Thursday, July 16, 2015

Coming Home to Quilting

It's been several years since I've posted on this blog.  I planned to take a short hiatus to take care of some personal and professional business, but then as often happens life intervened and before I knew it the time I'd spent blogging and quilting ended up being gobbled up by other things.

This has happened to me several times in the 40+ years I've been a quilter.  When I went off to college, started one of several careers, had a child, and started my own graphic design business.  During those times my life was so full, and I was often so exhausted that the thought of pulling out my sewing machine and digging through my quilting fabric overwhelmed me.

I've never stopped loving the art of quilting, or even all of the steps involved.  Sometimes I feel like I've put off starting a new project because I enjoyed the anticipation of working on a quilt almost as much as actually doing it.

I've also been fortunate in that my career path as been more art oriented in the last 10 years so I've been able to express myself through art, even though it wasn't quilting.  My creative side was satisfied.

However, I have never loved any creative activity more than quilting,  It's the whole package.  I get to play with color and pattern,  with the added bonus of dimension.  There is nothing like a quilt, and nothing more satisfying then the process of creating one.  I've missed it.

I've also missed the community of quilters.  My other endeavors were business oriented.  Designing websites and graphics, creating packaging and label designs, dealing with printers and web hosts and learning the new language of coding.  It could be exciting and challenging, but a lot of the joy was missing.

Since I've been on extended hiatus, a lot has changed in the quilting world.  I've kept up by reading quilting magazines, and visiting quilt stores when I have the chance, (we don't have any nearby), so I'm somewhat familiar with the changes.  It's amazing that our quilting community has so many dimensions.  The traditional hand pieced quilts I learned to make are now a rarity.  Art quilting and currently "Modern" quilting are all the rage.  The skills of long arm and other machine quilters fill me with admiration and quite frankly, give me a headache!  So many new things to learn and explore, and discuss on this blog.

I was timid about starting it up again, but then I realized that having been away for a while I would have a different perspective that might be interesting to other quilters.  And, frankly, when I encounter something new and/or different writing about it helps me process it better. 

I've lived long enough to know that you can't go home again.  It's never the same, particularly when you've been away for a while.  I suspect that my re-entry into the quilting world will bring many surprises, some good, some not so good, but then, that's life!

I'm looking forward to jumping back into the art form I've loved since I was a young teenager.  It may take me a while to get back into the swing of things, but I plan to post at least a couple of times a week until those creative juices really start flowing and I can get back up to at least a short post every day.

Happy Stitching!

Susan




Friday, May 20, 2011

Farm Stand Fabrics





I'm usually attracted to more modern looking fabrics so I was surprised at how excited I was when I saw this line of fabrics from Lakehouse.  Holly Holderman has perfected the art of creating cute calicoes, dots, and other small patterns that can be used in all different kinds of quilts. 

The farmstands are starting to open up in our part of the country this week, (it's cherry season!),   I look forward to visiting them and our local farmer's market every year.  We're blessed to live in an area where all kinds of great fresh produce is grown so the farmstands are open from May through October.  This line of fabric makes me hungry just looking at it.

To get your fix, follow this link, or check your local quilt shop.

http://www.fatquartershop.com/Annies-Farm-Stand-Lakehouse-Dry-Goods-Fabrics.asp?Store_id=499&T=1

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Quilting and Posting Moratorium

Wow, it's officially one month since my last post.  I feel just awful about this because I really miss this opportunity to commune with the quilting community.

It's been a difficult year for both good and bad reasons.  I started off with high hopes and lots of enthusiasm, and considering I was sick off and on through March, I was doing pretty well.  And then......

A business opportunity presented itself that I couldn't walk away from.  Whether or not it will be a success, who knows?  But since like everyone else in this economy I'm looking for some cash flow I couldn't pass it up.

And so, I've been on a self imposed quilting and posting moratorium.  I can't think of the last time I picked up a needle and thread, it's been at least a month, maybe more. And, well, you know about the posting; pitiful at best.

I'm one of the lucky ones in that I've been blessed with multiple talents.  Of course, it's a blessing, but it's also a curse.  The problem I have is being able to focus on one aspect of my creative life exclusively, which is what I need to do if I'm going to be truly successful at it.

The times in my life when I've had that kind of focus have been magical.  It was during those times that I won awards and contests, and my confidence grew.  However, being the Gemini with the split personality I am, I get bored with everything too quickly. 

Lately, I've been trying to get back into quilting again.  I've been pulling out old projects, looking online for fabric, even going through old magazines, trying to get the thrill back.  It's not working and it makes me sad.

Have I given up on the hobby I love most?  No way!  I'm just in a quilting slump and I've decided that it's best if I don't force it.  From previous experience I know that one day soon I'll start salivating at the thought of going to a quilt shop, and I'm looking forward to it. Besides I'll have more money to spend on fabric and that fancy machine I've been ogling if my new business venture takes off.

Maybe that's what it is.  I was beginning to think of my quilting and blogging as work, as "what I do."  Wouldn't it be magical to just quilt because I want to?  Not because I think I might sell it or get noticed by some quilting bigwig and be launched on a fabulous quilting career?   I'd actually love to linger over my fabric, take my time cutting and designing and spend a year on one project that I love working on.

For a while there I was thinking that I might manage to make a career of this quilting stuff but now I'm thinking that that isn't what I want it to be.  Work is a four letter word for a reason.  My new venture will satisfy some of my creative urges and keep my mojo actively brewing for other projects.  It won't be long before quilting, (and blogging), are the places I go to unwind.

I'm looking forward to it!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Fabric Moratorium

Late last year it became apparent that my fabric collection was getting a little out of control.  A combination of impossible-to-resist sales, and lack of progress on making new quilts forced me to review my fabric buying addiction.

So, in the interest of fiscal resposibility, I decided to try something different.  As a collector who does unusual work which involves a lot of variety in my quilts, I don't intend to entirely stop purchasing fabric.  I believe it's essential to keep up with buying colors and styles that are unique to the current time, as they won't come back around again in the same way.  However, there's no need to purchase fabric that isn't particularly unique or spectacular just because it's on sale and a good buy.

In the past when I've been bored I've perused the online fabric stores' clearance pages, looking for bargains.  I ended up buying fabric that was close to what I wanted, but really wasn't what I wanted.  There's a reason why things are on sale!  Of course, I did managed to pick up some fabrics that I will use and at a great price, but frankly, I could have lived without them.

So far my new system has worked incredibly well.  It's really rather simple, I only purchase fabrics in certain months.  This year, the months are February, April, June, August, October, and December.   So, since I know I'm not going to buy anything in the other months I don't waste my time looking online and if I do I put the things I want on my wishlist.  What's amazed me is that when February rolled around it was about a week before I checked my wish lists, and ended up only ordering a small selection of fabrics I really wanted. 

I still use my coupons at Joann's when I can, but have been using them for notions and other craft items.  This weekend I had a 25% off coupon and used it for magazines instead of fabric. 

I'm not thrilled about not contributing my normal share of fabric purchases to quilt shops and online retailers, as I know they need the business.  But, until I get more projects completed, this new system is working for me.  I can still purchase the fabrics I want, but I'm not wasting time shopping online, or spending more than I should on fabric I don't need.

Do any of you have a system that's working for you?  I'd love to hear about it.

I haven't been quilting for a while now, although I'm starting to get the bug that I need to get working on some of my WIPs.  My graphic design business has picked up some and it's cramping my quilting style.  I also told you about a business opportunity I'm working on.  It's very time consuming in the beginning so I've got a lot of work to do.  No rest for the wicked I guess!

Hope you're enjoying some spring weather for a change, it finally stopped raining here!  I'd be more excited if it wasn't that now my allergies are hyperactive.  It's always something, isn't it?

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lazy vs. Busy

I love this picture!  Wouldn't it be great to be that dog, lying on the couch asleep with a few poppyseed muffins nearby?

I've always been a busy person.  Ever since I can remember I've been a multi tasker.  I've never been able to "just watch TV," I've always got something else going on.  I'm either reading, or working on the laptop, or sewing.

Lately, I've come to the realization that I have either become lazy, or so busy that I might as well be. 

Lazy and busy would seem to be mutually exclusive.  How can a lazy person be busy, or a busy person be lazy?

Well, I think I've figured out how to do it.  You just keep yourself busy with unimportant things and get lazy about the more important things.  For instance, spending too much time on the web means you're busy, but it also means you can be lazy about cleaning your house.  See what I mean?  Being "busy" is a great way to avoid doing things you don't want to do.

I'm rarely not doing something.  You'll never find me sitting and just watching TV or sitting and staring.  I'm always doing something; working on my laptop, playing with my dog, teasing my teenager, (always great fun!), talking on the phone to my Mom, and generally busily thinking of ways to keep busy.  I do manage to keep my house in some semblence of order, but larger jobs like cleaning my studio or cleaning out my fridge and kitchen cabinets....well, I just never have the time for them.  I'm just too busy!

I think you're beginning to get the picture.  Unfortunately, lately, I've been too busy to quilt.  You'd think that I'd put quilting on the "busy" side of things as opposed to the "lazy" and in the past that would have been true.  However, I've been busier on the design/art side of my life so my creative juices have been flowing in a different direction.  The "need" I've had to create with fabric is not as strong right now.  I've been through this before so I know it's only a matter of time before I'm knee deep in fabric scraps again and I'm looking forward to it.

Until then, I hope all of you are keeping those quilting fires burning for me. 

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why No Postings?

Hi Everyone!  Yes, once again I must be chastised for not posting more often.  I was doing so well there for a while but as is usually the case, things got away from me and I've neglected you guys.  Sorry!

I wish I could say I was on a cruise, or had just won the lottery, but it's just plain old day-to-day life that's been keeping me busy.  I was sick for so long, (I still have the stupid cough!), that I got so far behind on everything, not to mention that my energy level was so low that it was taking me twice the time to do anything because of all the stops and starts.

While I was sick a business opportunity presented itself and I've been working on that like crazy, when I can get to it!  It's on the graphics side of my world and although I can't get into it yet, one of my designs has shown up all over the internet and I'm getting some positive responses which just may lead to a profitable sideline.  Now, wouldn't that be marvy?

So between being sick and slow moving, I've been frantically trying to get this other gig going and still taking care of my husband and son, and the little dog too!

My quilting has taken a back seat, although I'm working on the Tufted Tweets quilt when I need a break from the laptop.  I actually got some fabric a couple of weeks ago and it's still in the box.  Now, that's busy!

Anyway, I just wanted to check in to let you know that I'm still alive and kind of kicking, (I'd be doing that better if I hadn't fallen down the bleachers at my son's basketball game on Saturday and twisted my foot...now that's a whole other story!).  Please continue to check in and I'll continue to blog when I can.

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day and have plans to enjoy the long weekend!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Days Long Gone

Wow, it's been a while since I posted last.  I was on such a roll a couple of weeks ago but the spate of illnesses haven't helped matters.  Just when I was getting over  my dose, my son got sick again!  It's one of those years.

The good thing is that it's sunny and clear out here in California.  I actually have the fan going in my office for the first time since October.  It's not unusual for us to have this kind of weather in February, (even January), but it usually doesn't last for more than a week.  At least I hope not!  The one thing old school Californians don't wish away is rain, we always need it.

I'm still struggling with the remnants of my flu a week ago.  The cough is lingering, like it always does.  I called the doctor, but they're so busy with really sick people that he gave me a list of symptoms to watch out for.  So far, so good.  I do tend to hang onto a cough for a while, so it will probably be gone soon.

In the meantime I've been trying to catch up on all of the housekeeping and other chores I let go when I was sick.   It's great to have the energy to tackle them, but it wears off fast.  I dream of the days when I could be sick one day and completely well the next.  Those days are long gone...

Speaking of days long gone.  My mother recently got a letter from a cousin of hers she hasn't seen in 70 years!  Isn't that amazing?  It's a fortunate circumstance because since my grandparents moved from Nebraska out to California when my mother was very small, she had little contact with her family.  Now, were getting all kinds of information as her cousin is working on the family geneaology.

This whole geneaology thing is so much fun.  I started doing one side of our family a few years ago and was able to confirm a lot of the stories my grandmother had told me, as well as make some new friends.  A very kind lady from New Jersey sent me some books she'd self published about our family, and there was a picture of my great grandmother, and great-great grandparents.  The amazing thing is that I looked a lot like my great grandmother when I was a child the same age. 

I also got an email from another lady who was researching another side of my family and it turned out that she was my father's second cousin, and she had inherited pictures of his family I'd never seen.  It was terrific to hear from her, and to see a great shot of my great grandfather with his father and brothers, taken in San Francisco in 1906, just 5 months after the great earthquake and fire.

I've been thinking about this even more lately as when I was putting some linens away I discovered some of my grandmother's quilts that I'd forgotten about.  They aren't spectacular pieces as my grandmother was a very practical woman.  She was a phenomenal seamstress, but wasn't really a "quilter."  I think she must have needed bedcovers so she made these.  The workmanship is great, but the fatric choices aren't the best.  I suspect that as thrifty as she was she probably used whatever she had on hand.  It's a reminder that for most of the time people have quilted, it was for warmth.  It hasn't been that long that we've been able to do it just for the beauty of it.

Aren't we lucky?

Happy Stitching!

Susan