping me, I would still be homeless… and honestly, probably dead at this point.

My husband and daughter a few years back… my loves.

Since we met, he has only been supportive of all my efforts (especially quilting).  He inspires me to be creative and follow through on my ideas. Together we have created a business that supports us completely… so much so that we were actually able to buy our own home!!  Homeless, never hopeless!!!

So… that’s my homeless take in a nutshell.  My only hope is that the next time you see someone in need, just STOP judging them! You have NO IDEA where they came from… and I’ll tell you right now, they do not WANT to be homeless nor do they want your judgement call.

I still struggle in groups of “normal” people.  I feel like the dirty gutterpunk I used to be, and that people are still judging me based on that.  I know they are not, but it’s hard not to expect it.  So when I hear people talk about homeless people as if they were animals or something other than human beings, I just HAVE to say something.  With just a little support and love, we could change the world… look what it did for me!

I Did Something Quilty Today

Today has been great so far.  I was able to get a bunch of painting done at our new place in the morning… and then (after a shower) I got to work with some really awesome quilts!!

Last Saturday was the annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and I really wanted to go ~ in fact I was helping PMQG organize a special exhibit there… and I just couldn’t make it.  Between the stress of the new place and my crummy health I decided it was best to stay put.  It was a good decision, even though I was really bummed to miss the show… I was able to stay on top of things here.

I got all the quilts back today from Suzanne G. who kindly offered to pick them all up for our guild… and I was able to take them to Modern Domestic and hang them in another show there!  Rachel and I were able to put up most of the quilts that were hanging in our section at Sisters… and they are pretty straight at too ~ pretty good for a girl who is afraid of heights (and ladders).

So, if you’re in Portland, go check it out:

Portland Modern Quilt Guild
Group Show from Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show
Modern Domestic
1408 NE Alberta
Now through August 9, 2013

It was so fantastic to be touching and loving fabric again!!  I can’t wait to be done with house-y stuff and I can get back to sewing already ~ I’m a little outta my element with this:

I’m not complaining, mind you… I’m SOOO happy to have a place to call home.  It’s just a lot of work that has nothing to do with sewing.

A New Beginning!

BIG BIG NEWS:  Gregg and I have entered the home ownership game!!  We signed papers yesterday afternoon, and we just got word it’s been stamped with an approval and we get keys tomorrow morning.  GAAHHHH!!!

This is all kind of strange.  If you know me personally, you know that I’ve been a happy renter my whole life ~ with no intentions of ever owning. Never wanted to play the game… however, life changes things and the concept of owning has grown on me quite a bit in the last few months… especially with the new place we found.

So… after living here for 14 years, we are getting ready for the big move.  There is a lot of work we’ll need to do, luckily we have time because our landlord gave us till Oct. to be out.

We are starting to put together the list of house-y things we’ll need in the new place like rugs (hardwood floors!), a lawnmower, and a big sturdy ladder.  There will be some updating that we will try to do before moving in:  replace the tub and its plumbing and take out a wall between the dining room and kitchen… and it also needs new windows and/or AC. We also want to finish out a fence so we can be dog owners again soon! The fun part of the game is staying within budget 😉

Most importantly there is a 2-car garage for our screen printing studio, and I’m super excited about it… but we have to  to get that finished out and set up for work as soon as we can, especially since that’s how we’re going to pay our mortgage… and all hopefully BEFORE we make the actual move.  That’s lots of work and a bit overwhelming, so we’ll just see how it all works out.  We do have the support of the most awesome friends and family, so even if it takes a while, it’ll be okay.

It’s all so very big to say the least.  Soon it will be time to host sew days and dinner parties… I’m just so happy and anxious to share my news… I didn’t even have a photo to post. Yet.

**HAPPY DANCE**

Exhausting Days

3 weeks ago this coming Monday we got news from our landlord that he’s planning on selling the house we’ve been living in for the last 14 years.  BAM.  Totally threw my world into a spin which hasn’t fully stopped yet.

We’ve been scrapping together some funds for a down payment, to buy a place instead of renting since rentals around here are more than a mortgage payment would be.  Even with a minimal down payment, moving costs (and possible home improvement costs) are blowing my mind.  Still unsure of where we will be living in the next few months… and business has been slow this year too, so that just adds to the stress.

Then yesterday my husband and I woke up to see our baby Rita Dog all ready “to go”.  She was 15 and a half and had been hurting and medicated for a while with 4 fused vertebra.  The last month or so she deteriorated to the point where we were carrying her everywhere, but she still seemed like she wanted to be with us… and then she stopped eating.  If you’ve ever owned a dog through old age, you know how they tell you when it’s time…?  well, we heard her.

We called a vet who came to the house and so lovingly helped us say goodbye to our little beloved beast.  Rita let the vet do her thing without moving and my husband held her through the entire process.  Many tears later, we are happy we were able to share the love of a wonderful rescued dog and have a life together that will live on in our memories forever.

I’m very happy the sun is out today, I need it to clear the stress and sadness away.

Trying Times

The news is something I usually avoid writing about because when you’re sewing, the last thing you need to think about is politics and depressing stories.  However, I do feel the need to say a few things here where I can share with friends.  Mostly I just want to send my love and deepest condolences to the families that have lost loved ones due to shootings recently. 

I’m somewhat empathetic… I know that’s a little “woo-woo” for some of you, but I do physically feel others’ pain and anxiety when it is strong.  This last week has had me almost immobilized with sad