Distracted

 

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The first time I saw Carolyn’s Alturas pattern I think I actually squealed out loud. You know that embarrassing, “Oh! I looooove it!” exclamation that never fails to leave me looking around, hoping against hope that I’m totally alone. But it was worth it. Alturas is beautiful and simple in this vintage way that I absolutely do love. [Check out her blog post to see the varied iterations of Alturas for more inspiration.]

I made one a while back; quilted it up as a mug rug and gave it away in some swap or another. I don’t even remember what fabric I used, but I knew I really, really liked the pattern.

So a couple nights ago, when I should have been packing for the upcoming move but would rather do anything else, I decided to break open the London Calling charm pack and make one up.

London Calling is a lovely cotton lawn collection, a tight weave but kinda floppy. I starched the bejeezus out of the charm square before cutting it (and yes! the pattern is perfect for charm squares!) and started out by basting it onto the Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen, all the way around, then clipping the curves and doing some relaxing needle turn appliqué.

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I watched a couple of episodes of Dexter and it was done. Just like that.

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My original plan had been to make a pincushion out of it, but once I got the box made and stuffed I realized it was just too big for a pincushion. So instead I have a tiny pillow.

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And the impetus to make an entire Alturas quilt, one block at a time.

Moving on, yet again

Maybe you’ve noticed or maybe you haven’t, but the daughter and I have moved around a lot these last few years.  It’s happening again; our fifth move in three years and I’m terribly conflicted.

Part of my really really really wants to go back to Portland, to the city I know and love with restaurants I enjoy, cheap movie theaters, the big ol’ downtown library, friends who have made me feel loved and my son, yes, I’ll be near my son again. {Really near, in fact, like living under the same roof again.}

People joke about how your kids will grow up, move out and then move back in again when they realize they can’t afford to live on their own. Ours just happens to be the opposite situation where Mom realized she can’t afford to live on her own.

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Wait, that’s not where this was supposed to go… So I am glad to be going home to the Pacific Northwest, full of clean air and forests and rivers.  My lungs will be happy, too. They are the reason I finally said Yes, I’ll go back. I’ll give up the job I enjoy at a wonderful company. I’ll give up the sunshine and warm air if I can just breathe again without hurting. If my daughter and I can go a whole month without either of us being sick, I’ll take the rain. I will. 

You see, it’s been months of breathing problems and I’m not willing to let it become years. The daughter has missed weeks of school with all the illnesses, all of them validated by my own eyes. The girl has been sicker than I’ve ever seen her; both of us have been bedridden for days with coughs, fevers, vomiting and, the ever-popular, general malaise.  And on more than one occasion.

My lungs hurt to breathe in deeply. I avoid laughing because it’ll make me cough uncontrollably, gasping for air. Walking up the stairs to our second-story apartment makes me wheeze. I can feel the difference in my lungs if the air is being re-circulated in the car or being brought in fresh.

It’s bad, uncomfortable, painful, disappointing. It totally sucks.

In four weeks, I’m packing up a UHaul and heading north again. Away from sunshine and blue skies. Away from smog so thick it hides the mountains.

In ways, I’m so very very glad. Like I said, I’ll be near friends and family and a city I know and love. But there is an overwhelming guilt about moving yet again. I’d planned to stay for the rest of my daughter’s high school years. Stay here until she graduated. I had the best intentions and instead I’m asking her gently to please at least think about packing. Again. Please do this for my health and for your own. Asking your child to sacrifice, knowing they’ve already had to sacrifice so much to follow your hopes and dreams to SoCal, is so much harder than I want it to be. I want her with me. I want her healthy. I want her to be happy.  It just doesn’t seem like there is one place that can do it all.

The push-and-pull between all the things I want and need and all the thing she wants and needs is tough and the answers aren’t easy. Each time I’ve moved us, I though it was for the best…a place of our own, an extended family, away from the relationship drama, to a good job, back to healthy air… but it’s yet to work out as I had so earnestly hoped.

Nonetheless, here we go again. Packing for another move, another adventure. Another notch in the belt and another reason to be angry.

Sometimes you just want pretty colors

A few weeks ago I saw this great tutorial from My Poppet on making fabric twine and got busy right away with some scraps from work.  I was happy twisting away, but before I could finish, it was stolen in the Great Mother’s Day Car Break-In of 2014. It and the Super Tote that carried it are gone forever.

So I got some new scraps and started over, making nearly 15 yards of fabric twine while reminiscing over the Hercules movie with my daughter.

Let’s just say that 15 yards is a lot and in the Summer ’13 palette of Kona colors, it’s absolutely beautiful.

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I tried stitching it together by hand, working on it a little at a time, but it was cumbersome and slow-going. Too much work for too little enjoyment and I was taking time away from paid work to do this…forget it; I’m taking this baby to the machine. IMG_8135

And so I did, twisting it around and around and around, zigzagging along the way until suddenly, I had a bowl of fabric. IMG_8138

It’s not perfect. There are places where the zig zag missed and little gaps are visible. The bottom doesn’t sit flat. And I don’t quite know what to do with that tail yet.

But it’s pretty and bright and already sitting on the table, waiting to be filled with something, anything. Sitting there, just adding a little color to my day.

Just one more

My favorite pic from Luke’s show at Blu Dot, simply because it shows off the sheer bits so well and she caught my little car parked right underneath it.whiteonwhite_mrstripeypants

Luke Haynes at BluDot

First of all, if you aren’t familiar with Luke’s work, go check it out right here. Amazing, right? He’s talented and smart and thinks in ways that I can’t quite understand sometimes, but I’m always immensely impressed with his work.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to do some work with him, including those white on white on white quilts that I keep talking about. I love seeing them come together, creating circles on top of circles. So it was extra exciting to see them having up in the front window of Blu Dot when I arrived last Friday for the the opening of Luke’s show there.  20140427-194004.jpg

The place was bumping all evening with sandwiches and drinks, plus it was great fun to see some familiar pieces, as well as some new ones.  [Sorry for the iPhone pics, but that's all I had for the evening. Luke is sure to be posting more on his site, so don't miss out there: lukehaynes.com]

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I finally met up with Sheila Frampton-Cooper, whose work I absolutely adore [check it out at zoombaby.com], and chatted with her for a bit. Swoon. But most of the evening I spent hanging out with Andres and his wonderful partner, Maureen. He and I have been online friends since around the time I moved to the Los Angeles area, but illnesses have keep us from meeting until now. And I’m so glad we finally did! We got along just as well as I thought we would and it was great fun to have a couple to chat with about fabric and quilting and all the amazing work that Luke had done.

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It was a lovely evening and my first night out (gasp!) in Los Angeles. I stayed longer than I’d planned, but I was kind of grateful that the sun had set by the time I headed to the car because I got this view:

Blu Dot in West Hollywood

Great show with wonderful people and I can’t wait to see what Luke dreams up next.

White on white on white

Recently I had the opportunity to work on yet another quilt for Luke using the Winding Ways traditional quilt pattern. The 72″ x 96″ quilt is made with 10 different variants of white fabric, including sheers, twill, quilting cotton, silk/cotton blend, and more. It made it a challenge to sew, mixing fabric weights, but using spray starch on the lighter-weight fabrics made it much easier to combine them without too much swearing.

So it started with a big stack of cut pieces: 20140421-174128.jpg

And then I sewed and sewed:20140421-174205.jpg

Clipped and sewed: 20140421-174217.jpg

Pressed and stacked: 20140421-174229.jpg

And sewed more: 20140421-174253.jpg

Until it arrived at this: 20140421-174302.jpg

Which looks even better with a little sunshine behind it: 20140421-174314.jpg

 

You might even be able to see it at Luke’s show this Friday at the BluDot in Los Angeles. After that, I think the only place to see it will be in his room–this one he’s keeping. (And I’m a little jealous! I might just have to make another for myself, but with another color, perhaps?)

Winner!

I bet you thought I forgot, didn’t you? Well, I sorta did, but not really.

Mostly it has been nagging at the back of my mind, poking me every so often to tell me that I was supposed to have already announced and sent the book off to the winner of the Modern Quilt Perspectives book. Life’s just been crazy lately with too much work and not enough fun, so my apologies for begin tardy.

So without further delay, the winner of the book is…drumroll please

Jennifer Dewing!

Congrats and I will get this book out to you asap! I promise not to forget for two weeks again. Lucky you, I’ve got other things to mail out, as well.

Modern Quilt Perspectives {book review}

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It’s finally here, the book that Thomas told me he would someday write way back when we first met at Quilt Market. Houston in 2011, right, Thomas?

I’d already fallen for his first collection, Pear Tree, and its lovely muted colors (the same just-off hues that would sucker me into every TK collection).  We’d talked online thanks to my work for FabShop News magazine and I was both awed and honored when he went out of his way to talk to me in the wide aisles of Market. He told me his ideas for a book and I knew this guy was different.

Spend five minutes talking to Thomas and you’ll be awed by his vast knowledge and ability to pull info, facts and connections seemingly out of thin air. I like to think the guy is a genius. He chalks it up to a lot of schooling. I’ll agree to something in the middle.

Thomas’ skill at drawing connections and thinking beyond the “Isn’t that pretty?” that infiltrates the fabric world continues to amaze and inspire me. And it is in that unique way that Modern Quilt Perspectives unfolds.

Essays. Quilt patterns. Sidebars of wisdom. It’s a remarkable book and I can’t recommend it enough.

In particular I want to share about the Excess quilt. No, I didn’t have anything to do with it (though I did make an ‘I’ for the Identity quilt!).  It’s just one that symbolizes all that this book does.

Here, take a look:
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Lovely, right? It is an incredibly long quilt (13 feet, in fact!) and when I was flipping through the book for the first time, it caught my eye with its size and the preponderance of reds and dashes of green and blue. It’s scrappy the way scrappy ought to be, I thought.

It wasn’t until I stopped to actually read the accompanying essay, that I understood its importance as a piece of art, an unspoken message.

And that’s something that Thomas never  forgets or looks past. Quilts are art. They can be powerful, awe-inspiring, meditative and breathtaking. This quilt took my breath away.

In Excess, there are 1,600 of those little 2-1/2″ blocks. It’s not a random number, something picked out of the air or decided on when the quilt got to the right size. No, that number was chosen for a reason.

Every year, approximately 1,600 women and men are killed in acts of domestic violence in the United States, victimized by their partners and spouses. … Excess is a memorial to this overwhelming reality, a visualization of the forest of loss. Each of the 1,600 squares in the quilt represents a death, with each red or orange stripe a woman killed, and each blue or green one a man.

Now go look at that quilt again and meditate on those numbers, that issue.

Then go read how Lisa quilted it with the text from the United States’ Violence Against Women Act.

This is what makes Modern Quilt Perspectives more than just a quilting book. There is substance and depth and meaning, so much meaning, to all of it. Thank you, Thomas, for reminding me (us?) of the import of it all.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

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I decided I  would make the pattern myself (this is a quilting book after all), though not in the numbers that Excess originally calls for. Just a few dozen in my favorite greys. I haven’t decided how big I’ll make it, or quite what I’ll do with it when I have pieced it together. But I can tell you that the quilts in Modern Quilt Perspectives are not only powerful art, but that they are well-written patterns as well.

 

So get to it–go get the book, read it, learn from it and venture onward. I can promise you this: it will change the way you look at quilts and the messages they can send.

Thank you, Thomas, for an amazing book, jaw-dropping quilts and for being you.

Love amazes me

If you know me, you know I’ve been lacking in the “partner who adores me” category for most of my life. Nearly fifteen years since my divorce has left me…fine, I’ll admit it, slightly bitter about the whole idea of love.

But this man makes me believe that there are couples who will really, truly, deeply love each other.

This kind of love amazes me and, to be honest, made me sob tears of sadness and joy.

I got a new toy, er, tool!

I’ve often ogled others’ Go Cutters, awed by how fast and easy and perfect they are. And recently I even got to use one when Luke let me borrow his to work on one of his designs. That’s when I decided I really really needed one myself. So I got one.

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The dies will arrive tomorrow, then I’ll get cranking on a bigger version of this beauty:

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I’ve got another three times this size due very soon and I can’t wait to see it hanging.