Monday, March 20, 2017

Run Along Now

Today marks the first day back since spring break!  While my spring breaks of years passed usually centered around traveling, nowadays things are a little more low-key. 
For the past several months, I haven't been feeling top notch.  I could go into reasons why but in sum, I've been overwhelmed with life.  There are many why-factors.  I've battled anxiety for a good majority of my life and it recently hit a point where I had to make some changes in my world to properly combat it.  I stepped away from a volunteer position I've held for 15 years, I've been altering my diet considerably (more plant based, less processed foods - thanks sister!), I'm voraciously reading for pleasure (give me your recommendations!), and I've found myself running again after a five year hiatus.  I've been feeling notably better in these past three months.  I'm sleeping better, I feel stronger, my body is shifting (an unexpected and pleasant side-effect!), and I feel more present.

I've never considered myself a runner but I feel like that mentality is evolving.  In my late 20s, I would take Mondo for walks periodically and would jog a bit.  I didn't track my activity but I knew I felt better when I did it.  Then I had Rio and not too long after that, we moved.  I fell out of the habit of walks/jogs and I always found myself lamenting that lack of activity.  But I didn't do anything to change that.  Until recently. 

On New Year's Day (so predictable, I know) I made a point to go on a walk with Brent.  Every day after that for the next few weeks, I would either walk or do a 20 min yoga video (thanks YouTube!).  Something stuck.  They weren't long walks, just around our looooong block with Mondo and sometimes Rio.  I'd walk most and try to jog bits of it.  Then one day when I was leaving the house, I decided to drive my walking route to see how long it was.  It was exactly a mile!  After that, things changed.  I downloaded the Runkeeper app and started paying attention to what I was accomplishing on my little walks. 
I keep surprising myself by my progress!  I decided to sign up for the St. Patrick's Day 5K to kick off this spring break.  The weather was super cold and mighty wet but it was incredibly refreshing.  And I did it faster than I did five years ago!  I felt more prepared mentally and physically, and I feel like I have so much more room to improve which is exciting and motivating! 
 
Another motivating aspect of this change, is Rio.  Literally having her cheer me on and seeing me power through what I've once perceived as obstacles is so powerful.  At the run, she and Brent completed the 1 mile fun run together so we all raced that day! 
I'm hoping I can keep up this momentum and will continue to see changes in myself, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  The rewards are the best when I go on the days I don't feel like going.  I have to remember that. 
And don't worry, I'm still sewing like a crazy woman!  I'm just attempting to give myself better time constraints on it.  I'm finishing up a monumental quilt, I've updated the shop with a few more things, and I recently had an epic fabric sale at Owl & Drum

Oh, and my opening photo to this post?  We bought a kite, walked to a nearby school, and had the best time flying.  I would venture to say it's been 30 years since I've flown a kite.  So overdue.  So much fun.  Perfect way to end spring break.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Improv, Baby, Improv!

It had been a hot minute since I had the time, energy, or inspiration to make a quilt but I righted that wrong with fury and determination just a few weeks ago.

I'll get to the quilt in a moment.

Earlier this year, our new quilt guild president asked me if I would lead a presentation over some aspect of modern quilting.  As a speech teacher, the presentation part gave me no worries but the content...the content gave me butterflies aplenty!  When I stepped back and looked at my quilting work, I felt like the common theme was improvisational quilting so that's what I agreed to talk about.  By no means do I think of myself of an improv expert but I do think I've gained some experience over the last few years, especially with my recent foray into the world of potholders
The more that I prepared and researched, the less qualified I felt to speak on the subject!  Improv piecing is something that I just do, I don't really think about how I'm piecing things when it's actually happening.  It wasn't until I decided to look at a chunk of my quilts as a collection that I began to see their common threads (pun intended) and my style of creating.  It was a fascinating to delve so deeply into this aspect of modern quilting.

So the presentation.  I DID NOT feel prepared on that day to present.  Last week was a shit show, to put it lightly.  I was sick, I was emotionally spent, and horribly run down.  But I did it and I'm SO glad that I did.  I informally spoke for about thirty minutes to a room of approximately forty folks.  There were many that I respect and admire and there were many that I did not know at all.  It was unnerving and wonderful, all at the same time.  It was the highlight to an otherwise crummy week.  If I helped to inspire just one person, then I feel like my job was done.

Back to this quilt.  I had not planned on having a finished quilt to accompany my presentation but somehow, that happened.  During the weekend of our recent inauguration and worldwide marches, I had an overwhelming desire to ferociously make and I went with it.  With my upcoming presentation in the back of my mind, I would periodically pull my phone out and take a progress photo.  What resulted was (from my point of view), a strong, bold, grounded, and vibrant work.
It's not a square!  Or a rectangle!  Sacré bleu!  I'm finding myself wanting to play with random shapes in quilting more and more since the potholder project.  There's something so gratifying about it for me.  Using such a high contrast binding really makes the different shapes stand out.

It's the size of a baby quilt but could also be used as a quilt throw, bed accent, or a funky table runner.  I quilted it in modern straight lines with red, turquoise, and grey thread.  It's pretty sharp, if you ask me.
I backed it with my tried and true - a soft vintage sheet.  You can never go wrong with that.
I've made this quilt available in my shop.

If you'd like to hear me babble about what I learned from the potholder project and the benefits of taking on large projects, I'll be speaking at the upcoming Owl & Drum Stitch Society meeting on February 26th!

¡Hasta luego!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Snow, Reflections, and A Budding Photographer

I had a dream that it snowed epic proportions last night.  This morning when a certain four-year old came bounding in our room, I told her to look outside for snow that we weren't forecast to experience.  To my surprise, she excitedly reported that it had snowed!  The snow-play avalanche of questions immediately followed.  When I finally convinced myself to emerge from the warm safety of bed, I saw the snow myself - a thin blanket only on the patio that looked to be more ice than anything else.  Apparently that was enough slickness to cause Tulsa to halt life so now here we are with a surprise snow day with a pinch of snow on the ground.  I'll take it.
I've spent the last few days reflecting on last year and dreaming about what I'd like to accomplish this year.  There were a few monumental things that happened in 2016.  Rio turned four!  I made a ton of potholders for Philbrook which honestly has felt like my crowning achievement of last year.  I finally made my business its own website.  The kid and I were a leaf/beetle duo for Halloween.  Brent and I celebrated ten years together!  I quit wearing make up, save bright red lipstick, and have been SO happy with that decision.  I also only bought a handful of clothes for myself from big box stores and instead bought secondhand or made my own clothes.  I spent a day as a pin up model, which I hope to talk about here in the near future.  And of course, I sewed my ass off.
For 2017, I have a few goals but nothing huge.  I've already been making an effort to be more physically active and a rogue gallbladder is helping with my dining choices.  I have some definite business goals but those stay in my little notebook this year.  I feel good about those things!  (My shop has been updated with more vintage supplies so if that's your bag, check it out!)
These perfect photos are the work of Rio.  We decided to get her a camera for Christmas as she LOVES to play with ours when allowed.  It's been a great decision.  Seeing the world through her eyes has been nothing less than entertaining and heartwarming.  She took 300 photos on day one. 
Now it's back to snow day bliss.  Until later, my friends.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's Been A Few Months

Ahoy!  I'm dusting this old thing off and am giving it an update, finally!  My blogging hiatus was not planned but rather, a mixture of extreme busy-ness and the processing of pretty much everything!  Let's go back in time....
I finished up my 20th semester of teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) right after our country held a little election that rocked the world.  There is so much I want to say and so much that I want to hear.  I welcome conversations from ALL and hope that we can all learn from each other with open hearts.  That's all I have to say about that.  :) 

This semester one of my classes was in a former ASL (American Sign Language) classroom with two walls filled with mirrors.  I got into the habit of taking my photo almost every morning, posting them on Instagram periodically.  On the final day of that class, the entire class joined me for my morning selfie.  I miss that group and what they taught me.  This semester was intense with a speaking class twice the size that I've ever taught before and endless, thought-provoking political discussions.  I wish I could share my experiences within those walls with everyone.  I love my job.
Meanwhile, I sewed and sewed and sewed.  I mean, I sewed like I've never sewed before.  I've talked about the potholders before but I never dreamed that it would blow up like it did!  Potholders!  Who knew! I think I ended up making 60 of them! Taking the kid with me for the Philbrook festival and seeing HER excitement at them being there made it all worth it.  That kid is gold.
Then, to top it all off, I was asked to talk about my potholders the day after Thanksgiving with a newscaster that I grew up watching!  We chatted for such a long time and when it aired, they only used one sentence!  Ha!  You can watch the interview here.  I was walking on air for quite some time after that. 
Once Thanksgiving break had passed, I was knee deep in Alliday!  It was the third one done in the revamped format and again, it was just wonderful.  I don't know how I got this train rolling or how I ended up behind the wheel but it's so rewarding and humbling.  I'll share more about the show once I get more photos in my hands!  I also got a little airtime for Alliday which you can watch here.
And now, we're prepping for Christmas in a few days.  I'm making most of our gifts so my assembly line is working hard.  I'm really looking forward to a break at home with my people and animals.  A little hibernation never hurts.  
From my heart to yours, I wish you peace, understanding, and thoughtfulness.  You are good and you deserve good.  Much love to you all.  Happiest of Holidays, my friends.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Rainbow Leaf Beetle, a Leaf, and Lowell

Cue broken record:  HALLOWEEN IS MY FAVORITE!!!  I seriously wish it was at least a week-long holiday.  Having a kid hasn't changed my view of Halloween but it has upped my costume game!
About a month before Halloween, we started asking Rio what she would like to dress up as.  A bat, a spider, and a bug floated around until one day, she said she wanted to be a rainbow monster bug.  We started talking to our good friend Google about rainbow bugs when the Rainbow Leaf Beetle appeared.  Rio immediately got excited, exclaiming that that's what she wanted to be.  We did a little sketching and day-dreaming about the possibilities for her costume.
I was SO excited about what we could create but a little stumped on how to make it all happen.  I spent a few nights just playing around with ideas but couldn't get any traction.  Then one day, Rio and I went to Joann's spent a good amount of time going up and down the aisles until she saw this rainbow fabric.  She was thrilled!  She carried the whole bolt through the store and helped me with some other decisions about her costume.  After that day, the whole thing came together in a snap.
Fun fact, the blue felt legs and antennas were made out of the same fabric as her first Halloween costume - Maggie Simpson!
It was a true collaboration.  I sewed, she dreamed, and together we learned about the endangered beetle.  We finished the costume two days before Halloween and could barely wait for the big day.  Thankfully, Tulsa had a few events prior to the holiday that we were able to attend to get some bug practice in!  I decided last minute that the Leaf Beetle definitely needed a leaf to rest upon so I pulled out green clothes (not a difficult challenge in my closet), made some leaf gloves, and a leaf headband to wear.  We were a match made in nature!  ;) 
 
We didn't win any prizes but we sure did have fun!  My school had a costume contest so I took her along with me for that event and that evening, we did some trick or treating in the hood with my best friend and her two little girls.

For the evening walk, I decided to change up my costume and be Lowell Mather from Wings.  I still can't help but laugh at it!  Wings was one of my all time favorite shows!  I've actually fashioned another Halloween outfit thanks to Wings.  I reference that show ALL of the time.  I'm sure Wings will provide more costume ideas in the future!  Ha!
 
Until next year, goblins!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Story of the Philbrook Potholders!

"I come from a long line of potholder-makers", I said at the beginning of a meeting that I never dreamed of having.
This summer, I got a little nudge from a friend to submit my quilts in response to a Call for Artists.  Well, the one doing the calling was the world famous Philbrook Museum.  Ever hear of it?  I immediately thanked the friend and shrugged it off.  Philbrook?!  It's a Tulsa treasure, a place I grew up visiting more often than I can count, and houses some of the most spectacular creative works I've ever seen.  There was no way my work could fit within those walls.  

A few days passed and I stopped myself from dogging myself.  I started thinking about how I always encourage my students do at least try!  You will never know unless you put yourself out there.  I found that submission form, submitted my quilts, and was informed I'd hear back in a few weeks.  Imagine my surprise when I was contacted just a few hours later about my submission!  My quilts were literally too big for their shop but they wanted to know if I had anything else they might consider.  Ugh, I was momentarily at a loss.  I sent some photos of some tote bags and a photo of four potholders I had recently made.  The only potholders I had ever made.  That was it; they loved them and wanted to see more!  We set a date for a meeting a week away and I got to work.
I worked only with scraps and did not adhere to any particular shape or size.  By the time we had our first meeting, I had ten in varying degrees of completion.  I wanted them to see the all of the stages of the process - the designing, the guts, the hand stitching, and the finished product.  I was SO nervous.  Through Alliday, I deal with artists and creatives all of the time but I don't put my work out there quite like I used to so the tables were definitely turned!  I started things off by telling them that potholders are in my blood.  Strange, I know.  There was Marie, who made a plethora of potholders off the grid, and then my uncles on the other side of the family who made potholders to make my dad sell door to door to make pocket change.  And of course, what kid didn't make those loom potholders growing up?  Apparently my potholder lineage and my samples did the job - the meeting went better than I could have imagined!

We agreed on some numbers and I was given a deadline.  I worked on potholders nonstop and it became one of my favorite projects to date.  I didn't let myself use anything but scraps for the fronts and I didn't let myself over think designs; I just made.  It was a WONDERFUL exercise in creative growth.  Just make, don't think.  After a while, I had 28 completed and more waiting on the design wall.  But I still didn't know if they'd end up with Philbrook or not.  The deal wasn't done.
Just last week, we had our follow up meeting.  My nerves were ten-fold what they were before but I was also SO proud of what I had done.  They also loved them (!!!) and while they only asked for 25 for the first batch, they took everything I had brought.  I was expecting them to put them out at their Philbrook Festival so I was SHOCKED to hear that they were already out and were already selling! 

I look at these as functional, mini quilts.  They are filled with heat-resistant batting, have those cute little loops on the back, and are all one of a kind.  I'm incredibly proud of each and every one of them.  It feels good to be boastful about them and about this opportunity.  I never EVER dreamed I'd have anything in Philbrook besides myself oohing and aahing over the art but here I am, with my own work within their gift shop among other local artists that I so admire.  So if you're not sure about putting in that application or submitting that art or trying that new thing, DO IT.  You never know what may come of it or what you may learn about yourself through it. 

You can see each potholder individually, front and back, here.  If you are local, you can go shop for them here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Three Baby Molehills

I think baby quilts are some of my favorite to make.  They are low pressure due to their size, they are typically quick finishes (for me), they are an opportunity to try new things, and they are made to welcome a wee one!  Recently, I finished three baby blankets which I've finally gifted and can now share!
I'm really not one to use a pattern to make a quilt.  Except for these.  I'm IN LOVE with this pattern.  I want to make a million more of these quilts!  Let me backtrack.  You may remember that in July, I scurried away to SewOK again.  It was there that I met the wonderful Latifah Saafir and had the opportunity to learn from her.  I didn't know much about her before the retreat other than she was one of the founding members of the Modern Quilt Guild.  By the end of the retreat, I was enamored with her and her works! 

These are SUCH a fun sew and really go together quickly.  You can make the fans with multiple fabrics (which I did a few of) but I really loved the effect of the full fans.  It's such a great way to showcase cool fabrics.  And the full fans help it go together quite quickly.  I promise, sewing curves is not as difficult as it looks!

And now, a closer look at these little quilts. 

The first goes to the son of my favorite librarian and clayworker, Hollyrocks.  I have had that rainbow fabric for many, many years and it's always reminded me of Holly.  I once told her that if she ever had a wee one, I knew what fabric her baby quilt would be made out of and I never forgot that!
The next quilt was actually my first of the trio; it's the one I made at SewOK!  You can see the pieced fans in this one.  In it, one of the fabrics I used was one that I've had since high school and have always looooved.  This quilt now resides with my favorite fiber artist, Tasha, and her perfect recent addition!  I can already tell that kid has great taste in textiles. 
The last one was my most recent finish but the one I've had in my head the longest!  Thom and Christine, the ma and pa of the arts and crafts scene and dear longtime friends of mine, welcomed the sweetest little gal into their world earlier this year.  It was such a special and unique time that I felt their quilt needed to be just right.  A molehill seemed to be the perfect fit for the fabrics I had chosen and I'm so happy with how it turned out.  Belated but worth the wait, I think!
I am honored that these three quilts will be living with such remarkable humans.  They will change the world, mark my words!  I'm so excited to see these three tiny babies grow up and shake up the world.  Kids, I hope someday you see how amazing your folks are and how lucky you are to have them guiding your way.  We are just as lucky to have you within our world. 
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