Quilting as Part of Our Life Story

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Happy Almost May with Frivol #5!

I’m beginning this post by talking about my ongoing goal to make up all the Mode Frivols tins.  I had signed up when they first came out (as I am a total fangirl for Carrie Nelson) and every month one would arrive, and I’d stack them up neatly.

As I mentioned before, it’s been a good experience to try something new, to work with fabrics that weren’t generally found on my shelves, and Frivol Tin #5 is just that sort, as its filled with French General.  I’ve used French General before, but it was lighter and airier, when I made a quilt for my sister:

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After receiving the quilt, she repainted her room to match.  Now if that’s not undying love from a sister, I don’t know what is.

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But this tin is a bit darker, filled with lusciously colored deep reds, for the tin was originally placed in the shops in December, a month when we typically sew with those kinds of colors.

First up, this note from Moda:

You can find more about this tin on their blog (including how they turned it into a tin for hand sewing supplies), but for me, I’m dying to open it:

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The fabrics in this tin are from French General, which makes me happy, as I love their fabrics.  And their store.

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It will be a table topper, or even a doll quilt as it’s even tinier that what is printed on the tin (see note, above).  However, that means it will sew up quickly.

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As I mentioned in last month’s overview, there is always a treat in a tin, and this time it is a beautiful woven ribbon in red and white.Frivols 5_3

Continuing on, I also received news in my Yahoo mailbox about new ownership of that enterprise, including Flickr.  So went over to Flickr to see what I would lose if I just ignored that whole thing forever.  The newest activity in any Flickr group was over a year ago.  Most activity was much older than that, which told me that a lot of other quilty peeps have abandoned that site.

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My masthead, but I think that “Joined 2009” thing is when I opened a yahoo email account.

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Here’s my first set of photos on the site: March 2012, with my EPP quilt Kaleidoscope.

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And my last set, in uploading photos for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, which ended that year.

I used to belong to seven groups, most of them Bees, had several Galleries.  I got rid of the Galleries, and unjoined all groups that weren’t a bee I had participated in.

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I was hunting for this gem (4 blocks, shown together–this one is not mine): a wild and crazy star block.  The links to the original pattern are all gone now–funny how quickly that happened, but here’s my PDF for it, if you want to download one for yourself.  I tried to track down the original owner and have not been successful; I would hate for this pattern (which was a free download) would get lost to the quiltiverse forever, hence my posting it here for your download: Starry Sky by Kylie Kelsheimer

UPDATE: Dot wrote me a note with the following info:  

“The Starry Sky pattern is still out there on Kylie’s Dropbox account. I did some searching around with Google and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and found an archived copy of Kylie’s website, with a link to her Dropbox page. To get the pattern, you need to have (or create) your own free Dropbox account, and log in to your account. Then you can paste this link into your browser, and download the file!

Here’s the Wayback Machine link to her old website:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170507123558/http://aperseveringmom.com/starry-sky-block-get-the-pattern-here/

Thank you, Dot!

2015 MCM Sept

This one was mine.

So I guess I’m saying that it feels weird to have the history of the quilt world on the internet go missing after such a short time, and it feels equally weird to be erasing some of my own history as well.

It reminds me of some of the things I read in The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (really, it’s a great little book by Margareta Magnusson): “If someone has lived in a home for many years where children, grown-ups, relatives, and guests have stayed and felt welcome, that same someone is often so busy that they never think of reducing the number of things in the household. And so the number of possessions grows and collects quickly over the years. Suddenly the situation is out of control and the weight of all those things can begin to seem tiring.”

My home and my digital media sites and my blog and Flickr are all like guests that have stayed and felt welcome, I guess.  Unlike the woman in the Swedish Death Cleaning book, not only will we have garages and drawers and closets full that we’ll need to deal with, we’ll also have digital universes that need clearing out, too.  That thought ought to cheer you up, right?

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Which leads me, finally, to this a wonderful video about Ken Burns, the historian and documentarian, who sent a lot of his quilts to be exhibited in Nebraska at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.  If you want to see them, they will only be on exhibit for a couple of more weeks, but the museum does have a good gallery of the quilts online, from which I excerpt these:

Ken Burns Flag w Crosses.pngMy favorite is the American Flag, with all the crosses surrounding it.  So many terrific quilts, and thankfully, someone, some where, did not clean them out and throw them away.  Someone did not think they were household junk to part with.  Thank you, Mr. Burns, for sharing your wonderful collection and thoughts:

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“Ann Lee, who founded the Shakers, said ‘Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you would die tomorrow.’  The things we leave behind — our children, our land, the environment, but also these made things, the art — will commend us to posterity.”  ~Ken Burns

Escape to Texas • March 2018

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We escaped to Texas last week, to visit our son and his family, as well as head to San Antonio, where my husband participated in a scientific conference.  TexasMarch_1

Pico Iyer, a well-respected travel writer noted that “The urgency of slowing down — to find the time and space to think — is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”TexasMarch_2

So I tried to grab some undistracted time with my grandsons; Alex and I made a Lego sewing machine.

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“When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself,” noted Marshall McLuhan, over a half-century ago.

It was nice to get away.

The Calendar is my Friend. Repeat.

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I read this cartoon, from Stephan Pastis, some time ago, and I’ve saved it as it seems like it hits a bit too close to home with that wasting time on social media thing.  But rather than harp on that tired subject again — social media is ruining our lives — I’d rather take it a different direction, and talk about the one thing that helped me manage my social media as it relates to quilting: I made friends with my paper calendar.

In blogging, I used to just write blog posts at random: if I had made a quilt, or ran across something cool to share, I did.  But once another blogger said she scheduled her blog posts, I realized that she thought about them, worked out when she wanted to them to show up. In other words, she used that old-fashioned tool of calendaring her posts.

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I use a small desktop calendar, and circle the date and pencil (not pen) in a code word, so I know what’s happening.  It helps me space out things (not always successful on this, but I’m working on it).

I came home from QuiltCon, vowing to work smarter, determined to change up how I used my favorite calendaring book, the Get To Work Book.  Too often I was using it as a journal — you know, writing down the things I did, or needed to do, and crossing them out in yellow marker when they were completed.  Yeah, even if I’d just written them down.

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These are the project pages at the back of each month.  Post QuiltCon, I dumped wrote everything that was in my head down on paper.  I then took time to break it down into tasks, slipping a few onto every week of the month. Has it helped?  Somewhat.  I know now what I have to work on. I  don’t know about you, but I tend retreat to social media when I am bored, or perhaps, overwhelmed.   I can also be easily distracted by the wonderful eye-candy on Instagram (but in some ways that’s another topic for another day.)

 

 

In his article, “Warren Buffett’s ‘2 List’ Strategy: How to Maximize Your Focus and Master Your Priorities,” James Clear makes the point that even though many things are good to do, if they are not your top priorities, they will distract you from what’s most important, and from what should be given your best and undivided attention.

He notes that “Every behavior has a cost. Even neutral behaviors aren’t really neutral. They take up time, energy, and space that could be put toward better behaviors or more important tasks.”

Some other tips:

  • Simplify your media.  If you do Facebook, get off of Twitter or Snapchat.  Leo Babuta writes: “You can be a part of a social network and not participate all day long…I’ve consciously decided that I’d prefer to be creating rather than always connected to the social stream.” (from Zen Habits)
  • Notifications (from FB, IG, etc.) are a huge time sink.  Bubata recommends turning them off: “Don’t be notified everytime people post things or reply to you or follow you or email you or comment on your blog.”
  • I also liked the tip from Elizabeth Grace Saunders in the article “Front Load Your Week,” when she says “To minimize stress, spend less time worrying about planning exactly how long every activity will take you to do and more time front-loading your calendar by putting your most important activities with deadlines early in the day and early in the week. For example, something due on Friday should start appearing in your schedule by Tuesday afternoon…Front-loading gives you the ability to stay on top of projects that take longer than expected without getting stressed or working into the wee hours of the night.”
  • To follow up with that, front load your day.  Know when your best energy level is, and stack up tasks for that time.
  • My favorite focusing device is to ask myself:  “What do I want to have completed at the end of this day?”  That question alone has propelled me through me many a foggy moment.
  • Humans come first.  My husband is El Numero Uno, then my family, then friends.  After my husband, the order is flexible.
  • I am also a human.  (Obviously I have several firsts, but it all works out.)  By saying that I am a human, I need to be aware of how I feel after sitting scrunched over, reading my small screen. I need to be aware of how good a walk feels, even if it’s in the middle of the day, and only around the block. I need to be aware of how I feel when I can’t get anything done, because I’ve spent too long reading on the web, instead of getting to my work.  I need to be aware of how good it feels to have my life ordered, and not frantic.

Some regular tasks help me order my month, such as:

 

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Marsha’s block for the Gridster Bee, March 2018

Sewing Obligations, such as blocks for my mates in the Gridster Bee.  I like jumping on it and getting it done at the beginning of the month (see tip about front-loading, above–I like to front-load my months, too!).

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Turning the calendar to a new month.  I believe that with all my digital calendars, at times I lose sight of how time can be structured and used.  Bringing forward that new page reminds me to check my project lists, re-order priorities, bring on new tasks.

It’s not harmful to be involved in social media as many interesting and significant discoveries, as well as new friends, can be made this way.  Some nights, when I’m too tired for sewing tasks, I like to read blogs.  I use Feedly and Bloglovin’ to help keep my reading organized and to follow up with people on Instagram, and Facebook.  It’s enjoyable to see what everyone else is doing.

Do you have tips for staying focused?  If you care to share, please leave them below in a comment.

 

Luke Haynes, Ian Berry & Nancy Crow

I hope the combination of the above three piques your interest, for it was an interesting juxtaposition of quilters.  We also had SAQA in the same space, as well as Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, with her pieces on wastefulness.

I kept track of who was where by looking at my charts:

(You can click to enlarge them, but really, they are just my scribbles.)

These artists were all in the Space des Tisserands, a large room that had been subdivided to accommodate all these quilters.  While some of these pictures are tiled in groups, you can click on any individual image to see a larger version.

First up is Ian Berry.  Yes, he’s the blue jeans guy.  He cuts up blue jeans into shapes and tones and colors and contrasting pieces, then re-assembles them via gluing, into recognizable images.  We had a few minutes before the crush of fans wafted in again to visit with him, and found him a lovely conversationalist.  We talked about quilting, what else?

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Then he was called in for a group picture, one of many I saw him do that day. I wish I would have snapped the photo of the group of ladies posing on the blue tiles in front of the washing machines in the laundromat.  I didn’t know you could step into a work of art that way, but no one was stopping them.

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Next up is Luke Haynes (self-portrait, above), who burst onto the scene about three years ago, and remade the quilt world into his world, by utilizing traditional art studio techniques.  This means that he uses assistants to do the work, but they work under his name, and in this way he mounted his Log Cabin show.  At QuiltCon 2016, some quilters weren’t too happy with him, for to them this smacked of the subsuming of “women’s work” into the male creative world.  But Luke is a happy guy (really fun to hear him talk, and I admire his creativity) and he then morphed into this show (of course, this is all MY view of things–he may have a different take), which was called a collaboration of quilters.  Or Quiltllaborations, as his exhibit was called.

Top Row: [Collab #8] Indigo DWR by Luke Haynes and Rachael Dorr (2017)  90″ square
Second Row: [Collab #6] Polka by Luke Haynes and Libs Elliot (2015) 71″ square
Third Row: [Collab #5] Kills It with Fire by Luke Haynes and Libs Elliot (2015) 68″ square
Fourth Row (L): Untitled   It is one of my favorites, so please click on it to enlarge; however, it is not quilted.  Still cool, though.
Fourth Row (R): Another wedding ring, but I didn’t find the title card.  Some of his were nearly on the ground, or around a corner.

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Nancy Crow, who helped co-found the Dairy Barn (in previous post) also had a few quilts  there under her name; I assume they were either colleagues or students.  One of my fantasies in my younger quilting years was to travel to Ohio and take one of her two-week classes.  I have just about every  book of hers, and screwed up my nerve to read her class supply list.  I was completely intimidated and decided that wasn’t the direction I’d be going.  But still, she is one of my Quilting Fairy Godmothers, although she probably wouldn’t like me calling her that.  (She is a serious quilter–she has a quilting studio with multiple GIANT design walls, scads of tables holding yards and yards of fabric).  Serious.

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Sea Ice–Cook Inlet, by Bonne M. Bucknam (USA)  79″ long

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Conflict No. 7 by Judy Kirpich (USA)  76″ square  If you’ll remember, she had a quilt in the Quilt National exhibit titled Conflict No. 5 Mugging.  I know that Crow encourages those she teaches to work in a series.  If this is two quilts away from No. 5, Kirpich seems like the anguish has eased (if you can read that into a quilt)

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Thirty-four? by Helen McBride Richter (USA) 75″ wide 70″ long  Did I mention that the name of this exhibit was Mastery: Sustaining Momentum?

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Colleen Kole’s Time Fragments #11 In the Distance (USA 2015)  82″ wide 83″ long  Detail is below, that shows the really interesting quilting.

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US – THEM, by Mirjam Pet-Jacobs

Okay, I didn’t love this exhibit of Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, with her pieces on wastefulness, but that could have been just my mindset, or how things struck me that day, for she is a talented textile artist with many exhibits on many different topics (please visit her website to see the range of her artistry). Her exhibit was called “What a Waste!”  The above (on the floor in the middle of the gallery) is the waste that came out of a creative quilt studio.  [Update: She wrote to me to explain that this was a three-years accumulation, which made it feel more real, for after three years, perhaps my waste stream would be the same?]  Perhaps I don’t like to be reminded that there is lots of waste in quilting, and how many of us donate doggie beds full of scraps to our local humane shelter?  My hand isn’t up.  I try to recycle my scraps, using them, sharing them.  But I do know that our textile has long been known for waste–just type in “waste in the textile industry” and see the listings.  We try to ignore all that.  Maybe the way it was presented to me just didn’t make my heart leap?  Or maybe I don’t want to know about this?  Does our cycle of quilt fabric collections — almost too many to keep track of — contribute to this waste?

You can see that it caused me to think.  Also in this building were the quilts from SAQA–Studio Art Quilt Association.  They never let us photograph their quilts in stateside shows, so I felt positively delirious to be able to take photos of these quilts.  That’s in the next post about the European Patchwork Meeting.  I have created a main page, with a listing of posts.

 

creative block

(Yes.  Lower case title, just to reclaim some of my quirkiness.)

I recently posted about taking a break from the creative world, from the quilty world, from whatever and while I was gone, I had some to time to think about how I’d gotten to that non-creative place.

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I’d say, for me it was a factor of four: Time, Health, and Mental/Physical Fatigue, as well as a Too Much to Do.  My Dad used to say “Too many irons in the fire put out the flame.”  While a reference to the bars of iron that blacksmiths use, I did have too much going on.

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from here

I was intrigued with the idea of Creative Block, and one article “7 Types of Creative Block and What to Do About Them,” from my favorite place online (99U) discussed this issue, that apparently is a very-much-real thing.  In that piece, I liked the sub-topic of  Work habits that don’t work, as I have been struggling to (re)learn three new computer programs: EQ7 (I learn it, then forget it, and there’s so many hurdles with the design of this software…but then that’s another post), Affinity Photo (to replace Photoshop) and Affinity Designer (to replace Illustrator).  Three more irons in that proverbial fire.

99U’s advice to “[s]tep back and take a good look at how you’re working, and where the pain points are….If you don’t have enough energy, are you working at the right time of day? If you feel paralyzed by freedom, introduce more structure and order into your day. If you feel constrained by routine, find room for improvisation” felt like it was just for me.

I always love the Brain Pickings articles, and the review on a book from Danielle Krysa (Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists) seems to hit some of those stuck spots:

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Jessica Bell noted that “When I can’t make progress, it is often because I am mentally scattered; this happens when I am overcommitted or have a schedule without any breathing room in it. I have to have a lot of space and quiet in my head to think my best thoughts. An artist I admire told me a few years ago that “you can’t make art in the cracks.” Carving out a block of time devoted to nothing else but the pursuit of new work has never steered me wrong.”

So,  Miss Gasoline Station stepped aside and made space for some creative time.  I’ll be posting a few projects in the next post, but since it’s summer and it’s time to play, it’s good to keep a balance between working and quilting and cooking and playing and family and friends…

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Eastmond Family Reunion, atop Brian Head Peak (11,000+ feet)

Thanks to all of you who wrote and left comments on my last post.  We headed out that day for a family reunion and I left the keyboard behind, but I read them all and appreciated your encouragement.  I’m slipping back into the creative life, one stitch at a time.

7 Magic MountainsThe block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping stone in the pathway of the strong. –Thomas Carlyle

Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules;
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

–R. L. Sharpe

Giveaway Banner

Because who knows what might spur your creativity, I’ve got some books to give away.  If what I’m giving away (this will go on, erratically, for several posts) tickles your fancy or appeals to you in some way, if you leave a comment, please let me know you’d like to enter the giveaway.  Some of the books are ones I’ve purchased and read, and no longer need; others were publisher giveaways at Quilt Market, and it’s time to pass them on.

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The first one is Lines by Design by Debbie Grifka, a lovely book on how to make elegant modern quilts.  Good luck!  Giveaway will close in a few days and I’ll contact the winner by email and get it sent out.

 

One Life • Many Lives

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This has to do with quilting, but it doesn’t start out that way.  It starts out this way, with a two-year old girl posed on her family’s front lawn.

Then all of a sudden, I was a young mother, then a mother of three-soon-to-be-four children, then a grandmother.  When I was that young mother, I took a class on how to make a quilt.  I was a Clothing and Textile major in college, so I knew how to sew, but I thought there was something extra you had to know to make a quilt.  And with one young child at home, I had absolutely no extra time (or so I thought then) but figured I could squeeze it in somewhere.  Between then and when the fourth child was born, I made about eight quilts: each child had a baby quilt, I had a quilt for the bed, and I’d even made a baby quilt for my sister and one I sold in a consignment shop.

Mothering was that life.  That was what I chose and on balance, the kids seem to have turned out all right. But somewhere in that life as mother, I also chose a life as a Mary Kay Lady and a seamstress– I was always sewing, making all the outfits the children and I wore.  And somewhere after I finished my undergraduate education (I was on the 28-year plan), the number of quilts I made took off like a rocket, blogging happened, rotary cutting happened; things just changed.  Again.

I’ve been thinking about this because of two experiences:

ESE at Trunk Show

The first was the presenting of my quilts at a trunk show at my local guild.  I reviewed all my quilts, and each represented some life I lived at the time of the making of that quilt, from the simplest beginning quilt (a small whole cloth quilt with the knots on top) to the recent finish of The Circles Quilt, with all the blocks I designed.  It was a satisfying evening and I was happy to share some of my life’s work.

The second was when I flew home last week after visiting my mother for her birthday, and I stitched improv appliqué blocks while on the plane.  The young man next to me was reading DeLillo’s White Noise, a book I had read in grad school.  The title fit the book perfectly, and that was about the only comment I could make when he and I visited.  I realized he saw this grandma-person stitching away and that was the only life of mine he could see.  But, I wanted to say, I’ve had so many other lives!

So if all my lives were strung together as pearls on a necklace, what might I see?  Would I see only the failures, the quilts I gave away, the moment I lost it and yelled at a child?  Would I see the classes I had to drop, the cosmetic saleslady I could never be?  Or would I focus more on the pearls burnished from the striving and from the use: a creative life, a life with laughter, traveling and family. A life with happiness, because in addition to all that, I get to walk into my sewing room every day, thread a needle and get to making.

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