Thursday, August 16, 2018

be the quilter you want to be . . .

This is August, which means this month is the last month of our guild year. In fact, we'll meet tonight and celebrate the journey of the past twelve months with a party and a potluck, lots of "fanfare" and--more than likely--not a little hilarity.

I still have three months worth of articles to share, but I'll do it over the next couple of weeks, so they're posted before the month closes. That way this series and the guild year can both go gracefully out into that good night. Heh. :)

My June article spoke to being the quilter you want to be -- and being straightforward with yourself about that. Without further ado . . .

I have been quilting since January 2006, when I started my first Patches & Stitches block of the month. For those of you who attended the May meeting, you are now well aware of my dubious quilting start. Over the past 12 years, I sometimes wonder if I’ve gotten much further from where I started. I came to the point, which I think all quilters must, where I had to decide what kind of quilter I was going to be. I’m not talking about traditional quilting versus artistic quilting versus modern quilting, or even being a hand quilter versus a machine quilter. 

No. I’m talking about quilting "my way" versus quilting the "right way." 

Y’all know what I’m talking about! I know we have an amazing number of quilters in the guild who are definitely ‘the right way’ quilters. Even so, I’m sure we have one or two who say “Close enough!” on the quarter inch seams, who sometimes forget which way to press—to the light or to the dark, and who say 'live and let live!' instead of ever fooling with the seam ripper. Right? That’s about where I am. But it took a quilting crisis of faith for me to decide who I was going to be as a quilter. On the one hand, I bemoaned my inability to make a quilt that was show-worthy (and when I say that, I mean AQS show WINNER worthy), and on the other hand, I struggled with the time, patience, and effort it took to make that sort of quilt. 

Then I read a something Judy Laquidara (author, quilter, blogger at Patchwork Times) said to a person who commented that they envied her ability to knit; they couldn’t do it. She responded that it wasn’t that the commenter *couldn't* knit, it was that the commenter wasn’t willing to do what was necessary to become a successful knitter. And that struck a chord with me. It wasn’t that I *couldn’t* be a show winning quilter, it was that I wasn’t doing what was necessary to become that quilter. And therein was my quilting crisis of faith...was I willing to do what was necessary....or was I happy to do my own thing my own way, gift in love, and put my quilts in non-juried shows for the joy of it, not for the ribbon?  

We each get to determine who we are going to be as a quilter and what our quilts are going to represent. Each of us holds the power to guide and direct our respective journeys as quilters as well as the journeys of the quilts we make. In a wonderful way, our quilting journeys become our legacies as well. Whichever quilting path you choose to take, enjoy the journey; it will make your legacy all the sweeter to recount. 

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

fanfare . . .

When I look back over the blog content for the last year and a half, it really makes me sad.  My little hiatus cost me the published 'memories' of what I'd done, both in and out of the quilty world.  Normally, I'd have shared the fan BOM that my guild was doing . . . the fan is our logo . . . a different fan block each month (for a total of nine), getting more technically difficult to piece as the year went along. It started easy, with this little fan . . .
And ended with a Cleopatra's Fan, that I opted out of (because I was in a sling). 
Actually, I opted out of all but one of the last five, because of a busy schedule and shoulders that were giving me more and more pain. But we only needed to have five assembled in a flimsy (and I stress, assembled), in order to share our fans at the final meeting of the guild year (which is in August) and be eligible for a prize!

Today, with sling gone and at least one shoulder feeling peppy-er (more peppy?), I spent some time and assembled . . .
I'm really pleased with this ... it's a fun "memory quilt" from our guild year.  The black corners (and the binding will be in black) give it the appearance of floating. Anyway, it was nice to be sitting at the machine today.

I also realized I hadn't posted (because I hadn't posted) a single of my little Attic Heirloom OOMs! I splurged this year and signed up for the automatic kits.  
I was really good in January and February and got them stitched right up.  The kits have sort of backed up ever since . . .
LOL!  Ah well.  August's is really cute and I think I'll work on that one for some slow stitching time.

We had a GREAT family reunion ... lots of sweet family all under one pavilion roof!

Plus, spending time with *all* my grands was the best! Gosh, they were so sweet and Sawyer, Ellie and June loved reacquainting ... and Evey and Olivia were the best of friends.  Too cute!
♥ Sawyer, June, Todd, Olivia, Edie, me, Ellie and Evey ♥

Okay, that's it for now.  Linking my slow Sunday stitching with Kathy's Quilts. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend!!


Saturday, July 28, 2018

one, two, now three . . .

So, family is coming in from all over the USA over the next several days . . . Virginia, Texas, California, Georgia . . . even Alaska! So you can imagine where my focus will be over the next week, right?!

The next installment of A Quilter's Journey was published in the May issue of our guild's "Fanfare".  It's the prelude to our challenge show, so it's kind of funny that it follows my last post revealing my challenge piece!  Enjoy -- and I'll see you in a week or so!

Challenges. Quilt challenges, that is. Regardless of how long you’ve been quilting, this can be an alarming word! I remember my very first HQH challenge very clearly; I was still a relatively new quilter, I had never been to a quilt show (local, national or otherwise), and I had absolutely NO CLUE as to what was expected of me in a challenge (beyond what the rules listed – I got that). But as a newbie quilter, thinking outside the box, in both a vague (create what you want) and specific (but follow the rules) kind of way, was quite alarming. 

The theme that year (2008) was Quilt the Vote. Essentially the rules were that we had to make our entry voting or patriotic themed – it was an election year – and we had to use a specially purchased piece of them fabric. 

I was stumped. Seriously, I had no idea how to proceed from there. What I *should* have done was to go back to the guild’s scrapbooks, kept in the library (which is located in back room of Patches & Stitches), and thumbed through pictures of past challenges and entries, so I could have had a better idea as to how to proceed. 

But I didn’t. 

Instead, I went over to Quilter’s Cache and looked for blocks that I could possibly use for a voting theme. I came up with two. A paper-pieced star and the Alabama block. I put them together, using the specified fabric, and fashioned it in a sort of flag shape with quilted stars in silver thread and with a silver metallic binding. I have no idea what I called it and to be honest, I didn’t really like it (I’ve always wished I’d been able to “think outside the blocks”). But . . . I. Was. Determined. To. Have. An. Entry. 

I sat out the next challenge. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t – the theme was really a really cute one: In the Cards. But I was still recovering from both the first challenge and entering a quilt in my first guild show. The next time I attempted a challenge it was the guild’s Still Crazy After All These Years challenge. That was 2012 and I was a little more seasoned as a quilter and had an easier time thinking “outside the box.” I was having fun trying different techniques, and at the time I was playing around with faux applique, using colored pencils and a special color setting liquid. My entry that year was Crazy in Color and won a ribbon! (I rarely share that it was the only entry in its category.) 

Challenges stretch us as quilters. They call for us to dig deep and to be fearless! They want us to have fun, and be innovative and creative! They demand we keep secrets—which for me now, may be the hardest part—and they give us a show like no other! 

I’m already stitching up this year’s challenge entry for Stitchin’ the Blues! and I’m so excited for our show! I’m looking forward to seeing all the lovely quilts, to seeing how members interpreted the theme, and all of the wild, wonderful ideas that are presented. And I truly hope everyone will consider joining in on the fun. After all – the more the merrier! 

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter. :)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

challenge accepted . . .

Shoulder recovery continues to go well . . . I'm still in the sling, which makes typing difficult.  So consider this post a labor of love!  ;)

Our guild -- Heritage Quilters of Huntsville -- helds its bi-annual challenge show at the July meeting, which was last Thursday, July 19th. 
The challenge, Stitchin' the Blues, was introduced in November and involved creating a quilt using only blue and white fabrics, maintaining size parameters, and keeping projects top secret.  Which for me was the HARDEST part! But since the show has come and gone, let the revealing commence!

I had an idea almost the minute the challenge was introduced.  Seriously, when I came home from the guild meeting that evening, I sat down at my laptop and came up with this basic concept . . .
Which eventually morphed into this finished piece . . .
(the front -- one of my favorite things about this quilt 
is that the musical notes play out a classic blues riff)
(the back, which I love almost as much as the front)
(the label, which I printed)

Y'all, I expected with seventy-plus entries of small quilts in blue and white, that the exhibit would be impressive.  I was blown away by just how impressive it was in actuality!  Here are a couple of shots of the exhibit and a few of my favorite entries (my photos are not up to par...I was taking them one-handedly and it shows!):
photo by Pam A.
photo by Teresa C.
Here's a closeup of the center of that one:

And now for the money shot . . .
You see that goofy grin? I was incredibly humbled and thrilled that out of all those gorgeous quilts, mine was chosen to be one of the top ten of the exhibit.  On top of that, I think I nearly broke into tears when it was announced my piece, Blue Melody, took second place in interpretation of the theme! Giddy, giddy, giddy!  It was a lovely evening -- one I had the pleasure of sharing with my mom!
I'm going to make a quilter of her yet!! It was a good choice for her first guild meeting. :)

And each participant received a lovely gift ... a beautifully handmade blue and white apron. The challenge committee made these.  Isn't it pretty?  I *adore* toile.
The perfect momento!

This was the best guild challenge experience I've had (and that's prior to the ribbon winning).  I enjoyed the process, finally understood what a challenge was (an upcoming A Quilter's Journey article coming on that), and felt like my finished piece exceeded my expectations.  A terrific--albeit challenging--experience!


Sunday, July 15, 2018

chronicling the journey . . .

Nothing much going on here . . . still in a sling, still pecking away one-handed, still slugging through daily physical therapy. More notably . . . still no stitching. But there's light! I'm past the halfway mark of the five weeks in the sling . . . just a little over two weeks, in fact, until it comes off. Hurray! (And HURRY!)

The February installment of A Quilter's Journey, discussed chronicling one's quilting journey. I really do use my blog to look back and see when I did things and what things I've done. I found over the past year, when I wasn't quite so faithful, that I really missed being able to look back and see finishes (or more likely, starts), fabrics I'd purchased, a particular pattern I'd used. That was one of the reasons I've come back! Anyway, without further ado . . .

As I went through my quilts preparing for last month’s guild program, I realized that most of my *favorite* quilts that I’d completed were quilts I’d gifted away. And I’d imagine there are a lot of us quilters that feel that way. And if you’re like me, a lot of heart and soul goes into those favorite quilts (if not blood, sweat and tears), and while there’s definitely joy in the giving, there can also be that hollow feeling that comes from giving a bit of yourself away. 

Quilt Journaling. I’m convinced that may be the answer. 

Quilting journaling has become very popular over the last several years, with merchants coming up with eye-catching journals and layouts to tempt us into chronicling our journey of creation. Journaling can take a lot of different forms. Today’s quilting journal books provide prompts, blank spaces for photos or design doodles, areas for fabric swatches (and detailed information about said fabric), and some even have space for planning sewing time (or shopping time??!). A quick search on Pinterest revealed LOADS of resources you can print yourself. Project worksheets, quilt planner sheets, quilt design planners, quilting goals, even instructions for how to make your own quilt journal! (Want to take a look at a free quilt journal/planner set of printables? Patchwork Posse has a fun *free* set you can download and use as you see fit – a great, inexpensive way to play around with the concept of journaling, especially if it’s new to you: 

Going through all these resources it dawned on me that I’d been journaling a lot of my creations from the first quilt I’d gifted. In fact, for my very first quilt, I kept a notebook of each month’s block construction instructions, along with small patches of the fabrics I used for each block, some scribbled notes/comments on the process, and after I’d completed a block, I took a digital picture of it and printed it along with the name of the block and which month it belonged to. At the end of the notebook is the date I finished the quilt along with a full-size photo of the finished project. I did that for all the block-of-the-month quilts I’ve done, which it makes it really easy to keep up with those. 

Not long after making my first quilt, my sister gifted me with a darling little 4” X 6” scrapbook she’d made especially for my quilting. The next quilt I made I used that sweet little book to document the making of a baby quilt I gifted back to that same sister and my newest niece. Pictures of the process and the completed quilt, along with notes of where I got the quilt pattern, snippets of fabric, and the website where I found the template I used for the bunny applique. 

And don’t forget about blogging! What a great way to journal the process *and* share it with a like-minded community (and make quilty friends around the world, to boot!). I’ve kept a blog since 2003 but it wasn’t until 2008 that I found the quilting community online and began sharing pieces of my quilting journey on my blog. But in 2010 – 2012 I blogged nearly every day, and my quilting life is laid out for all to see. This has been particularly helpful to *me* when I want to go back and check a pattern I used or particular fabric I had or check my timeline. Social media – Facebook and Instagram in particular – can also be a great way to digitally journal your quilt projects, and get feedback at the same time. 

Somewhere along the line I purchased a plain, lined journal. For a while I doodle-journaled quilt concepts and sketched out ideas, as well as some true-to-form journaling (deep quilty thoughts). Then I had the GREAT idea (famous last words) for a personalized hexie-crazy quilt, where each hexie was themed by a memory or hobby or other aspect of my life. So I drew out the appropriate sized hexie across the center of the journal . . . on about 40 pages . . . and then as I thought about it, I sketched out the block map with embellishments and embroidery stitches I planned to use for each block. This is a work in progress, so I’m still playing around with it—let’s just say it’s a LIFE project. 

Do you journal your quilts? What steps do you take (especially when the quilt won’t be spread on your own bed or hung on your own wall) to preserve the memory of the time, effort and energy spent in creating? Do you create photo albums or keep fabric snips, or write notes? How do you preserve the creative process? Things to ponder . . . 

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter. :)

Saturday, July 07, 2018

teabloom party for five . . .

So, bear with me. Here I am nearly two weeks out from surgery, but still have no use of my right arm/hand. Which means typing is a joy. Not! The easiest way for me to do this was to use my speech to text on my phone, and email it to myself so I could cut and paste it into my blog. LOL!

All in all, though, I'm recovering well and feeling good. Jocelyn and her girls paid me a visit this week and that was such happy medicine! We had a tea party (of course), with a lovely new teapot and tea from a new-to-me company called TeaBloom. 

When I updated/freshened up my blog, I spent a good deal of time checking/adding links and content on my All Things Tea page. Evidently it must have caught the attention of online merchandisers, because TeaBloom contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to try their products and add their link to the tea page. Of course!

Pre-surgery I shared a pic of a pretty glass butterfly....which graced the lid of the teapot I chose....the Wings of Love teapot.

Isn't it pretty? I knew the grandgirls would love it! It came with two blooming flower teas, but it also has a pretty glass infuser for loose teas. 
I showed the ball of tea to Evey and Ellie and they wondered over it and sniffed it (and it had a wonderful 'bouquet')....but let's face it. It was a brown ball and nothing special. 
Until you added hot water. 
The girls were captivated watching it unfurl into a beautiful flower! I have to admit I was pretty captivated, too. 
Not only was it pretty tea, it was tasty tea!  It was a light green tea, but very full flavor and bright. A nice pick-me-up tea! (Plus, it could be re-steeped with fresh hot water.) I highly recommend TeaBloom for their teas and tea wares.  

Even Edith Rose thought it was delicious! And don't let her diminutive size fool you ... girl knows what she wants and she wanted her own cup of tea!

Mind you....neither Jocelyn nor I managed to get any other pics of the girls. My brain was still muddled from surgery. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

No stitching yet...but I do go back to work Monday. I'm doing a lot of blog reading, just not so much commenting/typing. My PT is going well and the therapist tells me I have great range of motion. All positive things! The sling comes off July 30th. I *am* counting days (and it *will* be a JOY)!

Happy tea-drinking and happy weekend!


Friday, June 29, 2018

a quilter's journey . . .

Surgery went well; physical therapy starts today.  I admit that I'm a little more anxious about the PT than I was about the surgery!  
The pain is manageable, as long as I stay on top of the meds and keep the ice pack in play.

It's time for the next installment of A Quilter's Journey.  I didn't do an article for the December newsletter; so this is January's contribution.  Our guild year ends in August, so I've only got one more to go! Now to decide where the focus should be . . . any thoughts?!? 

At Christmastime, Santa was the one making a list (and checking it twice).  But as the New Year makes its entrance, ‘most every quilter I know begins their own list . . . of resolutions (or good intentions), that is!  If you’ve been on the quilting journey for any length of time (over two months), no doubt there are some “quilty” resolutions filling up your own list of resolutions—or goals, as I like to refer to them.  Here are a few things you might find on a quilter’s New Year’s Resolutions list—or perhaps on your own list:

-I will buy no more fabric; instead I’ll use only fabric from my stash*

     *exceptions:  there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime at any of the LQSs
                         there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime online
                         I find a new favorite fabric line
                         I fall in love with a quilt kit (that I promise to work on in 2018-fingers crossed)
                         I visit a quilt show or exhibit and need to support the vendors

-I will take a quilting class and learn something new

-I will get rid of anything (fabric, gadgets, patterns, etc.) that I don’t love

-I will document my progress through my quilting projects (either by journaling or photojournaling)

-I will finish up all the UFOs (UnFinished Objects) I’m currently storing*

     *exceptions:  I forget where I am/what I was doing with a particular UFO
                             I quit working on it because I hate it
                             a new and/or better project comes along
                             I ‘lost’ it

-I will spend a little bit of time each day in my quilting room

-I will only make quilts that are fun

-I won’t purchase any more quilting gadgets unless I’m really going to use them*

      *exceptions:  there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime at any of the LQSs
                              there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime online
                              I visit a quilt show or exhibit and *need* to support the vendors

-I will organize my sewing area which includes organizing my fabric stash

-I will actually do any BOMs that I sign up for or participate in

-I will not point out any mistakes in my finished projects

One or two (or all) of these may be on my own list of goals for 2018.  What about you?  What quilty resolutions are you making for the coming months?!  Happy New Year!

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter.  :)