Always in Stitches

Location: Algonquin, Illinois, United States

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rememberance Postcards

Sometimes decisions are easily made. That is what happened in my search for what to work on next and now I have another project done.

In the last year there seems to have been an increase in the number of family and friends who have had to battle cancer. This last week the number that have succumbed to this disease rose to four. Sending flowers somehow seems insufficient. Then events conspired, the planets aligned and in the text of a single email I knew what I wanted to do.

In April of 2005 Virginia Spiegel started a little project in hopes of raising $90 for the American Cancer Society by making and selling fabric postcards. With the help of a lot of donations, Karey Bresenhan, and a booth at International Quilt Festival in Houston this past November, Fiberart For A Cause has raised over $33,000 to date. The email I received was a reminder that Virginia is going to try this again at International Quilt Festival in Chicago, which will run April 7-9.

Here are the results.

I will be donating these to Fiberart For A Cause in remembrance of Doug Huff, Pat Huff, George Atwood and Richard Abbott.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Life seems to have intruded upon my creative time this week and that really stinks.

The good news is that January and February journal quilts are done, pictures have been taken and I have easily made my submission deadline (March 1). Once again I apologize that I can’t post those pictures here just now. You all will have to wait until the first part of November. I hope that you will think they are worth the wait.

Now the dilemma is what to work on next. There are plenty of choices, but I am thinking that I want to start one that I can easily finish by Monday, since it looks like I will be heading to South Bend on Tuesday for a funeral.

Decisions, decisions.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.--Anatole France

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tiny Voices and More Tiny Beads

I have been remiss in posting, mostly because I have been working. Here is the update.

January’s journal quilt is nearly done. All the paint is dry and I just need to finish up some of the hand stitching with the pretty floss colors that I found. This one was tedious but not too difficult. It has shaped up pretty much the way I thought it would. I am pleased.

February. Ah, February. For such a simple design it hasn’t been simple at all. One of the design elements that looked perfectly fine on paper, looked clunky in the actual execution. What I was seeing in my minds eye was much more delicate, but I couldn’t make it work and so I ended up engaged in some mindless activity. More about that in a minute.

With about a half a dozen false starts and some time NOT thinking about it, the problem finally resolved itself with some black rat-tail, a ton of tiny gold beads and a marathon handwork session. After the beading session with the gold leaf leaves, this was not something I wanted to do. Yet, I have to admit that I like the end results. Yep, this one is done. Now all that is left is to get a label attached and pull the paperwork together so I can make my submission deadline.

There always seems to be one or two projects that just don’t come together the way I see them. Quite some time ago, I had this great idea about working with some fall colors and the shape of a leaf. It was going to be great! It was horrible!!! An abomination! I felt a compelling need to throw the nasty mess in the trash where it belonged. But a tiny voice stayed my hand and it was tossed irreverently in the corner along with some snide comment about just having to toss it in the garbage when I came across it in six months time.

Fast forward to June of last year. I was digging around for something when a corner of the abomination happened to catch my eye. The portion sticking out of the pile was intriguing. Before I really knew what I was doing I had yanked it out of the pile and ran from the room with this thing flapping behind me like Superman’s cape. Suddenly, my rotary cutter was in my hand and I had hacked off the piece that was to become my June journal quilt.

The abomination now with a gaping hole, was destined for the great landfill in the sky. The tiny voice said “no”.

“What?” All right I had listened once and now something kind of cool had come of it, but now there was no reason not to put the thing in the trash. I was resolute, but the tiny voice would not be swayed and back into the pile it went. So why am I telling this story? Remember that mindless activity?

There is still a largish piece left. This time I didn’t argue about keeping it.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.--Scott Adams

Monday, February 13, 2006

Paint Dries Slowly

Work is progressing on the two journal quilts. But somewhere in my addled brain I had forgotten that paint dries slowly. My “technique” with painting on fabric is that I work by wetting the fabric itself and cut the paint with a little water as well… wet into wet. I also tend to add a little color, let it dry and then go back in and add more color and repeat the process until the magic moment arrives and it is done.

Then there were the little distractions, like noticing the blood dripping down my hand. I knew that I had banged my hand into a sharp corner, even said ouch. It was quite disconcerting to realize that I had somehow managed to nick a bleeder. To add insult to the injury once it was bandaged up, that is when it started to hurt. Oh, and then because my other hand did not want to feel left out, there was the run in with the hot metal rack in the oven. I was attempting to use a hot pad, it slipped, I pushed, burnt hand.

Both were very minor injuries (can barely see the burn mark on my hand this morning) but it is amazing how such minor things can impede our work.

Sorry no pictures today. Thought I would spare you the gory details.

“We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are.”-- Tobias Wolff

Friday, February 10, 2006

Through with the Flu

First I want to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to look at this new blog. And for those of you who have left comments, well thank you hardly seems like enough. It means so much to know that I am not out here talking to myself. You know I hear that they put people in nice padded rooms when they talk to themselves.

Secondly, I really had intended on posting on Wednesday, but someone brought the flu home. The worst part is that they shared it with me!!! ICK!!

While I lay in bed sleeping and feeling horrid, I dreamed of all the things that I want to do. I had the basic idea of what I wanted to do for my January journal quilt, but the whole thing seemed to come into sharp focus as I slept. February’s design came without much thought at all. When I finally felt like sitting up in bed I managed to finish both sketches. I have since decided to make a minor modification to February. The sad part is that the rules of this game say that I can’t share this stuff with you until they are on display in Houston the first of November.

But after thinking about it a bit I realized that there is nothing against showing you the raw materials that will go into each piece.

Probably the only thing that I am unsure of here is the floss. I think I will take a trip and see if I can’t find some silks in some better colors. While I really like the browns, I wish the red/burgundy leaned more toward plum. Yes that is paint in the picture; I will be painting the white fabric in the shot.

This color pallet really speaks to me. Sorry there is nothing here but fabric but the design for this one really doesn’t need anything more.

Nothing left now but the doing. With a little determination I should have them done by the end of the weekend.

"A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline."- Harvey Mackay

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tiny Little Things

In the last couple of days I have been attempting to push forward with my work while at the same time trying to finish off some things that have been languishing. Getting back to work after the last year is akin to walking a tightrope. Pushing too hard to get something/anything done seems only to result in a huge ball of frustration and the urge to throw everything in the trash. Working at the pace with which my “muse” feels comfortable leads to a different sort of frustration.

And so I walk the tightrope. Each day taking a tiny step forward, hoping that I am headed in the right direction and that the next step won’t find me falling with the world in a kaleidoscopic swirl around me. Tiny steps have a lot in common with tiny beads.

My traveling journal came home some time ago, but I didn’t even take it out of its shipping box until last week. When I did, I discovered that I really needed to finish doing the beading around the gold-leaf leaves on the inside of the front and back covers.

Gold-Leaf Leaves.

The square here measures 6”x 6”. That translates into a lot of little beads. At least now they are done.

Then in an effort to clean off my ironing board I stumbled upon a bunch of little triangles that were the cast-offs of some long forgotten project. “Muse,” said to me, “You really need to sew them together”. And so I complied.

Half-Square Triangles.

After squaring these up they measure 1-1/2” so when they are all sewn into something they will finish to 1” square. Please don’t ask me what I am going to make with them… I haven’t been let in on that little secret yet!

I am beginning to think that someone is having a lot of fun at my expense.

"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."-- Mother Teresa

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A blog! Well here we go with the first post. You know I have been intending to start this for quite some time now. But 2005 was just so overwhelming on so many levels. It even seemed to have consumed some of 2006.

Or maybe I am just on Chinese New Year. Hey! I like that idea. I am not a month behind; I am just on a different calendar than most of you. Anyway the whole idea behind this blog is to try to keep me focused on doing my art. Does that sound a little pretentious? I am not sure. Perhaps it is like putting on a new pair of shoes, it just takes a while for them to become comfy.

The work. I was going through journal quilts and taking pictures anyway. Below is a picture of a piece.

This started out life as I was drawing a nude in my journal from one of my drawing books or magazines. As I was drawing the back of this woman I began to think of some of the old movies where the leading lady always wore these sumptuous gowns. Breakfast at Tiffany’s comes to mind. Since I was looking for something to make for that month for my journal quilts, she came into existence. Unfortunately, she did not make my cut to be included with the other journals that were submitted to Houston. There is something about her that I really like. So much so that I am thinking of doing a series! Now there is something that I have never done before.

Watch this spot. I promise more.

“He's no failure. He's not dead yet.”-- William Lloyd George

May 2005