26 February, 2013

It's Good Here


My ladies (and one guy - hi David!) rocked it in the two Perfect Circles classes at QuiltCon. Such committed participation, consumption of chocolate, choruses of 80s ballads, and a collection of circles. I had a great time teaching, a seriously great time. I hope all my students felt the same. And my volunteers were incredible.

QuiltCon was a fantastic event. The Modern Quilt Guild, especially Heather, did a wonderful job putting on a big show. A quilt show, merchant mall, classes, lectures, and more don't come together without a heck of a lot of work - hard work - and loads of dedication. It was a committed team that pulled it together and an amazing group of volunteers that delivered.


One of my favourite moments of the entire event was listening to a lady scream on the phone to a friend about this amazing show she was at. The lady had merely wandered in from the RV Show going on in the next exhibition hall, but she was staying and exclaiming her delight at the quilts. She said she wanted to go home and learn how to quilt RIGHT NOW after seeing that quilts could be so much more than what she thought they had to be.

Indeed.

It was a busy weekend between teaching, taking classes, and yes, drinking beer. I never got to a single lecture, missed an entire aisle of the merchant mall, and only saw the show in it's entirety the last half hour it was open. There was a book signing and quite a few gentle hugs. And a lot of neon one night. There was the chance for longer conversations with friends, old and new, yet some missed ones as well. For those of us working in this industry it was nice to be here, in a much more relaxed environment, compared to Market. Spending time at meetings talking about real life instead of contracts and pitching ideas. It's still work, but we had the chance to breathe a bit more. 

Of course, that may have had something to do with being in Austin.


20 February, 2013

11 months


Just sitting in the airport, my kids at home. There is an ache in my breast that is more than my heart. Yesterday was the last day I nursed my baby boy, my little man.

Don't get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled to be headed to Austin. Hubby is by my side (wondering why I'm blogging on our layover). The kids are home with Baba in baking heaven. I get to wear necklaces again, like mine from here and here. And I'm going to QuiltCon. Hello!?

But I nursed my baby boy for the last time yesterday. We shared a fleeting moment in the pre-dawn light, our last gathering in the dark, skin to skin. I can't admit to loving nursing, but I have loved the relationship it builds. That I am so needed, that we have something no one else can lay claim to. But he's a mobile, curious creature now. He's got more important things to check out (like his sisters) and greater things to eat. 

Seriously greater things, he has well earned his nickname of The Garbage Truck.

So I kissed him softly in the middle of the night as we tiptoed out of the house on our way to airport. If you see me this weekend, hug me gently or just slap my butt, because there is an ache in my breast.

18 February, 2013

Circles Everywhere - QuiltCon Prep


Phew. Finished my QuiltCon prep with less than 48 hours to spare. It might not have been that stressful if I hadn't decided to make all new samples for my class. If you're in my class be prepared to be overrun with circle blocks! Despite the work tossed around and in between school, dance classes, naps, and swimming lessons I had a lot of fun. Circles are just awesome. I may have mentioned that before.

It was great to just get in my fabric and play. Some wonderful colour combinations, finally using up some of my treasured text prints., and even cutting into my Indian cottons. I do hope that the students in my class appreciate the effort.

My QuiltCon schedule looks something like this:

Wednesday - Leave ridiculously early for the airport so we don't get stuck in customs like we did when we went to Spring Market. Fly. Eat BBQ, compare to Kansas City.
Thursday - Teach Perfect Circles. Drink Beer. MQG Leaders Meet-up. See the bats at the bridge.
Friday - Teach Perfect Circles. Convince my husband to wear the Adidas track suit I got him for the 80s party.
Saturday - Yoshiko Jinzenji pillow class. Lunch and catch part of the show and lectures. Lotta Jansdotter Printing class. Drink beer. Hang with my SIL and her Mom too.
Sunday - Denyse Schmidt Improv class. Book signing in the Stash Books booth 1 pm. Back to class. Drink Beer.

Of course, this schedule, particularly the beer drinking part, is highly dependent on my husband. Despite his terrible experience at Market he is coming to another major quilting event with me. I know it's because he loved everyone he met so much, and not the possibility of beer, BBQ, and visiting the new F1 track. Or because we are travelling without our kids.

If you see me in Austin feel free to accost me and say hello. I am loud and brash, but very friendly.

17 February, 2013

Under This Unbroken Sky (Weekend Reads)



About the only time I read is right before bed. I snuggle under the quilts, a cup of warm almond milk with honey in hand and the book that generally lives beside the bed. Some nights I manage to make it through more than 2 pages before falling asleep. But if I don't grab those two pages I usually can't sleep. The next night I inevitably need to read one of those pages over to remind myself what happened.

You can see why it takes me a while to get through a book, at least since having my baby boy. Either through some miracle or because of good books, I've managed to get through two novels already this year! Two! The latest finish is Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell.

A friend loaned me this book solely on the premise that the story is about Ukrainian immigrants settling on the Prairies. Why, that's my background! No, I wasn't a settler, but my Dad was, after WWII. The setting, the descriptions of the home, the land, the people hit quite close to home for me. I saw my Baba in the women of the novel, both my Dad and my Dido in the men. I imagined the joy of a heart shaped rock in the children in the one room school house located uphill in both directions. I felt the dirt of the frozen floor.

I wonder if it was Mitchell's writing or my own experiences clouding the read. I mean, I've been on the farm my Dad's family settled and the quiet, tiny, drafty "cabin" they lived in. It was nestled on the edge of some trees, with a view to a massive stack of wood (for the stove), a slough, and the start of the farmland. Oh, how I hated going to that farm as a kid. So backwards, so scary. Now, however, I totally appreciate the labour, the hardship, the opportunity that cabin and farm provided. It only took me 25 years to get there.


This is also a story that goes beyond the hardship of settlement and tackles the struggles of family - abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, and sibling relationships. Or maybe that is still the story of settlement? There are painful, cringeworthy and heartbreaking scenes in the book that literally make you gasp and hold your stomach. There are joyous and beautiful moments of love that make you want to get up and dance.

Mitchell's writing is haunting. She captures turns of phrases familiar to this Ukrainian, she describes the farm in a way that has you digging out the dirt under your fingernails. And she captures the emotions of the characters so well too - one day you love one, the next day you want to smack the petulant child, and the day after that you desperately want to correct his confusion.

I'm a sucker for good storytelling, and this novel is it. Is it any wonder I managed to finish it in less that a month with my bedtime routine?

13 February, 2013

The Secret is Out

"Mama, are you a famous quilt writer person?" So asked The Monster at dinner tonight.

"To some people," she then added.

Sigh.

Well, maybe...


My next book is coming out this summer! It doesn't come out until August, but the monolith that is Amazon has it available for pre-order. A Month of Sundays focuses on my obsession with low-volume fabrics. It includes quilts and more, so much more. It demonstrates the trust my publisher, Stash Books, had in me to include more writing than your standard quilt book. It includes the phenomenal photography of Kate Inglis.  It celebrates the joy of the lazy Sunday, from sleeping in under a glorious quilt to shopping for flowers to dessert at Sunday dinner.

I am beyond excited to share this book with you. It's been an intense experience, coming on the heels of Sunday Morning Quilts, and written in conjunction with the pregnancy and birth of my baby boy.

I can't wait for you to see it all.

In other book news, Sunday Morning Quilts has been nominated for a 2013 Golden Quilter Award. How cool is that? I'm not a fan of shilling for votes, but if you've got a minute we'd love yours. Check out the other awards too, it is a veritable who's who of quilting. Thank-you to our anonymous nominee. And thank-you, faithful readers and supporters.

11 February, 2013

Wine Gums




Winegums
40'' by 55''

Look, I finished something!

This is my version of Amanda's quilt from our book, Sunday Morning Quilts. Such a fun piece. Little scraps, some raw edge appliqué, and really casual quilting. And look at that Washi fabric from Rashida on the back! Because of that I went with a grey and white dotty binding, instead of a harsher contrast with black and white.



I started this quilt off on the wrong foot, when I didn't read Amanda's actual pattern in the book. That left me to come up with a different way to stabilize my little pieces. It wasn't a big deal and I'd happily use glue again. But I did follow her directions for quilting the piece. One straight stitch underneath each row to keep it all in place and make the rest of the quilting easier. Then free motion stitching following each arc - over, back, and over again. If you don't love little frayed edges after washing then this might be a challenge to your sensibilities, but it is worth it. Think of it as another layer of texture.


Pre-washing above, post-washing below.




There is a part of me that wishes I had made it bigger, like my original plan. That will just have to be another quilt. I'm sure I'll have scraps enough!

Considering that I never made my son a baby quilt I think he may lay claim on this one, if he ever stops his commando crawl long enough to savour it.


(PS Sorry about those top two photos, they get all blurry when I put them here... working on it.)

10 February, 2013

Quilting Magazines (Weekend Reads)


There is no denying that I have a bit of a magazine problem. I LOVE reading magazines. At one point in my life I subscribed to at least a half dozen, faithfully reading and mentally indexing issues. Then I was broke, then I had kids. Magazine reading fell away. There was also that storage issue. Lately, however, I've been flipping the pages again.

These two quilting magazines are some recent favourites. I enjoy quilting magazines that are heavier on the articles relative to the patterns. Quilty is a fresh face on the scene, run by the effervescent Mary Fons. And look, that's Amanda's quilt on the cover of one of the latest issues! And starting soon you'll find me in there. I'm writing regularly for the magazine and I'm thrilled to be part of the team.

The other magazine in this week's stack in A Quilt Life, a Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson creation, published by American Quilter's Society. I have to say that I really, really like this magazine. And I'm not just saying that because Amanda and I are in the latest issue. This is a quilt magazine that you actually read. Full of profiles of quilters, with the stories behind the creations, behind the creativity. Even the patterns include quilter's stories.

Speaking of patterns, the one we've got in this issue marked the opportunity for Amanda and I to work together again. It had been a while and it was so much fun! This is another scrappy project, completely inspired by our recent renos (hers and mine). Amanda pieced the quilt just from the concept of a Paint Chip, then she sent the quilt to me and I quilted and bound it. It is an easy and fun pattern, and you could go crazy picking colours to match your own reno.


08 February, 2013

Friday Favourites: Q-Snap Frame


A hand quilter by nature I am not. I don't mind it, especially the methodical nature of doing it, but I don't love it.

That being said, I've had this project lingering and it is time to get it done. (Oh, those UFOs!)  Besides, it is winter and there  is some good TV on. Now I feel productive while watching Finding Bigfoot with the family.

I love my Q-Snap frame for hand-quilting. I'm a stabber, as opposed to a rocker, with my hand quilting, so keeping the fabric taut is important. Armed with my frame and my over the shoulder mentor in Barb I am set. This winter I will finish this quilt.

05 February, 2013

Peace


Peace.

Both a complex and simple thing. We all know we need it and it is about the hardest thing to create.

As a quilter, a creative soul, I find peace when I see, cut, play, sew, and even fold my fabric. I get inspired by the creations of the designers or other quilters. And when I get those moments - whether they are stolen in the early mornings, between naps and loads of laundry or I am luxuriating in an entire morning of hot tea and a pile of fabric - I find my peace.

Sure, there are many among us who love and adore solid fabrics and revel in the quiet energy they reveal in a quilt. I am not one of them. I love exploring the patterns and concepts that designers put out there. I love playing with the patterns, mixing it up and seeing who plays nicely together. I like creating order from that potential playground catastrophe.

there is peace in pattern


My jumping point for the fabric selection, and the inspiration for this piece definitely comes from this stack of Architextures from Carolyn Friedlander and a strong compulsion to create.

Free pieced letters, a la Unruly Quilter. Slabs upon slabs as we outline in Sunday Morning Quilts. A design wall to bring it together.

And there was peace.

03 February, 2013

The Red House (Weekend Reads)


Well, I did manage to get a bit of reading done on our recent vacation. Not as much as I expected, but that's okay. I only got the chance to read during N's naps. But that would also be the time Hubby and I had alone so we often spent those three hours on our balcony chatting and drinking beer. I brought 3 books with me and only finished the one I'd started before we left: The Red House by Mark Haddon.

Haddon is a writer and artist. Take some time explore his works and blog. Fascinating at times, honest, and visually quite inspiring, especially for us quilters.

I was really looking forward to this book. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is one of my all-time favourite novels, also by Haddon. But the writing style that is so perfect for that novel was not as great when it came to The Red House. It is written from the point of view of every single character, jumping from each one constantly. Rather frenetic and it takes some getting used too. Kind of like reading thought bubbles in a comic book. Effective in telling the character's story, which is what this novel is about.

This is a novel of family history, family drama. There are certainly parts that many readers could identify with, and others that seemed completely incredulous. Then again, I'm not a hormonal teenage boy (one of the characters). It is also a novel of shortcomings, that is, of the characters discovering, accepting, and trying to overcome their own. It is like Modern Family without any of the humour.

It is a compelling read, perhaps not for vacation, but still worth finishing.

I refuse to waste my time finishing books I don't find interesting. I've got little time to enjoy reading so I like to make the most of it. It took me years to come to this conclusion but I am much happier for it.

Thank-you so much for the book recommendations too. I've read a number of the novels you suggested and have noted the others for 2013 reading.

01 February, 2013

Five Little Things


In anticipation of Quilt Con - which is only 3 weeks away folks! - The Modern Quilt Guild asked folks to share 5 little facts about them. This is so when you see me on the show floor or are taking my class you can accost me with these random facts and I'll wonder how the hell you know these things about me.

I'm fairly open here and if you've been reading for a while you'll know plenty about me, including these tidbits from almost 5 years ago (I can now make rice krispie squares). That's why I had to dig deep for these five things.

1. I never wanted kids
Hubby married me knowing this. The moment I changed my mind came after a few too many beers and watching Adam Sandler's movie Big Daddy. Sad, but true. Look at me now.

2. I have a third nipple
So do other members of my family, our lovely genetic quirk. So when Friends was on and Chandler was teased about his, we knew what he was talking about.

3. I swear like a trucker
Having kids has tempered that tendency, a little. But it is a daily challenge to keep my language in check around other people.

4. There are at least 7 more books brewing in my head
I could work full-time on writing books and be deliriously happy, but I do need to pay attention to those kids I decided to have.

5.Seventies music rocks
Being born in the mid-70s, I was too young to remember the music specifically, but I have a weird obsession with having 70s music on whatever music channels are available. Even the soft rock stuff.