Positive Strides

I have to stay positive mentally, or my mind goes into a downhill spiral real fast. This time of year is hard to not get a little down, and this year especially – I think it has been tough with everything that has been happening in our world.

As I reflect over the past year, I realize there has been a big shift for me. In some ways, I’ve grown a lot… but in other ways, I feel like sometimes it’s 1 step forward, 2 steps back. I feel like I’m learning so much, which makes me feel great, but because I’m learning so much, I’m exposed to some realities that make me feel extremely nihilistic.

This feeling is very similar to when Reagan was in office. I have always considered myself a ‘damaged Reagan youth’ because when he was in office, I was afraid of an atomic bomb going off at any minute. So much so, that I was afraid to go to sleep. My dad moved us close enough to a nuclear silo so that, in his words: “if there ever was a nuclear war, we would be the first to go, and we wouldn’t suffer”.  It was meant to be calming. Also, being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, we were constantly being prepared for the end of the world or Armageddon… I remember a couple times when we thought it was the beginning of ‘the end’.

This fear ‘of the end of the world’ turned to anxiety and now, many years later, I’m experiencing the same phenomena of being so scared of dying at any moment, that I can’t sleep. I know it sounds silly – especially reading this out loud – but it’s my reality right now. I feel safer now than ever before in my life… but I still have this fear, and it frustrates me to no end, because I know better than to succumb to it.

The best thing I can do is keep busy. Keep my mind off spinning inside my own thoughts. I’ve been cleaning and re-organizing, and I’m also making progress on my Hummingbird Quilt No.2. Here is a picture of the backside so far:

Backside of the Hummingbird Quilt No.2 in progress- 1/2″ hexies #hummingbirdquilt #hexiequilt #hexies #pmqg

A photo posted by Gail Lizette Weiss (@gweiss23) on

Today also marks the last day of the #31 Day Blog Writing Challenge. I know I missed a few days through the month, but overall it was a fun challenge to take part in. Thanks again to Cheryl Sleboda for the push!

Happiness Is…

THIS:

My husband snapped this photo of my daughter and I sewing together late the other night. It’s pretty real. As in: unglamorous and messy, but it makes me so happy to be able to spend time with her this way!

While I’m working on my Hummingbird No.2 hexie quilt, my daughter, is working on her first commission – it’s a cute little romper for a friend. She had made one for herself a few months ago, and someone else liked it so much, he is paying to have one made for his girlfriend. It’s her first commission, and I’m really happy for her!

She is quite talented… although I might be a little biased. 😉 She loves cosplay costumes, and has taught herself how to sew to create them. I can’t sew without a pattern, so her abilities already surpass mine in that regard! Here are photos of some of her cosplay costumes that she made herself – sure makes a mama proud! 😉

 

Quilts Are Important

… At least to me they are!
One thing I’ve noticed, being in a quilt guild, is how generous most quilters are. They make and give quilts to friends and family members… and to many different charities. It’s part of why I love the quilting community – they really want to wrap the whole world in love by way of beautiful quilts.

Many years ago, I was a recipient of one of these quilts. It’s a simple block quilt, hand-tied in yarn… and as you can see, very well used.

I got this quilt when I was staying at a homeless shelter, right after I found out I was pregnant (1990). I had been squatting abandoned buildings or sleeping outside for about 6 months, then got into the Waller Street Family Shelter in San Francisco.

While it was not the most pleasant experience of my life, staying there for a few months allowed me to get myself into housing before my daughter was born. My daughter used this quilt while growing up, and so it has been well loved and very used.

It means even more to me now that I quilt too! I want to repair it. The bright colors always remind me that there can be bright lights, even in darkness – and that some random, unknown person is out there trying to help by wrapping us in love.

As a charity-quilt recipient, I just want to say: “Thank You!” to all the charity quilters out there who diligently work to make others feel loved and cared for. You and the quilts you make, are very important and really do matter to a lot of people – like me!

 

Happy Holidays

The holidays can be a somber time for me, but this year we’ve been keeping the obligations very light and so far this has been a great period of time for us. I’m using the down time to sew and spend time with my daughter who is living with us and has some extra time off as well.

I’ve been working on my Hexie Hummingbird No.2 Quilt. I have all the hexies sewn into rows, and now I’m starting to sew the rows together.

I used the ladder stitch for the individual hexies, but now that I’m sewing the rows together, I’m using a whipstitch. I hold the piece flat and work from the backside:

whipstitching

I work from one side of the quilt to the other so that each row I sew onto the main piece is easier to manipulate and work with. Here is an illustration of how I sew the rows together:

Sewing EPP Hexie Rows Together

Using this technique, I usually don’t get any stitches that show on the front of the quilt. I also don’t remove any papers until the whole piece is complete.

piecing Rows

I’ve missed a few days this month for the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge, but I plan to keep up this last week!

2016 Quilt Finishes

Oceans Of Blue Quilt

When I look back over this crazy year, I realize that I’ve been quite productive in my quilting efforts compared to previous years. I think it’s because I’m loving my new Juki machine!

Here are all the quilts I finished this year:

Green Cross Quilt #3
Green Cross Series #3
Green Cross Series #4
Green Cross Series #4
Earth Energy Quilt
Earth Energy Quilt
Green Gardens Quilt
Green Gardens
Oceans Of Blue Quilt
Ocean’s of Blue – Swirling Oceans Quilt Pattern
Big Hexies
POP – Big Hexie Quilt using my own fabric designs from Spoonflower
Root Chakra quilt
Root Chakra Quilt
Hexie Hummingbird Finish
Hexie Hummingbird
Manipura Quilt Front
Manipura Quilt

I hope 2017 proves to be just as productive for me. I want to follow through and do 5 more quilts based on the Chakra system to complete that as a series, finish my 2nd Hexie Hummingbird, and possibly start a new hexie project!

What are your 2017 quilt goals?

Quilt Show Thoughts

Last week on Instagram and Facebook, lots of people were posting about their quilts that were rejected by QuiltCon, and a few were posting pictures of their quilts that have been juried in.  I want to say: Congratulations to everyone whose quilt was accepted! I really do think it’s great, and someday I may submit a quilt again, and I hope that if I am accepted, I don’t get any hateful or envious comments about it.

I didn’t enter this year — partly because the quilt I would have entered is all about self care and self worth.  I’m caring for myself by not entering and not having to deal with another rejection letter — especially this year!  So my opinions are not coming from a place of rejection, but of observation.

For you non-quilters reading this, QuiltCon is the yearly quilt show sponsored by The Modern Quilt Guild, which is the national organization that many modern quilt guilds belong to.  Because of the number of people who enter, there are always lots of hurt feelings when the rejection emails go out.  Over 1800 quilts were submitted to the 2016 show, and only about 300 were chosen, so just a little over 15% of the submissions are accepted!

In addition to a lack of showing space compared to quilt entries, I think a big problem with QuiltCon is that there just hasn’t been much transparency about how they jury quilts into the show. Earlier this year, they published a post about derivatives that was questionable in its take on copyright law. This caused a big stir on social media (check out the comments!), and the post has since been taken down – it is a big deal because some quilts have been rejected from QuiltCon due to a conflict based on MQG’s definition of derivative, and membership was not included in creating those definitions.

Another huge issue with the MQG is how national leadership came to be in the first place – and how those leaders approached the local guilds.  Our local guild was started years before the national guild.  Some of our members seemed to be very tight with the national leadership, and perhaps saw this new organization as a great opportunity to market their patterns and books and further their fabric design aspirations.  Not surprisingly, many of these same people tended to have quilts accepted into the first QuiltCon.

Many of us who did not have aspirations of being quilt industry professionals questioned the need for a national modern quilt guild and wondered why we should join it.  The self-appointed leaders sent a spokesperson (who became the Executive Director of the MQG) to our guild, supposedly to explain to us how it would work and what benefits they would be offering to local guilds.

When we asked questions like, “How will joining a national group help our local guild?” and “Will we get to vote on the leadership?”, she was very short with us, as well as very short on any useful information.  People felt intimidated by her aggressive attitude and stopped asking questions.  All the while, our local leaders were strongly pushing us to join.  The scene that night was so uncomfortable that some of my guild friends never came to another meeting.

The MQG representative promised us that electing national leaders would be a democratic process and that we would have the opportunity to vote within a year.  She said that we were the largest local guild, and that the national guild needed our financial support.  Our local leaders insisted that we had to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit by the end of that year. They may been heavily persuaded by the national group… I’m not sure why we needed to jump on that so quickly, no one explained the rush to us. 

Based on those promises and the urging of local leaders, we voted to join the national guild. I missed the vote because I missed that meeting, but I was against it personally. Not against a national guild forming and connecting members, but against the way it formed: how it excluded most of its existing members, and how it seemed to become a platform for marketing… as if national MQG was becoming a professional guild for those in the industry. 

Well, we never did get that leadership vote, and those roles are now permanent paid positions. It may look like we chose them at some point, but we never did. They never let us.
I think that is a very important distinction to make as we move forward.

This is the reason why I’ve had some issues with the national guild, and why I understand others’ frustration with them. In fact, I just listened to a great interview with Quilters_Without_Leaders (QWOL)– on Katies Quilting Corner.  I want to tell her: “I feel you!” This interview has given me a little courage to speak out on this taboo topic, and to give perspective from my non-industry eyes. 

Since we can’t go back in time, I just needed to ‘clear the air’ in my head on this topic since our local guild looks like it will continue national membership. I’m also writing this because there are many newer members who have questions about why some people are not as excited as others about the national guild.

That said, I am super excited for our new local board this year and its plans interact with the MQG to express our concerns, try to open lines of communication, and implement some changes. This makes me happy… and it’s why I’m speaking out now! I want it all to work out for everyone. I would like the national guild to be used as a tool towards the purpose of promoting and connecting it’s membership,  while curating a diverse quilt show that includes as many members, and guilds as possible. We can’t change the past, but we can come together to and be more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive as we move forward into the future.

I was really happy to see a new friend get a quilt accepted into QuiltCon this year *Congrats Karen!*  —  I’m always happy for the friends who make it in, and it’s really cool when it’s someone from our guild! It’s an awesome feeling to see your quilt hanging in a show, and if that’s you, you should feel great about it!!

There are so many quilt shows now that have added Modern categories, too — so QuiltCon is not the only place to show a modern quilt! I’m thinking of trying a few new shows in 2017, but I want to build up my emotional well being first so that I can be ready for rejection if it happens — because that truly is part of the process of showing quilts 😉

Happy Solstice!

Rooster Wall Quilt

Today marks the time when the days will start to get lighter again: Solstice! The days will become longer starting now.

It’s a great reason to celebrate, and it’s the reason we put lights on trees! Before electricity, people would put candles in trees outside to light their way this time of year because it got so dark out.

Who doesn’t love sunshine – I can totally understand why people have celebrated this time of year throughout the centuries. I made this Rooster Quilt years ago – the sun is paper pieced, and I think it’s the perfect Solstice art! 🙂

So on this darkest of dark days, I have much hope for the future and wish you all the best during this holiday season!

rooster Quilt

One Day At A Time

rows12.17

Yesterday I said I would show what I got done in on Hummingbird Hexie No.2 in a day, and this is it – five rows:

rows12.17

I try to stitch for 2 hours a day. Sometimes I can’t get to it because life can sometimes get in the way! 😉  But if I shoot for 2 hours as my daily goal, I know I will finish anything in a timely manner.

Here is my layout currently in process:

Hexie Hummingbird No.2

You can see two of the rows lined up on a “hexie-roll” at the bottom of the photo. I have a few more rows to do after I finish these two, then it will be onto sewing the rows together and starting to pick out a background fabric!

 

Another Cold Day

sewing tools

It’s been pretty cold here in the PNW. Snow has been on the ground for days and I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, and in sweaters! We had a family visit last week, and it took a while for me to get caught up with work after they left – so my daily blog post was neglected a few days.

I did get a little time to work on Hexie Hummingbird No.2 – I’m still sewing the individual hexies into rows. It will probably take another week or so to get to the next step, which is sewing the rows together.

Hexie Hummingbird No.2 in Process

You can see the missing sections… they are ready to travel in a hexie-roll. I can take this project on the go by rolling the hexies into a batting roll, and using a small plastic container as a dispenser. As you pull the batting, the hexies ‘pop’ out in the order and placement you need them. See more about how I put that together here.

sewing tools

This is my current sewing ‘kit’ situation. I have my hexie-roll, and all my tools and thread in a cardboard box (with lid). I always need a scissors, needles (which you can barely see here – they are on their side next to the scissors), a thimble, thread and thread conditioner. I have silk thread here for piecing my hexies, and the other threads, along with the clothespin and grey grip are used when I bind a quilt. My nephew drew a neat piece of art that makes me happy, and he left it there for me… so sweet!

So I’m off to get some more sewing done today, I’ll show my progress tomorrow, since I still want to keep up with the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge!

 

More Snow!

It’s snowing again in Portland! It’s a bit rare that it actually accumulates, but when it does (like last week), everything sort of shuts down around here. The roads get very icy and there are a lot of curves and hills that can be treacherous.

Luckily, I just got back from a dental appointment just ahead of this upcoming storm.

I received some unfortunate news about my teeth. So far there are 3 crowns that have become ‘dis-adhered’ and will need to be replaced.  I also have one little cavity. The crowns are what get me a little upset because they are all new – like within the last 2 years… and they are not cheap!

So, before they replace the crowns (for a 3rd time) they plan on doing some resin mold or casting of my teeth to check my bite and to see if my TMJ has become degenerative. If it is, it may be affecting my bite and causing certain areas to hit too hard, and it will need to be addressed before new work is done.

I am now thinking of a way to make extra funds to cover this dental work. I’m starting to consider what I can do in the quilting world that can garner that kind of cash… and I don’t think there are many avenues open there – but I haven’t really tried anything either 😉 Going to put my head into brainstorming mode… maybe I’ll have an idea by the end of this 31 Day Blog Challenge! I’m also just going to put this out there into the universe… you never know who might have the perfect temporary project for me!

For your viewing pleasure today, I’m re-sharing a quilt I made for one of my closest friends in 2012. It’s a string quilt and it’s bright and sunny to offset this snowy grey day!

A Busy Monday

Valentine Quilt

Today just flew by! I’m sitting down just now after 10pm to write my daily blog post, and about all I can think about is the work I still have to do before tomorrow.

So, I this post will be short and sweet. 😉

To make it sweet, I’m reposting a picture of the quilt my husband made earlier this year, because it’s something that still warms my heart!

Valentine Quilt

Hexie Piecing

piecing hexies

I’m currently stitching another Hexie Hummingbird Quilt (No.2) and right now it’s at the piecing stage. Instead of making flowers, I stitch individual pieces into rows then sew the rows together. I made an illustration of my stitching:

Making EPP Hexie Rows

To sew the individual pieces together, some people sew with right-sides together. I was taught to do it a little differently by sewing with wrong-sides together! I also switched my thread up to a fine silk thread (Superior Kimono Silk #100) and the needles used are John James #10 Sharps – it’s what works for me.

piecing hexies

I use a ladder stitch, and start in the center, work my way to one side, then back to the other side, then back to the middle. I try to stay on the ‘inside’ of the paper template.

This means it’s double stitched and I can easily ensure no large spaces between my stitches – they are tight and hard to pull apart. And when you “open” the row to see the front, you see no stitches at all.

piecing hexies

My Sunday will be filled with more sewing while watching my nephews play with Legos and watch all the Star Wars movies. I think I’ll be able to get a lot of sewing done today!

One Full Week

hexie Rows

Today marks a full week since I started the 31 Day Blogging Challenge, and I’m really happy I committed. The prompt to write really keeps me active in this process, which is great. I know that some people view blogs as a bit out-dated, but for me, it’s a great reference tool to check back on my work and the thoughts I was having while making each quilt. Very much like a journal.

Like a journal, my writing is a little personal – but sharing is important. I think we are all so similar, and when we read personal things about a someone, it helps us realize we are not that different from each other. We may have very different backgrounds and ideas… but emotions and stresses affect us all the same. Finding common ground is what we need right now, in more ways than one.

Yesterday I wrote about Cannabis, and I lost a couple of my very few followers. I realized that there will always be a stigmatism around that plant as long as people keep their minds closed. So… good! I don’t have time for that type of negativity, however… my goal is to cull more readers, not lose them.

hexie Rows

Last night I did get a little sewing time in, and got a couple rows of hexies put together for my Hexie Hummingbird No.2. I stitched while watching the Ink Master Finale. Yeah… it’s a bad habit, but I do love tattoos, art, and social studies! It didn’t hurt that Ryan Ashley broke the glass ceiling in that regard, and became the first woman Ink Master! It was fun to watch with my daughter, who also loves tattoos, and looks up to strong women.

 

 

Cannabis To The Rescue!

Green Cross #3 Detail

Oh my, what a morning I’ve had… really not a fan of nausea in any sense, but waking up to it almost every day makes it a little difficult to get out of bed. Today was a doozy. I ended up smoking early, and the immediate relief I felt was so amazing – I think I may be doing the ‘wake-n-bake’ till this symptom passes. (and… no, I’m not pregnant – for all those with that question 😉 )

Green Cross Series #4
Green Cross Series #4

I don’t write about this awesome weed much… but it is a huge part of my day to day life. So – I figure this is a good topic for the #31 Day Blog Challenge I’m taking part in. With cannabis, I avoid all meds for depression, anxiety, nausea, and insomnia – it also helped me quit cigarettes, meth, and alcohol.  It’s the only pain medication I can take that doesn’t make my liver hurt – I just can’t say enough good things about it!

Green Cross Series #2
Green Cross Series #2

Last year when Cannabis was legalized for recreational use, I made special quilts to celebrate – the first was a large quilt: The Green Cross Quilt, then I made (4) smaller quilts in a series. Even though I’d been on the medicinal plan for years, it was still a big deal. It legitimizes me and so many people I know. It feels great not to have to hide who I am in public, and that is fantastic!

Cannabis QuiltIt’s not like I need to have a pipe in my mouth at all times… in fact, I use concentrated oils where each dose lasts a long time, so I don’t feel it interferes with my lifestyle in any way. It also helps me relax and enjoy whatever project I’m currently working on – fantastic for hand-stitching!

I know it’s not for everyone, but it works for me, and I am so absolutely thrilled it’s becoming legal in more and more states. Have you ever tried Cannabis? What was your experience?

Green Cross #3 Detail

 

Monday Doldrums

kitty

Today is the 5th day of the 31 Day Blogging Challenge sponsored by Cheryl Sleboda, and here in Portland, it’s dark, grey, and rainy… and I’m having a hard time finding something fun to write about.

Luckily, I found a great podcast today to listen to. Crafty Planner interviewed my friend Sam Hunter today… and it was a great listen! They talked about art and the quilt world, ageism, about competition amongst quilters, derivatives, health, and about the ability to ask for help when needed.

Their discussion gave me a lot to think about. The idea of self-worth and valuing our art has been on my mind a lot, along with self-care and healing. Especially in regards to the current Modern quilt scene.

For instance, there is a really big quilt show every year called Quiltcon that the MQG sponsors. Every year there are so many entries into this show that only a certain few actually get in. The competition is fierce, and many people are very hurt when their quilts are not accepted into the show. I’ve entered every year and never made the grade, and I have to admit – it made me question my own aesthetic the first few times. However, I do understand the process a bit more than most since I organized shows for our local guild. I know that there is only a certain amount of room or number of quilts that can be accepted… and ALL of them can be awesome! I can understand how my quilts may not be strong enough visually to pop on a page of thumbnails.

Even so, it hurts a bit and I do wish we would get specific feedback on why our quilts are rejected. I asked MQG about it, and the answer is that they receive too many entries to have time to write a single sentence for each quilt rejection. So… since I have no idea what they want to see, and there is no theme – I can only look at my rejected quilts and try to figure out something the jurors might like. Then I catch myself… I don’t want to make a quilt just for a show, and constrain myself to what I hope they want to see! So I decided not to enter this year.

That means yet another year of not getting into Quiltcon – but, at least this time, it’s of my own accord. *self-care-win!*

My plan is to enter my quilts at other shows that have modern categories. I think I’ll have better success at showing my quilts that way, and I won’t have to ‘work the modern scene’ as Sam and Sandi were discussing on the podcast.

I’m hoping to do a little more stitching tonight, but for now I need to do a little more work for the day. I do graphic work and all the bookkeeping for our small screen printing business, and I have a lot to do before the end of the year… but I try to sew a little every day.

And, just because he’s so cute, I’m adding a picture of Kitty Karryall who has been keeping me company today. 🙂