Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Art Quilts of the Midwest: The First Copy Has Arrived!

Last week, just before leaving for QuiltCon, I got an email from the University of Iowa Press saying that one copy of my book was available for me to pick up. It was a Monday and I'd been back for two days from Minnesota and was leaving in a day for Austin. I was harried, so I didn't respond right away. I was also afraid. There's this kind of magic time in between when you write a book and make your edits and hand it all over to the designer and the Press. You can say "I've got a book coming out," and everyone is very encouraging and excited and it's easy, because it's all out of your hands. Though I've definitely been doing some marketing work, it really just an idea of a book because the physical object didn't yet exist.

But apparently it now it did. When I talked to my husband and told him it was there he said "If you don't get it, I will!" That would have been a little embarrassing, so off I went. It was kind of a quiet visit—I guess I thought everyone might come out and cheer or something—but it was nevertheless wonderful. I gave Karen, the production manager, a hug because she did so much work to make it so lovely and because it was so amazing to hold it in my hands I just had to hug someone.

Then I took it home and put it in a plastic bag and ran around frantically packing and watering plants and doing last minute errands. I really didn't look at it until I was on the plane. There was a lovely, satisfying moment when I pulled it out (and secretly hoped that my seat mate would ask me about it—no such luck) and paged though it and felt the "book-ness" of it. And for the next four days I carried it around, whipping out my book-in-a-baggie and whenever appropriate (and sometimes even when it wasn't appropriate, just because I couldn't help myself).

I'll share more about the book itself, but for now know that it will be available in the next week or so at Prairie Lights, if you're local or through your local bookstore (you can ask them to order it), on Amazon, and through the Press. I hope you'll take a look!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

QuiltCon 2015 Follow-up

It's been a wonderful few days in Austin, where I'm attending QuiltCon.
Admiring City Center by Angie Henderson at the QuiltCon 2015 exhibition hall
There's really nothing like being with folks who love what you do. On Thursday morning I started chatting with a young woman from Victoria, B.C., as we walked across the lobby floor. She said "I want to live here!" And I said "In Austin?" Her response was that the location didn't matter so much, but she wanted to be with people who loved what she did on a day-to-day basis. She'd tried to describe her passion to her work colleagues, but they didn't understand and were glad she was going where others did, because they'd heard enough. My guess is that she won't stop talking when she returns—she may be so pumped full of enthusiasm that she makes a few quilting converts.
I may or may not have purchased some of this fabric at Stitch Lab's booth in the vendor area
For coverage of QuiltCon, visit UPPERCASE's blog—though she was on of the three jurors for QuiltCon (along with Carolyn Friedlander and Stevii Graves) UPPERCASE editor Janine Vangool wasn't able to attend and asked me to to cover for her. You can find words and photos about QuiltCon 2015 here and here, with more to come. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

QuiltCon, Here I Come!

I'm back from the better part of a week in Minnesota with my aunt, and getting ready to head out again, this time for Texas. (And while I dearly love my aunt, at this time of the year I am definitely looking forward to going south, rather than north!)
UPPERCASE issue #24: Note in the right-hand column, 1x1-inch squares of actual feed sacks grace the covers
I'll be covering QuiltCon for UPPERCASE magazine, which I'm quite pleased to have been asked to do. I've written for UPPERCASE over the years and for issue #24 I got to write about feed sacks, one of my favorite topics.

The real thrill of writing this piece was getting to talk with people who remember wearing feed sack clothing—I found their names through the comments on the Etsy feed sack post I wrote in 2011. The interviews were delightful, and I loved that neither Joyce, who grew up on an Iowa farm, or Nancy, who lived in Ohio, ever felt deprived because their clothes were feed sacks. On the contrary, they loved them. When UPPERCASE #24 arrived at her home, Nancy even sent me the photo below of a feed sack quilt that included scraps of a sack she'd picked out for a dress. It had simple mathematical equations on it, and she remembered thinking when she chose it that it could come in handy when she was in school.

At any rate, if you'll be at QuiltCon, I hope you'll join me for what they're calling "a demonstration" on Friday at noon in Exhibit Hall B. In addition to giving away 10 copies of UPPERCASE #24, the one with actual feed sack squares affixed to the cover, I'll be talking about feed sacks. (Also, Janine is offering a special QuiltCon discount for an UPPERCASE subscription. http://uppercasemagazine.com/quiltcon)



Friday, January 23, 2015

Inspired by Amy Butler and Oaxaca

I'm inspired by Amy Butler—her fabrics, her ability to combine color and pattern, her fresh palettes. I have a special place in my heart for her because she was my very first profile subject for Quilts and More magazine, back in 2006, which was my first freelance piece for a quilting publication. The opportunity to write that piece, so graciously given to me by editor Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, really changed my career direction and consequently my life.

Last week I got the chance to interview Amy again and it turns out she loves Oaxaca, Mexico, as much as I do. We talked about the incredible colors, people, landscapes, and textiles. It reminded me to share a few photos from our Christmas in Oaxaca. Hope you enjoy them.

Friday, January 16, 2015

No Sewing Without Lipstick!

Thought you might enjoy this tidbit from our sewing past. As my friend who sent it to me said, it was obviously written by Mr. Singer....All this preparation for sewing would mean I'd never get to it! And the prep involves nothing creative, only making yourself look presentable should others stop in unexpectedly. By the time I'd made all the beds, washed the dishes, put on the clean dress that I undoubtedly had to first iron, fixed my hair and put on lipstick, I'd be ready for bed. I'm grateful the "rules" of sewing engagement have changed.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Sew Together Bag

Sometime this fall, I managed to make a Sew Together bag. The design is so clever and I've seen lots of them on Instagram, so when I stumbled upon the SewDemented booth at Quilt Market, I bought a pattern. I thought it might be a good class project, but truth be told, it's pretty darned labor-intensive.
I used fabrics I'd had in my stash for a long while—Echino prints and Cloud 9 Geocentric canvas—all on heavier substrates, which I thought would make for a nice, sturdy bag. And indeed it did, although I think it made the layers a little thicker and more challenging to sew through.

I didn't wind up having enough of the exterior Echino fabric and so pieced in some Cloud 9, and I'm pleased with the result and will definitely make the bag again, although doing some batch sewing (making several at once) would be more efficient.

I also highly recommend the Quilt Barn sew-along tutorial from last March. It broke steps down even further than the instructions and was super helpful.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's a New Year! Looking Back and Looking Forward

It's been two full months since I last wrote. There are lots of reasons why, including the suspicion that blogging may be on the way out and time is best spent elsewhere. But much of it has been about a phase of my life, one that involves adult children and elderly relatives, career successes and considering what's next, all mixed with the usual anxiety, guilt, and pleasures that come day-to-day.
Stockings for a class I taught at Home Ec, and for the public library holiday bazaar
I last wrote about my surgery, and while the result has been great—most people don't seem to notice the scar or are at least kind enough to say they don't—it took me out of circulation for most of November. Then I had two sets of houseguests, work at Home Ec, and work deadlines. I had to decline some work and missed some deadlines on other jobs, which is not my style at all and still grates on me. But my houseguests were important people in my life and I wanted to be with them,

Now I'm looking forward, toward the publication of Art Quilts of the Midwest, and thinking about how to do some publicity. It's looking like marketing the book will be almost as time consuming as writing it. But I can't wait for the day (next month!) when I get to finally see the finished book.

I've done a bit of sewing (the stockings above and a few other small projects), but I've been knitting like a fiend. Below are some cowls I finished up in time for holiday giving.

And though this poor blog has been neglected, I do keep up with Instagram. I love seeing what folks are up to, catching a brief glimpse into their lives, giving them a thumbs-up or making a brief comment, and moving along. I'm not so good at Facebook or keeping up with this blog, but if you're interested in what I'm up to, Instagram is a good place to find out. Follow me at @seamswrite and let me know your IG name and I'll follow you, too!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Passing the Soup: A Metaphor for Being There for Friends

When I write about myself, it's usually about my relationship with textiles. But today I'm going to share what I think is one of the loveliest and luckiest things about my life, and it's got to do with soup.

I consider myself a pretty healthy person—I try to eat thoughtfully and moderately. I walk 3-4 miles several times a week, I do pilates twice a week, all last winter I swam between a half-mile and a mile twice a week, etc. etc. Nevertheless, I've wound up needing significant medical interventions in four of the last five years. It's challenging on a number of fronts, not the least of which is because it doesn't fit with my self-image. But what's made it all bearable is the passing of the soup.
Pre-Soup Veggies
This past Monday, the day before I was scheduled to have significant surgery on my nose for skin cancer, my friend Emily called and said she wanted to stop by with some soup for me. She did and we chatted and she left a wonderful container of carrot-potato soup and some sweet potato pie. I had to cut our visit short because I was taking soup to my friend Greta, who had just had a baby. It made me realize how lucky I am to live where my community of friends looks out for one another in good times and bad.

This past year I've shared wonderful joy and deep sorrow with friends, and as much as possible I've tried to "pass the soup." Often I feel guilty that for one reason or another I'm not able to make someone an entire meal and feel that the little I do is inadequate. But when it's me on the other side, I'm reminded how there are many ways the "soup" gets passed, and how each one of those acts is meaningful and helpful.

Since my surgery, I've had a cadre of volunteers who arrive twice daily to walk Pearl, and who've brought dinner and breakfast. I've received flowers, take-out Thai food, cards, and phone calls. Greta's texted me photos of her dear, sweet new baby. Everyone has their own skill set and an amount of time they're able to give at that moment and each act of kindness adds up to an amazing whole. I've felt so loved and cared for during this medical incident (and the others). I hope I remember in a few weeks, when my face isn't swathed in bandages, that no matter what I do for someone, even if it seems small, it matters. It's worth doing.

Pass the soup. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Knitting vs. Sewing

Some days I worry that my love of yarn is overtaking my love of fabric. I do believe they can co-exist, but there are only so many hours in the day and if I'm knitting, then I'm not sewing (and vice-versa). But these cooler temps seem to call out for sitting in my chair, feet up and a cup of something warm by my side, knitting away on some rich, beautiful yarn.
Finished (but not blocked) Low Brow Cowl: Pattern on Ravelry, Madeline Tosh DK yarn
I've also really enjoyed upping my skill level and trying techniques that are new to me. I have had the grand advantage of working at Home Ec Workshop on Wednesday afternoons, when Lisa Wilcox Case serves as the Knitting Nurse. Lisa is a certified Master Knitter (I wrote about that here) and when it's not busy in the shop she freely gives of her advice and expertise. Suffice it to say, I am spoiled (but I've learned a lot, too).
Sugar Cane Hat: Pattern on Ravelry, Shibui Pebble and Silk Cloud yarn
I'm going to have a bit more time for sewing and knitting in upcoming days as there's some surgery on my horizon that will necessitate me staying home for two or three weeks. I've got work lined up, of course, but I won't be fulfilling my usual exercise classes, grocery runs, and other out-of-the-house activities, so I imagine more free time will be mine. I'm already lining up sewing and knitting projects—I'm in a real mode of wanting to finish those WIPs. We'll see how it goes.
Imposter Shawl: Pattern on Ravelry, Madeline Tosh DK yarn