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!

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

Poetry, Writing, and Finding my Voice

This poetry in my art journal came about as a lightning bolt of inspiration over the weekend. I have been reading poetry (Mary Oliver, Hafez, Rumi), and writing in my journal, and knitting a lot. But I have done very little art journaling over the past 3 months. It is not that I was blocked. Rather, I was afraid of what might come out and didn’t want to face that. My work is intuitive, comes from inside of me, and at times it can plumb the depths of my soul.

change-poetry

I went to East Hampton Writers Guild Wednesday night after a 4 month absence. I was not sure that the group was going in a direction that I wanted to follow. And I am tired all the time, especially at the end of the work day, due to some new health problems that are going to take a long time to resolve. But I was glad I went and reconnected with the group which meets at the Bevin House. I went to see my writer friend Megan there on Saturday as I had some questions about my writing and wanted to talk. Megan is the innkeeper there and she has a wonderful blog here. We shared a lot (it was great!) and I came away from our visit feeling much better about myself and my writing. I wrote 2 poems Saturday night and I created the art journal page on Sunday.

Bevin-house-LR

My son and his wife gave me a year long subscription to Storyworth last year for Mother’s Day. There were weekly email prompts in a memoir vein that they preselected for me, and there is an app that lets you edit your stories and add photos. At the end of the year your writing and photos get bound into a physical book. It was an incredible amount of work and some of the prompts were difficult to answer, but it was very rewarding to see the finished book and hold it in my hands. Some of the writing is extremely personal so I can only share it with family.

storyworth-book

After creating the poetry art journal page, I was inspired to go back to Life Documented and pick up where I left off, at week 14. Life Documented is a year long art journal prompt blog site located here, with weekly prompts and monthly themes. The theme for July was butterflies and I did my own thing.

butterflies-LD14

I had an empty space in my stairwell and I remembered that I had two art quilts that were mirror images of each other, still in a box from the move 2 years ago. So I found those and I got them hung alongside the other quilt. It makes me smile to see them when I go up and down the stairs.

quilts-in-stairwell

Finding My Inner Compass

I have been going off in a lot of different directions over the past month and I feel a strong pull towards finding my inner compass. I want to do everything but I can’t do everything. I want to create art, I want to knit, I want to make quilts, I want to write, I want to read, I want to take classes, I want to socialize, I want to be a part of things, I want to pull back into myself, I want to center myself, I want to focus, I want to grow.

I am already taking three classes and am behind in all of them but today I decided to sign up for a one day Visual Journaling workshop with Kathryn Costa at True North Arts. Kathryn has been my friend for years and she shares her refreshing outlook on life on her blog and in her 100 Mandalas community. This will be a great way to recenter and find my compass.

ATC Georgia O’Keeffe quote

I have been thinking a lot about friendship and what it means to me. I have a lot of friends but I don’t usually get too close to people. I don’t feel comfortable sharing a lot of things about myself and that is just the way I am. At times I have found myself wishing I could be more open but I don’t want to be like everybody else. I want to be me. A few close friends is really all you need. One advantage of being an introvert is that I am both perceptive and a good listener, and those are qualities that make me a good friend.

GHQG quilt retreat 2018

I went to a four day quilt retreat at the Ivoryton Retreat and Conference Center at the end of April. There were old friends and new working on many colorful quilts. Everyone brought their own sewing machine and quilting projects to work on. I brought way too much stuff as I was not sure how long it would take me to complete each project.

Mom memorabilia 2nd

This memory quilt about my mom has been waiting to be finished for some time now. All that it needed was the binding but I needed to be sure that it didn’t need to have any more buttons sewn on before I could finish. I have mom’s button collection and she had sorted the buttons by color – they look lovely!

Lattice quilt mary

This lattice quilt took up most of my time at the retreat and more time when I got home. It is made from floral fabrics from mom’s sewing room and was started at the March quilt retreat at Camp Hazen. It was a lot of work to put this together – there are 196 blocks in all. The ones I made for my sisters had 120 blocks and were oversize lap/couch quilts. This quilt is going on my four poster double bed. My friend Laura is machine quilting it as she has a long arm machine.

Spring Quilt Show

It snowed again on Friday and everyone in Connecticut is wondering when spring will arrive as it is delayed this year. It is cold out and indoor activities involving art or quilts are perfect right now.

I went to a quilt show at the Haddam Neck Congregational Church today. It was so nice to see all of the colorful quilts draped over the pews and hanging from the rafters. I enjoyed some homemade soup and bread in the tea room and that was a wonderful treat.

Haddam-Neck-quilt-show-2018

This crazy quilt caught my eye with all of the embroidery stitches and embellishments. These quilts were popular at the turn of the 19th century and were found in many Victorian era homes, often displayed in the front parlor.

HN-quilt-show-CQ

I enjoy embellishing quilts and small items. I am adding beads to two quilts right now but they are not far enough along for a photo. Here is a little embellished jewelry pouch that I made a while ago.

Jewelry pouch

I am slowly redecorating the sewing room/ art studio/ home office. I got this chair for the sewing table on clearance at Staples on the way home from work one day. I had been using folding chairs with not much padding and they were not very comfortable. This was a big improvement! I want my art space to feel good and be conducive to my creativity.

Sewing-chair

I got an armless swivel chair for the desk from Amazon. It’s a tight space and there was no room for a chair with arms. This is perfect for me. My next purchase is a 2’ x 3’ bulletin board which will arrive on Wednesday. I can use it as an ever changing vision board. It is going to hang vertically above the art table. I try to stick to a budget so I do a little research to find the best value and price for an item.

Desk-chair