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Me

My word for 2020 is “Me”. Be myself, focus on my health, focus on me, do the things I want.

I don’t talk about myself very much, usually I just keep to my projects and Quilty stuff, as its easier to hide. I love this community, and want to be more involved, continue building deeper friendships and to me this means sharing more of me. The good and the bad.

2019 was a challenging year for me for so many reasons but I also had some amazing adventures. Experiences in 2019 are definitely driving my goals for 2020.

Amazing Adventures
I was so lucky last year to start my year off on a retreat with Amy Butler and Valori Wells in Morocco. It was one of the greatest things I have every experienced. Great friendships were formed, and mind blowing experience in color and inspiration. Highly recommend!!

I took a break from work and family, and went to New York for a long weekend. We walked 60,000 steps in 3 days, took great photos, talked art, architecture and Quilty things, saw and experienced so many places, and had great food.

Getting to spend time with my friends is always a highlight. Three events really stood out for my this year that really warmed my heart:

  • Spending time at QuiltCon and catching up with people IRL was very rewarding and exhausting all at once
  • Being involved in the Monster Drawing Rally at the North Carolina Museum of Arts, and having friends come out and support me.
  •  Having a girls weekend away, where we celebrated birthdays, did a mini quilt swap, sewed, talked, ate good food and drank a little wine.

Lastly, as a family we just got back from 2 weeks in Hawaii. It was so good just to spend time with each other, enjoy life away from the daily stresses and just reconnect. We loved the warm weather and all the great activities that nature had to offer.

These adventures helped with the balance, I so desperately try to accomplish every year. My biggest realization this year is that I needed to be even more flexible than I thought I was. Life is not something you control, things happen and you just have to adapt.

Health
I came to a realization that I was suffering from intermittent panic attacks. I never had them previous, just in the last 18 months or so I had 3-4 episodes where I thought I was going to die. It is so scary in the moment, getting pins and needles in your fingers, worried you are having a heart attack, mentally telling yourself you are fine it’s just panic but you’re not really in control. Finally, I talked this over with my primary care physician and we have a plan that involves improving my health, both physical and mental (by working on stress) and a plan for medication and relaxation exercises when I need it. So far, it has been going ok (no episodes in 6 months) but I need to refocus on the health starting this week, as its lapsed the last two months (mostly due to a change at work).

Work
I am a director at a large software company. It is an amazing company to work for and have done so for 21 years. I feel I have been successful in a, typically, male dominated environment. I want to share that success and have been working on supporting other women in my team to be successful and help them grow their careers. My job definitely influences the stress I feel. I think I have been balancing the stress better the last 12 month but I still have a lot to learn. I need to be there for my team, as many people depend on me to make decisions, handle escalations and lead them to success, but I also need to find personal balance.

Family
First off, I have to say I have the most supportive and loving husband anyone could ask for. He understands my need to hide away from people, even though he loves being around people. He knows I sometimes need down time which means tv or sewing in the evening or spending the whole weekend in my PJ’s. He also has chosen to be interested in my hobby and supports me by taking on child care when I am out teaching or on a retreat, he offers advise when asked.

But y’all, parenting is hard sometimes.

We are very lucky to also have a great 12 year old boy who is very caring. He loves animals and is so wanting a dog. He is a very logical and methodical thinker, and it’s so interesting watching him process things. He is a fun kid and still asks for cuddles before bed most nights.

School, though, has been very challenging this year. This is 7th grade for him. He has dyslexia and already works with an individual education plan and his teachers offer him a lot of support.  This year is the year of introducing independence, speaking up and asking for help for himself. He has been struggling with this and with organization which meant he does not keep up. The last two weeks of both semesters, there was a lot of catch-up work and rework needed. This meant working until 11pm sometimes and in the weekend and us supporting him.  To help him focus, he went without electronics for two weeks until he got caught up (we already have a 15 hour limit per week but that was dropped to 0 hours). We have had tears, seen stress a pre-teen can encounter with school (unfortunately), and also his drive in trying to be successful. We have a plan for next semester and hoping to see a huge improvement. By the way, we are continuing no electronics Monday through Thursday as he was a different kid and was more focused without devices.

Quilting
So quilting….this hobby brings me balance. It also has brought some of the best people into my life. Last year, other things though had to priority, so I had to make some tough decisions. I stopped submitting to magazines, I reduced my teaching and had a really slow start with projects as my energy was else where. When I quilted I really wanted it to be for enjoyment.

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Plan for 2020
Thinking about what would be best for “me” this year is a priority. So the plan is a looser than normal but here it is.

  • Working on my health with exercise, good eating practices and finding better ways to deal with stress are first on the list.
  • Spending more quality time with family – this means sticking to our device free Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a monthly activity around North Carolina.
  • I worry about where we are as a community (as a whole) and the state of the world, so I am creating opportunities to give back – I plan on giving away quilts where they are needed, continuing supporting women at work, supporting kids in giving them opportunities, and contributing to some key organizations that are doing good in this world.
  • I am going to focus on Quilty things I enjoy, and not overcommit this year as I work on life balance. I do still want to look for opportunities to share my art and take a couple of leaps but not stress or over think about them. I also have some key teaching opportunities I am looking forward to – QuiltCon (Austin) and Quilter’s Affair (Sisters, Oregon).

Thanks for sticking through my look back of 2019. I am excited about 2020. I would love to hear from you all about your chosen word for this year, your goals, or life challenges.

Spark to Design {#spark2design}

I am fascinated by what people miss seeing and experiencing on a daily basis. We all too often get stuck in a routine and distracted by our electronic, social media-based world. What details are we missing by not taking the time to really see and experience those things around us. I believe that with practice and intention, we can be inspired by patterns and design elements in objects we see or events we experience, every day. By seeing with intent, you could see the layered geometric designs of the concrete overpass structs, or the lines the bottom of a bamboo steamer or the unique pattern the moonlight casts through a window.

You can understand then, why my favorite part of making quilts is the design process of the quilt and then actually making that design into a quilt top. My typical process is finding elements in the world around me, photographing that image (the spark) and then creating a quilt design from that image. I love finding the geometry in things I see and looking at those individual elements and creating a design purely from one or two of the elements… breaking things down to the minimal components.

When I design and explore the elemental components, there are typically several editing and modification steps between the spark to final design. If I design on my computer instead of paper there are typically more iterations.

Let’s walk through a couple of spark to design processes that have been done using computer software. Note: I use Quilt Canvas which is a subscription based web tool.

Bridge

My friends and I were out for a drive at dusk in Nashville in February. I was in the passenger front side and as we went back to our apartment, we went under a bridge. I loved the arches and contrasting colors from the evening lights and the evening sky. As we drove this was the spark I captured through the car’s open window.

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Fascinated by the arches and how they look stacked this was the first design which I really liked where this was going but the left bottom arch just kind of hung in nowhere.

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To continue the eye fully to the edge I extended the second arch through to the edge which I really liked but it still had the issue of the lower arch hanging in no mans land.

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So what would happen if I joined the lines for the second and first arch in that bottom left corner. I loved the connecting lines and how they gave a little more flow and connectivity to the design.

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Yes, I liked this but I think we needed to have less negative space in that corner, so I dragged those connecting lines down to fill the bottom left corner.

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Now that the design was what I was looking for what if I played with the colors. I loved the color palette which was inspired by the palette of the photo. I think the additions of the orange and the red-brown adds interest and has a great 60s vibe.

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This was the final design. Yet to be made but is on my to do list (which is rather long).

Carriage

This year I went to Marrakesh, Morocco with Amy Butler and Valori Wells. It was one of the most amazing and inspiring trips. The color and tile work everywhere was mind blowing. In one of our shopping adventures, Valori and I explored an alley behind some of the craftsman shops. At the back there was this old carriage. The geometry of the rectangles and curves captured my eye, those shapes just fascinated me.

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First design was looking at the elements in the carriage, the rectangles of the stair like top, the curve of the undercarriage, then the rectangles of the body. I also had one that included the semi circle within the undercarriage curve but before I even saved the design I removed it as it just created additional noise.

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After the first design I questioned whether the curve was needed in the design, so I removed it. I really think that this was more due to the color I chose within that grey scale.

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Deciding that the curve needed to be part of the design I added it back but played with other areas trying to get a better balance between the greys to make the curve more part of the design.

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Finally, deciding that it was really the coloring was throwing the design off. I went to a pure two color design – red and white. I also made a couple of other simplifications:

  • Removed the use of borders vs. filled rectangles on the top stair portion. I kept all the rectangles as solid shapes.
  • Removed the second rectangle on the left side and representing this now by the lines and negative space
  • I also moved the design over to the right, extending those rectangles and lines on the left column.

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Again, wanting to make sure the curve was a good fit I removed it but decided to add it back, as I really like that curve. It was the core element that pulled me in originally.

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So, lastly after adding the curve, I shortened the line that was on the left that represents the edge of the missing rectangle. I liked the balance of this line and it stopping just over 1/2 way gave it interest, a hint that there is something in that space. It no longer creates a firm outline.

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Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to answer anything around design/quilt design.

Community {Part III – Giving Back}

Giving back to one’s community, to me, is the most important things you can do for your community. There are lots of was to give back to your community and it does not always involve money.

Last year, North Carolina went through a couple of terrible hurricanes that left areas devastated. Some folks are still without homes and belongings. As this is in my backyard I felt compelled to contribute in some way. I have donated several clothes, kitchenware and bedding already. My favorite contributions though, that I recently finished, are  two quilts that were donated to Carolina Hurricane Quilt Project.

The first project is using Denyse Schmidt’s Ocean Wave quilt pattern. I started with a 100 charm pack of various Kaffe Fassett fabrics, and 3 solid charm packs that I had received in conference goodies. The HST laid out beside each other were a little saturated for me so the extra negative space in the ocean waves pattern was perfect. I am not a huge fan of the prints but I loved how it turned out. I know it will be treasured by its new owner too.

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The other quilt was an UFO that I had lying around for a couple of years. It was originally designed for a back but I decided it was better as a quilt top. I made it slightly larger by adding blue border. I think it would be such a fun kids quilt.

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Both quilts were quilted by Cary Quilting Company which is also the place to drop off and donate quilts for #Carolinahurricanequiltproject.

There are many groups that you can join that are all about giving quilts to charity.

Making quilts or quilt blocks for quilts to donate are one way to give back to your community, however there are many other ways to give back as well. Here are other some ideas for thought:

Volunteer

One of the things I hear from several guilds and groups is how hard it is to get volunteers. Time is one of the easiest things you can give to your community, even if its just an hour here or there. Opportunities with you group or guild could include:

  • An event – manning a booth or for setup / take down
  • Bringing refreshments
  • Organizing an activity – like a swap
  • Join a committee or a board

One of my favorite things to do is to volunteer for events that nurture other people’s interest in the activity that  I love (in this case, quilting). For example, this weekend, the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild hosted a booth at the NC Museum of History to support the Quilt Speak Exhibit. The booth highlighted Modern Quilting and had a couple of machines and fabric there, so folks (the public) can make an improvisation block. A way of learning some modern quilting techniques and promoting participation, a great conduit for community interaction. We even had people trying sewing for the first time.

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Education Opportunities

Education is so important in today’s societies. Art and hand skills are missing in many schools today, and I think people are missing the ability to express themselves, become creative thinkers, or see | understand other views. Some options here include volunteering at your local schools (or your kids school), or at local community centers, Local guilds or art centers.

For any of these think about:

  • A talk you could do (also gives you a chance for public speaking)
  • A Program (like a tutorial of a technique)
  • Join a group that supports outreach programs to schools or teens
  • Or run an after school program at your local school.

I am hoping over the next year to either help out with an existing outreach program or start one for kids and teens. I would like to teach sewing basics, quilting basics and design elements. I will let you know how this goes.

Donations

Don’t forget many art programs are working on grants. If you have left over supplies that you don’t know what to do with, think about donating it to an art program. I donate everything from instructional or art books, glue, paper, pens, fabric, sewing notions etc.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask what the organization needs as they may have specific program in mind. For example, one group needed a couple of Gees Bend books as they were studying them that year.

Those were my ideas and things I have tried. I would love to hear how you give back. I am always looking for new opportunities and ways to give back or participate in my community.

Other Community Posts in this series:
Community {Introduction – Part I}
Community {Group Activity – Part II}