Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Week of Disruptions

Nothing creative got done this week, much to my chagrin. I got my date for back surgery, then this week got a call rescheduling it to July 20th (only a week later) which then generated a flurry of phone calls from various sources at the hospital asking questions and imparting wisdom. All good but time consuming as I look around at what I should take care of in the coming few weeks before movement and lifting restrictions take effect. I look at this as I did my cataract surgery last year about this time - knowledge that much of my life will go on hold while I recover, but at a point where it simply must be done so I can get back to activities that now are literally a pain to do. Oddly enough, sitting at the machine doing that satin stitching didn't seem to bother me but the distance I can drive without setting things off has gotten shorter and shorter and I can't walk very far either. Not the way I expected to age but I know I am not alone in this.

And then on Friday I had scheduled an internet upgrade from my provider. They've been putting in fiber lines in the area for awhile and now my neighborhood was ready to be hooked up at bargain introductory rates. Sure, why not? But I have yet to have any technological change or upgrade go smoothly and this was no different. Suddenly my laptop could not access the network without setting up my pc with a mobile hot spot that it could connect to. The installer couldn't figure it out though he tried many things and finally hit upon the hotspot idea as a work around until I could contact Tech Support or figure it out on my own. I looked at so many things on both computers that didn't make a difference and discovered that the installer was wrong about being able to put my pc in sleep mode as I usually do and still have network access with the lap top. When I have more time to spend on the phone, I'll see what Tech Support says, but in the meantime, I discovered I couldn't print or scan from the pc! I originally set up the 3-in-1 printer to connect to the pc through blue tooth but now it wouldn't do that. NOOOO, this printer now wanted me to connect directly to the network (which actually went fairly smoothly) but I still couldn't communicate between the pc and printer. Now I can't remember what I stumbled on to change that magically turned on the scanner, and now it would take print jobs too - hallelujah! But it did take hours of messing around to get it all working together again. Not sure this extra speed and quality is worth it . . .

So this week I share an article on inspiration that I'd set aside but failed to include in any blog post as near as I can remember. If I have, it's been long enough that it's worth a second read. The title alone is wonderful and speaks a bit to what I'm going through at the moment: "Artist Agnes Martin on Inspiration, Interruptions, Cultivating a Creative Atmosphere, and the Only Type of Person You Should Allow Into Your Studio".  Here's a taste:

"An inspiration is a happy moment that takes us by surprise.

Many people are so startled by an inspiration or a condition of inspiration, which is so different from daily care, that they think that they are unique in having had it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Inspiration is there all the time for anyone whose mind is not covered over with thoughts and concerns, and [it is] used by everyone whether they realize it or not.

It is an untroubled state of mind. Of course, we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot last, so we say that inspiration comes and goes, but it is there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. We can therefore say that it is pervasive."

I do love that part about it taking us by surprise and that it is there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. I've gone through several long droughts of inspiration in say the last 5 years and suspected it was partly because I was troubled. As for interruptions:

". . . Martin urges artists to create a sanctuary for inspiration — a space devoid of busyness and dedicated to unburdened clarity of mind, with “no telephone,” where one is “to be disturbed only if the house is burning.” . . . Because the studio should be a sacred space for the untroubled mind, Martin recommends avoiding physical clutter in order to prevent mental clutter. . ."

Let me tell you, my studio is nothing BUT clutter these days, has been for quite awhile, more so than just the normal kind of clutter that actually sparks ideas unbidden. I long to find a happy medium to that. Maybe I can address some of that while I convalesce. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Satin Stitching Away

Only a few smaller areas left to satin stitch.

When I made the first Peace quilt, I was concerned about my thread color showing too much. I wanted everything to sort of blend. This is my knee jerk reaction when picking thread color. But on this one, that tan in the border and bits of it on the cranes made me want to choose a color for the satin stitching that would play off that and stand out. I can't tell you how very pleased I am with the results. And the sheen of the twist thread is perfect against the sheen of the sateen crane fabric.

I discovered I still have some of the two green threads I used on the first quilt (can you believe they are still sitting by the side of my machine 2 years later?) and may use these for the quilting. We shall see.

Sunday, June 12, 2022


Pillow Panel includes 2 of these printed squares

If you've been paying attention, you know I've become a real fan of Angela Walters and how she presents machine quilting techniques and designs per her many videos and challenges. These are all free, but she is quite candid about the fact that she can only do that through the support of at least some viewers purchasing the panels she designs for the challenges as well as coordinating fabric lines and thread collections. Generally speaking, I haven't been that drawn to her designs and certainly have plenty of thread on hand so am not tempted to participate in the challenges by practicing the quilting on her products. However . . . there's a new challenge starting in about a week called Free Motion Fillers Quilt Along which will present a LOT of different designs, and her thought when designing the panel was that when finished it could make for a handy reference when sitting down to quilt other quilts. Ahhh, that rather hooked me, along with the fact that I kinda liked the design which was done up in colors I like AND I didn't have to buy a big panel (a little pricey) but could opt for the pillow panel (which appealed more for several reasons). "Oh, I can't believe I'm ordering it," I thought to myself as I added the pillow panel to the cart, and then added one of the coordinating prints. I can come up with several rationalizations, but I needn't tell YOU about that, I'm sure! The panel and extra fabric arrived yesterday, and I am just as thrilled with them as I was when I saw them on her website. Anyone want to join me?

In the meantime, I have found my curved scissors. I swear I had looked in that spot on the shelf surround of my machine more than once. I can't even remember what I moved from that spot in preparation for the next step on the Peace quilt. When I turned back, there they sat and I swear they were smirking. Glad to have found them because the applique pieces of the second Peace quilt have been arranged and permanently fused, ready for satin stitching around their edges and I prefer using them for thread snipping over a regular pair of snips. 

While so much of my memory seems to be failing me lately, I was very happy to find it had not failed me about a certain thread I was sure I had that would be a good color for the satin stitching. I still had the sample I'd stitched out when deciding on thread color, width and tension for stitching on the first Peace quilt so I didn't have to rely on my memory for test settings. I did change one setting but at least I had a starting point. What I wasn't sure about was whether I'd put any stabilizer on the reverse side of the quilt top or if the Misty Fuse adhered to the applique provided enough stabilization. This is one of the reason I like the way I blog, because I could go back to the posts about that part of working on Peace I to see how I had done it. Yeah!  No stabilizer. Ready to sit at the machine and work my way around all those raw edges that Misty Fuse does not hold in check. The upper thread matches the tan in the print along the side and is the no longer being made Sulky Ultra Twist. The lower thread is more yellow and will be backup if I run out of the other thread. It is the replacement Twist thread produced by the company that bought out the original. It's close but just not the same.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

What's Next

Once that quilt was mended, I thought I'd make another book, having set aside supplies for several different ones. But instead, there was some howling from the closet, a "wait a minute, you've been thinking about something else for awhile and what you need is in here" I couldn't resist. The Peace quilt construction left me with negative pieces of the design with fusible on the back. I couldn't toss them - some very big pieces there - and I couldn't quite bring myself to think in terms of cutting them up for some other sort of applique piece. I wanted to make a second quilt using a piece of fabric I knew lurked in this footlocker in the closet, itself lurking under boxes of my framed artwork. I had no idea what a Pandora's Box I was about to unearth and open.

When I went away to college in the 70's, pretty much everyone had some sort of footlocker in their dorm room and mine was this red, white and blue version. After college I hung on to it, using it mostly (if I remember correctly) to store my needlecraft supplies like yarns and cross-stitch cloth and rug hooking supplies and the like. At some point, I started storing fabric in it, and as I transitioned from garment making to quilting, the fabric was more likely to be long lengths of cotton fabric that I didn't want a lot of creases in. But there was also some garment fabric in there, corduroys and even some silks. Underneath this stack, that dark blue rectangle on the right, is actually some corduroy my mother-in-law passed on to me when she gave up on sewing. I'd forgotten it was in there, and forgotten as well why these particular fabrics are stored away here. Peeking out around the other two corners on the right is major yardage of black fabric bought at that same quilt shop I taught at that left that quilt top smelling like cigarette smoke. As I needed black fabric, I'd get it out and cut off a piece. I haven't had to do that for a long time and now I'm wondering if it too harbors some smoke odors.

Here's another layer - a batik, one of my hand-dyes, and a bold contemporary fabric that I bought a lot of because I was so taken with it and it was on sale. I remember my husband asking what I would do with it, and replying that I didn't know, but if nothing else it could be backing. That was some time in the late 90's, when Susan Stein had a quilt shop in the Minneapolis MN area. I was directed there by someone who said I could find Cherrywood Hand-dyes there, and I was overwhelmed by what Susan was carrying - nothing like the usual dark and woodsy Thimbleberries-like quilt fabric popular at that time. Besides the hand-dyes, she carried such bright and modern contemporary fabrics, maybe the only such shop in that part of the country to do so. I was smitten. (And the hand-dyes were instrumental in my friend Judi and I experimenting and eventually selling our own line of hand-dyes.) Once I moved closer to that area, I visited her shop several times, bringing home this big piece that I've never found a home for yet. Perhaps I put these three pieces aside with the thought they could be used together.

This grouping kind of puzzles me. Again, no real recollection of why these ended up in the footlocker. I'm thinking these were in one of those Keepsake Quilting fabric of the month club offerings which in itself was reason for me to keep them together. Note my tendency to end up with multiple colorways of a print.There is an invoice with them showing I bought more yardage of  at least one of them - a lot more.

And here it is, 2 yards of the crane fabric that went with this oriental collection and that I've been thinking about ever since I set aside these negative leftover pieces for a second Peace quilt. Yes, I think it will do nicely since I think it is safe to say I'll never actually make the kimono-style jacket I originally bought this sateen yardage for. I'd forgotten about that leafy tan border running along the selvages which is giving me ideas for thread colors. Yeah, just a little bit excited about this.

But goodness, as I look at the fabric pulled from that footlocker, and the fabric still lurking in it that hasn't seen the light of day for perhaps years, my overriding thought is that I have too much fabric!