Monday, December 02, 2013
Hello, blog friends! Here it is December already and it seems that everyone around me is swinging into Christmas preparation in high gear. Me, I'm puttering along but I'm enjoying this slide into the holiday season.
But look -- there's a quilt up there! Miss C's beloved horseback riding teacher had a baby recently, so I made this for Baby Monica. It's from a pattern called "My Song" and I can recommend it as a good project for large-ish scraps. (You can get the pattern here, in case you fall in love with it as I did.)
This was my first experience using Minkee on the back of a quilt and it went smoothly. There was a lot of drag during the quilting process -- I've read one of those Slider things on the quilt bed surface works well, or silicone spray. But, having neither of those handy, I muscled my way through. And gosh, it's soft. I took it as a compliment when Baby Monica immediately tried to suck on it.
I swear I smell baby powder when I look at this quilt. Is it just me?
Friday, November 01, 2013
I just finished reading this book -- "Mud Season," by Ellen Stimson, about a woman and her family who pick up and move to Vermont to find the ideal small town, back-to-nature lifestyle. I adored it, not the least because this is the time of year when I am sorely missing New Hampshire.
I moved to New Hampshire fresh out of law school. Although job interviewers seemed baffled at my interest in moving to a place when I had never lived there before and didn't know anyone, it made perfect sense to me. I'd thought carefully about what I wanted in a lifestyle: I wanted to live in a small town, but be close to a big city. I wanted to be close enough to the ocean to see it from time to time, I wanted to be near the mountains, and I wanted to have regular snow in the winter. I figured that I had family in California, and it'd be easy to move back -- but it was a good time to try living somewhere else. I found what seemed like the ideal little law firm in Concord, New Hampshire, and off I went.
Look, there's where I worked, on Capital Street, just across the street from the State Capitol. Concord was perfect for me -- small enough to feel friendly and manageable, with a good legal community and welcoming people. It was 90 minutes from Boston and Cambridge, and I spent a lot of time exploring those areas, too. After a few years, I moved to a wonderful little village just outside of Concord called Hopkinton. It was the quintessential New England village. White-steepled church? check.
Little country store? Check. I loved the Cracker Barrel. I used to see former Supreme Court Justice David Souter there. And once I locked the keys in my car in the parking lot. The store owner, Dave, asked me if I had a spare at home. Yep, I replied. He tossed me his keys -- "Take my car and go get your spare," he said.
I lived in a wood-panelled, book-shelf lined apartment on the top floor of an old house, and loved that apartment. The scenic town hall was just up the road, and I went there to vote and attend meetings and the occasional craft fair.
But fall, oh, the fall. It was as pretty as you see in the pictures.
Fall always meant a visit --or two, or three -- to Gould Hill Farm, a wonderful local apple orchard with a farm store that sold fresh-pressed cider, heavenly pies, apple butter, and other autumn delights. I see from their website that they now have a CSA program -- I wonder if they deliver to California?
It's 70-something degrees here as I write this, and I know I really can't complain about living in the beauty that is California's wine country. But at this time of year, what I really want to do is stroll down Hopkinton's main street, wander a bit through the old cemetery there, and then head in for some hot cider.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Some of you might know (in the blogging universe sort of way) my friend Helen from the UK. She's one of the Twelves, as well as the author of various blogs (From Down the Well, Plan Create Succeed) and we write the blog Tea and Talk for Two together (Well, we have, but we're behind, and we will again. Another story.)
Anyway. Here's Helen. And I have this picture of her looking rather contemplative (or perhaps tired and hungry because this was during our lunch break on a big shopping day) because until a few days ago, she was right here visiting me. And what a lovely time we had.
It's kind of amazing how you can meet someone online -- through a blog or group -- and really get to know them, so that by the time you meet in person you are already fast friends. I don't think that people who do not interact with online friends understand this (in fact, they look at you rather oddly when you say you met someone online, have you noticed?) This was not our first time getting together in person, so we knew that we have a real and not just virtual friendship. But because we live so far apart, time together feels miraculous and precious.
Our time was packed with fun things, but I what I want to share today was a stop at a charming bakery. Helen is an avid baker and I am an avid appreciator of baked goods, so when Helen suggested that we seek out the Wild Flour Bakery on our way out to the coast, I readily agreed.
It's in the little town of Freestone, between Sebastopol and Bodega Bay. Look at these cool doors -- perfect for a rustic, brick oven bakery, yes?
There was a long line of people inside, but waiting gave us time to read the menu and drool over the options.
When you get up to the counter, you can see the gorgeous array of baked goods.
We bought bread for a picnic by the ocean, and some bread to put in the freezer for future eating, and some scones for later in the afternoon with tea or coffee, and some scones for the next morning, and some for the freezer... Suffice it to say that the bread and scones were yummy and the car smelled deliciously of bread for the rest of the day.
There was a charming garden around the back of the bakery where we were invited to wander.
I especially liked this door to the orchard.
From there, we continued to Bodega Bay where I introduced Helen to the funky, Alfred Hitchcock-Birds themed general store, then on to a point overlooking the ocean where we ate our picnic lunch. We shivered a bit then headed inland just a mile to find sunshine and warmth and hot coffee. We poked around shops, visited several artist studios (having the good fortune to be making the trip on an Art Trails open studio day), and came home bread-laden and contented.
Even though Helen left a few days ago, I'm still basking in the pleasure of that visit. Yesterday, I pulled out these very photos and painted a page in my sketchbook to commemorate the day.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Thursday, October 03, 2013
I was delighted when I learned that my friend Sarah Ann Smith was making a video workshop for the folks at Quilting Arts Workshops, because Sarah is a talented art quilter and very creative in her approach to her art. I've admired her work for a long time, and I was excited to see her process. I offered to participate in her blog hop to announce this great video workshop, because I knew that I'd want to share it with you all. The video workshop is available in both DVD and digital download formats -- either way, once you have it, you can watch it again and again.
What a terrific workshop this is, jam-packed with good information. When I sat down to watch it, I was thinking of a friend of mine who is a novice quilter, just starting out to try original designed art quilts. So as Sarah explained in clear detail what she uses, how she approaches design, and how the technique works, I was very impressed and thought it'd be an ideal workshop for someone relatively new to art quilting. But as I watched, I was surprised at how many good tips I learned in this, too. Even experienced art quilters will enjoy and learn from this workshop.
In the workshop, Sarah covers:
* What supplies she uses (in specific detail), and most imporantly, WHY she uses what she does
* How to choose fabrics, including a great section on using colored pencils and fabric paints to stretch your fabric stash
* Great tips on working with fusibles
* Tips on color and composition choices, and the importance of contrast
* How to choose a photo to translate into fabric
* Working with thread and choosing thread colors
* Thread painting
Being a somewhat less-than-precise quilt artist myself, I especially appreciated Sarah's encouraging approach to just making it work, even showing how cutting "blob" shapes may work just as well as precise pattern pieces. She's my kind of quilter!
To enter, leave a comment here and provide your email address. You have until midnight (PST) on Wednesday, October 9 to leave a comment, and I will randomly draw a winner on Thursday, October 10.
If you don't win it here, you will have other opportunities by going to the following blogs on the designated days. And if don't happen to win it, you can buy it via the Quilting Arts store or from Sarah's website. Good luck! I know you will love owning this DVD.
October 5: Sarah Ann Smith http://www.sarahannsmith.com/weblog
November 14: Marie Johansen http://www.musingcrowdesigns.com/
November 16: Brenda Gael Smith http://serendipitypatchwork.com.au/blog/
November 19: Jaye Lapachet http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/
November 21: Susan Brubaker Knapp http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/
November 23: Lisa Walton http://www.fibreinspirations.blogspot.com/
November 26: Daphne Greig http://daphnegreig.blogspot.com/
November 28: Sarah Ann Smith http://www.sarahannsmith.com/weblog
Sunday, September 22, 2013
I had a lovely day yesterday. Over the last year, I've been helping my friend Paula learn to quilt. Well, I helped her with her first two, which were for twin grandbabies. Since then, I haven't done anything other than marvel in delight and amazement at how eagerly she has taken to it. She's made about a quilt a month since then, and has recently completed a small art quilt which just floored me with its delicate artistry and beautiful stitching. It's always fun to share the love of quilting and recruit a new member to the club -- but it's been truly inspiring to see how her excitement has led her so far so fast.
And yesterday, Paula invited me to join her for a sewing day at her sister-in-law's house. So I met Marge, another sister-in-law Pat, and several other very nice women, and we sat together visiting and working on our respective projects. Quilters are such nice people -- I heard it said often, but it's true. And quilting with others is enriching on so many levels. I love feeling the echo of women through the years, working with fabric together.
Marge hosted our get-together in the barn on her property. (That is not it above; that's an old barn I drive by frequently and love for its elegant aging.) Her barn is really a modern workshop, built for her husband's garage and workshop activities some years back, but clean and bright and suitable for all sorts of purposes. It was a warm but rainy day yesterday, so we had the big garage-type door open and had the pleasant sense of enjoying the outdoors without being outdoors. Marge had laid down carpet remnants and set up big tables and it was perfect.
I know I'm lucky to have a dedicated bedroom to use for quilting, so I can make my messes and leave it all there in progress when I need to turn my attention to something else. But gosh, I get such a thrill when I see the big spaces that some folks have for their work -- basements or full attic spaces or, yes, barns.
So I am thinking today that I need a barn. Maybe my garage has a new life ahead for itself. Who knows?!
Thursday, September 05, 2013
If you happen to be anywhere near Des Moines, Iowa between October 2nd and 5th this year, you can see the Twelve by Twelve "Colorplay" series of quilts -- all 144 of them! Look, there's the pink and blue sets (and can you guess who chose the pink theme?! Hee hee hee.) The collection will be at the AQS Quilt Week at the Iowa Events Center.
Oh yeah, and there will be about 1600 other quilts for you to see there, too. You can find out all about the show here.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
When I started my blog 9 years ago, and named it "Going to Pieces," I never realized how appropriate that name would be. At the time, I was thinking about how many things I juggled as a working mom and wife and quilter and artist. I'd started the blog to talk mainly about quilting, and of course "pieces" seemed perfect for the bits of fabric and thread that surrounded me and the bits of time I used to cram creative play into my day.
Nowadays, "going to pieces" is appropriate in ways I'd never have anticipated. I've had some big life changes, the biggest of which has been separation from my husband of 20 years. My daughter is 17, with needs far different from those she had when she was a kid in elementary school. A lot of elements in my life -- legal work, creative work with fabric, home-keeping -- are still there. But a lot of pieces have changed, too. Over the life of this blog, I learned about Miss C's Asperger's syndrome, I got a puppy (now a still-rambunctious adult dog), I started singing in the community chorus, I've learned a lot about drawing and watercolor painting, and I've made some wonderful new friends. There are core things in my life that are the same, and there are core things that have changed.
So the quilting metaphor of life as a jumble of pieces continues to be amazingly apt. The pieces aren't what I thought I'd be working with. Some have frayed. New pieces have been introduced. And every day is about taking the pieces I have and appreciating the pleasure of putting them together into something beautiful. I've even been thinking about how my own whims about what I'm in the mood to sew on any given day -- a simple, pieced functional quilt, or a complicated original art quilt -- provides an appropriate metaphor for how I feel about other aspects of my life. Some days it feels like doing one simple thing is all I can manage. Other days, I feel ready and able to tackle a big, new look at an original design.
I even think that the inside of my brain feels like the way my sewing room looks. Bits of different things all over the place, lots of things in progress. Sometimes I can get it all organized, and at other times it feels like I'm lost in the mess.
My blogging has been wildly erratic. Well, most things in my life right now feel rather erratic, really. But that's okay. I'm learning that happiness is about finding the pieces of joy and contentment and connection and friendship and truth and seeing that they are coming together to make a picture that pleases me right now. You know how sometimes a piece of ugly fabric or a bit of an odd color can provide just the right touch of uniqueness to a quilt? I'm thinking that's a relevant metaphor too. Those weird, ugly bits are part of the quilt that make the bright colors sing and make the whole thing mine.
I could go on an on about quilting metaphors for life lessons. But I'm thinking right now that "going to pieces" isn't just about coming apart, it's about putting pieces together. That's what I'm doing these days.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I finished this simple quilt recently and sent it off to a special friend for her birthday. It's always so gratifying to finish a quilt! It's partly why I like sewing on quilt bindings -- it's the signal that I'm almost done, and I can relax with hand-sewing in front of the tv. This quilt binding's accompaniment was a few episodes of Masterpiece Theater's "Mr. Selfridge" which I'd recorded but not seen.
This is a jelly roll race quilt -- if you've not made one, you might give it a try as they are very fun. You can watch a tutorial here if you want the details on how to do one. You don't even need an actual jelly roll -- just a whole bunch of 2.5 inch strips of fabrics you like.
Even without any border or added fabric, it makes a perfect lap sized cuddle quilt. I'm happy to report that my friend has received it and seems quite delighted.