Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April's Inspiration - Dena Designs

It was easy selecting this month's "Inspiration" fabric designer, Dena Designs!

 I've enjoyed Dena's fabrics for some time.  She's one of those designers whose style is distinctive, you can always spot her work wherever you see it.  Her designs are licensed for all kinds of products so I'm spotting them all the time, even when I'm not in the fabric store.

What I like about Dena's fabrics are that they have a very fresh, young, and modern appeal, but they're often based on traditional designs.  So, you can make a more traditional quilt from them and have a finished product that combines the best of both worlds.

Dena designs for Free Spirit Fabrics, one of my all time favorite companies, (all of their designers are great!).  The swatches above are from her Leanika line which has been out for a while but is still available online and at quilt stores.  I'd love to get my hands on fat quarters of each print.  Wouldn't they be great as a simple one patch quilt?  The patterns are so pretty on their own it would be a shame to cut them into little pieces.

I was also thinking that these would be great patterns for a baby's or little girl's room, not to mention darling in little sundresses.  This is one of those times when I wish I had a little girl to sew for!

Alas, I guess I'll just have to channel my "little girl" and maybe snatch up enough yardage of one of the simpler prints for a summer skirt.  Now that's an idea! 

I really need to get back to my quilting but I actually have some other work to do so hopefully I can spare a little time tomorrow to get something fun done.  Yippee!!!

In the meantime....

Happy Stitching!

Susan


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Posse has Spoken....and this Blog's been Chosen!

I was so excited today when I received an email from Jake Finch at Quilter's Home Magazine.  She's one of the editors and emailed me to give me some exciting news.

The Cranky Quilter has been chosen by the "Posse" as one of the best quilting blogs!

Now, I'm one of those people who's a bit reluctant about emails, for some reason I usually think they're bad news.  It probably comes from my last job, where an email usually mean't that someone either wanted something impossible right away, or wanted me to do a job that would take days out of my schedule.  Either way, it was rarely good news so now I'm kind of gun-shy about email. 

I wouldn't say that I'm paranoid, but I don't have the nom-de-plume "the cranky quilter" for nothing.  I used to be one of those "glass is half-full," "things could be worse," "it's not that bad, just rub some dirt on it," kind of people.  Now I still say those things but I don't really mean them.  You see, in my dotage I'm beginning to realize that yes the glass is half empty, things can get a whole lot worse, and dirt rubbed into a wound only brings on infections and long stays in hospitals being pumped full of antibiotics.....not to mention the bill afterwards!

So, when I saw Jake's email my first thought was to skim through it quickly.  I almost thought it was just a thank you for mentioning their magazine in my blog and then these words stuck out....

I wanted to let you know that in the April/May issue, which should be hitting the shelves and mailboxes shortly, that we have a Posse list of the some of the best blogs out there. Yours is one of those listed. We love your style, visually and in writing, and your blog is consistently good.

Well,  it took me all of 100th of a second to jump up from my desk and start a screaming maniac dance around my studio.  It's a good thing I was alone because I probably would have given my husband a heart attack and permanantly damaged my son's psyche, (I can see him years from now in the psychiatrist's office.."We'll Dr., it all started when my mom was screaming and dancing, I just can't get that vision out of my head").  The only living creature at home besides me was my dog, who just peeped out from under the covers and went back to sleep.

I then picked up the phone to call my husband....voicemail!  Then I tried to call my mom....no answer!  I then realized that my best bet would be my friend Antoinette, who works at home like me....and who's probably the most enthusiastic person I know.  So, I called her and we both did the screaming maniac dance.  It felt great and we even worked off some calories.  I need a lot more good news!

I just got another email from Melissa Maher, the other co-editor.  She was responding to my "reply all" from Jake's message.  I have to say that from my interaction with both of them that they're really nice people with great senses of humor, and I look forward to seeing what they do with the magazine. 

The April/May issue should be out soon so keep your eyes out for it. 

And to my loyal readers and followers, thanks for putting up with me!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Love a Bargain!

As I've written in previous posts I've had some good luck at Joann's lately.  Today I hit the jackpot!

I try to head over at least once a month so I can use my 40% off coupons and have them scan my flier so I keep getting them.  We don't have one in our town so I have to go about 10 miles away.  Since my husband and son are off fishing today I decided to take a quick run over and see what I could find.

I always hit the sales racks first.  In this store there are several areas so I wander over and do my typical scrounging around.  In one of the bins I caught sight of the Omnigrid brand.  Now, I'm always telling people to memorize those brand names and know your fabric patterns because you never know where a bargain may be lurking.  In this case I was glad I spotted that Omnigrid logo.

I pulled this out of a stack of odds and ends and nearly fell over when I saw that the price was only $4.97.  I had to double check, thinking that it must be $14.97, but no, it was only $4.97.  Now, those of you who've purchased arcylic templates know how expensive they are.  I have a couple of sets of squares and triangles and they were about $20 for each set of only a few templates.  This set has 15, including all different kinds of shapes I don't have.  And they're especially made for rotary cutting.  I can't believe my luck!

Of course I scrounged around for more but this was the only set they had. I would have liked to have two, one to leave at home and one to put in my travel kit, but I can't complain.

As I always do as soon as I got home I went online to check for an original price and the first place I looked had the same set for $31.99, so I saved 64%.  Yippee!!  The best part is that it's something that I will actually use.

I'm not sure if this was a nationwide markdown or if I just got lucky but if you have a Joann's nearby you might want to check it out.  You never know!

Happy Stitching!

Susan


Friday, March 26, 2010

I Want a New Drug


Oh I wish there was something I could take that would turn on and turn off the quilting urge.  Lately I've been in a kind of funky mood, not really wanting to quilt, but yet, not wanting to not want to.  (And if you can follow that have I got a padded room for you!).

It has to do with a lot of different things.  First of all I just finished my big studio overhaul and don't really want to mess it up.  Of course this makes no sense as I can generally mess up a room by just walking into it, (I'm kind of like Pigpen with a thread trail...), however, I am enjoying the praise and happiness of my husband and son who can now actually walk into the space without fear.  It's a conundrum, fix up a space so you can work in it, but then don't work in the space....why does life have to be so complicated?

Of course, I've also had my 12 year old off school for two weeks which means that I'm on entertainment duty.  Trying to keep him from getting too bored without school and baseball.  Of course it doesn't help that his friends are all in Hawaii or Disneyland and he's stuck in suburban hell, (Oh, and he's twelve....).  So, of course all of the things he used to like to do he doesn't like anymore, and everything he does like to do involves other 12 year olds, balls, and no walls nearby, (unless a ball can be thrown against it).  We've managed to keep things from getting too out of control with a few short trips and an afternoon at the movies, ("Diary of a Wimpy Kid" a new classic!).  But I think we'll both be happy when baseball practice starts tonight, a game tomorrow and then school on Monday.  

The one great thing about this week is that yesterday we took a trip over to Emeryville to go to Ikea.  It's across the bay from San Francisco and is where I used to work and near where we used to live.  I've been back a lot but he's only been back a few times since we moved away 5 years ago.  We had a great day together, plotting how we're going to turn his "kid" room into a "teen" room and visiting our old haunts.  In many ways it was the best day we'd had together for a while, it was almost like I got my kid back, but with a twist.  He was very handy to have around to lift those heavy boxes, (he's 12 but he's 5'5" and strong as an ox).  So, I had the combo of my sweet little guy and my big bruiser.  It was a relief from all of the hormonal stress we've both been living through the last few months, you can imagine what it's like living with a 12 year old and a menopausal mother!  It's a good thing my husband's in a mid-life crisis or he'd feel left out. (Just kidding!)

I'm also struggling with the problem that I"ve had all of my life.  I get bored too easily!  There's a reason I make the kinds of quilts I do because if I didn't go crazy beading and appliquing and embroidering I'd really go crazy.  I just love doing a lot of different things.  I guess as long as I'm doing creative things and bringing them back to my quilting that I'm still moving forward, but it's hard to get anything done when you're constantly either distracted by outside forces or distracting yourself.

As a graphic designer I work with a lot of clients with totally different likes and dislikes.  One of the talents I have is that I'm good at reading them, at giving them what they want, not necessarily what I'd do for myself.  It's a gift when you're in a client-driven design business but it can really mess with your head when you try to create art on the side.  It's inevitable that the two paths cross and I have to often pull back and think, "Is this me??? Or am I channelling someone else???).  It can be very confusing.

I hope this post hasn't been too self indulgent but I suspect that a lot of you out there are dealing with the same issues.  I called this blog "The Cranky Quilter" for this very reason, that although I am a quilter, I'm also someone dealing with all the other aspects of life and somehow trying to make it all work out....hence I'm cranky....a lot!!! 

I'd love to hear how all of you handle these kinds of things and still get that quilting done. 

In the meantime...

Happy Stitching!

Susan


Monday, March 22, 2010

The Quilt Life

I was at Barnes & Noble the other day and spotted this new magazine.  I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the whole quilting "celebrity" thing.  I understand why it happens and frankly I don't begrudge those who've attained that status by hard work.  Heck, why shouldn't they cash in if they can?

I understand the attraction of it to some people, and I'm sure that Alex and Ricky have brought a lot of people into the quilting fold so I'm happy about that.  However, I'm always a bit leary when I see celebs faces on the covers of magazines, It's that old resistance I have to "authority." 

So, when I picked up this magazine I didn't really know what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all the editor is Jan Magee, who used to work with Mark Lipinski on Quilter's Home.  Alex and Ricki are "Creative Directors" so they do have some hand in it, but the magazine doesn't appear to be a vanity project. 

It doesn't have the consistent voice throughout like Quilter's Home had, but for those who found Mark a little much for them, (not everyone loves his style), this magazine is a good read.  One of the features I found fascinating was one that looked at artists that were known for another style of work, but were also quilters.  Since I'm a person who loves all different kinds of crafts and art forms, I thought it was a great idea to show how you can bring different perspectives to quilting. 

A lot of the articles were more about inspiration then about patterns for specific quilts.  There were several patterns for those who want them, as well as an article about an outdoor quilt show, (which is held annually about 15 miles from me .... how could I not have known?), and one with a couple of recipes, (those spinach enchiladas looked scrumptious but they had to have about 10 million calories in them!).

One of the most fun things is that this magazine actually has a centerfold.  It's a pullout picture of a quilt.  I could see posting these on a wall in my studio.

So, by and large I thought it was a hit.  I read it from cover to cover and now that Quilter's Home has changed hands it's the only quilting magazine I've read all the way through in a while.  If you're interested in a magazine with a cheerful attitude, real artistic integrity, inspiring and interesting articles, you might want to give it a try.  I know that I will purchase the next issue.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it in my blog before but my husband is actually from Ireland.  He grew up in the country in County Kildare.  So, as you can imagine, St. Patrick's Day is a big day at our house.

I've been fortunate enough to have visited Ireland multiple times since our marriage.  It's a beautiful place, which I wish I could have enjoyed more.  Unfortunately, my fist visit coincided with the early stages of my pregnancy, (I turned all 40 shades of green!), and during my last visit I was blessed with a horrible dose of flu and slept through Christmas Day. I'm sure my in-laws were wondering what was wrong with me, until my poor father-in-law caught a horrible dose on his last visit to California and was sick for most of his trip.  Some luck of the Irish!

Anyway, my ancestry is Irish as well, although I'm fifth generation American on the Irish side, (and 15th on my English side), so I'm about as American as apple pie.  Whenever I'm in Ireland people always ask where I'm from, expecting me to say which county in Ireland, so when I answer Stockton, California they don't quite know what to say.  It seems that most Americans have some Irish ancestral story of some kind or another and that's what they're expecting from me.

The one funny story about that is that when my husband had his visa approved and received his green card his mother pleaded with him to stay in Ireland, "Why can't you just marry a nice girl from Mayo?" she said to him.  Well, you guessed it, my ancestral county just happens to be Mayo!

I'm glad to say that quilting is becoming very popular in Ireland now.  When I first visited in 1997 I brought a ton of fat quarters for some quilting friends.  At that time there were no quilting stores in the country and all of the fabric stores had mostly wool and cotton fabrics that weren't appropriate for quilting.  What they did have was low quality and very dated.  If you wanted to go fabric shopping you had to go to the England or the US.

Now I understand that there are several good shops and the Irish quilting scene is coming on strong.  A new magazine called "Irish Quilting" is available even here in the states and although the styles seem a bit dated to me, the fact that the art form has become popular is a sign of great things to come.  I look forward to doing some fabric shopping on my next visit.

In the meantime, in honor of St. Patrick's Day I hope you enjoy these photos of my husband's childhood home, and have a very Happy St. Patrick's Day.

"Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig daoibh go léir! "
(" The Blessings of St. Patrick's Day to you all! ")












Happy Stitching!

Susan

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Fishbowl

Another blast from the past.  I discovered this "Fishbowl" quilt while going through some of my old stuff during my recent studio overhaul.  I made this in 1992 and you can see that I actually used some neon fabrics.  This was originally hung in my glass cubicle at the company I worked for at the time, the rainbows were the company's logo.
                           
I had to be very careful with the quilting on the front because the stitches showed through on the back, which worked out well because they gave the back of the quilt the look of water and "ghost" images of the fish on the front.  Here are some details:

I'm constantly amazed at what I've created in the past.  I don't really remember working on this quilt at all, but now that I see it again I understand why everyone at my old job was so impressed by it.  The colors are so vibrant and although the level of workmanship is not near what I can do now, I'm pleased with the design of it.  I may do something like this again, I love the concept of a two sided quilt.
                           
Well, I've got some logo design work to get done so I'm going to have to sign off now.  I'm enjoying my new work space but haven't been able to do any quilting yet.  I can't wait.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Monday, March 15, 2010

Passing It On

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I have only one child, a twelve year old son.  It has always been a dream of mine to be able to pass on the skills I've learned over the years but he's not particularly interested in any of them, (except cooking, and that's only because he's always hungry!).  I have tons of nieces and nephews, most of them in Ireland, but none here have shown any interest in picking up a needle and thread.

Like most girls of my generation I was taught to sew by my mother, who had learned from her mother.  Sewing in their day was a necessity.  My grandmother grew up on a farm and they made almost all of their family's clothing, along with quilts they needed to keep warm.  She knew how to do just about anything and handed down many of those skills to my mother.  I learned a lot from both of them, both by actual one-on -one teaching and by watching how they created what they needed and wanted.  It was inspiring.

Nowadays families are so busy that it's hard for most moms to find the time to teach their children how to sew.  Many of my friends never learned themselves, and so don't have a lot to pass on except what they picked up in Home Economics class.

The reason I bring this up is that over the weekend I was given an opportunity to pass on some of my knowledge.  My son plays Little League Baseball and one of the boy's sisters noticed the handmade jacket I'd made for my little dog Indy.  She then began to tell me about how much she wanted to learn how to sew.  She'd learned some in Girl Scouts, and had been using some of the supplies her mom had on hand for mending.

At 9 years old she's a little young to tackle a sewing class using a machine, but I could see that she had a real hunger to learn.  I know her family well so I volunteered to bring along a few sewing supplies and get her started on making a quilt for her American Girl doll.  Those of you who've been involved in Little League know that there's a lot of time spent at practices and games, I figured I could get her started on something, and then be there if she had any questions. 

She loves horses and I had a few horse fabrics in my stash.  I combined them with a few others and put together a simple kit of twenty 5" squares, (I marked 1/2" seam allowance on all sides with a marking pencil).  I used a snap top plastic box with a lid that I had on hand and added a needle threader, some larger eyed needles, flower head pins, a spool of coordinating thread, a wrist pincushion that I'd never used, and a small pair of scissors.

We tackled a sample 4 patch on Sunday so I could see what she knew and what I'd need to work on.  In the beginning her stitches were really big and crooked, but by the end of the second game she knew how to make her stitches smaller and more even, and she even knew how to tie off her thread correctly.

I worked with her throughout the double-header, showing her how to finger press her seams flat and then open, and also how to follow the pattern I'd created for her.  I'd arranged the squares and took a digital photo that I put in the kit for her to follow. 

We plan to keep working throughout the season so I'll keep you up-to-date on her progress.  She was still so excited even after a couple of hours that I'm hoping we have a new convert.  We'll see!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Sunday, March 14, 2010

BEFORE & AFTER

BEFORE
AFTER

I'm finally finished with my studio redecorating project.  The space was way too cluttered and dark, which was a shame because one of the reasons we bought this house was its bright, airy loft space.

I was also made aware that I'd taken over the entire space when it was supposed to be shared.  So, I decided that since things were slow business wise that this was the right time to make a dramatic change for the better.

The first thing I did was get rid of my yucky desk.  Instead I used four $15 white bookcases from Walmart and four white cubes that had ended up in our garage.  The desktop was one my husband had rescued from a remodel at his office.  I made the desktop over the cubes from layers of foamcore covered with white contact paper.  It's amazingly sturdy!


The next thing I did was move my fabric bookcase over to the other side of the stairwell.  It fits in perfectly in a little alcove and doesn't disturb the exercise equipment.  It's also in a great place because there's no direct sunlight in that area of the house so I don't have to worry about fading.  It was amazing what a difference moving it made to the "lightness" of the studio space.  It's a lot brighter in here now.

The best thing about the remodel is that now there's room for a desk for the men in my life.  This desk used to be in my son's room where it was nothing more but a place to dump stuff.  Now it's doing double duty, as a fly tying desk for my husband, and a homework desk for my son.  The fly tying materials are being stored in the cubbies that used to be behind my old desk.  I was also able to tie in my husband and son's love of music with a Beatles canvas painting and a framed selection of my husband's old concert tickets.  Since my husband has all kinds of space to store his gear, the desk will be clear for my son to use after school.  I put together a homework cart so he can just roll it over and get to work.

My favorite part of my new space is all of the storage I have around my desk.  The bookcases are full of an assortment of bins and boxes, and there are two more under my desk for my office supplies.  The cubbies on the side go all the way through so I have storage for those rolls of paper I'm always fighting with, not to mention the handy space behind the printer which is perfect for storing all of my shipping supplies.  I can even tuck my handy folding table to the side so I can set it up when I need it.


One of the best things about this project is that it was almost entirely done with things we had on hand.  I've always been adept at the old school version of recycling, frankly, try to find a use for what you have before buying something new.  So, the space is filled with recycling projects.  The foamcore table top was made from leftover pieces, the monitor shelf from scraps of wood, and my favorite, the bulletin board, all from found items.
I made this bulletin board from a framed picture my mom had given me a while ago.  She'd redecorated and thought I might want to use the frame.  Unfortunately, it's a big frame and I don't have many large expanses of space where it would fit.  I was thrilled that when I measured this wall by my desk that it gave me enough space with a few inches to spare.  I used the glass, covered it with fleece, then a piece of fabric I had on hand.  Then I dug through my ribbon and found this bright green that was leftover from one of my client's projects a few years ago.  It went together easily and now I have a great place to display things that inspire me.

My son will be off school for the next two weeks for spring break so we'll have an opportunity to hang out in my new space.  I look forward to getting back to quilting, and enjoying my new studio!

Happy Stitching!

Susan


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Almost Done!

Whew!  What a process!

I've been working on updating and redoing my studio/office for the last 10 days.  As usual it turned out to be a bigger job than I'd originally imagined.  I decided that if I was going to take the time to do it that I'd take a little more time to do it right.  So, ten days later I'm just finishing up.

I hope to be able to unveil the whole project in a day or two.  In the meantime I thought I'd share with you my find.  It's a jewelry holder I picked up at TJ Maxx.  It's iron but it's got kind of a brownish cast to it so it's not stark black.  What I loved about it were the two birds and the racks made of twigs.  I've already started putting my business cards on it and plan on making some notecards out of scrap cardstock, (I've got tons of it that I can't bring myself to toss!).  These will be sized to fit in one space on the rack so I can keep track of phone numbers, and other tidbits.  Here's a closeup:
                              
I also got lucky at the dollar store yesterday and found some small tin signs that I'm going to hang under my bulletin board for other notes.  My plan is to print a scanned image and run it through my Xyron machine with the magnetic cartridge.  Then I'll have magnets that will perfectly match the signs so even when I have nothing on them they'll look great.  What a bargain for 2 bucks!
                              
This has been an interesting project as we've been trying to do the overhaul without spending much money. Right now I'm at about $100, and that's for 4 bookcases and a few odds and ends. Otherwise, we've used whatever we've had on hand, recycling things from other rooms and snagging bits and pieces from our garage. All in all I'm happy with the result. It's not quite finished but the space is much brighter and there's a lot more space. What amazed me the most is that I didn't have as much extra stuff as I thought I did. Once I sorted everything and put it in its place I found myself with about 1/3 of my new storage space unused. I had some cute bins and boxes so I have a lot of empty ones to fill up over time.

The plan was to create a space that my whole family can use and I think we're nearly there.  It'll be great to have a place to gather other than around the TV.

I'm off to baseball.  My son's team has a scrimmage tonight.  Hard to believe that it's that time of the year already!  It's going to be freezing out there, oh well....

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scout Bags and Bins

Have you seen these Scout bags?  I picked up a huge one at Home Goods a couple of weeks ago and am using it for a baseball bag.  Which means that it sits in my front hall and as I remember things I need to take along to my son's games I throw them in.  Since the season starts early, (this weekend!), it's still cold out here so I need to make sure I have tons of blankets, sweaters, caps, everything!  There've been a few times when my stash has kept those boys in the dugout warm when it's been freezing during the night games.

Anyway, as usual I digress!  The reason I'm bringing this up is that I found a bunch of their stuff on clearance this morning and realized that I was underestimating their usefulness from a quilting point of view.  This large bag would be great for toting a quilt to a long armer, it's got a firm box bottom so it isn't going to fall over, and since it's laminated it will keep everything dry.  I was able to pick up a smaller matching bag to this one that I plan to use for my quilting magazine and hand sewing kit that I take with me to every game. 

                                   
They also have a great selection of different sized bins.  I picked up all they had in this pattern to use for my new desk cubbies.  I also got a couple of large ones to corral those WIPs, and those new fabrics I haven't dealt with yet.  I love the laminated fabrics, and they're much sturdier than the cheaper ones they sell at Target.  Besides, the patterns are bright and cheerful, just perfect for making an office or studio a place where you enjoy spending your time!

I also picked up the most darling little jewelry rack I've ever seen.  I have an idea on how to use it and when I get everything all set up I'll take photos to show you.

In the meantime, I need to get back to clearing out this studio and getting it ready to bring in my new desk!  I'm soooooooo excited!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Inspiration



This month's "Inspiration" fabric designer is Tina Givens.

I chose her because everytime I see one of her fabrics I smile.  The colors are cheerful and the designs whimsical, yet modern.  I especially love the fact that the colors read "solid" but really aren't, there's a subtlety to her work that I enjoy and I find it suits my style of quilting really well.

I have heard some quilters complain about the scale of her fabrics, (the same can be said about a lot of Amy Butler's designs).  I can see that there might be some frustration trying to make these work in really traditional quilts.  However, they're so beautiful that I love seeing them in very simple quilts, large squares of an assortment of these fabrics make a wonderful and easy quilt to put together.  And, because of the color and whimsy of the patterns these fabrics could be used for everything from baby quilts to king sized quilts.  I wish I had a baby because I'd do a whole nursery in these!

I love Tina's designs because when I cut them up I get a lot of bang for my buck.  Each pattern has multiple possibilities; cut into small pieces you can get a whole range of colors from one piece.

I also like that if you collect her fabrics over the years they mix and match well.  The designs may be different but the colorways are constant enough that you can pull from several lines and still get a great effect.

I have some of her new line on order and can't wait to get my hands on them! 

In the meantime, I'm back to working on my studio upgrade.  My husband and I discussed my plans last night and he's on board.  I think he's actually relieved that I'm going to do something about it because it's been driving him crazy but he's too sweet to mention it.  He's not quite sure what I'm up to but after many years of marriage he assumes I know what I'm doing.  It's a good thing someone thinks so!

Anyway, I've got to go dig out from under....yikes!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Hate My Desk!

It's been another one of "those" weeks.  I haven't blogged in a while because I've been working on the gifts and DVD for my son's basketball team.

A few years ago one of the mom's on the soccer team made a DVD from the photos she took throughout the season.  It was wonderful!  She's since become a friend of mine and what a talented person she is!  Her photographs were so well done and she put them together with music to make a great season end memento.

My husband is also a gifted photographer so he took the photos this year and since I have all the software I volunteered to put together a DVD.  What a task that was!  30 hours later it was done and it was a huge hit at the end-of season party but what a bite it took out of my life!  I also made posters for each individual child with photos of them and they loved those as well.  One of the parents said that I should do this for a living, which is funny because it's kind of what I do do.  But somehow I don't think many parents would want to pay the $50 I'd have to bill for one 11" x 17" poster.  This is a job you do for love, not money!

Anyway, whilst spending over 40 hours total working on these two projects I realized that I really, truly, absolutely and completely despise my desk.  I really hate it!  I bought it 5 years ago because I had negotiated a work-from-home plan with my former employer and I needed a desk to fit my computer, all my peripherals, (the scanner, DVD burner, external hard drive, 2 printers, and a tablet).  So, I bought this really ugly heavy cheap desk.  It was bad before but after 5 years of heavy use it's really nasty now. 

My studio space is always a mess and a lot of that has to do with the multiple uses of the space.  It also has to do with my desk which has very little space left on it to begin with.  Add a few items that need to be put away, and well, you have piles falling off all over the floor.  It's like an episode from "Clean House!"

Fortunately I'm not a hoarder and I don't mind getting rid of stuff I no longer use.  The hard part is that the kind of job I do and art I make requires a lot of different stuff.  I could go out and buy what I need when I need it but that's not always possible as a lot of my work tends to come in last minute.  So, I need to find a way to store everything so I can get to it but not at the expense of being constantly surrounded by cringe worthy clutter.

So, today I decided that it was time to do something about it.  I've decided that I'm going to move my nice cabinets that are now against the half wall in the loft over to the side where the desk is.  That way my desk clutter won't be so obvious when you come up the stairs.  I'm also going to dump this desk!  I bought 4 cheap small bookcases at Walmart this morning for $15 each.  I'm going to join them together back to front so I have 2 units with three 23" deep shelves each.  This way I can store my unfinished rolled quilts, not to mention my oversized papers and shipping supplies.  The plan is to place these units against the half wall and put a 72" counter top on top of them.  This way I'll have enough space for all of my stuff and some actual space to work!  My rolling art supply cart should be able to fit under it as well. 

My plan is to have my husband cut and paint a piece of plywood to place on each end so it looks finished, and then I'm going to make a curtain to put in front of it.  This way it'll be a great place to stash stuff and I don't have to look at it, and neither does anyone else!

Today I'm clearing out the guest room closet and starting to move a couple of my smaller storage units into it.  I should have enough space to still hang clothes above, and to store other stuff on the shelves.  And, since I'm putting drawer units in I'll be able to access what I need when I need it.  I'm trying to do it in a really organized way this time so I can keep it up.  I just hope I have the stamina to get it done before I give up and it's a worse mess than before! 

I am going to miss having my desk at the window, but this way I can have my worktable against the window and that's where I really need the light.  The computer is actually easier when the light's not as bright.  My main worry is going to be pulling it all out and reassembling it, that's what scares me the most!  However, a friend gave me a great tip, she said to take a digital photo of the back of my CPU and print it.  Then, as I take things out write down what each plug is for.  It'll make it easier to reassemble it.  I hope it works!

I'll keep you updated on my progress.  I just hope the new office will jumpstart my creativity, it needs a boost!

Happy Stitching!

Susan