Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Craft Meme

Today at my Practical Design workshop, Marilyn asked us about the various fiber arts we've been involved with over our lives, and especially what we did first as kids. It was fascinating as we went around the room talking about the various crafts we'd explored and how we landed on quilting as an art form.

And that started me thinking that it's the perfect topic for a meme. (Ooh, I'm originating one!) If you want to play, just copy and paste the list below into your own blog entry, and BOLD the ones that you've done at some time in your life.

I'll bet we've all tried most of them. But maybe not.

So-- BOLD the items if you've done the activity MORE THAN THREE TIMES (that is, more than experimenting or making one thing and abandoning the craft...) And post here in the comments so I can go look at your blog to see what you've done!



Counted cross stitch

Tatting lace


Pot holder weaving (with those stretchy knit loop things)

Spool knitting

Finger knitting

Sewing on cardboard or plastic cards

Sewing adult women's clothing

Sewing men's clothing

Sewing children's clothing

Home decorating sewing (curtains, pillows, slipcovers, etc.)




Spinning yarn

Needle felting
Hmmm...haven't gotten to this yet but I have the supplies!

Wet felting
See above!

Lanyard weaving

Making doll clothes

Making dolls

Making stuffed animals

Liquid embroidery (remember THAT?!)

Basket weaving

Hand piecing fabric

Machine piecing fabric

Hand applique

Machine applique

Fusing fabric

Once was enough.

Making yarn pom-poms

Making yarn flowers (with a daisy maker)

Other fiber craft/art (specify)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pink Lemonade

I'm determined to finish some of the (ahem) many projects I've got going. So today, between loads of laundry, I got this small piece quilted and bound.

It's 18 x 22 inches.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Contemplating Clutter

When I was a kid, I saw a poster that said "A creative clutter is better than idle neatness." It pretty much summed up my attitude toward cleaning, and I quoted it to my mother from time to time when she'd comment on the state of my bedroom.

So it should come as no surprise that my home isn't immaculate. It's basically clean, over all, but housework isn't on the top of my list of priorities. The problem isn't really basic cleanliness. The problem is clutter.

Our regular clutter starts to drive me crazy when I've spent time in an uncluttered home. It's so peaceful to sit in a room where there isn't STUFF everywhere. I love going to visit my friends Pat and Janet, not just because they are wonderful women, but also because their homes are so ... inspiring. It makes me want to rush home and get stuff off of surfaces so I can sit and bask in the tidy calmness of it all.

So, now I'm back from a week in my aunt's very uncluttered home. She (like my mom -- her sister) were and are full-time housewives of the Donna Reed school. Keeping house WAS their job, and despite the retirement of their husbands, it still is. I remind myself that they no longer have kids living at home, with the resulting kid paraphanalia. They don't have dogs, and hence their kitchen floors aren't embellished with dog hair. They don't have other professional work, so they don't have to choose between tidying up the family room and seizing an hour to do a bit more legal research. They have hobbies but not (ahem) fabric-laden obsessions.

So I look around our house, feeling cranky and overwhelmed by all the papers and books and magazines and stuff everywhere. Somewhere, there has got to be a happy medium, yes? I feel a purge coming on...but I know myself well enough to know that it's so easy to waffle. That pile of Caroline's horse magazines? Perfect for Caroline's creative horse collages. Those books on the nightstand? I'll get rid of them as soon as I read them.... that pile over there? Warranty booklets for recent appliance purchases that have to be put away, notes with addresses that I need to add to my address book... photos to be added to the photo album drawer, Caroline's drawings for the "save forever" drawer...

Much of the stuff is there because it needs something done to it. So I'd best get DOing.

It makes me want to take a nap.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I've been gone...

... because I've been playing nurse for the last week.

My favorite auntie Carole had surgery a few weeks ago which led to a few complications, and when she called me to ask me to come stay for a few days, I couldn't refuse. She has three sons, all married to very nice women, but when it came down to needing help with showers and catheters in intimate places and such... well, let's just say I was honored to be among the people she'd feel comfortable with to handle that stuff.

So, I've had an odd week. I've been cooking a bit and cleaning (more than I clean my own house, really, to prevent my aunt from trying to jump up and dust) and just being around to field phone calls and keep an eye on my alzheimer's-ish uncle. During her rest times, I'd retreat to watch "Damages" on my Ipod or read my novel, so I got in some pleasant rest time too.

I feel like I've officially crossed the know, the one where you go from being a grown up with grown up family to the grown-up who needs to take care of grown up family? My folks are in great health, thank goodness.

My aunt is doing great and despite the weird health things we did a lot of laughing. I mean, what else can you do when one of the two of you is hauling around a bag of urine? We named it Herman. Get it? Pee Wee?

I got home last night, to warm hugs and kisses from husband and daughter. Now it's back to taking care of MY life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I''ve Been Watching

For the last several months I've been totally uninterested in what's on TV, but over the last few weeks I've had time to discover that there are some cool things worth watching.

I tuned in to see the first few episodes of Saving Grace, the new TNT show starring Holly Hunter. I like Holly Hunter in pretty much everything, which is what caused me to tune in...and although I was startled at first by the toughness of Holly Hunter's character and the explicitness of the show at certain moments, I'm hooked. Holly Hunter plays a cynical Oklahoma City police detective who is emotionally scarred by the death of her sister in the Oklahoma City bombing and who copes with her pain with drinking and sex and living a pretty wild life. At a particularly low moment in her life, an extremely unlikely angel appears... it's God's way of giving her a second chance, maybe. She's not religious, in fact she's pretty sacreligious, but she's trying to figure out how to reconcile what's happening to her. The show has depth and humor and great acting and intriguing drama. Definitely worth a watch. In my area, it's on Monday nights at 10pm... and it looks like you can watch episodes online for free here.

My sister mentioned that she'd tuned into watch Starter Wife with Deborah Messing earlier this summer, which was a 6-episode mini-series, and that she really liked it. I was regretting that I'd missed it after her report, when I discovered that all of the episodes are available on Itunes for download. So, I've watched 4 of the 6, and it's a hoot. Think Desperate Housewives, only smarter and wittier and with better acting. Deborah Messing plays Molly, wife of a big Hollywood studio exec who is figuring out who she is and how to cope in Hollywood once her husband dumps her for a young Brittney-esque pop star. The dialog is funny ("I've managed EVERYTHING for him all these years...and with PERFECT hair!") and the plot is taking some unexpected twists and turns. Judy Davis is in it too, a brittle, rich best friend. This is definitely great entertainment. And it looks like USA channel will run all of the episodes in a Starter Wife marathon on Wednesday, August 22. (You don't need an Ipod to watch Itunes shows, either. Itunes is a free download and then you can watch the show on your computer.)

During my weekend alone, I watched "Catch and Release" starring Jennifer Garner. A cute but not great girl movie. Perfect late night viewing/hand sewing accompaniement.

And okay, I'll confess that I was downright excited that Tori and Dean: Inn Love just started its second season. I know, I know, it's celeb-reality junk but it's fun junk. Their new baby looks just like Aaron Spelling! The same little round baldish head! And I'm pretty amused at how Tori Spelling has a funny sense of humor about herself, even while living the rich-girl-tries-to-figure-out-normal-life stuff. Running out of money? Business going broke? Hey! Time to go to London (with the nanny, of course) and stay in a luxury hotel.

Hmmm, maybe I'll watch Starter Wife, episode 5 tonight if I can stay awake...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Freeform fun

We now resume our regular programming ... I mean, work. Today is all about pleading fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract. And doing laundry.

Meanwhile, here are a few detail shots of my experiment with machine quilting and my first feathers. (You can click on each picture for a closer view.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Peace and Quiet, Day 3

My wandering family is due home shortly, so I've been tidying up the mess I've made of my office this weekend in my creative frenzy. What a lovely, peaceful bubble of time I've had. I'm eager to see husband and child and hear about their adventures (they've been in Sacramento, touring the capital and zoo and visiting family members) but gosh, the break has been fun.

So...those fun split squiggles have spawned a bunch of differerent projects and even more ideas. Yikes -- a series! I'm having so much fun with these.

Project #1 in the line started with my stitching black around the split squiggles. Immediately this had the effect of boxing in the spontaneous, free effect of the squiggle itself I was loving, so I decided to cut this one short and complete the idea in a small form.

This result is okay, I think. Not great, but it provided a fun exercise for me in taking something one direction and just exploring without worrying about greatness. I suspect machine quilting can perk this up a fair amount, so I'll get back to that another day.

Doing that made me realize that what I love about these squiggles IS the irregularity and spontaneity...and those nice messy painty edges get cut off if I try to piece them into something (at least this batch-- maybe I'll paint some spaced further apart so I can play with the piecing thing further). I decided I even like the messy edges of the black bits separating the halves... So here is the layout for the next piece, which will be on a field of solid white.

The best thing about this process for me is that I've just let myself play --something I don't ordinarily let myself do -- to explore "what happens if I do THIS to THAT." I have little bits that are already the seeds of future experiments. And I couldn't resist breaking out the tjanting to draw up another sheet of squiggles on the last piece of print cloth in my cupboard.

I've got so many ideas to explore...Gee, think I can talk R and C into going away next weekend?!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I could get used to all this free time. I love my family, but geez, it's amazing what I can get done when I'm not interrupted to deal with meals and laundry and other pesky matters.

So, a few days I painted a bunch of component parts...

And today I started cutting them up and stitching them back together.

I don't have a plan, but I'm having fun and loving how these are looking.

Who knows what'll happen tomorrow?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Home Alone

I am home alone for the weekend. It's a virtually unheard of event, and I am going to take full opportunity to have fun. Husband and child left this morning for some father-daughter special time, so I scurried around this morning doing chores so I was free to play.

And here's my first play project. I dyed this in my Carol Soderlund workshop in late May.

And I decided that it's the perfect opportunity to play with machine quilting. I mean, if it turns out badly, I won't be devastated. And all that splashy color will hide less than perfect stitching.

I decided to play with freeform feathers.

They're not perfect, but they sure add a fun texture.

Here's where I am now, with the pinky-red parts stitched.

I'm going to fill the yellow parts in with something different...don't know what yet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hiding those Knots

I've mentioned before that I'm trying various things to improve my starts and stops during machine quilting. It's not that I *can't* do it ... it's that I'm impatient and always looking for and easier way!

But I recently discovered a few visual aids that demonstrate the methods award-winning quilt artist Sharon Schamber uses:

Tying and Hiding the Knots

Tying and Hiding the Knots 2

Tying and Hiding the Knots 3 -- When the bobbin thread runs out

Tying and Hiding the Knots 4

Monday, August 06, 2007

Entertaining a bored child (and me, too)

A cool overcast morning... a bored kid... a mom tired of work at the computer... What to do???

Paint fabric, of course!

We put music on, set everything up on the kitchen table (along with lots of protecting plastic) and away we went. Caroline really got into it.

I had fun making component parts for a piece I have in mind... I am so enjoying the tjanting drawing experience!

By the way, those big plastic trays we're working on are wonderful items. I ordered them from Dick Blick Art Materials and they've come in handy for all sorts of dyeing, painting, and other messy projects.

We draped our wet pieces on the table on the patio to dry...

and by the time we finished, it was covered. What fun!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pink Lemonade

Since my workshop with Gerry Chase last weekend, I've had too much legal work to be able to play much...but I did manage to make one small, quick composition. Following Gerry's suggestions, I tore some of my painted pieces randomly and then worked to assemble a story with them.

I call this Pink Lemonade, because as I was working with the leafy pieces and the pink splashy ones, it made me think of a hot day and intense shadows and cool leafy places. It was a fun quick exercise and I really enjoyed working with fabric I'd created myself.

Now I think I'm seeing what these surface design-obsessed folks get into...

Dinner with FFC

Last night we had dinner at our neighbor Francis's place.

You might know him as Francis Ford Coppola.

Okay, he wasn't there. But we were in the presence of several other luminaries there.

On Friday nights, Coppola's newest winery "Rosso & Bianco" (formerly Chateau Souverain) in Geyserville has a fun, casual event. There's a farmer's market on the premises, live music, and you can sit on the patio and enjoy good wine and oven-fired pizza and foccacia and gaze at the vineyards.

So we met up with our friends Ann, Walt and Sarah and had a lovely time. We had delicious pizza...

And a bottle of Coppola's Syrah-Shiraz which was quite delicious.

We looked at vines, and at the girls running up and down while we adults sat lazily on the terrace.

Quite the perfect evening. We're thinking we're going to go back next friday.