Friday, April 29, 2011

Psssst....I'm on pins and needles!

I'm over here as a guest, talking a little bit about thread, needles and pins. I wasn't planning on doing another giveaway so soon after Sherbet Pips, but this one was actually in the works for quite awhile, and Pips was definitely a spur-of-the-moment giveaway.

Do you remember when I wrote about buying fabric strictly for one word on the selvage? Well, now you know the secret word: "chasing"!!I wanted to make Rebecca a customized pincushion plus another one for this great series she is conducting.

This is her pincushion. I know she loves lavender, paisley, and mentioned being a "girly girl".

But wait! That's not all (said in my best "as seen on TV voice"....). If you call before midnight tonight leave a comment by Monday noon, you'll have a chance to win this pincushion:

I hope you check out Rebecca's great series, Quilting 101. And don't forget to leave your comment. Happy sewing!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The time is near!

And I'm not talking about the world ending on May 21. Actually I have way too many quilts that need to be completed so I'm hoping we're all around for a while longer.

First of all, I was amazed and touched at the number of comments you all left on my post about not apologizing for who we are as quilters and our personal creative journeys. The message left by so many of you is that whatever is right for each of us should also be alright with anyone else. We don't know what is happening in the real lives on the other side of the computer, the parts that don't get written about, the things we don't know as we look at the quilt pictures and read the posts. Kindness is not a trend and respect never goes out of style.

The amazing Random Number Generator chose comment #18 (which I'm personally thrilled with, because after my great blog makeover, somehow my comment numbering html code disappeared and I haven't had time to search for it--have you ever tried to search for something specific in your html code? Daunting task, I'm telling you!)

So anyway...#18 is Diane H, who said:
I have sewed, crafted and used my imagination with my creations since I was a child - before the internet, designers and blogs told us how things 'should be done'. And I will continue to do so, like you, with no apologies. Thanks for such a wonderful post.

Now on to new business. I'm really excited to be starting a new series in May, just around the corner, called The Name Game. Do you ever wonder how a blogger chose the name for her blog? Did she have other names she considered? Is she still happy with the name she chose? The answers to things like "Is 'Crazy Mom Quilts' really crazy?" I assure you she is not, but she'll be one of the first to share how she chose that name for her blog.

I'll be spotlighting bloggers, who will be answering just those very questions, and sharing some pictures of their work with us as well.

There are already some really interesting bloggers in the lineup. Would you like to be spotlighted? Is there a blog name you have always wondered about? Email me, because I'd love to hear from you. Nominate yourself or someone else. I think this will be interesting, and who knows what secrets we'll learn?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Variations on a theme...and no apologies

I grew up listening to classical music. I think the best composer ever was Sergei Rachmaninoff and the best thing ever composed is Variations on a Theme by Paganini. Paganini wrote something called Caprice No. 24 in A minor, probably his most well-known composition. Rachmaninoff then wrote twenty-four variations on this theme, probably the most well known of which is Variation 18.
Why I am telling you all this?

Well, because there has been a lot of talk recently about the "dumbing down" of quilting. I'm not going to link to any of the original posts, but last week both Jennifer of That Girl, That Quilt and Rachel of Stitched in Color had very interesting posts, and it led to a lot of introspection on my part.

Questions like why do I quilt? Why do I blog about it? And why am I letting anyone I haven't even met make the decisions on what is appropriate or inappropriate for my personal quilting journey?

Case in point. I frequently go through my fabric stash. I came across this piece of fabric and my first thought was "I should probably put this in the donation pile because a 'modern' quilter would never put this in a quilt." I stopped myself right there and thought, "But I still like this fabric. And why do I even care whether or not someone else would put it in a quilt?"

Quilting has gotten me through the loss of a my first grandchild six years ago and the loss of one of my best friends last year. 
(a "family tree" quilt with signature of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents made for our first grandchild)
It has sustained me through times when I needed to be alone, and it has cheered me up when I have been surrounded by my quilting friends.

When I think of the debate between modern and traditional, between acceptable levels of creativity and "dumbing down," it just makes me sad. And two phrases keep going through my mind: If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all, and can't we all just get along?

Everything comes and goes in cycles. It's like that in every aspect of art. There are new ways of interpretation, new methods, new supplies at our fingertips. But when you think about it honestly, there are very few things that are actually original. Nearly everything is just a "variation on a theme."

One of my first quilts was this kaleidoscope quilt. I "borrowed" it from a little 3-inch picture in a quilting magazine.
This is my newest variation on a kaleidoscope theme. It will have narrow sashing between each block (not sure what color yet--I was just had this blue strip handy) and the Kona snow should form a secondary pattern.

It's a combination of a quilt I saw in a quilting magazine from 2004
(from QNM, 9/2004, "Sashed Batik Kaleidoscope" by Addy Harkavy and Sandi McCann)
and the "stashbuster" block from Material Obsession 2.

I'm not the person who designed the kaleidoscope block, nor was the designer of the 2004 quilt or even Kathy Doughty. But good for all of us to come up with our own unique variations.

So my point (and I do have one) is that we should never have to apologize to ourselves or anyone else for what we create.  And we should be kind and considerate when viewing what someone else has created. Because most of it is just another variation on a theme.

Things I'm not apologizing for:

*Not being able to complete a quilt in a week...or a month. I'm doing everything at my own pace and I'll be okay with that.

*Not participating in any more quilt block swaps after my current quarter of 3x6 swap is completed. I will have 12 orange, grey and white blocks by then. I already have six that I'm really happy with,
but I have a lot of ideas in my head and I don't want to be distracted by time obligations.

*Still really liking Sherbet Pips,even though due to the blogging frenzy before it was available, I preordered, forgot how much I preordered, and over-purchased (see below).

*Still loving the first pattern I designed and published, Charm Parade. At times, it seems that nearly everyone (but me...) makes a certain quilt once, and then never wants to make it again. So far I have made this quilt at least seven times, each one a little different from the others.
I still have more variations I want to try. For example, what would it look like done in all solids? I won't know until I try it. Who knows? Maybe I'll be like Rachmaninoff and make 24 variations of this theme.

*For loving Flea Market Fancy and paying some outrageous prices to add it to my stash.

*For being glad I'm in the Single Girl Quiltalong because I've learned a lot, from making way too many templates to increasing my skill at curved piecing.

*Keeping my stash of batiks (gasp) because they are bright. And I like them.

*Keeping that weird piece of green fabric. I may never use it. But then again, it might be the perfect fabric in some yet-to-be-designed quilt.

*For finding inspiration from the many quilters who are generous with their ideas, designs, where they find their inspiration, and are willing to share it with others.
*Writing my blog the way I want to write it and not comparing myself with anyone else (which isn't always easy). Many times I have said I write, but I'm not a writer. Whatever. Turns out I enjoy documenting my quilting journey, along with a few other things along the way. And I hope you'll be along for the ride because you want to be, not just because you want to win a giveaway (see below).

What? You're still here?

Well, then... I love Charm Parade. I  have three charm packs of Sherbet Pips, and I only need one for the quilt I'm planning. Yeah, I know. Pre-ordering frenzy. For a copy of Charm Parade and two charm packs of Sherbet Pips, leave a comment  before Thursday at 6 p.m. PDT about whatever you feel like commenting
on--the weather, something that inspires you, a favorite color, a flower that poked through the snow. And if you are so done with Sherbet Pips, no apologies needed, we can substitute something else. I have lots of charm packs hanging around. And I'm not really feeling the need to apologize for the size of my stash...

Edited to add: The giveaway ended on 4/28/11.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Drive-by (photo) Shooting

First of all, after this post, I'll leave the word "photo" out of the title. Here's the deal: Mark takes pictures. While driving. I know--don't notify the California Highway Patrol. So you all realize there will never be any blood and guts pictures when I post further "drive-by shootings," right?

Okay. The other day he and our friend George went up to Lakeview Cottages. If you have read my blog at any point during the summer, you have already read about our rental cabins at Huntington Lake, a gorgeous, quiet lake at 7000-foot elevation. One of my favorite things to do: sewing on the deck of an unrented cabin, with a view of the lake.

Our rental season runs for fifteen weeks and starts the first weekend after Memorial Day. Last year, we lost our first rental week because there was too much snow and the water had not been turned on yet.

That was last year. It can't happen two years in a row, right?

Mark and George borrowed some snowmobiles on Friday, to go around the lake and check things out. So you see, technically these photos are not drive-by shootings, as he actually stopped and got off the snowmobile at times.

Anyway, our rental season starts in about five weeks. Tell me what you think our chances are of opening on June 4.
See the street sign?
Our "commons" area with the tetherball pole sticking up through the snow

Cabin G, "our" cabin in the off season.

Reservations, anyone?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Philosophy Friday: Leaving a Legacy

I have been going through stacks of papers in my office--patterns, quilting ideas, things ripped from pages of magazines. I came across this poem by Jean Ray Laury, who lived in Fresno until she passed away in March. I pulled up her bio to refresh my memory. Wow. She definitely attained greatness.

This is from 1978. Definitely has a "modern" feel to it, don't you think?

Among other things, one of her quilts was included in a book titled "America's 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century." Think about that for a minute. Think about all the quilters...making all those quilts....many thousands to choose from...and to have one of your quilts selected to be in a small group of 100 quilts, spanning 100 years. Amazing.

So anyway, that brings me to the point. I had saved a poem written by Jean Ray Laury, titled "I Knew I Could Do It." And since I have a way of doing a lot of other "stuff" in preparation for quilting, it definitely struck a chord with me.
I know of a quilter who recently said,
"There's a quilt I am planning to make for my bed,
An heirloom, a quilt that comes straight from my heart.
The one little problem is where do I start?"

Needing a picture of how it might look,
She went to the library for a good book.
She scanned through a best-selling novel (well, two),
Then read about redwork and Sunbonnet Sue,

And scrap quilts and albums and those which had stars,
the plain and the simple, like Amish with bars.
"I'd better go check out the cloth at the store,
And their rotary cutters, and patterns galore."

She looked at magentas, at yellows and blues,
At turquoise and crimson and violet hues.
She pulled out the bolts to make sure they'd all blend.
(They'd have reached to Kansas City, if placed end-to-end).

She was struck with a thought, then flew out of the door.
"I can't put this quilt off for one minute more."
Her workroom was packed, not a clear spot in sight.
"The place for my frame is right under this light."

"So I'll toss out my sofa, this desk someone built,
And hold a garage sale so I can quilt."
And then the whole driveway was piled with stuff,
She cried, "Really, I've put it off quite long enough."

But her car needed gas, and an oil change was due,
So she rotated tires and then washed the car too.
The next day she said, "Now my quilt will come first.
Though I need a wee snack and I feel a great thirst."

She got out the cheese and the pickles and bread,
And remembered the garden tomatoes, now red.
Three days were spent canning the veggies in jars.
"Now," she said, "Now, I'll cut diamonds and stars."

"But first, oh I really must write to my sister.
She'll worry if I don't complain that I've missed her."
She drove to the mailbox (and drove really fast)
With a stop at the cleaners (she's going right past).

She borrowed some books, and she went to the store,
Buying rulers and patterns and fabric (and more).
She picked up some needles, selected her thread,
Then came home, exhausted and crawled into bed.

She answered the phone (in between her long naps)
Saying, "Oh. I'm so weary. I'm near to collapse."
"I never had any idea," she said,
"That quilting would force me to take to my bed."

The one thing I crave, and the thing I desire,
Is a quilt for my bed that I make. Or acquire.
I know I'd recover, it's easy to tell,
That if given a quilt I would quickly get well."

A nine-patch arrived from the neighbor next door,
And her club brought one from the Collectibles store.
Her sister, who may have felt tinges of guilt,
Brought her their grandmother's favorite quilt.

"So take my advice," she said, "Here it is, free.
You can always have quilts just by working like me."
She nestled in all of the quilts on her bed.
"Oh. I knew I could do it. I knew it," she said.
Thank you, Jean Ray Laury. What a legacy you have left. And now, without further distractions, I really must go to my sewing room. Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Color Therapy Thursday--Jumping on the Bandwagon

I have jumped on the bandwagon. The Denyse Schmidt/Joann's fabric bandwagon, that is.

That phrase kept going through my mind when I woke up in the middle of the night. Does that ever happen to you? Howexactly did that phrase originate?

Nothing earth shattering. It was coined in the U.S. in the mid 19th century as the name for the wagon that carried the circus band. Now it just means "a growing movement in support of someone or something, often in an opportunist way, when that movement is seen to have become successful."

Yep, that pretty much sums up my feelings about DS's new fabric line. Well, maybe not in the opportunist sense. Although I have seen fat quarters going on etsy for $4.99 each! I'll just be happy to get another yard or two with my 50% off coupon.

And did you know that there are colorways available in Australia only? I learned about that here, and it's gotta be true because Audrie heard about it from Denyse herself. That seems like a reliable source...

(Photo from blue is bleu)
It's been an odd week, kind of introspective. I've been reading a lot, but not blogs. And I've thought a lot about quilting, but haven't sewn a single stitch.
On the other hand, all the blocks from the first quarter of the 3x6 mini sampler block exchange have arrived. I'm participating all year, and requesting orange/grey/white each quarter. It should be a fabulous quilt. But before I show you the blocks, look at the return label on this envelope. When I flickr-mailed my exchange partner, she said she works for the studio head, Jeffrey Katzenberg! Whoa, another brush with fame!

Back to the blocks.

I love the combination of improv blocks, and the more traditional blocks done in modern fabrics.

Now I'm off to my sewing room for a little quilting therapy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brushes with Fame

We were at Pismo Beach all weekend.

The men's chorus that Mark sings in had a concert in Arroyo Grande, just a few miles down the road from us. It was a great concert and raised a lot of money for Third World relief. He is kind of the "producer" of the concert--setting up the stage and then getting 130+ men on and off the stage, etc. After the concert we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant in Pismo.


Are you a Zac Brown fan?

Mark and I shared part of our meal with him the other night.

Okay, it wasn't actually Zac Brown. But it definitely was his doppelganger (I had to text my son, Aaron, to make sure of that word...) Seriously.  Down to the beard and the brown knitted stocking cap!  Zac, I mean Andrew and his really cute girlfriend Ashley, were sitting in the booth behind us. I kept telling Mark that I was sure it was Zac Brown, until finally Mark turned around and said, "My wife thinks you look just like Zac Brown. So do people say that to you a lot?" After a back and forth conversation, we invited them to join us for dessert. Turns out that Andrew is also a musician. And his grandmother is a quilter! We had a great time visiting with a "celebrity."

I was trying to get to know my Canon camera better, so I took a few lots of pictures of the sun as it went down on Sunday night. I won't bore you with them all. Unless you really want to see 36 sunset pictures, in which case you can email me. hehe
On Monday, we went to Birch Fabrics, to see Cynthia Mann of fabricworm. Cynthia probably wouldn't consider herself famous, but when it comes to online fabric shopping, she has a huge presence. I had met her in person before at Birch Fabrics' first location. She quickly outgrew that space and now has a really nice place in the older part of Paso Robles. Unfortunately, she didn't make it to the store until after we left because her 3-year-old had gotten sick. But that didn't stop me from buying some fabric (super cute new line from Cosmo Cricket) and saving on shipping cost!.
On the way home, we stopped for lunch at Jack Ranch Diner, a place we had always wanted to stop but never drove by at mealtime.  There is a monument here where the actor, James Dean, died in an accident in 1955.
When I looked out in our backyard when we arrived home, this is what I saw (oops, looks like we need to spray again for aphids...)

We had a great weekend but it's nice to be back home...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Introducing: Marmalade Fabrics

Let's just start out this post with a lot of color, shall we? By now you won't be surprised to find out that all those dots in all those happy colors make my heart start beating a lot faster!

Did you see that number? 105 Kona cotton solids at Marmalade Fabrics. 105!!!

I am so pleased to introduce Tammy Vasser of Marmalade Fabrics. I'm proud to have her as the first sponsor here at Live a Colorful Life. Have you been to Marmalade Fabrics yet? Tammy has an outstanding selection of fabrics. She has steadily been increasing her selection of the new fabric love of my life--solids. I'm still trying to slow my heart rate from the thought of 105 colors!

You can choose from some of these yummy stacks that Tammy has put together, or put your own selection together.

I love Tammy's shop. I have never failed to receive superb, personalized customer service from her. From fat quarters to yardage, free shipping on orders over $50, super speedy service.

I'm a huge fan of Saffron Craig's fabrics from Australia, but sometimes it takes a while to find it here in the States. Tammy was one of the first to carry Saffron's new line, Magical Lands. She notified me practically the minute she had it listed in the store, and it arrived in my mailbox a couple of days later.

She also carries another favorite of mine, the new line by Ty Pennington:

And if you are a Joel Dewberry fan, Marmalade is the place to shop:

Did I mention that she carries nine colors of Essex linen/cotton? And that it comes in orange?? I have mentioned how much I love orange, right? Um, probably once or twice...

Speaking of orange, can it be a fluke that my first sponsor's logo is orange? I think not!
I hope you will take the time to head over to Marmalade Fabrics today or this weekend and do a little shopping. 

And you will NOT want to miss this: at a content life, Tammy's blog, she is giving away a full dozen (eek! 12!) Kona solid fat quarters of the winner's choice! 

What are you waiting for? Go over there right now!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Look what just showed up at my house!

The new Denyse Schmidt fabrics from Joann's! Deborah went by yesterday to grab some, and went back this morning and the dots were already gone!

This magazine that I requested after I read about it here. I had to work and she was already going back to Joann's anyway. But they didn't have it at Joann's so she made an extra stop at Borders!

And as a bonus: we now each have a Cath Kidston mug for our coffee when we get together to sew!

Sorry. I can't stop taking pictures. They all look so happy together.

What makes me happy today: a good friend...who loves to quilt...and is on exactly the same wavelength as me.
Thanks, Deborah (and Miss Luella).