Exploring life with needle and thread.
I have been getting some questions about my daily stitch meditations so, I thought I would explain what I am doing, why I am doing and invite you to join me. I post them on my Facebook page, Pinterest, Instagram , Tumblr, and Twitter! I use the following hashtags: #100daysto100%, #tantalizingtextilewishes and #stitchmeditation
My word for the year is Intention. I want to improve my meditation and mindfullness skills as well as focus on working more strategically in my business. I occasionally practice traditional meditation and while I find it fulfilling,I have discovered that I like a meditation that involves keeping my hands busy while I let my mind clear. My goal is to use both types of meditation daily. It will take me a while to build up to that.
My friend, Deb Prewitt, wrote a blog post about 100 Days to 100% that resonated with me. I had been thinking about a new class based on small hand stitched textile collages and my intention to do something creative daily as well as increase my meditation skills. Thus, the Daily Stitch Meditations were born.
I don't always finish a piece in one day and I don't always stitch every day. This last week was crazy busy and I realized that while I had time to stitch I didn't have enough time to figure out what to stitch on. In order to avoid that in the future I created a Daily Stitch Kit with lots of odds and ends of fabrics, stabilizers, thread, papers...weird bits that I find in the studio when I clean up. Now, I have everything in a basket ready to go.
I invite you to stitch with me. It is relaxing, fun and you create a pile of beautiful bits to add to your work or frame. There are no rules! just stitch something. I usually stitch for about 20 minutes...some days less, some more. My stitch meditations range from ATC size (2.5" x3.5") to 4" x 4" but some are a little bigger. If you decide to stitch along use the hashtag #stitchmeditation so we can find them too!
I will be teaching these techniques and more in my class Tantalizing Textile wishes at Art and Soul in Portland OR 2015 .
What is the best machine sewing thread?
That is the most asked question during my classes and lectures. The answer of course is more complicated than just naming one thread company because it depends on what you are doing. But, what most people just want to know is what thread I use the most in my work.
I researched every brand of thread that I could get my hands on when I was writing Threads: the Basics and Beyond. I tested small batch hand-dyed threads, big name thread, no-name thread, new companies, old companies and designer brand threads. What I found was that there really isn’t any bad thread out there (with the sole exception of the 3 spools for $1 bin but no serious thread aficionado would even consider that stuff!)
When I reveal to them that I most often use Coats and Clark and Star brand I often get an audible gasp! Really? Coats and Clark? Not some fancy imported expensive thread? Yes, my go to thread brand is Coats and Clark. No, they don’t pay me to say that. I like all of their threads and use the Cotton Covered and Dual Duty fine and medium weight as my go to threads for piecing and general stitching. Plus, Coats has a huge array of colors and weights to choose from. I love the new Dual Duty heavy threads for hand stitching.
When I am thread painting I pull out my large spools of Star variegated threads. Many of the variegated Star thread are designed by Terry White, thread painter extraordinaire. The color blends are fantastic for thread painting with smooth transitions of color that give a rich and luscious piece. The large spools ensure that I won’t run out half way through my project.
I found that most ‘thread’ problems were really spool problems, needle problems or tension problems. This is especially true with metallic threads. Fortunately, there are easy fixes for these problems.
I love that Coats and Clark and Star threads are not expensive because that means I can have a larger stash of yummy colors! It also means I have more money to spend on some of my favorite expensive hand-dyed threads for hand stitching and embellishing.
Final note: Threads: The Basics and Beyond will be back in stock later this summer. YIPPEE! I will let you know here and on Facebook!
I have been in Northern VA the last 10 days teaching at Artistic Artifacts and getting ready for spring quilt market in Pittsburgh this upcoming weekend. On Mother's Day, me, Ruth Chandler, Judy Gula and her sister's family all trekked into Washington DC to the Anacostia Community Museum and were treated to a unique and amazing exhibit.
The exhibit is titled Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence. Ubuhle means 'beauty' in the Xhosa and Zulu languages. We found both the beadwork and the women creating the art to truly be beautiful in every sense of the word. I know my photos barely capture the details so if you get to the DC area before Sept 21, 2014 be sure to put this on your list.
magnificent panels joined to create a wall size installation.
Ubuhle is a former sugar plantation that has been transformed into a center of independence for rural women where they can learn traditional beading skills to support themselves.
The beaded textiles are completed with simple Czech glass seed beads as whole cloth artworks. The artists call their pieces ndwango which translates loosely as rag or cloth. As is with the case with much textile art, these pieces take months complete and become imbued with the life joys and sorrows that each artist experiences in that time. You can feel their happiness and sadness as you soak in each beautiful piece.
The bull pieces were about 4' wide by 3' tall. We kept wondering how much each of these pieces weighed. Sorry about the blurry photos. The museum light was low and I didn't want to use a flash.
As a fun little bonus there was a listing of beading resources available for the public and my book: First Time Beading on Fabric was among them! Me at the Smithsonian!
I am inspired to pull out the beads and get to work! How about you?
Tonight my mind was expanded.
Preconceived beliefs were disbanded.
My world shifted.
In the space of two short hours I was guided to experience
Wow! All in the space of two hours...at an arts center?
In The Light was the final amazing poet of the evening.
Our last Friday event this month at Cottonwood Center for the Arts was a poetry event. An Open Mic Night of Performance Poetry to be specific. We routinely have poetry events. The local group Hear Here meets monthly on the third Friday. I usually work late in the studio that evening to welcome poets and their supporters into my studio to share my art. I rarely step out of the studio to hear the poetry readings and experience their art. I stay in my own little world stitching on the latest project.
On this night, the audience was light. Perhaps because it wasn't their usual night to meet; maybe it was the beautiful weather that kept them away. The art center director asked if we could come to fill in some seats so everyone would feel welcome and heard. I have been hand stitching on my installation for the Art in Storefronts piece so I grabbed some supplies and went in to support the poets and our arts center. I gave a party once where not one person showed up so I know how important it is to have people show up.
I am not a poet. I don't read poetry and I rarely even listen to music. They are things I just don't get. At least not in the traditional sense.
That changed tonight.
Attending a poetry reading to experience an artist bringing forth their soul in words is an entirely different animal. This is not at all like reading ancient poetry in school! This may sound silly but I wanted to hug each poet after they were done...I felt so connected with each of them in such a brief time. It was so unexpected.
Sometimes we get so caught up in what we have on our lists to do that we forget to seek out new experiences. It is only in opening the doors to possibility that we grow.
From now on you won't find me in my studio on the third Friday evening. I will be in the audience so come see me before or after.
Better yet, join me for an amazing experience!
My new book is finally out in bookstores! I have been waiting so long for this day that I was beginning to wonder if it would ever get here. :) You can probably guess that I am not a very patient person and this has been a long but in the end great wait.
So now what? I have been thinking that for a few months. Liz suggested Boro. What is that? It is Japanese indigo rags. I love the feel and the concept of using everything you have no matter how small and creating a beautiful piece of art.
Below is an example of my take on boro, notice I even used some of the stitches from my new book. :)
So now it is on to new and exciting things,
I totally love my job! This last weekend my studio mate, Cass Mullane and I had the honor and joy of teaching an Adduce class at Cottonwood Center for the Arts. The Adduce Foundation funds a community art education enhancement program. This amazing program is offered to qualifying high school arts students. Classes are free for the students and cover a wide array of media and techniques.
Cass and I were thrilled to present the very first textiles class for the foundation. We weren't sure what to expect and we were totally blown away by the talent and enthusiasm of the students. It was amazing to watch them jump into a totally new medium and start exploring with no fear or trepidation. They each brought their unique voice and style to textiles with fantastic results. Best of all they loved it!
Part of the program is an art show in May. I can't show you their final pieces (except for the little peek in the last photo) until then but I have a few photos from the class to tide you over.
me showing one student's work with a simple comb
Cass consulting with a student
Wooden printing block and textures tell a story...Wow
As many of you know I spent most of January on the Big Island of Hawaii visiting family. I know, it sounds tough but we do what we have to do right?
It was a difficult time for me because I saw my father for the first time in 2 years. He has advanced Parkinson's disease and if any of you are familiar with it, you know that it starts to rob you of all your physical, and eventually your mental abilities. It was very hard to see a man I remember as so big and strong relegated to a wheel chair and having so much difficulty doing the most simple everyday things. That said, it was a sweet time for me, we had a few days of just the 2 of us and many days of remembering the time my sisters and brother and I had growing up in Japan.
So on to facing your fears. My sister Mary is 3 years younger than me and we were each others best friend growing up. As you can imagine we did push each other in ways only sisters can. :) Mary always wanted to live on a farm and she has finally realized that dream. It is not my dream, I am allergic to nearly everything with fur. :/
Mary has bees. Two bee hives that she got so that her coffee trees would be pollinated. I don't particularly like bees, they are fine as long as they leave me alone. I do love honey. So what do I do on the second day I am there? Go out to the bee hives to gather honey. Why you ask? Because Mary says, and I quote "I guess you are too afraid to come out and help me gather the honey from my hives" The gauntlet was laid down and I replied "sure, what do I have to do?" So in 80 degree weather I am putting on more clothes than I wear in Colorado in the winter, starting with the ugliest, dirtiest, brown men's shoes I have ever seen.
Here is how you dress for honey gathering. Heavy socks, pull on the bee gathering suit, pull the legs down under your feet, put on the ugly shoes, pull the (did I mention a thick suit in 80 degree weather?) one piece jumpsuit thing up, zip it up and we are ready to hike out to the hives. Oh I forgot to mention the gloves, they are very thick and come up to your elbows. Mary asks, you ok? I want to hit her. We get to the hives and we get to put on these lovely head dresses. They look like a pith helmet that big game hunters used in Africa but with a lovely netting that zips to the suit. Ready to gather honey. I have sweat dripping in my eyes but can't wipe it off because of the netting, it just runs into my eyes and burns. I am beginning to hear the bees and of course all I can think of is those horror stories of people attacked by bees. I have my epi-pens in my back pocket. Let's go.
Next I am instructed on how to keep the smoke pot going. I have decided as the bees are buzzing around us that I will make sure the smoke keeps coming! I am getting nervous, the bees are getting quite loud and really don't like us stealing all their hard work. It wasn't as bad as I thought but let me tell you, I kept that smoke coming! I knew the smoke calmed them so I made sure they had lots to calm them!!!! Mary pulled all the frames out one at a time and as needed placed new frames in the hive for the bees to begin all over again.
All told it took about an hour. I can now say I gathered honey from a hive. I faced that fear and came through it pretty much intact and no bee stings, (Mary got two) I can honestly say it was not too bad. I still don't want to do this every 2 weeks. I did have to take a shower to get all that smoke smell off of me though. :)
Sometimes it takes a little bit of prodding from those we love to push us past our fears. think of the experience I would have missed. I am glad Mary pushed me and I will never look at honey on a shelf in the store quite the same way again!
I have two cures for Winter in today's blog!
I am teaching at Art and Soul just out side of Kansas City in just a few weeks (March 19-23) and I had a request to add a textile journal book class. We put up a class I have taught previously but some students had requested more of a usable journal. I love making books and so I was able (used this as an excuse) to spend some this week creating a new fabric Journal.
Is that not awesome? I just love how it feels in my hands. I think I am going to have to make more of these.
Want to join me in Kansas City? There is still room in most of my classes. I can't think of a better way to get away from winter then to hang out in a beautiful resort making art and making friends with people who love making art.
Students will get to choose between these two styles of fabric books...or maybe we will make up something new! You never know what interesting things we are going to create in my classroom.
Speaking of making art in beautiful resorts...
There is still room in my Mexico Travelogue Art Adventure. April 13-19, 2014.
Did you see my newest video? My son is helping me join the vlog (video blog) world. Nagging might be a better word than helping...he wants to come with me on these trips as my videographer. Anyway, I did a fun really short video and I had a blast making it. Suscribe to my YouTube channel to see the latest ones...I have a studio tour premiering this week!
I just got home from a trip to the Northwest! 4 days in Portland OR cooking up plans for Art and Soul and then 9 days in Bremerton WA welcoming the newest Kettle boy into the family. I am thrilled to introduce Isaak Alexander...just as handsome as his big brothers.
Babies are a different sort of mark making...more of the eternal passing on our DNA type of mark making.
While I was away I didn't have much time for mark making every day. Some days were just too full of cuddling Isaak and battling zombies to pull out my sketchbook but I do have a few to share with you this week.
I have found that even though I sometimes draw more realistic elements I feel so much freedom drawing the organic shapes and lines that I come across in my daily travels.
Some fun hand stitching!
This last one is just a little silly! We need more silly play in our life don't you think?
Have you been working on fitting art and creativity into your life more consistently? What stumbling blocks have you found?
My friend, Deb Prewitt, over at Blue Twig Studio threw down a challenge for 365 days of art for 2014. I have to admit that I am really terrible at consistency and the idea of publicly committing to a daily practice and posting it daily is just too overwhelming. On the other hand I have been trying to improve my consistency score. So, I decided in true mixed media fashion to twist the rules to suit my needs. I will tweek the challenge a bit and post my efforts as often as possible and not feel shame if I can't do it every day.
The spirit of the challenge is to take time to play, create and have fun every day while improving your skills. I have drawing had on my 'improve skills list' for at least 6 years. I have taken a few classes and have improved a bit so I thought I should revisit this drawing improvement idea for this challenge. In keeping with my guiding word of intention I asked myself to what end do I want to improve my drawing skills? I love illustration and detailed drawings and I can manage basic sketching. What exactly do I want to improve because let's face it...if I really loved drawing I would do more if it already.
I realized that my work is much more about mark making; recording marks in the world both man-made and nature made. I am fascinated by texture and line. While I would love to magically be able to sit down and sketch out a detailed street scene I don't care about it enough to put in the practice time. My work is becoming much more abstract; moving away from representational and that magical ability really wouldn't help move my art forward though it might impress people and increase my genius standing!
Sometimes my mark making will be on paper and sometimes with stitch. Here are two of my journal pages from this last week. I am dealing with a hand injury so all of my mark making has been with my left hand! I am enjoying this switch because I have less control and think that left handed drawing will have to become a frequent player in my mark making journey.
Anyone else want to play along?
I have committed to my focus word for 2014. I don't stress out about finding my right word by Jan 1. I start thinking about it mid December and usually by mid January it has presented itself. Some years my focus word arrives quickly and other years not so fast. Are you ready for the big reveal?
I actually have two words!
I have never had two words but they both presented themselves repeatedly the last couple weeks.
Intention is about purpose, planning, being strategic and mindful of what I am doing, why I am doing it and how to get the most out of and put the most into every class, networking event and even in my daily encounters. My art always comes from a place of mindfulness and intention and I want to bring that same power of intention into my business.
I created this little doodle in my sketchbook. I am enjoying the little fact that intention breaks out like a traditional 9 patch quilt. Planning and simplicity.
Allow is a more personal word and is related to how I set my intentions. With allow I want to remind myself to use more of my feminine energy...the yin energy. I grew up and went to college in a very masculine (yang) era. We were taught that to succeed in business women had to turn off the natural yin energy and increase our Yang energy. Not in those exact words of course but we 80's dressed for success women wore ties and suits with giant shoulder pads. I shudder when I think of those big floppy bows we wore around our necks after the tie fad faded.
With allow I want to remind myself to be in balance; using both masculine and feminine energy in both my business and personal life. I often get out of body/mind balance and let my brain think it controls everything and become distrustful of my body and intuition.
Do you use a guiding word for the year or make resolutions? What are your big dreams for 2014?
Happy New Year!
I have been running in circles trying to get everything back in order after the holidays. I am sure you are all feeling the same way.
Liz and I always start the new year with a new inspiration word for the year. I have tried several on for size and rejected them. The hardest thing is to try and find 1 word that covers all the bases. I have decided to go with expand.
Expand may seem like a strange choice but I want to try new things, apply them to my art and grow. One of the definitions for expand is to step up, or to escalate. I think this is going to be a great word of inspiration for me this year.
How about you? Have you chosen a word for the next year? I challenge you to choose a word that will allow you to embrace the new year.
Happy Holidays to all our Textile Evolution Community.
My studio mate Cass Mullane and I decided to whip up some fun textile cards for the staff at Cottonwood Center for the Arts where our studio is located. They were so fun and easy I thought you might like a quick tutorial. I know it is a bit late for Christmas cards but this technique works with any theme. Cupcakes for birthdays, hearts for Valentines or shamrocks for St. Paddy's day...you get the idea.
1. Rip strips of fabric 1/2" to 3/4" wide. This is a great stash buster for all those little bits you have left over from other projects.
2. Find a stabilizer for your base and cut to the desired size. Ours are 4"x6". Just about any stabilizer will work. You can use muslin, tear away stabilizer, craft fuse or Form-Flex All Purpose which is what we used.
3. Apply Misty Fuse fusible web to your stabilizer base unless it already has a fusible base.
4. Lay your strips on top of the fused stabilizer and follow manufacturer's directions to fuse the strips in place.
5. Now for the fun part! Embellish it!
6. You can stamp a design with paint on the surface like our tree cards. Be sure to choose a strong design. I love wooden printing blocks for this part. After stamping the design we stitched with metallic thread and added some shimmer paint for extra shine.
7. Our sassy snowgirls are created using various sizes of faux ultra suede stitched with metallic thread. The black coal eyes and buttons are small circles of black fabric fused on the snowgirl bodies and their noses a simple open lazy daisy stitch. For a final jaunty touch we stitched on ripped strips of a plaid for a scarf. These girls are going out on the town!
8. Trim up your cards if needed and apply Misty Fuse to the back of the fabric/stabilizer. Fuse to a purchased card base. Stitch around the outside with a zigzag stitch and you are ready to receive the oohs and ahhhs from everyone who gets one.
This would be a great project to do with kids too.
Don't forget to take time to just be and breathe during this crazy busy time of year. Celebrate the seconds of extra sunlight we have each day and each precious moment with your loved ones.
Stitching is perfect for slowing us down...
I first met Megan Dougherty way back in the early days of Quilter's Home before it morphed into Generation Q. Well, I didn't actually meet her in person but we wrote for the same magazine and I read all her articles so it is almost like meeting her in real life...in a stalker sort of way. Megan is not what you think of when you think 'quilter'. Megan is slightly irreverant, seriously funny and a quilter all wrapped up an a nice little package.
If you are looking for a great gift for all your stitch friends this is it!
Megan has just released her first book: Quilting isn't Funny. This book will have you all in stitches! (yes, I know that is a really bad pun) Quilting isn't Funny is a collection of essays about the crazy world of quilting. I received an advance copy to review and skipped immediately to the Brief History of Quilting essay because I love history. What could be better than Quilt History?
I thought I would share my favorite paragraph with you.
'During the Roman empire, Octavia, the wife of the emperor Claudius, began gathering the wives of other Roman statesmen in order to share quilting knowledge, trade fabrics and patterns, and plot assassinations. When Claudius began to suspect that Octavia's 'quilting salons' were potentially lethal for him, he had Octavia killed and installed himself as Supreme Quilter, even though he didn't know a nine-patch from a poisoned dagger. He then used his position among the quilters to orchestrate the murders of his second wife, his mother, his dog, and that snippy Flavia Sabrina who was always making fun of his color choices. This, of course, was the first quilt guild.'
I have belonged to guilds like that! There is a Flavia Sabrina in every crowd! It gets even better but I don't want to spoil the surprise! Go order yourself a copy and one for all your stitch friends.
Or maybe if you take a couple seconds to leave a comment on this post you can win your very own autographed copy! You should probably order one today though because I won't pick the winner until Tues Dec 17th because that is Ruth's birthday! We will have cake and confettii. Anyway, you may not get it in time for gift giving so go order the gift copies now. You can read a few essays while you are wrapping them.
If you don't win from my blog post you can keep trying because Megan has set up the mother of all blog hops! Look how many you can visit! Quite a few are giving away books but you will need to get set up with your favorite tasty beverage and some snacks because some of these bloggers are worth checking out even if you don't win a book.
If you want to meet Megan, head over to her site to get the scoop and read all about her QSMASB calendar project. You seriously have to go see the preview! How often do you find a calendar with photos of Quilter's Shirtless Men and Spicy Burritos? A different qult, man and burrito each and every month. You can order your 2014 calendar now.
Go leave your comment before you start looking at these awesome blogs because you will get distracted and forget where you started.
Dec. 9 - Victoria Findlay Wolfe – Bumble Beans Inc
Dec. 10 - Lynn Harris - Little Red Hen
Dec. 11 – Teresa Coates – Crinkle Dreams
Dec. 12 - Joshua Helms - Molli Sparkles
Dec 13 - Liz Kettle – Stitch Journeys
Dec. 14 - Leah Day – The Free Motion Quilting Project
Dec 16 - Lisa Sipes – That Crazy Quilty Girl
Dec. 17 - Charlotte Newland – Displacement Activity
Dec. 18 - Teri Lucas - TerifiCreations
Dec. 19 – Cheryl Sloboda – Muppin.com
Dec. 20 – Kelly Biscopink – Stitchy Quilt Stuff
Jan. 6 – Generation Q
Jan. 8 – Rose Hughes – Rose Hughes – Quilt Artist
Jan. 9 – Janice Ryan – Better Off Thread
Jan. 10 - Flaun Cline – I Plead Quilty
Jan. 13 – Heather Jones – Olive and Ollie
Jan. 14 – Meg Hilko – Without A Stitch On
Jan. 15 – Laura Lochore – Quokka Quilts
Jan. 16 – Elaine Wong Hasselhun – Dashasel Sews
Jan. 17 - Kim Lapacek - Persimon Dreams
I know it has been a loooooong time since I have posted here. It has been a crazy few months!
The last you heard from me, my grand children were still here. They wore me out more than I like to admit but what a time we had!
After they went home I had about 2 weeks to get the last of the handwork done for the book before hand surgery.My surgery was very successful, I am back to stitching and anything else I want. I do have a little bit of weekness in my thumb yet but that will just take more tme to build back the strength. I am so blessed to have great doctors and a great surgeon.
I got to see my new book in Houston and that was exciting. It wasn't a finished product but enough to see that I am going to love it. I got a lot of very positive feedback. I can't wait to see it when it comes out in February! I hope you will look for I . Modern Hand Stitching.
Liz and I finished the book study for Fabric Embellishing, we hope you will take advantage of it and use it as a reference.
I will be headed to the Big Island of in January to visit my parents, sister and her family. It will be tough but I think I can handle it. :)
We are in the single digets here so I am dreaming. I hope to teach a class or two there at a local quilt shop. We are still working out the details.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends, I sure did!
I would love to see pictures off what you are creating for Cristmas,
Fall Quilt Market has closed. It is always a relief and a bit sad when it closes. A relief that we get a few hours off our feet but a bit sad to say goodbye to all our friends and of course we never get enough time to see all the quilts in the exhibits let alone the booths. I always come away inspired and full of ideas for projects.
I thought you all might like to see some of my favorite fabrics designers and their collections:
Leah Duncan. So sad the picture is blurry but you can see her booth is adorable. Leah's collection is called Meadow and she has captured that beautifully in her designs with out being over simplified.
Angela Walters with her Drift collection. I love how it made you think of the water and ocean without being quite so obvious.
Pat Bravo's Rapture line is fun, fresh and airy. I don't think Pat has ever designed a line I didn't love.
Safari Moon by Frances Newcombe is whimsical and bold. You could almost hear the monkeys calling.
you can see detail shots of these fabrics and read about the designers on the Art Gallery Fabrics web site. Yes, they are all under the Art Gallery brand so you know the quality is the best there is. I can't keep my hands off their luscious fabrics! Give them a few days though to get all the photos of the new lines up.
I also love Carolyn Friedlander's fabrics. Go check out her Slow Sewing Studio movement on her web site.
Jamie Fingal has a fantastically fun new line of fabric. These fabrics will just make you happy.
Ruth and I are in Houston for International Quilt Market and Festival. As we got out of the shuttle from the airport we were stunned to find the sidewalk from the curb up to the front door of the hotel strewn with about a dozen of my postcards. It was as if Houston was expecting me and put out the red carpet! :-) Evidently the UPS delivery person had arrived shortly before us and dropped the box of my postcards and a few had escaped. The postcards were probably so excited to be here they couldn't wait to jump out of the box and tell everyone about my cool new classes that will be on-line soon.
This is the first time we arrived well before our first event which isn't until 3pm today (Fri). We got here at noon yesterday and spent the afternoon walking around downtown Houston and grocery shopping. It was fun to explore the 'big' city.
One interesting discovery for me on our big walking adventure is that I am not very talented at walking on sidewalks! I realized after the third time I tripped on the little edge of the sidewalk joints that I don't normally walk on sidewalks. At home I am walk on the edge of the street or on a trail. It was very funny. I am sure it didn't help that I was looking up most of the time.
We enjoyed the architecture of this busy city, counted the number of oil company buildings and spent a lot of time looking at the ever changing reflections in the windows. We found a beautiful garden around the Public Library that was a quiet magical oasis in the city.
We haven't stayed downtown for a few years so it was fun to see all the changes. Our room faces Macy's. Well it used to be Macy's but now it is a pile of rubble...a very big pile. I am totally fascinated watching the big diggers moving all the rubble. They look like giant dinosaurs. It is a bit noisy but most mornings we will be up well before the construction starts.
We always stay at a Residence Inn so we have a kitchen. With our food allergies it is so much simpler not to mention cheaper, to have access to a kitchen. Traveling with allergies can sometimes be difficult so we were thrilled to find that a wonderful gourmet market had opened not too far from the hotel. We were like kids in a candy store looking at all the amazing foods and taking in the fantastic smells.
We found a fig preserve that we couldn't resist so we put our heads together to come up with a meal around it. We decided on sauteed acorn squash, mushrooms and onions with a wonderful garlic infused olive oil. To that we added sauteed pork chops with a balsamic glaze. Not too shabby for hotel room cooking!
Some of our followers have mentioned how fun it is to go to the quilt shows we go to and it is a lot of fun hanging out with people who love the same things we do. However, the travel part is not so much fun. After so many years we have it down to a pretty good science. Our bags are packed precisely to 49.5lbs We always forget the same things (coffee filters) and generally remember to pack the most important cooking tools: a large Teflon skillet, sharp knives, cutting boards, Serranos coffee from Monument CO, Ruth's home made salsa and baggies. We almost always have a TSA search love note in our suitcases.
Let me tell you, it isn't easy getting all our teaching supplies in as well as our kitchen essentials. Sometimes clothing must be sacrificed but we figure no one is paying that much attention to how many times we have worn that same tee shirt. Fortunately, the Residence Inn has a laundry room too.
I have had a long and difficult few months but I am starting to see the end of the tunnel!
I had my three grand children here with me this summer for 6 weeks. After about 4 I began to drag. :) It is difficult to acknowledge that I am not so young anymore. Oh to have the energy of youth. that said I wold not change the time and memories we made for anything in the world!
I had hand surgery on August 9th. I had all these plans of what I would get done on the computer while I was healing. Boy was I wrong! It is very slow using only your left hand to type. So I didn't do that. I thought I would try sketching with my left hand, that was a bust. :) I did get to dye some fabric while in my cast but then paid for it with a few days of pain. I am sure the Dr. would not have been happy if he had known.
My family has had a few tough things happen. My mother is not doing well but keeps positive. My Dad is progressivly going down hill. My brother-in-law is struggling with cancer and it doesn't look good.
Amongst all of this, my grand children are doing fabulous, my son is just about to get his degree with grades I never knew he could achieve and my hand stitching book is at the publishers and I am impatiently waiting for it to come out.
Life is good, not perfest but good!
Liz and I head to Houston next week, as usual we will be on the look out for the next fun new thing to bring back to you all.
Paper Piecing! I spent the last weekend finishing this quilt top and table runner. Starr Design Fabrics created the pattern and fabric kit. This project has been in the works for 13 years! I know some of you can relate. I purchased it on my 40th birthday so I know exactly how long it has been hanging around. One reason it has taken so long to finish is that I discovered after oh...about...the second star that I really don't like paper piecing. (gasp!)
Fortunately, I have a great friend who doesn't mind paper piecing and she helped me get through these blocks. Truth be told she made most of them. :-)
One benefit to working on a project like this for so long is that it has a bit of my personal thread history in it. I started this quilt before I had embarked on my mission to undercover all the mysteries of thread. So, it is a bit of an experiment on what threads work best with paper piecing.
I started out with a medium weight cotton thread. Nice and strong but it made it difficult to get all the many points to meet where I wanted them to meet. Too frustrating for paper piecing these complicated patterns.
Next I tried a couple different ultra-fine threads. I began with InvisaFil and DecoBob both by WonderFil. These ultra fine threads worked great and gave me totally flat seams and the points all behaved nicely and met where they should. But, these particular poly threads are a little stretchy so when I was tearing away the paper the stitching stretched a bit and had to be repaired in a couple places.
My recommendation for paper piecing thread is Coats and Clark Dual Duty Fine. This thread is strong, not as stretchy as the others I used and is fine enough to give you nice flat seams. Don't forget to shorten your stitch length too.
I have gifted my paper piecing hero with all my add a quarter rulers! I won't be paper piecing in the foreseeable future. I hope to get this quilt top quilted later this fall but have a baby quilt to do first! Another boy grandbaby will be joining us in late Jan. Love those boys!!