Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow again

It snowed again yesterday, another 8-12 inches. We've had over 120 inches already this year. Not as much as some areas, but almost a record for here. My mother reminded me it doesn't snow when it is very cold here. I guess I should be happy it has warmed up enough to snow. I had to shovel some of the backyard to give the little boys room to go out.

I've signed up for Facebook. I'm moving into the digital age I guess. I was not a fan of My Space. Too many kids I think. It seemed too much like an obsession. Not that Facebook isn't full of kids or a bit like an obsession. There seem to be more people my age there and I have been surprised by some of the people that are there. The Today Show has a page for example, well Hoda and Kathy Lee anyway. We'll see how it goes. If you are on Facebook, let me know what you think of it.

I finished my stealth project. You'll still have to wait to see it. I gave it to my quilter, Alison Schmidt. This quilt needed a higher level of quilting than I am capable of. Alison does a great job and I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

I've just started working on a commission quilt. A couple of the drivers that have been on the motorcycle tour have asked for quilts for their semi bunks. The quilts are 55" x 85", long and narrow. The first quilt is black/purple and grey to match his truck. I've added a little of the lime green to brighten it up a bit. The next one is green with darker green flames. I think I'll have to applique the flames. I'm still working on drawing that one up. The third quilt we have been discusing has a mission style design. I'm waiting for the applique artwork to match their bedroom. The mission quilt will be king size. I'll be busy with these for a little while.

I'm headed to Cleveland this weekend for the IMS Motorcycle Show ( It's the same show I was at in Houston. Honey left on Tuesday to start the setup. I'll stay until Sunday. The show closes at 4:00 for the Superbowl. Honey will be tearing down the booths during the game. I think they play it over the loadspeakers. Next weekend we'll be in Chicago. Maybe I'll find another inspiration bike like the one in Houston. I'll certainly get some good flame ideas.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

That Creative Place

Do you remember how important your high school yearbook was? At the end of the year, it was critical to make sure all not my friends signed the pages. Heaven forbid they didn't get that chance to mark up all the white space. I might forget them forever over the summer. I have not gone back to those pages very often over the years. I still think about all those signatures though. There was one that still stands out today. A good friend of mine wrote, "I am at a creative low." and signed his name. I guess it stands out because I understand that feeling. How many times have you been called upon to be witty, clever, or profound. It is a hard thing to do on the spot. I am much better at developing ideas over time. I think most of us are that way.

I think I have told you I keep several journals around to jot things down. My ghosts, or ideas as they run rampant through my head. Just last night at our quilt guild meeting, a friend of mine was talking about all the crazy ideas that run through her head and how quilting gives her a chance to channel them into something productive. I understood completely.

How do we develop these fleeting glimpses into something usable and productive? How do we make sense of all the craziness? I have found that I have more ideas flowing when I am doing the most mundane activities. Driving any distance will bring out an amazing array. Exercising is also a good way or riding my motorcycle. Most recently, I have been paper piecing points. It must be the repetitiveness of the task at hand.

I am working on what my mother would call a "Stealth Project". I can't give you much detail right now other than it involves quite a bit of paper piecing and an incredible numnber of points. Each block is taking much longer than I had anticipated, but there is no sense in hurrying. I'll just make more mistakes and have to take it all out again. The bonus has been the myriad of ideas I have been thinking through as each pointy section goes together. I don't think I can turn them all into quilts, but I certainly have been able to contemplate the viability of each as a quilt design.
Going back to my good friend having a creative low, it is hard to have exactly the right thing to say at the right moment. I keep filling those journal pages to help me when the need arises. If I'm really stuck, maybe I could go get on the treadmill or take the motorcycle out for a spin (Not in January though). The best idea is to go back through the pages and look for an idea that just needs a little refinement.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sometimes It's the Little Things

I have been working hard on a new paper-pieced quilt recently. To me, paper-piecing is very similar to color by number. As you attach the colors in the correct sequence, a picture appears. There are 64 squares in this quilt, with 3 different block variations. I would usually complete a block at a time and sew the rows together as the blocks are finished. This time around I am constructing all of the sections and will piece the blocks once the paper-piecing is finished. I don't get the same sense of accomplishment as seeing the rows go together, but I like finishing all of one particular section. It's a very similar feeling to chain piecing.

I have added a new tool recently, the wooden iron. I was very sceptical that it would improve my piecing. Silly me. First though, you have to understand my sewing set up and then you will understand why this $5 tool is has had such a big impact. Honey and I live in a just the right size house. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 floors and a basement. The "office" is on the second floor. It is a strange room that is 7' wide and 16' long, but looks like 2 squares that have been offset. We have our desks and computers set up here. My sewing machine was originally in this room and so my cutting table is set up here, as well as my stash (everything that is not in the storage area off our bedroom that is). My serger, my iron and ironing board are also in the office. When I upgraded my sewing machine, it moved to the first floor into "the little bedroom" which has no bed. This room could hold a larger worktable. I recently purchased a long arm quilting machine. That went into the basement of course. The end result is I have sewing machines etc on every floor of the house. I'm sure you can picture how this works. I design and cut out my quilts on the second floor, bring the fabric down to my sewing machine on the first floor, run back upstairs to press, run back downstairs to sew, run back upstairs to press and cut a few more pieces...

I bought this little $5 wooden iron. It works much better than finger pressing and I don't have to worry about a hot mini iron falling on the floor or being knocked over by the puppies. I can finish a paper-pieced section to run upstairs to press. So... I am sewing all of the paper-pieced sections before I construct them into blocks.

My plan is to turn the basement into my studio and move everything down to one level. In the meantime, sewing can be an aerobic sport.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

They say inspiration can be found anywhere

I know I should take my camera more often. Maybe I just need a smaller one that will fit in my pocket. I tell myself I would have more blog posts if I took more pictures. Maybe I just need a smaller camera. I'm sure I need another gadget around. Truth is, I really like my camera. It takes great pictures, but it is an SLR and therefore does not fit in my pocket.

This year I would like to expand my inspiration journal. I keep several notebooks around and colored pencils to jot things down as ideas come to me. These fleeting ideas are my ghosts and if I don't get them down on paper, they may disappear entirely, or they may haunt me for days on end. I don't always have those books with me though to record all of my ghosts, hence the camera discussion. I have a camera phone that takes pretty good pictures, but right now I cannot get them from my phone to my computer to show you. Seems I have to add texting to do that.

I went to Houston to visit Honey as he worked the International Motorcycle Show. The show is always great. I get to sit on all the new models and check out all the new gear. There has been a trend for custom paint and accessories in the past few years. I was drawn to one bike in particular this year. I just loved the color combination. It wasn't very long before I started to see a quilt reflecting back from the gas tank of that bike. My ghosts had followed me to Houston! Of course, I did not have my camera or one of my notebooks. What's a girl to do? I pulled out my cell phone and snapped a few shots.

So now I have these great motivational pictures and no way to share them. One of my sister's insists I am a die hard quilter if I am able to see quilts in the gas tanks of motorcycles. This is the same sister who had a dream I bought a hot pink chopper with a front end so extended it needed separate controls to turn. I think I need to borrow her dream fairies!

I hope you see quilts in all of the everyday things around you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Is it Spring yet?

I think January is one of the hardest months her in Erie, Pa. We have more grey days than sunny days and it seems as though every day in January is grey. Honey laughs at me because I always talk about moving to a warmer climate this time of year, not that I think it will ever happen. I did find this great fabric by Blank quilting. It reminds me of the Arizona desert. Much as I love Arizona, it's too far away from my family to be a realistic place to move. I can have a little piece of the desert though. I think this will be a wall hanging for the hallway.

I've also been seeing green. No not green with envy (well maybe a little). Most of Honey's family lives in Florida as well as my youngest sister. There are certain shades of green that transport me to sunny FLA in January and February. The green of the palm trees and that funny stiff grass they have. Honey and I typically head south in March for a short visit. Daytona Bike Week is the motorcycling official start of spring. Honey is usually working the show and I come along for a break in the weather and to visit with friends and family. I have known some motorcyclists to ride down from Ohio only to find snow on the ground when they try to ride home. Much as I might like to get my bike out early this year, I don't think I'm quite up to riding in the snow, even with my new Gerbings electric jacket liner. It plugs into the side of the bike and will keep me toasty warm on those cool night rides home. No, that's not a picture of honey and I but my new jacket liner looks just like hers does. It even has plugs for glove liners on the sleeves. I've had die hard riders tell me the heated clothing is cheating, but I'm all for extending my riding season and I am a freeze baby at heart.

As a quilter, I feel very lucky to be able to look through my fabrics or go to the quilt store and be transported to a different place or a different time of year. I love the large floral prints this time of year. I can create my own garden. The best part of a quilted garden is that all of the flowers look perfect and they don't require any watering. It may be a rose garden, or it may be Iris', but it will certainly be spring in my sewing room.
I think it's time to turn up the thermostat and start working on that garden, or the desert quilt.
Stay warm and let the fabrics take the grey out of your sewing room.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. I've been thinking about 2008 recently. I'm sure most people review this time of year. The television stations all do anyway. 2008 certainly was a full year. My first published quilt, my first quilt market, a new Gammill long arm. At times it was very crazy. Looking back makes me wonder what changes the new year will bring.

I'm am very excited to start teaching in a few weeks. Nothing like starting off the new year with changes right from the get go. I'm teaching my Red Lotus Wedding quilt at Millcreek Vacuum and Sewing here in Erie on the 24th of January.

I've been working hard on the long arm as well. I have a couple quilts my mother gave me to quilt. She bought them at garage sales many years ago and never had time to finish putting them together. and then there is the pile of tops that I have been "saving" for a couple years. Don't we all have those piles, the unfinished or UFO, the "just needs a border", the finished top and the "just needs a binding" piles? Hopefully I'll be able to get through some of those this year.

What else is new? I'm working out a few new designs. I've made a few (4) of the Mini Bow Tucks bags from Quilts Illustrated. Here is the one I made for my mother for Christmas. She is a knitter and likes to make socks. I thought it was just the right size for socks and yarn. I also made one for my sister and put the Warm Company Insul-brite in as part of the batting. My thought was she could use it as a lunch bag. It's also just the right size to out a water bottle or thermos in. I have yet to make one for myself, but I'm think about making the regular size Bow Tucks. I have the fabric and everything in the biggest pile of all, Projects yet to be started.
So many ideas, never enough time. This is Jan 1. Maybe this year I can finish them. (Ha Ha Ha).
Have a great year!