Tuesday, December 2, 2014

So, um....yeah

Is anyone still there?

I really have a hard time believing that I haven't posted since April. But then I think of the many strange twists and turns of the last seven months and ... I get really tired.

This is not even remotely quilt or craft related beyond an explanation for my near complete disappearance from the interwebs.

In May, my mother was feeling poorly and finally admitted that maybe a trip to the doctor was in order. (Stubborness is a family trait that has definitely NOT skipped a generation!) We actually went to the ER because it was a weekend and the situation went from bad to worse so quickly I found myself wondering if my mom was going to make it through the day.

It's strange to write some of this - sharing such personal details - especially when it feels like it is really her story and not mine to tell. But this whole experience has absorbed all of my "spare" time and drained me of all creative momentum and inspiration. So, it seems mildly therapeutic for me to share.

Anyway, my mom was diagnosed with a heart condition which causes a very rapid heartbeat. it's like your heart is running a marathon even thought you're pretty much just hanging out, watching television or reading a book. And that can make your heart very very tired. And THAT can sometimes cause fluid to build up around the outside of your lungs. Weird, huh?

So, after sucking some of that liquid out and sending it off to a lab for analysis she had various scans and xrays, which revealed blood clots in her lung as well as some sort of mass. I'll spare you the step-by-step proceedings, but my mom was ultimately diagnosed with small cell lung cancer, atrial fibrillation, and pulmonary embolism. And all of that really sucks.

She was a champ, seriously. Went through three rounds of chemo (lost her hair and had multiple transfusions and infusions of all the stuff that chemo completely depleted from her system), 23 radiation treatments, and several hospitalizations. Somewhere in the midst of all this, another scan was done that revealed she also had colon cancer - completely unrelated to the lung cancer. Lucky, right?!

Well, this new diagnosis required surgery, for which my mom was obviously not an extremely great candidate. But she did it, and ended up with a brand spanking new ileostomy! After an extended stay in ICU, where things were quite touch-and-go for a time, she bounced back and was really doing well. By the end of summer, we were able to go out and actually have some fun enjoying simple pleasures like grocery shopping.

And then she fell and broke her hip. Can you believe it?!?! Of all the dumb luck. She had to have surgery again to put some lovely new hardware into her left hip and has spent the last few weeks at a rehab facility regaining her strength and working with various therapists. The good news: she is due to come home this Friday!

So, any and all good thoughts, prayers, healing light and love are all welcome and needed. There is still a lot to look forward to, including a check in regarding the lung cancer and a procedure to slow down her racing heart, which seems mercifully straightforward.

And that, my friends, is why I disappeared for awhile. So if you're still here, thank you. I am vowing to myself to get back to creating in the new year - if for no other reason than I enjoy it.

Meanwhile, love your family and your friends and all the people important to you. Life is precious and fleeting. It's easy to wait, easy to procrastinate; but what are we all waiting for? During this holiday season, especially, try to spend quality time with the people you love. Don't get too bogged down in the stress imposed by commercial interests. Time and love are the most important things to share with one another.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oakshott Lipari Tote

Have you heard of Oakshott cottons? They are GORGEOUS. And their Lipari line is nothing short of stunning.

 The colors are rich and the fabric itself is beautiful to work with. Thanks to Sew Mama Sew, and their Oakshott Lipari Tote Challenge, I was able to play with these beauties and designed this tote.

Once I saw the fabric in person, I knew I wanted to keep the design of the tote simple to show off the fabrics themselves and the gorgeous colors. In fact, I used every single color in the line because it was too hard to leave any of them out!

This tote measures approximately 13" x 14" which makes it small enough to use as a purse but large enough to hold a laptop with ease.

The inside includes some useful features such as a cell phone pocket and a key clip. I hate losing my keys at the bottom of a bag!

There's also a large zippered pocket for other essentials that you don't want rolling around at the bottom of your bag.

This is the first time I've ever used this type of handle for a bag and I must admit - I LOVE it! The handles were very easy to attach with pre-made holes for stitching and I think they really elevate this from a simple tote to a pretty classy bag.

I will definitely be using more Oakshott in the future because it is wonderful to work with and very high quality, beautiful fabric. What's not to love?

Check out the other totes made for this challenge:

Teresa of Dandelion Drift
Jennifer of Sewplicity
Megan of Monkey Beans
Michelle of Falafel and the Bee

Made it this far? Want a chance to win a sample swatch book of Lipari? Leave a comment telling me what you would make with this fabric line and I'll draw a winner next week.

                                        Sample Swatch - Lipari

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Favorites Quilt

I finally made a quilt especially for me. The idea had been percolating for awhile and I knew I wanted to use my stash of coveted Japanese prints. All of my favorites are in here.

I began cutting the triangles before being completely sure of the layout. It was both nerve wracking and exhilarating to cut into fabrics that I had been saving (hoarding) for so long. But really, what good are they sitting on a shelf? I didn't buy fabric to create a museum. I bought it to make awesome stuff!

The back is a fantastic text print from IKEA.

When I first started laying out the triangles, they were completely random. I knew I wanted to add the white sashing but the look was still very chaotic. As I played around with it all, I started to pair up the triangles into semi-coordinated diamonds. I think it really helped to bring some small sense of order to the various prints and colors used.

I really love this quilt. Like, REALLY love this quilt. It was extremely liberating to cut into all these beauties and now I get to enjoy seeing them every single day. Lesson learned: use your fabric. It gives you much more joy than just piling it on a shelf.

The binding is yarn dyed essex linen, which is one of my all time favorite fabrics. Ever.

Ahhhh....what a joy. Buy what you love, use what you have, enjoy what you make. Life is really too short to do it any other way.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy New Year

I can get away with that since it's still January, right? I sure hope so!

One of my first projects this year was this little mini quilt I made for a friend's birthday. Not just any friend, but a particularly mathy friend.

It's another fractal and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It was lots of fun to work in a shape that wasn't square or rectangular, especially when it came to the binding. I used lots of precious scraps from my favorite Japanese fabrics for the triangles and black yarn dyed essex for the binding.

The back is also a numerically heavy Japanese print.

Just a fun little something to get the new year started off on the right foot. Lots of other projects in the works and a few giveaways coming up as well!

I hope you've recovered from all of your holiday festivities and that 2014 is treating you well so far. I'd love to hear what you've been up to!

Monday, October 14, 2013


Wow! This last week was CRAZY! Sorry I didn't get to posting the winner of First Steps to Free Motion Quilting until today. So with no further ado....
The winner is:

My biggest fear with FMQ is I'd ruin a quilt it took me hours & hours to make. Thanks for sharing your FMQ samples & thanks for the chance to win.

Congratulations Joyce! I've sent you an email and you can look forward to reading Christina's book and learning all about free motion quilting!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway!

I am thrilled and honored to be today's stop on the blog tour for Christina Cameli's new book, First Steps to Free Motion Quilting! Even if Christina wasn't a dear friend, member of Portland Modern Quilt Guild, kick-butt quilter, and all-around amazing person I would have reviewed this book for you because it is That Good.

I have always admired people who can do free motion quilting and do it well. It always seemed like such an unattainable skill to me. Then Christina taught at PMQG about fmq on your home machine and I was hooked. Still nervous about screwing up a big project but I loved the personality and individuality free motion designs could give to quilts.

This book not only teaches the basics for learning how to free motion quilt but also has a bunch of great smaller projects to get you practicing. Even this amazing quilt is done just one square at a time - and is a new-to-me take on quilt as you go - so you don't need to worry about practicing on a super-beloved project right at the start.

Christina shares her wealth of knowledge about free motion quilting as well as lots of tips and tricks to help you feel comfortable as you work on this skill. And the projects are all simple to construct so that the focus can be getting in that fmq practice time.

I've always been a huge fan of leaves and branches so I really loved the placemat project featuring botanical designs.

I followed Christina's advice about practicing and doodling first, just to get a feel for how the design worked.

Then I got to stitching on simple placemats pieced from scraps from my last table runner project.

I even tried some of the pebble designs because, you know, why not!

And this is the back of the first practice piece/placemat! Seriously! I totally did that!!! High five!

I moved on to an all-over branching design on the next piece and L. O. V. E. it. This is how far I got before my bobbin ran out and made me stop and take a break.

I truly thought this was a skill beyond my grasp, but Christina's book is so encouraging and inspiring that I know I will be adding much more free motion quilting to my work from now on. In addition to all of the fundamentals and the practice projects, there's a GREAT section in the back on troubleshooting.

Does all this make you want to get your hands on a copy? Because Stash Books has generously offered one for me to give away! Just comment on this post and tell me what your biggest fear is about free motion quilting and I'll randomly choose a winner next Wednesday, October 9. If the winner is in the US they may choose a paper or e-book. An international winner will receive an e-book.

Check out what others are saying about Christina's book here:

9/25: Allison Rosen at Stash Books Blog 
9/26: Jessica Alexandrakis at Life Under Quilts 
9/27: Monica Solorio-Snow at Happy Zombie 
9/28: Susan Beal at West Coast Crafty 
9/29: Kathy Mack at Pink Chalk Studio 
9/30: Angela Walters at Quilting is my Therapy 
10/1: Amanda Jean Nyberg at Crazy Mom Quilts 
10/2: Megan Dye at Megs Monkey Beans
10/3: Victoria Findlay Wolfe at Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts 
10/4: Katie Pedersen at Sew Katie Did 
10/5: Christina Cameli at A Few Scraps

Friday, August 2, 2013

Another one.

Are you tired of my table runners yet?

Because I've had the fabric for this one set aside for, um, 2 years. Seriously.

What on Earth took me so long? It was a piece of cake to stitch up, quilt, and bind - not to mention a joy to work with these beautiful fabrics.

The whole piece is very organic - no measuring, no real pattern. The quilting is random not-so-straight lines. I love it.

And I'm very pleased that I have enough scraps left over to make a set of place mats! Sweet!

This summer is flying by and I can hardly believe that school starts up in only a month. But if I'm being perfectly honest then I have to admit that I'm looking forward to having a bit more time for sewing and being creative. I seem to still have the expectation that summer is this amazing expanse of freedom, but really it's the kids who get the freedom. The parents work harder in the summertime! I'm definitely not complaining and I love my kids like crazy, but this was a hard truth to wrap my brain around.

Maybe I'll have something OTHER than a table runner to share next time!