When projects go on hold

What does a quilter do when a project goes on hold?  Move on to another project! 

It was oppressively humid here this weekend.  The heat was bad, but the humidity was a killer.  And, then it would rain and be okay for about an hour.  And, then it was humid and ready to rain again.  So, not much yard work.  I cleaned out some dead growth from the neighbor across the street's bed, but that knocked me out.  An hours work and I was ready for the shower.  And, I must have looked pretty bad because Rob came to help. 

I ran out of apple green silk thread, so that project is on hold.  I'll order more thread today and in a couple days, I'll be able to switch back.  I was so close to being done with that analogous green quilt. 

On Saturday, I rearranged the sewing room.  There's a line in Torch Song Trilogy where Harvey says that it's easier to re-decorate than to clean.  I'm a believer in that.  So, when it's time to really get down to some dusting and cleaning, I just rearrange the furniture.  I move the sewing machines from one side to the other, a couple times a year.  Rob encourages it because it means I'm not trying to  rearrange the furniture in the rest of the house.  I'd show you pictures, but it still looks pretty crowded in there.  I'm still trying to create "a space for everything" and that means cleaning out the closet, too.  And, I just can't get excited about that.  I also picked all the borders off a quilt and re-pieced it, correcting a proportion error, but that's a blog for another day. 

Then, on Sunday, I quilted this little quilt and made an angel food cake.  I don't make many angel food cakes.  I should make more.  It's not nearly as hard as it usually seems. 

My guild is doing a "mini" quilt exhibit at our next show.  The theme is world of color.  This is my colorful contribution.  Maybe.  I have another one to quilt up and who knows, maybe that one will be my entry.  Or maybe both.  This was a set of Christmas ornaments or coasters from the 80's and instead of making a half dozen little quilts, I added some stash and some other block patterns and made one larger one.  The blocks are 3" and I think it quilted up nicely.  Just needs a binding. 

And, on Monday, I tried to clean out that sewing room closet and I got part way before I lost interest.  I just couldn't get into it.  But, I'm pretty sure I figured out why.  I have so many fabrics in there that I'm not interested in quilting with, but am saving for Linus quilts.  And, while I pull in a Linus quilt now and then (3-6 per year), I'm never going to use up all these fabrics for Linus.  At least not these two stacks and my scraps, which I've also devoted to Linus.  So, I feel some hard decisions coming on.  And, I'll be looking for simple quilt patterns that are good for large scale prints.  And, the free table at guild, because they've stopped throwing things away and started using the leftover scraps for dog bedding, so I don't feel bad about putting stuff there anymore. 

Since I couldn't motivate myself to move forward with the closet, I pulled out my new bag of batting and pin basted the Simply Delicious quilt.  It took a long time to iron the top and the backing but only about an hour to do the actual basting.  And, then I did some stability quilting and started the first block. 

That one is going to take a lot of quilting.  And, I haven't given any thought to what I'll do in the backgrounds.  As I was quilting yesterday, I was thinking about how to fill that in.  It will need to be filled in to make the applique pop the way I want it to.

The other thing that weighed heavy on me was my UFO's.  I'm doing my best to keep that in perspective.  Everything you're seeing is from the UFO pile.  I think I only started two new projects all of last year, except some Linus quilts.  And, this year, I expect to do the same.  There's only one Linus top in there right now, so maybe I'll pull down some of those Linus fabrics and let myself go wild.

Or maybe I'll just keep quilting up UFOs.

Everybody have a great Tuesday!  Lane


In a world full of hate...

Good people get out of bed every day and face the day with courage and peace and kindness.  Because if we do anything else, it means hate wins. 

Let us rise and stand tall and proud, wrap grief for a stricken world around us like a shawl.  Blend it with anger and peaceful defiance against those that would harm us to prove their self-importance.  Chin high.  Leaving a trail of kindness behind us like drops of water from a swimmer. 

Wrap that shawl around proud strong shoulders.  Shoulders that hold babies and support crying faces and stand tall and proud.  Shoulders that never stoop to hate, no matter how heavy the burden becomes. 

Be proud to be kind.  More proud than a killer of children can ever be. 

I grieve with Manchester.  I defy terrorism and hatred, bigotry and misogyny, religious zealotry, wherever I find it...and I seem to find it everywhere now.  I will not be cowed by self-importance and judgment.  I will never stop defying those who hate by loving those who are kind. 



Just another manic Monday

I needed a kind of quiet weekend.  While my cold hasn't been able to gain a foothold, we are still doing battle.  And, fortunately, I had several sit on the floor and don't move around a lot projects.  Cleaning and straightening; sorting; putting away the ten thousand things I pull out between putting away days.  And, it was rainy outside, so a good weekend for that kind of projects. 

And, I spent a good bit of time quilting.  There were a couple false starts to the continuous line of feathers in the second border.  Creating a curvy line where the feathers vary in size and aren't exactly reflected on the other side of the spine is hard.  There's a proportion there that has to be respected and I'm just learning about it. 

I have this many borders done.  Except that darker green stripey fabric.  Not sure what to do with that border yet.  Maybe the same thing I did with the dotted fabric. 

Creativity, speak to me!  Speak to me soon!  And, don't make me buy another spool of that expensive silk thread, please.

On Saturday, Rob put in our new microwave.  Our old microwave was old...very old.  When we re-did the kitchen, we researched and bought good appliances.  And, they've lasted well for many years.  We've had the micro repaired once.  But, this time, it was slow degradation, then death. 

And, leftovers wept. 

We bought the exact same micro this time as last time.  Except the last one was off-white, and this time, I'm replacing the appliances with stainless.  The next one to watch is the dishwasher.  It has some issues with the racks and replacement racks are soooo expensive.  And, last night, as if on cue, Rob and Syd couldn't get it to start.  We finally did, which was good because it was full and I would have hated to add that to the pile I created that I had to hand wash yesterday afternoon (I'd had a baking binge).  But, now we're on the watch to see what happens next with it. 

I'm still feeling pretty high from last week.  My boss's reaction wasn't really what I expected.  Or maybe it was.  He didn't seem to share my excitement.  He's always just a step off of where I am...and where I need him to be.  But, we're forging through.  Making the best of a very bad situation that we both inherited and disagree about how to resolve.  Finding one another's strengths and respecting them.  And, we're starting to laugh sometimes.  That's new.  That's improvement. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  I hope it leads to a wonderful week!  I'm going to go see if that silk thread has gotten more expensive. 



It was a good "Lane" week.

Well, the conference went great, just as you predicted.  Well, mostly great.  I picked up some bug either Monday or Tuesday that started to show symptoms on Wednesday.  And, today, it stopped showing symptoms and started kicking my butt.  Congestion, headache, something going on in my gut.  Airborne to the rescue.  They may have had to stop advertising how great they are because they couldn't prove it.  But, I'm still a believer.  Doesn't help with the symptoms.  I have to take something else for that.  But, it helps build the immune system to fight things off. 

Or, it's a sugar pill and the healing is all in my mind.  Personally, doesn't matter which one. 

Monday was good.  Travel was easy and I had one of the smoothest flights ever.  Like riding in a car.  Monday night dinner was German and I'm not a fan, but I went anyway.  Until they started drinking shots, then I walked back to the hotel.  (disappeared like a puff of smoke)

One of the event planners was out sick (he's off the hook for giving this to me, but he's the only one) so the rest of us split his responsibilities.  I ended up introducing all the speakers and playing the icebreaker game.  In the first two rounds of the game, nobody matched.  But, in the third, almost everybody did. 

The first speaker was a company VP.  He's someone I've known remotely for years, but he remembered me.  I introduced him and we played the icebreaker.  As I was talking, my throat started to close up as it does in emotional situations (except when I'm angry, then my throat doesn't have any trouble.)  But, I wasn't discouraged. 

Then, the CEO spoke.  I was very proud.  Walked right up to her, shook her hand, explained that I would intro her and we'd play the icebreaker.  We all got on stage.  It was an interview style session with Q/A and some audience questions.  I introduced the interviewer as if he were the speaker, then pointed to the CEO and said "this lady just wandered in to hear him speak."  I looked around the audience and caught her in the corner of my eye and her eyes were wide open and her mouth was a perfect O of surprise.  Then, I said "of course, we all know (insert name).  I've been following her career longer than either of us would like to admit.".  I think it was perfect.  Everybody needs a good surprise every so often.  Of course, we'll see if there is blowback from that because the rule is, you never surprise the CEO (all questions and rules of the icebreaker had to be submitted in advance).  I'm feeling pretty safe. 

The rest of my intros went well.  I made people laugh and got things off to a good start and helped set the tone of the meeting.  One of the extra jobs I picked up was the closing of day 1.  Administrative announcements and a wish to see everyone back tomorrow.  But, I started with "The only thing separating...you...from...beer.........is...me.  I really drew it out like I was going to keep on like that.  It was a gamble, but it worked.  Mostly because I didn't keep it up.  I got them out of there quick.  Instead of going to the baseball game that was the "team event", three ladies and I went to dinner together as an "alternative event".  That's three more people than attended the alternative event last time. 

Wednesday morning, "Welcome back to the conference, everybody.  Glad to see so many of you survived the night.  If there's good gossip from last night, be sure and tell ME."  And, we played the icebreaker.  The speaker that gave the answer to match said something obscure that nobody was going to guess, so I said "OK, thanks.  We may as well start the meeting now."  That got laughs.  One of my really good friends, and very sweet lady who is very...is ladylike a bad word now?  Because that's the way I'd describe her.  Anyway, from the stage, I heard her say "my only answer would be X-rated".  Boy, did I have some fun with that.  I said something to her later to make sure she wasn't offended and she wasn't, so I guess I didn't overplay that one.  We played the rest of the round and nobody matched.  Til I got to the last guy, who's a really good friend of mine.  He said he matched and I said I'd need proof.  So, I walked over and checked his piece of paper.  I don't know what he wrote on it.  Couldn't read his writing, but it didn't look like a match, but I said he matched.  Then as I walked away, I said "yeah, right" under my breath.  More laughs. 

At the last speaker, I started with "Well, this is my last time on stage.  Who else is excited about that?"  Pause for laughter.  "If you know me, then you know this is not who I usually am.  If you want to see a surprised look on a man's face, tell my boss about this.  It will probably take 25 or 30 of you before he believes it." 

Even though that was my last moment on stage, it wasn't my last moment to shine.  We have a sponsor for our meetings from a higher level of management.  He gave the opening and closing remarks for the conference per tradition.  In the closing, he thanked all the members of the planning committee and asked them to stand.  But, he forgot me.  We got to lunch and I walked up to him and said "love you too" and laughed.  But, the man was almost in tears he felt so bad about it.  I tried everything to make him feel better.  I explained that I had tooted my own horn for two days, and everybody knew I was on the committee.  I'd said it in my intro on day 1.  It didn't matter to me.  But, the one that had real impact on him was when I put my arm around his shoulder and spoke softly and said "you're the only one feeling bad about this and I'd appreciate it if you'd let it go because I'm on a pretty good high right now and I'd like you to feel that too."  It seemed to work. 

The other one was the event planner that does things like this full time.  She takes care of the logistics; reservations, accommodations, transportation, menus, handouts...that kind of stuff.  We had lunch on the hotel's roof.  And, it was way too windy for that.  It was sandwiches and the salad and bread were blowing off the buffet table and onto the floor.  People would pick up food on a spoon and it would fly at them.  If they were lucky, they could duck.  Table cloths blowing all around.  Napkins and plastic glasses all over.  And, the event planner was pissed.  The hotel should have known during setup that this would happen (even though I secretly believe it only started when we got to the roof because there wasn't any food blowing around when we got there.  It started after we got there.)  And, the hotel brought up extra staff and food to handle it.  I put my arm around her and explained that everybody was laughing and having a good time and she should let it go.  Then, after lunch, I could see she was still seething, so I walked over, plopped down next to her and said "we all took a vote.  We decided this was the most memorable conference lunch ever.  We'll never forget it."  And. I finally got her to laugh.  But, honestly, I would not have wanted to be the hotel representative that had to talk to her after it was over.  I'm sure she gave them an earful.  She likes things to be perfect because feedback reflects in her performance evaluation. 

I have a really obnoxious loud inappropriate co-worker.  She kept trying to make a big deal in front of small crowds about how I was only pretending to be shy.  She's always kind of a pain in the ass, so I sluffed her off and wouldn't really talk about it or let her get any traction on it.  But, it did make me think.  Part of what she said was right.  It's not that I'm shy.  I'm afraid of attention.  Attention hasn't always been a good thing in my life.  It's a risky thing that can go good or bad, so I learned to avoid it altogether.  But, I'm older now and I'm a better person with a stronger ego and maybe it's time I got a little attention.  Maybe I should draw a little attention to myself.  It sure wouldn't hurt my career any.  And, I'm kind of enjoying this feeling I'm having right now...not the feeling in my chest and nose, but the feeling in my heart.  I got a TON of private compliments.  I think I could do more of this. 

We'll see.

Have a GREAT Thursday.  I plan to.



Please speak into the microphone, sir

No, it's not a congressional hearing.  It's my conference next week.  You guys know how excited I get about these things.  I'm much better in smaller numbers.  But, these are things I have to do.  And, more and more, I've learned to schmooz and talk...okay, what I should have said is more and more, I have confidence to schmooz and talk.  I'm actually pretty good at it.  And, I'm never alone, so for some reason, people must like to be around me.  And, I'm constantly hugging necks or shaking hands. 

Anyway, each of our meetings is planned by a volunteer planning committee.  I've never done that.  I've always sworn I would never do that.  But, in my effort to be more involved, I knew I needed to do that.  I wanted to do a small meeting, but there were none, and when a nationwide meeting was conceived, I said yes.  If you've never done it, it's a LOT more work than you think.  Do you need a riser?  a podium?  and for how long?  how many tables?  arranged seating?  who sits at what table?  and the list goes on and on.  We were really sweating over a series of ice breakers and introductions for the speakers.  I felt like a fish out of water, so when they came up with an idea that I knew about, Match Game, I jumped in and turned it into a solution for both the ice breakers and the speaker introductions.  I watched MG as a kid when Gene Rayburn was the host.  But, MG doesn't really fit with a conference setting, so I came up with some adjusted rules that let most of the attendees play a round.  And then I wrote about 25 industry relevant fill in the blank questions.  And, last week, the very young co-members of the planning committee were still looking at me like I was speaking ancient Greek when I talked about the game, so I volunteered to run the game at the conference.  Speaking into the mic.  And, introducing the speakers, including the CEO of the company. 

Now, normally, I'd be kicking my own butt and trying to become infected with measles...or ebola.  But, I'm not really that worried about it.  I'm anxious.  I'm going to need to be funny, multiple times during the day, for a couple of days.  That's not my strong suit.  But, I've done it before.  I've taught classes.  I did a presentation at a quilt guild.  I introduce myself and talk about my quilts at guild meeting show and tell.  I can do this.  And, if I'm funny, that's great.  And, if I'm not funny, that's gonna be okay, too.  Because the point of it is, I'm trying, not how it goes.  Because no matter how this one goes, the next one will go better.  Just like the speaking at a quilt guild was better after teaching classes.  And, show and tell is easier after both of those. 

I probably won't get a wink of sleep Monday night.  But, I'm sleeping pretty good now, so if I'm being delusional about this and should be terrified, please don't tell me.

Here's something else I can do.  More TEXture. 

This is one of the borders in the green quilt.  It imitates the feathered star, so I wanted to do the same feather shape in it that I had done in the star.

This quilt is going pretty fast.  The corners of the border I'm working on are triangles that are twice the size of the triangles I've been quilting.  Next project is to draw a design to fill that space and then I can knock that border out.  Still haven't decided what to quilt in that stripey dark green border.  But, my creative process comes in spits and spurts, so I've just got to be patient and wait.

Everybody have a great Friday.  I'm looking forward to work being over for the week.  People at work are being difficult.  I work in a competitive environment.  I'm not competitive at that level.  I'm more of the guy that takes the idea that won the competition and turns it into something useful.  I'm the detail guy.  Everybody hates the detail guy because he's the one that constantly says "that won't work".  I don't get much credit for following that with "but this will".  They've stopped listening by then. 



More garden and sewing

It was another great weekend to work in the yard.  Well, at least until about noon.  Then, it was just hot.  Here is about a 3 minute walkthrough. 


We went to the garden center on Friday for potting plants.  Those annual bursts of color that fill in the bare spots in the garden, and brighten up the front of the house.  We trimmed trees on Sunday.  Our neighbor called me from the other side of the fence to tell me to cut my tree, because it drops leaves on her picnic table (once a year) and is pushing against her fence.  Believe me, we don't let anything touch that precious fence.  Her daughter has been staying there taking care of her and when the neighbor went inside, the daughter called me over to tell me not to pay any attention to her.  But, I know better than to do that.  If I do that, she'll be ringing the doorbell.  And, mad.  So, I cut off the part that hung in her yard.  That was not what she wanted.  And, I got to listen to them discuss it.  But, I did not come back to the fence for further discussion.  I wasn't taking down my little redbud tree that grew from seed. 

It's been a strange few days for interacting with people.  They're being especially difficult.  It's a good thing I have my garden to retreat to. 

This is about 2 minutes of the birds waking up. 


Since Friday, I've continued to add texture to the green quilt, but nothing to show off yet.  And, I've continued to make Sue and Bill blocks.  I sat down Saturday and made up the last kits to get 16 blocks.  I added fabric from stash to replace pieces from the original set that I'm not using.  There were a lot of whites and I'm using a white background, so I discarded them.  I started with 9 Sue and 5 Bill and I discarded one of each that was a white print with little red and green sprigs on it.  Too close to white to go on a white background.  And, I discarded some other pieces and mixed them around.  And, replaced pieces from vintage and new fabrics in my stash. 

Here are the first six.  I started one that I don't like and am going to "re-make".  It's too dark.  For children's blocks, I think they're kind of grown up fabric choices, which I think is perfect.  It's a grown-ups version of a child's quilt. 

Everybody have a great Monday!  It's the start of a new week.  Literally, anything great could happen.  I've just got to be watching for it.  Watching for the great, and trying not to pay attention to the nightmare. 



I wanted the one with the TEXture

Hi, all.  Just an update on the green quilt that I posted about the other day.  When I start a quilt, I don't always have a very clear view of how I want it to end up, just some vague ideas.  When I started this quilt, my idea was to create texture on the surface of the quilt to try to break up some of the green-ness of it and give it another level of interest. 

So, how's that for some texture? 

That section went pretty fast.  Now, I move out into the borders...there are 7 of them.  I haven't decided what to do in all of them, but I have decided this.  Because there are only four fabrics in the quilt, I'm going to quilt each fabric in its own way.  The darkest color in the photo above is only getting outline quilting, wherever it shows up in the quilt.  And, the lightest color is going to get denser filler quilting and feathers.  The apple green with the dots on it is going to get straight line outlining.  There's a stripe fabric too and I haven't decided what to do with it yet.  I'm planning to let that decision be made based on how the rest of the quilting looks.  I could do anything there.  Or nothing at all.



New projects

I love the constant variety of being a quilter.  Always something new.  Always some new inspiration.  Sometimes from unexpected places. 

Rob's birthday was Friday.  I think he had a nice day that day, but we really saved our personal celebration for Saturday when he and I went to Taylor, TX to check out the antique stores.  That was a bit of a bust, but he got a really good deal on a print of a painting by a painter he likes and I got a project.  And, we had a great lunch in Hutto, TX at the Texan CafĂ©, where they have a huge pie case and their motto is "Pie fixes everything".  Lunch was so big and so delicious that the pie had to come home for later.  We all commented that by the time we'd finished the pie, we were in a bit of sugar overload. 

Anyway, before we left, I pin basted this quilt. 

 Yeah, I know.  Lotta green, right?  I thought of the quilt as monochromatic.  I even took it to a class with Joen Wolfrom as an example of a monochromatic quilt and she helped me discover that it was really an analogous quilt, using three shades of green that sit next to one another on the color wheel.  But, you have to be using a really big color wheel for that to happen.  On my color wheel, it was just green.  Or at best, apple green. 

Over Saturday afternoon and Sunday, I got all the ditch work done and started on the filler.  I wanted some Pebbling.  I love pebbling, but it makes my left shoulder hurt, so I have to take a lot of breaks.  I have ideas for some of the looser fill, but will need to draw that and mark the quilt for those.  It all takes time. 

 This is the project I picked up on our antiquing trip.  I've always intended to make a Sunbonnet Sue/Overall Bill quilt.  I didn't know it would be finishing someone else's, tho.  But, why not?  It was pre-packaged inspiration for something I hadn't started yet.  I guess the Universe thought it was time.

But, it sure wasn't as easy as just picking up someone else's project and moving forward with it.  The original maker had cut pieces out of several really cute 70's fabrics.  That was the only draw.  The 70's fabrics are just what I remember my Mom making clothes for my sister out of.  Stiff and that polyester smell when you iron it.  And, that family memory grabbed me and got me to pay all of $6 for the fabrics for 12 blocks. 

Two blocks were pieced, but I suspect this was a child's project...and they didn't enjoy it.  The blanket stitching was a mess.  But, those two blocks were enough for me to draw a pattern.  She hadn't put the arms on the boy yet, so that took some figuring out and trial and error.  I basically traced what she had appliqued onto transparent template plastic, and traced that to paper.  For the boy, I folded the paper copy in half lengthwise to compromise on the lines and create symmetry between the two halves. Then, I cut the pieces out of template plastic so I can trace them onto the fabrics.  And, I trace from the paper copies to the fabric backgrounds.  I'm "re-combining" the fabrics.  She had matched the boys hats and shirts, so you couldn't tell them apart and the girls sleeves matched the dresses, and you couldn't really see them.  So, I'm poking around in stash, looking for fabrics to substitute in to give me a bit more contrast to those blocks. 

But, it's fun and distracting hand work.  And, when my hands aren't busy, I'm reading the news.  And, that's not making me nearly as happy as this sweet little Sue and Bill quilt. 

Everybody have a great Monday!!  Lane