Friday, May 20, 2011

Farm Stand Fabrics





I'm usually attracted to more modern looking fabrics so I was surprised at how excited I was when I saw this line of fabrics from Lakehouse.  Holly Holderman has perfected the art of creating cute calicoes, dots, and other small patterns that can be used in all different kinds of quilts. 

The farmstands are starting to open up in our part of the country this week, (it's cherry season!),   I look forward to visiting them and our local farmer's market every year.  We're blessed to live in an area where all kinds of great fresh produce is grown so the farmstands are open from May through October.  This line of fabric makes me hungry just looking at it.

To get your fix, follow this link, or check your local quilt shop.

http://www.fatquartershop.com/Annies-Farm-Stand-Lakehouse-Dry-Goods-Fabrics.asp?Store_id=499&T=1

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Quilting and Posting Moratorium

Wow, it's officially one month since my last post.  I feel just awful about this because I really miss this opportunity to commune with the quilting community.

It's been a difficult year for both good and bad reasons.  I started off with high hopes and lots of enthusiasm, and considering I was sick off and on through March, I was doing pretty well.  And then......

A business opportunity presented itself that I couldn't walk away from.  Whether or not it will be a success, who knows?  But since like everyone else in this economy I'm looking for some cash flow I couldn't pass it up.

And so, I've been on a self imposed quilting and posting moratorium.  I can't think of the last time I picked up a needle and thread, it's been at least a month, maybe more. And, well, you know about the posting; pitiful at best.

I'm one of the lucky ones in that I've been blessed with multiple talents.  Of course, it's a blessing, but it's also a curse.  The problem I have is being able to focus on one aspect of my creative life exclusively, which is what I need to do if I'm going to be truly successful at it.

The times in my life when I've had that kind of focus have been magical.  It was during those times that I won awards and contests, and my confidence grew.  However, being the Gemini with the split personality I am, I get bored with everything too quickly. 

Lately, I've been trying to get back into quilting again.  I've been pulling out old projects, looking online for fabric, even going through old magazines, trying to get the thrill back.  It's not working and it makes me sad.

Have I given up on the hobby I love most?  No way!  I'm just in a quilting slump and I've decided that it's best if I don't force it.  From previous experience I know that one day soon I'll start salivating at the thought of going to a quilt shop, and I'm looking forward to it. Besides I'll have more money to spend on fabric and that fancy machine I've been ogling if my new business venture takes off.

Maybe that's what it is.  I was beginning to think of my quilting and blogging as work, as "what I do."  Wouldn't it be magical to just quilt because I want to?  Not because I think I might sell it or get noticed by some quilting bigwig and be launched on a fabulous quilting career?   I'd actually love to linger over my fabric, take my time cutting and designing and spend a year on one project that I love working on.

For a while there I was thinking that I might manage to make a career of this quilting stuff but now I'm thinking that that isn't what I want it to be.  Work is a four letter word for a reason.  My new venture will satisfy some of my creative urges and keep my mojo actively brewing for other projects.  It won't be long before quilting, (and blogging), are the places I go to unwind.

I'm looking forward to it!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Fabric Moratorium

Late last year it became apparent that my fabric collection was getting a little out of control.  A combination of impossible-to-resist sales, and lack of progress on making new quilts forced me to review my fabric buying addiction.

So, in the interest of fiscal resposibility, I decided to try something different.  As a collector who does unusual work which involves a lot of variety in my quilts, I don't intend to entirely stop purchasing fabric.  I believe it's essential to keep up with buying colors and styles that are unique to the current time, as they won't come back around again in the same way.  However, there's no need to purchase fabric that isn't particularly unique or spectacular just because it's on sale and a good buy.

In the past when I've been bored I've perused the online fabric stores' clearance pages, looking for bargains.  I ended up buying fabric that was close to what I wanted, but really wasn't what I wanted.  There's a reason why things are on sale!  Of course, I did managed to pick up some fabrics that I will use and at a great price, but frankly, I could have lived without them.

So far my new system has worked incredibly well.  It's really rather simple, I only purchase fabrics in certain months.  This year, the months are February, April, June, August, October, and December.   So, since I know I'm not going to buy anything in the other months I don't waste my time looking online and if I do I put the things I want on my wishlist.  What's amazed me is that when February rolled around it was about a week before I checked my wish lists, and ended up only ordering a small selection of fabrics I really wanted. 

I still use my coupons at Joann's when I can, but have been using them for notions and other craft items.  This weekend I had a 25% off coupon and used it for magazines instead of fabric. 

I'm not thrilled about not contributing my normal share of fabric purchases to quilt shops and online retailers, as I know they need the business.  But, until I get more projects completed, this new system is working for me.  I can still purchase the fabrics I want, but I'm not wasting time shopping online, or spending more than I should on fabric I don't need.

Do any of you have a system that's working for you?  I'd love to hear about it.

I haven't been quilting for a while now, although I'm starting to get the bug that I need to get working on some of my WIPs.  My graphic design business has picked up some and it's cramping my quilting style.  I also told you about a business opportunity I'm working on.  It's very time consuming in the beginning so I've got a lot of work to do.  No rest for the wicked I guess!

Hope you're enjoying some spring weather for a change, it finally stopped raining here!  I'd be more excited if it wasn't that now my allergies are hyperactive.  It's always something, isn't it?

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lazy vs. Busy

I love this picture!  Wouldn't it be great to be that dog, lying on the couch asleep with a few poppyseed muffins nearby?

I've always been a busy person.  Ever since I can remember I've been a multi tasker.  I've never been able to "just watch TV," I've always got something else going on.  I'm either reading, or working on the laptop, or sewing.

Lately, I've come to the realization that I have either become lazy, or so busy that I might as well be. 

Lazy and busy would seem to be mutually exclusive.  How can a lazy person be busy, or a busy person be lazy?

Well, I think I've figured out how to do it.  You just keep yourself busy with unimportant things and get lazy about the more important things.  For instance, spending too much time on the web means you're busy, but it also means you can be lazy about cleaning your house.  See what I mean?  Being "busy" is a great way to avoid doing things you don't want to do.

I'm rarely not doing something.  You'll never find me sitting and just watching TV or sitting and staring.  I'm always doing something; working on my laptop, playing with my dog, teasing my teenager, (always great fun!), talking on the phone to my Mom, and generally busily thinking of ways to keep busy.  I do manage to keep my house in some semblence of order, but larger jobs like cleaning my studio or cleaning out my fridge and kitchen cabinets....well, I just never have the time for them.  I'm just too busy!

I think you're beginning to get the picture.  Unfortunately, lately, I've been too busy to quilt.  You'd think that I'd put quilting on the "busy" side of things as opposed to the "lazy" and in the past that would have been true.  However, I've been busier on the design/art side of my life so my creative juices have been flowing in a different direction.  The "need" I've had to create with fabric is not as strong right now.  I've been through this before so I know it's only a matter of time before I'm knee deep in fabric scraps again and I'm looking forward to it.

Until then, I hope all of you are keeping those quilting fires burning for me. 

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why No Postings?

Hi Everyone!  Yes, once again I must be chastised for not posting more often.  I was doing so well there for a while but as is usually the case, things got away from me and I've neglected you guys.  Sorry!

I wish I could say I was on a cruise, or had just won the lottery, but it's just plain old day-to-day life that's been keeping me busy.  I was sick for so long, (I still have the stupid cough!), that I got so far behind on everything, not to mention that my energy level was so low that it was taking me twice the time to do anything because of all the stops and starts.

While I was sick a business opportunity presented itself and I've been working on that like crazy, when I can get to it!  It's on the graphics side of my world and although I can't get into it yet, one of my designs has shown up all over the internet and I'm getting some positive responses which just may lead to a profitable sideline.  Now, wouldn't that be marvy?

So between being sick and slow moving, I've been frantically trying to get this other gig going and still taking care of my husband and son, and the little dog too!

My quilting has taken a back seat, although I'm working on the Tufted Tweets quilt when I need a break from the laptop.  I actually got some fabric a couple of weeks ago and it's still in the box.  Now, that's busy!

Anyway, I just wanted to check in to let you know that I'm still alive and kind of kicking, (I'd be doing that better if I hadn't fallen down the bleachers at my son's basketball game on Saturday and twisted my foot...now that's a whole other story!).  Please continue to check in and I'll continue to blog when I can.

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day and have plans to enjoy the long weekend!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Days Long Gone

Wow, it's been a while since I posted last.  I was on such a roll a couple of weeks ago but the spate of illnesses haven't helped matters.  Just when I was getting over  my dose, my son got sick again!  It's one of those years.

The good thing is that it's sunny and clear out here in California.  I actually have the fan going in my office for the first time since October.  It's not unusual for us to have this kind of weather in February, (even January), but it usually doesn't last for more than a week.  At least I hope not!  The one thing old school Californians don't wish away is rain, we always need it.

I'm still struggling with the remnants of my flu a week ago.  The cough is lingering, like it always does.  I called the doctor, but they're so busy with really sick people that he gave me a list of symptoms to watch out for.  So far, so good.  I do tend to hang onto a cough for a while, so it will probably be gone soon.

In the meantime I've been trying to catch up on all of the housekeeping and other chores I let go when I was sick.   It's great to have the energy to tackle them, but it wears off fast.  I dream of the days when I could be sick one day and completely well the next.  Those days are long gone...

Speaking of days long gone.  My mother recently got a letter from a cousin of hers she hasn't seen in 70 years!  Isn't that amazing?  It's a fortunate circumstance because since my grandparents moved from Nebraska out to California when my mother was very small, she had little contact with her family.  Now, were getting all kinds of information as her cousin is working on the family geneaology.

This whole geneaology thing is so much fun.  I started doing one side of our family a few years ago and was able to confirm a lot of the stories my grandmother had told me, as well as make some new friends.  A very kind lady from New Jersey sent me some books she'd self published about our family, and there was a picture of my great grandmother, and great-great grandparents.  The amazing thing is that I looked a lot like my great grandmother when I was a child the same age. 

I also got an email from another lady who was researching another side of my family and it turned out that she was my father's second cousin, and she had inherited pictures of his family I'd never seen.  It was terrific to hear from her, and to see a great shot of my great grandfather with his father and brothers, taken in San Francisco in 1906, just 5 months after the great earthquake and fire.

I've been thinking about this even more lately as when I was putting some linens away I discovered some of my grandmother's quilts that I'd forgotten about.  They aren't spectacular pieces as my grandmother was a very practical woman.  She was a phenomenal seamstress, but wasn't really a "quilter."  I think she must have needed bedcovers so she made these.  The workmanship is great, but the fatric choices aren't the best.  I suspect that as thrifty as she was she probably used whatever she had on hand.  It's a reminder that for most of the time people have quilted, it was for warmth.  It hasn't been that long that we've been able to do it just for the beauty of it.

Aren't we lucky?

Happy Stitching!

Susan



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Quilting Celebrity

A few months ago I got an email from the editors of Quilter's Home asking me if my husband could do them a favor. 

Turns out they wanted to know the correct translations and pronunciation of some Gaelic words.  Now, those of you who've been reading this blog for a while know that my husband is from Ireland.  He grew up speaking English, (except with that charming Irish accent), but he was also required to learn Gaelic in school.  We call it Gaelic, he calls it "Irish."  Anyway, in Ireland there's been a concentrated effort to keep the traditional language from disappearing, so all children are taught "Irish" in school.  I even have a nephew who goes to an all "Irish" school.

So, David has some knowledge of the language, although he's now an American Citizen and has been in the States for over 17 years.  He's the first to admit he's rusty, but he hasn't forgotten most of the words and the pronunciations.  I suspect if he spent a few days with Irish speakers he'd manage just fine. 

We had a lot of fun going over the list of words they sent.  David gave them the best translation he could, although some of the words weren't ones he was familiar with.  The funniest part was trying to figure out what "great party" would be in Irish.  Turns out there are a lot of different names for parties, my favorite being:
ri ra ruiale buaile, (re-raw-roula-boula), which essentially means the party was so great that a fight broke out.  My husband says, if you've seen the end of "The Quiet Man" you'll know what it means.

Anyway, when the most recent issue of Quilter's Home came out they'd thanked my husband for his help, so now he's been mentioned in a quilting magazine.  How many years did I have to wait before that happened to me!  I don't even want to think about it.  I guess some of us seek fame, while others just find it.

Oh, and by they way, I am feeling much better.  The fever finally broke, although it's been coming back up to about 99 most afternoons.  I'm still coughing like a maniac, the only good thing is that I discovered that if I had a coughing jag when my son's opponents were shooting free throws, they missed!  Too bad the coughing jags were for real....and painful!

Oh well, at least I have a little more energy and have gone from staring at the walls, to walking over and looking at them up close....I really need to dust!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Friday, January 28, 2011

Watching Out for the Cow

I couldn't resist this little illustration, and it's so fitting for so many reasons!

First of all, it's very foggy out here in Central California.  We have what they call "tule fog" and there's nothing quite like it.  It hangs very low and can be so bad that you can't see the front end of the car you're driving.  I grew up in it and I remember that we used to ride our bikes to school because it was safer.  At least we could hear the cars coming!  Besides, since I rode my bike to school from the time I was in 1st grade I think it could have gotten me there on it's own.  Tremendous homing instincts on a Schwinn Stingray.

Also, my husband has a great story about when he was riding his own bike to school in rural Ireland.  He slid on some ice and ran into a cow.  The cow wasn't at all perturbed but all of his schoolbooks and papers went flying.  The farmer helped him pick everything up, and he continued on.  No damage to the bike, or the cow!

I was also thinking yesterday, (and have I ever had time to think this week!), that there are a lot of cows in the way of our dreams and goals.  Have you ever gotten all excited about a project and then couldn't get to it because "something" kept coming up?  Then, by the time you have the time, you no longer have the enthusiasm?

That's me in a nutshell!  If I could just somehow transpose my creative brainwaves into a robot that would immediately pull, press, cut, piece, quilt and bind the quilt I have in my mind.  Wouldn't that be fabulous?  Of course, it wouldn't be as much fun for me, but it would be nice to see all those wonderful ideas brought to fruition instead of idling around in my overwhelmed brain.  Too bad I have zero tech skills, can you imagine how popular "Quiltbot" would be at the next Quilt Festival?

Oh well, back to the real world.  Things are better on the illness front, (you can probably tell by the happier prose!).  Still not entirely normal, but the fever hasn't been above 99 since last night so unless I get an unwelcome fever boost this afternoon, (don't you hate that late afternoon burn?), I should be good to go.  Of course I feel, (and look), like a horse that's been run hard and put away wet, but what can I do?  I'm old and I've been sick.  Give me a break!

This has been some week for me on the blogging front.  I was smart to have a few saved posts I could just plug in, but being sick made it possible for me to (kinda) focus and keep up.  Now that I have 3 blogs, (yes, I know I am crazy), it's going to be more of a challenge.  But, thecrankyquilter is where I can really let loose and be me so I won't be neglecting it.

http://www.fraidycatquilters/ has gotten off to a great start.  10 members after only a couple of weeks.  I hope you'll stop by and join the conversation.  It's been an eye opener to me because I've had so many comments and the emails I get, sometimes they'd just break your heart.  We all need to be kinder to our fellow quilters...

If you haven't had the chance yet, check out my newest blog, http://www.quiltlit.com/, it's a compendium of info about quilting magazines and books.  I've reviewed a few current magazines and hope to have a few more ready to roll for next week.  If you're not sure whether a current issue is worth your $ or not, it's a good place to check before you roll out the dough.  I'm also being a very brave, (or maybe masochistic), soul by beginning "Fiction Fridays" with the first part of my own foray into fiction.  It's called "A Piece of Work" and is a fun look at an unconventional quilter and the folks around her.  It's all in fun, so I hope you enjoy. 

Also, something very wierd happened this week, I got like 440 folks referred to my website from facebook.  Do any of you know what that was about?  I'd love to find out because whoever referred me has a ton of friends and I'd like to join that group, and give them my thanks.

I've got to get going on creating a blog reading list for my own site.  I'm a bit of a moron about how it works, but I have to admit that this week was not the week to try to figure it out.  If you have a blog you want to have listed, send it along to me.  I've got a few in mind that I know I want to add.

Thanks again for an interesting week, here's hoping to be fever free in February!

Woo Hoo!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Thanks Everyone!

Gee, it's great to have so many people care about you.  I appreciate all of your good thoughts and prayers.

Fortunately, when I felt myself getting sick I stocked up a few posts so I was able to really rest.  Today is the first day I ventured out other than to pick my son up from school or take him to basketball practice.  I actually went to the supermarket!  I really hate going to the supermarket, but it was great to be able to get a little bit back to normal.

I'd love to say that I'm 100% better but although the voice is back, (sorry hubby!), the cough is better, and I have more energy, I'm still running a cursed low grade fever which never goes over 100 or under 99.5.  Just get to normal, already!  I know it's not very high but it's really wiping me out.  I'm not really sick enough to do nothing, but I don't have enough energy to do much of anything.  Bummer!

Oh well, it's a lot easier to be sick now then it was when my son was little.  Now he's nearly 13 and capable of getting his own snack and doing his own homework and helping me out when I need him.  Thank goodness!  When he was about 12 months old we all got a horrible flu bug. All of us had fevers of 104.  I still don't know how I took care of the two of them and myself.  It must have been one of those superhuman mother moments.

I actually had one of those when my son was at his old elementary school.  There was a busy road in front of the school with all kinds of cones and big bright white lines where the children crossed.  My son and I started across the street and some idiot came around the corner right at us going about 35 miles an hour.  My son was right in his path but somehow I managed to grab my son by the collar and move him behind me just as the car was about to hit him.  It was so close that the car grazed my legs and I was lucky it didn't run over my feet.

I'll never forget it because it happened so fast but in my mind's eye it was in slow motion.  It wasn't until a moment later that I heard all of the screaming of the other mothers who had watched our narrow escape.  They said that I very calmly just picked him up and moved him, as if it was something I did everyday.  It wasn't long after that the school finally got a crossing guard, and then that crossing guard was seriously hurt at the same crossing.  After that a police car sat there every morning and afternoon.

I still believe that our guardian angel was there that day.  I tried to lift him the same way that evening to show my husband what happened and I couldn't budge him.  The only explanation of how I was able to do it the first time is that I had a little help.

Now I just need a little more help to kill this fever and then I'll be back in the saddle again!

Thanks again for all of your good wishes,

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Temperature Rising

Well, that's it for me!  Temperature at 101 after taking medication.  This is truly brutal crud.  The only one who's enjoying this is my little dog, who loves it when someone sleeps during the day.  So glad I'm at least making him happy.

The thing that I'm amazed at is that I can still type and that I'm so bored.  Usually I don't get bored until I'm feeling better, but all I see when I look around me is things I need to do, and I actually want to do them!  (And I'm talking house cleaning here!)  But, the way I feel there's no way much is getting done except a couple of posts and a long nap.

I remember when I was at school that I used to fantasize about being sick and getting to stay home.  Being sick doesn't seem so bad when you're well.  However, when you really are sick, you never have the energy to do the things you thought you'd be able to do.

I remember when a friend of mine was pregnant she had all these plans about what she was going to do on her maternity leave.  I listened patiently and then told her that I wouldn't be too ambitious.  Having a new baby in the house is exhausting and when you finally have 10 minutes to yourself you'll find yourself so tired you end up just sitting there, staring at the wall.

Well, a few weeks after her baby was born she called me and said, "Guess what I'm doing?  Staring at the wall!"

There are some things in life we just can't control, new babies and illness are two of them!  So, I'm going to sign off now and hope that my fever goes down far enough that my fingers will no longer throb and I can do some work on my Tufted Tweets quilt.

Happy Stitching!
Susan

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Larkspur by Alexander Henry

I love Alexander Henry prints!  They're always so much fun with bright colors and unusual designs.  I happened to come upon "Larkspur" while trying to inspire myself the other day.  I love this fabric line!  I'm a huge fan of black and white "sketching" with bright colors.  It's so fresh and cheerful, and anytime I see black and white with color....I'm all over it!

I discovered a great selection of this line at http://www.fabricworm.com/.  I've never ordered from them, but since I found out that they're in California, (which means I get my orders in a couple of days), I think I may have found my new favorite fabric site.  They have a great selection of the kinds of fabrics I love, as well as some fun Japanese imports.  Check them out if you get the chance.

I'm still sick with this stupid cold/laryngitis thing and so bummed out about it.  I'd love to get some quilting done, but my hands are kind of shaky and sore from the low grade fever, so the thought of grasping fabric in hand for any length of time is unappealing.  Here's hoping I feel better tomorrow!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Monday, January 24, 2011

Speechless

I'm finally speechless!  Yes, I have laryngitis and it makes things a little difficult around the house. 

You don't realize how much you order people around until you can't speak.  This morning was awkward because I had to get my son up, fed, and out the door for school without saying a word.  I'm proud I didn't resort to certain gestures, (although it was tempting), but it sure made me aware of how much I foam at the mouth.

Fortunately my son was terrific as he feels guilty for giving me this nasty bug.  I was constantly yelling at him for not covering his mouth when he coughed, and now I can't speak.  I suppose it could be from the yelling, but by the overall nastiness I'm feeling I suspect it's his nasty bug, hand delivered.

Oh well, as a mom there's no way to avoid these kinds of things.  Even if he had covered his mouth while coughing, as his mom I was the one who was taking care of him during his illness, (now fortunately over), so I was exposed in a hundred million impossible- to-avoid ways. 

The worst thing is that I had a long standing "date" with my best friend tomorrow (who I only get to see yearly), and I had to cancel.  There's no point to hanging out with your best friend if you can't speak.  So, we're going to have to reschedule and with her schedule and mine it won't be easy.  Bummer!

What I find really funny is that I rarely get phone calls in the morning, but this morning the phone's been ringing off the hook.  I answer it, squeak out a "Hi" and then when it becomes obvious to the caller that I can't respond they still continue to have a one sided converstation with me.  I will have to give my Mom credit because at least she said that was what she was going to do, but it's very frustrating to have people asking you questions when  you can't respond.  The silence is deafening.

There is, of course, a silver lining to this.  It's given me the opportunity to get some blog posts written in advance so I'll have more time to sew as the week goes on.  At least I hope so!  I was thinking I might be able to tackle some today but I'm too out of it.  It's odd that when my brain is fuzzy I can still write, but I guess a keyboard is less dangerous then working with a rotary cutter so it's probably best I stick to writing for now!

Speaking of which, I'm launching a new blog!
It's http://www.quiltlit.com/ and will feature magazine and book reviews, as well as original fiction.  I'm looking for contributors so if you're interested contact me at susan@quiltlit.com.  It should be fun!

Happy Stitching and Writing!

Susan

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Eyes

One of the best things I learned when I was studying art was to look at my work through "new eyes."  I was told that before I considered an artwork finished, or if I was having problems making decisions about what to do next, that I should hang the piece somewhere I would come upon it throughout the day.

It's one of the great things about having a design wall, but if you don't have one there are other ways to get the same result. 

I recently finished piecing my Tufted Tweets quilt.  I'm working on quilting the borders around each block to set the quilt for further embellishment.  When I don't have it in my hands, I have it draped over a couple of chairs in my dining room.

Since I can see it from my kitchen, (where I spend way too much time), I have a lot of little opportunities for it to catch my eye.  I'm still trying to decide how I'm going to embellish it so these little glimpses can sometimes give me ideas, without the pressure of having it in front of my face too much. 

Sometimes once you've finished a big piecing project you're just plain tired of the quilt.  The colors which used to seem so bright and cheerful now look dull and boring, the design you loved has become a chore when you remember all the trouble you had with it, frankly, sometimes you just need a break.

This is why it's a great idea to have at least two projects going all the time, particularly if they are in different stages of production.  I love to have a quilt in mind, one at embellishment stage, and one pieced and ready to go.  This way if I get bored with one piece I can shift to another.  If you do this you will find that you'll go back to the previous quilt with a new perspective, as well as do your best work on the quilt you're currently working on.

The trick to this is to make sure that you don't wait too long before picking up the various projects, or you'll end up with an excess of WIPs, which we all have too many of already!

However, for me, the habit of using "new eyes" helps me on a regular basis.  If you're stuck, try it and see if it works for you.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Japanese Fabric Inspirations

 I found a wonderful selection of Japanese import fabrics over at www.equilter.com/.  I just love how whimsical and fun they are.  Check these out:


Aren't these cute?  In the 80s I ordered a few Japanese quilt magazines and they really changed my quilting style.  At the time I was doing very traditional work, but I fell in love with the unusual color combinations and fabric choices. The designs were traditional but the execution was anything but.  I was hooked!

Along with the whimsical, there were also some really lovely sewing related fabrics.  I wish I could afford to buy enough of the green one to make shades for my studio.  That's the one minus with these prints, they're expensive!  The other thing is that the fabric isn't necessarily like other all cotton quilting fabrics.  Some of these have linen in them, others are brushed cotton, which can sometimes be a problem.


 However, even though they're pricey, a half yard would go a long way if you used them as a focus fabric and raided your stash for coordinating pieces.  The kiddie styles would be cute in a simple square baby quilt, or as part of a patchwork diaper bag.    I could also picture the print directly above made into simple pillows for a neutral color couch or chair.  Maybe I'll pick up a yard, it would be perfect as summer slipcovers for my brown velvet settee!

Hope you all have a great weekend,

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Patience

Those of you who have read my blog for a while probably remember my little dog Indy.

Here he is seated on his favorite chair, which he's destroyed by digging in the back cushion.  It has a slipcover on it and in order to dig he had to rip, and what a good job he's made of it!  Fortunately, the cover was a little oversized to begin with so we can tuck the damage out of sight.  I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that this is the only thing, (besides some stray socks and a few of my son's toys), that he's destroyed.

The amazing thing is that if my son had done the same amount of damage he would have been in big trouble, but since it was Indy, well, we kind of let it go with a big "Bad Dog".  Of course, if it had been a new leather sofa I might have thought differently, (and Indy might be cooling his heels in an outside dog house)!

The reason I bring this up is that I've realized something about the pets I've had in my life,  I've rarely ever gotten really angry at them.  They've done some annoying things, (including Indy deciding that the bed in the guest room was a toilet...fortunately, there was an old blanket folded on top so the mattress wasn't destroyed), but even if I get angry I can't stay that way for long.  An animal is what they are, and in my experience I've never had one do something on purpose to upset me.  

It's the same way I felt about my son when he was very little.  He didn't know what he was doing was wrong until I told him, so how could I get angry at him?  It wasn't like he understood that throwing the phone and the TV remote into a sink full of dishes was not a good idea.  He probably just liked the sound they made as they hit the water, or maybe he thought he was helping me when he saw me put other things in the dishwater.  Who knows?  The one thing I do know for sure is that he didn't know he was doing anything wrong.

Now I have a new problem, my 12 year old coming home from school with new words.  They aren't all nasty words but some of them he's using inappropriately, and others are just not the way we want him to talk.  So, as mothers do with 12 year olds, when he whips one of those words out in conversation I have a tendency to jump all over him.  He looks shocked, because he had no idea that that particular word, (which seemed harmless to him), would set me off.  So, now I try to be calmer about it and ask him where he heard it and what he thinks it means, before I explain to him what it really means and that I'd better not hear it again coming from his lips.

What I'm getting at is that sometimes we need to give other people a pass with things that they say and do.  I suspect that 80% of the time when someone does or says something that upsets us it was probably not their intention to do so.  I know I've innocently hurt people's feelings when I hadn't intended to.  Unless I know for sure that someone is out to get me I try not to take things personally.  I don't always succeed but more times than not something comes out about what happened to make it clear that the slight wasn't intentional, and wouldn't I have felt foolish if I'd made a big deal out of it?

The fact is that if we showed the same amount of patience towards the people in our lives as we do towards our pets, we'd be a lot happier and a lot less stressed out.  That doesn't mean that we have to take abuse, it just means that it's to our benefit to give people the benefit of a doubt until it's proven otherwise. 

Of course, we all know people who are just downright mean and when they say a mean thing they mean it.  If it's at all possible we should cut those people out of our lives.  Who needs to expose themselves to that kind of vicious nonsense?   I know I don't.  When I encounter a meanie I run like the wind.  I don't need that kind of negativity in my life, I produce enough of my own!

What inspired this post is Indy, who is sitting next to me while I'm typing.  I put his little bed there, thinking he'd tuck into it.  However, he's half out of the bed with his head under the laptop desk and his body under my arm, (so I have to type with my hand up...it's going to be so sore later!).  I keep moving him over and he keeps insinuating himself back into his spot, which is as close as he can get to me.  I was getting a little irritated at him but when I moved him he looked up at me with those big brown eyes....so, he's back right next to me again.  I just can't win, those eyes are so cute, and when he looks sad he looks like he did in his animal shelter photo and then I start thinking about him being in that place and......well, what can I say, I'm a soft touch!

Now I just need to work on applying my "pet patience" to the rest of the people in my life, including myself!

Happy Stitching!

Susan



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Learning to Love Sharon

On New Years Eve we were at a friend's house for their annual party.  It's always lots of fun and we all have a great time. 

Those of you who don't know me personally might suspect that I'm more outgoing than I actually am.  Most people who first meet me probably don't know what to think.  I'm very shy one-on-one so I don't say a lot in the beggining so some people have thought I was stuck up. Not at all!  If anything it's that old inferiority complex at work.  I am not a star at social occasions.

I do have a wicked sense of humor and I'm quick with the witty repartee if I do say so myself.  However, you have to get to know me before it comes out, usually in unexpected ways.

Years ago I worked for a company where I had to travel, usually with a coworker.  I was new at the job and had a very demanding, (and psycho, but that's another story), boss who kept me very busy.  After I'd been there a couple of months I was told I'd have to travel down to Monterey with a colleague to visit some vendors.   This particular person was outspoken and not particularly well liked in the office.  For some reason, she'd gotten the idea that I was a goody-two-shoes and she was out to prove her theory.

So, as she was driving us she kept using swear words, told off color jokes, anything to see if I'd react.  I didn't know what to think except that maybe she was testing me, so I didn't react the way she'd expected.  I just carried on as if none of it bothered me at all, but I didn't join in.

Anyway, we went through the day, cautiously circling each other.  She wanted to have lunch at this restaurant at the wharf so we went in and ordered.  We were having casual conversation when we couldn't help but notice two pigeons enjoying a little "afternoon delight" right outside our window.  At that moment our food was served, and I turned to her and said, "Wow, dinner and a show" in my usual deadpan way. 

For some reason this struck her as hilarious and from then on we were buddies.  We kept it to ourselves because we figured out that my boss loved to do things to keep her staff unhappy. So, since she thought my friend and I hated each other, she used to arrange for us to travel together on a regular basis.  We'd leave the office sniping at each other but by the time we boarded the plane we had all kinds of shenanigans planned. 

I left the office as Susan,  but boarded the plane as Sharon.

Getting back to that New Year's party.  During the festivities a friend of ours accidentally called me Sharon.  Instead of being upset about it I decided to make Sharon into my fun loving alter-ego.   It's been liberating and I think has shown some of my friends a different side of me.   Sharon's a bit of a wild woman.  While Susan might not say "that" Sharon would and does!  She's the fun side of me, the "evil" twin who isn't really evil, more like mischievous, and she has a great time wherever she goes.

Whenever I'm feeling intimidated or shy I try to think of what Sharon would do.  She'd make friends with that person, tell that one off, and still have time to put her hair up in a beehive and go out and have fun.  I'm starting to like this gal, she's fun and happy, and she doesn't let stuff get her down.

"Live for the moment!"  Sharon says,

You gotta love her for that.

Fortunately, Sharon hasn't taken over my life.  But, I have to admit, she's fun to have around, and it wouldn't hurt me to emulate some of her qualities.  I suspect she's always been there, lurking around, waiting to come out and party.  Maybe I'll take her out for a spin more often!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taking the Right Road

My mother has a favorite saying, "Old Age isn't for Sissies."  Boy is that the truth!  I think that I can take it up a notch and state as fact that "Life isn't for Sissies."

These days times are tough for many people.  I've been around long enough to remember similar times so I know that "this too, shall pass."  However it doesn't make the going through it any easier.

It doesn't help that it's been very dreary and foggy out here in California.  We can't usually complain about the weather, (frankly, it's one of the few reasons to live out here...the way things are now!), but when it's dreary it's hard to get motivated, or feel excited about anything.

Today there's finally some sun!  It's still cold, but when the sun is shining and it's not dark in the house in the middle of the day, (I hate that!), it's a bit easier to think about the road ahead.

I had to run a few errands this morning and as I was waiting patiently to make a left turn it occurred to me that most of the time people follow the rules well and when they do things go so much more smoothly.  If everyone just went their own way there'd be total chaos, which isn't good for anybody.

But what do you do in uncharted territory?  If the road isn't marked and there aren't any clear cut rules for how things should be done, what do you do?

I've been thinking about this a lot over the last few years while I try to find my place in this world.  In my personal life as wife, mother, daughter, and friend, I get it.  I know what I need to do and what I should do and how I should handle myself.  But in my artistic and business ventures it's very different.  In some ways, I've been here before.  I've worked enough in different types of positions that I know how to do all of the technical stuff.   That's a good thing, to have an engine that can function well.  I also have talents and abilities I can throw in the trunk or the backseat.  I'm not a bad driver.  I have a general sense of direction and have read all the guide books and the maps.

What I'm missing are three important things, and they're the most difficult.  I need a road, I need to know where I'm going.  I also need lots of energy, excitement, and stamina for fuel. But, what I need most is the "balls" to attempt the journey, to go past the barriers set up by myself and others, to boldly go where I've never gone before!

There's an urgency as we get older.  When we're young we keep thinking that there's plenty of time to realize our goals. But, as the years go by the time frame keeps shrinking and shrinking and shrinking and before we know it 5 years flies by then 10 then 15 then 20.  And suddenly you find yourself in middle age with less time before you then behind. 

Quilting has always been laden with metaphors.  When you think about it the fabric is what we're born with, how we choose to cut the pieces sets a pattern, the pieces themselves are all the little things about us; our memories, our hopes, our joys, our fears, all laid out for everyone to see.  Then there's the piecing, the amount of care we take, (or don't take), in the construction.  Even the most skilled quilter has points just slightly off and a stray thread here and there.  As we work we press, and block, and measure again, refining aspects of our lives.  It's easier when we start but we start to get tired as we go.  Weariness sets in as row after row are set in place.  There are times when we have to tear out some stitches and make substitutions, or when we have to abandon one design for another.  Once the top is done, we add the batting and backing.  We begin to stitch our days into every piece, the good ones and the bad ones, the joys and the sorrows, all together in one place.  And, if we're lucky we live long enough to put on the binding, and let our family and friends help us put the last stitches in place.

Life is a beautiful quilt, if we choose to make it that way.  Sometimes, in order to make that happen we have to challenge ourselves and put ourselves out there more than we're comfortable.  Oh, but the joy of being seen and being recognized as the unique human beings we are.  It has to be worth it.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Oh, and don't forget to check out http://www.fraidycatquilters.com/ where I'm having fun with road signs...sounds like I have a theme going!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mixing New Fabrics and Old


Ta Da!  I finally pieced my Tufted Tweets quilt.  If you look closely you can see it's pinned on the left.  I haven't started quilting it yet, but didn't want to wait until it was basted to show it to you. 

So, thanks Staci, for getting me going!  It took a while for the cutting, but once it was all set up I pieced it in a few hours.  It would have gone faster if I hadn't screwed up a few blocks, but then that wouldn't be normal, at least for me!

When I was planning the quilt I wanted the individual chairs and sofas to be set apart from each other and framing them in coordinating fabrics was the best way to integrate the different colors.  In the case of Tufted Tweets there are only two patterns other than the sofas and chairs, so I needed to turn to my stash.


I love to collect different colorways of the same patterns.  My favorites are allover patterns like the orange pink and white pattern around the red background chair, and the green and yellow combo around the purple couch, (you can see the red and orange colorway on the bottom left of the photo).  Since I had several of these colorway combos I used them to add some unity to the fabric selection, while still adding color.  Dots are always a great choice because they go with anything, so there are a few in the quilt as well.

I've been writing a lot about stashbusting recently and this project was a great one for digging through my stash and using fabrics from last year and beyond.   The purple fabric around the red couch at the top of the quilt is at least 5 years old, and the border is fabric from 1999.

Speaking of which, the border gave me fits!  I thought of using one of the fabrics in the quilt but everyone I tried just made the quilt look boring, (which considering the colors was hard to do!).  So, I decided to pick up the black of the chair and sofa legs and do a black border.  Black and white didn't give enough contrast so I decided to use the "sweet peas" fabric I've had forever.  I bought this when my son was a baby and had planned to make him an outfit with it, but by the time I got around to it, he was too big of a pea and I didn't have enough fabric.  So, it got put back into my stash.  I've always loved the sweet little peas and the mix of greens on the black background.  It reads "dots" but has enough interest not to be too polka dotty. 

So, I decided to put a three inch border in the black fabric all around the quilt.  I'll do the quilting and embellishment in the center first, and then decide how I'll finish the border  I have no idea what I'm going to do, but by the time I get there I'll figure it out.  I love the suspense!

If you want to see some more details, check out http://www.fraidycatquilters.com/ and join in the conversation.

Hope you enjoy my "take on tweet."  I 'm so glad I finally have it pieced.  It's sitting by my chair with my kit of threads and embellishments.  It'll be great to have some sewing to work on for a change.  I've been doing too much writing and not enough sewing for a while now.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tweet it, Tweet it Good!

Last June "Tufted Tweets" by Laurie Wisbrun was my fabric of the month.  I wrote a couple of posts about it because I absolutely loved it!  I had all kinds of plans of what I was going to do with it when I got the fat quarter set, but had done nothing until I got shamed into it over at www.fraidycatquilters.com/.

Wednesday I designed it and cut out my pieces.  Yesterday I started piecing.  I like what I'm seeing so far, but it will be hard to know what it will end up looking like because I'm always changing my mind.  Hence, my further reluctance to make any promises! (Easy cop out, I know!)

Anyway, as I said in one of  my earlier posts about this line my concern was that it might be a little difficult to work with, due to the straight lines of the patterns.  I knew when I tackled it I'd have to do a lot of fussy cutting and less rotary cutting.  It would be very hard to keep everything straight otherwise.  I'm a stickler for that kind of thing, I really hate it when a line that should be straight isn't.  I know it's due to years of creating signage and graphics, (most clients don't like uneven things....even if it's meant to be that way!)

This morning I had the brilliant idea of doing a search on Google Images to see if I could find examples of what other quilters have done with this line.  I usually don't look in advance because I like to keep my designs original. but if you're uncomfortable designing for yourself, this is a great way to get ideas.  There are so many talented quilters out there, doing unique and fun things.  It's great to be able to see what they're up to, and so easily....gotta love that internet!

Here are some samples of what I found along with the links to their blogs and/or websites.  There's a whole lot of inspiration out there!

quiltilicious cut the fabric into diamonds framed with solid colors  

Beth used a wonky coins pattern paired with a solid.

Hannah made a pillow in a log cabin design.  This would also make a great quilt.

sequinK's pattern is deceptively simple.  Look at the different configurations of each square.

Jeri's combos of different squares make for an interesting quilt.  Notice how the solid bordered squares stand out.

                            http://lauriewis.blogspot.com/2010/04/giveaway-day-tufted-tweets.html
This is from Laurie Wisbrun's blog.  Very modern take on a bar quilt.

Great stuff from Ashley at filminthefridge.com.
Gotta love these potholders!  I'm starting to see the possibilities in hexagons.
 
More great stuff from Ashley, a simple design, well executed.

Now, I'm really inspired to finish piecing!  Hope you got some great ideas as well. 

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Dart of Shame


Thanks Staci!

Those of you who haven't dropped by http://www.fraidycatquilters.com/ missed a comment by Staci where she innocently noticed that I hadn't posted anything about a quilt I was going to make last June.  Of course, she didn't know that I'd never made it.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!!

Yes, I know it's a shock to all of you, (sure!), that I have not finished or started a lot of the projects I mention in this blog.  Now, my intentions are honorable.  When I say I'm going to do something, I really do mean it.  But life rears it's ugly head, or I lose my enthusiasm, or, most likely, I just move on and forget about it.

Bad quilter, bad, bad, bad, (sound of me being pelted by wet noodles)!

Now, don't feel bad Staci.  You did not personally shoot me with the "Dart of Shame," I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself.  Your innocent comment about wanting to see my imaginary quilt was probably the most motivating thing that's happened to me in a while.  I am going to dig out those Tufted Tweets fabrics today, and although I'm not going to make any promises, I'm determined to make something I can can share on fraidy cat, just to prove to myself I can do it.  I'm taking on a challenge!

Do any of you have a jelly roll or fat quarter collection that you were determined to do something with but haven't yet?  If so, take the challenge with me!  Let's attack a WIP or a UFO or an IQ, (imaginary quilt), and
get 'er done!

I'd love to hear about what you have in the pipeline.  If you want to post photos you can send them to me at susan@thecrankyquilter.com and I'll put them up along with your comments.

Oh, and check out http://www.fraidycatquilters.com/, it's cathartic and fun!

Thanks for the motivation!

Happy Stitching!

Susan