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Poppies

Last weekend, my housemate Pete and I set out for the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. To say it was breath-taking would be an understatement and it was precisely the thing I needed. Life is LA is stressful, y’all.

But this…this is magical.  



Worth every minute of the drive. If you’re in SoCal, head out to one of the lovely areas that are filling up with poppies and wildflowers (thanks to all that rain!).

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New Adventures, Coming Right Up

When you love sewing and quilting as much as I do, it can get a little crazy and let me tell you, my storage room was absolutely insane. The amount of fabric, patterns, books, notions, and tools was out of control and when I decided to take a new job in Los Angeles, I knew it was time to finally bring some sanity back to the mayhem.

It took me two full weeks, a yard sale and a massive donation to an art teacher friend of mine before it was brought down to a manageable level. I weeded out at least 2/3 of what I was storing (knowing full well I would never have the time or desire to use it all). It was only mildly painful to watch my fabric go away, but with the cash I earned I was able to justify the extra week off work between jobs. Hearty thanks to everyone from the Portland Modern Quilt Guild who came by, said hello, wished me well and gave my stash a new home. Mwah! 

I left that whole shelf unit in Portland, but then packed up (most of ( my works-in-progress, tools, sewing machine and sole mode of transportation into a UBox. Let me say that was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I honestly thought I might actually puke watching it drive away, hoping beyond hope that I’d see it again once I got down to Los Angeles. 

A week later I hugged my kids goodbye and boarded an airplane for L.A. I’ll be staying with my pal, Luke, for a while, getting acclimated to a whole new thing here. I’m incredibly grateful for his kindness and it’s just another example of friends being the ones are there for me.

So here we are…a month since my whole life shifted. I’ve got a lot to figure out still and hoping for the best, but so far any worries I had have been pointless and things are coming together nicely.  I guess it helps that I’m always up for an adventure.

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Trying to Catch Up

You know how life is, right? Too often the daily bits get in the way of doing the things I really want to do…like update the blog, add new tutorials, finish that pattern, etc. Every New Year’s Eve I think this will be the year to get stuff done. And then suddenly it’s New Year’s Eve again and I feel like nothing was actually done.

It was the same for me this past year, but then I started looking through my pics and realized that I finished 18 quilt tops (none of which were for me) and made more than 200 projects overall, including lots and lots of store samples and custom work. I taught classes at Fabric Depot and Nic & Fig’s. I released two patterns. Despite not getting more clothes sewn for myself (my real goal for last year), I got plenty finished.

So far this year, I’ve already finished two more quilt tops and onto a third. I’ve started, but not yet finished, a coat and a dress for myself. I have two patterns at the pattern-testing stage and my teaching schedule is nicely filling up. I’m doing okay, I remind myself.

Sometimes I struggle to savor the little accomplishments, instead worrying that I’ll never actually get to the big ones.

There are big things to come this year and I’m looking forward to every one of them: my first retreat teaching gig, new patterns, my daughter will graduate high school and I have a road trip to plan for late summer.

For now, I need to get back to planning out the classes for my upcoming Fancy Forest Quilt Along at Fabric Depot. We’ve just added our third session and the first one hasn’t even started yet…this one is gonna be a doozy. I can hardly wait!

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Row by Row Experience — have you played along?

Before this spring I’d never even heard of the Row by Row Experience, but from what I hear, I’m not the only one.

This nationwide shop hop is right up my alley, promoting brick-and-mortar shops and the quilters who love them. My work over the years with shop owners has given me a real love for the them and all the effort they put into have a local place for us fabric petters to converge. The folks behind Row by Row Experience are on the same wavelength and started this hop a couple years back to encourage quilters to seek out and visit their local quilt shop, then go on a little road trip to visit others. <3!

This year there are several shops in the Portland area participating, including Fabric Depot, Cool Cottons and Modern Domestic (is it weird that I’ve worked with all them at some point over the last three years?!). Each has a free row pattern for you, but you have to go into the actual shop to get it. And while you’re there… buy some fabric and notions.

Working with Fabric Depot, I got to design three different rows for the Row by Row Experience participants–applique, paper piecing, and patchwork.Row by Row - Bridge Row by Row - Mountains Row by Row - Sailboats

It’s been a bit crazy with thousands of patterns being taken and hundreds of kits bought. Awesome and nutty. It’s a challenge to try and keep up, but I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see people liking the designs.

Get on in to your local shop and see what they’ve got. I’d love to see what you make!

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Pattern Review: Sydney Top

Are you familiar with Seamwork? It’s an online magazine of sorts from the folks behind Colette Patterns that features articles about various aspects of sewing and includes a couple of patterns with each issue. When I got the May issue, I knew I needed to make the Sydney top that was featured.

I loved the cropped look since it would cover my shoulders in sleeveless dresses, but not cover my waist/hip curve (one of the few body parts I’m okay with).  I really, really liked the look of it. So when I had a recent Sunday morning all to myself, I set to it.  I found this grey, lightweight linen in my stash and thought it would the perfect addition to my summer wardrobe. Continue reading Pattern Review: Sydney Top

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Spring Scoot, At Long Last

Pardon me while I stray far from sewing on this post.

First, a little backstory–many, many moons ago, I was married to a guy who had a love for Vespas. We discovered them together in the first year we were married. Having grown up on the back of my dad’s motorcycle, the love for two-wheeled travel ran deep in me and I was more than happy to encourage a foray into the scooter world. He bought one Vespa, then another, a Lambretta or two, and even a Harley Davidson Topper. He taught me how to ride, but by then I was pregnant and he didn’t want me to ride. Meanwhile, he was making friends with the local scooter people and going on long rides with them. I stayed home, wishing I could join in. And once, he let me.

In May 1992, we drove up to Seattle and I rode on the back of his P200. I was nearly six months pregnant, but not yet showing much and could still easily sit behind him. I had a ball and couldn’t wait to get my chance to join in the fun after the baby was born. But that isn’t what happened. I never got the chance to ride again, though we had nearly two dozen bikes at one point. I was the stay-home mom and stay home is what I did.

Years later, in 2005 in fact, I dated a fellow who’d joined the scooter scene just as my ex-husband was leaving it. They didn’t know each other, but there were mutual friends and I became friends with several. But he didn’t have a scooter and either did I. I knew scooter people, though I never rode.

Then I met P and when we lived together, he bought a scooter–a little Honda Ruckus.  Not only did he let me ride it, he encouraged me to do so. I loved it and took every opportunity I could while I was there (and since!).

Ruckus Duo 2012

We broke up, life moved on (and a million things happened in between), then this last March a friend of the second scooter guy invited me to Spring Scoot 21.  Someone wanted me to join in?! I was thrilled and asked P if I could borrow his bike for the ride. He happily said yes.

And so twenty-three years after my first scooter rally in Seattle, I joined the long-established scooter rally in Portland. And it was more fun than I had ever expected.

We started out at Club 21 in NE Portland.  When I arrived at 6:30pm, there were a few dozen scooters of all sorts (though predominately Vespas, of course). The little Ruckus I rode is right there in the front left.

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By the time we left to ride to Mad Son’s, I’d counted 52 bikes, including several more Ruckus riders, a couple motorcycles, mopeds and lots of Vespas.  I did the ride, in the cold rain then decided to take the bike back to P for the night.

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We met up again at noon on Saturday in North Portland and took off for another ride. I have proof–that’s me in the video of the ride. I know it’s hard to recognize me, but I promise, that’s me in the big coat and knit skirt!

Spring Scoot video still

It was, to be honest, not the best weather for riding. We took off in dry weather, heading out toward Hayden Island, then turning and driving through St. Johns. By the time we had reached N. Fessenden the rain was falling and when we crossed the St. Johns’ Bridge, it was coming down hard enough to make visibility difficult and there was no way I was stopping for pics in that mess.

We rode up and through the West Hills and across the Ross Island, over to a bar and then on to a barbecue at Vicious Cycle. I headed home soon after and crashed hard.  (I woke up the next morning still fully dressed–I’d managed only to remove my boots before I fell asleep!)

The next day we met up at Catalina’s for a bit of brunch and giveaways before heading out once more, this time in a crowd of around a hundred bikes.

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There is something so awesome about driving in a huge group like this and reminds me fondly of riding in Vietnam. I can see how it might unnerve some, but I loved every second of it as we headed out around the airport and then eastward.

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As we drove past the Troutdale airport, I realized where we were heading and I couldn’t contain my excitement. It didn’t matter that my little bike was a half mile behind the pack, we were going on my favorite local drive… out to the Columbia River Gorge.

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We made it out there, twisting and turning along the Old Columbia River Highway with a stop at the Vista House before continuing on to Multnomah Falls. It was amazing and wonderful and so much fun to just ride and ride.

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Over the three days of the ride, I put more than 200 miles on the little bike. I couldn’t have been happier, honestly. It was wonderful and I am eternally grateful for P encouraging me to keep riding and for my daughter being independent enough for me to be gone so much.

This… this is my happy place. 20150411-182409-66249570.jpg

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Playing with color

I’ve made at least a dozen of the Circling Geese Pincushions now, sticking with the black Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen for the background fabric.  I just love the way it looks with the pops of color against the black and white threads of the linen.

I wanted to make another for a swap that I miserably failed at last year. If you follow my blog at all, you know at last year was a tough one with lots of health issues plus a heaping of personal/family stuff that didn’t make it on to the blog. I’ve had a tremendous amount of guilt for not following through as I had wanted with that swap and it torments me.

But now that life is starting to have some sort of normalcy to it, I’m trying desperately to make up for last year’s failings. One of the members of the swap is a real Carolyn Friedlander fan, so I knew I  what to use her  fabric, but didn’t think I wanted to stick with the black background with these. I decided to give the chambray color a try instead and loved it.

20150403-103642-38202620.jpgIt can be a bit messy along the way, pulling out all those papers, but the final piece  never fails to make me happy. And I absolutely how these play together.

20150403-103643-38203005.jpgNow to finish it up and get it in the mail. Better late than never, right?

 

 

 

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From Idea to Quilt

I’ve been wanting to get back into the teaching game since I returned to Portland, but first I had to find a place to live and a job. Now that both those needs are satisfied, I can start teaching again, at last!

I’ve long-loved curve piecing and while the Winding Ways block is clearly my favorite, I knew I wanted to start with a simpler design to teach. Something that was slightly out of reach for some people, but didn’t seem impossible.punchdrunkquilt_draft

Hence, the quarter-circle (aka Drunkard’s Path) block.

I am just learning Illustrator and not very good at it yet, but I did manage to make this little mock-up for the quilt I wanted to make.  I’d already picked out the fabrics (a bunch of polka dots from Michael Miller Fabrics).

Then I made it up with the EZ Quilting Drunkard’s Path templates (but Jen of Betty Crocker Ass offers them in a few other sizes if you want to give them a try).  It turned out pretty well, I thought.
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Until Charlene quilted it up and then I loved it. :)

punchdrunkquilt

It’s been kinda fun seeing it hanging up in the store the last couple weeks and I’m trying to get over the couple of misalignments that I left in there. You know… trying to accept my faults, even in quilting.  Who knew it could be so hard?!