Friday, October 17, 2014

Around the World

I was tagged by my good friend Tsoniki over at Me Being Crafty to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop.  Tess and I met at our first Sewing Summit--we both needed a roommate, so after meeting online, we flew to Salt Lake City to share a room.  She wasn't an axe murderer, so I decided it was safe to be friends.  Since then, we've gone to another Sewing Summit together, and met up in Paris over the summer!  She's an amazing quilter; you should check her out!

1. Where do I live?

I'm originally from Eastern Washington.  Growing up between two households, I moved about 17 times before I graduated from high school, so I kind of feel like a nomad.  After college in Seattle, my husband and I moved to Boston for a little over two years.  Six years ago we moved back "home," and now we live in Tacoma, WA.  It's about 45 miles from the heart of downtown Seattle, and absolutely full of beautiful people, good schools, and amazing local businesses.  I love it.

2. What quilting/sewing project am I currently working on?

Um, all of them.  No, seriously.  I feel empty if I have less than, oh, 17 projects going.  (I know some of you will understand...)  And of course not just sewing or quilting--there's knitting, cross-stitching, painting, drawing, and general household improvement projects.  But...I've narrowed it down for the sake of not writing a novel.

This is my Nordika flying geese sampler.  I love Jeni Baker's fabrics, and I wanted to challenge myself with more precision piecing.  I started with a fat eighth pack from Westwood Acres, added some neutral, low volume prints for the background, and started working.  I've been working on this since the beginning of the year though, so I should probably get moving.

This is a complete quilt top!  It's been done since February, and again, I should really get moving on it.  Though the fact that I bought the fabric about five years ago makes me feel a little more pressure...I need to make a back for it (I'm planning to use some much loved and much hoarded Heather Ross fabrics for this.)

And of course I started this recently (because I only had 16 projects going...had to keep it at 17...)  I'm making 8.5" wonky crosses in fall-ish colors (obviously for fall of 2016, sheesh!)

And no October would be complete without the mad dash of fifteen (just kidding) (only five this year) Halloween costumes.  My kids are really into SlugTerra, and requested to be Eli and Burpy the slug.  So of course I decided the dog needs to be a slug as well.  And my sister asked me to make her baby a carrot hat.  And I'm going as Princess Unikitty.  Because I obviously didn't have enough projects going.

3. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I really don't know that it does.  I taught myself to sew when I was pregnant with my oldest boy (like a huge part of the sewing population.) I love designer fabrics (like a huge part of the sewing population.)  I like to make functional items (like a huge part of the sewing population.)  (I think I'm like a sheep.  Following the herd.)  


But, I do have a degree in visual art, so I might approach things a little differently than some people.  Not that my way is any better or worse than anyone else's, just different.  I tend to overanalyze color choices and composition.  And I get stuck on perfection.  Not that my projects are perfect, but that I feel bad if they aren't as good as other people's projects and then freak out and hide in a corner eating my hair.  Not really.  But that's a close description.

Designing my own quilt patterns is really, really hard for me.  I never think they're good enough, so I tend to stick to what others have already done.  Which is good for the pattern writing community.  But makes me feel like I'm not creative enough.

I also tend to do my own thing.  I'm learning to let my freak flag fly.  I occasionally like to go to a sewing circle at a local quilt shop.  It's a group of mostly grandmas, who are very traditional quilters (batiks, complicated patterns, proper techniques.)  I especially like it when they say things like "you're going to put that color with that one?" Or "Wow, that's a really interesting project you have going over there.  That's not how I was taught, but good for you for not following the rules."  Um, ok.  

I'm in the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild.  I joined because it's the community that most closely fits what I like to do.  We have similar taste in fabric, techniques, and overall output, though as I stated above, I still do my own thing, which may or may not be "modern quilting."

4. Why do I write/create what I do?

I love to create.  When I haven't had a chance to immerse myself in my latest creating obsession I feel lost.  Creating is something that I can do that has spanned my entire life, though childhood, college, being a mother.  It makes me feel happy, sane, and whole.

I am in love with the idea of living purposefully; function is so important to me.  I like the idea of the things I create being used.  Potholders, dishtowels, quilts, table runners...they all give me a little thrill to see around my house.  

As far as writing--I'm definitely not where I want to be yet.  I don't share my recipes with you all because I really took Martha Stewart's words to heart.  Which is stupid, because even though she is an amazing overachiever, she's not necessarily right.  I have lots of thoughts on this, but I'll save them for another day.  In spite of that, I'd love to one day write a cookbook that features healthy, everyday, allergen-friendly recipes with beautiful pictures and a gorgeous hardback binding.  (You hear me, book publishers???)  Someday I will get there.

5. How does my creating process work?

I love to look at my Instagram feed to see who is posting what for inspiration.  I love the work of Heather Braunlin-JonesMaureen CracknellHeather RossAmanda Jennings, and Anna Maria Horner.  I also check out Pinterest, and I have a few blogs that I read regularly.  Sometimes I look through my small collection of crafting books.  All of these things give me a steady stream of new ideas.

Once I get stuck on an idea I sketch it out.  I have sketchbooks and binders full of little drawings, quotes, and diagrams.  Most of the time they wait patiently, but sometimes I get obsessive and have to make whatever it is RIGHT NOW.  And then I get into this zone, where I can't hear anything, I don't see the mess in my house, I forget to eat, I'm covered with thread or paint, and life is so good.  I love that zone.  It's my most happy place.

And now I'm going to tag my friend Christine.  She taught me to paper piece (three times, ahem) and I'm forever grateful.  She has a beautiful blog and a beautiful book (with Diane Gilleland.)  She quilts, writes patterns and books, teaches, paints, and has sheep, so she's pretty much amazing in my book.

Monday, October 13, 2014

FO: Baby Bear Hat

So, this happened.  It took about an hour.  BUT LOOK A BABY IN A BEAR HAT.  I die of cute.

This also happened (to my sister, not me.)  Took a little more than an hour (not much; super fast labor!  I didn't even have a chance to get there before she was born!)  Baby Daliha (you say it like the flower) is here.  Didn't my sister make a cute baby?  Again, I die of cute.  I'm heading over that way this weekend to get a little baby fix.  I might be knitting a carrot hat for her for Halloween.  And I might have lots of sewing plans for her (look!  A baby girl to make for!  AACK!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Beginning a New Chapter

On a walk the other day I came across the stroller running group I went to a few times when Fini was a baby.  I said hi to a few women who I know.  I admired their babies in their jogging strollers, and watched them run along on their way.  It made me think that I was just there.  It seems like yesterday, but now it's not yesterday.  It's last year.  And soon, it will be two years ago, then ten, and then where will I be?

I feel like I'm constantly trying to figure out my place in the world.

Before children, I earned my art degree, then worked in a few offices as an office administrator/sometimes manager/bookkeeper/event planner.  I was working my way up the corporate ladder, learning to keep my emotions in check and navigate the tricky labyrinth that is bureaucracy.  I ran my little Etsy shop and went to markets with my various crafty endeavors.  I didn't make any money, but I had fun.  I thought I knew what I was going to be when I grew up.  

Then--SURPRISE!--we were going to be parents.  I was going to be a mother.

Dun dun dun.

For the past eight years (even while working through postpartum depression) my place has been defined by my children, or rather my role as their mother.  Tiny children do that to you--define you.  It's easy to lose sight of yourself.  You have to revisit your goals often, adapt, go with the flow, and then scrap everything because someone gets sick, or has a tough time adjusting to school, develops an eating disorder, or just plain needs their mommy.

Over the past few years I've made a few half-hearted attempts at being my own person, but I've been so damn tired I just can't even.  But this year.  This year: both my children are in full-time school.  And it's glorious to have a significant window of time to breathe.  Despite my freelance work and the hours I volunteer at the school and trying to get back on top of all the household projects that have been neglected and having to cook constantly because everyone has different allergies and no one can eat easy food--despite all of that--I have a few hours a week to myself.  I can breathe, and that feels like a miracle.

But with that thought comes a new awareness that I am no longer defined.  And it's somewhat bittersweet.  It hits at random moments.  I put away a shirt that no longer fits a little boy, or I help a child untangle their knitting, or I meet a newborn infant.  Most of the time I'm ok.  I take a moment to process my feelings and move on.  But sometimes it's harder and I just start to cry.  I can't help it.  I don't want to.  But after I get my good cry in, I sniffle a bit and think that it's going to be OK.  I'm going to be OK.  This is just the beginning of a new chapter.  A new chapter that I get to write.

After watching the stroller group make their way up the hill, I hitched up my (tiny, not diaper bag sized) purse and walked along home.  I picked up a chestnut to show to the boys.  I decided which tea I was going to sip while knitting that afternoon.  I took a picture of a spiderweb.  I listened to inappropriate-for-children music.  I breathed.  

And I was OK.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

FO: Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief

A few months ago, we visited my mother-in-law in Port Townsend, WA.  My MIL watched the kids while Jes and I went out for a bit, and we stopped at a lovely yarn store called Bazaar Girls.  I fell in love with a skein of hand dyed yarn, which I had to have.  While I was having it wound, I stepped outside for a minute, and my sweet husband also purchased a beautiful yarn bowl that I'd been admiring.  (It's the little things, you guys.  I love this man so much.)

I also love my Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief so much!  I wear it constantly.  It's small, even after adding an extra repeat at the bottom, so I wrap it around my neck like a lumpy scarf.  Well, like a lumpy scarf that I've arranged artfully.  You know.  Ahem.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I've Been Up To

Life has been so busy, so full, and so GOOD that I haven't had time to update this space.  I'll chalk that up to good times and try to be a better blogger.

Here is what I've been up to lately:

Going on overnight trips with my favorite (crazy, according to this picture) husband.  I've been with this man for 17 years (12 of those married!)

I flew to Boston to visit one of my besties!

Reading.  Always reading.

I am never alone.

Doing more crazy things with my hair!  (Which I LOVE!)

A little bit of sewing.

Lots of cooking.  Cashew butter, cookies, muffins, granola bars, and nearly every single meal that we eat because allergies.

Keeping up with my fitness goals!  I've lost 60 pounds!  Go me!

A little bit of painting.

A tiny bit of piecing.

Taking care of Eamon.  He was the lucky winner of the first cold of the school year!  Yay germs!

I'm teaching the preschool/kindergarten class to knit.  It's adorable!

I drove across the state to visit another bestie and her naughty otter(s.)  And of course to see family!

Since school started, I've had a tiny bit more free time.  I've been working on self-care (according to my therapist, that is my number one priority!) and lots and lots of freelance work.  Keeping my house clean is a novel idea--one that hasn't been fully exercised for about, oh, eight years or so?  

I'll be back in this space soon.  I finished my Age of Brass and Steam shawl, and want to share pictures!  (You can see a sneak peak in the picture with pink hair!)