Tag Archives: Goals

Too Many In Process

Right now I have too many projects in process. It is a tiny bit stressful for me, as I usually only work on one or two at a time. In addition to there being a lot (for me,) they are all very different from each other. Redirecting and refocusing takes some effort.

    1. Untied. I’ve been hand-quilting this with a hoop for the center, and no hoop for the rest, which I can reach more easily. It’s been on hold for a couple of weeks, but the center is almost done and soon I’ll move to the outer borders. They should go a little more quickly. 20160328_092719
    2. Moonlight Waltz. The top is beautiful. I loaded it onto the frame with a back and wool batting. My longarm machine has had unreliable tension, but after testing extensively, I plunged ahead. It was awful. Rather than baby the project along, a few inches at a time, I stopped. I took my machine to the factory. Last week I picked it up. They installed a new tension assembly and a new shaft for the bobbin assembly. The price of repairs was very modest. Jim re-installed the machine. I removed the whole project from the frame and picked out the quilting I’d done. I’ll need to add a big test strip to the back before loading it on the frame again.20160615_182518_resized
    3. Diamonds. I don’t have a good name for this yet, but it’s my most recent start. The top is done and the back is ready. I need to cut batting and make a binding. I will quilt this one before getting back to Moonlight Waltz.Harlequin Diamonds
    4. Testing. This actually is my highest current priority, and it is what I’m working on today. I put plain muslin on as backing and top fabric and used a scrap of polyester batting between. To evaluate the tension, I am using a different color of thread in the bobbin than on the top. I think it’s adjusted pretty well now, but the batting scrap is a different loft than I usually use. After a few more squiggles, I’ll switch to my usual brand and test some more. 20160621_120133
    5. Local guild challenge. This year’s guild challenge is to create a quilt inspired by Iowa. “What does Iowa mean to you? Corn and prairie grass? The Old Capitol Building? Family and friends? In 2016, Iowa will be 170 years old and we thought we should show everyone what Iowa means to us through our quilts. There is no size or technique limit to this quilt.” This is a hard project for me because I can’t easily distill my thoughts and emotions into a design concept. However, while instant-chatting with my son one evening, he described the Iowa in his mind as he flew over early this year. I’m still working on how to incorporate his words. The challenge meeting is in July, so time is running out! 20160621_115949

The only thing I have managed to finish is my round robin border for the month. My small group is doing a round robin again, and we’re on the third border. I made a border and was ready to attach it, but I wasn’t sure I liked it. Jim and I agreed that it was too spiky, so I modified it and turned the spikes inward, which helped soften the effect. I think it sets up the top well for a last border. 20160621_120408

I hope to be done with all these projects by mid-July. This very minute that seems both very doable and a little insane. No telling which one will win out! A lot will depend on how well my longarm machine works. Wish me luck!

It’s Time to PLAY!

People who know me know I tend to be very serious. Though I laugh easily and often, I seem to hold all the characteristics of a “Serious Person” except the first one below:

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.50.42 AM

(Of course, I may be flattering myself with this description, too.)

My personality also runs through my approach to quilting. I am pretty intentional in my art, and when a piece is done, I analyze what worked and what didn’t. Intention and analysis have helped me become a better quilter.

For more than two years, that intention and process have led me to study design principles, considering especially how they apply to medallion quilts. I’ve also developed strong understanding of construction techniques, since medallions do have some quirks that can create challenges.

And for the last two years, I’ve been guided by my “word of the year,” EXPERIMENT! For me, that has meant that in quilting and other parts of my life, I would try things without expectations about the outcome. My intention to experiment has been a success, leading me to do things I might not have tried otherwise. Some of my adventures? Submitting items for publication, trying new uses of space and color and pattern in my quilts, hiking at 11,000 feet, snowshoeing, traveling to Cuba and blogging on it.

But you can see, can’t you, how deliberate this has been also? I wouldn’t give up any of these experiences. But now it’s time to try a different approach. It’s time to PLAY.

“Play” might sound the same as “experiment.” Both are means of learning that require openness and flexibility. But experimenting is methodical, and typically takes a process from beginning to end, including appropriate analysis. Playing is not necessarily methodical and it doesn’t require completion to end. How many messes have you seen in living rooms and playrooms and classrooms, as children abandon their play to do something else? Playing is no less important than experimenting, but it is approached less seriously.

In 2016, I will try to guide my quilting and other parts of my life with PLAY. I will try to take a light-hearted and compassionate approach, for my quilts, my relationships, and myself. I want to be unafraid of abandoning things that don’t interest me. I want to learn to tell stories in a playful way. I want to read with more pleasure and less feeling of obligation. I’ll try to see and hear with a beginner’s mind, open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Yes, it’s time to PLAY. Would you like to play with me?



Focus | Progress

My list of priorities has changed, as has my progress through them.

1) Make a Christmas stocking for Son, since he will be alone for Christmas.
2) Make 7 bed pillowcases for the grandkids.
3) Get the Ricky Tims kaleidoscope I started a few days ago at least to finished top.
4) Get this blog cleaned up and updated.
5) Make bed-sized disappearing 9-patch as graduation present.

The Christmas stocking is DONE and ready for Santa to fill and the mail carrier to deliver! In a day or two I’ll show you how I make them.

The pillowcases are X-ed off the list due to issues with family communications and my grumpy mood about the result. I did buy a whole lot of novelty fabric for them, so I’ll have to figure out how to use it.

The kaleidoscope is coming along. I have one quadrant assembled, and I’ve chosen a first border. The kaleidoscope process makes a 36″ 12-pointed star. I haven’t decided whether to use that as the center of a bed-sized quilt or to simply frame it and finish it at about 50″. I still consider the project an experiment, and I may well make a second one just to try a few things differently.

Blog? No progress on blog clean-up… It always drops to lowest priority.

And what about the disappearing 9-patch? It’s on the list for December as we might see the graduation girl in January. I’d rather give a gift in person, if possible, so I decided to fast-track that project. My creative brain took over in the aftermath of the pillowcase upset.  One piece I bought was two yards of black print with brights. I decided to mix that with a couple of stash remnants from long ago, things I loved but hadn’t found a way to use. The two yards gives me enough to cut squares, make binding, and … TA-DA! make a matching pillowcase. At any rate, I’ve cut all the squares for it. When I’m ready, time-wise, to start stitching, it will go very fast.

Always plenty to do! What are YOU working on? 



With the end of the year rushing at us, including the joys and stresses of holidays, I need to prioritize my tasks. One technique for focusing attention and energy is to identify a small number of things and work just on those.

Of course there are SO MANY THINGS TO DO!! But in the quilty or sewing realm, I can manage the number. Here is my list as of right now:
1) Make a Christmas stocking for Son, since he will be alone for Christmas.
2) Make 7 bed pillowcases for the grandkids.
3) Get the Ricky Tims kaleidoscope I started a few days ago at least to finished top.
4) Get this blog cleaned up and updated.

I have a plan for the stocking. I’m shopping today for pillowcase fabric. The kaleidoscope top is coming along. I have most of the cutting done, but I haven’t started assembly.

Are you familiar with the process Tims uses for these? (See the link above for google images of some.) The kaleidoscope is a 12-pointed star. He uses a freezer paper template of the wedge size for each point, and farther breaks it down into segments. Each segment then is used to cut shapes from matching strip sets. It allows an enormous level of intricacy for a fairly simple process.

Of course I am still in cutting, not assembly. So we’ll see how “fairly simple” it turns out to be!

Here is a shot of my first two (of six) segments. Below it you can see five but without color adjustments done to the photo yet.


If nothing else, it’s an interesting experiment.

VA Hospital Quilts

At the beginning of the year I committed to making at least four quilts for donation through my local quilt guild. I especially wanted to make some for the local Veterans’ Administration hospital.

They have requested quilts that are approximately 48″ x 60″, which is a good size for a lap quilt. (Your local hospital may have different needs. If you want to make quilts to serve them, please check with yours directly.)

Recently I finished two quilts to donate. Both were completely made from stash. The first uses a very simple arrangement of 6″ 4-patches and half-square triangles. That part of the array is 48″ square. To make it longer, I added the unpieced borders on two edges.

The second uses a disappearing 9-patch block. Have you ever made one of these quilts? The usual idea is to make a BIG 9-patch, and then cut it into four equal square blocks. Each quarter has an original corner patch, as well as a portion of the original center patch.

I modified that idea by elongating the 9-patch. I cut patches as follows:
4 Corners: 6″ x 8″
1 Center: 6″ x 6″
2 Left/Right Centers: 6″ x 6″
2 Up/Down Centers: 6″ x 8″

Assemble the 9 patches into a 9-patch block. (!!) Cut it through the center in both directions to make 4 equal blocks. Each block will finish at 8″ x 10″.

I made NINE 9-patches. When each was cut into 4 pieces, I had 36 blocks. These were arrayed in a 6×6 layout to make a quilt that measure 48″ x 60″.

I used red for the center patches of the 9-patches, which gave them punch as the accent color. I used black prints for the corner patches, and gold prints for the L/R and U/D patches. The binding is from scraps of red binding I had leftover.

I like this quilt a lot. It was very easy to make and fun to arrange.

I’ll be pleased to donate these at my next guild meeting. With these and three others I’ve donated this year, I’ve met my goal.