Friday, June 23, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 06/23

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

LeeAnna Paylor, whose blog is Not Afraid of Color, suggested I try my hand at writing an "I Like" post. After the initial knee jerk reaction (more work; no way) I have decided to give it a go this week. Why the change of heart? It's simple really, I begin each morning by sitting at my desk and writing two pages in my gratitude journal. Much of what I am grateful for are things that I like. So, it isn't a big stretch to share some of the things I like wit you. 


Picking Up the Pieces #4,
my current in work in progress.
1) I like routine. The very fact that I start my day by writing in my gratitude journal means I don't have to wonder how to start my day.

2) I've been keeping a gratitude journal without missing a single day for approximately 20 years. I like to write with a Uniball Vision Elite Micro pen in a spiral lined notebook, preferably college ruled. The pen is vital. I like the way it glides over the paper. I'm left handed and writing with ink, especially using a ball point pen, results in blobs on the paper and ink smears on my hand. The ruled paper helps me with alignment.

3) I like getting my exercise in next. What I do varies with the weather and the day of the week. What rarely varies is getting my exercise in before the "work" of the day begins. This also means I only have to change from pajamas, to exercise clothes, to daily clothes, and back to pajamas most days. I also don't have to stop what I am doing, breaking the flow of concentration to get out and exercise. 

4) I like fruit in my cereal and since discovering almond coconut milk, that is my preferred cereal milk. Yum.  I am lactose sensitive and avoiding cow's milk makes me feel much better. I like feeling comfortable after eating. 

5) I like having a designated, always set up, studio space to create fiber art in. When I began quilting 30 years ago I used our dining room. Eventually, I took over a spare bedroom. It was cramped, but functional. Our move, seven years ago, gave me an actual studio, with room to spare. It's heaven. Although, I may procrastinate walking into the studio, I find when I do, it is easy to get work. I am like one of Pavlov's dogs. I may not salivate when I enter my studio, but I naturally start working with very little thought.

Here is what I have been working on this week: 

A detail from Picking Up the Pieces #4. Right
click on the image for a better view of the
feathers I quilted in the pink sections.
1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4 - Done!

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3 - Not yet.

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

I have been practicing filling space with feathers while doing the free motion quilting on Picking Up the Pieces #4. I had lots of practice this week. The more I did the better I got at the logic of where to start, where to go next, and how to fill the odd spaces, while making it look like what is there was my intention all along.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

Next week will be more of the same. Perhaps that should be less of the same. I have various commitments which will reduce, but not eliminate my studio time. I look forward to spending what time I do have on the following:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice


I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 06/16



Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

We often see herons
fly over the lake, or
catch glimpses of them
between the cattails,
since they tend to nest
or fish right at the shore's
edge. This week we were
treated to one far enough
from shore, perching on
branch so we could
observe it from our condo.
I'm thinking this has
potential to be the incentive
for Reflection #3.
The National Bike Challenge has begun in earnest for me. I've lost track of how many years my husband and I have been participants. I believe this may be our fifth year. Personally, I find it a great motivator to get out and ride. The challenge began as health challenge for employees of the Kimberly Clark Corporation. If you live in Appleton, WI, as I do, home to Kimberly Clark, it is known as KC and it is one of the largest employers in town. What makes this competition stellar for me, is that it is designed to encourage regularly riding versus weekend warriors. It does this by giving you 20 points for every day you ride and an additional point per mile. Therefore, if you ride as little as 1 mile a day, you automatically get 147 points for the week. If you rode one 50 mile bike ride on Saturday, it is just 70 points. I'm a natural "regular" rider and endurance versus sprinting is my strength. It is as though the National Bike Challenge was designed with me in mind. :)

We have two primary routes we ride depending on the day. When you ride the same route every day it is like making pots. The more times you ride it, the better you get at avoiding that pot hole which is tricky to see, divining the perfect spot to cross the railroad tracks, and even how to ride beside the tractor trailer trucks entering and leaving Great Northern. Once the basics become second nature it leaves the mind open to free association and/or problem solving. When scenery is no longer novel, you begin to notice the slight variations. For example the warmer than normal day when we spotted multiple turtles laying eggs. And oh, the sunrises! They range from subtle to spectacular. 

Picking Up the Pieces #4 went from
most of the blocks were nearly finished,
to settling on a design, seaming the blocks,
preparing the quilt sandwich, and finally
beginning the quilting.
What does participating in the National Bike Challenge have to do with making fiber art? Repetition. The more fiber art you make, the more you note what was difficult when you were first starting out has become second nature now. This leaves room to enjoy the nuances. Enjoy them I did, this week as I have been working on a piece which is technically easy for me, but only because I have 30 years of making quilts and art quilts behind me. 

Here is how the week went:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4 - Done!

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3 - Not Yet.

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

We biked every single day this week. In fact, we have biked 19 days in a row. 

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

When I'm not pedaling down the road, this is my plan on how best to use my studio time next week:

My quilting goal for Picking Up the Pieces #4
is to bring in a lot of texture while not distracting
from the Mondrian-esque piecing.
1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice



I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 06/09


Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Multitasking is a myth. What you are really doing is alternating tasks rapidly or as Dave Crenshaw has defined it, you are Switch Tasking. If you think you are the maven of multitasking, I highly encourage you to go to the this link Crenshaw's exercise and take the test. When I did this years ago it changed how I managed my time. 


One of my tasks is co-managing
Knitted Knockers of the Fox Cities.
These are knitted and crocheted breast
prosthetics. They are more comfortable to
wear than the standard plastic prosthetic.
We will be delivering our first set of 

twenty-five pairs of knockers to the 
Fox Valley Hematology and Oncology 
Center shortly. There are a group
of us to knit knockers. Mine recent
pair is the beige set lower left. 

I am often asked how I find the time to do all that I do. Like most people I find there is never enough time to do all I wish to do. Still, I find by compartmentalizing my time I get more done than if I bounce back and forth. I still struggle with ignoring checking my email, but for the most part, I read and respond to email three designated times a day. I assign Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday as my studio days. I will not schedule appointments or visit with others during these days unless there are no other options. On Wednesday I take care of the business of being a professional fiber artist. Fridays are set aside to write my blog, do the laundry and pay the bills. Saturday my husband and I look forward to running household errands together and treating ourselves to lunch out. 

What I have learned doesn't work for getting into the studio is clearing away business, emails, household chores and other tasks first, then hoping there is time to work in the studio. If I do all that I believe must get done before I give myself permission to head to the studio, I am guaranteed never to see my studio again. 

Yes, I did manage to spend time in my studio on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday this week. Not as much time as I might have liked due to inbox overflow for my volunteer work, but enough time to make progress on the following:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4 - Done!

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3 - Not yet.

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!
Four of the sixteen blocks needed for
Picking Up the Pieces #4 in a
pleasing arrangement.

I've been paper piecing the same block over and over again. Last week I said I would make six blocks in total. What can I say? I laid out the first five blocks and decided the piece would look better with sixteen blocks. Although each block looks the same, I can attest to the fact that I am learning, or relearning the nuances of paper piecing which work best for me.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Didn't get to it.

I am combing FaceBook, Leah Day's Newsletter and Pinterest for free motion quilting motif ideas for when it comes time to quilt Picking Up the Pieces #4

It hasn't taken me long to get back into the flow of my compartmentalized life since I returned from my travels. It feels as if I never left, which for me is a good thing. It means I have a natural rhythm going, allowing me studio time to attend to the following next week:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice


I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 06/02


Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

One of four similar containers
on our balcony.
Can it really be two months since my last post?  I greatly admire other bloggers who post several times a week even when travel and life add to their work load. Since my blog focuses on my studio work, something I can't physically do when I travel, a hiatus became necessary. Yesterday was my first day immersed in the studio since mid April. What a treat! I had forgotten how quickly the world falls away and I become engrossed in creating. 

The first of six blocks for my current
work in progress.
The disruption due to travel (I was away from home for 32 out of the last 45 days), coupled with gray, overcast skies left me longing for color. No surprise I selected the hot pink petunias to fill the balcony containers this year. It is also why I selected jewel tone hand dyed fabrics for my current project. Color both brings a smile to my face and relaxes me.

I'm looking forward to spending more time in the studio and plan to focus on the following:

1) Work on Picking Up the Pieces #4

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 and #3

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 04/07



Click on the image for an
enlarged view.
Front side of Picking Up
the Pieces #3.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Every Christmas season from 1974 until I became an empty nester in 2005, I made dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies to share at holiday gatherings, give as gifts, provide as treats for my family, and yes thoroughly test myself. It wasn't unusual for me to make up triple batches of cookies and bake most of the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. By the time the last tray was in the oven at the end of a baking session, I was physically exhausted and to put it diplomatically, a little frayed. One afternoon in the midst of this self induced Herculean task I made the choice to stop for the day. I would put the remaining dough in the refrigerator and start again the next day. I can't begin to express how liberating it was to give myself permission to stop. It was so liberating I shared this story with a fellow "driven" parent. She was shocked. She admitted she could never stop a task like baking cookies part way through the process. 

Back side of Picking
Up the Pieces #3.
I like to use fabrics from my stash or
leftover from the front side
on the back side of my quilts.
I knew it was a long shot, but I hoped to quilt 100% of Picking Up the Pieces #3 this week. I had the usual known interpretations of three meetings to attend. I had the usual unknown interpretations of an additional meeting and new work with a deadline requiring it to be given immediate attention. I refused to be distracted. I focused on using the in between times to quilt. Honestly, I could have finished the background quilting. I made the conscientious decision late yesterday afternoon to stop. Why? Basically, for the same reason as my choice to put the dough back in refrigerator. I might have been able to push my way through to a finish. But would the quality be up to snuff? I could feel the long days both physically and emotionally draining my reservoirs of energy. Sometimes it just makes sense to stop. There is always tomorrow.

It was a focused week as you can see from what was and wasn't worked on:

1) Work on  Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3 - Done!

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - Not Yet

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

I wasn't happy with the flames
I practiced last week. They just
didn't dance the way I wanted.
So, I spent several hours
researching other ways to draw
flames. I also wanted to hide
Satan in flames. He isn't hidden
on this practice piece. He is more
subtle on the actual quilt.
I made pots in several ways this week. First, I played with different flame designs for the background for Picking Up the Pieces #3. I did this through researching flames on the internet, lots of doodling, and one more free motion practice piece before I put what I learned into quilting Picking Up the Pieces #3. Since I opted to use the flame motif throughout the whole background, I made hundreds and hundreds of flames - pots. My prior free motion quilting gives me the experience to manipulate designs around other elements in the quilt (bees) and quilt a design right to left, left to right, top to bottom and bottom to top. 

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

Next week will be focused on getting closer to the finish on Picking Up the Pieces #3. I doubt I will finish. I can see the finish line. I know what I need to do to get there. Although my to do is list remains constant, as evidenced below, I suspect 100% of my efforts will be driving me towards a finish.

1) Work on  Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 03/31



Picking Up the Pieces #3 
is ready to quilt. If you look
closely (right click on image
for an enlarged version) you
can see the novelty bee fabric
I used as part of the backing.
It is peeking out from the sides.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

I read once that people tend to underestimate the time it takes to do something they enjoy, while overestimating the time it takes to do something they find difficult or tedious. This doesn't seem to be the case for me with the different phases of creating a quilt. No matter how many times I baste a quilt, no matter what method I use (hand stitch, pin baste, or fuse) the time to do so is always longer than I expect and it is one of my least favorite parts of quilting. Perhaps this is due to my eagerness to get to the quilting. 

I spent a good deal of this week's studio time going from completed quilt top to basted quilt. Actually, I basted two quilts, because I needed a quilt sandwich to practice ideas for how to quilt Picking Up the Pieces #3. Since this was for practice and experimentation only, I opted to piece together my batting from "small" pieces I save just for this purpose. Of course, it takes time to piece the batting. I also pieced the backing for Picking Up the Pieces #3, since I have a fabulous novelty print fabric which has been in my stash for several decades which is almost a mini, more neutral toned version of the front of my quilt, complete with rounded hives, honeycomb background and bees. And so it goes. Each simple project somehow morphs into something more complex. Nevertheless work was accomplished as you can see:
Why a rainbow bee? The answer
should be revealed once the
banner is in place.

1) Work on  Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3 - Done

I had fun finishing up the satin stitch around the hive, the final two yellow and black bees, and then adding my rainbow bee in the doorway.

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - Not Yet

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done

I have been researching and doodling numerous free motion quilting motifs for Picking Up the Pieces #3.

4) Free motion quilting practice - Done

The free motion quilting motif I am thinking of using is an all over flame motif. I wanted to make sure I could work successfully around the hive and especially around the bees. 

Testing both the Golden Threads Quilting
Paper and potential motifs to suggest flames.
I took the time to experiment with Golden Threads Quilting Paper. This is a product I've been curious about for some time. The advice I read is it works best when the there are no narrow channels of paper between the quilting stitches to remove. Since I just wanted to layout a few bees on my quilt sandwich this seemed the perfect tool. It was very easy to remove after quilting. I was easily able to trace the bees onto the paper with a permanent black ink pen. I attached the paper with quilter's tape at the four corners and this was sufficient to hold it in place. 

Next week I will begin the quilting of Picking Up the Pieces #3. I may even manage to fuse the banner with text on the hive. I did figure out how to curve the text using WordArt in MS Word. The hold up is I want to be absolutely certain about what text to include. Should I get stuck, there is always something to turn my attention to as my next week's list can attest to:

1) Work on  Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3


2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 03/24


Now that the clocks have been set
an hour ahead, this is the view
from my studio when I open the
curtains and settling in to work.
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques: 

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of being read to, even after I had learned to read myself. My mother would read Grimm's Fairy Tales, to me and my brother. Many of these are fairy tales we all grew up on. Other books I listened to are more obscure. A favorite, which my third grade teacher read to the class during rest period, was The Trouble With Jenny's Ear. As an adult, I still love being read to, or more precisely listening to audio books. I particularly treasurer stumbling upon a book which takes me by surprise by exceeding my expectations. When you listen and/or read 150 books a year, happening upon a stellar book is uncommon. I admit, I have love of books told from varying perspectives, coming of age stories, and set in high school. No surprise, a favorite is Up the Down Staircase. I can recommend it with zero hesitation. My current "school" genre read is The Most Dangerous Place on Earth. The story is set in a contemporary school system full of privileged students. The strength of the book is how the narrative is carried forward by various characters in turn, the spot on voices of the students, teachers and parents, and the character development.
The two bees needing finishing
touches are the ones without
antennae and stingers.

Yesterday, when it was time to move on to the next book available on my audio list, I wasn't expecting to be captivated by The Most Dangerous Place on Earth. I wasn't even sure why I had placed it on my wait list. I'm so glad I did. Much as I enjoy the repetition which naturally comes with fiber art, it can get boring. Add a good book and it is easy to stay behind the sewing machine outlining bees. Only two more to go and then I can move on to other parts of this project.

Once again, I feel as though I accomplished much this week, but have little to show for it, as my list reflects:

1) Work on the design for Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3 - Done!

I cut out, assembled, fused, outlined and secured twelve more bees and have just the securing of two more left to do. I secure each piece of the bee with satin stitch and while doing so, add the stinger and antennae. Not bad, considering each bee represents approximately 90 minutes of work.  
How the piece looked when
I stopped working on it this week.

2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1 - Not Yet

3) Pot(s) made this week - Done!

Those bees have been a great pot making learning experience when it comes to creating small fusible appliqué elements. 

4) Free motion quilting practice - Not this week.

I am eager to move past bees and onto other aspects of this piece, sort of. I am struggling with a banner/label I want to place on the hive. The issue is how to create small legible writing on a curved line. Handwriting the text is out. I've played in Photoshop Elements, EQ 7 and MS Word. I haven't found anything which will allow me to place text on a curved line. If you have a suggestion, I would love to hear it.

When I am not struggling with text options I will turn my attention to:

1) Work on  Picking Up the Pieces #2 and/or #3


2) Finish Picking Up the Pieces #1

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.