Good Photos Matter

Manipura final

I was able to get a good photo of my Manipura quilt this week and I’m so thrilled with the results!

Manipura final

This is the photo I had taken before. You know the kind, where you plead with your husband or partner to stand on a chair and hold up the quilt all nice and straight… and this is the best we could get:

Manipura Quilt Front

See the difference? Wow! Lighting is very important – indirect is best, and having a stand to keep things flat really helps too… and a good camera! I’m lucky I have a friend who helps me with all this, because people only look at photos when they pick quilts for quilt shows – so it really matters that it looks as good as possible.

The more I look at this quilt, the more I love it. It is charged emotionally for me. The story behind the quilt is as follows:

I was doing my nightly yoga practice and a thought popped into my head. It was the realization that it has been 30 years since I’ve seen or talked to any of my 3 younger sisters. I was kicked out of the family home due to religious differences, and they have avoided me ever since. This thought brought me to tears. I cried through my whole yoga routine, it was a deep, ugly cry – you know the type – where you wake up the next day with a puffy face and tired body – that kind of cry.

I knew I needed to process these intense emotions, and I thought of making a quilt, of course. For the next few weeks, I started dreaming about yellow quilts. Yellow fabric, yellow thread, wearing yellow, eating bananas, sewing in the sunshine… all yellow and bright. I also knew I wanted to use triangles to symbolize 30 years / 3 sisters. While these thoughts were bubbling around in my head, I saw my massage therapist who told me about the Manipura Chakra which governs our self-esteem and uses an inverted yellow triangle as its symbol. It also governs all the physical organs that are giving me health issues. That was all I needed to be motivated to create this design!

I wanted to use both green-shade yellows and red-shade yellows in the same quilt – to really show how seemingly very slight differences of opinion can be so glaringly different from each other. The only way I could do that was to add in some neutrals (browns and greys) and I made them look like tears to represent my sadness. What’s interesting is those darker colors really make that center triangle pop out, almost 3-dimensionally! The whole time I stitched on this quilt, I repeated the mantra:

I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this reality effortlessly.

I would say this quilt is my statement of independence from both the prescribed religion and family I was born into. I have found myself, my people, and my spirituality all on my own and this quilt reflects that nicely.

Quilting for therapy is probably the best thing I’ve ever stumbled upon… it’s such a great way to process emotion: cutting pretty things apart, then putting them back together to create something completely new and beautiful in a different way. It is so much better than the way I use to deal with emotions, which was to drink them away. Now I have something to show for my time instead of daily hangovers!

Sisters and Sleep

I was super lucky to be able to go to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show last week! What an amazing show – I’m so thrilled I was able to go see it!!

This trip was a self-test. I have some health issues that prevent me from going too far away from home, but I wanted to see:

  1. If I could drive the whole 3.5 hours there and back through the mountains.
  2. If my exhaustion levels would hold up through a day of seeing many people.
  3. If my digestion could tolerate the time changes and food options.
  4. If I would swell up in the heat.
  5. If I could hold my anxiety in check.

I have to say that I did much better than I expected – even through massive traffic on the way down making my trip closer to 5 hours in the car, I made it there with only a bit of anxiety on the road (steep mountain curves with strobing sunlight through the trees). I would have ridden the bus down if I didn’t have such bad motion sickness.

The best part of the trip was getting to know a few of my guild friends a little better – they were great fun! We sewed together and ate together and laughed a lot. It was really sweet. Everyone had a project and it was nice to discuss the thoughts behind the quilt making. Sometimes our guild meetings are so big, we don’t get to hear about the whole story behind the quilt, so I really enjoyed getting to know these ladies a bit better through their creative process. Totally fun!!

However, I forgot all my nighttime pills/suppliments so I did not sleep well, and we had plans to meet more friends around 7:30am, so I was up early – and if you know me, this is much earlier than I’m used to. Since I wasn’t sleeping well anyway, I decided to enjoy the morning – and it was beautiful! It was even a bit chilly, so it was an easy, gorgeous drive into Sisters. Once I was there, I was happy we left early – the temperature was warm in the sun, but not bad at all!

The show was great, I saw a lot of inspirational quilts! Our PMQG section was beautiful too – many of the Row by Row quilts made last year were on display. I was able to see many people there and meet a few new friends too! I really enjoy meeting people in real life that I’ve only ever met online. It’s part of the reason I really wanted to go – I usually feel a little left out when my body does not have the allowance that others’ have. So I had a lot of fun talking to people and meeting new friends… and seeing some amazing quilts to boot!

Around noon my body started to give way a bit – I started getting tired. Exhausted tired, the kind where you could just fall asleep in the middle of the road if the sun wasn’t glaring down on it right now- kind of tired. Then I started some swelling from ankles and elbows down, and my feet started to have nerve pain, and I knew it was time to go.

It was only 12:30-1pm when I left… and there were a few more people I wanted to see and talk to while I was there – but I was fading fast, and I knew I had a long drive ahead of me, so I decided to leave. I was a little tired while driving, but I got to a rest stop about an hour out of Sisters and stopped and ate some food, drank some water, and stretched… then laid down on the grass in the shade under a tree and closed my eyes for a bit. That little pit stop allowed me to get home without stopping again, so I was home by 5. I said hello to my husband, ate a little and fell asleep.

That was Saturday, it is now Tuesday, and I’m just starting to feel like I can keep my eyes open, and have a desire to eat. While I did well on the trip, it really knocked me out physically. I’m still fairly exhausted, but I’m able to write, so here I am…

There were so many people in Sisters who seemed older, or with health problems… or both. I always wonder how much planning goes into their trips, how do they do it? Is it weird to be so jealous of an able body? I don’t feel I’m that feeble, yet these events are really hard to recover from, so maybe I am…? It certainly colors my future a certain way – and is a little saddening.

So… onto some more positive thinking! I’ve been working on some hand work – La Passacaglia to be exact. I’m only doing a few rosettes for a charity quilt. This pattern is really intense using a pentagon for a base shape rather than a hexagon. There are a lot of small pieces –  I did one that was English Paper-Pieced, and one where I traced the shapes on the back of the fabric and stitched them together with a running stitch and Y-seams. The one without EPP went together really fast, so I’m trying another that way using a different size. I have some ideas that are still incubating for this kind of piecing… I hope they lead me to something cool! I’ll be sharing more soon!



If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say…

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say… We have a lot in common.

I saw this saying on a shirt recently and it hits the nail on the head. I’ve actually written about 2-3 blog posts a week over the last month, but haven’t posted any of them because there’s not a lot of nice things to say right now. Between the current administration, and things like Fukushima… it becomes difficult to lead a contented life.

I think I’ll leave it at that. No need to fuel any more flames in my heart. So… I want to get back to quilting! Sewing always makes me feel better. I think it’s because the making of something tangible gives me a little sense of accomplishment.

Right now I’m currently hand-quilting Hummingbird No. 2. I quilted the body of the bird with almost invisible silk thread, and I’m using #12 perle cotton thread to stitch vertical lines with larger stitches. I’m really loving how it’s turning out.

I want to add at least 3x the amount of lines I already have… and in different blue thread colors. I think I’m just going to put French Knots in the centers of the flowers and leave them alone otherwise. They might puff out a little more once I quilt more lines into the background.

This is a slow project. I’m just not motivated to push myself to go fast… partially because I’m not ready to start another project just yet. Close, but not quite.

I also just finished my SIBO diet ‘cleanse’ and have some positives and some negatives from it. I did a lot of research into the subject and learned a lot. Mostly what I learned is that there are 2-3 differing viewpoints on how to treat the bacteria overgrowth – and that they are learning as they go. Hopefully more solid information will be discovered as more and more people are having gut issues. (have you seen all the acid reflux and constipation commercials recently??)

Mostly what I’ve learned is that most of the food-like product being sold to us as edible food, should be questioned. Who knew there were so many ties between lobbyists, the FDA, Monsanto, big Pharma, big Ag, the EPA and our government. I learned that a company like Merck or Monsanto can do all research on their own product, show their findings to EPA or FDA (filled with people who used to work for Merck/Monsanto/Bayer/ etc.) and get the “Okay” to make big profits off us… based on their own findings!! There is no real oversight, and that frightens me. It frightens me because almost everyone I talk to 100% believes the EPA and FDA are legitimate agencies for our benefit, when in reality, they are the stamp of approval needed for larger companies to poison us for profit.

Maybe my next quilt needs to be food-related…?

Quilt Finish!

YAY! I finished the quilt I made for my friends 50th Birthday, and he now has the quilt so now I can speak and share freely! He was totally surprised and happy with it, and it really made me happy being able to make it for him. Giving is always such a good feeling, and I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like.

I made the quilt to be 68″ x 96″ for my friend (pictured on left) – I wanted it to be long enough for him to sleep with – being tall has challenges! 😉 I’m a little bummed I won’t be able to show it at quilt guild, but I’m happy I was able to give it to him on his birthday!

I used the Trip Around The World block, and named it “50 Trips Around The Sun” which I thought was pretty punny! I used a piece of Kaffe Fassett fabric as my focus fabric to choose the other colors. I wanted it to ‘sparkle’ so I used different shades of solid grey and blues, and yellow-greens. I LOVE how it turned out!

This is my scrappy back – I didn’t have too many scraps for this one so I used an Allison Glass piece that I adore along with this quilt back with “love and blessings” and poetry written all over it. It was perfect for my friend. I used wool batting and did straight lines on the diagonal for quilting. I quilted it on my Juki, and it came out great!

I have a long list of people I’d love to make a quilt for… but the next one will be another ‘healing quilt’ – or a quilt that I make purely for my own need to cleanse and express. I’m starting to think I should go to school to be a counselor and then use quilting as an art therapy. It’s helping me so much in these very dark times.

Speaking of healing… I’ve been on a new health regimen that hopefully will bring me closer to being healthy. I was diagnosed with SIBO a few years back and did a couple rounds of heavy antibiotics to treat it, but they did not work. I’ve adjusted my diet to deal with this, but things have been getting worse, so I took charge and bought a whole bunch of necessary suppliments and am on a Low FODMAP/SCD diet for the next 3 weeks.

I really hope this will help. My nausea keeps me from doing so much. I just saw that Craftsy is having a quilt designer fellowship contest – if you win they set you up with a new sewing machine and a booth at Quilt Market, which would be my dream… if I didn’t get so sick every time I travel. I get sick just going out to eat, I don’t know how I can try any new directions in life until this is figured out. I feel so held back it’s frustrating. I’m lucky that I work at home with my husband who takes care of me when I need it. I really don’t think a job would let me sit in the bathroom for half the day… or would be so lenient when my brain fog causes me to check out completely.

It’s almost like having an autoimmune disease… the kind you can’t see. I don’t look sick, just pregnant (swollen belly from SIBO) and full of acne due to my lack of liver enzymes. However, sometimes I feel like all I want to do is lie down (where ever that may be) from being SO exhausted, sometimes I get nauseas from the most simple things like air fresheners and detergents (definitely from things like shoes/tires/carpets/plastics/perfumes/colognes/anything scented), sometimes I get so swollen my skin itches, or my tongue swells up and it’s hard to talk, my ears ring constantly and loudly -to the point it’s hard to hear anything else, and my head is usually pounding. Plus every joint aches almost all the time. If I happen to eat something ‘bad’… it all goes South from there… think food poisoning – full on with fever sweats – that lasts 2-6 days.

I’m not wanting to complain necessarily… I just wanted to share where I’ve been at. Sometimes sharing helps, and it connects me to others going through the same thing. (Thinking of you, Cath!) The more we share, the more we realize we are not alone. 🙂


Getting Through

The last few weeks have been tough on my body – my pain levels are running high and it’s been rough to ‘get through’. I’m not sure what’s causing the increased inflammation right now, but I’m feeling all my nerve endings today. All. Of. Them. Especially around my teeth – which is worse than any other pain IMHO!

I was recently tested for Degenerative TMJ. I have it in my spine – and recently found out my mother had her whole lower jaw replaced due to DTMJ… so it’s not looking good genetically. I’m trying not to think about this too much, however when your spine and mouth are throbbing, it’s hard to think of anything else.

On that note… I’m trying to keep myself super busy (take my mind off my body) and I’ve been working on a new quilt top that I’m just loving! It’s for a very close friend for his b-day… so I can’t post on FB and I’m really hoping he doesn’t read my blog 😉

It’s a Trip Around The World Quilt. A lot of chain piecing, so I got the top done pretty fast! I’m still adding a 4″ border all around in darker grey – I want to make sure it’s big enough to actually use, and my friend is pretty tall. I’m naming the quilt: “50 Trips Around The Sun” as a play on the block name.

Today I hope to get the back completed as well – I have a 1 yard of awesome backing fabric, and I’m going to piece the rest. I want to use up some of these scraps! So I better get to it! What are you up to this weekend? Better yet… what is your number one pain-reducing go-to plan?

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!

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



Hexie Hummingbird No.2 Layout

Phew… boy oh boy. I have been on a crazy physical and emotional rollercoaster lately, and I’m pretty sure I can chalk it up to getting older and being female. Ugh. I’m sure some of you know exactly what I’m talking about!

Yeah, I think it’s that time. I’m 47 and the average age is 51, so it looks like I’m right on schedule. This is one of those times I wish I could talk to my mom and find out more about her health issues. Instead I’m reading up on the subject and learning a lot on my own about this somewhat intangible thing called peri-menopause.

This could be the base of a lot of my recent ‘mystery symptoms’! The thing that tipped me off was I recently started getting morning sickness… and I’m definitely not pregnant. Who knew this can be a symptom?!? I sure didn’t, and if it’s anything like the morning sickness I had while pregnant 26 years ago, I will be miserable every morning till it’s over. This along with many other fun things like hot flashes are my new reality.

As you know, I need to find a silver lining in everything, or else my depression can take hold and pull me to never never land. So… I’m excited that this may be the cause of other awful symptoms… and it all could be going away soon!!  I just have to get over the hump. To do that, I’m immersing myself in quilting.

I brought my Juki in for a cleaning and tune-up and since I’m now without a machine, I started another hexie project! Hexies always cheer me up – they are so freaking cute!

Hexie Hummingbird Finish

A good friend purchased my Hexie Hummingbird Quilt recently, so I decided to make another one with my left-over hexies. This was much harder to lay out than the first one due to my dwindling resource of made hexies… but I’m still happy with it. This photo is close to the layout I ended up with:

Hexie Hummingbird No.2 Layout

Pretty cute, right? I like it because I’m using bright, big patterned fabrics. Very different than the usual monochromatic patterned fabrics I usually choose. This is going to be fun to sew! I’m going to keep track of my time on this too. It was very interesting to see my time spent on my last quilt, and that helps give me confidence to value my work more accurately.

manipura quilt-gail weiss

Speaking of which… this is me with the Manipura Quilt at our most recent PMQG meeting – thanks to Kimberly Lumapas for the photo! I was so nervous I don’t think I was even making any sense up there… but my guild is so supportive! As soon as the quilt unfolded, there was a bunch of applause and it made me feel like a rock star! (a little embarrassed too – if I’m being honest)

I’m really happy with how this quilt turned out, but – I really enjoyed the process of making it more than any other quilt I’ve made so far.  Now that I’ve made two Chakra quilts, I think I’m going to follow through and do all seven. It will be a fun design challenge, and if I use the process of quilting for healing – it can only be good!


A New Method – Foundation Paper Piecing

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

I recently designed a new quilt that will need to employ foundation paper piecing for accuracy. I was pretty hesitant to start making blocks until I was shown a really neat technique at our PMQG sew day by Rozina who was working on a Pickle-Dish block.

Manipura Quilt design by Gail Lizette Weiss

After she showed me how she did paper piecing, I went out and bought a roll of freezer paper and just jumped right in. This is a pretty easy way to get accurate piecing… AND not have to rip papers out at the end.

I haven’t managed to film a good working video yet, so get ready for a lot of photos!

The blocks of this quilt are all the same – using different fabrics. There are 15 blocks in the quilt pattern that are split on an angle to make the inner triangle. Each block finishes at 6.5″ x 9″ –  I inversed my pattern and printed it on a piece of lightweight newsprint paper.

From there, I cut freezer paper to 8″x10″ sheets – this gives me plenty of room for additional seam allowance. I took 8 sheets of FP with the paper side up  (wax side down) and stapled the paper pattern to the top. I stitched through all layers without thread, then carefully took out the staple. I trimmed the paper to 3/8″ around the pattern to account for seam allowance. This gave me 8 freezer paper templates with perforated lines, ready to use. These templates can be re-used quite a few times, but I opted to make a template for each block to keep things organized better. My machine did fine with 8 sheets, you may need to test yours.

Now the tricky part:

Patternfreezer paper template







Here is the section of the paper pattern I’m going to demonstrate – it’s highlighted – Block #B1.

I marked the freezer paper with pencil on the paper side – so the marking is inversed. That is a hard thing for my brain to get around due to my dyslexia – I have to triple-check my markings before sewing, and I still get some things mixed up… but basically, if I flip the freezer paper over, the markings will match my pattern.

Heat up the iron, I’m ready to start sewing!

I start from the center section of the block – for this demo, “X” is for solid yellow. I put the fabric right side down, and lay the freezer paper over it (wax side down) and press. Don’t worry about the wax paper on your ironing surface – it peels up easily without residue while still warm.

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

You can see here while I’m holding this up that the fabric is now adhered to the freezer paper.  See how there is at least 1/4″ of extra fabric around the whole “X” section. There is excess on this piece I used, I need to trim that off.stucktopaperSo… lay the paper/fabric piece on your cutting table, fabric side down – and carefully peel back the wax paper to the perforated line that marks the “X” section:

Foundation Paper Piecing TutorialFoundation Paper Piecing Tutorial







Now you are ready to trim that extra piece off, but make sure you add 1/4″ seam allowance first.

Foundation Paper Piecing TutorialFoundation Paper Piecing TutorialFoundation Paper Piecing Tutorial












Now you are ready to add your second piece of fabric- which, for me are these dots!Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

With the paper folded over, you can check to see if the fabric is large enough to cover the perforated shape plus seam allowance.

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

Once you have your fabrics together (right sides together), it’s time to sew. I sew right next to the freezer paper fold. Sometimes I catch a little of the paper, but that’s okay, as long as it is very close to the fold.

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

Now it’s back to the iron. I lay the piece down so both fabrics are on top,

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

then I fold one fabric back and press out, just on the seam (very careful NOT to touch the freezer paper!)


Then I flip the whole thing,


double-check the seam matches up to the perforated line,


fold the paper back over the fabric and press.


Now I have two pieces stitched together, and I’m ready to trim the dots and add my next section.


So, I fold back the paper to the perforated line that denotes this section,


And trim adding 1/4″ seam allowance.


Add next piece of fabric (solid yellow in this case) and sew closely to the folded paper line.


Open and press as before, careful not to iron over the wax part of the paper.


And… as you can see… I make mistakes sometimes! This second solid yellow piece is sewn on backwards – it doesn’t cover it’s “X” section the way I sewed it on, so I had to do a little seam ripping. It didn’t affect the paper at all.


I was able to reuse the piece, I just had to carefully place it before stitching so it would cover the whole section, and still have seam allowance.


After stitching and pressing, this is how it is supposed to look!


I keep adding sections, one at a time, out to one edge,


then start in the center again to work toward the other side.


Once all the sections are covered, I consider the block DONE! I’m leaving the paper on and not trimming the sides until I’m ready to start sewing them together.tut057

All my markings are still on the back – which should make layout a snap.


Here are three finished blocks all lined up:


I’m so excited to start sewing this quilt together! I guess you could say I’m a little obsessive – all I want to do is sew. Things like eating, cleaning, and work tend to become frustrating distractions, and I have to check myself to make sure I stay grounded. I have to say, with corporations trying to destroy our planet, and politicians just helping them along… it’s extremely easy for me to lose myself in a project like this.

I hope this little tutorial was as informative and inspiring for you as it was when it was shown to me!

Manipura Quilt

solar plexus chakra quilt

A few weeks back I had an intense emotional release during my yoga practice, I wrote about it here. Ever since, I’ve been envisioning how to purge those emotions through quilting. I’ve also been dreaming about sewing a yellow quilt, so I designed one!solar plexus chakra quilt

I spoke with my Cranial Sacral Therapist about all this. I told her how I wrote about it on my blog and she found it interesting that I’m being so open about my emotions in that very public way. She reminded me of how I felt like an outsider when I was a kid, and how I usually try to be invisible as an adult. It’s a protective act – not be seen or noticed – to keep myself safe from ridicule/pain/nerves. This new ‘showing of emotions’ should be taken as a sign to move past the fear, and to believe in my self-worth.  I showed her my design, and we both think my Solar Plexus Chakra that is screaming for attention.

The Solar Plexus Chakra, also called Manipura, is the 3rd chakra and is based just below the diaphram. It is where our will power comes from, and our ability to achieve, self-esteem, raw emotions, and self-discipline are seated there. This energy system governs the large intestines, the stomach, the digestive system, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, the liver and the lungs. When you have a ‘gut’ feeling about something, it is this energy source that is communicating to your brain.

Yellow, fire, and sunflowers are all positive symbols of this chakra, and so is a downward pointing triangle. My design is perfect for this project.

With my anxiety, liver, digestive issues, it makes total sense that this is where I need to work energetically. I need a better sense of self. To help heal this chakra, the mantra I need to keep repeating is:

I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this Reality, effortlessly.

So I’m repeating this over and over as I stitch away. One fun fact is that this is my second try at foundation paper piecing, and I’m learning a lot as I go!

solar plexus chakra quilt

solar plexus chakra quilt

The paper piecing technique using freezer paper that my friend Rozina showed me, works great! I’m going to work on a tutorial for that soon!

solar plexus chakra quilt

Looking at the design again I see so much more symbolism – there is the center triangle standing apart from the background. That is representing my self-worth – and it’s made up of many other smaller triangles, that represents my friends and family who are super supportive. The darker edges around the center triangle sort of look like feathers, but really represent all the tears and negativity shed over the years, so I could find myself.

It might seem weird to use quilting as therapy, but for me – it works. I think it’s extremely therapeutic to work with texture and color, and to work and create something completely new with your own hands. While working on the Root Chakra quilt, I connected with that quilt, that project, everything about it, was healing for me. I’m happy to work through emotional baggage as I sew. Plus, I think the end result radiates the energy I put into it.

I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this Reality, effortlessly. 


Social Awkwardness

Root Chakra Quilt - photo by Juline Bajada

There have been many times where I have felt socially awkward, and I’m trying to change that. I’m always enamored with people who feel comfortable in most situations – the ones who can always speak their minds, no matter what anyone thinks. I’d love to be one of those people!

If you read my blog, you know I have some health issues: fatty liver, IBS, SIBO, degenerative disc disease, vertigo, low thyroid, and gluten intolerance. I don’t have insurance and work on my own behalf with the help of a Naturopathic Doctor towards health. This has brought me to a place where I practice yoga and meditation every night before going to sleep, along with dietary changes, suppliments, and bodywork. I thoroughly believe I can heal my liver, and that will help all bodily systems.

Why am I writing all this openly…? Well, last night during my meditation, I was overcome with a wave of extreme emotion – as in immediate sobbing – I think it was a sort of breakthrough.

I was thinking about how next year is my 30th HS reunion year – which is big. I graduated early in January 1987, and I was kicked out of my family’s house that February over religious differences… locked out, actually. My memory went right to my 3 younger sisters crying behind the oval window in the big front door of my house after the folks locking me out because I spent the night at a friends house who wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness.

The realization that that was my last encounter with any of my sisters -seeing or talking to them… and it has been almost 30 years! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I worked through my whole routine while crying. I thought I was emotionally ‘over’ all of this stuff – it has been 3 decades after all… but no, all I could think about was the family I lost due to religion. Three sisters, 30 years. I don’t even know their last names since they’ve all been married. So sad. I also have a brother who was born after I left home – I have yet to meet him, but he recently left the religion too! I may have a bit of family after all… but, my real question is this: How do I grieve a family that is not even dead, people who only choose not to talk to me…?

honor collage

It also made me think of my youth, and how separated from everyone else I was. I was 5 when my parents ‘found God’  and we moved to the middle of nowhere in the country. I was isolated just by where I lived. Plus,we weren’t allowed to celebrate holidays, so I had to sit in the hallway at school for every event. I was also not allowed to pledge allegiance to the flag, and many people gave me the stink-eye for that too. I didn’t get to do any extra-curricular activities, or have friends that weren’t JW’s. To top it off, most of the JW friends I did have, didn’t hang with me much due to the fact my dad was an elder in the congregation, I think they avoided me so they wouldn’t get it trouble themselves. So… I’ve always been a bit of a loner.

After a bit of memory flash, I started thinking of the relationship with my own daughter, how wonderful it is – how wonderful she is. And I just can’t, for the life of me, imagine kicking her out of my life – over a difference in belief. I love her so much… makes me wonder just HOW my parent’s can hold tight to their “tough love” approach for all this time. I just don’t understand.

I think it’s important for me to figure this out. I need to vent or release these emotions – of course what comes to mind is making a quilt. I think I need to make a quilt that will help remember my family with love and forgiveness, and then be able to move on. I had hopes that at some point they would open their eyes and see things for what they are, and leave that religion… or at least be open to respecting my beliefs so we can have a relationship again. Those hopes are dwindling down to nothing, and I have to come to terms with the fact I may never see or hear from them again, which I have to admit, seems worse than if they had died.

I have always been set apart from the group, and the one group I thought truly loved me (my family) has separated themselves from me. I think this is all part of why I feel so awkward and uncomfortable in most social situations, but I’m getting better.  It just makes me think of all the multiple reasons some people are socially awkward… and I have a lot of empathy when I see it. You just never know what someones’ experience might be.

*Heavy Sigh*

Thanks for reading my thought release from this emotionally heavy meditation. Sharing is very therapeutic in ways I can’t quite put my finger on… and it is also inspiring me to start a new quilt project.

It will be interesting to see what visually comes with this release. I did the same thing when I made my Root Chakra quilt as I was dealing with emotions that dealt with fear of death, a need for health, and a foundation to base it all on.  That quilt really speaks to me and I’m proud of the work I did on it, both visually and emotionally.

Root Chakra Quilt - photo by Juline Bajada


These last few days, I’ve been working on coping with my newfound anxiety issues. It’s been difficult to just sit and sew. I feel like I need to be much more active to alleviate the icky feeling in my body. It has been very soothing to hang out with Mr. Kitty – he’s such a mushball of love – amazing what a little time with a furry hairball can do 🙂

One thing I am working on is sewing some hexies together for a medallion piece. It’s about halfway done. It’s taking longer than usual because I have so many other projects happening as well as work. I’m not sure if I’m going to use it as a medallion for the center of a quilt, or if I should just make it a coffee-table mat.

Our PMQG picnic is this Thursday and I’m really excited to bring my Game of Quilts quilt to show at Show and Tell. I’ll be posting about that quilt soon – I decided to quilt a little more into it first. Since it’s such a small quilt (18″x18″) every detail is noticeable and may be a good opportunity to densely quilt it up. They’ve already started accepting online submissions. You can see all the current entries here.  Open online voting will be  Sept. 16th – Sept. 19th.

There are a few other smaller projects in my studio that I need to work on, I’m hoping to feel good enough to tackle some this weekend!

My Quilt Show Adventure

This weekend there was a quilt show called Quilt Knit Stitch! here in Portland. I went and had quite an adventure… but not the kind I was expecting.

Long story short, the toxicity of the carpets that were being used in the exhibit made me sick to my stomach, and also induced an anxiety attack. It was a little scary there for a while… my heart was racing, I was sweating with chills, my limbs and mouth were vibrating, I felt nauseas, and lightheaded, and really felt like I was going to pass out… so much so that there were a few times I was ready to call 911. After sitting in the lobby for over an hour (away from those carpets) I was able to get myself to an Urgent Care facility.

I was told I have something called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) which makes me very sensitive to smells (light, sound, and touch too) and that the anxiety attack was purely a reaction to the poisonous air. They also gave me some medications to help with anxiety.

Not really a surprise to me! I’ve been sensitive to smells (tires, shoes, perfume, cigarettes etc.) for a long time, usually they would only give me a bit of nausea… but this kind of ‘anxiety’ was something new to me altogether!

The scary thing is the thought of this happening in the future. I never want to be in that situation again! Luckily, at the quilt show, I had many friends who were around to sit and talk with me and bring me water. *can’t thank you enough!*

Right now, I’m still feeling anxious… this feeling just won’t seem to leave, and it is fairly uncomfortable. Not painful, just uncomfortable. I’m afraid that it may not change back to normal.  A friend of mine told me that it can take days to weeks to recover fully from a panic attack like this and to give it time and the feeling will pass.

This is great advice – but what happens if I’m around something toxic again? It’s not caused by a mental state, but a physical reaction. No matter how much meditation and breathing I do to calm my mind, my body can still take control… and then promptly lose it!

I know there are not too many people who follow my blog, but if you have any experience with anxiety or MCS, I would really like to connect. This is a new (and a bit scary) world to me and I would love to talk to someone who is familiar with it – especially if you’ve experienced this type of anxiety from it.

I’m not posting this for sympathy, but as an educational aid.
It’s a learning experience for me for sure: Realizing that these commonly used products are actual toxins (not just bad smells), and they can make some people very sick. 

The sad part is that I missed an awesome show. I was able to see a few quilts before getting sick, and what I saw was pretty amazing! I really hope that I have no issues at the Expo Center when it comes time for the Northwest Quilting Expo show in Sept. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Health Through Food?

This post will be about food rather than quilting. Why? Because my health is making it hard to be able to sew (or work, or think clearly for that matter). It’s something I’ve struggled with since my gall bladder was removed in 2000, ever since then, things have slowly spiraled downward. I have IBS, leaky gut, SIBO, and some sort of auto-immune disorder that is causing my white blood cell count to be high. I also have a sneaking suspicion I have fibromyalgia (like my sister) but I haven’t seen an MD to get that diagnosis. I’m also pre-diabetic.

What this means to me is I’m tired (exuberantly exhausted) with headaches, and I’m achy in all my joints, with inflammation that affects my spine, which makes moving a very nervy experience.

Instead of complaining to everyone about it, I thought I’d share my plan to health instead! I’m hoping by posting about it that I will have the encouragement to follow through. So… this is the plan:

 It’s a pretty intensive diet plan that incorporates nutrients from food to help heal the gut lining. I think that is my main directive. It’s pretty close to what I already eat… I only have to cut the rice and corn, and that’s about it.  It is also specific in what (exactly) to eat and when. Here is the recipe for one of the protein shakes and a lunch – looks pretty good, right?

The plan is to follow this for 10 days, then re-assess. If I can keep going… I will. I know the longer I can stick to it, the better I’ll heal. I’ve cut sugar from my diet before and so I KNOW how wonderful it can be.

If I feel good, I’ll be able to work on my quilt projects more and maybe I’ll feel good enough to travel and meet some of my quilty friends in other states. I’ll even be able to do more right here in Portland for that matter… or so I hope. There is nothing more depressing than feeling too tired to meet with friends… especially for sewing!

My next few posts may have some food-related things, but I’ll get back to quilting for sure. Thanks for being so supportive!

Heavy Metals

Some of you may know that I have been sort of sick for years, and that I’ve been testing for things as I can afford (no health insurance).  So far nothing has come up as a reason for all my ailments, so my doctor sent me to have some environmental testing done for heavy metals and molds.  I was most concerned about the mold, but that only came up at a very low level, however… aluminum, cadmium, mercury, lead and uranium levels all tested high in my body.

It’s a bit of a revelation… and explains why my liver and spleen are overworked and not functioning well,  and now it’s time for some major detoxing.  I’m preparing myself for a 2 month dietary cleanse, incorporating oral chelation rather than iv form.  That means I’ll be going back to my strict no-nonsense diet of veggies / seeds / nuts / lean meats / some fruits.  ugh.  Not looking forward to it, but I really want to feel better, so it’s a must.

That said, I’ll be throwing myself into sewing to take my mind off certain things *like chocolate*.  Last weekend the PMQG sponsored an All Day Sew, and it was awesome!  This time my daughter came with me (how cool is that?) to work on a cosplay costume for Sakura-Con.  It was great seeing her work on her own project (rather than have me do it all) and get great tips from other guild members.  I was a proud mama!  She is attempting to make these costumes for her and her friend:

Should be an interesting project to watch!
Annnnd… I’m almost done quilting my dragon quilt 😉

a health update

This post is not really about quilting, so no need to read any further if that’s what you’re in the mood for.  This post is a little update about some health issues I’m currently experiencing.  I just saw my doctor yesterday and am a little saddened by my diagnoses, and I thought I’d post whats up because I feel the need to share (why, I do not know).

It’s really not a big deal… more of a kick-in-the-butt type visit as to getting back on track with my diet.  I’m being tested for insulin resistance again… my last three tests came back as hyperinsulinic, but she wants to be sure before starting me on a medication, so a fourth test is in the works.  A bunch of other little things like negligible levels of vit. D, Iron, and Zinc proved to be helpful bits of information too.

According to the doc… what this all means to me is that my body is making insulin just fine, but for some reason my cells are not accepting it.  If I don’t stop eating simple carbohydrates, my pancreas will give out soon, and there’s a higher chance of diabetes and heart disease.  She told me, as if she was giving me a death sentence, that some people really can’t have simple carbs.  Here’s a link that explains it all better than me.

So if you wonder why I try to avoid sugar and grains (simple carbohydrates)… this is why.  I already have fatty liver disease, and my blood pressure has been steadily rising, and I’m overweight.  I’m also gluten intolerant, so anything I eat with gluten makes me quite physically ill for a couple days anyway. Which means it’s high time to get the diet in gear!

Beyond all that, the tests also showed my immune levels (SiGA) continue to stay low.  This is what is frustrating, this is what keeps me so tired and achy all the time… but I need to be more active.  I’ve been working on this for a few years now, and I was hoping for better numbers.  The doctor is putting me on low-dose naltrexone to help with pain so I can exercise without needing days to recover (hopefully), and more exercise should help in the carb department.

I work hard at not complaining about all this ~ but it is something I deal with on a day to day basis, it makes me feel like a true sugar junkie, and sometimes I just get tired of the whole thing and need to vent!  So thanks for listening… now let’s all get back to what makes us feel good… like sewing!

Time To Get Better!

I’m starting this post off with a special Happy Birthday to our lovely Rita Dog who just turned 14!  She is not a camera-friendly dog, so I’m happy to have a non-blurry picture of her.  We found this dog at large when she was 6 and she was neglected and totally schitzo… now with some love and indoor living she’s turned into an amazing dog full of love (at least for those she knows well).
For me, today marks the first day of my antibiotic treatment and new diet plan.  I got a positive test result for SIBO so I’m biting the bullet and jumping into treatment even though this is the beginning of the holiday season (full of food).  The antibiotics will kill the bad bacteria, and the diet will help heal my intestinal lining… hopefully in 6 months I’ll be a different person health-wise!  
The antibiotics are powerful… my first dose made me a little dizzy ~ but I guess they should be, I spent enough on them!!  Oh well, it’s way better than needing a surgery or relegating myself to a lifetime of aches and pains.  The diet is very simple: meat broths, boiled veggies and meat, fermented veggies, and ginger tea.  That’s it until some symptoms subside, then I can move onto slowly adding foods to the diet until I’m back to normal. 
I’m really happy about it actually.  I just hope I can do well with my self-control and find time to make all the foods from scratch.  That means a little less time sewing… but it’s for a good cause 😉


Today is Sunday… and I plan on finishing the quilting on my “Villa Villa Kula Quilt” today!  Then it’s off to the binding ~ YAY!  I’m so close!  I can’t wait to share, but I’m waiting for the MQG contest to be over first.

In the meantime, I received some exciting news from my Naturopathic Doctor.  She did some research for me (I’ve been having issues for a long time) and found some work by a colleague:  Dr. Allison Siebecker who has been studying the small intestines and something called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)… and my doctor thinks this could be the cause of my symptoms.  I’m taking the test for it next week ~ and if that is the case… I can get better!!!!

I’ve been resigning myself to the idea I have fibromyalgia, and have been a bit down about it.  But it may not be that!  It may just be a bacteria deep in my intestines (gross, I know ~ sorry).  And if that’s the case, a dose of special antibiotics and a very strict diet WILL make me better.  The diet prescribed is the GAPS diet.

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome.  It seems when you have chronic digestive issues, your body cannot take up all the nutrients it should, so our brains do not get fed and we start having mental issues.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has been researching this since 2004 and I just got her book, and I’m blown away at all the things being malnourished can affect.  I also got a GAPS cookbook called Internal Bliss ~ and I already LOVE it!  I don’t have to “adapt” anything… everything is Gail-Friendly, it’s awesome.

So I just wanted to share a bit of good news (hopefully) and now I’ll get back to my sewing!