Squirrels Stories

A few months ago, I was approached by an artist and producer named Jamie Courville to see if I might contribute to a project called Squirrels Stories. Jamie says, “A linguist told me “squirrels” is the hardest word to say in the English language. Squirrels Stories is the place for the things that are difficult to talk about.” With an intro like that, how could I say no?

What follows is a cut and paste from Jamie’s web site:


 

Squirrels Stories has a new audio portrait to warm your ears JamieCourvilleMelly1 Hello. How are you? I started this project to give a voice to people living in difficult circumstances, and to let their friends and family members better understand what they were going through. Many of us are dealing with cancer in one way or another, but we are bad at talking about it. Squirrels Stories is an attempt to narrow that gap. Melanie is an incredibly talented textile artist and craftbook designer living in Brooklyn. After her breast cancer diagnosis, she chose not to reconstruct her body. JamieCourvilleMelly2 Please listen to Melanie’s story here.

You can read more about Melanie and her work on her website. She also participated in the Grace Project. For more information on living a FLAT & Fabulous life, click here.

Of course, there are many other Squirrels Stories to listen to. Please share these so they can reach as many ears as possible. I want to thank everyone who has participated in this project. There are a lot more stories of everyday people facing difficult situations. There is a lot of work to do. Looking forward, Jamie Courville I am always looking to produce portraits for individuals and organizations to help them tell their story. Please contact Jamie to talk about it.

PRELimSv1 PDF

Sylvia

This is a very rough draft document that follows the tracking of making this quilt top. More updates to follow. Please, check it out.

A1PRELimS

Magical Peach +

 

magical Peach

This is a reminder to all: There is much magic in the world and you never know where, how, or in what shape/form it might reveal itself.

The above is a typing that occurred when Peach, our cat, walked over my keyboard. I don’t think this was a mistake.

Just a moment prior to this configuration of syllables, I saw the correct spelling of the word,

“magical”.

LightBoxPeach

 And Peach, is, most certainly magical.

This month, we have had her for two years, she was a rescue, a city cat, she had kittens, she got caught with her babies. Her babies were placed in homes. Peach caught ring worm at the veterinary office, which placed her in solitary confinement for two-months-straight, this caused her to modify or shorten, her tail. She had plastic surgery (her tail is very cute!), she healed.

Then.

We found one another. We all fell for one another immediately.

When we met Peach, she was a charmer, whenever someone, a new person, came into her presence, she would charm them. It makes sense that if she were in ‘solitary’, that charming people would become necessary. She must have been lonely.

Everyone needs love and care.

In the last two years I have worked with her to lessen her fear of loud noises. Peach is becoming interested in sitting in our laps. She shows trust and love. She is much less a charmer. I appreciate this, as I prefer her needs are met and that she knows it, without feeling as if she needs to charm anyone.

GenQ

Now, I will change subjects.

Over the last year, I have been working to write a book with a good friend. It has been a lot of fun, I am learning new things. Making great art. Learning to collaborate. Unfortunately, the book was cancelled a few weeks ago. We retain full rights to our materials (no worries there). I will not go into details as to why this occurred, let me just say, the publishing industry is changing quickly. I have mentioned the book a couple of times here on my blog and I reference ‘the book’ in the article about me and my studio in Generation Q (Issue 14). The book will be published, in some form. I/we will not stop working to promote it. But as Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I am going to say about that.”

Life happens. 

Even still! This interview about me, my studio and use of space, is quite interesting. I do hope you will purchase a copy and share your thoughts with me. I have been putting a lot of thought into what a home printing studio ‘needs’ in order to function well. 

StashBuster

Pardon me for the less that awesome photograph. This quilt top is a few months old. I have been sitting on it and waiting for quilt #2. (I am making two sided quilts.) The quilt I was working on over Holiday Break is the mate to what you see here. I am not ready to talk about that one yet. I will clue you in soon.

But this, one.

This is fun right? This is a total stash buster. I cut swaths of squares at 4″. Commercial fabrics, hand printed, I chose fabrics from my entire stash. I grouped these together and randomly sewed. Playing with light and dark was a bunch of fun, I wanted it to sparkle and think it does. I love loosing myself in mindless, though highly rewarding, tasks like this.  This quilt is about 7o” square, I did not make it as a bed quilt, not for my bed, which is a king. It is just that my bed is the largest flat place in the apartment. 

A four inch square stack of cut cloth is so rewarding. I want to use my stash up completely and start acquiring when needed rather than stashing and storing. I think this part is great. (Use The Stash–). I have been printing cloth for quite a few years, but I have not been using it. Using the things you have and make causes you to make more, doesn’t it? It is a complete circle.

I like circles.

And dots.


 (Hey! I have begun using Instagram!! Friend Me, please. This year, I will communicate more through photograph, than words, I am going to start using Instagram a lot this year. Let’s have fun together and hook up over there. Shall we?

Oh, and Quiltography for iPad? Best 15$ I have spent in a very long time. Christopher Oxley? Brilliant!!! And again, that is all I am going to say about that. Buy it. I am not making money for saying so. But, I am sold; hook line and sinker.

Oh, AND!!! I have mentally bought Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster 2 already. I anxiously await it. March 10.

Winner Announcement? Sonja Mclane

That is all the news that is fit to print.

 

 

 

In the thick of it!

I found the Quiltography app just in time. I am a bit addicted. 

I love figuring out how to affectively use Meadowlark. And this app is robust, it is certainly a great and easy to use springboard. My line of fabrics at first glance is far reaching, this is not a match-matchy line. Rather it is cheerful, playful and eclectic and colorful. The patterns and color choices are like a rainbow, some reds, oranges and yellow, along with some blue, purples, greens. Looking at them as a group, it is not entirely evident how to gather them up and redistribute the goodness into a good looking quilt top.  This app takes all of that away and helps me to see the possibilities.

I don’t know if you noticed but the programmer commented on my blog! Exciting indeed. I bought the app mid week. I stumbled around it and got to know it. When I got up to speed, which really hasn’t taken long, I posted my initial thoughts, and the developer responded to my blog directly! I like that.

Twisting_stars.JPG

The first thing to do is to use the database! I headed over to my designers page at Windham Fabrics. I scrolled through and saved each of the largest images of my fabric line, 26 images in total. I imported these into the My Stash section.

Red_warrior_star.JPG

Then, I opened the My Blocks and started playing around, placing my designs in the blocks and saving. Then you move into My Quilts. By this time, you have used the features and you are cooking with gas! It doesn’t get much easier than this.

Float_in_blue.JPG

 The blue grid fabric seen here? omg. The white lines in the grid? Wonk it up, baby.  ;-) 


 

I get nothing for talking up Quiltography. I just found it and like it. A lot. Maybe you will too! I mean, go buy it. Upload my line and let’s play!!! :)

4 years ago today: the vista

Four years ago today, I heard the words, ” I am sorry to say, you have breast cancer”. 

Wow. Glad to see the tail end of that one!

Today I am immersed in a quest to exercise. I want to give my body a little something extra, something to grab onto, something more than popping a pill or settling into a passive groove. In my case, lowering body fat is a good thing. I had 100% ER/PR+ breast cancer. Fat and estrogen levels are related. I have been using kettle bells and it has become a bit of a hobby for me! 

I found Artemis last year, after the need to store my plate weights and bars (New York City apartment problems). I’ve watched/read Artemis train for the Iron Maiden, an exciting journey to be sure. I am wowed. The Iron Maiden is 3 movements, a press, a pull-up and a pistol squat. Women must do this using a 24kg bell. That is 52 pounds!

Um, yeah. Wow.

I use an online training service through Iron Body Studios and WeightTraining.com. I love it. I even bought a tack-on program called Attack the Bar. I do this at home.  I use kettle bells, a Jungle Gym XT, Valslides, a door mounted pull-up bar and elastic bands. I am training Turkish Get Ups, Pull ups, presses. I love it, really. I feel confident. I experience a connection between mind and body, I am becoming aware of my food choices. Slow and steady makes the grade, small changes daily! I have all the time in the world to commit to my program. Thank goodness.

I gladly exchange a love of lifting heavy things and a new more streamlined physique for the stress of doctors appointments. Any day.

Happy Anniversary, Melly! Good going.

In the meantime, I was invited to donate artwork to Virginia Spiegel‘s The 100 Fundraiser to Fight Cancer. The above piece of artwork is my offering for the cause. 

The 100

I do hope you might consider bidding 100$ for this piece. I would love for you to own it.

Designing we will go

Generally speaking (at least in the recent past) when I make a quilt, I do it on the fly. I use no plan, I just start sewing and see what I come up with. I might get it in my head that I want to make wonky stars, or work with zigzags, and generally speaking, when I work this way, I don’t care if the blocks are slightly off, or if the points don’t match. I just go with it. 

Otherwise, I have been doing straight up jelly roll race type quilts. Yes, you heard it, strip piecing jelly rolls. I love that. It is easy. Fun. And without much thinking, you soon have a great quilt or throw that you can cuddle up in.

I am just beginning to experiment with quilt tops for my challenge and for now, I have decided to try using the Quiltography app for iPad.  I would like to play around with my fabric and see what comes of it, without cutting into my lovely bolts (yes, I have bolts of my line of fabric, Meadowlark). Let me say that again, bolts!

This app is new to me and I plan to spend a bit of time just playing around with half square triangles in the hope of loosening up and having some fun. I don’t yet know what my other 30% of the fabric will be, I figure that will make itself known after I fall in love with a design.

In the meantime, I will tell you my initial thoughts on the Quiltography app. The app costs 15$, which is a lot for an app. I know a friend who uses it and she likes it, so I figured, why not? It is fairly versatile. It is easy to import images of your intended cloth. There are quite a few block choices to start out, in addition to a ‘design your own block’ section that I have not tried. It seems you can also use a photo to ‘pixilate’ a design, which sounds neat, but again, I have not tried it.

It is a bit clunky in one respect-if you place a fabric in your quilt block and save it, you cannot delete the saved blocks. Being a fan of tidiness, this is not ideal. I will write to the folks who designed the app with my concern. Beside that, it really did not take long to learn to use the app and to save this, my first design using it. 

I am not completely sold on designing and working with the app (I do like free-form piecing quite a bit), but I value being able to experiment before cutting! Perhaps I will combine the two for a more planned free-form approach.

P.S. Fran Saperstein made the first quilt top using my fabrics, and she posted it to social media. Please check it out!

meadowlark quilt top challenge, thoughts and ideas.

Half square triangles. I hadn’t really ever considered how simple and effective half square triangles can be in designing quilts. Above are 72 possible uses half square triangles in combination. 

I return to this image often when thinking about making a quilt top. 

I like the idea of mega sized quilt blocks. 

I caught a fancy for the ease of making a 60″ throw sized quilt. I find this size to be easy to complete and large enough to have space to play around and have fun with.  

I love having a pile of quilts in the living room in winter time. We throw a few on the floor, snuggle, watch Tv. We each have favorite quilts and lots of pillows. 60″ quilts keep me making more quilts, it is my sweet spot size. Adding to the collection is great fun. 

And oh! I kinda decided that all quilts should be two sided. Because real estate. (As always, we will see.)

So these are my initial thoughts on making a top for the challenge. It’s a bit cobbled together. It will come into focus soon

I have three unfinished quilts in the works right now! :)

Meadowlark quilt top challenge! (and giveaway)

Above is a pillow I made using original prints. This was a gift for my Mom, “Hello Mom!”. I find it easy to use my original prints in a patchwork manner. The fabrics I print are small by necessity, so I find thinking about them in terms of patchwork quilting the easiest path.

In this photo, you see a quilt medallion or central portion of a future quilt top. This one includes a commercial print, the line drawn floral. Beside that, all fabrics are again original prints.

Here, I am pointing to a quilt designed and made by Stephanie Forsyth, whose pattern can be found in Modern Patchwork. The quilt is made entirely of Meadowlark. It was quite interesting to see how Stephanie used Meadowlark to make a really appealing quilt

I have been thinking it might be fun to host a quilt making challenge using Meadowlark. I love designing and making the patterns used in my commercial line of fabrics, but… When it comes to using that cloth, I hesitate. Over the past year, I have asked friends and colleagues to make quilts or items using Meadowlark to fill my booth at Market. Seeing what other people do with my cloth is a surprise and a delight each and every time. So I wonder if I might ask you, dear reader, to work your magical eye over Meadowlark, using this criteria:

1. The quilt top must contain at least 70% Meadowlark. The other 30% is up to you. I would really like to see what fabrics you pair with Meadowlark.

2. I encourage you to make a throw measuring 60″ square.

3. Some aspect of the quilt block Or quilt top must have half square triangles, because I like them.

4. This challenge is time sensitive, your quilt top must be completed between January 1 and March 1, 2015.

My rules are not set in stone, they act as guidance. If you make a baby quilt, great. If you use 65% Meadowlark, that is ok too. I may need to set the quilt police on your tail if you choose to omit half square triangles, but I bet you would survive that too.

Here are some of my thoughts about the Meadowlark line: 

I would love to see the fruit fabric interpreted in a ‘French provincial’ style. I say interpreted because the fruit prints are pretty colorful, and I think it would be a loose interpretation. 

The bird print is ‘my baby’, so if you wanted to feature that, go for it.

I think the oval daisy dot is a sleeper, so if you wanted to feature those prints, I would love to see what you come up with.

The vine prints? I think they would make great border prints.

 

Read the fine print:

1. If you are interested in participating in this challenge, please leave a comment. If you have a blog, leave a link to your blog in the comments. I will keep a list of participants in the sidebar of my blog.

2. If you would like to help spread the word about this challenge, I will give away a fat quarter pack of the entire Meadowlark line in one weeks time (Saturay, January 10).  What you need to do to participate in the give away, is link to this post on facebook, Twitter, or any other social media and post a link to that here, in the comments.

Places to purchase Meadowlark online?

The City Quilter

Gotham Quilts

Amazon also carries my line.  

Swinging and lifting, I feel good.

DSC_0130

This year I needed to put my plate weights in storage, they were smelly and my landlord asked for me to address the problem. I did. This action reverberated and made me reevaluate my workout abilities and needs. I chose to move back to using kettlebells, which I have a small collection of. This change also made me change the online workout program I was committed to. I am really happy to say that I found Artemis Scantalides, Iron Body Studios and their online workout program though Weighttraining.com.

DSC_0131

I have been working to inform myself on programing and good form with the goal of creating a sustainable, enjoyable, workout program that I gladly commit to. In the above photo you see my Jungle Gym XT and my ragtag array of kettlebells.

I love working out. I appreciate the strength and confidence that lifting and swinging kettlebells offers me. I like feeling my glutes activate while walking. I love the way my body looks. I appreciate that lifting has the effect of making me want to eat the best I possibly can. I also really appreciate that it helps burn fat. 

IBSwDavid

So, when Artemis and Eric came to NYC to give a workshop on using kettlebells, I signed both David and I up. David has been watching my interest in lifting with, at first, hesitation, then with interest and now, he begins to think that perhaps lifting will help him build his core muscles up to such a degree that he can do the exercise he loves, running. (Evil grin on my part!). Either way, I love the above photo where you can see David’s hand resting on my shoulder and all of our big grins!

IBSwDavid2

Artemis gave me some swing corrections during the workshop, which has inspired me to join her Holiday Swing Challenge. I started doing it today, in addition to my regular workout. I seek to improve my swing.  I am jazzed about working with these folks.

McCall’s Quilting Magazine and a Meadowlark Giveaway-a guest post

I am hosting a guest post by Stephanie Forsyth, my quilt designer for Meadowlark. We are both really happy that her delicate, groovy, lush, and chic designs using Meadowlark, are going live! What follows are Stephanie’s words:


 

McCallsQuilt

Ladies and gentleman, I am in McCall’s Quilting Magazine! I still can’t quite believe it!

This is the closest I’ve gotten to being a “Covergirl” so far! As many of you know, I was working on some quilts that I wasn’t able to share (this was for Market this past spring!) Well, I was designing and making quilts using Melanie Testa’s fabric from her Meadowlark line put out by Windham Fabrics. I’ve been sitting on this news since this past spring – and now I can finally share it with you!

This was an exciting process, as I was able to see Melly creating the line, and then her excitement when Windham picked it up. It’s a special feeling to be one of the first people to ever cut into, and create with a designer’s first fabrics!

The Meadowlark line is Melly’s way of raising awareness about the plight of the 20 Common Birds in Decline listed by the Audobon Society. She has a post about it on her blog!

The original name of this quilt is “Lark Star” for the Eastern Meadowlark on the list. For publishing reasons, the piece goes by the name “Starling” in the magazine. They are offering a FREE alternate pattern of the quilt in king size! (You can also order a kit of the 60.5″60.5″ from them, that has the fabrics I used!)

Starling

I wanted to really be able to showcase Melly’s fabrics, so I approached the design process asking myself “How can I show these fabrics as they are, and still cut them up and piece them?” The answer was “THINK BIG!” and I did. At 60.5″x60.5″, the blocks in this quilt are 15″ blocks! I might be biased (that’s not a pun, I swear!), but I am in love with this quilt!


 Stephanie has an AWESOME prize opportunity for a lucky reader! I have arranged for Stephanie to  give away a fat quarter of every fabric from Meadowlark! 

Leave a comment on STEPHANIE’S blog to win! She will close commenting on December 7 at 11:59 P.M. She will announce the give away on Monday, December 8.

I have closed commenting on this post, so click on over to Stephanie’s blog (<——click it) now!!

image001