Wednesday Words – Pushing past fear

I’m happy with the reaction that I got to the series I’m doing on bright spots in the industry, but today I want to pause that for a second.  There’s more to come (!) on the series, and I’ll come back to that next week.

This blog post is going in a completely different direction, and it circles back to an earlier post I did about Shifts happening – you can read that post here.  This week is the Vermont Quilt Festival, and it’s a show I am consistent about entering quilts in – I even have (truth be told) a spreadsheet in which I keep track of the judges scores and comments for entries over the years, and I can definitely see an upward trend in my pieces on technical skills.  I actually love reading the scores and the commentary that they give me – it’s like a report card of sorts.  I like being scored against a standard .

Meet Garden Party, my entry into this year’s show.  It’s definitely outside of my normal type of quilt…it’s collage-y in nature, and the inspiration came strictly from the fabric, Kaffe Fassett’s Brassica.  I’ve had this fabric – and loved it – for several years.  I’ve even got it in two colorways, as the picture at the left will show.  I just always thought that the fabric would lend itself to this kind of application, and I do love it.

This quilt, however, languished for a long time on the design wall. It’s one time I broke my own (very good rule) to never enter something that isn’t finished into a show.  Every time I break the rule, I remember why I made it in the first place.

The reason it languished was the quilting…and that’s a wildcard here. I even brought it on retreat with me, where I ‘danced around the issue’ but never got around to quilting it. I had a very specific idea in what I wanted to do with it, and I was terrified that I would ruin it.

That fear cost me several weeks – I just worked around it, rather than through it. It got so big that I even thought of withdrawing it from the show – oh you would have been amazed at the mental gymnastics I went through with it.

When I was ready, I just sat down and said – well, don’t ruin it. You know what to do, now DO IT.

And I did – on a practice piece. I worked the kinks out, settled on a few floral motifs and worked them out…and then just did it.  I have to admit, Mike popped in at one point (as I was rounding a corner), and his “You did that??” told me that I was on the right track.  I have no idea what the response from the judges will be, but I made this one for me.

I think this has taught me that there is wisdom in the old adage that you should do 3 things every day that scare you.

Time to go get scared –  more from Vermont to come!

 

Wednesday Words – Not All the News is Bad (Part 3 – After Market sources)

Welcome back to part 3 in the series “Not All the News is Bad”…my take on some bright spots in the fabric industry.  Part one (the link is here) of the series allowed me to explore some of the bright spots in fabric consumption/production… highlights being Jafftex’s purchase of Free spirit, and the purchase of Keepsake Quilting by Steelcity LLC.

Part two gave us guest blogger Beth Ditkoff’s perspectice of living within a self imposed fabric embargo – you can link to that part of the series here.  Beth’s move to her retirement home, coupled with the amount of fabric and UFOs she moved, gave rise to a year of working with what you have…

My premise in this series (based on opinion, and reading tea leaves such as they are – is that we ALL shop

Linda’s yardage stash, circa 2018

faster than we sew.  But with wonderful choices the fabric industry has given us, there is just an oversupply of goods.  I am sewing more now than I was when I was accumulating my stash, but I’m using a lot more of what I have. Here’s why…

This is  my stash, accumulated lovingly over the course of my quilitng career…or most of it. You don’t see what’s hiding in bins, in boxes and in my closet in the UFOs that I have. this is yardage and fat quarters,  which is the lions share of what I have.  It’s a beautiful stash, and I have loved, fondled and petted it for years – i think the technical term is curated.  And for those of you with eagle eyes…the ‘bolts’ on top of the shelving units (there’s another one hidden from view which is books), aren’t full bolts at all – they’re just big cuts of fabrics that I have for backings, and that was the easiest way to store things.

At my rate of sewing, I’ll be set for fabric for two lifelines – and I’ve seen some fabric stashes on Pinterest and websites which make me look like a definite lightweight.  Keeping the fabrics organized like this allow me to truly see what I have – and I have plenty.  Unless it’s plum…that seems to be a small hole in my color wheel.

Now you know where my bias comes from – I love seeing what’s coming out in the shops, and online – and if I get a commission to work with a fabric line, I’m not going to turn it down.  Because, fabric.   But I’ve also become aware of a phenomenon in my circle of friends and guildmates…what happens to our stash when we depart this life?  How do those left behind deal with it?

The After market in the subject line of the blog comes from yard sales, destashes, estate sales, I’ll never sew all of this sales, free tables at guild meetings, you name it.  Quilters today have more options available to them to purchase ‘quilt shop quality’ fabrics – some vintage, some even new! – than just the traditional shops, and I think that shop owners need to recognize this factor.   I’ve also seen messages from quilters who are working through their unfinished projects, and need a particular swatch of a given fabric – it’s amazing the level of detail you can find with a good photo.

I’ve been contacted several times in the past year (as have several of my quilter friends) by people who need to liquidate stashes for family members who have passed, or who have moved into assisted living facilities and can’t take it with them.  If you’re not a quilter, there’s no understanding of the real value of the machines, fabrics, notions which we have accumulated – remember the cartoon about my husband selling the items for what I told them it cost? That’s another blog post.

I’d love to know about what your plans are to pass along your stash – do you have plans?

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Words – Not All The News is Bad (P. 2 Tales from the Inside)

Welcome back to the blog. In this entry, I’m going to give you all a brief update on some of the news that has come to light since the first installment in the series, and then I will turn the blog over to Beth Ditkoff, who is guest blogging for me. Beth isn’t a regular blogger, but a friend of mine who has spent a year on a fabric diet, sewing primarily from her stash.  She provided her insights on this process as a favor to me.

So…some updates:

I never made it to the Keepsake Quilting annual sale last week…I was tempted (and the pictures posted online didn’t help), but I was headed out of town for a personal weekend on Friday, and something had to give.  This morning, on their Facebook page…they announced a warehouse sale (something I’ve never seen done before) on August 23-25th. That one is already in my calendar.

This next update comes via Timna Tarr’s facebook page, concerning the reopening of Valley Fabrics via an article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette.   There’s a nice bit of background behind the story of a reopening of a shop that has been gone a while, and the differences between the shop then and now.

The last update is an additional resource I was to point you towards for Jefftex and Scott Fortunoff.  Scott has been blogging for  a while, and he has a website that he uses to archive the blog posts at www.scottfortunoff.com.  The blog posts cover a wide range of topics, including his efforts to revitalize the sewing industry in a program called #sewrevolution, and more.

Now, onto Part 2 of the series – from Beth Ditkoff…

 

SURVIVING A FABRIC EMBARGO

I found my passion for quilting in the late 1990s. When my husband and I retired in

2016, we followed our dream and moved to Maine. In anticipation of that event, I

“stocked up” knowing that we’d be living on a fixed income. Plus, we’d agreed

upon a budget for my quilting needs. It was and is a fair amount and I generally

did well sticking to it.

First we packed and moved to Maine. I sort of unpacked into my quilting-space-tobe.

Then I packed the space up again while my space received power, lights,

sheet rock, flooring and paint. The room is sunny and bright, and I was quilting

quite happily and prolifically until I realized I kept losing things. Tools, project parts,

you know the drill.

I gradually became aware that using cast off shelves or plastic bins with no larger

organizational plan in place was making me nuts. To improve that, I hired a friend/

handyman. Packing happened again. Shelving was built to fit the space and my

needs. I unpacked yet again and I was finally ready to go. I have a beautiful

sewing room, built to my specifications and I’m a very happy girl.

 

Beth’s studio shelving – new

 

However (there’s always a however) with all of the packing and unpacking and

moving things and losing things, I got more than one really good look at My Stash.

My Stash consists of various parts, mainly in three categories:

  1. Projects in a Box – I have all the parts and have not started the quilt.
  2. Projects in Progress – generally each in its own tote.
  3. The Other Stuff – yardage, collections of things like Civil War Reproduction

prints, Fat Quarters, pre-cuts, plastic totes with scraps cut into set sizes, the

large scrap basket, and more.

Handling all that fabric over and over again made me have an epiphany: it’s too

much. I’ll never use it all. I spent good money on this, I should use what I have

before I buy anything more. And so began The Fabric Embargo. No buying fabric

for a year. My friends thought I’d lost my marbles.

My Embargo started in early April 2017. I allowed myself to buy fabric only if I

needed it to finish an ongoing project – borders and backing primarily. I received a

couple of commissions and bought fabric for those. But otherwise I stuck to

patterns and notions. Really, I really did. Almost.

I did buy a Layer Cake at an auction in Williamsburg, VA. I also bought one yard of

sale fabric from my favorite store. It was $4. It had cute birds on it. But that was it.

I did it, for an entire year. Success was mine. However (another however) My

Stash really didn’t look much smaller. How did that happen?

So I’ve decided to continue my Embargo for another year, but a bit more loosely.

Maine has a state wide Shop Hop every April, with 30 shops participating and lots

of freebies and prizes. I visited only 10 stores, but I did tumble off the wagon a bit.

There’s a jacket pattern I’ve been eyeing for months, so I bought all I needed from

one shop. I bought way too many patterns, another piece of cute bird fabric, and

little bits here and there. We all need to support those Local Quilt Shops, right?

I’m going to try to remain focused, and be really critical of my purchases. Do I

really need it? Is there something in my stash I could use instead? Does this

purchase have a project or plan behind it, or is it just more of something I already

have?

Beth Ditkoff’s work station

 

I’m going to try to use what I have, not buy any more patterns, and make wise

decisions. We’ll see how that goes, and where I am next April. Until then, please

hide all the cute bird fabric.

 

Beth’s working fabric stash

Thank you, Beth for giving us your prespective on what it’s like to work inside a (self imposed) fabric embargo.

Please come back next week to join us when we look at the other side of the equation – stash planning?

Wednesday Words – Not all the News is Bad – Blog post Series

Happy Wednesday. There’s been a lot of  publicity and news lately about the state of the quilting industry, and a lot of the news is negative. I know that’s a shock, but work with me here.  Shops are closing all over, and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that quilters are pulling back.  While I certainly see the same things that everyone else does, I also see signs of strength and growth in certain pockets (at least here in New England). I’m going to be looking at that side of things  from my perspective in the next several weeks of blog posts, which I call Not All the News is bad.

I’ve watched the news, the emails, the items coming out in social media for the better part of two and a half years, and I’ve seen the notices of shops closing.  And let me start this off with a couple of disclaimers – one, this is my personal opinion, research and observation – this isn’t a sponsored post, and I have no inside information to share (sorry). I am absolutely lucky to have some great friends to call on when needed, but this is me attempting to read the tea leaves.

Two, I admit to having been a quilter for 25 years at least, and while I can shop with the best of them when I am inspired to buy fabric – I haven’t done major fabric purchases for a while now.  It’s partly space issues here, it’s partly because I haven’t been wowed for a long time – trust me, when I saw the Hoffman Orange dream big panel, I pounced.  But here’s the crux of it…I shop a lot faster than I sew (and that’s not changing anytime soon).

I began building my stash as I began quilting – and that coincided with the quilting renaissance. And I always have been a round up to the nearest yard shopper, so my stash is plentiful.  I sew in a room where it’s organized, it’s pretty, it’s color coded – and really, other than solids to go along with my contemporary aesthetic…I’m mostly in a ‘maintenance’ mode unless something comes along that I have to have…and even then, I think about it.

With customers like me (and my counterparts)…is it any wonder that shops are feeling the pinch? That would be the narrative that a lot of us have been hearing…and yet consider these facts:

Earlier this year, on Feb 12,  the quilt world was shocked when overnight, Coats ,  the worlds leading industrial thread company (yes, Coats & Clark thread) announced that effective immediately, they were shuttering both Free Spirit Fabrics and Westminster Fabrics.  Those two entities were the creative home of Tula Pink, Kaffe Fassett, and a whole host of lesser known designers and fabric lines.  Tula Pink and Kaffe Fassett are two of the hottest names in the quilting industry, and if they were gone (with no notice), what did that mean for the rest of us?  A company shuttering that abruptly usually means a company specific problem, not an across the board softening of demand.  Shortly after that, Scott Fortunoff  of Jafftex made an announcement that Jafftex intended to purchase both Free Spirit and Westminster, and that sale closed at the end of April.

Jafftex as a company is a multi generational privately owned entity. Scott’s blog is titled Tales of a Fourth Generation Fabric Executive, and I’ve linked here to the first of his blog posts on the merger.  They haven’t been around that long without knowing the ups and downs of the industry better than most.

The next part of the story involves Keepsake Quilting, in Center Harbor NH.  As a NH quilter, I’ve made several trips (my husband would probably say pilgrimages, but that’s another story) to Keepsake over the years, and a good portion of my stash began there.  Keepsake began as a family owned business, then was purchased several times over by conglomerates and money people, and it slowly but surely began to lose the charm of a quilt shop. It was a sad day for me when on a trip to Lake Winnipesaukee, I skipped a trip to Keepsake because there was no reason to stop – and felt a bit of a pang as we went by. Sadder still when I skipped another trip, went by…and felt nothing.  That made me sad.  I wasn’t the only one…the changes from Keepsake as a quilt shop to a ‘big box’ shop were well documented.

At almost about the same time that the Jafftex sale closed, I woke to a article shared by a friend that Keepsake had been bought by a Steelcity llc, a family owned business from North Carolina, owned by Rick, wife Dot and son Dave. Steelcity is another fourth generation textile company…trust me, when I read that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Steelcity had been a supplier of Keepsake Quilting and has retail experience through its company Pineapple Fabrics.

The family’s commitment is to make Keepsake once again America’s quiltshop, and while it will take time to implement changes – they made two right moves immediately.  Keepsake Quilting’s hours had been shortened to a few days a week last fall – and right after the merger, they are back to 7 days a week.  The annual tent sale is always at the beginning of June, and this year…it’s going from 2 days to 3.  I’m so tempted!!!

So what my inquiring mind wants to know is what in the multi-generational ownership story is common to both deals?  What allows the new owners to take on the challenges (warts and all, and they are there) of each deal, and yet believing that both the entities are worth purchasing and adding to their portfolio?  According to Forbes, “…Less than one third of family businesses survive the transition from first to second generation ownership. Another 50% don’t survive the transition from second to third generation…”

I have more evidence of positive signs, amongst all the news of shops closing, there are shops reopening (two of them), and shops expanding…

Valley Fabrics is a wonderful shop in Northhampton MA (I need to schedule a road trip), and they were gone for several years, reopening earlier this year.  The Fabric Garden closed last fall, and reopens later this month in an new location.  Pintuck & Purl, formerly of Exeter, has moved to Portsmouth in a new, larger location.  Those are the ones that I know about and can share…

In part 2 of the series, we will welcome guest blogger (and friend of mine) Beth Ditkoff of Damariscotta Maine.  Beth and her husband have relocated to their forever home in Damariscotta Maine, and in that process, a sewing space was moved.  Beth spent the next year settling in, vowing to clear some of her UFOs and to sew only from her stash.  I thought that it would be interesting to read.  Come back next Wednesday, June 6th for her installment.

In part 3, I’m talking about what how the after market effects our buying options – yardsales, estate sales and destash options.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this.  Many thanks to Teri Lucas for her wisdom and guidance as I sorted this out.  Always a pleasure.

 

I can feel a shift happening

I’m not sure which life experience has brought this on, but I can feel a deep seated shift happening in the way that I think of things this spring.  It might be age, it might be the passing of my mom, it might be that it’s just time. I became more conscious of it a couple of weeks ago, at the retreat, and it’s become such a constant that I feel the need to put pen to paper on this one, to document this change (ok, shift) in my direction.

Most of us are familiar with the left brain/right brain analogy (which breaks into analytic/creative in my case).  I’ve been aware for the last several years that I am pretty much balanced in the way that I operate.  While not my brain (at left), this is a pretty good representation of how my mind works. And it’s pretty.

So take a look at that, and try to imagine what happens when you don’t feed both sides equally – in fact, you feel the bottomless need to feed the left side, while parsing out scraps to the right.

I went on a retreat (not a class, not a workshop, but a retreat) late in April. Oh, I packed a completely unrealistic number of undone projects in an attempt to maximize my productivity while I was there.  Seriously, I had a spreadsheet and everything – and maybe that should have been the clue I needed to jump off the crazy train.

Each of the items I needed to work on was paused at almost the exact same point in the creative process, and I was totally filled with anxiety when I picked any of them to work on.  I had no confidence in the skills I needed, and that’s because that while I knew I needed to spend more time practicing…I tried to ignore that inner voice.

That’s when I took a break, took a walk and really got real with myself – and made a commitment to myself that from this point out, I would put the time in.

The circumstances of my life haven’t made that possible until now, but this is adjusting to the new normal.  Stay tuned –

 

 

Back – Welcome to the Island Batik Ambassador Alumni Blog Hop!

 Welcome to my stop on the Island Batik Use it Up Blog Hop. As a quilter who participated in the program for 3 years, I have tons to use up, and I use it whenever I can.

For my project on the hop, I combined a project which I was working on for a shop sample with the theme of the hop, and added a new to me set of tools for using it to quilt with.  I hope you like what I came up with…

 

Won’t you say hello to my Little Friend?  – I call him Gnomie.  He’s actually one block from the Scandinavian Tomte pattern by Sherri Noel.  One of my area quilt shops will be having me teach a class on it this summer – cue the Christmas in July theme music – and  we both thought this would be a good introduction to the pattern (keeping me within the bounds of the blog theme.

A little fabric modification, and the traditional tomte became a garden variety gnome.  I used basics from Island Batik for the little guy, and I think he’s awfully cute.

Here’s the fabric pull I used…. well, maybe not so much a picture of the fabric as a picture of the pattern.  It’s one that I’ve been attracted to for a while, and I do like it a lot. I have become more interested in garden gnomes because my friend Pam has a whole collection. Won’t she be surprised with how this came out? The pattern came together well, and I can’t wait to put it together in Christmas colors as well.

Now, onto the tools which I used to quilt this newest item – I have all 4 of the Angela

Walters rulers that came out from Creative Grids, and after practicing with them over the winter, I knew that I wanted to work with them on this quilt.  There are four distinct styles, and I found ways to work with all 4.  In the picture on the right, I put the rulers on the quilt once it was done, to show how I which I used to quilt what sections.  The straight edge is Slim, and I used that for the outline of the blue body.  The next one I used was Squiggy (my favorite – I used it to create the wavy lines for the beard); next was Archie, and I used that one to give some definition to the hat.  Finally, I used Shorty to create the background.

I found the rulers very easy to use, and I felt comfortable enough to ‘play’ with them after about an hour or so.  I am leaving on retreat next week, and I am looking forward to bringing all 4 with me to play with some more.

I really enjoyed participating in this blog hop, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  Thank you, once again Island Batik to feeding my creativity.  To follow along with all the posts on this blog hop, please visit the links below!

Monday, April 16, 2018
Lemon Tree Snippets |

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Seams To Be Sew | Mary Macks Blog |

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
One Quilting Circle | Seams Like a Dream |

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tammarinis | Kathy’s Kwilts and More |

Friday, April 20, 2018
Inspired Layers | Kissed Quilts |

Saturday, April 21, 2018
 Purfect Spots | Patchwork Breeze |

Sunday, April 22, 2018
For Quilt’s Sake |

If you have played with these rulers on your quilting journey, please let me know how you like them.  Until next time!

Gifts from the past…lessons for tomorrow!

Quilt given for Andy

In today’s blog post, I’m taking a trip down memory lane, to gain inspiration for quilts moving forward. In this case, this is the first (and only) quilt that I have ever been gifted, and it’s NOT one that I made. My mother gave this to me at a baby shower thrown when I was expecting my younger son, Andy.  After 8 years between kids, a lot of the baby items needed to be updated, and this quilt was among the gifts.  This quilt was used hard for years when he was a baby – on floors, in sleds (it’s a great insulator), as forts – until it was consigned to the cedar chest at the foot of my bed for a longish time.  I brought it out of retirement when we learned that my first grandchild was coming, and today that same quilt is draped over the side of the rail in the crib in Had’s ‘room’.  We have a game of playing ‘tuck me in, Nana’ at naptime, and she loves it when I cover her with Daddy’s quilt – Had is two at the moment.

the edges are wearing!

On one of the times I was recently folding the quilt after naptime, I took a good look at the edges of it. A Really, really good look…and I found that this much used quilt is beginning to show it’s age – you can tell by looking closely at the binding. It’s wearing.  That has made me rethink how I think about the bindings I put on my quilts.

When I began quilting, I learned one method of putting a binding on a quilt – and I had used that method for a LOT of quilts. I stitched strips together, folded them in half the long way, then machine stitched them to the front of the quilt – then turn them over and stitch them by hand to the back.  That was time consuming and tedious – and most of the time I cut the strips on the straight of grain. By looking at the picture at top right, I now know what happens to a quilt long after it’s been gifted or donated by me if I’ve done a straight grain binding, and it has changed how I think about that.

There’s an old addage called “Form follows Function”, and it applies here.  If you have a wall quilt, or something that isn’t going to be handled a lot – a tablerunner, for example – I would still make a straight grain binding because the edges aren’t likely to be handled a lot.  If, however, I am going to make a binding for a bed quilt, or a baby quilt – I have now switched to a bias type of binding.  And I have an easy way for you to cut the binding strips – I have made exactly one of the continuous edge bias binding edges – and although it’s cumbersome, it does work.  I just have an easier method for you to use…

Line the ruler up on the 45

For this step, I pulled a half yard cut of fabric (it’s floral – I must be missing spring) and ironed it out. Using my 24″ x 6″ ruler, I lined up the 45º angle on the selvedge and made my first cut. The triangle that is cut away is put aside, and I now have a straight edge on the bias to use as my border.  I cut my binding strips at 2¼” from that point on, cutting as many strips as I need to cover the perimeter of my quilt, plus about 10-12 inches for the join. When I go to join my edges, I do it with a 45º angle, giving additional strength at the seam.

 

stretch

I should note here that this method works whether I am stitching the second side by machine or by hand – and I am developing an affinity for machine applied bindings – they are much quicker, and much more stable as well.

The picture at the right demonstrates how much stratch there is to my bias edges, and that will make this piece more durable when I apply it to my quilted item.

As for the baby quilt, it’s developed quite the patina now, and I may retire it from the crib in the not too distant future…but it now will serve as a great visual aid when I teach binding classes.

What’s your favorite method of binding – straight grain or bias?  This is one quilter’s viewpoint, and I’d love to hear yours.

 

Springing Ahead – and a little bit of Cleaning too!

Greetings from snow laden New Hampshire!   It usually doesn’t take much to put me in a springtime state of mind once we get to March 1, – I’ve been fondling floral fabrics all month.  Today, I’m still looking ahead – but there’s 30″ of fresh snow on the ground, with more rumored to be coming. I am so sick of French Toast – you have to be a New Englander to get the reference.

Tip 1 – In ‘Lindaland’, it IS almost spring…so I’ve got 5 tips for getting your sewing space ready for spring (and summer, but let’s not push it).  I did all 5 of these while the snow was falling, so feel free to adapt them as you would like to.

I have several small quilted wall hangings, so I switched out two that hang behind my sewing room and over my desk to pieces that bring to mind warm weather, flowers and summer nights. It’s amazing the difference that that has made.

Tip 2 Just like the timing on clocks and fire extinguishers, I use this time as a reminder to change/sharpen/replenish my rotary cutting tools. Santa was good to me this year, and found the rotary sharpener (blue) while he was out and about.  How often do we proclaim the joys of a sharp rotary blade – it makes the jobs easier, very true. It’s also much safer to work with a sharp blade in your sewing room – just as a sharp knife in the kitchen is very sharp. I certainly do this throughout the year, but it’s nice to get a simple spruceup – and if you have the new supplies on hand, you can do it when the plow goes by.

Tip 3 I can promise never to show you my oven, or the bottom of my purse – every woman needs some secrets.  See chocolate stash for correlation. But – I will show you what I found when I looked ‘under the hood’ at my bobbin area this week.  I’ve been doing a lot of stitching on my On Ringo Lake projects, and it shows – even with Aurifil thread. I don’t believe in blowing this area with air – physics will tell you that you will only push the threads into the machine where you can’t get it.  A handy pipecleaner, and some readers, will have you clean and pristine as quickly as can be.  Unlike me, you probably can’t build a fuzzy kitty, but you never know. And that’s not anything you should strive for, anyway.

Tip 4 goes right along with Tip 3, above – because if you’re going to clear out the lint, you might as well change your needle right along with it.  Now this is an area that has some controversy with it…some quilters change their needles every 8 hours of sewing, some people have never changed it. My motto is in all things, moderation…so if you get into the habit of changing it every 6 months or so (with the clocks), you will soon become familiar with how to change it, and which needle works with which sewing task…we tend to think that since we’re always using 100 % cotton, it’s all the same.  There’s a lot more to it than that…but I digress. Just start. And put the used needles in a child safe container (this is an old clean prescription container that I keep just for that purpose.

 

 

And finally…Tip #5…Create and build a Portable bag for sewing. Eventually, the warm weather will be here with summer mornings on the porch (sigh), baseball and soccer games, picnics, and lakeside vacations. That’s a perfect time for a portable bag – or as I call it, the Binding Bag. Whether you choose handwork, English Paper Piecing, binding (guess where the name comes from!), now is the time to start planning ahead for that.

How do you keep clean your space for the warmer weather?

Inspiration is Everywhere – Ringo Lake Renovation…

If you’re a fan of mine on Facebook, you know that one of the photo prompts I use often is “Inspiration is Everywhere”.  I can just about always find a photo to talk about (and it doesn’t even have to be about quilts), and sometimes I get more hits on a given day than others.  This month, I had set aside some time to work on projects every day – it’s an annual project which is a great way to jumpstart your creativity in the midst of a long New England winter.

On RIngo Lake Scraps

On Ringo Lake – falling behind

The project that I had selected to work on (only one this year – it’s massive) was Bonnie Hunter’s latest mystery quilt, On Ringo Lake. I liked the color pallett she selected, I’ve seen other quilts of hers before which I loved (who doesn’t love a scrap quilt), I collected my scraps (see the photo at left), and I was off. I managed to keep up in week one with the correct number of Clue #1 done in time, but Clue #2… there was no way I could keep up, even though I tried.

When the mystery quilt was revealed, I watched for several more weeks (as I got further and further behind) and saw people making this quilt from all over the world. That was the fun part…the not so fun part was feeling more frustrated with each passing day.  Every time I looked at that, I had this creeping fit in the pit of my stomach – did I even want to finish it?  We’re talking a major time and energy (and fabric) investment, for something that isn’t quite my taste.  Lesson learned – I will do much more research before doing a mystery again.

Enter February 2018…I got the flu and my mom passed away – so working on quilts wasn’t something I had the time or the inclination to do for a while. When I was finally ready to do some sewing, I had come to terms with the fact that I was not interested in finishing this to say I finished it. I also wasn’t ready to admit defeat on this one. For the record, this quilt (and Bonnie) has taught me a lot about perseverence, accuracy, reading directions to the end, and working through the process.   And I had already made all 50 of Clue #1 and a reasonable amount of the actual blocks – I wanted to find a way to finish something with it.

My On Ringo Lake quilt has become Ringo Lake Renovation….I changed the layout, eliminated the sashing (the way many renovations remove a load bearing wall), and added some negative space, which will allow me to play with quilting designs eventually.  I put it upright on the design wall earlier today, and I think that this quilt will become a much loved throw in my house in the winters to come.  I’m actually in love with the color blocking on it.

 

 

Have you ever done a mystery quilt, then decided not to continue it?  How do you solve issues like that?

Off to grab some graph paper to decide how to continue the work…stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

The first clue had us make 50 of one block – done, trimmed and put aside.   Then the clues kept coming each week, where I was so far behind I felt like I was drowning in the project; all the while I looked at proud photos posted on Instagram and Facebook of people who have kept us with the pace – I’ve seen photos of this quilt from all over the world, in many many colorways…providing testimony to Bonnie’s popularity. I just kept on keeping on, while altering my construction method of

A Preview of Coming Attractions….of sorts!

Yes, you’re in the right place…don’t click back!

I’ve been working behind the scenes to work on this site, and there are changes here (and more coming…it’s a process).  But in keeping with my commitment to post weekly, I can tell you that there’s more ‘secret stuff” coming in the near future.  If you saw my Facebook post the other day about walking a project back from Plan B to Plan A – thanks to a shipping notice from Missouri Star, I got started on Plan A this afternoon.  Remember balance? I sometimes need to take a break  from coding and widgets to let my creative side play. It’s just another kind of work.  (more…)