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There Is Always Hope

52 Words Spread Layout

This is the prototype of the layout for the 52 Words e-book that I was working on last summer. I have a notebook with handwritten entries for about a quarter of the 52 pages. The words hope and renew are from an altered playing card deck that I made a few years ago. Eventually I will finish this book as it is often on my mind.

I think the passage on hope is particularly relevant for the world right now. Why do I always have hope? Because I was semi-comotose for 10 days in 1979, had a near death experience, was lost outside of my body wandering in a barren place, was found and brought back to my body on a long journey with an angel, saw a blinding white light, and then woke up. My life has not been the same since then.

Hope is (was) my one word for 2019. Hope places trust in the future… I hope things work out. Hope is a positive way of looking at life and brings expectancy and longing.

Hope does not turn away from difficult situations but abides in knowing there is a reason for everything. There is light in hope… the sun shines brightly in your heart even on a cloudy day.

To live with a hope-filled heart is to live with gladness and joy. Even in the darkest of times, hope can carry you through to the other side. You may not be able to hold hope in your outstretched hands, but it is there like a reassuring presence.

You can reach out to others and give them hope… hope for a better life, hope for the resolution of a problem, hope for a positive outcome. Sharing hope is a way of giving back that multiplies blessings in untold ways.

lake sparkles

I am a seeker of light and a light bearer. I am drawn to the water and I am drawn to the light. Both water and light restore energy and bring peace.  The life force and spirit is in the water, just as it is in all living things.

duck pairs

These duck pairs were looking for a place to build a nest one warm day about 2 months ago. This is a small pond which feeds into the lake. It is quiet and protected here, a good place for a nest. Later in spring there will be ducklings, and the duck family will venture out into the lake. I think of my home as a nest. My home is small, and simple, and it contains little things that nourish me and feed my soul.

heart tree

This art journal page is one of the February lessons from Effy Wild’s Book of Days 2020 found here. The heart in the tree can mean whatever you want it to mean…. loss, growth, strength. The quote written into the roots is an African proverb that I found in an online search.

When the roots are deep there is no reason to fear the wind.

Namaste.

Winter Retreat by the Ocean

View from my room

This month I was able to spend the weekend at a private winter retreat at Mercy by the Sea  in Madison, Connecticut. I did this last winter and blogged about my wonderful experience here. Along with my suitcase of clothes, I brought journals, writing workbooks, my prayer shawl knitting project, and books to read, but I tried to clear myself of any expectations so that I would be open to what might present itself. Imagine my awe when I found my room and this beautiful view of the grounds and ocean just outside my window. It was breathtaking!

After briefly walking the grounds in the long, cold shadows of late afternoon light and trying to settle into my peaceful surroundings, I enjoyed a communal meal with new friends in the dining hall. Everyone was so gracious and looked forward to the renewal and hope that a winter retreat in a special place like this can bring.

Sunrise

Waking up early Saturday morning, I got a mug of hot coffee from the dining hall and quietly made my way to the Seaside Room in the silent meditation area. I watched the sky slowly change colors and then the sun crested the horizon. It was glorious! All of my problems seemed unimportant as I witnessed the beauty of God’s creation. The ocean gently rolling over the rocks and beach as the tide comes in and the shore birds flying above the water speak to the ever flowing nature of the serenity of this place. It is as if time stood still for just a moment, letting in hope, faith, and opportunity for renewal.

Ocean sparkles

After breakfast, I went outside and watched the tide come in as I let the feeling of the ocean envelope me. I have gone through a lot of changes since the retreat one year ago. At this point in time, I am trying to figure out my life… where I’ve been, where I’m at now, and where I am going. There has been a coming to terms with things and an acceptance that I have not felt before. There has been a lot of growth, as well as a lot of questioning and discernment. There has been a renewal of faith, of spirituality, and belief in God. There has been hope, even though at times I felt like giving up. There has been a whole lot of seeking and soul searching.

Beach high tide

Sometimes the ocean is loud and pounds the shore, as it did when I walked the beach that morning, and as I was falling asleep the night before. Other times the ocean is quiet and there are barely any waves. The ocean sounds so different at high tide than at low tide. There is a crescendo of sound that builds up as the water approaches high tide and the waves come crashing in. And there is a gentle rolling feeling as low tide comes near. The sounds the ocean makes are rhythmic and calming, leaving footprints in your heart and soul. Time seems suspended in air.

Beach seagrass

Like last year, I did a lot of writing this weekend. But I did not fill as many pages with writing this year, 22 pages instead of 30 pages. It was sunny out and not snowing this year, so I was able to spend more time outdoors. It was truly wonderful to spend so much time outside in February in New England. I felt immersed in the natural world and it was very restorative. At home I try to walk by the lake several times a week even in cold weather, as long as the sun is out, and that has such a calming effect on me.

Rocky shore

It was so moving to be a part of this community that came together here for a weekend of individual prayer, reflection, and contemplation. On Sunday morning, everyone said goodbye and went back home to their own lives, hopefully bringing with them a piece of what we all shared this weekend.

Cairns

Winter Beach Contemplation

Pounding surf

Spending time in contemplation at the beach in January, the beginning of winter in New England, is usually a solitary pursuit. There is the pounding of the surf and an occasional shore bird, but you are not likely to see another person on the beach. It is windy, and often cold and grey. When the sunlight gives way to blue skies, the seascape can be magnificent. The air is crisp and clear, and the colors are deep and saturated.

Beach path

Following the path down to the beach, I wonder what treasures await me. Will there be a shell or stone that captures my interest? I like to comb the beach looking for small pieces of the shore to bring back home with me. Maybe several rocks and a shell or two will find their way into my pocket. Reaching into my pocket and turning my finds over in my hand brings me reassurance and roots  me in this place.

Trees long shadows

The grounds of Mercy by the Sea (located here) offer ever changing views of the ocean and the beach. At this time of year, the sun is low in the sky and the shadows are long. The landscape has a somewhat ethereal quality, as if the  trees could almost talk and share their knowing with me. I immerse myself in the silence and walk softly upon the sacred ground, letting myself feel the peacefulness of my surroundings.

Seated lady art journaling

I have once again joined a year long art journaling experience called Book of Days 2020 with Effy Wild, info is here. I have been taking online art journaling classes with Effy for many years and she is the best. I have been blocked and unmotivated the past few years, so I am making a concerted effort to participate in the class lessons. Watching all of the videos and showing up and meeting myself on the page is getting easier each week. Art journaling is becoming a practice again, something I used to have that got lost when life got overwhelming.

Feathers art journaling

People generally use acrylic paint for art journaling, but the feathers lesson was taught with watercolors and I am experimenting with using watercolors in my other lessons.  I used to paint in watercolors years ago, before I discovered art journaling, and they have a lightness and transparency that is unique to this medium. Acrylics are fun to use but they are heavy, mostly opaque, and not as fluid as watercolors.

Wooded path

Where do these steps lead? Could this be another path to new self discoveries? Last year I was contemplating change and renewal, see blog post here.  Today, once again, I am thinking about where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going. Life is a continual process of change and growth.

Christmas Gratitude

Baby first Christmas

Christmas this year is a time for reflection and gratitude. This was my little grandson’s first Christmas and it is a joy to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. We don’t post photos of my grandson anywhere online for privacy reasons, due to the intrusive nature of advanced facial recognition technology. I am happy to post this lovely Christmas ornament made by my sweet daughter-in-law with my grandson’s precious little handprint. The gratitude I feel for the love in my family is overflowing. It’s not just Christmas gratitude, it’s year round gratitude.

Christmas tree and Advent calendar

My small artificial Christmas tree is perfect for my small condo. The tree is about four feet tall and very narrow, but it holds all of my special Christmas ornaments. I purchased the tree on a whim when I had to work all day Christmas Eve one year. Driving from New Haven to Newington after work, I got the tree on clearance at my happy place, JoAnn Fabrics. There are a lot of angel ornaments on my tree, collected over the years. I like angels very much and everyone should have an angel to watch over them and keep them safe from harm. Currently I am working on a small appliqué quilt that has angels, moons, and stars. It is all handwork and a joy to work on. When the blocks are finished I will design a setting and sew them together by machine.

Christmas cactus

My Christmas cactus bloomed in November and the blooms lasted almost until Christmas. My aunt in New Hampshire has a huge Christmas cactus that is over 50 years old. They can live a very long life and are such a beautiful plant. They need the shorter days of fall, indirect sunlight, and a cool spot in the house to bloom. They only need to be watered when the soil becomes very dry. My Christmas cactus is only a few years old and I repotted it this past summer after it had been pot bound for some time. I found it at Lagana Florists in Middletown when I was waiting for Pamela Roose Specialty Hand Knits & Yarn to open, as I had arrived at the yarn shop too early. It was an unexpected treat to be surrounded by such beautiful flowers and plants and the florist was so gracious. Lagana’s has recently moved to a new location and I need to go check it out.

Trail of hope ornaments

This is the Trail of Hope in East Hampton and it is on the east end of Lake Road, not far from Lake  Pocotopaug. Every year in December, the landowners decorate the trees in the woods with thousands of glass ornaments that shimmer in the light, even on overcast days such as this one. It is a special and magical sight to behold, and I often go out of my way and head in the opposite direction just to drive by the acres of Christmas ornaments in the woods. When the wind blows through the trees, the ornaments gently move and sway, bringing the scene to life. It takes my breath away and makes me so grateful to live in this small town where people do such special things that touch other people’s lives.

Gratitude for All Things Creative

Lake grasses November

I feel gratitude for many things and especially for all the creative things in my life. There is gratitude for family and friends, being able to share time with them in special moments, in ordinary moments, in everyday moments. My grandson is such a joy and I treasure the big smile he always has for me. My family lights up my life. That is the most important thing in life, the people you love who love you back, and not just with words but with actions.

Gratitude for all things creative means that I have come full circle and am able to be spontaneous again and express my creativity in all the different ways that I seek to express myself. My art spirit is healed. I still have some fatigue, and some health problems, but things are getting better. Partly because I am learning to adjust to and accept my limitations, and to take better care of myself. Going full-tilt, nonstop like I used to do was never healthy and that took its toll. It is better to take time, to work mindfully, to go for walks, to take tea breaks, to eat healthy.

Sunrise anniversary quilt

I finished beading the Sunrise anniversary quilt for my son Joe and his wife Aurora. On Thanksgiving Day, I gave the wall hanging to them because I was so excited it was finished and couldn’t wait. The quilt was meant for their first anniversary, but I decided to add beads to the quilt, and beading takes a long time.  I found an assortment of beads that went well with the design at the bead shop at Nature’s Art Village in Montville, Connecticut. Although I have a very nice bead stash, I didn’t have quite the right beads for this project, so I brought a strip of muslin with small swatches of all of the fabrics attached and used that as a guide to choose beads. Beading is a meditational process for me and brings me great peace. I love beading and can spend many happy hours beading a small quilt.

Art journal spread emerging

Art journaling is very important to me. I have been watching some of my class videos (lifetime access online classes with Effy Wild are great) and I am following and participating in my art journaling online communities again. Art journaling is worldwide, but it is not like quilting, where there are quilters everywhere. The only place you can find a group of art journalers is online. Although I have not been art journaling weekly as I did before, I am enjoying the few pieces created recently and accept that I am creating space to bring art journaling back into my life. And it will come back, just like everything else has, and more. I just need to trust the process, and believe.

Hats crazy quilt

The November challenge for the Library Art Quilters was hats. I was not sure what I wanted to do and my first idea was to make a hat box with a hat to go inside of it. But that remained just an idea and didn’t make it to the drawing board. About two days before the meeting, I got a new idea. I did a google search for vintage hats and came up with some copyright free images to download. I chose the best four images, printed them out on one sheet of Printed Treasures Inkjet Printable Fabric, and cut them apart. Then I pulled out my bin of crazy quilt fabric and pieced four blocks on a muslin base. I used a Teflon pressing sheet so that the delicate fabrics wouldn’t scorch under the iron. I managed to get the blocks pieced and sewn together in time for the meeting. I plan on embellishing the small quilt  with crazy quilt embroidery stitches.

Wonky trees quilt

These wonky trees have been popping up all over the quilting internet and I just had to make some. There is a great tutorial on Diary of a Quilter’s blog  here. I am going to add some wonky stars and houses and I need to design some sort of layout to pull everything together. For now, I am enjoying the happiness that these trees bring. These are so much fun to make! No measuring, a few diagonal cuts, some sewing, and you have a little pine forest. I worked on these at a Wednesday sew-in at Lisa’s Clover Hill Quilt Shop. There are old friends and new friends at the weekly sew-ins and we always have a great time!

Book sale finds November

I am a member of the Friends of the Library and helped sort books into categories for the November book sale. There were some great treasures donated for the sale and I came home with a stack of books for about ten dollars. I have read the top two books in the stack and they were both really wonderful. The bottom half of the stack are children’s books for my grandson. He loves books, as I do. Books transport you to other worlds and enhance your life. It is so nice to have the time to read. Libraries are a treasure and I have been to five this month: Westport, Wallingford, Wethersfield, Portland, and East Hampton.

Reflections on Fall

Lake reflection

On my way out last week,  I noticed these spectacular fall reflections in the lake, clear as glass that morning. I pulled into the town beach parking area and walked around, looking at the small surrounding hills from different vantage points and noticing how the reflections of the clouds in the sky enhanced the fall colors in the trees. It created a true mirror image and I tried to capture the ephemeral feeling of the lake when it is calm. The water always changes, at different times of day, and throughout the cycle of seasons and weather patterns. 

Sherwood Island

Last weekend I was visiting my sister and I went to Sherwood Island State Park and walked the beach. It was chilly and I had forgotten my knitted hat, but I ignored the stiff offshore breeze and made my way across the sand. I picked up several small shells and added them to the shells I carry in my pocket, a little bit of the beach always with me. I also chose one round flat rock to bring home as a touchstone for the day. There is just something about the water and the beach that I am drawn to, like a magnet. It replenishes my weary spirit inside and brings me renewal. I may feel half broken when I approach the water, but I always come away healed and with my energy restored.

Button jar

Back at home, I decided to go on a foliage drive to Colchester, passing scenic ponds surrounded by colorful trees and several local farms along the way. There is a vintage shop in Colchester here filled with really cool  items in small booths filled by a variety of individual vendors. It is the kind of place you wander around slowly for an hour in amazement, looking at everything, and you eventually find something that you want to bring home. I found this jar of buttons and fell in love with it. I have a button collection, as well as my mother’s button collection acquired last year, but when I downsized from the house to my condo 3 years ago, I gave away many things, including half of my button collection. So this button jar represents a small effort to reclaim a piece of myself that was lost. Buttons are ordinary objects and that gives them a special appeal. The Raggedy Ann doll sitting on the chair came from this same vintage shop on a previous visit.

Leaves collage

On one of my recent walks I gathered fallen leaves and brought them home, unsure about what I was going to do with them. They sat out on the kitchen counter for a few days, and then I decided to trace a few of them onto scrapbook paper in my art to go bag and create a simple collage in my 5” x 8” Canson sketchbook. So I cut out the paper leaves and glued them down. I used Tombow markers to darken the colors in the leaf shapes. I added some jagged lines to the background with a Pigma Micron pen and then I colored the background with a NuPastel stick.

Swirly shapes

I drew some random curved shapes in my sketchbook, added small circles, and colored everything in a simple color scheme using my Tombow markers. I really like these markers because they are double ended with a point tip and a brush tip, they are water based so I don’t have an allergic reaction to them, they last a long while and don’t dry out, and they are reasonably priced.

Hearts on a string

This is a spontaneous heart and circle doodle in my sketchbook. I enjoy drawing things like this and coloring in the shapes with my Tombow markers using random bits of color. This sketch is reminiscent of the plastic party beads you can get at a party store or Mardi Gras celebration.

I am trying to be more spontaneous as a path leading into the things that nourish my heart and soul. I tend to be list driven and goal driven and that often gets in the way of being with myself and hearing what I truly need from the voice inside.  The small things in life are so important and they can go overlooked in that search to be doing important things that are not really important and not the essence of life.  I talked about my reflections on this here 2 years ago in a blog post called Contemplation and Renewal.

 

September Morning

Lake September new

September morning on the lake brings calm water with reflections of the surrounding hills shimmering across the lake. I like to walk along the lake in the morning after breakfast, sometimes walking for a mile, sometimes walking two miles. Alone with my thoughts and the barely perceptible sound of my steady footsteps, I work things out on these walks. Solutions to challenges form in my mind during contemplation and immersing myself in my surroundings, often  before I get back home. I treasure my walks and greet the occasional person who passes by on their own walk or run.

Christmas cactus repotted

My Christmas Cactus had been pot-bound since last summer and needed a new home. I went to Paul’s and Sandy’s Too Garden Center this month and found a lovely new pot and a small package of potting soil. Sometimes things need tending and in our hurried, busy, and distracted lives we neglect them… a house or garden plant, a noise in the car, a broken cup, a friendship, our heart, our feelings. It is too easy to say “I will get to that tomorrow” and before you know it, a small thing becomes something larger.

Condo August

This is the path to my front door and it feels like home whenever I come back from being out somewhere. It is a little magical for me to live here and I don’t know why. My condo is nestled in a complex that seems like a little village. When I walk down to the lake it feels special to be here, almost as if there is magic in the trees and in the air. It is hard to explain. It is almost as if I expect to cross paths with Harry Potter or Hermione. And of course it is magical for me to step inside my front door and see all my special handmade things everywhere.

Book Barn

The Book Barn in Niantic is a truly magical place and I went there Labor Day weekend. I am not sure how many buildings filled with books are there, but it is an amazing place for book lovers. There is a whole building dedicated to poetry. There are paths between the buildings with gardens and little waterfalls and there are plenty of places to sit and read or contemplate. I found From May Sarton’s Well, a wonderful selection of writings by May Sarton paired with photographs by Edith Royce Schade. What a treasure! And I found a lovely illustrated edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a Persian classic.

Collage strips study

I want to get back into art journaling again and have made some small beginnings along this path. This is a simple collage piece made from strips cut from a photograph in a magazine. I have a painted art journal spread in process down in the art studio and I am thinking about what to do next. For years I had a thriving art journaling practice and that has fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years. I am not sure what happened but I think it is because art journaling brings out your inner feelings and I was going through some difficult times and could not express myself. Everything is changing for me now and my world is opening up.

Improv quilt

I got the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters for my birthday in July and went right to the advanced section near the end of the book as I was fascinated with the curves and arcs. I did not follow the rules and rotary cut with a ruler instead of freehand, as that suited my hands better. I don’t need any more stitches in my hand. I had so much fun with this, moving arcs around, adding to them, and I did some unsewing as the first arc I made looked too planned and not random. I got it all safety pinned down to white muslin and now I am hand appliqueing the arcs and inserting color bands in the gaps. This is a great book!

Scarf tiles purple

I have been quilting a lot this summer and I also like to knit. This tiling scarf will keep me warm this winter and it coordinates with the hat I made last winter.  I am not a great knitter and I make mistakes when I knit, but that’s OK. The enjoyment is in the doing. It’s not the end of the world if there’s a mistake in a handmade piece and it actually gives the piece character. If you don’t point out the mistake, chances are that no one will notice it. Life is like that too. We learn from our mistakes and we grow with them. A mistake can pave the way to great discoveries and lead us down a better path that we might not have otherwise taken.

The Pause Between Breaths

Collage rooted

I decided to pause between breaths and create some collage pages in one of my art journals last week. Sorting through some magazine pages I found these images that expressed exactly what I was feeling, so I cut them out and glued them down with a glue stick, pressing them down firmly with a brayer.  I  have some Art Bin flat storage boxes filled with a collection of assorted papers and ephemera, and magazines are stacked on top of the Art Bin boxes. I always pause to check the sharing bins at the library entrance for magazines with interesting photos to add to my collection of collage materials.  Today I found five gardening magazines filled with beautiful flower and garden photos so I brought them home with me.

Mercy by the Sea

At the beginning of August, I went to Mercy by the Sea to reconnect with myself and to sit quietly in reverence and contemplation. July had been a very busy month. I tried to do too much and I found myself feeling like I was being pulled in too many different directions. I felt very scattered. I had either already joined or contemplated joining eleven different groups in my local area. I had a renewed appetite for group activity after a long absence due to my previous work life, and thought I could do everything. But I was not enjoying myself and needed to hear the still, small voice inside of me and explore things on my own. So I took a hiatus from most of the group activity and I am a lot happier now. My day is now inner directed rather than outer directed and my life seems to flow with ease. Last month (see July blog post) I was meandering and now I am finding my way.

Hammonasset Beach

Last Sunday morning I went to Hammonasset Beach with my wonderful son, his lovely wife, and my baby grandson. There is something very calming about sitting on a blanket stretched out on the sand, feeling the sand beneath your toes, gazing out across the water to see the clouds and the distant sailboats, and listening to the waves as they touch the shore. For me the sea is a magical place and time stands still here. I always come away from a visit to the ocean with a feeling of inner peace and calm.

Chandelier quilt

I have decided to focus on quilting and this is bringing me to center. I still do other creative things, but quilting has become my primary activity. Of course, this was not part of my original plan two months ago, but quilting is calling me and I need to follow that inner voice. I love the way geometric patterns come together. I love fabric, the colors, the textures, the patterns, the shapes, and I love playing with graph paper to develop my own designs and then bring them into Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape on the PC. The quilt above is the Chandelier Quilt found in the book Charm School by Vanessa Goertzen. I saw this quilt on Flickr and fell in love with it so I had to make one of my own.

Tula Pink Quilt Blocks

I have not made a sampler quilt in many years, but I got the book Tula Pink’s City Sampler – 100 Modern Quilt Blocks for my birthday and these little 6 inch blocks are so much fun to make! I am using fabric from my stash (collection) and it is exciting to revisit fabrics that I had forgotten about (fabric has memory) and use them in new combinations. In this quilt I am going with a rainbow of colors and anything goes as far as what colors pair up with others. So far I have completed 30 blocks and I hope to make all 100 blocks and most likely will set them with white sashing and border. It will be exciting to have a fresh modern quilt for my bed!

Meandering and Finding my Way

lake wooden bridge

Now that I no longer  have to leave the house at 7:00 in the morning for the long commute to work, I am enjoying taking a two mile walk by the lake some mornings. I am meandering at my own pace, noticing the small things along the way, pausing to reflect or take photos, and greeting other walkers, runners, dog walkers and bikers in this active lake community.  During these walks I am finding my way in defining my new life and thinking about what I want to do with my creativity and my time. I am asking myself many questions… where do I want to go, what do I want to do, what are my goals, what do I want to learn, who do I want to spend time with, who do I want to connect with, what do I want to let go of, and what do I want to embrace?

impatiens raindrops morning walk

If I hadn’t gone out walking right after the rain stopped, and if I hadn’t been paying attention to my surroundings, I wouldn’t have seen the raindrops that had formed on this impatiens flower and had not yet dissipated in the emerging sunlight. It is important to let your thoughts meander and come full circle unfettered to gain clarity, but it is equally important to let go of your thought stream and immerse yourself in the present moment, the reality of what is physically present  to you. Too often your thoughts can take over instead of coexisting peacefully with your surroundings, and then you miss the moment. I try to practice my own form of  side by side awareness of what is inside me and what surrounds me, creating a flow back and forth between my inside and outside states of being. My thoughts become more mindful in this way and mindfulness becomes a part of my thoughts.

half moon circles quilt

Last weekend we had a 3 day heat wave in Connecticut and much of the northeast. With a heat index of around 110F,  I needed to stay indoors with the air conditioner running for the duration. It was kind of like a reverse blizzard except I didn’t have to shovel my car out afterwards. Fortunately, I had wanted to do something with curved shapes and had recently purchased the 4 inch Drunkard’s Path templates from John Flynn. This is an old traditional quilt block pattern that I was never interested in making, but when I realized the templates could be used to make half moons and circles, I was in. I had been to a presentation by Auntie’s Two at Colchester Mill Fabrics the week before and had purchased some light blue batik fabric for the background, so I was all set. I had so much fun putting this quilt top together and would like to teach this method at my quilt guild next year!

small tiling quilt basted

This is a small tiling quilt (12 inches x 13.5 inches and 275 pieces) that has been sitting in the UFO (UnFinished Object) pile for a long while. I had quite a few UFOs at the old house,  but I gave most of them away when I downsized to move here. This is a new UFO project that I discovered when I cleaned out the IKEA cube bookshelf in the sewing studio. I started free motion machine quilting it yesterday and I am kicking it up a notch with free motion quilting patterns from Angela Walter’s books. She does awesome longarm quilting but most of the ideas apply to a standard sewing machine as well. By the way, I went for longarm quilting training at the Wallingford Library Collaboratory, made a sample quilt with 10 inch squares to practice on, and now I need to book time for a longarm quilting session.

little Raggedy Ann

 

Little Raggedy Ann waited a long while for me to finish her, 2 years to be exact. I made the body, complete with “I Love You” embroidered on her heart, and then she sat there for a year, when I made her dress. A couple of weeks ago, I made her pantaloons and pinafore apron. I really don’ t enjoy the process of making dolls and have only made six or seven. I do love dolls  when they are finished. This doll has a story behind her. They all do.

When I was downsizing to move into this smaller space with no walkup attic, I gave away quite a few of my possessions and only kept what really meant something to me. There are only 2 things I regret giving away. There  was a little log cabin doll quilt and I have since made another one that is in the UFO pile and needs finishing. And there was a little Raggedy Ann doll that I had found at the Barn, a vintage shop in Hebron, while shopping with my friend Kate. I found the vintage pattern on Etsy and my friend Leonora gave me some vintage 70’s fabric. The trim on the apron and rick rack on the dress are from my mom’s sewing room. I am very fortunate to have my mom’s buttons and decorative trim and a lot of her fabric. My mom was an excellent seamstress and I learned to sew on her cabinet model Singer sewing machine when I was eleven years old.

52 words - spread layout

I am meandering a bit here and I hope you can see how one thing leads to another, and then another. There are many things that I want to do. It has only been one month. I have accomplished a lot. I have been hesitant to get into my writing practice and it will come in time. 52 Words is an e-book that I started 2 months ago and I have not worked on it since, so this is also in the UFO pile. I have an altered card deck that I made with 52 different one words, and I want to do a page of writing for each word. I love to write, I love to journal, and I am so grateful that I no longer have to do technical writing for an architecture/ engineering firm, as that was extremely boring and frustrating.

Creative Business Launched

I have big news! I retired from my marketing career last week and launched my creative business! This is something I have wanted to do for years and it is finally happening. I am working on my business plan and initiatives include teaching, pattern design, e-books, tutorials, art licensing, magazine articles, and other creative opportunities.

I will be teaching quilting at Middletown Adult Education starting this fall and I am preparing handouts and lesson plans to keep my class on track. This session I will be teaching a striking medallion quilt which uses a log cabin block variation set in the barn raising layout. I added a simple pieced border to enhance the design without overpowering the center. The quilt can be made in a one color scheme as shown here or a multicolor/scrappy version. This is an oversized lap quilt and can be made larger to fit a bed. The nice thing about quilting is you have choices and can make the quilt your own way.

I finished the top last week and now I need to reserve time on the long arm quilting machine at the Collaboratory at the Wallingford Public Library so that I can quilt it professionally.

Medallion quilt

To celebrate this big change in my life, I went to  Vermont Quilt Festival this week, my first time attending New England’s oldest and largest quilt event. The quilts were amazing, with a broad range of quilt styles including  modern, abstract, pictorial, art, traditional, and antique. They were all breathtakingly beautiful, every one a work of art by the hands of the maker. I walked into the entrance and was amazed! I have been to many local and regional shows over the years and this show was incredible.

VQF Entrance

The antique exhibit, Quilted Treasures of New York, was curated by Sharon Waddell and sponsored by Yankee Pride Quilts, Essex Junction, Vermont. The quilt hanging from the ceiling in the foreground of the above photo is Prince’s Feather 4-block, c1860, from southern Orange County. The quilt in the photo below is Albany Lily,  c1870. Typically the maker of an antique quilt is unknown, unless the quilt came with a provenance such as from an estate. The age of an antique quilt can be estimated based on the fabrics and the dye colors. I am partial to antique blue and white quilts and find them very soothing.

VQF NY quilt

I took a class with Karen Stone called Bloomers and learned some new techniques which could apply to other types of work. There were three interlocking shapes and I managed to get far enough along that I was able to put together the three basic units. This was more of a process class than a product class, so you needed to take what you learned and continue working at home. I really enjoyed the class as it was unique, I learned new things, and Karen was so gracious.

VQF Bloomers

I would like to share part of my process with you. I like to create mind maps as a way of seeing an overall picture of my life as a guide and have been doing this for about 10 years. This will be helpful in creating balance in my life with my creative business. I learned about mind maps when I was working  with researchers as a webmaster/website designer at The Institute for Community Research in Hartford, Connecticut.  Mind maps are a useful tool that can be applied to many things as a way to visually organize information and they are fun to create.

Mind Map