• The Ironing Board (OR – Sometimes You Wish You Never Started)

    It all started with an ironing board. My friend, Jane, was cleaning her studio storage room and came across an ironing board she had put in there and forgot about. That should tell you the state of her storage room ‚Äď not too different from my sewing room. When I asked about her plans for the ironing board, she told me she already had two boards set up, and this one was going to Goodwill unless I wanted it.

    I have two weaknesses: I never turn down free fabric or free sewing tools; OK, make those three; I won’t say ‘no’ to a piece of dark chocolate either. I was not about to turn down this beautiful brand-new ironing board. Mine is serviceable, but it was not a great board from the start, plus it’s ancient and rickety. A new, stable board was an offer too good to pass up.

    Between my fabric (ahem) obsession and my Works in Progress (I dare not call them UFOs; they might abduct and beam me up to the Mother Ship), my sewing room is not much different from Jane’s storage room. It does provide exercise, a bona-fide obstacle course worthy of an Olympic Triathelon. To install the new ironing board, I first had to remove the old one. This meant moving boxes of IMPs (Important Materials & Projects) stacked around, beneath, and at both ends of the board. I piled some of these on my already over-stacked sewing table, burying my sewing machine. Other boxes, ranging from shoe-box storage containers to 54-gallon bins of batiks, had to be stacked in the hallway. By now, my husband was giving me the Evil Eye.

    Oh, the things I found behind and under that old ironing board! A rotary cutter I lost long ago, a cutting ruler I didn’t even know I had, and Dust Bunnies ‚Äď Dust Bunnies on steroids that looked like they had been genetically crossed with elephants. Finally, I could maneuver the old board out and fit the new one in. Or maybe not.

    Wouldn’t you know, the legs on the new board extended two inches beyond the old board’s. Just two lousy inches, but enough that the storage bins in the corner at the end of the board no longer fit. They had to be moved to a third area ‚Äď my office.

    This is like wiping the cheek of a muddy child: you made a clean spot, so you may as well bathe the rest of the child. This would be a perfect time to reorganize and clean my sewing room. But it was time for a break, so I sat at my computer, sipping a cup of tea, and emailed my friend. “Just look at what you started”, I typed in accusation.

    I confess I’m not very disciplined and live for the creative moment. I’m not diligent about returning a tool or fabric to its ‘proper’ place. Not only might I need it again soon, but I also don’t want to waste any of my creative time on something as left-brained as putting something away where it belongs. And so it begins.

    Mountains are formed one grain of sand at a time, and so, too, quilting clutter. Finding something in my sewing room is an exercise in Archaeology ‚Äď I don’t search so much as excavate layers, determining the era in which that layer was laid down. If I am looking for something I used last week, I know I’m in the wrong place when I start uncovering projects I last worked on six months ago. I would rather clean up after a national disaster than try to clean my sewing room, but this was a perfect opportunity to reorganize the detritus of my creativity. Many of you may be familiar with that quote ‚Äď “God grant me the serenity‚Ķ” my version is: “God grant me the decisiveness to abandon UFOs I have no more interest in, the perseverance to finish those I am still invested in and the rationality to identify one from the other”.

    Before you frown at my lack of discipline let me assure you it is born from long experience that the worst thing I can do is put something somewhere sensible. A logical storage space on Monday will not be so on Friday. Take the bag of flower buttons I bought years ago. They were tossed onto a corner of my sewing table and happily resided there for many years, doing no harm. Now and again, I would notice the bag and peek inside to remind me of the contents and replace it in that corner. A year ago, in an attempt to clear my sewing table, I put them where they belonged. Now that I want to use those buttons, where they “belonged” is obviously not where they need to be because I have yet to find them. If only I had just left them there on the sewing table.

    The last time I reorganized my sewing room, it turned into a week-long endeavor rivaling the reorganizing of a Fortune 500 company. The process worsens before it gets better as things are moved to temporary shelters while their permanent space is prepared. In this case, that shelter was my office, and that’s when I discovered, to my horror, that they were contagious. A few boxes placed in my office looked harmless, but before I knew it, my office had become infected and now needed reorganizing as well.

    That was days ago, and I just uncovered my sewing machine. This might be easy if my time for designing, sample making, and teaching weren’t being shared with a disabled husband, two cats, a parrot, and a dog, but I’m in it for the long run; maybe this overhaul will last longer than the previous one. That time, my sewing room was perfect for a whole month before the cycle began again like an unloved season

    Meanwhile, my lovely new ironing board is sitting innocently against one wall, looking for the whole world like the cat that ate the canary and is now burping up feathers and saying – “Who, me?”

  • New Years Resolution

    Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday; I eagerly anticipated everything I planned to get done in my 2021 New Year’s resolution. My goals were to finish a bunch of UFOs – this was a challenge issued to my Virtual Small Quilt group, most members posted a list of a dozen or so (and many achieved their goals), my list was over 50 projects, and I just barely made a dent.

    Part of the problem is that I start as many new projects as I finish others, so my UFO boxes never seem to diminish like the magic purses in Fairy Tales that will never be empty. So too, with fabric scrap bags. I make a lot of scrap quilts. I probably made more of those this past year than any others, yet that bag of scraps never seems to diminish – they must be breeding in there.

    My other 2021 New Year’s resolution – to clean and reorganize my sewing studio; I failed miserably to accomplish. Part of the problem is that those persistently pregnant scraps are just not going away. The other part is my penchant for being a depot for fabrics and materials destined for another quilter or fabric artist. I constantly ferry materials from one person to another. My husband has vetoed the idea of those boxes residing in our living/dining room while in transit; I have nowhere else to put them but my studio – and pray I can find them when I can connect with these other sewers. Not to mention the fabrics offered to me for my own stash, I have difficulty saying ‘no thank you.’

    As I said, I did get some UFos done, and here are pictures of those:

    I also made a bunch of Kennel Quilts for animal shelters. These are small 12″ x 18″ quilts that are used by animal shelters. Here is a gallery of the ones I made in 2021, including a paw print design I made as a free pattern available on the group on Kennel Quilts on Needle Spot.

    Onto 2022 – my New Year’s Resolutions are: to blog and maintain my website more frequently, to finally reorganize my studio, to start a couple of brand new projects in new techniques I want to try that have been simmering on hold for too long, to finish more UFOs (of course!), and to make my way through boxes of exotic teas I buy and then neglect in favor of plain ole Liptons.

  • Launching a New Class Series

    Dear friends and followers. it’s been way too long since I’ve posted. Wasn’t it John Lennon who said ‘Life happens when you are busy making plans?’

    This past year has been a heck of a year. First the Pandemic, then wildfire evacuations, and a devastating ice storm. We lost about 9 large fir trees, one of which landed on our home – one family crisis after another. All my good intentions about using the Pandemic time to get caught up with everything evaporated. 2020 will go down in my books as the year that never happened; a blank spot on the calendar.

    After over a year, my classes are gradually resuming. Some shops have resumed classes – Cedar Ridge in Oregon City and Sharon’s Attic in Aloha. Montavilla Sewing Centers will be starting in the Fall. I am chomping at the bit. I’ve done a little one-on-one tutoring this past year and some Zoom classes, but Zoom is awkward for the individual interaction that some classes need.

    Art Quilts in the Attic

    I’m starting a series of ‘art quilt’ classes I will be offering at both Sharon’s Attic and at Montavilla in Lake Oswego. These are a reincarnation of my classes formerly called Art Journal Quilts. Each class session will be $25 and will teach an artistic technique rendered on a small experimental project. These are techniques and design processes you are not likely to encounter in a traditional quilting class. Each is a small investment in time and materials, to give you a taste of the technique. Enough to see if it’s something you would like to explore in greater depth. This has been a very popular ongoing class series in the past, I’ve been teaching these for about ten years now and hope to build up some healthy participation again.

    At Sharon’s Attic, the series is called ‘Art Quilts in the Attic’ and my first class is on Tuesday, August 24. We will be playing with Zentangle style designs rendered with Pigma Micron pens on a fabric collage dragon. Contact the shop at 503 259-3475 or visit https://www.sharonsatticquiltshop.com/ to enroll if you would like to join me for the class.

    Zen Dragon. Designs drawn with Pigma Micron pen and enhanced with stitchery

    Promises Promises

    Here are some more images of Art Quilt classes to come.