This past weekend I witnessed the ultimate in “home studio fabric organization”!
I visited the home of a quilter friend of mine for the first time and she showed me her quilting studio. As I turned the corner to enter her studio, my jaw dropped when I saw her extremely well organized fabric stash: It looked like I had stepped into a quilt shop!
How She Did It
My friend collected empty cardboard fabric bolts from quilt shops and cut them in half. She wrapped her fabric stash fabrics around the half bolts and then organized the fabrics by theme/category in a large wide bookcase.
If she had more than a certain yardage of fabric (I forgot her threshold), she would organize the fabric on a full size cardboard bolt (bottom left of the bookcase).
I think the advantages of this type of fabric stash organization are as follows:
Her fabric organization and display feels like she is shopping directly from a quilt shop every time she goes to select a fabric in her stash – AMAZING!
She can clearly see what is in her stash.
This may reduce her need to actually go to a quilt shop, and spend money on fabric that she does not actually need.
(I know, I know, right now all quilters reading this are rolling their eyes. Buying fabric is not about needing it – it is about wanting it!)
Last month in the post What’s on the Design Wall: “We Will Not Be Discarded!” I shared a piece in progress made from discards (destined for the trash) from another quilter’s quilt. It was a fun challenge. I used nearly every trimmed section/discard in this piece, setting them in a solid copper cotton fabric.
The long arm quilter, Guadalupe Designs, has finished quilting the piece and it is awaiting facing (a type of finishing/binding for art quilts where the binding does not show on the front).
Here is a sneak peek of the piece (to follow up on the post from last month):
The piece measures 51″ x 17″ and will debut in March 2016 at the show at Twigs Gallery in Sisters, OR. The show opens on the Sisters 4th Friday Art Walk on 3/25/16 (After it debuts at the show I will post a photo of We Will Not Be Discarded!).
I will have 4 pieces in the show and all my pieces will feature “Recycled” Blocks, rescued from either discards of other quilters or donated abandoned projects. I love the idea of working to create something of beauty from something that was once abandoned. I love the idea of shared creative energy (see my post What’s on the Design Wall: “Ohio Star” (a taste of “Big Magic”) – “When an Idea is ready to be born, it will visit numerous people to find someone who going to bring it into existence” – Elizabeth Gilbert).
I am working on the hanging sleeves and labels for some of the piece which are unlabeled. I am feeling honored and excited about being in the show – more later!
As part of my ongoing journey towards living with less and keeping only those things that are useful and bring me joy, I am working on dealing with mementos and keepsakes. I had three boxes of keepsakes – old postcards, cards from old friends and co-workers, newspaper clippings, holiday photo cards, etc. I now have one small box. I have let go of that which does not bring me a deep sense of joy.
During the process of working through my keepsakes, I re-discovered a quilt that my staff had made me when I was a manager at a health plan in Seattle in the late 1990s to early 2000s. I do not remember if I was a quilter yet, so it likely was not a “Quilt for the Quilter” but it is something very special that was just sitting around in a box put away.
My friend Judy, who originally got me into quilting and was a member of my work team in the late 1990s, organized a team quilt project as a holiday gift for me. Each team member made a block and Judy assembled the blocks into a wallhanging quilt. I was deeply touched and surprised with the gift, which I believe was given to me around 1998 or 1999.
This wonderful gift is no longer tucked away, I have placed it on the wall to remind me that I was that loved (because QUILT ARE LOVE, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise!) so much as a leader that a team took the time to make me a quilt!
Below is a photo of the quilt. The center of the quilt features a photo of the entire team, so I have taken a low resolution photo at a bad angle to respect the privacy of former team members who I have lost touch with and may not want their photo published on the web. (And you likely thought it was just another one of my bad photos!)
I have included a couple close ups of some of the blocks. The “Chocolate Chip Cookies” block, by one of my former team members, was made to honor the fact that I brought the team homemade chocolate chip cookies when I interviewed with them! After I was hired I continued to make the team homemade cookies.
It is wonderful to have such a special memory visible to enjoy everyday, rather tucked away, only to look at every couple of years (or longer, when you remember it is there).
As far as the other keepsakes, as I mentioned earlier I took them down from 3 boxes to 1 small box. I love what Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014), states in her wonderful book:
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
I realize many memories can be held inside my heart rather than my hand. I do not need to hold onto all those physical items to honor those memories (like all postcards I ever received – I have downsized them only a small stack of very special postcards).
And as far as the person I am becoming, I hope it is someone who is filled with gratitude for all the special moments in her life. This quilt reminds me to continue my feelings of gratitude each day.
Let’s just say it is a person’s prerogative to be able to change their minds…
If you never change your mind, why have one? – Edward de Bono
A couple weeks ago, one of my wonderful tierneycreates Etsy shop customers, who has been very supportive of my miniature kimonos, asked for some new kimono color and fabric options. She was so enthusiastic about my miniature kimonos, I got enthusiastic about them again and made a fresh new batch:
23 new kimonos in total. Currently I am busy adding buttons and finishing details, eventually they will get posted to my tierneycreates Etsy shop.
I have been negligent with my Etsy shop for a couple months now due to work and other life related things. I am working on new offerings and refreshing current offerings.
I do not expect my tierneycreates Etsy shop to ever become a “quit your day job” kind of thing (it is more of a fun hobby) but I really enjoy connecting with people across North America (I have Canadian customers too!) and adding a little “fusion of textiles & smiles” to peoples’ lives!
In honor of Valentine’s Day weekend, I am reposting this post from Nov 2013 as QUILTS ARE LOVE:
How do you know a quilt has been loved?
It is worn, frayed, maybe even threadbare. In my early days of quilting this would make me cringe – I put all that work into a quilt and now it is all worn out? Now the thought of one my quilts being so loved (just think of that glorious book The Velveteen Rabbit) brings a huge smile to my face.
While talking to my sister (she has many quilts from me) she mentioned that most of the quilts I have made her are very worn out, some are just “hanging on by thread” about to fall apart. I take quilt construction seriously and for a second I thought “wow shoddy workmanship on my part” and “why did they not take better care of the quilts”? I came to my senses several seconds later and realized: Wow! Those quilts have been truly loved – I am so lucky and so honored!
I think of what my first quilting mentor and dear friend, Judy D, said “if a quilt is falling apart, all worn out, then it has been truly loved…I never mind repairing a quilt that has been loved”.
Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
“Real isn’t how you are made, it’s a thing that happens to you… When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes…When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up..or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once..You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Thank you to all the people I have made quilts for over the years, who have truly loved them, and made them REAL.
Always listening to audiobooks and podcasts while going on walks or crafting, I wanted to share some interesting recent listens.
I constantly listen to audiobooks and podcasts and wanted to share my recent favorites.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful public library system and use the free Overdrive app to download audiobooks to my phone. Check out my older posts under the category “Audiobook Recommendations” if you would like to see my previous recommendations. Here are my recent favorites:
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – I understand why this book has received all sorts of accolades. An introverted female British historian loses her beloved father and deals with her grief through training a Goshawk. The author reads the audiobook (I always love this) and weaves the story of her journey through her grief with the history of falconry, the experience of training a hawk, and the story of T.H. White – a falconer who wrote The Once and Future King and The Sword In the Stone (King Arthur/Camelot stories). It was an amazing listen – engaging, interesting, and profound in its beautiful exploration of loss, grief and recovery.
Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – this book by the same duo of Economists who wrote Freakanomics was highly entertaining and eye opening. It was read by one of the authors Stephen J. Dubner. It was a “Malcolm Gladwell” type of book blending sociology, economics and psychology. Economics is not as boring as it sounds when discussed by these authors!
Ah, the magic of free podcasts! I usually download them from iTunes; and for some podcasts you can listen for free on various websites such as NPR.org. Here are my current favorite podcasts:
TED Radio Hour – This podcast is more than listening to a TED Talk. Each week an engaging topic is presented and discussed by weaving together snippets from related TED talks and interviews with TED talk presenters, experts, and everyday people’s perspectives. Very engaging podcast that always ends too quickly! I have to thank my friend Michele for turning me onto TED talks years ago. I never tire of watching TED talks or listening to this podcast featuring excerpts.
The Moth Podcast – Incredible podcast featuring live storytelling. When I listen to The Moth Radio Hour while walking, sometimes I stop and pause to reflect, laugh out loud, or wipe away a tear. Powerful and engaging story telling. Thanks to my friend Pam for introducing me many years ago to “The Moth”.
The Minimalists Podcast – I love these guys. My friend in Austria introduced me to their website/blog theminimalists.com and I have been hooked! You may realize from my earlier posts that I am working on scaling back my life and focusing on experiences over things. I am very inspired by these two young thirty something guys who realized at an early age that living a meaningful life with less stuff is one of the keys to happiness. A lot of the stuff they discuss I already know but I enjoy the reinforcement.
In addition to podcasts, I am current listening to TWO audiobooks at once (I put them both on hold from the library and they both became available at the same time for a 21 day lending period):
SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal
Good Gut by Justin Sonnenburg
I am enjoying both of them so far and just alternate my listenings!
As I continue on my journey to scale back my material possessions and focus on the important things in life, I realize I have donated a lot of stuff I no longer need to charity organizations but I have not given any of my handmade items.
It feels like I have not been really giving, as I have only given purchased items I no longer want in my life.
Giving seems more like truegiving, if you give something that is not as easy to part with – like a quilt (or two)!
So I decided to donate a couple small flannel quilts/baby quilts to Project Linus. I had them listed on my tierneycreates Etsy shop and I am taking down their listings and giving them away instead.
If you are not familiar with Project Linus is a non-profit organization that provides homemade “blankets” to children in need. I am getting together with a couple of friends at the end of this month that have worked with Project Linus in the past and they are going to help me donate my quilts.
It feels like this donation is more meaningful donation than a load of unused kitchen gadgets to Goodwill.
Starting out with a strong idea and good intentions…
In this previous post, I shared my excitement over my sudden inspiration to create a traditional pattern quilt from nontraditional fabrics (recycled garment silks and linens). I knew it would be an experiment and in this first experiment, I created a traditional Ohio Star block from my collection of recycled silk and linen samples from garment manufacturing.
If you are not a quilter, an Ohio Star block is a “nine patch” block made from quarter square triangles around a central square. This block is a very traditional quilt block and was used in early pioneer and Amish quilts in the 19th century. The pattern I used was for a “Star-within-a-star” Ohio Star.
The plan was to make a small wallhanging. I pieced the Ohio Star block, and as I auditioned fabrics to use in the border, I grew more and more unhappy with the Ohio Star block.
At first I could not figure out what specifically was bothering me, as I was pleased with the color combinations/palette.
I realized what was bothering me – the piecing itself. My prior work with recycled silks involved intuitive free-form designs for art quilts. This was my first attempt at making a traditionally pieced structured quilt block from recycled garment silks and linens.
When I used to make traditional quilt pattern quilt blocks I would use crisp quilting cottons – this fabric was easier to manipulate to achieve accurate piecing and star points.
Working with silk and linen samples intended for garment making can be challenging, especially when attempting to accurately piece shapes such as star points. In order to work with the delicate silks, you need to put a backing/stabilizer material on the back of each silk section. Silk backed with a fusible stabilized can be cumbersome to cut into small accurate sections. Silk also frays.
So…to shorten what could grow into a very long and tedious story of my explanation why the Ohio Star was not working for me (and to avoid putting my non quilter readers to sleep), let’s just say: I was quite unhappy with the imprecise piecing of the block.
For a moment, I started to – just throw it away (gasp) ! Then I thought: let me try reimagining it – into some sort of “fractured” Ohio Star, where the accuracy of the piecing would not be as much an issue.
I sliced up the Ohio Star and sewed it back together into a new configuration. I revisited my stash of recycled silks and linens to audition other combinations to try to build some sort of abstract wall hanging art quilt piece around the “fractured star”.
Frustrated and drained of inspiration, I put the piece and its potential coordinating fabric away. I did not know where to go next with them.
Time to let someone else “rescue” the piece
I have several previous posts about working with “rescued” and “recycled” quilt blocks. Another quilter started a piece/making quilt blocks and abandoned the project; I then “adopted” the project and created a new piece based on the original blocks and my imagination.
While sharing my dilemma with an art quilting friend (that I was going no where with my Ohio Star silk and linen experiment), my friend offered to “adopt” the piece and create an art quilt with it.
I was delighted! Not only was I delighted but I felt a great sense of relief! I realize a textile project is not a living being but I felt as if I had recklessly abandoned a piece in progress, filled with creative energy, to the lonely “Projects on Hold” box in the back of my closet.
My experiment is going to be adopted and go to a good and loving home, where it can grow into something wonderful!
(Yes I will share a photo when my friend completes the piece from wherever her imagination takes her!)
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go – Rumi
Last April when I counted, I had around 370 craft books (on quilting, sewing, beading, knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, card making, etc.).
Last weekend, I was ready to again take on thinning out my craft book collection.
Over the past couple of years, I have been able to let go of a lot of “stuff” as I move towards a life focused on experiences, not “stuff”. I even let go of a large amount of fabric that I was keeping “just in case” (see earlier post The Fabric Purge!). My craft books, however, all seemed so precious, and it has been difficult to part with them.
Suddenly I was ready. Following the principle’s in Marie Kondo’s wonderful book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and pulled ALL my craft books out and went through them one by one. This took nearly 4-6 hours to complete.
My primary criteria was: “Will I truly ever make something in this book?”. Using this criteria I was able to lighten my load by over 50 craft books.
The photo below shows the growing stack for DONATION in my laundry room.
The cool thing was even while I was re-shelving and organizing the books I had decided to keep, I was able to weed out even more that I realized I do not need.
Last Monday, with the help of Terry the Quilting Husband, I dropped off two huge bags of books to our local public library. They will either go into the library’s collection of craft books for circulation to library patrons; or they will go to the Friends of the Library which will sell the books to raise money for the library. One of the library staff gave me a huge “thank you” on donating the books – she was amazed how many of the books were brand new and in excellent condition.
I have no regret over the money I spent on these books I never used, because they are going to either circulate in my beloved public library or raise money to support library activities!
(Yes I still have a lot of books left and I love them all. Let’s see if next year I can do another craft book purge…)
(Be sure to check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s Schnauzer Snips page for her latest adventures and musing)
But First, More on “Trees of Winter”
Before I continue my series on sources of creative inspiration, let’s talk about winter trees a little more. I am still musing over the Winter Trees I discussed in yesterday’s blog post by the same name.
This morning, during our daily 2 mile am dog walk, I was struck again by the beauty of winter trees against an impossibly clear blue winter sky. Living in the “High Desert” of Central Oregon our winters have many days of clear blue skies. Compared, say to when we lived in Seattle, WA. (A fun town to live in, but blue skies were not that common; grey skies were considerably more popular there!)
So here is one more winter tree that captured my attention this morning, and then I will stop with the “Winter Trees” for a while (perhaps):
Creative Inspiration: Public Library Books
Since I was a child, I have been in love with the public library.
I remember a summer in my 10th or 11th year that I spent many days of my summer vacation at my small town’s public library. Books are magical. To have free access to all those magical books is even more magical.
For a time in my life I wanted to become a librarian, so I could spend a career among the books. I did not pursue a career in library science as an adult, but I kept my intense love of public libraries and of books.
I frequently patronize our local public library and I find their shelves filled with sources of creative inspiration. It would be very expense to buy all the books I would love to have in my personal library, and if you have read my post Craft Book Hoarder?!?!? it appears that I once tried to do that!
Embracing the minimalist, “scale back your life”, “living with less” movement, I borrow from the library, books that inspire me creatively. If the book turns out to be a “must, must, must have” then I will purchase it, but rarely.
Here is a recent stack of public library books filled with inspiration:
I have e-mailed our public library’s material purchasing department and thanked them for the wonderful selection of crafting, gardening, and home decorating books. I think it is important to let them know a patron really appreciates their well curated collection!
In future posts I will share an update on “craft book hoarding” (yes, I actually let go of a large amount of craft books); and discuss one of the recent crafting books I borrowed from the public library that I absolutely had to own (The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri L. Wood).