The focus of quilting

Life is crazy right now.  Work, home, being a parent, being a child, being a spouse.  Each on their own, easy enough.  All at one time...well, a bit of a burden, otherwise known as...


I don't know what people that don't quilt do for the stress.  For me, the best medicine is to quilt.  Specifically, the quilting phase.  Not piecing, which carries the stress of making good color choice and executing the piecing well.  I mean the actual quilting.  When I'm quilting...or even knitting...it's all physical work, little mental work.  The design is chosen, the piecing is done, the decisions are made.  It's me and my hands.  And my ability to focus just on what I'm doing right then.

That's what helps me relax and slows my breathing and changes my focus from all the little things that happen in a day. 

So, I quilt; hand or machine.  And, I knit.  And, I do my very dead level best to relax. 

Because it's easier than screaming!

I thought I'd show a few pics of the tissue paper marking.  I tried to take this picture so that the needle punching would cast a shadow and show up. 

I quilt along those needle punched lines.

And, then I tear away the paper. 

With a process that easy, you can see how the stress just melts away.  At least for a little while.

Everybody have a great Thursday! 



The first first

It was our first first anniversary yesterday.  One year since the Surpreme Court made it legal for us to marry.  We've been together since 2000, and we adopted an anniversary that we still celebrate as well.  But, this was a real anniversary and it felt good.  It's the wood anniversary.  And, I found a card made of wood.  There really is a card for everything.  

We spent the weekend the way we do.  I quilted on our wedding quilt.  And, Rob showed me gay themed movies.  We spent some time in the yard early.  We took care of a few chores and ate good simple food that I didn't cook.  And, we had a nice visit with a good friend.  It was a good anniversary.  And, we have another one next week!

One of the things I needed to do on Saturday was figure out the direction for the DWR quilting.  I'd been studying pictures in books and on the internet since last week and had narrowed it down to a few pics that I showed Rob.  I'm not going to show pics of other people's quilts or books, but I saw lots of lovely ones.  And, I started sketching out plans on paper.  I traced my outline using the plastic template I used to cut the original green diamonds, then started to fill.  When I sketch, I make short strokes, and lots of them.  Eventually, the shape that pleases me will develop; just the right curve, or placement, whatever it takes to make a design right.  Then, I draw over that shape with ink and erase the pencil marks.  These next three didn't make it to the inking stage.   

But, this one really stood out for me.  I developed it from a picture I saw in a book.  It was in a square block, so I had to elongate the corners.  But, I'd seen something similar in a picture of a quilt on the internet, so I knew it could be done. 

Simple.  Sketching it showed me it was quick.  It has an easy pattern that can be sewn without breaking the thread and with little traveling over previous quilting lines.  So, I started making copies.  I took my sketch and stacked it on top of several pieces of Golden Threads paper.  I sewed through the lines, needle punching through all the layers.  I pinned one piece of the gold paper to my quilt.  It's light tissue, like the paper that commercial patterns is printed on, so you can see through it to line it up.  I used the perforations as my lines and I quilted the shape through all the layers.  Then, I picked out the paper.  Ugh!  But so worth it. 

I've done ten.

Of 42. 

I'm gonna be at this a while.  And, then I have those smaller melon shapes to fill. 

Everybody have a great Monday! 



Dos mas

That means two more in Spanish. 

A couple weekends ago, I managed to make two more race quilts.  These are made from 2" strips.  When I sewed all the strips together, I had about 135 yards of strip.  I sewed that in half and then I pressed that seam to one side.  I cut that in 72" segments and sewed them together.  That was actually easier for me than folding it in half over and over.  I ended up with these two quilts and enough strips to add to the sides of that one that was too narrow from a couple weeks ago.  I sewed the 72" segments into pairs, then sewed those into pairs.  Having that one seam pressed down makes all the difference in assembling.  All I had to do was make sure that the seam pointed the same way every time. 

I really love this pattern.  But, as I was making it, I realized that the only way to quilt these is some kind of a vertical line, even if it's a vine and leaf that runs down it instead of all those boring straight lines.  But, the meander I'd been considering just doesn't seem right. 

I'm not using my 2.5" strips this way.  I have a different pattern planned for them.  But, I have a bin of 3" and 3.5" strips.  Not a whole lot of them.  Maybe not enough of either one to make a quilt.  But, of the both of them, maybe.  But, I'm also considering saving that to use as a multi-colored sashing in some four patch quilts. 

I also have to consider the quilting.  The last thing I need to do is make too many tops that need quilting later.  While that makes the scraps organized, it does not actually move them out of the house.  And, moving them out of the house is the goal. 

Unfortunately, making the four patch quilts means cutting scraps.  So, I'm trying to think of a realistic goal that I can set and meet to get those scraps cut into 2.5" strips and maybe 6.5" strips and squares. 

The 2.5" strips are for this pattern.  I love this pattern just as much as the other one and it's made from bricks 2.5x4.5 and 2.5x6.5.  I've made a green and off white one and this red and tan one.  I think I want the next one to be blue and orange.  The pattern is Barbed Wire from a book called Twosy-Foursy Quilts.  I think the author is Cathy Wierzbicki. 

I got back from Louisiana a couple days ago.  I went to see my Mom, who was in the hospital again.  I already planned to visit soon, but when they hospitalized her again, I stopped dilly-dallying and went for a visit.  It was a nice visit.  The driving was easy and the company was good.  And, I hope to go back for another visit soon. 

I was so proud of the people of Orlando as they dealt with the aftermath of the shooting.  I don't quite know what I feel about what happened now.  So, rather than focus on the horror of what happened, I've decided to focus on the good things I saw, like the angels and the good people that blocked those horrible westboro baptist people.  I know there's a special place reserved for them in hell where they will get to hate all they want to.  But, the love and compassion it took to show up to negate their presence was a wonderful thing! 

It left me inspired. 

Everybody have a great Wednesday!




We spent yesterday watching the news develop from Orlando.  And, crying.  And, sighing.  It was a sad day.  At some point, they're going to start showing pictures and sharing names of the victims.  And, I'm just not sure I'm going to be able to deal with that.  I think I can only deal with them as a very sad number.   

I'm not sure how I feel.  Sad because I had hoped that I wouldn't have to worry about this kind of hate aimed at me and my kind.  Angry that one person thought he was so much more right than other people that it was okay to kill them.  Angry that his thinking is reinforced every day in this country.  Angry that the rest of us that aren't crazy are doing all we can to bring some sanity to the world by leading by example...and it's not enough.  Worried that this isn't the last of this we will see.  Worried that the political rhetoric will hype another crazy person into a frenzy and they will attack someone else.  Worried that it might be me or someone I know.  Worried that I'm not doing enough.  Worried that nothing will ever be enough. 

Hopeful that in my daughter's lifetime, things will be different.  Hopeful that the example I have set in my life has influenced someone who might have influenced someone else and so on until maybe it made a small difference. 

Proud that I was part of the generation that helped bring the community out of the closet.  Proud that I saw the day when I could marry my partner. 

But, not afraid.  Never afraid to be who I am and share as much of myself as I am comfortable with in any situation.  Our flag is out in front of the house and I will be wearing a rainbow pin today.  I will not be afraid.  And, if I am afraid, I will not let it change what I do.  And, I will not let anyone see my fear.  Because it's too late for fear. 

The most appropriate thing I could think to work on yesterday was our wedding quilt.  In a small way, that's an affirmation of my relationship.  My validity.  My right to exist.  I got it pin basted and about half of the stabilizing ditch work done.  It gave my hands something to work on.  But, I found that I was so distracted, I couldn't weave my way around the curves in a line from one edge to the other.  I'd come out of some intersection and take the wrong curve, and before I knew it, I was on a perpendicular line.  I had to mark them.  So, I'd take the quilt to the living room where I could spread it out and add extra basting pins along the line I wanted to follow.  Little breadcrumbs to follow along a curving path.  I didn't think about how similar all those curves were and how much concentration it takes to keep from making a wrong turn.  I'm using a Hobbs Heirloom wool batting and am not having any trouble rolling half the quilt into a log that I can move through the throat of the machine.  I can hardly wait to start quilting in all that green negative space. 

Everybody have a good Monday. 

My last thought for the day is this.  Guns don't kill people.  People kill people. 

So take away people's damn guns!



More racing

I'm really enjoying this pattern. 

I've already pieced another one...well mostly pieced.  It's a little narrow and I'm going to add "something" to make it wider.  I think 48x72 is a good size and this one is only 38 inches wide.  But, I haven't decided what to do with it yet and I am out of 1.5" strips (whoohoooo!)  Wider strips?  Or just add a wide border down two sides?

I like the idea of this scrap buster so much that I've started another one.

This one is made from 2" strips that will finish at 1.5.  I'm going to piece the whole drawer full of scraps together and then make as many quilt tops as I can from it (like maybe 1 and a half).  If there are enough strips left, I might use them to add the extra width to the one from above.  That's what actually got me to open the 2" drawer in the first place and once I was started, I just went hog wild  making one long strip. 

But, the 1.5" drawer is empty!  And, the 2" drawer will be...soon-ish. 

I've been reading about more and more people that are taking drastic action with their scraps.  This is mine.  Turn them into the easiest quilt tops possible and give them away!

I have other bins of assorted size scraps.  I'm thinking about just cutting them into squares and piecing them.  Maybe make square in a square blocks from squares and strips.  Easy, easy, easy scrap quilting.  That's what I'm wanting. 

I wonder how long this mood will last before I'm working on something complex, with 3/8" finished pieces or something like that. 

I know my attitudes about quilting have changed recently.  The motto when I was young was something like "try it, you might like it."  And, I've tried a bunch of stuff lately.  And, I liked...some of it.  And, some of it I really didn't care for so much.  And, some of it, I experienced and am done with the need for that experience.  Life has entered another phase.  And, I am focused on different experiences and the desire to try even more things.  And, to accommodate that, I'm really interested in simple, easy, fulfilling play time.  My star is rising at work.  At least I think it is.  And, I need easy relaxation.  And, that does not always come from sewing the tiniest pieces of fabric together.  Sometimes it does.  But, not at THIS time. 

Syd passed another milestone yesterday.  First bank accounts.  Checking and savings.  She went to my bank, so I was able to watch the officer demonstrate a lot of the cool features available from the bank now.  Things I'll be taking advantage of.  She's excited.  Last night, she asked how opening a bank account can be exciting.  But, it is.  It's just another step along the path to adulthood.  But, while opening the account is exciting, now comes the very mature and adult task of maintaining it. 

OMG, what have I done????

She's always been good with money.  She's tight fisted as all get out.  I'm pretty sure she'd hate to have to give any of her money to the bank, so she'll be really careful about avoiding any types of fees.  Hopefully, much more careful than I was with my first account.  (I've focused on explaining what she should do...not telling her what I have done.)

Everybody have a great Thursday!  Work has become the most crazy place on earth lately.  The excitement level is high and I'm accomplishing more than even I thought I could.  Most people seem very happy about it.  Some of my peers got extra responsibilities in the last reorganization.  They asked to give up projects they've grown tired of and I was asked to take some of them on.  They seem a little less happy when I turn their boring project into something exciting that draws national attention. 

Oh, well.  I don't do well at boring work.  So, I find a way to make things exciting.  I did have to tell my boss yesterday that I am maxed out.  For now.  He was so appreciative of my honesty.  To me, it was self-protection.  To him, it was one less thing to worry about as a manager. 

We also had our first experience of me telling him he was making a mistake.  I didn't stop him.  But, again, he seemed to appreciate the honesty and my willingness to help, even though I don't think it's the right thing to do. 

He and I are very different.  But, I think we're going to work well together.  Especially after he sees I was right about that mistake.



Another milestone

Sydney's graduation is another milestone passed.  I'd love to show you pictures.  But, I messed up and we don't have any.  Rob and I both took video.  I think the school took some stills.  And, maybe Syd will be able to get those.  Or maybe not.  She doesn't know. 

Austin does it's graduations at a huge coliseum.  They do class after class.  They shuttle people in from parking lots near schools into downtown, then shuttle them back to their cars.  I guess it's efficient.  It was kind of inconvenient and meant we got to sit through a quarter of the previous schools commencement.  If you think graduation is boring, go to one for another school!  The shuttle to the coliseum was an air conditioned charter bus.  Coming back, it was a yellow school bus with all the windows down.  I'm pretty sure the charter bus was a trick to keep people from abandoning the shuttles and trying to park downtown. 

The whole thing feels kind of anti-climactic.  Kind of like I remember my graduation being.  More of a foregone conclusion than a big deal.  Sydney sang a solo; the choir sang True Colors and four seniors had solos in the first verse.  Syd was one.  I cried.  Then, there were speeches.  Then, there were the names.  Sydney has an unusual last name that constantly gets messed up.  She declared that if they mispronounced it, she was going to refuse the diploma.  Thank goodness, they got it right.  But, there was a pause before he said her last name and you could tell he was studying it.  She said one of the other teachers on the platform said it in his ear.  Then it was over and I wandered through chaos, trying to find her, but was not able.  Just as I gave up, she borrowed someone's phone and called me and we met up, and made it back to the bus in time to ride with Rob and his Mom.

Here we are at graduation dinner.  That's Rob's Mom in the back. 
I watched other families celebrate graduation.  It was like watching a party that I hadn't been invited to.  When we asked questions or tried to make plans, all we got was "I don't know" and attitude.  At one point, I felt lucky that I was getting invited to go at all.  Unfortunately, that's how so many things have been the last nine years.  I've come to accept Syd's need to control us by doing this.  And, I've gotten pretty good at dealing with it.  But, it drives Rob up the wall. 
Because we couldn't make any plans with her, because she didn't know anything about what was going to happen and wouldn't ask, we were left to make plans for ourselves.  That meant we didn't meet Syd's unexpressed expectations of her graduation, so she was disappointed.  And, she didn't know how to express that, so she aimed it at us.  But, I recognized what it was.  She has no friends.  There was no party.  She was looking around and seeing the party going on around her and she wasn't feeling invited either.  And, I felt sorry for her. 
She worked all weekend, so Rob and I did things with Gramma.  
And, today, I go back to work and leave the three of them with the day to enjoy.   
Life is such a funny thing.  Repetition.  I see myself in Sydney.  She wasn't with us for the first 9 years, and there's a whole lot going on there that I'm not responsible for.  But, there's a whole lot there that is just like what I went through.  I didn't have big graduation plans and I didn't feel like I was part of what was going on and I didn't have friends either.  And, for many of the same reasons.  And, even with all that, there was nothing I could do to keep the same thing from happening to Syd.  She and I are messed up in similar ways.  And, I think it took somebody that understood that to be able to parent her through it.  I tried to affect it.  But, I couldn't.  All I could do was show her that things can change.  If you want them to.  And, I showed her that by changing, while she watched.  I'm not perfect.  But, I'm a better version of myself now than I was when she got here.  And, she got to observe that.  That really is the most valuable thing I can possibly hope to pass on to her. 
Families come in all shapes and sizes.  And, so do their celebrations.  Ours may not have been exactly like some of the others.  But, our celebration was us, doing it like we do.  And, that's the memories we get to take with us.  And, we can be disappointed.  Or, we can accept that this is how our family does things.  I'm feeling pretty accepting.  I think maybe it wasn't so anti-climactic after all.  And, maybe all I needed to do was write it down and share it with you to be able to see that.
Everybody have a great Monday!  Lane


MIL day

I finished the quilting on the race quilt.  I love the back, a very 80's southwest print.  I've been wondering where I'd use that print. 

I quilted it in straight lines down all those ditches.  Would I do that again?  NO.  That took longer than I anticipated, mostly because I can't quilt like that all in one direction.  I have to do it like a farmer plowing a field.  I get to the end of the row and turn and come back up the next row.  That keeps the quilt from shifting as I quilt it.  I once made a quilt and quilted one side of it top to bottom, cut the thread, then top to bottom.  When I quilted the other half, I did top to bottom again, which was bottom to top relative to the first half.  When I got done, I had a parallelogram with two 60* corners and two 120* corners (yes, I'm exaggerating.  But only a little bit).  I squared that, but it never laid flat.  It always wanted to pull on the diagonal.  So, now I always alternate the direction of each row. 

Now, to bind it.  Red, I think.  Or, maybe mixed strips from the 2" bin.  I dunno yet.  And, I don't have to decide.  Not today anyway.  If I get any sewing time over the next few days, maybe I'll work on that.  Or, maybe I'll do something else.  The only thing I can't do is quilt.  I can sew all I want.  Maybe I'll even make a shirt or something.  Who knows. 

Rob's Mom comes today.  She will be here for graduation on Friday.  The house is sparkly on the inside.  But, it's moldy on the outside.  I don't think the rain is ever going to stop.  My garden is having it's best year.  And, it's so muddy I can't get out there.  Not to mention the cloud of mosquitoes, hell-bent on my destruction lurking right outside the back door. 

Her request, as it always has been, is 'don't go to any trouble'.  Well, first, we like going to trouble for her, so it's no trouble at all.  She loves my food and is an adventurous eater, so we are having a simple casserole and salad tonight.  But, tomorrow night, it's Indian food - butter chicken.  Friday is graduation and I'm pretty sure we will eat out.  Saturday we always eat out, but I have Thai food in my back pocket in case I need something all of a sudden.  Sunday I'm making a roast chicken and cornbread stuffing.  Monday, something simple because she flies on Tuesday; probably Swiss steak and mashed potatoes. 

Sydney is making me cray-cray!  Don't be surprised if you drive past my house and find a cell phone nailed to a tree as a warning to other parents about out of control cell phone use.  Unfortunately, that is a battle we are never going to win.  All we can do is make sure she is prepared to live on her own.  Hopefully soon. 

Very soon. 

People say empty nest like it's a bad thing.  Who are these people?  Do they need a psychiatrist?