Spinning Around The Sun

free motion quilting

I’m finishing another revolution soon, and it’s a big one. I don’t know how to feel about it. Being older is strange. I never expected to make it past age 25… so this is double-bonus-plus!

Turning 1 with paternal grandparents. Grandfather suffered from Alzheimers – he was always giggling in photos.

It’s been a very interesting new year so far. Spent the first two weeks so sick – it hurt my head to think. Still, I was able to be productive, and created a new site for our T-shirt printing business. I’m quite proud of it, it was my first foray into PHP coding – and while there were times I wanted to pull my hair out, I got it figured out and working pretty well.

Another thing I’m working on for the new year is a database for all my quilts, with date completed, size, descriptions and pictures. I thought it would be a fairly quick process, but I was surprised to list 43 quilts – how did I make so many quilts?!? Bigger question: Why did I not list each one here (with size info) as I completed them? That would have made this a whole lot easier. *Note to self*

This time of year means it’s tax time – or paperwork/accounting time for me. Between that and the new site, I haven’t been working on any new sewing projects – and I’m going a little crazy. I have a few ideas in my head for what I want to work on, but I’m having a hard time starting another Chakra quilt. They are emotionally heavy.

1984. Age 15 with parents and 3 younger sisters at Bible-Study. My brother was born after I left home, when I was 18. No full family photo exists.

Yeah… still stuck on family issues. Every time I start working on emotional balance in my life, it always comes back to these people, and how much damage they caused. Honestly – I’m kinda tired of them and thinking about them and their religion, and how their religion (cult) has them so brainwashed. Yet at the same time, I have to think about it in order to ‘let it go’. Kind of a catch 22.

This is the basis of my Chakra quilt series: To heal from the grief of conditional love and intentional loss by immediate family. It’s hard to have family treat you as if you’re dead to them… for decades. They will never talk to me again. There comes a point where you have to stop trying and face facts. Fact is: I need to say goodbye, feel the grief, and move on.

Each quilt so far has been intensive and a step in that mindful disconnection to family – and I’m doing the easier ones first. I know by starting another in this series, it will mean more introspection and reflection – and that can be difficult.

My goal is to have all 7 major Chakras represented in quilts. Represented by how they affect me personally, and what resonates for what I need for my own emotional healing. Each one takes me on its own journey. Right now the 6th Chakra is the one I’m thinking about most – so a Purple quilt may be next up in this process. I study the Chakra as I’m creating – I use mantras to positively influence my work and to open my mind to different perspectives. I try to symbolize my thoughts and feelings into the imagery of each quilt. It’s been an amazing process so far.

Root Chakra quilt
Root Chakra Quilt
Manipura final
Manipura Quilt
Vishuddha Quilt

Throat Chakra Quilt

Oh… I’m so close to being finished with the quilt I’m currently working on – and it is my favorite quilt so far. Isn’t that always the case?!

I thought I’d write a little about it here before showing it tomorrow night at PMQG because this one is packed with back story and I know I won’t get through it all, while up in front of all those people. Hopefully I get my blog mentioned before forgetting!

Throat Chakra Quilt – Basted

I started a series of Chakra quilts two years ago when I made my Root Chakra Quilt, then made the Manipura Quilt last year. With each quilt I explore my own energy relating to that Chakra, check it to see if it’s positive or negative, and then work hard to correct any terrible learned behaviors. I’m not going in order they are in… I’m going with what my meditations and my heart say I personally need to work on.

This one, Vishuddha, is the one I needed to work on the most. It’s about ‘speaking your truth’ and centers around the throat area of the body. By not voicing certain emotions, we can end up with a ‘blocked’ Throat Chakra which can cause physical ailments. I would love to feel better.  Read more about this Chakra here.

The idea for this quilt came with our PMQG Word Quilt Challenge last year. I wasn’t sure of the exact words I would use, but I knew I had something important to say.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I wanted to say with this quilt, but while sewing, the Kavanaugh hearings were happening. The rage I felt building in my body while hearing this man talk was overwhelming and completely surprising. I then knew what this quilt was going to be: it was going to encapsulate the feeling of humiliation and isolation one feels when someone assaults you and no one believes you, or worse – people blame you for what happened.  Hearing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford give testimony made me shiver with understanding.

In the religion I was raised in, women were objects. You were taught to be happy about being subjected. If someone wanted you, you were to be elated and thankful. My upbringing was all about cooking, cleaning, and caring for babies. We were told that we would not need an education because our men would provide for us. When women were abused by husbands, they were told to be more submissive, kind, … and more pleasing sexually. When children were molested, they were told to dress differently, not be so seductive, and to be forgiving. This way of thinking has done lasting damage to me.

Ready to quilt on the Juki!

Because of low self esteem, I pretty much could blame myself for anything bad that happened to me. When I was date-raped at 16, I could not tell anyone because I had snuck out of my house, went to a party and got drunk… all behind my parent’s backs. I knew if I told anyone, I would be reprimanded and kicked out of my house, and I was terrified.

This first time led to other times, other situations, other people… and I could always find a reason to write it off. I was kicked out when I decided not to go door to door preaching anymore (religious differences), and spent my young adulthood as a homeless gutter punk. I drank and did drugs to forget. The drinking and loneliness led to more bad decisions, and more guilt. I became very good at finding the greatest guys for abusive relationships. 

The thing that saved me was getting pregnant and having a daughter. Thinking about things in a parent’s perspective has really helped me get some of my own self esteem back. If she deserves to be heard, so should I!

When she was five, I met my husband, who was the first guy in my life to show me what love really is. We’ve been together over 20 years and he’s adopted my daughter and things have definitely gotten better in my world after starting our own business and buying our first home.

The tough part is with stability and soberness, feelings from the past come up from out of nowhere and I just need to feel these things without exploding.   

So, I’m using quilting as art therapy. With fabric and color, I’m somehow able to work through some of these overwhelming waves of emotion. Completing a quilt gives me a sense of accomplishment that feels great.

Opening up about some of my past is a good thing, and I saw a counselor this year for a few sessions. She encouraged me to talk about past traumas, and everything always ended up coming back to abandonment issues and having no self worth. 

All this cutting and sewing, and cutting and sewing ended up making something really beautiful and powerful to look at, and I like that metaphor for my own life. Every time something has happened to me, I go over it and over it and over it trying to figure out what I could have done better. I’ve cut myself apart and put all the pieces back together again a million different times… it might look pretty, but there are a lot of bumpy seams or imperfections if you look closely. 

At the center of it all is light energy that sustains us and propels us to continue moving forward. I used Violet Craft’s “Flight” fabric in the center with the gold birds to show freedom from within. This quilt also has 16 rays that signify the 16 vowels in the Sanskrit language. Vowels are necessary to speak words, and the words I needed to say…? 

“I am worthy”

Working

I’ve been working a lot lately which leaves little room for writing. Not just work work, but emotional healing work too. I’ve been getting close to finishing the top of my Vishuddha Quilt and I’m very happy with how it’s turning out, and how I feel when I look at it. 

String of fabric bits to add to my Throat Chakra Quilt.

We watched Leah Remini: The Jehovah’s Witnesses last night. It aired on A&E and is probably still accessible, and if you’re interested in what the JW’s are all about – this is an excellent program. It touched on all the main problems I have with that religion, and the control it has over its followers. Seeing video of that lifestyle, and those speakers – it stimulated all sorts of memories. It’s still hard… and I really don’t want to think about it much anymore – but there are some real feelings there that I need to address. What makes it hard to work through is that most people you might talk to have no idea what it was like growing up in that environment, they don’t have any real advice on how to recover.

I’ve been wanting to just ‘be normal’ and enjoy being around people. Unfortunately, I get overwhelmed so easily, so in groups I have a hard time focusing on one-on-one conversations. My anxiety hasn’t been that bad lately – and for that I am so grateful!!  The issue that’s bugging me now is just how tired I get all the time. I feel like I can’t get enough sleep… and when I eat, I have to be ready to nap – because when my body is digesting, I have no energy at all. This makes me super spacey and it’s hard to get focused on any project… or on any conversations. 

My Throat Chakra Quilt on the design wall – in progress.

So I’ve been working on the Throat Chakra quilt and letting all this emotional crap work itself out while I’m sewing. I have been tears and shouting with frustration and anger and love and more frustration while working on this. It’s a personal piece. It is me. How many times have I cut myself apart and put the pieces back together hoping something different would come of it? Too many times to count. Every time being necessary.

Healing – A work in progress.

With all that is happening in our world at this moment, I have been working hard on not letting it get to me, so I don’t become overwhelmed and depressed. It’s very difficult to live in a dichotomy where you KNOW things are wrong with our government (and globally too), yet you still need to eat and pay bills – so you continue to go to work and pay taxes and continue to do what you can. Meanwhile, more horrible things happen.

I’m not sure what to do, but I do know we need solutions and not just memes.  So… I’m trying to live my best life and to be positive. At least by adding positivity to the world, I feel like I’m helping… even if it’s miniscule.

I’ve also started some emotional therapy that has been very hard and exhausting… but obviously necessary. I’m still stuck in my past and I really need to live in ‘the now’ – but it is hard to try to re-wire my thought processes. It’s just hard to unlearn certain negative ways of dealing with people… and now I’m hyper-aware of them, and realizing I come from a negative point of view almost all the time. It’s going to take a little work, but I’m doing it.

I’m so thankful to have my quilting to keep me sane… quite literally. I really process a lot while sewing. Because it can be so meditative, I can ponder things deeply. Then all this shows itself in the actual quilt work. Right now I’m working on the Vishuddha Quilt and just finished the center New York Beauty block sections. It’s getting close to being done, but I can tell there is still something more I need to do with it. 

I’m also getting close to finishing the Kaleidoscope Quilt!! I’m so thrilled to have only 7 sections left! I think I might be able to finish within the next month – Squeeeee!!!! My design wall is fun to look at right now!

 

Will This Post?

I’m wondering if I will even post this.

I’ve been writing a post almost every other day for a while, but haven’t published any of them. They are all so depressing. I guess that’s what happens when you’re feeling blue.

Quite literally too – feeling blue. I’ve been working on my Vishuddha Quilt and it’s slowly (but beautifully) coming along. It’s such a slow process, but that’s what this quilt is asking for.

The Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) is the 5th major Chakra of the body and it is all about speaking out – speaking your truth. This is something I have difficulty with as I don’t really even know what my truth is.

I’m still in a healing phase, and feeling a little lost emotionally.  There are a lot of things coming up in counseling and in my body / energy work that are difficult to process. There are big hurdles. Even though it has been a long time since I’ve had any mental or emotional trauma, I guess I still carry quite a load.

I’m really ready to drop it all, heal, start fresh. My counselor asked if I hadn’t been raised the way I was, and money & health weren’t issues, what would I want to do with my life… what did I want to be when I was a kid before being brainwashed?  This question is extremely difficult, and I still have no answer.

Before I go off on another ‘feel sorry for me’ tangent, I’m stopping myself and am going to share pictures of the Vishuddha Quilt in progress instead! Then I’ll be able to publish a post this month!

A Whirlwind

My life has been a bit of a whirlwind recently – many things happening including work is starting to really pick up for the summer. This keeps my days full of customer service and design work.

I’m also working on writing a new quilt pattern for machine piecing! It’s going pretty well, even though I have not done a lot of writing or reading of other quilt patterns.  I will definitely need to test it before releasing it. If you feel like trying out a free pattern – let me know! I should have it ready to test in about 2 weeks.

Been working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt, but not as much as I would like. I would prefer to hand sew 2 hours every night to achieve my time goals for this quilt… but it’s turning out I might sew for maybe an hour every other night or so. It’s going to take a little longer than planned. All good!  I’m totally loving the process and having something to work on any time.

Here is a chunk of the round I’m currently working on:

kaleidoscopequilt

This hasn’t been ironed yet. Here is what the back looks like pre-ironing:

kaleidoscopequilt

The one question people ask all the time is: How do you iron these?
I press straight down from the top and manipulate the pieces as necessary.  Here is what the back looks like after pressing:kaleidoscopequilt

and the front looks like this:

kaleidoscopequilt

I just added it to the rest of the quilt that is hanging on my design wall:

kaleidoscopequilt

I have 8 of these HUGE 4th round chunks to make! Luckily only 3 of them are complete, the other 5 are partials as they hit the sides of the quilt.

I do have a pattern for this quilt. It took me about 2 months to lay it out and choose colors. Once I finish piecing this quilt top, and confirming my counts in the pattern, I’m going to set up a pattern for anyone else crazy enough to give it a try. I’v been keeping track of my time on this quilt too – right now I’m a little over 304 hours of actual stitching time in on this quilt!

keeping time

Right now I’m also working on the Vishuddha Quilt. I usually only do one project at a time, but the Kaleidoscope quilt is going to take time and I need some instant gratification… at least be able to piece a little faster than when I hand stitch.

I’m creating from my current stash so I’m limited in fabric choices. Because of that, I’m trying this crazy technique of sewing, cutting, and sewing again, etc. to get a well blended, almost sparkly look to my blocks:

vishuddhaQuiltvishuddhaQuilt

Of course, this is taking almost as long as hand stitching… I don’t know what I was thinking exactly!? I’m currently stuck on choosing the fabrics for the next portion of this quilt. It’s all about contrast, so I want to make sure whichever fabrics I choose will stand out against this first block. Wish me luck! 😉

Another part of my whirlwind this month was being able to see my little neice Lily! She came with her mom, who is my amazing SIL from NYC. We all had a great time visiting and checking out Portland, but the best was when these cousins got to spend time together – so sweet.

cousins cousins

I’m off to enjoy some sunshine – it’s gorgeous out today!

A Plan Formulation

Finally a plan for my Vishuddha Quilt is starting to come together in my head. I make things a little more difficult by trying to only use what fabrics I have on hand… but that also makes for a more interesting quilt!

The Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) is energetically based in the neck region and is connected to our power of communication. It also connects our physical attributes with our mental ones. When this chakra is blocked we can experience fear of conflict, inability to speak up or speak out when necessary, and more physically: neck, jaw, and shoulder pain – and thyroid problems.

So I’ve been envisioning the shape of the thyroid gland as a base design element. It’s often described as being the shape of a butterfly – and I’m also thinking of the pattern metal shavings make with a magnetic field.  I was having a hard time translating that look to a quilt pattern idea… but I think I got it! I’m going to try a New York Beauty Block – make it big and split it down the center.

One of the main symbols of this chakra are 16 petals. These petals represent each vowel in the Sanskrit language. Without those sacred letters, speech would be impossible. Instead of going super literal and making petal shapes, I’m going to make the NYBeauty block with 16 points.  I drafted my own pattern, and traced it onto newsprint:

The color associated with this chakra is blue – a more aqua blue to be exact. This is where I have to put a little time into planning so that the quilt will be balanced. My blue fabric selection is all over the place, but I really want to make it work without having to purchase anything new.
See what I mean:

This is all my blue – and none of the pieces are over 1/4 yard, many are scraps… I have to dig though my solid stash and see how much in white and blues I have to work with. I think with the right solids, you can make anything work!

I’m off to separate these into color/value order and see what’s there. Wish me luck!