Nostalgic meandering

I’m becoming one of those people.  You know, the ones who talk about the olden days, back when this or that was the norm.

This is not to take anything away from the younger set, of which I was once a member.  We do – as we should – go through different seasons in our lives, each one exposing us to new things and teaching us about the world and about ourselves.  They are necessary seasons.  I can value my own life experience from a my own time and still say “You go for it!  I remember when we could only imagine all the things available to you now.  Make new memories.  Find your own place in the world!”

I don’t ever want to become the old lady who thinks the younger people don’t know anything, that they can’t teach me anything, and that because I’m a certain age, none of them can understand or give me helpful ideas about life.  I’ve learned many things from my own adult children and from the changing world around me and I hope that I remain open so I don’t miss important lessons.

But please permit me this one observation: many things are just not made like they used to be.  I think I can safely say that as a fact without it being just another random generational comparison looking through bifocal lenses from my comfy recliner.

I recently brought my first sewing machine upstairs from the closet where it has been stored nearly four years now; it was carefully packed in its case at the age of 35+ years and moved aside after I bought my new one with all the bells and whistles and a nice big 10″ throat at the start of my free motion quilting journey.  I had no room or need for two machines set up all the time, so storing the old one was the obvious choice.

Earlier that day I had packed up my new machine to leave my house and spend time sewing with a group of ladies – an actual first for me! – and one of them brought an old machine along.  I listened to it hum as she sewed and I found myself missing the way my old one sounded.  When I got home, I felt compelled to take it out, oil it up, and stitch something on it.

Once the case came off, I was actually feeling nostalgic looking at it. I bought it when I was 13 years old, about 4 years after mom taught me how to sew my own clothes.  Because mom had the top of the line Pfaff and I was used to sewing on that, I didn’t want to settle for anything less!  My dad – a banker who taught us to work and pay for things we wanted outside the scope of  basic needs – advised me to apply for a bank loan so I could start working on my credit rating (LOL) and because he knew that even if I saved for months, the price might go up and I wouldn’t catch up.  He co-signed for me, I got my loan, and by working part time in a fabric store owned by my parents I paid off my loan early.

So for me this machine represents various practical and sentimental things and holds many memories. It still works, it still hums, and I love it.  And they DON’T make them like they used to.

Sure, my new one  is all computerized and does a ton of fancy things (many of which I don’t use or need but that 10″ throat got me…! LOL) and it’s a pretty color and all that.  But it’s just not the same.

It’s nobody’s fault; things change, technology advances, manufacturing moves forward, parts get farmed out to keep prices down etc. etc. etc. Sometimes that makes things better, sometimes it doesn’t.  And I guess it all depends on what you want the “thing” – whatever it is – to do for you.

Obviously, my new machine does a lot my old one doesn’t do.  But it doesn’t hum along without vibrating, and it doesn’t have the same stitch quality, and it doesn’t have the power to move me back to my childhood and teen years of sewing all my own clothes and through my married life of sewing for my husband, my children, and my home, and into my first attempt at free motion quilting that opened up a new world to me.

So I’m going to find a place in my world for using this old friend of mine, even if it’s just going to become my take-along-when-I-leave-the-house-to-sew machine.  Yes, it’s heavy.  Yes there are lighter and smaller ones I could get for this purpose.  Yes, maybe one day I will need to consider that if my arms and back get too sore from carrying it.  But for today, in the present moment, I think it will work 🙂

Like me, it has a lot of years left in it to be productive!  And if it could speak, I’m sure it would look at my new one and say something like “Hey there, you’re pretty nice looking and you do a lot of cool stuff and I remember in the olden days when we could only imagine all the features you have now! So you go girl, you shine, make new memories.  I will always have my own place in time.”

Do you have an old machine that you love?  I’d enjoy hearing about it in the comments below!

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My mom is a celebrity!

Well guess what?  When I did my interview with Leah Day and she found out my mom has been a hand quilter since 1981 – when she made her first quilt as a gift for her brother – Leah wanted to chat with my mom about her perspective on the evolution of quilting over the years.  So my mom is on Leah’s podcast this week!  She was pretty thrilled to get a chance to talk to Leah personally as she has followed her a long time, and it was my mom who first pointed out Leah’s web site to me when I started free motion quilting 🙂

I remember mom making that first quilt, having it spread out over the ping pong table in our basement while she appliquéd all the pieces to create a turkey dinner table setting complete with cutlery and wine glasses (my uncle made his own wine), and desserts in each corner.  Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do it justice – it was a polaroid instant camera photo from 37 years ago so the details are kind of cloudy, and I no longer have access to the quilt to get a better one! – I tried to photoshop it into 2018, but there’s only so much you can do with those things 🙂  The borders look black and they are actually brown gingham (it’s important to mom that you know that).

I wanted to share this with all of you because it was my mom who taught me to sew when I was a child and it has been one of the best skills she passed on to me (I did not inherit her interest in cooking!).  I’ve used it extensively and happily throughout my life and of course it eventually led me to where I am now, machine quilting.

This also ties in with Leah’s new book, Mally the Maker, which she wrote as quilt fiction with the hope that it would inspire readers of all ages to appreciate the value of learning to sew/quilt and passing that on to others.

Thanks, Mom!

Check out their chat at the link below!

Interviewed by Leah Day

I had a super fun time being interviewed by Leah Day on her Quilting Friends podcast last week, and it went public today so I wanted to share the link and the experience with you!  We had a great conversation about quilting, creativity, passion and balancing things in our crafty lives.  Some of it was practical and some of it was philosophical.  All of it was a surreal experience for me 🙂  She is just as sweet in person (well, on video call!) as she appears to be and I’m happy to have met her and made a new quilting friend!

You can go straight to the podcast on her Youtube channel by clicking the image below, and you can read more about the podcast in the show notes here: Be Open to Your Creativity

You are what you do

As I was watching videos reviewing various brands of water-colour inks this morning I had to stop and smile.

The journey that has led me to this particular moment has been interesting and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll share some of it with you 🙂

As I contemplated whether or not to include a more personal post in the midst of my general quilting topics – some people suggest that business related blogs should be free from personal sharing – I was reminded of how much inspiration I’ve gleaned from Leah Day.  She’s a professional quilter and online teacher who does regular podcasts sharing topics related to quilting and crafting. The intros to her quilting/crafting/business podcast topics include a bit of news about what’s going on in her home and family and sometimes she shares a new craft she’s trying, along with her personal journey through various life lessons and how they influence her crafting.  I often find the personal stories are at least as beneficial to me as her crafty hints and topics.

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Because I appreciate authenticity in others, and I’m definitely one who tries to keep it “real” myself (don’t worry, not everything has to be shared LOL) I decided I was going to post this here and allow it to go where it will, to each reader as they are, in the space where they sit, and not get too worried about how it fits.  Because it will fit or not depending on what you take away 🙂

Try something new.

What I want to tell you is that if you’re trying to find your passion, looking for some way to develop a skill, wanting a creative outlet, or just wondering in general about what you might enjoy doing when you have the time to do something other than work, just TRY something new.  Anything.  Even if you can’t imagine that you’ll be good at it, or even like doing it.  Because most fulfilling journeys start with opening a door.  What you find inside the first time might or might not be what you’re looking for, but either way the step you take will move you forward to the next door.

Stop ruling things out because of what you think you are NOT.

For many years, although I studied piano and taught piano and directed a choir and wrote music, I was NOT an artist:  I did NOT draw.  I did NOT paint.  It was something I was NEVER good it.  (See where this is going?  Caps are for emphasis on the phrases I used to describe myself if the topic came up.  And who defines “art” anyway??).

It took a long time to see that music was my art, and even when I did, it seemed like an either/or kind of thing: I was a musician (fine art) but I did NOT draw or paint.  Any pictures I drew when colouring with my young children looked like they came from a grade two classroom.  Theirs progressed; mine did not!

I was also NOT a quilter.  Until I was.

One day in 2015 I decided to just try free motion quilting on my old sewing machine.(There’s a background story if you want to read it here.)  I expected NOT to be able to do it well enough but I figured I would at least try before farming out the job of machine quilting a couple of my projects to someone else.

I put together a 12X12 quilt sandwich, lowered my feed dogs, and started.  A door in my brain opened and what flowed out surprised me so much I was giddy.  I couldn’t stop doing this new thing that I absolutely LOVED.  I haven’t stopped since.  Many times I wondered how someone who is NOT an artist and does NOT draw could stitch out quilting designs freehand, essentially drawing all over fabric with thread.  I don’t know where it came from; it was just there.  But I had never before opened the door.

So I obsessively quilted for hours on end most days, gave away a lot of quilts and eventually opened up a shop online to sell my quilts.  Along the way I took some online machine quilting classes, focussed on areas where I had the most interest, through a website I frequently visited.  Eventually I began to see my quilting as art.

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The same site started offering a monthly subscription with the first week free, so earlier this year I decided to sign up so I could check out a few of the quilting classes I hadn’t wanted to pay for individually.  Once I registered, the opening page came up and I saw a promo at the top for a class on hand lettering.  I clicked on it purely out of curiosity, went through pretty much the whole class that evening getting more interested and excited about it with each lesson, and by the end I was on Amazon ordering a few supplies to get me going.

Within a short few weeks my kitchen table was covered in markers and paper and practice sheets for various types of lettering, resulting in my need for a massive marker case to keep things organized.  I picked one that had far more space than I had supplies so that it would grow with me as I tried out new types of pens.  It’s now full, and many slots hold two pens at once.  But I think I have my favourites pinned down.  For now…

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Then came the iPad lettering possibilities, once I had my Apple Pencil and a simple App called Procreate, and now I’m designing things, saving them and digitally printing them for use on cards.  This immediately led me to the idea of designing my own fabric and I’ve recently uploaded a few samples to a site that will digitally print them on panels.  If the samples work out well, I’ll be able to make custom wall quilts with my own drawing, lettering, and quilting designs on them.  So cool!

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As I traveled down the hand lettering path I saw people sharing their bible journalling projects – apparently this has been a thing for a while but I was busy NOT being an artist – and since I’ve been considering treating myself to a pretty new bible anyway, of course I was drawn right into the journaling bible category.  No longer are people just writing notes in the margins with a pencil, they’re hand lettering, colouring, painting and making art right there on the pages of their bibles, bringing favourite passages to life!

And because I watched one lady doing a water-colour wash in her bible, I’m now very interested in water-colours, which brings me back to the beginning of this post, where I found myself watching a water-colour review on youtube.  I’m now looking at possible watercoloring projects that go beyond the pages of my bible…

In the video the lady shared a painting she worked on while doing an online class and my mind never even entertained the old ideas that “I’m NOT an artist,” or “I DON’T paint”.  Instead it went straight to thinking that maybe I’d like to try a class like that myself.  Brain rewired!

I have people tell me I’m lucky to have things like this that I enjoy doing and that they wish they could “find their passion”.

So what I want to say is this:

I think there are many things inside of us that we don’t know about.  We have skills and talents and passions waiting to be discovered.  Some will be and some won’t be.

It just depends on whether or not we open the doors.

Just try something new.  Take a class.  Volunteer somewhere if you like helping people.  Write the article or the story.  Find your adventure.  Stop telling yourself what you are NOT and find out what you ARE!

“I sail!  I’m a sailor!” One of my favourite parts of the movie “What About Bob?” reminds me that the doing is what makes you the “——–er”.  We often limit our own vision by packaging up some set of requirements with the word that describes what we want to be so that if we aren’t meeting them, we don’t qualify.  If our work doesn’t compare to that of someone better than we are, we don’t qualify.

But it’s writing that makes you a writer, not being published in a magazine.  Painting makes you a painter, not having your work hanging in a gallery.  Quilting makes you a quilter, not winning an award.  Whether or not anyone else even likes what you produce doesn’t determine whether or not you are something.  DOING it does.  And art is subjective anyway!

I don’t know what’s coming next or how far any of this will go.  I’ve been a crafter for many years; some things I’ve done have stuck and some were just a lot of fun while they lasted before I moved on.

When I put that first little quilt sandwich under my needle three and a half years ago I had no idea it would lead me here:  I found a passion that has brought me so much joy, led me down the road of custom quilting, put me in a place where I would see a hand lettering class that would take me all the way to digital designs on fabric and a desire to try using water-colours all to make ART.  Because I AM an artist.

 

 

A Personal Perspective

When my Facebook page hit 500 likes recently, I did a video over there with some personal insights and a lot of gratitude.  While the giveaway mentioned is now closed, the rest of the video does have material that might be of general interest to others who follow my quilting life, so I wanted to share it with you as well.

A little goofiness, a little philosophy, and hopefully some perspective that will be helpful all around.  Enjoy!  And thanks for tagging along on this wonderful ride…

Share the Crafting Love

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I needed to write this post today because I was recently reminded by my own words of something that I try to pass on to others when I teach classes, and that is to think about “the process”.  I’ve written before about the importance of identifying our own personal processes in crafting and spending time doing what we love, not what we think we should be doing instead.  You can read more about that here.  Clearly, even I need reminders!

So the other day I was thinking about how I wanted a new blanket ladder for staging my quilt photos.  I’ve used a little bunk bed one that dates back to before I was born and it could have been painted but I wanted a more rustic looking one – stained and worn rather than painted – and because that one is mahogany, even if I stripped it the chances of getting it to be anything other than a shade of red or burgundy were next to nothing.

I finally decided one day last week that I could make one myself, using a simple pattern; I have the necessary tools and skills!  The weather had cooled to the point where I could actually work outside without dying, and I was motivated to get in the car and head for the store to buy a piece of 2X2.  Between my driveway and main street (in my town that is about 30 seconds) the following went through my mind:

  • I just have to buy a 16ft. piece, ask them to cut it into three pieces for me to fit in my car and I can do the rest.
  • I have the screws so it will be together in no time.
  • I’ll have to stain it.
  • I’ll have to clear coat it.
  • I’m tired…why am I doing this again?
  • Turn around, go home, and message Sara.

Sara is a teenager I know who paints and stains and distresses and refinishes wood furniture.  And she loves doing it.  (Their Facebook page is called “Making Beautiful Things“) She has refinished an end table for me and recently redid my old rocking chair (I was always going to do that one myself too!) and I know she will do a good job when I ask for something.

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I’ve worked with wood and refinishing in the past and I enjoyed it tremendously.  I might again at any time.  But this was not that time.  I had quilting projects I wanted to work on and having a new ladder was poking at my brain daily;  I thought that because I COULD make my own, I SHOULD make my own.  Can anyone else relate? HAHA  As creative people, I think it’s a common thing we do to ourselves.

But you see, I was not feeling the build-a-ladder love.

So I came home, messaged Sara, and it was delivered to my house this afternoon, less than one week later.  Not only did I get just what I wanted and needed but I avoided my potential frustration and supported another maker who loves her process!

And I got to thinking that really, it makes so much more sense for me to do what I love and allow myself to forego things that I can easily have someone else do for me.  In the end, it’s a win for both of us 🙂

Thanks, Sara!

 

Reflections

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After spending time getting my free motion quilting lesson format planned out and testing it on my daughter over the weekend to prepare for advertising, I looked back on a few parts of my quilting journey thus far.  I found a post that I had uploaded to a personal journalling blog in 2015 and thought I would share it here today.

Not only does it explain how I went quite suddenly from never having quilted to becoming completely immersed in the craft, it also shows what can happen when you take a trip down the Pinterest rabbit hole:  you really never know what you will find or where you will finally come up for air and how your life might just be about to change when you do.  Go ahead and click the link if you’re interested in where it all started 🙂

You see, I really just wanted to braid a rug …………….

It all started with a jelly roll …

Oh, Happy Day!

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I’m kind of excited today that another blog I follow – The Inbox Jaunt, run by a talented teacher lady named Lori Kennedy – is showing a few examples of my quilting where I used motifs that she featured in her tutorials!  She asked readers to send her pictures of what we had done using her tutorials and now she is having an online trunk show so we can all see the various ways people have used what they’ve learned.  She also teaches classes on Craftsy.

So head over and take a look at her blog, browse her tutorials, and check out the featured projects she posted today to see the ones I sent in 🙂

Keeping in Touch

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I don’t have a new quilt to post yet because I’ve been working on a couple of custom quilting projects that I can’t even share right now; they were brought to me by ladies who are giving the completed quilts as gifts in the near future and with the way things go around the internet we don’t want to take chances and spoil any surprises!

But I’m still here, and I’m still quilting.  So I decided to write a post to let you know that, because apparently if you don’t post often enough on a blog people think you’ve dropped off the face of the earth or something.  And I thought I’d post a picture of my awesome new Fons & Porter cotton (much cooler for my hands) quilting gloves in case you’re dying to know what kinds of things I use behind the scenes.  Isn’t it great that they match my rotary cutter and the lines on my ruler?  Almost like I planned it.  Actually, I wanted the blue ones to fit, but the yellow ones are my size.  I’ll live with it.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reorganizing in my craft room because after a long time pondering it I came to a very definite decision this week:  I’m selling off my entire collection of stamping and paper crafting supplies.  And it’s a LARGE collection.

I know, it’s major, but my crafting path has taken a sharp turn down a road I hadn’t imagined – and we all know which one it is! – so I’ve been neglecting my stamps and the numerous accessories that go along with the craft.  I wondered at first if I was being hasty; this quilting obsession kind of took over my life out of nowhere and I questioned if it might just as dramatically leave me somewhere between fat quarters.  But the more I looked at my cupboard full of stamping supplies, and the less I cared to even pull something out and make just one card, I realized that right now, at this moment in my life, I no longer care to stamp.  It’s been a great ride, but it’s over.  For now.  And the people snapping up the great deals on my stuff are going to have so much fun!

If at some point in the future I find myself missing this activity and wanting to do some of it again I can always start fresh with new colors and styles that are current in the time that it happens, if it happens.

In the meantime, I’m eagerly awaiting a couple of orders of beautiful threads and yummy solid colored fabrics to get me going on some modern quilts I want to try with cool techniques I’ve been learning.

So that’s been my week and hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have a pretty new quilt to post.  Right now I have to go load up my car with some quilts for a trunk show I’m going to.  Doesn’t that sound fancy?

Ok, it’s a small one, but it’s still going to be fun.

OK, IT’S AT MY MOM’S.  But her good friend – a quilter extraordinaire – is arriving any minute for a few days of girl time, fabric shopping, and probably a lot of learning (on my part).

Hey, a show is a show!  Until next time …