Always in Stitches

Location: Algonquin, Illinois, United States

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Vying for Vim, Vigor and Verve

Today I am just plain tired and yet I have this need to get some work done. Of course there is that list I keep that is prodding my forwards. That silly list seems to talk to me.

“Look here” it begins. “Do you see items six through ten? Do you know how long they have been on this list? You are planning on doing something about this aren’t you? Today maybe?”

But today I am tired.

So right now the plan is another cup of coffee, a hot shower… then the list.

My June journal quilt I have simply called “Surfer Girl”.

I know just how frustrating it can be when you're tired and exhausted, but you still want to draw something. —Ward Jenkins

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a beautiful thanksgiving morning it is here. I know that you will all be taking a moment to think of the things that you are thankful for this year. I am thankful today because I will get to spend some time with my sewing machine. While it is not what some would wish for on this day, I know that it will make me extremely happy. And that is what I wish for all of my friends… one thing today that will make them extremely happy.

Today’s journal quilt is the one I did for the month of May. The first weekend in May is Derby Day. So here is Barbaro as I imagined him in the winner’s circle. Of course there had to be a woman in a hat. I am not quite sure which is more important on Derby Day… the horses or the hats.

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Today my feet are once more planted firmly upon the ground. I truly cherish the few days that I was able to soar among the clouds. Having a piece of my work included in the book has been indescribable. But now it is time to taxi that little plane into the hanger and start planning for the next sojourn into the clouds.

I had promise you all a report on the Greater Chicago Quilt Exposition and the Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit, so here it is however belatedly. I first have to preface my remarks by stating that this is the first year for the Exposition in this location, so I am hopeful the show management will be addressing some of these issues. The Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center is a brand new facility and physically getting to the location could not have been easier. The drawback was that I keep looking for signage telling me that I was headed for a Quilt show. There was none. Even as I pulled into the parking lot of the Convention Center there was no indication that I was even in the right place or which door I should enter.

Since I was scheduled to white glove and I was specifically looking for the Alzheimer’s Exhibit I grabbed the “Official Program Book”. I flipped to the map of the show floor, which I found to be difficult to read but eventually I found my way back to the exhibit.

I have a quilt showing with this exhibit and I was quite thrilled that it was the first quilt that I saw when I located the exhibit. Finally, I knew that I was in the right place. Because I was white gloving I had the opportunity to really observe how people viewed the exhibit. The largest issue by far was the configuration of the pipe and drape that was set up by the show management. Because it resembled the configuration of the World Quilt Competition that was installed just in front of the Alzheimer’s Exhibit many people did not realize that these quilts were in any way different. People who specifically wanted to view the Alzheimer’s Exhibit were confused. Numerous times I was asked which quilts were part of the exhibit.

I know from talking to Ami Simms, the curator of the exhibit, that day that she has a specific order in hanging the quilts so that the quilts begin to tell a story that has a beginning middle and an end. That story was not easily discernable. Working with the set up that she was giving I think that Ami did the best that could be done. Those constraints made viewing the exhibit a bit of a disappointment.

The quilts themselves and the artist statements that accompany them are moving, sad humorous, poignant and above all touching. One woman wept continually as she viewed the quilts. When I asked her if she knew someone who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I was taken aback when she said “no”. She explained that she had heard of Alzheimer’s but that she had no idea of the ramifications of the diagnosis.

Despite the drawbacks of the installation the quilts still managed to touch those who viewed them. My advice is, if you can see the exhibit in person, do so, and by all means purchase the CD. The CD contains an overall and a detail photo of each quilt included it the exhibit. The best part is that Ami has managed to include audio so that you can hear each artist describing their quilt as you view the images. You can buy the CD online at Ami’s site.

For your viewing pleasure I have included my April Journal Quilt. This one is titled “April’s Shower”.

A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner, neither do uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify for usefulness and happiness. The storms of adversity, like those of the ocean, rouse the faculties, and excite the invention, prudence, skill and fortitude or the voyager. The martyrs of ancient times, in bracing their minds to outward calamities, acquired a loftiness of purpose and a moral heroism worth a lifetime of softness and security. —Author Unknown

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It’s Here!

I have been standing next to the mailbox impatiently shifting from one foot to the other waiting for the postman to deliver my new book. Now I remember what it felt like when I was a kid waiting for Santa to show up. Last evening when I came home the postman had finally delivered my package! I could hardly wait to get in the house and rip it out of the packaging. I flipped to the back of the book, quickly scanned the artist index and started flipping pages until I got to page 226. I nearly dropped the book from the shock! There it was. “On the Rocks” was there taking up the whole of page 226 almost as large as life itself!

I can’t describe the feeling. Somehow I didn’t dare believe that I was actually going to have the honor of having a piece included in this book full of the truly talented. Even when I had sent the piece off to be photographed some small part of my brain kept telling me that I was going to get a nice note saying something to the effect that they had made a mistake and they really couldn’t include my work. But there it was, in my hand-physical, tangible proof. And I kept going back to it again and again just to reassure myself that it was really there.

When I finally drift back to earth I fully intend to spend time with this book, really looking at each journal quilt that was selected and reading each and every artists statement. I hope you will feel compelled to buy the book! If you do just click on the cover and it will take you to the site where you can order your very own copy.

The next photo is not the one in the book but instead is my March 2006 Journal Quilt. This quilt has become a bit of a turning point for me. It is based loosely on my daughter and reflects the fact that every morning I was helping her to comb out and put up her hair for school.

She used to drag her mattress besides her low window and lie awake for a long while, vibrating with excitement, as a machine vibrates from speed. Life rushed in upon her through that window - or so it seemed. In reality, of course, life rushes from within, not from without. There is no work of art so big or so beautiful that is was not once all contained in some youthful body, like this one which lay on the floor in the moonlight, pulsing with ardor and anticipation. —Willa Cather

Saturday, November 11, 2006


This morning I have felt quite lethargic. I slept in. That is if you can call the eye-popping state of wakefulness that assaulted me at 4:30. Maybe I should have tried to go back to sleep, but I know that rarely works for me and so I have been dragging myself around the house. The first order of business was to make the coffee. I am on cup number three and I am still waiting for the caffeine to kick in.

Or maybe I am just conserving energy for the Greater Chicago Quilt Exposition. I will be there with the Alzheimer’s Quilts and to see the rest of the show of course. I really like attending these types of events. I always come away with a few new thoughts and ideas. And along with those new ideas I normally get a burst of energy and a desire to spend every moment creating new work. It should be a lot of fun. I promise to give you all a report.

In the interim I will leave you with a picture of my February Journal Quilt. I had been looking at the designs on Mexican tiles. While I like the designs the colors are a little over the top for me. So I got to thinking about what colors I would use if I were to create my own “Mexican” tile. The result was a bit of a surprise.

Thoughts give birth to a creative force that is neither elemental nor sidereal. Thoughts create a new heaven, a new firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow. When a man undertakes to create something, he establishes a new heaven, as it were and from it the work that he desires to create flows into him. For such is the immensity of man that he is greater than heaven and earth. —Philipus Aureolus Paracelsus

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I had begun this post last night but then just seamed to run out of steam. But then 4 am every morning makes for an early wake up call and when you add all of the activities that I have been trying to squeeze into a day I guess that is to be expected.

The Houston quilt show is now a fete accompli and I can now post my 2006 Journal quilts. I must say that I began the project this year with no real direction and no idea about what I wanted to create. I had a vague idea that I wanted each little piece to tell a story in some way and had even considered writing a short story about each piece. In fact I did start that process but as it goes with some things I ended up dropping the ball on that for now. It is still a thought that I would like to revisit.

January was a very bleak month and I wanted to try to convey something about having fortitude and being able to withstand the harshness of winter. In the course of my readings that month I came across the fact that the Japanese ascribe certain meanings to the symbols that they use in their art and that some symbols are use to specifically represent certain times or seasons of the year.

For example winter is often depicted by the use of the imagery of pine, bamboo and plum blossoms. Pine and bamboo both represent endurance. Pine also represents good luck, happiness and longevity. Bamboo imparts strength, nobility, purity, honesty and serious character. Part of the reasoning behind the symbolism is that pine and bamboo are two things that keep their color and leaves even in the harshest of winter weather.

The symbolisms of the plum blossoms are very special to me. They represent new hope and longevity. It seems that plums blossom on branches that have not yet put on their new leaves for spring. The imagery is that the plum has such confidence and hope for what is to come-Confidence and hope that the new blossoms will bear fruit in the coming year. How is that for beating the winter blues?

It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow. —Robert H. Goddard

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Superb Sunday

Much to my surprise today has ended up being very productive. So far I have managed to get two loads of dishes in and out of the dishwasher and scrubbed the counters and cabinets, I have finished six loads of laundry, loaded a quilt on the machine, did some fabric painting, went grocery shopping-a task I normally loath, replaced a button that fell off my blouse, got caught up on reading all of my email and fixed myself a nice dinner of seared ahi tuna with wild rice and lemon sauce. I guess the only thing that I am missing today was the wasabi. I live for days like today. Perhaps the tasks of today went so smoothly because the sun was shinning, or maybe it was only because the planets were properly aligned. Whatever the reason, today was a good day.

The quilt that I loaded on the machine today is a new one. I finished completing the top last weekend, but didn’t have a clue on how I was going to quilt. But a flash of inspiration came to me last night as I was falling asleep. Loading it was enough for today; I will start the actual quilting on it tomorrow.

Here is the last of the 2005 Journal quilts.

August left me feeling rather cold. Ho hum.

September was meant to imitate a tortoise shell. While I still see that influence there, every time I look at this piece I see joy. The placement of the shapes within the piece suggest an exuberance that wells up from deep inside of you and often comes as a surprise.

Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day's work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition. —Sir William Osler

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Two Fer

Well finally! I have been trying for hours to get these two pictures to upload to Blogger. I suppose that this is just one more example of the fact that persistence pays off.

There are lots of things going on in the quilt world. The 2006 Winners in Quilts: A World of Beauty have been announced and you can see pictures of them at the IQA link. How I wish I were Houston bound this week, but alas it was not meant to be. I had thought that this would be a wonderful year to attend, what with some of my work being included in the FFAC, the Show of Hands Exhibit, having a piece included in the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts which will be for sale and of course the Journal Quilt Project and the inclusion of one of my journal quilts in the new book "Creative Quilting: The Journal Quilt Project" which is due in to Houston any day now. But instead I am stuck in Chicago.

That is really ok because I have a dose of quilts coming to a convention hall near me soon. "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece" exhibit will be showing at the Greater Chicago Quilt Exposition in Schaumburg November 9-12. I will be there white gloving most of the weekend, but my “Official” time will be Saturday November 11 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. If you are in the area plan to stop by.

So this was my creation for the June 2005 journal quilts. It is fine for what it is, but it leaves me thinking…. So what?

And this is what the muse offered up for July of 2005. I actually like this one better in person than it shows in this photo and in some weird way I think it sort of works with the theme that I had going on. I really like the juxtaposition of the peachy orange color with the blue. I have more of the background fabric and I since I had used almost all of the floss that used to quilt this with I went out and bought more to match so that I can get a larger piece made up that is loosely based on this attempt. Everything that we do has something to teach us.

It has been my experience that one cannot, in any shape or form, depend on human relations for lasting reward. It is only work that truly satisfies. —Bette Davis