Re-Grouping for 2013 Quilt Finishes

This year has been pretty chaotic. When it started in January, I had no idea that by February, my life would be taking a huge turn! February was all about going to Quiltcon for the first time, then March to May was all about packing and moving to the central California coast. Unpacking has taken up a lot of my time since then, along with entertaining a lot of friends on the weekends and getting involved in our new community. It sure seems like October got here awfully fast, and the end of the year is right around the corner! EEEEE GADS!

In order to attempt to fire up my quilting mojo, I decided to post few unfinished projects and list what needs to be done on them. Nothing like putting it out there to be held accountable, eh? That’s what I’m talkin’ about! 

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This zig zag quilt has been in the works for a year. I need to add two more orange rows to it, then I can get on with quilting it! I can’t remember what the fabric line was for the black and white print, but the solids are Kona cotton. I’d like to have it to the point of hand stitching the binding by the time our modern quilting friendship group meets for our first sew-in at Picking Daisies next Monday. 

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This is a wallhanging that’s been waiting to be quilted for at least 2.5 years! I have a hard time thinking of ways to quilt my own stuff. I think I way over think these things! Time to quit thinking and just do! 

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Another piece that has been waiting to be finished for about 4 years, maybe longer. I made this after taking a great class with Rose Hughes. I want to add some hand stitching, and I want the stitching to be random and funky looking. I struggle with letting go and making things look more random, so it sits. I also want to add some beading to it. I’m so close to being finished! Time to let loose and get it on!

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These are blocks from the ‘Curve it Up’ Sew Along with the Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. I got distracted after doing two blocks. Holidays, Quiltcon, job transfer, moving, etc. I wasn’t crazy about all of the blocks, but there are others I’d still like to make. I think I’ll sew up two more blocks and make them into a wallhanging. 

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I have three blocks made like this one, and one more to go. There’s still lots of applique to do for the rest of the quilt, so there’s no way I’ll get this one finished this year. However, I can get that 4th block done! I wonder if I’ve unpacked the pieces for block #4? If I can find them, I can get this block done in a day or two. As you can see, I love Kaffe Fassett fabrics!

I have two other completed quilt tops and a table topper that are all ready to quilt. I’m not going to worry about those this year, but may put them on my January calendar. That’ll start me off in the new year with a bang! 🙂

Is anyone else pushing to get some UFO’s finished for 2013? C’mon, there’s still time!

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Good, Bad or Indifferent, Life is Constantly Changing

So many things have happened over the past several weeks, that I’ve simply been too overwhelmed to write. Each time I sit down and try to organize my thoughts and process everything, I decide it’s easier to just go and do something else. 

I initially started this blog as a way of journaling my life as I explore a variety of artistic endeavors. I had great intentions, but life got in the way. I was busy with quilting, blogging for the Bakersfield Modern Quilt Guild, and generally trying to keep up with taking care of other people and other things. Sadly, my blog and my creativity have been sorely neglected. I needed a shake up, I guess!

If you are unaware of how bad California’s economy has been, then you’ve been living under a rock! 😉  Since my husband is employed by the State, we have been very negatively effected by the cut in my husband’s salary, the ever-climbing cost  of living, and the increase in college expenses for our son, who is a senior student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Many times over, I’ve felt like I was drowning, and there was no hope that a life boat would happen by. The goal was to simply get by, one day at a time. It seemed like everything in life became a matter of survival. That gets old!

I picked Scott up at the carpool one day, and he said, “Crescent City or San Luis Obispo?” My answer: “Yes?” He asked me again, and my answer was the same. He’s not usually one for teasing, but I could see the laughter in his eyes, and so I asked him what the heck he was referring to. He finally explained to me that all employees in his bargaining unit had been given notice that they may be laid off. He has 24.5 years in the department, so it wasn’t like he’d lose his job tomorrow. However, having received the notice, he was given the option to apply for a transfer to any institution that had an opening. He knows how much I love being near water, so he was asking which place I’d like to live. The next evening, he faxed his transfer request to state headquarters. It all came down to his seniority number. No interview, no testing, nada. I certainly hoped for a transfer to the happiest place in the U.S. (as deemed by Oprah), but I was so used to disappointment, I was afraid to hope. On Monday, February 4th, I was sitting here and sewing with Pam when the letter came. I couldn’t believe it! I read the first few lines, welcoming Scott to CMC in San Luis Obispo, and that’s as far as I got. I finally told Pam what was going on, and I felt like I was floating on a cloud of shock, disbelief, and pure joy! Jumping up and down, light-headed, happiness! Scott and I went to dinner that night and celebrated this unimaginable change that was about to happen in our lives.

The next day, I called our mortgage company and started the process of listing our home for short sale, due to this unexpected job transfer. Scott contacted the institution and found out that he was to report to his new job on February 19th, and I had already made plans and reservations to attend Quiltcon in Austin, TX, leaving on the 20th. Could it get any crazier? Ummmm, yes!

Tuesday evening, we were both pretty wiped out by all of the emotions we’d been  feeling, planning on how to orchestrate the move, my trip, selling the house, looking for a place to live, etc. Around 8:00, I noticed that Chipper was breathing quite fast. He would dream a lot, and his breathing would increase when he did. I asked Scott to reach over and touch him to see if he’d calm down a bit. He seemed to, but his breathing was still more rapid than it should have been. When the boys went out for the last time that night, Chip seemed fine. He ran to the fence and barked at the dogs next door, ran around the yard a bit, then joyfully ran into the kitchen for his treat. 

My dogs have their routine. Chip would always curl up between Scott’s feet, and Chunk would lie at the foot of the bed. As I was dozing off, I felt Chip get up and he seemed to have trouble getting comfortable. At some point, I heard him get off the bed, which he’d do if he got too warm. It was like being a mama of little children. You sleep with your ears open. I kept hearing him moving from one place to another, trying to get settled. I got up around 2:00 a.m., and I layed down in the floor with him. I slept most of the night like that, and I could hear the rattling in his breathing. All of my animals get asthma this time of year, and I thought he needed a steroid shot. I called the vet as soon as they opened the next morning, and I took him right in. He was very excited to get to go bye bye, hopped and ran and howled, all the way out to the truck. Even as perky as he was, I could still tell his breathing wasn’t quite right. At the vet’s office, he was friendly, took a treat from one of the techs, and seemed to be his spunky little self, but I could tell he wasn’t. I don’t care if it’s human babies or fur babies, a mama knows. 

The vet could hear fluid in his lungs, so she took some chest x-rays. What she saw on those x-rays, shocked everyone in the office. Chipper was suffering from congestive heart failure. His heart was so enlarged, that it took up his entire chest cavity! Both of his lungs were full of fluid, and his heart was being squeezed by the fluid building up there, too. They gave him IV meds to reduce the fluids and said he’d improve over the next couple of hours. They sent me home with other medications to give him and told me to bring him back on Friday. We got home at 9:30, and Chipper died at noon. So fast, so unexpected, and a complete shock. I am so glad that I got to bring him home and be with him while he passed. He was an awesome pup, with tons of spunk and personality! He had quirks that were unusual and all Chipper. He’d lick a thousand times, like he was giving you kisses, yet never touch you. Tender, air kisses. He always smiled, and when he’d flop over for a belly rub, his tail wagged so much that his whole body wiggled. He’d steal your socks, underwear, dish towels, almost anything, and walk around with whatever it was, making this whiney sound and pacing the room. Finally, he’d settle down somewhere and sleep on whatever he’d stolen. He never chewed things up. It was like he had a wooby, and was trying to find the best place to settle down with it. He was always underfoot, and he was my constant companion. When I sewed, he curled up in the room with me. When I’d shower, he’d be curled up on a bath rug, waiting for me to get finished. When I cooked, he’d curl up on the kitchen rug right behind me. If I went down the hall for something, I’d trip on him if I turned around too quickly. I can’t count the number of times I’d scold him for being underfoot! I’d say to him, “My little Chip, wherever I go, he goes.”  He was a happy, smart pup, who was also feisty and a bit mischevious. We had Chipper’s mama, Penny, and we still have his brother, Chunk. He and Chunk were from the same litter, so they’d never been apart. The day he died, Chunk threw up uncontrollably, all day long. Even Shamus cried and yowelled all day, and he got sick, too! A visit to the vet for some anti-nausea meds for both of them, and they were both fine the next day. They were grieving, just like I was. 

I left for Quiltcon two weeks later. With everything that had happened, I almost didn’t go. My house sitter had moved, so I didn’t have anyone to watch the house until the day before I was to leave! I had a quilt in the show, and I really wanted to go, but I also struggled with feeling like I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. I was so raw in so many ways! My nephew and his girlfriend came to my rescue and offered to house and animal sit while I was gone. And so it happened, I did make it to Quiltcon after all. 

Quiltcon was great! I didn’t take any classes, because I wanted to go to the lectures and see demos. I also got to see some very special friends, and spent time getting to know new friends. There were so many serendipitous things that happened, that I almost can’t quite sort them all out in order to write about them! I don’t believe that things randomly happen. I believe God has a plan for me, and I tend to get in the way of things, because I’m a bit stubborn. This one time, I truly flew by the seat of my pants and let God do His thing. I’ve been wanting to design, create art, and write. That being said, I get caught up in every day life and other committments, and simply surviving. I was completely blown away by the opportunities that were presented to me, the connections that I made without trying, and the affirmations that came to me of what I need to be doing with my art. Blown away, I tell ya! Day after day, amazing things happened! Without sharing details, because I’m still overwhelmed by it all, God made himself very clear! 

The day to day things still have to be taken care of. I’m still in Bakersfield, taking care of getting the house sold and packing it up, while Scott is working and living in San Luis Obispo. We are blessed that my niece and her husband have provided him with a place to stay during the week. We got our house listed, and we had 13 offers in 3 days! I’m packing up things that we don’t need to use, and I’m searching for a place to live in San Luis Obispo. We are also looking at surrounding areas. So far, nothing has panned out. Because of everything that’s happened in the last 6 weeks, I know that God will bring us just the right place at just the right time. I’m trying like crazy not to get caught up in being lonesome and frustrated. You know, those human emotions that can stop us in our tracks if we’re not careful. This is a whole new chapter in our lives, and I know that we are going to grow in immeasureable ways.

As an artist, my soul is opening up in ways that I’ve only dreamed about. I’m discovering new facets of myself, and I’m amazed! Amazed at so many things! Like I said, I’m still overwhelmed! I’m going to try to be more diligent about blogging, so that I can share my adventures with anyone who wants to read about them! Hold on, it’s going to be a wild ride!

xoxo, Chipper….

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QuiltCon Entry Finished and Submitted!

Always Last Minute Lucy (as my friend, Jamie, nicknamed me), I finished my entry for QuiltCon and got it submitted about 30 minutes ago. Heck, I had 4 hours to spare, so I’m early! 😉 QuiltCon is the first convention for the Modern Quilt Guild, held in Austin, TX, in February of 2013. That’s right around the corner! EEE GADS! I’ll be going with some friends from the Bakersfield Modern Quilt Guild, and it’ll be fun to experience it firsthand! 

My entry is called, Is There a Court Jester in the House?. I love this Tula Pink pattern called Crown Jewels. I had a particular fabric line in mind for this quilt, but when I walked into Strawberry Patches, I spied the Penelope 4 line by Lakehouse, and it was an “aha moment” for me. These are not fabrics that I’d usually choose for a project, because I usually go bold. However, I thought they’d look great against a dark gray background! The gray is Moda Bella Graphite, purchased at Bolts to Binding and  Pink Chalk Fabrics. The hats remind me of court jester hats, so that’s how I came up with the name. I was going to do a lot of straight line quilting, but I just kept thinking that the quilting needed to be quirky and springy, as in springs. After drawing lots of designs on the steamy shower doors….I’d bet that lots of quilters do this…..I came up with the feathered springs. I used thread that blended into the background fabric so that you see lots of texture. The backing was another “first time” for me, in that I’ve never done back art on one of my quilts. I get all intimidated, and I’m not very patient. Once I’m ready to load a quilt, I want to get on with things! When I was talking about piecing an extra block into the backing, my friend, Pam, said, “Why don’t you make a huge crown?” I thought it was a brilliant idea, then immediately got frozen up with how to do it. That’s when I usually just go the easy route. I gave myself a rather brutal butt chewing, and proceeded to make myself a paper piecing pattern from freezer paper. It was a bugger to get the first piece started, as I didn’t want to use a lot of glue to hold the initial piece in place. That’s where the freezer paper came in handy! The wax on the paper held the pieces in place, as long as I didn’t move the thing around a lot. It took me all day at our BMQG sew-in to get the crown pieced, but it was so worth the effort!

Several things about making this quilt provided personal challenges for me. I’ve never custom quilted a quilt using a layer of Hobbs 80/20 and Hobbs Wool before. That may sound simple, but as a longarm quilter, it presents certain challenges. I’ve also never custom quilted a piece that had so much negative space. That can be daunting! As I’ve already talked about, making the backing was a new adventure for me. Then there was the turmoil of trying to decide on quilting designs. Usually, something “speaks” to me pretty quickly. This one did, but I kept thinking that I needed to do something else on it. I finally went with what my initial instincts were, and I love it! Finally, entering the quilt into QuiltCon was also quite daunting for me. I’ve only been involved in Modern Quilting for two years, and I’m still not sure I have the hang of it! As with everything, the meaning of “modern quilting” is evolving. Believe it or not, I’m easily intimidated….by a small, critical voice in my head. ALL THE DANGED TIME! I only fake confidence!

Last, but not least, I’ve really been struggling with pain lately. Monday and Tuesday were really bad, to the point that I couldn’t get comfortable, regardless of what I did. It probably had a lot to do with doing way too much over the Thanksgiving holiday, then tackling this project at the very last danged minute!  I had to get my IV meds on Wednesday, along with an extra steroid shot for the joint inflammation, which also happened to be the day of the week that I give myself a shot of Methotrexate. I think it was the combination of fatigue and all of the meds on the same day that made me sicker than a dog on Thursday. It resulted in a total meltdown on Thursday night, with me sitting here by myself, tears rolling down my face. Things don’t get to me very often, because I intentionally try to maintain a positive attitude. However, dealing with these diseases can really get me down sometimes. I couldn’t help but think about how much my life has changed in the past few years. My body has changed, and I think my personality has changed. I miss the way I used to be. Okay, ‘nuf of that. All of this is the final reason I was determined to finish this quilt! I was not going to let all of this keep me from completing something that was personally important to me! Now that my entry is complete, I feel like doing a victory lap or something! Of course, I can’t run, so I’ll do it in my own little head! 😉  So I say to all of the obstacles I’ve overcome with this project…BOOYA!!!! I am still the boss of me! Well, sometimes. WUHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! 

Quiltcon Submission #2 (943x1024)

Quilt Front

Quiltcon Submission Front Close Up (1024x768)

Close up of the front

Quiltcon Submission Close Up of the Back (1280x960)

This is the crown I pieced in the back. It’s about 20″ wide by 30″ high