Frivols 8 • August 2018

 

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September’s box is Frivols #8 and is a tin from American Jane, with a whole host of fancy and fun prints.  The Moda blog notes that:

“There is a correction to the pattern – Background, Sashing, and Borders.  The first line should say 3 – 5 1/2″ x width of fabric strips.  From the strips, cut 18 – 5 1/2″ squares.”

Duly noted. I’ll figure it out when I get there.

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Here’s the layout of prints from their blog–colorful and charming. And I was happy to see that there are fewer half-square triangles in Sandy Klop’s quilt design.

The freebie for this Frivol is a sweet little tin with this month’s quilt design, that is just about the size of a charm square, perched up there by the bigger tin.  I also love the quote on this month’s card: “Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.”  While it is attributed to Oscar Wilde, this attribution — as in so many other quote attributions — is a little squishy.  For more discussion on this, visit the Quote Investigator.  In fact, if you read this article, it seems like Wilde was a bit more pessimistic about this whole idea of authenticity:

It is tragic how few people ever “possess their souls” before they die. “Nothing is more rare in any man,” says Emerson, “than an act of his own.” It is quite true. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are some one else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. (c. 1900)

I happen to like the Thomas Merton version:

“In an age where there is much talk about “being yourself” I reserve to myself the right to forget about being myself, since in any case there is very little chance of my being anybody else. Rather it seems to me that when one is too intent on “being himself” he runs the risk of impersonating a shadow.” (c. 1967)

I have to say my favorite instance of this idea is from Gordon B. Hinckley, an earlier president of my church.  He writes about discouragement when he was called on a church mission at age nineteen, feeling like he could never do what was required of him:

I wrote a letter to my father and said, “I’m wasting my time and your money. I don’t see any point in my staying here.” And in due time a letter came back from him in which he simply said: “Dear Gordon. I have your letter of [such and such a date]. I have only one suggestion: Forget yourself and go to work. With love, your father.” [from here]

So often we can focus too much on ourselves, and how we feel from moment to moment. While this aesthetic — to “forget yourself and get to work” — seems to hail from another era, I like to think about it sometimes, when I often can’t find the energy to finish up the chore, to get the work done, to complete the task.  I felt that way with Frivols #7, as you probably know.  And somedays I have to ask myself: “What do I want to have done by the end of this day?”

Perhaps all this seems so far from the supposed Wilde quote of “being yourself,” but for me they are linked.  Perhaps the work is me, the getting done is the shaping of who I am.  And hopefully, in forgetting myself and getting to work, I will become my best self.

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Onward!

 

Bread with Every Meal (Frivols #7)

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Bread with every meal • Quilt #207 • 24″ square

Ta-DONE!!!

With great relief and happiness, I present to you: Bread with every meal.

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The title comes from the back of this quilt, a tea towel my sister gave to me when she was doing the Great Purge and downsizing her life. Frivols 7_31a

And in that grouping of statistics about what was eaten, was this phrase, “Bread with Every Meal.”  Weird to take this for a title, I know.  I don’t usually like to be that obtuse in the naming of my quilts.

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But it reminded me of the dailiness of quilting, for me.  That nearly every day I am at a small feast at my “table” — my sewing room — partaking of the goodness of cloth and patches and stitching. It makes me happy, and so it’s not a far leap to think of this as my daily bread.

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Even when I intensely dislike what I’m doing.

Yes, making this quilt was one moan after another, working on it, wadding it in the corner, avoiding it.  These are not my kind of fabrics, and making teensy 1-1/2″ half-square triangles is not my favorite thing to do.  But I adore the designer (Lisa Bongean) and so I was determined to be a Brave Girl and finish up this quilt.

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It won’t win any awards for piecing, or for that matter, quilting, but it will win prizes for being DONE.  So now I can post this:

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That’s 7!

Yep, seven down and five to go.

In other happy news, we had Camp Create last weekend.  For years a group of us had gotten together regularly, the first Friday of every month for the Good Heart Quilters.  It came time to end that monthly gig (no short story on this tale, so I’ll skip the telling), so we went out with a bang, with Camp Create.

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I put up a bunch of photos on Instagram, but for the historial (hysterial?) record, I’ll post them again here on the blog.

 

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Amy, in the green shirt, above, teaches classes on handmade books at the local art museum, and came to teach us the Coptic Stitch and how to make a book from scratch.  I could go on and on about her, but she is waaaay talented, as are all the ladies above.  She anchored the first half of Camp Create, held in Leisa’s (air-conditioned) garage.

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Claire bundled up her wee daughter, Jane, as she worked on her book next to Leisa.

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All our books.  One of my favorite lines of the day was when one of us hadn’t finished up our binding and laid it down with the rest.  Amy carefully tucked the threads underneath saying, “We can hide our secrets.”  Yes, indeed.  Mine is the green one with the butterfly (click the link for the video).  Amy had the best papers from which we could choose.

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Then we had lunch and switched gears to screen printing.  Both Simone and I had taken Karen Lewis’ class at QuiltCon, and Julie was also experienced at this technique, so we taught the technique to these fine crafters.

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For those of you wondering where to get the screen printing cloth, I found this “utility fabric” at JoAnn Fabrics, and it seemed to work great.  It’s not 100% cotton, but I did all my printing with this and I’m happy with it.

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Amy was experienced in screen printing, and knew to wear gloves.

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Claire’s cupcakes

Hexie Flowers July 2018

In other news, I’m making progress on my Hexie Flower quilt, a design by Sherri McConnell.  (More info on her blog.)

And here’s my contribution to Hexie Lore: punch a hole in your paper.  You can anchor your hexie with a straight pin while you stitch (so the fabric doesn’t move around), and at the end, insert the tip of your scissors into the hole and pop it out.  I use the basting method where you don’t take out your stitches, and I use a hexie template to cut out the fabrics.

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Lastly, we had some visitors.  I set up the grandchildrens’ beds downstairs in the dining room, and Maddy’s bed was taken over by their dog, Cookie.  Really, it’s more like their younger sibling, Cookie.

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A summer treat: frozen yogurt.  We miss you already–come again!!

 

Getting the Work Done: Artist vs. Addict

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A recent reviewer of Steven Pressman’s book Turning Pro, pointed out that:
“What is distraction, if not self-sabotage, sabotage of one’s future self?”   Pressman, who wrote the War of Art, a must-read for creatives,  writes about about the difference between being an artist and being an addict, about the difference between being a professional (focused on the work) and an amateur (talking about the work, but not really doing it).

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Pressman has written three books, and as another reviewer described them:

The War of Art discusses the decision to start, while [his second book] Do the Work takes on the concept of sustaining the discipline it takes to finish a piece of work. Turning Pro takes things up a notch by insisting the artist must establish a rigid discipline and trust the Muse.”

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It’s easy to forget why we work at something.  There we are, putting our focus on our machines and in our sewing spaces, cutting and sewing, and all of a sudden, it’s oh wait a minute, let me check what my friends on Instagram are doing.

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According to Pressman, that doesn’t get the work done.  What it does do instead, is turn our work, our lives, our posts into an endless loop of sort of getting things done, but not really forging ahead into new places.

As Jocelyn K. Glei put it, “I was particularly struck by his distinction between “the artist” and “the addict,” wherein the former is living out a productive, creative career, while the latter is caught in an endless loop of aspiration and yearning that never gets backed up with meaningful action. Glei also noted that: “The amateur is an egotist. He takes the material of his personal pain and uses it to draw attention to himself. He creates a “life,” a “character,” a “personality.”  Using the term “shadow novel,” he draws out the life of a person is sort of working towards something, but not really.  Like I was after grad school: wanting to be an author, but not writing a word.

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I soon figured out that being a fiction writer was not the direction I was doing to go. I was able, however, to take my MFA training and love of the written word, combine it with sewing, in order to write about quilting — a completely unplanned, but incredibly satisfying endeavor.

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Frivols #7, in process

Cindy and I have talked more than once about the world of social media (namely Instagram) and how it sometimes interferes with getting the work done.  I love a good stroll through the posts as much as anyone, and I love to read blogs and see what creative juice is running through my community.

I recently watched the entire launch video of IGTV, that futzy little button in the top right of your screen.  As they went through all the scenes of creators (our new name, I guess), I realized that they were all barely older than my grandchildren…and with that realization came the understanding that IG “allowed” me to have my community, but what they were really about was the selling of “new media,” geared to “young influencers” gaining followers, gaining media attention and earning money.  Hence, the screwed up IG feed for the rest of us.

Chronology is out.  Connectiveness is in (which is different from “connections”).  Process is out.  Profits are in, including the data mining of all our click and taps and touches.

July 2018 Gridsters _ Leisa

Gridsters Bee Block for Leisa–July 2018

What does this have to do with artist/professional vs. addict/amateur?

As Pressman states, “The artist and the professional, on the other hand, have turned a corner in their minds. They have grown so bored with themselves…What were once their shadow symphonies become real symphonies. The color and drama that were once outside now move inside….When we [choose being an Artist], the energy that once went into the Shadow Novel goes into the real novel. What we once thought was real – “the world,” including its epicenter, ourselves – turns out to be only a shadow. And what had seemed to be only a dream, now, the reality of our lives.

It’s all about where you focus, where you put your attention.  Make use of the tools that help you, but don’t let them dominate allotted time, or dilute creative energy.

 

 

Frivols 7

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It’s the first of July, so you know what that means.

I pulled Frivols Tin #7 out of the closet, and about fell over.  There are a billion little triangles in this quilt, well, okay, maybe only a couple of a hundred, but they are teensy weensy (each HST measures 1 3/4″ square, unfinished).  Yes, I am beginning to question my sanity.  Especially since, when I was in Utah, I saw Frivols tins for sale:

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Frivols on Sale_1

See that quilt there on the right?  I should have just bought it, and saved myself the trouble.  But making these Frivols experience is a learning experience, or so I keep telling myself.  I’m starting early this month, as it may take me a while.

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Luckily in the tin, they have included a sheet to copy so you can just sew through the lines and have perfect triangles, also available on their Moda blog.  Good thing I really like that lovely Lisa Bongean and her shop near me, Primitive Gatherings (also in Wisconsin).

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Here’s the cute freebie: a scissors “keep” with the polka dots on one side, and Moda’s name on the other.

[Note: I won those scissors last month while visiting Corn Wagon Quilt Company in Springville, Utah.  My husband, who is used to being in quilt shops, got a Hundred Grand Candy Bar, just for coming in (very nice of them).]

Okay, so if you are doing this Frivol, download Moda’s triangles sheet: Frivols7-songbird-triangle-papers  [NOTE: Please be sure to download first, print a test page, making sure the measurements agree with what is written on the pattern, and print at 100% (of course).] I’ve printed mine out on vellum, which is easier to rip off than regular paper.  Since we have to do eleven sheets worth of these triangles, I figure it’s four pages a week, in order to finish.  I’m just hoping that with the special stitch-and-sew technique, I won’t have to be truing them up.  That chore is right up there on the Hated Chores List with folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher.

Happy Fourth of July to you as well, a day to celebrate the birth of our nation.  Here are some photographs I took when we lived in Washington, D.C. for a (most memorable) year:

DOS star

Department of State, Star

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial, with Declaration of Independence on the wall

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

USA Capitol Ceiling

from ceiling in the United States Capitol

Happy Sewing and Happy Fourth of July 2018!

Practice Makes Perfect • Frivols #6

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Practice Makes Perfect
Quilt #204  • June 2018
26″ by 31.5″

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The requisite shot of the X-ed out Frivols tins show that I’m now halfway done with my goal.  I try not to set goals, as they just give me angst, but there’s just this lingering expectation: finish all the Frivols.

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I call this Practice Makes Perfect, as I’ve been thinking about the nature of work, and how much of it is repetitive, boring even, but repetition appears to be a necessary step on the way to mastery.  I think I can handle churn dashes, but it was learning the finer points of free-motion quilting loops that needed my attention.  Frivols6_PracticeMakesPerfect3

The freebie for tin #6 was this strawberry label with barely any room for a person with two long names.  It would have been better if my name were Dot Smith or something.Frivols6_PracticeMakesPerfect1Mothers Luncheon

I had started on this quilt at the end of May, after a long month of travel and serving and caring for people in my life, culminating with an intimate luncheon celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday in Ogden, Utah.  We rented a small conference room at a local hotel, and had the hotel cater the meal.

Mothers Flowers

We’d done this two years earlier for my father’s birthday, and had only my brother and sisters and parents there, with no spouses or great-grandchildren.  We were worried then (I was wondering) if if it would work without the supporting members, but we did fine two years ago, and again this year too.  The feelings expressed to my mother were tender, kind, showing her (and my father’s) careful influence in our lives.  Because of them there are amazing individuals in my family: strong men and women, who are good men and women, too.

Mothers Luncheon BrosSis

Some of you know that I’d been up in Utah earlier that month caring for my sister for a week; it was good to see how much progress she’d made in getting around with her crutches and wheelchair.  From L to R, around the table: Mom, Dad, Susan (child #3), Scott (#6), David (#5), Cynthia (in gold jacket, child #2), Christine (#1), and Andy (#7).  I’m child #4, yes, that infamous “middle child.”

Mothers Olive Oil

I had little bottles of specialty olive oil etched with the saying “Olive you forever” and “Happy 90th Barbara” (my mother’s name).

We drove home and two days later I quilted this, finishing  it the next day.  I was still putting away what I’d gathered on my trip, but needed a break, and Practice Makes Perfect was the tonic for what ailed me.

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John Piper wrote: “Work is a glorious thing. And if you stop and think about it, the most enjoyable kinds of leisure are a kind of work. Both these facts are true because the essence of work, as God designed it before the Fall, was creativity — not aimless, random doing, but creative, productive doing….
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“If you are starting to grow lazy, I summon you back to joy. God made us to work. He formed our minds to think and our hands to make. He gave us strength—little or great—to be about the business of altering the way things are.

“That is what work is: seeing the world, thinking of how it could be better, and doing something—from the writing of a note to the building of a boat; from the sewing of what you wear to the praying of a prayer.
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“Come, leave off sloth and idleness. Become what you were made to be. Work.”

excerpted quote found on @TheSmallSeed

Frivols Tin 6 (and a few words about Value)

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It’s the first of June, so you know what that means.

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Cuteness, so cute, darling, adorbs, charming, majorly adorable.

Yep, that’s why I bought these things.  So by now you have figured out it’s time to sew up another Frivols, and now we are on Frivols Tin 6, which you can find on the Moda blog.  Here is the errata for this box:

Note:  After learning that a handful of customers had received rolls of pre-cut squares that were a bit scant, we decided to re-work the cutting to make the pieces a bit smaller and allow a little leeway.  The artwork and text for the tin had already been sent for manufacturing so it could not be changed.  However, the pattern has the correct sizes and instructions, and we apologize for the discrepancy.  It just needed to be done.

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After opening, I’m thinking: Still pretty cute, yes yes yes.

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I unrolled and pressed the squares.  Um.

(silence) Oh, please.  (rolls eyes)

Not another one of these pastel boxes! she moans to no one in particular.  Even my husband said “Another one?”

Frivols 1-5Here’s my Happy Barometer in working with my Frivols Tins so far:
Frivols #1  <happy> for it was a gift for a friend’s baby.
Frivols #2  <happy>
Frivols #3  <happy>
Frivols #4  <meh>  It was a test of will, but I’m keeping it around for gifiting to future babies.
Frivols #5  <not bad> once I got going
Frivols #6.  <——-extreme dismay——>  I know all the Bonnie and Camille fans out there are like, “Send it to me!!” but really, a deal with myself is a deal.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t change it up some.

The finished quilt measures 45″ x 54″ supposedly, but I don’t know if that is the before measurement, or the one they took after their changes.  I also took a look at the outside of the tin requirements, which is code for BUY MORE FABRIC, but since that fabric — Strawberry Fields Revisited — is long gone, given the current habit of our manufacturers of deluging us with fabric lines until we are overwhelmed, then taking them off the shelves forever.  (A personal pet peeve of mine.)

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And given the fact that one of my 7″ by 7″ squares was cut off at the knees, and another one skewed and shredded by the cutter, it’s time to hit my own stash and pull out some colors/shapes/fabrics that will coordinate.Frivols6_5

That piece in the upper left by 3 Sisters ought to be just fine with this group of toned florals and geometrics.  And given that I’m already flummoxed by the cutting instructions, we are definitely changing up this puppy.  And because I needed a project to do after Annularity’s completion, I charged on ahead (still moaning about these mushy-valued pastels).

Each Frivol has 7″ squares.  Even though they warned me not to trim off any bumps, after doing one as a trial, I found I could trim off the sides without any great disaster, then proceed to cut them as they asked.

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And by that night, I had One Grecian Urn.  Kidding.  I had one churn dash (you have to have seen the movie The Music Man to know the inside joke about Grecian Urns).

A Word About Value in Quilts.

Value Scale.jpg

We need some.

Value is how light something is or how dark something is.  Quilts without value shifts tend to be mushy-looking, and sort of blah.  It’s the mushy ones we walk right by at quilt shows.  I see a lot of these, and have even made some myself (see Frivols #1 and #4).  But it is value that moves your eye around a quilt, makes it interesting to look at, gives it depth.  When I worked in the photo lab at University of California, the photography professor preached the same gospel: you need black as midnight and white as snow in the black and white photographs.  OF COURSE there are exceptions, but we are not always making exception-quilts.

Note the two flowers above.  Which one is more interesting?  Which one grabs your eye, pulls it around, as you notice things?  Of course you said the one of the right, a calla lilly by Robert Maplethorpe (the other one I greyed out to have only medium tones).

Same with our quilts.  So what can I do with a box full of medium to medium-light fabrics?  Smash them up against each other:

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Now that medium brown in the upper right corner can function effectively as a “dark.”  It’s still not wonderful, but I do think it’s better than the one they wanted me to do:

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Kidding.  Here’s theirs:

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I could tell from their description I was in trouble: Sun-washed.  It is a lovely little quilt, perfect for babies, and other people who don’t like contrast in their quilts, I guess.  But this is my blog and you are subjected to my bias, and I trend towards quilts with good light-to-dark values.

I also believe if you are going to sell me a tin of fabrics, I should be able to make a quilt with what’s in the tin.  (Right.)

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It needs some kind of borders, so I was going for the look of Frivol #2, but this is a Major Fail.  It has that baked potato problem.  So I ripped off the borders and pulled out nearly every fabric I had in my stash to find one that I though perked up this baby.

 

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A lovely tomatoey color of red with white dots will do nicely. I’m happy with it. Now I’ll get it quilted and bound and will show you the end product, at some later date.

What I learned from this tin of Frivols:

  • Don’t let your quilts be mushy.
  • Move beyond one manufacturer’s grouping of fabrics to avoid having your quilt be only a medium value quilt.
  • And some advice as well from my photography professor, given to us on the last day of class: keep your camera dry.