Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Breaking two of the rules

I have many rules in life. Personal rules, that apply to me only, that I work really hard to abide by. Be good to your family and friends. Show genuine respect to your elders. Pray. Always wear clean underwear. Don't blog about too-personal stuff. Don't grieve in public.

So here I go breaking the last two rules.

My friend and her husband died last week. Kathreen was big in the crafting world, influential, a massive inspiration to all who met - and didn't meet - her. Kathreen and Rob leave behind two amazing kids, and all our hearts are broken for both their, their families' and our own loss. Over the last few days I have thought a lot about the ties that bind us, those connections that can be shattered in an instant. About how everyone is entitled to grieve in their own way. How keeping busy and trying to be useful is helpful in grief, but sometimes you just have to cry. A lot. And then let time and God take control.

I first 'met' Kathreen many years ago when I cracked my rib and was stuck at home, on my back, for a week. I had some downloaded podcasts from Craftsanity to listen to in the hours of pain and boredom, and one of them was a conversation that Jennifer had with an amazing young Canberra woman who founded a crafting website called Whip Up. This girl Kathreen sounded really cool. And it felt like she was talking to me about inspiration and crafting communities from just next door. It was only years later that we realised we lived only three streets away from each other. I became an avid reader of Whip Up, and the inspiration and lessons I gained there helped me start my own craft business years later.

Kathreen and I only met in real life a year or so ago. She was a new friend. One of the happiest memories I have of last winter (which was a fairly awful winter for a number of reasons. See second-last rule) was sitting next to a sunny window in her house for what seemed like (and probably was) hours, drinking tea and eating scones and laughing with her and the kids. I'd just done some editing for her, and her attitude to getting things done impressed me so much I resolved to do better, be a better person and just get on with it, right there and then. I remember walking back home and I was buzzing. That was the effect Kath had on people, whether you knew her personally or not. I don't think Kath ever knew the massive impact she'd had on me that day - and I am sad I will never get to tell her that.

I will miss my friend. And I'm sad. I'm sad for my friends who knew her and Rob much better than I did. Everyone is sad - the world has lost two great forces in the art of living splendidly and in the present. But two young kids have also lost their parents. That sucks.You can help out Kath and Rob's son and daughter out by going here. And you can help honour their memory by making something. Anything. It's probably what Kath would have done.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Esoteric Field Study

At the first Canberra Quilters meeting of each year, the teachers and shops show and tell the quilts and classes they will be teaching that year. This year, Jenny Bowker stood up and showed off her Shimmering Triangles quilt and said she would be teaching the class in May at Addicted to Fabric. My friend Angie was sitting next to me that night - we looked at each other as Jenny said this.  Sold!

This weekend finally rolled around, and as usual I was highly unprepared. I didn't know what fabric I would use, didn't know which version of the quilt I would make. I didn't want to use a whole line of fabric, but I did want to use up some of my stash. But nothing seemed to go and I was really stuck. By 10.30 on Friday night I grabbed the first bundle of fabric on my shelf, and popped it into my bag. It was a fat quarter bundle of Field Study by Anna Maria Horner. I really love this range, but I had never intended to use it all at the same time. Talk about lazy.

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

Jenny is not only a great quilter, but she's a great teacher and a wonderful enabler. It was she who had the idea to start a modern quilting group under the banner of Canberra Quilters. Twelve months on, that group regularly has 25-30 quilters who come along once a month to share, sew and be inspired. And as a teacher, Jenny allows you to work out for yourself what may or may not work, and then gently guides you to see how it can work better. And then while you're sewing she tells great stories of Egypt, and her time in Ramallah, and what happened when she was in Paducah last week. It's hard work being so constantly inspired in a Jenny Bowker class!

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

I'll admit - I was bamboozled by my fabrics. Normally I find it easy to put fabrics together, but this time I was in deep water and didn't know how to get out of the pool. I tried to find some solids to put against it, but nothing sang. So I thought "Dammit! Just use what you have and strive for a non-shimmering sparkly effect!".

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

This is where I stalled after lunch. I'd made a heap of half square triangle units, but I had no vertical design wall space, not much sewing space (entirely my own fault), my ruler was being used by someone else and I desperately needed a strong coffee. So I did what I should have done an hour earlier - I packed up and went home, and worked on my quilt from there. Massive design wall, comfortable chair to sit in, coffee. Check, check, and check. I laid the pieces I had already cut and sewn on my design wall.

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

Uh oh. All I could see was a big mess. The blocks I thought were lower value (bottom right and top right) were actually very busy and ruined the shimmering effect. But I figured if I could get more contrast in the other blocks, I might be OK so I lurched forward. That night I sewed some more HSTs, cut out all my squares and packed and sorted everything into ziploc bags. The next morning on the second day of quilt class I was much happier.  I had this.

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

And this - a design wall I set up by pinning some cotton batting onto the solids at the shop. MUCH BETTER!

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

I spent the day sewing my HSTs together into units, and then sewing some blocks together. I was really happy now with how the quilt was going now. Sure it wasn't all sparkling and shimmering like Jenny's quilts and the other quilts that were being made in the class, but I had something a little bit different - a very busy and very bold quilt which made you really look at what the fabric was actually doing. I like to think I set a challenge for myself out of my own laziness.

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

I still have a lot more HSTs to make (all those white spaces need to be filled, but I'm enjoying seeing where it is going. I especially love the shattered fabric effect from the HSTs.

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

This set might be my favourite.

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

And I love the little star blocks that appear all random-like in throughout the quilt.

Jenny Bowker Shimmering Triangles class

I'll enjoy this quilt being on my wall for the next few days, but I won't be sewing anymore on it until my exhibition quilts are made. I'm looking forward to the day I get a chance to sew some more on it!

So thanks Jenny, and thanks Angie for encouraging me to do this class with you. I really did have a lot of fun, and sewing with others is somehow so much more satisfying than sewing by myself at home.

Monday, May 6, 2013

How do you solve a problem like Michelle?

Although not participating in Me Made May, I did document two of the five me-made outfits I wore in the last week - in the ladies' dunnies at the new job, no less.

Perfect circles quilt  - sewing together

Perfect circles quilt  - sewing together

Never let it be said that this blog doesn't just OOZE class.

In between parental visits and interstate visits of our own, I managed to squeeze in a little sewing. And, not skirts or dresses SURPRISE SURPRISE!!

Scrappy tripalong number 2

I did a little patchworking, firstly on the seemingly never ending Japanese scrappy trip around the world. It frustrated me that I decided to work on this when I have three quilts to get into a photographable state by 7 June. But I think I just needed to get this sewn together into rows and then packed away so it is out of sight for the while. I will worry about it again when the guild exhibition quilts are done.

And now I can get stuck into this - my perfect circles quilt. ( It really needs another name. Everyone keeps seeing planets, and so do I.) It's been hanging in completed blocks on my design wall for a week now. I'll move things around each day, never entirely satisfied with it. But I've had to put my foot down - I needed to start sewing it together.

Perfect circles quilt  - sewing together

Which I did. Two rows stitched together already. Which only begs the question ... What took me so long?

Perfect circles quilt  - sewing together

So about those other two exhibition quilts. For one I've only made 4 blocks out of perhaps 36? I've never actually counted the number of blocks I'm supposed to make. The other quilt hasn't even been started yet, but I bought the fabric 6 weeks. Sigh. I would normally drop this third quilt, but originally it was the only quilt I was going to submit to the exhibition, and to drop it now would make me feel l like a quitter.

And I'm a quilter, not a quitter. And besides this is too much fun, finding scraps of time throughout a busy week to try to create something lovely. If I actually had a dedicated day to sew, I don't think I'd know what to do with myself.