Memorial Day….

Who doesn’t love a parade? In my childhood days, the first parade of the year was for St. Patrick’s Day. And it often happened that there was snow on the street corners, and the wind was whipping and bitter; but the idea of summer existed, we welcomed the idea that winter would indeed end. We stood and cheered, and listened to the bag pipers and waved to friends marching along, and visited with neighbors you missed while hibernating all winter long.

The next parade was the biggie, however.  Decoration Day! (Now called Memorial Day.)  I have old black and white photos of my Dad and Aunt Gael and various cousins as children at that parade, back in the 50’s. (There are no photos of us at most of the events of our childhood that I know about. There seems to have been a vacancy for ‘family photographer’ for years after Henri died and before I began.) The parade would pass by the front porch of 183 Victory, and we would watch with all of the older members of the family. We sat on the edge of the porch, we wandered up and down the stairs visiting with cousins and friends, we ran up and down the alley between the house and the funeral home. We had fun! We bought poppies from veterans, and waved our flags and marched along the sidewalk.

I don’t recall when we stopped going to the parade every year; I am unsure of whether the parade stopped for a while, or when the stepping off point changed, or if it was simply that after the funeral home moved up Victory we no longer had front row seats and ample parking.

But I do recall one year when Arlie was about 4, taking a folding chair and Daddy Gus to the corner of Hart and Forest and sitting him down to watch the soldiers and the bagpipers and the other marchers go by. I have a photo of Arlie and her little friend Molly, waving flags, and I remember  Daddy Gus wiping the tears from his eyes as the bands played on.

Ours is not a military family. We don’t have the old stories, the old soldiers who silently saved the world for us. But we do know what they do, and what they risk, and what they leave behind. We appreciate the sacrifices that their families make, we love the soldiers that we do know, who continue to make our world a safer place to live.

This Memorial Day the parade of my youth is hundreds of miles north, and I will be at work, near a military base.  But the meaning of the day, the sacrifice that our soldiers bear—it’s not something that can be measured, nor is it something that is to be left for one day in any event.

Happy Memorial Day. Have a safe and happy summer, and remember the reason you have this time to spend with family and friends at the beach or BBQ or even, like me, at work….

And now for something completely different:

An update on my studio cleaning. I have this photo of the fabric wall, completed.fabric after

I chose not to remove works in progress from the smaller containers on the top shelves at this time. The bins they are in fit relatively well, so I am leaving well enough alone.

I also finished a little baby blanket for a co-worker’s grandson, a super-preemie born back in February, who will probably be coming home within the next month!

alexander1 alexander

A simple patchwork blanket with fleece backing and blanket binding…a perfect snuggle for Alexander.

There was a post the other day, I didn’t send out a reminder, scroll down to catch up!

(Welcome to my blog, if you are new here! I hope you’ll subscribe for updates, to the left, and leave comments, I love to hear from readers!)

P is for Puzzle…

The first of 6 bi-monthly quilt challenges is finished! Today other participants will also begin the great unveiling of their works of art.

The challenge from Three Creative Studios:

The word “PUZZLE”. No other requirement, other than not posting the completed quilt until at least today.

I decided that I would participate because I require deadlines to get things happening. And stretching is always good for the soul.

At approximately the same time, another quilt group (QuiltArt) I am a member of began discussing two topics, which eventually merged into another challenge. Topic one started in early January and was about your ‘word’ of the year. A lot of artists on the site had come up with the idea of a word that might pull their year into focus. It could have even been focus! Or create, or freedom, or finish. There were so many words, and so many interesting and unique reasons for them. Someone (inevitably) suggested that this word become a challenge quilt.

Someone mentioned that this was the 15th year of this online group. Eventually the powers that be decided a challenge for the Quinceanera of QuiltArt would be a 15” x 15” square quilt, hopefully utilizing some of the knowledge we had gained during our time there, and possibly, if we wanted to, incorporating our word of the year.

Well, I am all about killing two birds with one stone. So, here is my quilt, “P is for Puzzle,” which coincidentally was created 15” x 15”  so it can be for both challenges.

My idea was that I wanted to use my word of the year was a crossword puzzle. (Words, you know. And puzzles. See how easy?)

Anyway, devoted readers of this blog (all 3 of you) may recall my word this year is BALANCE.

Many pages of graph paper later I discovered it was almost impossible to have the word BALANCE become the center word in a 15 x 15 letter crossword. At least it was if I wanted the other words in the puzzle to have any connection to quilting, art, or me.  And finally, that seemed kind of OK. After all, my favorite quote of all time is– “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” (John Lennon, Beautiful Boy, 1980)

Life is a balancing act; no matter how much you strive to to lean one way or the other, in order to center yourself, some part of your life may become out of balance. But still you manage to carry all of the parts of you, and some parts tilt to one side for a while, and others get pushed off in directions you wouldn’t have chosen or expected.

I had originally wanted (visualized, really) striped fabrics, but I have put the restriction on myself that nothing may be purchased solely for this series of challenges. None of my fabrics spoke to me. They didn’t do what I envisioned.

After letting go of the stripe idea, two fabrics immediately found their way into my newly opened eyes. They incorporated my favorite color palette, they balance roughly across the color wheel as complementary, they offer both rest and movement.

p is for puzzle p is the puzzlebalance passion

Quick tips on the construction. After finding the fabrics, I cut two 8×8 squares of each and made a large 4 patch. Then I painted with a wash of Dynaflow, Pebeo and Golden acrylics to get a slightly more cohesive color.

I quilted a simple grid pattern, 15 one inch squares, I then dug through my ample scrapbooking, rubberstamping, art and jewelry supplies to find enough letters to spell out my words. Timmy drilled holes in Scrabble tiles for three of the words. They are my words for the two challenges and my word of the year.

I made a stencil from freezer paper for my large P (for Puzzle, Purple, and my name, Patricia!) and used Dynaflow and Golden Interference paint to color. I played around with some of the decorative stitching to create something of an Illuminated P. Random unused squares have been painted or had glitter applied.

I am happy with the way it turned out, and anxious to see what the next challenge will be!

In other quilting/photo news, I chose this photo for the latest challenge on Dgrin… the fabrics I used for the quilt above just happened to be sitting on the ironing board and I spotted the light….the challenge was SILHOUETTES…2010_FEB iRon-16 copybw

(Looking for some 27-thing encouragement?? Hey, guys, the Olympics are still on. Find something to do that you can take to the couch!!! Mending those clothes that you didn’t fling but needed buttons maybe??)

27-Things will be back next week, just in time for Spring Cleaning!!!!!!

“But I paid good money for that!!”…

Or, “My aunt So and So (God rest her soul) gave this to me at my first wedding…”

Or, “This color may come back into style, this lipstick matched that sweater so perfectly…” (Did you already Fling the sweater??)

Or, “Of course I will host a sit down dinner for 28. One Day. And I will NEED this. How can I possibly get rid of this?”

Flinging, de-cluttering, purging, downsizing. Call it what you like, but what it is mostly about is learning to accept the life you ARE living, as opposed to the one you dream to live.

(Which is not not the same as a life you strive toward.)

Loving something is different than simply acquiring it because you believe you SHOULD have it….

If it means something to you, you keep it. It makes you happy. Happiness IS it’s meaning. But understand happy, too. If it doesn’t make you happy, you need to let it go.

How is your Fling count?? As I expected, working the past four days, I only put in a minimal time. But my number is up to 155 for the year.

(Remember, when flinging, that the purple lid that doesn’t fit anything gets flung into the trash, and counts toward your 27! You are de-cluttering, not sacrificing things that you use, and need and like. You are flinging the detritus of your life, the things that make your world chaotic.)

makeup

If anyone is playing along and wants to share their experience, by all means, join in!!!

 

Balance—

Remembering my word for the year, I am trying to not obsess over the Flinging to the exclusion of all else. That is how burn out will happen. So…

On the quilting front, I have restarted a quilt that sat as a U(n)F(inished)O(bject) for years and years, because I just couldn’t find the inspiration to do anything to it.

Here is the quilt, before:crazy before

And after I had an epiphany, here is how it is going…half done, but well on it’s way to being something I love! (That’s Rory, my Quilt Safety Inspector, checking to see if this quilt may be slippery on a hardwood floor.)

rory checking

I have one other UFO that I am hand quilting while watching TV. I want to start only ONE quilt in the meantime!

Balance…

How did your clothes flinging go??

I have had a (RARE) 4-day stay-at-home, and because “I” am the person leading this, I figure I needed to lead by example.

Combining clothes closet and drawers, my flinging number is up to 92! (Remember, ANYTHING you fling counts. The extra hangers, the hole-y pair of socks, the ones that don’t stay up  -count as one- the orphan socks EACH count as one…)

I can purchase a pair of new khaki’s and a pair of black jeans without feeling excessive! My clothes match. There are no holes, or stains or missing buttons.

I lean toward blues, turquoises, teals, olives, and black. That is proven in my closet. So passing up a fuchsia sweater should be easier, right? Not foolproof, but easier.

But my word for the year is BALANCE.

So therefore, I have not dug deeper, and made more mess, trying to cross off even more of the list while I am home. I could have, sure. But I think it would have lead to resentment on my part for my ‘wasted’ time off. I want to create, too!

I have quilted. Played with my fabrics would be a more apt description. But today, I have quilting at the library, and I have a few things to work on.

I have UFO’s.—(quilt speak for Unfinished Objects.)  Many of them. My goal this year, is to finish twice as many things as I start. A great balance. I won’t feel like I am swimming in old things, but will accomplish great amounts! (I hope.)

If you go here, you can see the quilt projects in all their unfinished glory.

Baby, come back…

All of the art that I create, either to keep or to give away, holds a deep and precious place in my heart.

There is always an internal tug-of-war to the giving of something that takes so much time and energy. First there is the creative and psychic energy that is required to contemplate something into existence, and then the actual on-the-clock time to design and actually make said object.

Maybe this shouldn’t be so. Maybe as I create, I should allow that part of me to separate, and become its own being, allow it to find its way in the world, alone and without my loving arms around it.

Letting something precious out into the universe, unprotected by my hands any longer, is exactly akin to allowing your child to climb up the steps onto the school bus for the first time, watching and waving long beyond the time that they have turned away from the window to chatter with their newly found friends.

The bus comes back, and the child, victorious at succeeding at separation, but thrilled to bits to tell you every single thing that has happened from the moment the bus pulled away, runs down the steps and into your arms.

And yet, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, you keep bringing the child to the bus stop, to the train station, to the airport. One day, they have to make it on their own.

Do you make things to give to people with an expectation of how they will use or display said object? Do you worry about whether the blood, sweat and tears that went into its creation is appropriately appreciated?

Can you gift-wrap something that spoke to you so strongly during its birthing, and know that wherever you send it, it will be happy?

Or do you worry that somehow, your baby won’t be appreciated…(That his sense of humor is not understood, that his quirky behaviors rattle other people, that your little love will not be voted ‘Most Likely To Succeed’, ‘Mr. Popularity’ or ‘Most Beautiful Baby’?)

Are you miffed if you visit the recipient one day and don’t see your masterpiece displayed with the honor you feel it deserves? Do you b#t%h that everything you’ve ever made and given to Aunt So and So has been relegated to the linen closet because it doesn’t match her decor?

Does the quilt you made your mother sit in a hope chest, because its “too nice” to actually put on the bed?

Did your grandmother knit a sweater for your son, that you grinned through clenched teeth a “thank you” and then you packed it away because the colors she chose where oh-so-not-trendy and today?

When you say that you think that handmade gifts are better than store bought, do you mean it, or does it just sound less commercial and greedy? Do you think that right up till the time you receive something that doesn’t meet your standards, but was made with loving hands?

I’ve read blogs and forum posts where the very same collection of people who carry on about how perfect their children are, how creative their handmade gifts will be and how tasty the homemade baking that they will do is, turn around and complain about the above.

They have said that they never eat the homemade gifts from a certain person because they’ve seen their kitchen; teachers have stated all homemade food gifts go directly into the trash after the children get on the bus; and inevitably the day after Christmas there will be whining and astonishment that their mother-in-law would even think that they would dress their child in such an obviously handmade sweater!

How hypocritical are you, really?

I am working on something that I may or may not turn into gifts, and if I do, I don’t quite know who the recipients will be yet.

My muse is still working out the details. (Timmy understands to the degree that he actually commented the other day on whether or not these guys had ‘spoken’ to me yet… They hadn’t then, but I am starting to hear their voices)IMG_5475

When something you have made returns to you, after having lived a life in the outside world, you welcome it home in the same way you accept into your arms your child, at any age, for any reason.

I received in the mail, totally out of the blue and way past the time that I would have believed it possible, the quilted wall hanging I finished for my Nana in 1999.

She died two years ago, and moved out of the home where it had hung (and had I visited her and saw it hanging) 18 months prior to that, and yet last month, a box arrived from her estate lawyer, stating the new owners of her home found this, and wanted it to be returned. I am thrilled to have it home….Machine pieced, hand quilted and probably the first thing I ever FINISHED!!!IMG_5478

 

45 days till Christmas, folks! I hope those projects are fully in swing already for a wonderful handmade holiday season!

 

Fabric 401K…

(Totally stole the title from my best quilting buddy, E.T.)

I was at my quilting group today. Surprisingly, after an hour or so of chatter, out of all the bizarre subjects we could have touched upon with a dozen women sitting in front of sewing machines…the conversation actually turned to FABRIC!

The color, feel, texture, ownership, collection, lusting, cutting and quilting of fabric. Believe it.

This is my theory on collecting fabric.

Fabric has to ‘age’ like a fine wine…

There are so many kinds of fabrics for quilting. Solids are like vegetables; good for you and all that, but hardly sexy or desirable when you start trolling around the quilt store.

What catches your eye are the sparkly things; the bright colors, the fascinating patterns, shapes, the hand-dyes, the novelties. All the candy shop portion of your diet. You know, the tasty bits. Those are the pieces that you can’t forget if you walk out of the store with your hands full of sensible solids.

The adorable snowmen, the Bali batiks, the swirly kaleidoscopes, those are the fabrics that you’ll dream about.

I can’t claim to remember all of what I own, (and I choose to put the blame squarely on a faulty memory rather than a surplus of fabric, thank you very much!) but if I find myself on multiple trips at multiple places buying (or lusting after :P) the same fabrics, chances are it will age well.

If it has been in the stash for a few years, pulled out and packed away repeatedly because it hasn’t found a quilt to call home, it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad piece of fabric. After countless auditions with so many other pieces of fabric, I will eventually bring home the right mate for it, I will find the pattern that will make it sing.

I have this secret aversion to using fabrics designed to go together together. I may like and even purchase multiple fabrics from the same line, but if they accidentally all end up in the same quilt it makes me crazy!

(If there is an easy and a hard way to do something, well, yeah…with me, the hard way wins out every time! I guess I figure ANYONE could come up with a nice quilt if the fabrics all matched!!! LOL)

I did ONE quilt, a Trip Around the World, for Arlie’s 16th birthday, and unwittingly collected a series of matching fabrics over a period of time…I did use them and it did look nice; but I had to purposefully go and find a few pieces that didn’t ‘belong’ and include them, for my own piece of mind.

tripWorld

So, the 401k. It’s like this. Our economy is uncertain. Times are tough, what will retirement be like in 20 years?  But, a yard is a yard is 36 inches, and THAT will never change.

I rarely buy fabric because I need it for a specific purpose, I tend to buy on ‘spec’, I buy what speaks to me loudest!

…. In twenty years, those vintage pieces of fabric will be full of unique, no-longer-trendy shades of brown and aqua. Their designs, by blending them with bits and pieces from here and there, will result in quilts which  will have a flavor all their own.

Oh….and having NOTHING to do with anything else except shameless self-promotion, don’t forget to go to my photo site, (to the right) and look, and BUY something pretty! 🙂

Emails from China…

This quilt is entitled Emails From China. It was designed for the 2009 Hoffman Challenge. (While it didn’t win anything, it DID get made!!!!)

emailchina-1

The story (there is ALWAYS a story, isn’t there??) goes like this.


My daughter Arlie was off on the other side of the world in China. As I would get up each morning, she was settling in for the night over there.  Part of her nightly routine was to email everyone about her adventure du jour. Often, we would be passing emails back and forth at that time, checking in.

I went to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival down in Hampton, VA on Saturday morning, as I do each year right around my birthday. I had been reading Arlie’s messages, and generally thinking about her and her trip, while wandering around alone being awed by the fabulous art!

I saw the challenge fabric being sold in a booth. I decided to buy a piece and see if I couldn’t finish the challenge in time this year. (The last time I
attempted the Hoffman Challenge, I finished the quilt about 3 YEARS
after the deadline!)

357238453_GJZ2q-L-1

(The Cherry Fabric was the challenge that year in this quilt, SUMMERTIME)

As I fondled my new fabric, walking around the show enjoying myself, I
glanced at it every once in a while. Suddenly, this brown and green and grey paisley started to take on the shape of fish. My mind started thinking about what I could do with fish. Then, Arlie came to mind.

And China. And Oriental fabric. Yes, the paisley were no longer inanimate, they became KOI fish. I started searching the booths for oriental fabrics that complemented this fabric, that reinforced the koi idea.

And so, I came home with a handful of complimentary fabrics, got it all washed and then. Nothing. Else. Happened. (Well, nothing with that fabric. I actually came home from the show with a pattern and had the resulting pocketbook finished before I went to bed that night!)

I put it to the side, in the dreary February light, and promptly forgot about it. In June, I finally decided to look at it again. Still had no idea about patterns, or what other fabrics would work.

While digging through my prodigious stash, I discovered this incredibly perfect fabric with handwriting, in the EXACT odd shade of taupe I needed. The fish…they moved. The koi pond, it radiated.
Having NEVER attempted the curved piecing of a Drunkards Path, the
ever-growing collection of fabrics quickly gelled into a Drunkards Path Variation, no matter how I tried to talk myself out it.

And the writing on the fabric, suddenly represented the communicating that Arlie and I did ‘virtually’ each day while she was away. The idea of the writing substituting for the typing, the circuitry of computers echoed the ripples in a fish pond, moving information and communication.

The quilt, EMAILS FROM CHINA  was born!  Arlie brought me a Chop back
from China. It says, LOVE. I used that on the label. 
email from china, label-1
The quilt is 40×40, and quilted with outlines of koi over the surface extending beyond the shapes on the fabric. It is quilted with ENTHUSIASM but not necessarily skill, lol. But overall, I am very happy with it, am no longer afraid of curved piecing, and actually plan on making another in this same pattern, which is a first!

When it arrives home, I believe it will be hung in the bedroom….

((Please,  leave a comment!! I love to know what people think!))