Category Archives: creativity

The Last of the (Mohican) Placemats

One, two, three…. Soon they will reside on my daughter’s dining table.

I can’t recall when I started these, would have to look on the blog for that information, but I feel like these placemats have been loitering on the quilt wall for, well, a good while.  And to be honest, I hadn’t planned to wrap up this project until autumn, in that other pieces are waiting, and these hues are more fall-themed.

Each has a different shade for the binding, the remnants of which I’ll sew together for another project.

But as I completed them, my daughter was ever so pleased.  Then suddenly I found myself busying with them….

And now the final three are finished, the table runner too.  I worked on that before visiting my grandson, then came home to find it draped over my sofa.  Dude!  Again, time has a funny way of arranging one’s schedule, as in where in heck did I find the time to put that together?

This one troubles me a bit; why did I use a large brown square right under a small one of the same colour? It was the first I made, then I left it for the very end…. Some questions will never have a proper answer, I suppose.

When I used to embroider, several pieces were going at once, but in sewing, I tend to stick to one quilt, yet lately I’m back to hither and yon; maybe it’s due to a small feeling of mastery?

Table runner alongside; making these satisfied my desire to use Southwestern shades, as well as fabrics I had on hand.

I basically know what I’m on about in this quilting gig, or perhaps the scattered nature of my life is bleeding into my hobbies.  Regardless, at least this project is in the can, leaving room for others clamoring for my attention.

Even the backs are constructed from what I had in my stash, although my batting scraps are now quite depleted. More quilting will refill that bag, lol.

Something else has been needling my brain lately, about which I’ll expound upon soon enough.  For now, here’s a point to ponder; what does sewing sound like?  Or writing, hehehe.  Recently Life Echo was introduced into my sphere, offering food for thought on various levels.  I’ll leave you with that intriguing notion, as revisions and quilts both call my name.

Advertisements

Chapter 263

In writing, moments arise when an author prepares to knock over a wall, or build a wall, or build a bridge.  There are times when lives end, identities are altered, and hurdles overcome.  Plot points are different than plot twists, but just as essential in the storytelling.

Hexies waiting to tell their own tales…

I’ve been telling this story for a long time, and perhaps that’s why, as I sit on the precipice of the crux of The Hawk, I need to quickly reflect upon the significance of what is about to occur.  Prior to this novel, I could churn out a rough draft in a matter of weeks, four weeks usually, a NANOWRIMO style that served me well.  But maybe in cranking out those drafts, I missed those previous times that right now I cannot simply throw aside.  What happens next in this novel has been over four years in the making.  And it means a lot to me.

I won’t give anything away, other than to note how in life there are events which upon reflection change us irrevocably.  As a writer, I get to craft those cataclysmic occurrences, but it’s merely fiction, all from my head.  Yet I draw on personal experience, as well as harvesting all I have seen around me.  It’s like making a most delicious soup, and it’s almost done, and I’m about to spoon up a bite to make sure it’s truly as good as it smells.  And once I’ve tasted it, it will be time to dole it out for others to enjoy.  Or maybe it’s just a little like that, I don’t know.  All I know is that since October of 2013, this chapter has been waiting for me.  I didn’t know its exact number, and that’s for the best; if you’d told me it would be 263, I might not have reached this point, ha ha!  Yet it’s right around the corner from this blog post, waiting for me.

A writer’s life is usually quiet, kind of invisible.  But here’s a virtual drum roll, as from a stone’s throw away a novel’s conclusion waves at me.  And off I go…..

For the love of baby quilts (and hexies too)….

First I want to say that having basted hexagon paper pieces with glue and thread, but not on the same hexie, I find thread basting just as expedient as glue, and so much easier to sew together!  There’s more give in a thread-basted paper piece, so I’m not constantly nicking the edges of the paper.  And I can sit on the sofa to thread baste, unlike standing at my sewing table to use glue.  However, those glue-basted hexies won’t get lost in the shuffle; Little Miss, Miss Em, and their folks came to dinner tonight, and my nearly three-year-old grandgirl fell in LOVE with the glued hexies!  Oh my goodness, she was totally head over heels for them, which made this abuela very happy.  We made more hexies for her to take home, solid colours that her parents like; green and purple for dad and mum, and yellow for the nieta herself.  I think she chose red for her little sis, I was just trying to glue fabric onto paper hexagons as fast as possible.  I will see them on Wednesday, when a trip to the craft store will be in order for more paper pieces, and perhaps a wee bit of fabric too.

The initial laying-out of the fabric. Nothing I tried felt at all pleasing, just meh all round.

But this entry isn’t so much about paper piecing as it is traditional machine sewing, although this quilt for a chap due next month came together in a rather odd manner.  I thought I wasn’t going to have time for it, but I did, yet it was a little tricky to design, but then suddenly I’m ready to start quilting it.

Then voila, here’s the end result. I didn’t snap pics in between, just trying to stay in the moment, allowing Grace to do the heavy lifting.

Funny how surprises enter the equation, and even when things seems ultra-tricky, a treasure emerges.

So on Friday morning, I woke with the notion that yes, I was going to make a baby quilt for a fellow I’ll call Tibby.  Actually, his middle name is going to be Tiberius, and if you know your sci-fi, there’s only one Captain James T. Kirk which springs to mind, ahem.  I’m actually not a  Shatner fan, but as soon as I heard about Tiberius’ moniker, I knew the fabrics I wanted to employ for Tibby’s quilt.  That was if I could find the time to make it.

Late on Friday afternoon, the blowy wind made photography difficult.

As I said, Friday morning the time was NOW, um, okay….  This is what I inwardly call Quilting by the Spirit.  There’s no sense in attempting any other work, just let my actions be guided by Hands far more aware than mine.  And that’s what I did, gathering fabrics, then putting them on the quilt wall.  I didn’t want to chop that galaxy into pieces, in fact the more I played around with it, I wondered if I could pull it off.  The saving grace, and I mean literal grace, was that I KNEW it was going to work out.  I had no idea HOW, other than to just keep faffing with those cottons.  Eventually something was going to stick.

While basting today, I did want to capture the moment.

Maybe that’s why I had to start basting hexies with glue, just so Little Miss could nearly lose her ever-loving little mind over them, lol.  Grace permeates the most innocuous part of life, even quilting.  Or maybe especially quilting.

There’s something very relaxing about basting, what I also find with thread and hexagons.

Certainly grace was in force this past weekend, as Tibby’s quilt came into being.  By Friday night the top was done, flannel scraps chosen for the back.  I did some writing Saturday morning, then in the afternoon sewed up the back, also cutting strips for the binding.  That night I sewed together two large batting scraps, then watched the San Francisco Giants beat the Dodgers in like fourteen innings, oh my goodness.  I went to bed, plans for basting in my head.

Luckily the wind wasn’t as strong today, or maybe a basted quilt withstands a breeze better.

But not with glue or thread, just old fashioned safety pins; I started before we left for church, wrapping up this afternoon.  Those binding strips are attached, but in need of pressing.  However, a quilt sandwich now awaits my attention, when just days ago I wasn’t sure if this baby blanket would see the light of day.  But for the Tibster, well, let’s just say I wanted to explore strange new worlds, boldly going where I’ve never gone before.

It was nice to have a wide strip of yellow for the back, complimenting the one on the front. No new fabrics were purchased in the making of this comforter, keeping in tune with my year of using what I have.

That’s part of Grace, trusting in the certainty as well as the goodness.  It’s not easy, trust or faffing around while fabrics land correctly on the wall.  But it’s such a feeling of comfort, knowing I can rely on grace, like snuggling under a quilt, or watching as my eldest granddaughter falls in love with simple hexagons.  Hearing her say hexie was music to my ears, and how this will play into her life is just another thrill awaiting my attention.  This is why, despite many inexplicable events that cast dark shadows, life is a precious blessing.  Family and friends, paper hexagons, simple quilts, and walk-off home runs are meant to be celebrated as Grace winds its gorgeous loving way through it all.  Then a post late on a Sunday night wraps it all together, my thankful heart in awe of such goodness.  May this be a hexie-wonderful week for you too.

Easier to unpick a novel than a quilt….

New additions to my crafting collection….

Been working on The Hawk this week, although one step forward has translated to two chapters backwards.  At this stage, without proper justification I can’t blithely say, “Oh yes, Stanford will be attending the Fourth of July activities even if he has dropped the Snyders like a hot potato.”

Rummaging through scrap buckets was exhilarating; I do like me some blues.

That was what I did the last time I got some noveling accomplished.  However, hindsight is 20/20, and laying the groundwork wasn’t more than changing chapter numbers, then writing a couple thousand words which add to more than the word count.  No cheating allowed when so close to the finish line….

My first block, awaiting needle and thread.

Ahem.  But that’s not all I wish to say today, although it has been on my mind, alongside another idea that current resides as no more than a playlist.  Ah, the days of playlists and pounding out rough drafts within thirty days.  Man, that feels like ages ago, long before quilts muscled their cottony ways into my life.  And if my sewing machine wasn’t enough of a distraction, now there’s hexagons and glue sticks and English paper piecing (EPP).  What???

Block #2 awaiting assembly. The center fabric was from my very first quilt.

Over Easter, I chatted with my son-in-law’s mum about how aging has taken its toll on our creative output.  After seven or eight o’clock in the evenings, both of us are toast when it comes to fashioning crafts that take precision.  Hand-sewing doesn’t fall under that header, but there hasn’t been much to tackle since I completed the blue quilt binding, and while plenty of projects line the quilt walls, very little of it is at all close to being bound, much less hand-quilted.  I’m still finding my feet after being away for some of March, then Easter.  Other than inserting necessary backstory into my novel, the rest of my creative flow is in a muddle.

Strips of scraps awaiting the rotary cutter…..

Or maybe the better term is transition; in the evenings while my hubby watches the Warriors, I’ve been perusing blogs that focus on English paper piecing.  Don’t ask me why I’m being drawn in that direction, other than a need for nighttime relaxation.  But yesterday I pulled the trigger, picking up 1.5″ hexagons and glue sticks, and by bedtime I had one hexie block sewn.

Which leads to another designed block!

I feel a wee bit guilty, as placemats are waiting as well as a duvet cover for Little Miss, not to mention a baby quilt on my list, but a dear friend is coming next week and one of our activities will be craft-related.  She cross stitches and I’ll have these hexies and….  And for whatever purpose EPP has in my life, I need to throw caution, but not my sewing machine, to the wind.  I’ve already found that thread basting might be my preferred method, although I have yet to sew together hexies basted in that manner.

This block is a mix of glue and thread basted hexies. I wonder which will prove easier to sew….

(I found myself poking through the papers with glue-basted hexies, so we’ll see if thread basting becomes my way.)

For me, thread-basting is just as fast as using glue. Having wrangled free one glue-basted paper, these will slip much easier from the fabric.

What does this mean for The Hawk?  Not that much, as I don’t sew in the mornings, and can’t write more than grocery lists past noon.  On days when I have time, these pastimes can peacefully coexist, and for that I am truly grateful; I can’t fathom having to pick one over the other, other than to say it is much simpler to insert prose than rip out stitches.  Not that I prefer those chores, but if forced to choose….

My first sewn hexie block, waiting for friends to join it.

The day when it comes to that, I’ll be in big trouble.  For now, words and fabrics are fast friends, and we’ll see how paper piecing blends into the overall quilting scheme.  Maybe once I have a plethora of hexies basted, other cotton projects will resume course.  In the meantime, have a hexagon-ally magnificent day!

Placemats and Quilt Repair

Quilted with bindings attached to the front, ready for the backs to be sewn.

Aches and pains hampered some of the hand sewing yesterday, yet I remained undaunted, machine sewing the bindings instead.  I prefer hand-sewn bindings, but didn’t wish to aggravate my right shoulder.

Straight out of the washer and dryer, crinkly and completed!

I am so pleased for how these turned out; I machine quilted them with bright orange thread, and the contrast is nice on the lighter squares.

The two bindings I hand sewed alongside one that went under the machine. We’ll see how my shoulder heals for the rest of the placemats….

Using my machine does make for faster completions, so I’m grateful for that method.  I wanted to get these placemats to my daughter today, although a big blue quilt of theirs is still hanging around my house for repair.

Two of the patches I added, as well as a new binding, which I am going to hand sew. Hopefully my shoulder will accommodate that work.

This comforter has been languishing for a few months; it needed holes fixed as well as a new binding, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve given it the proper attention.  Not sure why quilt revivals have been high on my agenda, but there’s great satisfaction in restoration.

A ragged binding in need of replacement. This will be finished over several evenings, with basketball in the background, ha ha.

This one is well loved, and with rain forecast for the coming week, I’ll happily snuggle under it while attaching that new binding.  In retrospect, another quarter inch in width would have been nice, but every project is a learning experience.  Next time I make a binding for an older quilt, I’ll remember this blanket, and plan accordingly.  Not sure what the next project will be, although some mini charm pack squares have found their way onto a quilt wall.  Perhaps that will be this week’s endeavor.

Maybe some coaster in the making? We’ll see what happens…..

A Necessary Sense of Direction

I’ve been adding words to the manuscript, actually completing an entire chapter on Monday.  But I have to admit that last week I didn’t get much writing accomplished, in part that as I sat to work, I was stymied by where I was within the story; 1965 was dawning, and in looking over that year upon Wikipedia, major world events needed contemplation. Bloody Sunday on March 7th began a month-long chain of events that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  But it wasn’t only Civil Rights issues; the conflict in Vietnam became a part of the American consciousness, as the draft was nearly doubled, protests accompanying.  There was much for me to ponder before I could get back into my novel, and only now am I feeling able to proceed.

The Hawk isn’t strictly historical fiction, but to ignore that element would have been wrong.  I won’t dwell on those topics overtly, but now that I’ve allowed for them, I can attempt to get back on the writing track.  I’m easily distracted, what with spring’s beauty, the garden demanding my attention as well as family.  I spent yesterday with Little Miss, Miss Em, and their mum, Buttercup too.  In a few weeks I’ll be up with The Burrito and his folks, so I’m hoping to squeeze in as many scenes as time allows.  Plus there’s the sewing and….

A tense moment in a Llama Llama book as I read to my granddaughters yesterday.

I’m plotting out a rather large project, a king-sized quilt that up until a few nights back was giving me trouble.  Then I inadvertently solved the question of what pattern to use, simply by playing around with pre-cut 4.5″ squares.  I’m going to make this quilt using 16.5″ blocks, mixing it up with whole pieces cut to that size and myriad manners of patchwork.  I might even get crazy enough to cut a passel of 2.5″ squares, we’ll see how creative I’m feeling.  Ocean blues and greens are the colour scheme, probably with some pops of yellow and orange, maybe pinks too.  As soon as I finish half a dozen placemats, I’ll start to consider a quilt fit for an ocean.

I’ll add another row of squares to this, and call it the first block for the king-size quilt.

I’m grateful for markers along the prose and fabric pathways; I work best when provided a map of sorts.  Maybe it’s age, or so many irons in the fire.  I pondered that this morning, trying to get into the rhythm of writing, but right now family comes first.  As long as I can muster paragraphs into scenes and scraps into blocks, I’m on the right path, history as a reminder it’s all a matter of perspective.

Tucking Away the Words

A great feeling is returning to the written work, seven hundred words on Monday, a chapter’s completion today.  I had left myself with quite a conundrum, as Klaudia has learned about Eric’s affliction, and I don’t merely mean his crippled arm.  How in the world I was going to address her reaction had been set aside until this week, but I think I managed a fitting segue into what happens next, and now to just keep adding to the story, one half or third or quarter chapter at a time.

Playing Carcassonne yesterday with Little Miss; she likes placing the men on every tile, regardless if the tile is hers.

It’s like a rose; layers of petals unfold to the center that holds the sweetest scent.  It’s like how Roxy Music ended their 2001 concerts with “For Your Pleasure”, each performer taking a bow, leaving only the pianist as the arrangement became more sparse, although that seems a backwards manner in which to describe a novel’s conclusion, but this book is so long that only a few loose threads remain.  What Klaudia has learned seems unbelievable, but Lynne proffered a way to absorb that truth in a manner that only mothers could share.  Of course, Klaudia doesn’t simply accept Lynne’s reasoning, not only for the sake of continuity.  There are still other issues I need to wrap up; Klaudia and Marek are a part of Eric’s story, but now that I’ve tackled one twist, the rest are just a matter of time.

Tummy time for Miss Em, two months old and enjoying her freedom.

Time to write is the key, but this abuela will squeeze in prose however it falls.  Miss Em’s baptism was a splendid affair, and her big sister is talking up a storm.  I’m hoping to spend some days with The Burrito in March, then we’ll be away for Easter, and the rest of April is abuzz with guests and trips away.  But I’m feeling very centered regardless of interruptions; reading over old novels affirms my love for spinning a yarn, as well as reminding me how far I have come in that endeavor.  Another idea sits on the horizon, again spurring me to complete The Hawk so I can dive head-first into another realm.  When I began writing, I was grateful my kids were nearly done with high school, time an abundant element.  The nietos won’t be tiny forever, and I relish being a part of their lives.  All these pieces of my existence are getting along, it’s just a matter of embracing how they coalesce for the greater good.

These days are beyond precious, enough time for all blessings.

This is what I need to remember when scenes are balky or I’m weary, or a baby won’t nap; there is a time for all things.  Tucked away in my back pocket are words, also keys to other doors.  If one doesn’t fit, try another.  Eventually the correct path appears, taken one step at a time.