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Filming for The Quilt Show

One thing I never expected to happen in my life:

  • film an episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.

But that’s exactly what I did on Saturday afternoon.

The craziness began at Quilt Market in the spring when Alex came by the Shannon Fabrics booth, excited to share the Wyatt Wolf quilt with her audience. I’d made it with a bunch of Luxe Cuddle, Cuddle Suede and Kona Cotton –which is kinda crazy in and of itself– and used a paper piecing pattern from Violet Craft to do it.  She invited me to come on the show and I did.

We talked about the Wolf Abstractions quilt, as well as the Ascension quilt I’d made with Hawke, a denim quilt I’ve been working on as a commission and the Freewheelin’ Single Girl quilt I made for myself.  All include fabrics/materials that are atypical in quilting: plush fabrics, denim, knits, used clothing, silver lame and more.

I have watched a dozen or so episodes of the show and have always enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting the level of production or kindness that I got.  Ricky is incredibly talented and his quilts left my mouth gaping. Alex is a pro at making people comfortable. Everyone behind the scenes was happy to answer questions, fetch waters, help carry samples and be there when I needed them.

The best part, though, was that my daughter was able to join me and play personal assistant/cheerleader. It made the entire weekend so much better to have her there, supporting my work and calming my nerves.

The show will air sometime later this year or early 2019.

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Join me at Quilt Festival!

I'll be teaching at Houston Quilt FestivalI’m super excited that I will be staying in Houston after Quilt Market this November to teach at Quilt Festival!

Friday

Friday Sampler 10am to noon

Take the Fear out of Sewing Plush Fabrics 6pm to 9pm

Saturday

Quick & Easy Cuddle Quilts 8am to 5pm

Sunday

Sew a Luxe Stuffed Animal 9am to noon {SOLD OUT}

I’ll be making up kits and more tip sheets, prepping for all the classes PLUS I’ll be in the Custom Creations booth with Cindy, the Fat Quarter Queen.

I hope I’ll see you there!

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An Imperfect Storm at Sea

A month ago I was in Houston for both Quilt Market and Quilt Festival. Two weeks hanging out in the Shannon Fabrics booths during the day and in the hotel room at night. It was super fun and super duper tiring. My favorite part of these eventsis seeing what is happening out in the quilting world. I don’t get to shops very often and rely on the Internet too much to keep me abreast of what’s new and exciting. So getting out and walking the aisles at Quilt Festival was a real treat.

In one of my quick forays out, I ran across the Flynn Quilt Frame Company booth full of tiny little quilts. Intricately-pieced traditional designs. While I love a good modern quilt, I’m a sucker for the traditional as well. I couldn’t help but swoon over the array and it didn’t take me long to settle on this itty bitty  Storm at Sea kit. (And the fact that it’s been out for 8 years and I’ve never seen it before makes me a little sad, but we’ve remedied that!)

Storm At Sea mini quilt kit

I’m a sucker for a good challenge and this one ranked right up there. I’d brought along my Singer Featherweight so I didn’t have to go weeks without sewing (because you know I’d lose my mind). I pulled the little machine out of the box that night and started piecing the laser-cut square-in-a-square bits. mini square in square blocks

You don’t even have to look that closely to see that most of them aren’t even real squares. The 1/4″ seam allowance wasn’t perfectly straight on each one. Angles ended up being slightly wonky. But that wasn’t the point of this project… I just wanted to make it  for my mom. I could do it perfectly and make it frustrate me. Or I could just sew it up because I love my mom and know that she likes purple and she won’t care that it isn’t perfect because either am I and she still loves me.

sewing my Storm at Sew mini

I sewed after Quilt Festival closed each night and spent a few more days working on it after Festival and before I went back home to Los Angeles. The need for perfection is there, assuredly, and there were a few times I had to take stitches out to get it slightly closer to perfect. But my mom is worth it.

laying out my Storm at Sea mini

I sewed the sections, one bit at a time until I could lay them out on the floor. I was hoping I could get some cool layout with them, but truthfully  Quilt Market Hangover is real and when you add in a little Quilt Festival Hangover, too, my brain was just too too tired to do anything really fun with it. I convinced myself that it was pretty enough as is.

Sewing together Storm at Sea blocks
Each quilt block finishes at 4 1/2″ wide (ish), so room for error was basically nil. Most of these blocks didn’t come anywhere near the perfection that I had wanted and there were a few times I had to talk myself out of simply throwing them all away. Those little overhangs and wonky intersections that don’t match… Even now they kill me a little, but this was an exercise in just letting go. Let it be. Don’t get stressed out about it. Just do it with love and acceptance. This mantra repetition was so hard for me, to be honest, but I knew I needed it. I can be ridiculously hard on myself for no reason.

I’m sure I’m not the only one either. We can all pick on ourselves more than we should and there are so many times where the internal berating has made me do some dumb things (take a rotary cutter to an imperfect quilt block, throw away an unfinished dress, toss out patterns). None of these things make me feel better in the end; they only reinforce my self-bashing. I swore I wouldn’t and I didn’t. Instead I just worked through it, tried my best without getting angry for the mistakes and finished the whole top.
As a whole, I thought it was beautiful and I convinced myself to stop looking at the little bits. Take in the big picture–it’s a lovely little quilt top. But it needed to be quilted and I really, really am not good at that one yet.

I gave it a try on my regular Pfaff 130 with the industrial motor. Great for piecing, not so quilt for quilting this guy. Despite using a walking foot it would get help up on seam intersections. It didn’t stay straight. I quilted about half of it. Had a good cry and picked it all out.

quilting with the Singer FeatherweightI took it to the Featherweight instead and that little beauty did it as well as I could have ever expected. I have a lot to learn on how to make the quilting look good and keep it even, but hey, it turned out. It’s usable. I won’t be humiliated to have my mom hang it in her home.

I’m not perfect. Either are my quilts. I’m learning that that’s okay.

Storm at Sea mini quilt

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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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So much writing to do, so little time

Most of you probably know that I spent some time with my kids in Vietnam a few years ago, but if you don’t, you can see the brief recap in this little video (I made for a continuing education course):

I knew I wanted to write about it even before we left the country because what we were doing was different from most families, let alone single-parent families. I blogged it all and took copious notes then started writing the book in 2008.

I went for it with gusto, writing at night, forming a critique group. I really was going to write a book, I thought. Then life got a bit derailed and I  questioned my ability to write, my parenting choices, the audacity (not to mention hubris) to pen a memoir. I gave up completely.

But when I returned to Portland last summer, the writing group I’d started back when I first began writing the book was still plugging along and still encouraging me to get back in the saddle and finish this damn book. Several months later, I gave in and started editing the 60k+ words I’d managed to get onto paper.

I’d originally written it all in present tense and was absolutely sure that’s what I wanted. Then one reader after another mentioned that the tense bothered them, took them out of the story. Instead of making all the changes that would be required to put it in past tense, I simply quit working on it.

Now I’m back at it, spending weeknights at a local pub, making the edits my critique group encourages. Wondering how seven years have passed since I first began.

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This weekend I got the chance to really sink into it at a family friend’s cabin at the beach.  As of this morning, I have 28,662 words written, edited and ready for the To-Print file.  This makes me ridiculously happy. Happy enough to head down to the water, even amid the wind and rain, to catch a little break.

It’s so nice to be excited about the book once more and I’m ever grateful to Michele, Steve, Natalie, Jaymee and Prado for supporting this project since the beginning. XO.

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Sew Expo

I almost forgot to share the pics of Sew Expo–oops! Friday before last I got the chance to head up with the crowd of Fabric Depot customers to visit the Sewing and Stitchery Expo held each year in Puyallup.  The best part was that my mom was already up there and we got to spend most of the day together and I was able to introduce her to some of my industry friends.

I picked up some patterns, too. For only $5 each, I couldn’t pass up these two new dress patterns, especially the top one from Lisette. Liesl Gibson is one of my favorite designers/pattern writers and if you haven’t made up any of her patterns (she also does Oliver + S and Straight Stitch Society patterns), you really should. She knows what she is doing. 20150228-062509-23109505.jpg

I was able to finally meet Marcy Tilton and her sister Katherine Tilton thanks to Pati Palmer. So much design talent all together!

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My mom and I wandered around and happily ran into Luke‘s quilt at the Pendleton booth. Having done work with him, it makes me ridiculously happy and proud to see his quilts out in the wild.

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My friend Cheryl (of Paradiso Designs) was there and we got to catch up, chatting about bags, customers, industry shows and life in the Pacific Northwest. Then Amy Barickman came by and we  chatted more. I love her Indygo Junction patterns, too, and have made a handful of projects from her patterns. They’re well worth making, I promise!

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I picked up a few other things along the way…a little stamp to make 2.5″ pineapple  blocks, acrylic templates for 3.5″ drunkard’s path blocks, a new rotary cutter from Kai Scissors (and a pinking blade!), and the A Place for Everything bag from Patterns by Annie.

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It was a fun little jaunt for the day, but next year I’d really love to take a class or two.  And teach a class or two, as well, if I can convince the right people.

 

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Christmas in SoCal

This was a weird Christmas for us: the first when our trio wasn’t together and our first as a duo in Southern California. So we did something new and different.

I’m lucky enough to have my sister live just down the street, so on Christmas Eve, we went to her (bigger and nicer) home and made goodies together. I used my trusty old Good Housekeeping cookbook for the ginger snaps and the recipe Grandma Coates used every Christmas to make butterhorns. 20131227-194426.jpg

Both batches of Butterhorns turned out just beautifully and everyone who tasted them agreed that they tasted delicious. I don’t know, personally, because they are full of all sorts of gluten. I’d like to think that Grandma would be proud to have her Christmas tradition continue. 20131227-194441.jpg

But then there were the gingersnaps. The recipe called for shortening and unfortunately we only had butter. No one really wanted to try going to the store at 8pm on Christmas Eve, so we stuck with the butter. Probably not the best decision I’ve ever made. 20131227-194500.jpgI hear they tasted fine, but with no snap at all and almost the entire sheet made up one massive cookie. Sorry, folks, no gingersnaps this year.

Meanwhile my sister made truffles from my own recipe I’d given her years ago and while the ganache cooled, we watched A Christmas Story. Again. Yet I still haven’t read the book like I swear I will each time we watch it. Maybe I’ll get to it this year? Doubtful, but you never know!

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Traditionally onChristmas Eve we go out to my parents’ house and sleep over, but considering they’re in Oregon, the daughter and I just went home after the movie and wrapped a few last minute presents before heading to bed. Strange, yet not too bad.

We’d agreed to let my sister sleep in, but by 8:30 a.m.she was texting me to say her kids were more than ready to go, so we scrambled over there, opened gifts and saved the best for last.

A few weeks ago, I came up with what I thought would be the perfect gift for my daughter who likes to complain how we have no pictures or videos of her (in truth, she’s the second kid and I was newly divorced…). In fact, we have lots of photos of her, but not with me here in CA. I wasn’t even sure where they were when I called my son to see if he could help out. I wanted to put together a photo book of her life so far, but was swamped–could he do it for me? He didn’t even pause before giving me a resounding Yes! and he even had the big ol’ box of photos at his house. It was like a little Christmas miracle.

Over the next two weeks, he got more than a hundred photos scanned and designed the photo book for her, getting input from me via chat, text messages and phone calls during my commute. It was all very secretive and it totally worked.

Christmas morning came and I called my son via FaceTime so he could see as she opened the present, a thousand miles away from him. And he took photos to record the moment (while I took a screenshot).

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Seriously, it was the best Christmas I’ve had in a while thanks to her being happy with the gift and the joy of technology bring us together in new and different ways. I miss that kid, but it was really fabulous getting to see him (even if it was on a little screen!).

We finished up the morning by making yet another mess in the kitchen (which my BIL was so kind to just keep cleaning up after us) and made homemade marshmallows using  the delicious Martha Stewart recipe. I’ve made this a few times, but don’t attempt it unless you have a KitchenAid mixer. A hand mixer will never go fast enough and 15 minutes on high would kill the motor anyway. Believe me, I’ve tried. But luckily my sister has a KitchenAid, so we put it to work.

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After finishing the marshmallows and divvying up the goodies, we grabbed one pic of all of us and parted ways, with the daughter and I heading out to the desert to visit a friend, and my sister’s family heading to the in-laws. And no, I have no idea why the little one has to look so stone-faced in every single photo I ever take of him. He really is a pretty happy kid, I swear! 20131227-194617.jpg

One of my best buddies from Portland grew up in this neck of the woods and while she’s always headed down “to the desert” for Christmas with her family, it wasn’t until we got out there to visit her this time that I realized quite what she was talking about.

We drove into Lancaster area just as the sun was setting behind us creating an ombre effect in the sky that I really couldn’t catch on camera, but it was mind-blowing. Part of me wanted to stop the car and just stare at all that sky, but the part that wanted to get out to her parents’ house before it was pitch-black won out and we kept on driving.

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We wasted away the night chatting, playing games, having some dinner and basically just interrupting their family time, but the next morning (after a breakfast of donuts they bought special for my daughter–so nice!) we headed out for some desert tourism. 20131227-195506.jpgPretty much, it all looks the same. Mile after desolate mile.

But I found the Joshua Trees enchanting. When we’d driven in at nigh, we thought they were cactus and were super excited to see them. Turns out they are a tree instead and a rare one at that. There are all sorts of laws and permit-getting that surround the trees growing and being cut down (a huge no-no) because they survive in only a couple places and take pretty much forever to grow that big.

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This is actually in Jaymee’s cousin’s front yard. I was cruel and joked about the lovely landscaping, but seriously, you actually can’t really grow stuff here. You could lay out sod (and she says they’re considering it) but the cost of water to keep it would be ridiculous and besides, grass wasn’t made to grow in the desert. (Frankly, I’m not sure people were either!)

We learned in the backyard that tumbleweed is a real thing and sharp. I only saw one actually tumbling down the road, but there were stories tossed around of tumbleweeds as tall as a man, blocking traffic and frequently causing trouble in the area. After seeing the odd plants, I tend to believe the stories. 20131227-194758.jpg

We visited a couple of movie sets, including this one (Club Ed). It was made for a Dennis Hopper movie, but continues to be used for all sorts of things including something to do with Kim Kardashian. Supposedly she was there just last week, but since it was Boxing Day, the place was empty except for the security guy who just stared menacingly at us as we tromped around taking photos.

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The whole place looked like something right out of the first season of Breaking Bad with meth lab trailers and abandoned houses. (But really, can you believe how blue that sky is?!)20131227-194841.jpg

We drove a little further to take a look around the 4 Aces movie set which was featured in the odd little movie, Rubber, and numerous music videos, commercials and films. We grabbed a quick selfie before the security guard there made us leave and took aim for the small town of Little Rock and the infamous Charlie Brown’s Farm.

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There we found all sorts of new creations, including deep-fried Twinkies, Mounds bars, Snickers, and pickles. And they clearly need some lessons on being couth because that ad for the rice bowls makes me more than a tad uncomfortable. Yikes. 20131227-194928.jpg

They did have the most delicious Mango smoothie ever though, so that made me like them a little bit. And someone knew what her hat meant which made us both happy after the fellow at the counter asked her if she liked playing golf. 20131227-194940.jpg

Honestly, Charlie Brown’s Farm was one of the stranger places I’ve been to stateside with room upon room of oddities. We bought little matte marbles and a Native America-style painted wolf, alongside chili-cheese fries and the mango smoothie. They offered plenty more, but I think the doll rooms took the cake as the oddest part of the place. 20131227-194956.jpg

And this little guy one as the creepiest doll I have ever seen or ever hope to see. I just keep wondering Why? Who? WTF?20131227-195005.jpg

We didn’t stick around long, eating our lunch outside under the watchful eye of these concrete dinosaurs and flirting tigers. If you look closely to the left of the dino, you’ll see a pterodactyl swooping in, as well. Yeah, it was a weird place.20131227-195025.jpg

But weird is often memorable and I’m pretty sure this trip out to the desert is gonna stick with us for a while. In fact, we’re already planning to head back out to see Vasquez Rocks.