Stitches pile up, life and CraftNAPA: an update

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It has been more than 2 weeks since returning from the magical event called Craft NAPA. I feel blessed to have participated. I stood among friends, watched their connection to one another, ate chocolate covered strawberries and drank deep cups of coffee while also teaching and meeting new friends.

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This is the view from Pokey’s art barn. Like so many of you, I have watched the blazing beauty that Pokey spins wherever she goes. To watch her build this barn, to see Crafting a Life unfold, to participate in her first event is an amazing endeavor. I feel gratitude, and I am honored to know her and to be able to lend my talents to her efforts.

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Indigo Perez is such a lovely person. I have watched her unfurl her wings and fledge the nest of my good friend Judy over these last few years. I have to say, Indigo is so talented, such a good person, I couldn’t wait to hug her. 

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Here are Pokey, Larissa and I. Both of these women are crazy mad talented. Larissa took my, You Can’t Resist This! soy wax resist with paint class. Her color sense and use is amazing. Not to mention, she now owns a class sample I donated to raise funds for Okizu, an organization that helps families affected by childhood cancers. 

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Jamie Fingal, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Pokey, Judy Coates PerezJane LaFazio and I recreated a photograph we took perhaps 8 years ago at MIU in Long Beach Quilt Festival. What an amazing group of people. This photo mash up was taken by Jamie.

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Midge and Libby became fast friends. I now own pieces of art made by each of these women. Happy sigh.

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Cheryl Sleboda and I were able to connect too.  She is a powerhouse. Smart, sassy and fun. Go check out her website! I bought one of her skull tShirts!

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You Can’t resist This!! Class photo.

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Journal Embroidery class photo.

Unfortunately I did not get a photo of my Small Works/Big Impact class. I am sorry about that. 

My take away from participating in this great event? I can see Craft NAPA being a creative home away from home, one that I look forward to visiting yearly. The food offerings, 8 Noodle, OxBow Market, the Napa Valley Art store? The community and commeraderie in this event sparkled bright. I hope I am asked to teach again, and I would love to take a class too.

There are so many more photos that I could have put in this post. I think I am going to upload them to Facebook instead. 🙂 Great fun, friendship, learning, and wine blending! So good, I still feel the glow of having had a great time.


 

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Upon my return and in wanting to establish creative balance after the participating in this great event, I have been stitching away the days. I am compiling a new class content for The Clever Guild. It feels great to be engaged with my creative process again and I look forward to providing opportunities to connect and learn from one another. I hope you will follow along as I dust off the site and start having some fun with it.

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I am hoping a few of you might volunteer to take the class (for free-of course), I would love some help in making sure the content is amazing. Stitch work, questions and participation is required. If you are interested, please leave a comment on this post and I will contact you with more information.

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I have been pushing the limits of layering and stitch and am quite pleased with my results. The Gather your Sew-plies purse is a great format to learn about and play around with stitch. The main purse piece is 6×14″, which makes it large enough to make a great purse, but small enough that filling it with stitch is an enjoyable affair.

Please speak up if you would like to be on my Journal Stitch crew.


 

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And then we get caught up to last night, when Joules Evans arrived in Brooklyn to attend the opening at Site:Brooklyn called American Road Trip. This is the first time Joules has had a piece shown in a gallery, and for it to be a great Brooklyn Gallery is no small feat. Congratulations Joules.

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To celebrate Joules’s accomplishment, Isis Charise photographer of Grace, Joules and I attended the opening and then walked over to Bar Tano to toast, eat and be merry. These women have been a strength and a balm to me. 

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Life is better than good.

 

A video posted by Melanie Testa (@mellytesta) on

Confessions of an alleged quilter

(Helen is a quest contributor to the Meadowlark Blog Hop giveaway. The art piece that Helen made using trapunto features one of the 6 Common Birds in Decline seen in the Meadowlark bird print, the Greater Scaup. She will tell you about the making of the quilt below. I can tell you, Helen is a treasure, I am quite happy to get to know her and to call her a friend.)

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Sometimes you just have to say yes.  When Melanie Testa put out a call for help getting projects sewn for her Meadowlark launch for Windham Fabrics I instinctively said I would help.  Well, that was my first reaction.  My second was “What am I thinking?  Why did I say yes?  Now have to show up, meet new people, talk to them, be creative…oh my, what have I gotten myself into???”

The day arrived.  I had mixed emotions approaching City Quilter, arriving at the same time as Melanie.  We introduced ourselves and I was relieved to discover that she was as sweet and approachable in person as she is online and in her books.  I met the others in this crew of talented quilters and was excited to see the work that had been done the previous week as well as projects that individuals had designed and sewn.  It was intimidating.  But I was there and I was going to help.  All I had to do was help sew blocks together and then rows for the gorgeous string quilt as well as assist sewing the beautiful bird quilt together.  It was fun and a relief to get lost in sewing and chatting and doing.  Not worrying about work or life or anything – just putting one stitch after another.  Nirvana.

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The day ended too quickly.  I volunteered to bind the string quilt and make a sleeve.  There were scraps of fabric left and I asked Melanie if she needed any small wall hangings.  She did.  Again, I said yes.  I would make a wall hanging.  I pulled some fabric, said goodbye, and was on my way.  And then realized that I had committed to completing these projects in just about three weeks.  Here’s the thing.  I am an “alleged quilter”.  I start projects. Some of them get completed; most get almost completed.  It took me two years to put the binding on a quilt my sister made.  I began my first quilt in 1981 when I was working summer stock and my cat Maggie was born.  I finished it in 1998, the year Maggie died.  And lately, I hadn’t even been sewing.  I was drawing and painting and playing around paper.  Well, ok then.  Oh, hell.  Why not?  I said yes.  Now I had to do it.  

I work better if I don’t think too much so I took a bird square and centered it on a muslin backing.  Then I cut 2-1/2” strips of the other fabrics and started building out from the bird.  Once the muslin was completely covered machine stitched around all the elements in the bird patch, then I embellished the fabric around the center square with orange, purple, and aqua rayon thread to help marry the birds to the surrounding fabric.  This, of course led to the center not laying flat because, well, all of the stitching caused distortion.  The fix?  Trapunto.  I’d never tried this padded and raised quilt design before but thought it was worth a shot.  Why not cut the muslin and stuff all the elements in the bird square?  It might take care of the distortion and would make the birds really pop.  So I did. And it worked.  And I was excited.  I didn’t have enough scraps to make a border so I stitched it like a pillow cover.  And then pressed like crazy and added a sleeve.  Lastly, I made the pieced binding as well as the sleeve for the string quilt.  In less than three weeks.  All because I said yes.

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Melly’s Meadowlark fabric is a joy to work with.  The design, the color, the feel and quality of the fabric – everything about this line is exceptional.  And I got to play a small part in the launch.  I also met and worked with one of my design icons and other really talented women.  All because I said yes.  I can’t wait to do it again. Thanks Melly for letting me be a part of this adventure!

Please let me know what you think.  Just leave a comment for a chance to win a Fat Stack of 10” squares of all 26 fabrics in the Meadowlark line.  Melly’s also giving away 3 copies of her wonderful book “Dreaming From the Journal Page”.  If you missed any of the other posts in this hop just head over to the links below.  And don’t forget to leave your comments there, too. 

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting on Melly’s blog!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting on Melly’s blog!

Jacqui Holmes Calhoun on Meadowlark

Before Market, Windham Fabrics sent me two yards of each fabric in my line, Meadowlark. They asked if I might have a sewing bee in order to make samples. I agreed and after a call to Dale and Cathy, set up two consecutive Tuesdays at The City Quilter. Then I contacted the two guilds I am a member of, and asked if anyone was interested in helping out. Jacqui, the author of the following post was one of the people who showed up. Jacqui and I immediately hit it off and I am happy to say, we are already making plans to go to museum shows and to have lunch. 
Here are Jacqui’s words on working with Meadowlark…
 
Meadowlark Scrap
 
Hi everyone, and welcome to my guest post for Melanie Testa’s Meadowlark Blog Hop!
 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun here —artist, quilter, book and papermaker.
It was great fun working with Melly’s  new line, Meadowlark. This  fabric is very painterly, with a block printing-on-paper quality that was fun to play with in fabric form. The patterns are full of  rich color and the whole line has an energetic vibe. 
 
Check out my “Four by Four” nine patch quilt I made. 
I used 2.5″ squares to make the pattern- in- pattern. 
Love the dots…and the birds….and the grid….
I’m seeing  a book cover in my future.
 
JCH4x4
 
I love the 9 Patch block in all its many variations.
Did you know that the 9 times table is the only set that can be written
in reverse and upside down and always come out right?
 
From the top: Write down the right side #9 in descending (down) order…9,8,7,6, etc.until you get to 0.
 At the bottom next to 0 on  the left side write 9,8,7,6 etc. in Ascending order (up) and voyla! The 9 times table re-made as play!
 
For someone who is SO NOT a math person I  never forgot that game… and play I did with Melly’s Meadowlark stack. Oh, and then added a few more pieces for more fun. 
Speaking of adding….
If you add each line of the 9 times table it always adds up to 9!
  9,  18 (1+8=9),  27 (2+7=9),  36 (3+6=9)…..You get the idea,
so you see I just had to add those  purple dots. I couldn’t help myself.
 
——–
 
To win your very own Meadowlark Stack of 10″ squares (10 is a great number too don’t you think?) just leave a comment by JUNE 10, 2014.
 
Melly is also giving away 3 copies of her fabulous book “Dreaming from the Journal Page”, for even more inspiration.
 One will be given away on her blog and 
the other two will be given away at the end of the Blog Hop. You have to leave a post to have a chance to win.
 

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting here!

 

meadowlark blog hop give away

I am so friggin’ excited to finally be working in the textile industry and to have a line of fabrics coming out with my name on the selvedge. I mean, so, friggin’, excited. 

Spring Quilt Market 2014 served to ‘launch’ my premiere fabric line, Meadowlark by Windham Fabrics which will be officially release this coming October 2014. It is used to create ‘buzz’.  Talking about buzz, check out my ‘look book’! Or this video that Victoria Findlay Wolfe did at Market (she is part of this blog hop too)!

Being the interactive, show and tell driven person that I am, I set up shop at quilt market to demo the techniques I use in the printing of the Meadowlark line, and I surrounded myself with the most awesome, beautifully created samples that I possibly could. And I must say, I hardly sewed even a single stitch of the beautiful work seen in my booth. I feel absolutely blessed to be able to work with some of the most driven, detail oriented artists and quilters in this industry. 

I have been told that my sample team and I used the most fabric ever, in preparation for the launch of a fabric line. Woot!! If you ask me, too much is just about enough.

Market was a whirlwind of activity. I invited many of the superstars in our industry to come to my booth and print or to say, ‘Hello’.  I had so much fun and smiled so much that my face hurt at the end of the weekend. 

In celebration of the launch of the Meadowlark line, we are giving away Fat Stacks (10″ square of each of the 26 fabrics in the line) and 3 copies of Dreaming From the Journal Page. I will also be giving away some 5″ Charm packs from my own ‘stash’ (Windham cuts these as giveaway at Market and I nabbed some). I will give away one copy of dreaming here, the other two will be given to whichever blog on the hop that receives the most comments. We will use the hashtag #MellyMeadowlark, so if you want to spread the word on Facebook and other social networking sites please use this tag. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win some of my pretties and don’t hesitate to ask your local quilt store to carry my line. In fact, you might just forward a link to this post:

http://melanietesta.com/2014/06/meadowlark-blog-hop-give-away/ ‎

I honestly cannot wait for you to get your hands on my fabrics and show me your skillz. In the meantime, check out what my design team has to say on the matter…

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting here!

 

Meadowlark Blog Hop

Meadowlark Blog Hop Image
 
I am organizing a blog hop fabric giveaway to celebrate the release of my first line of fabrics! Please stay tuned for your chance to win!!! The ‘hop’ kicks off, here, at MelanieTesta.com on June 2.
 
 
Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 Blog-TBD
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-CHelen will be guest posting here!

 

random acts of kindness are real.

Lifting weights, challenging my body and mind to work together to complete my workouts, watching my muscles grow and my shape change is quite an adventure. Being proactive and engaging with my body and its needs has helped me to feel grounded and clarifies my mind, especially after the rigors of breast cancer treatment. I know it isn’t guaranteed, and nothing can prevent cancer, but exercise is inexpensive, non-invasive and well within my ability to accomplish. It provides great benefit, acts as an antidepressant, it helps level out hormonal levels, it helps keep my body fat low (I had estrogen dependent breast cancer and fat stores and creates estrogen). 

While surfing my favorite fitness blogs last week, I noticed that Jen Sinkler is coming out with a new product called Lift Weights Faster and is building interest for her new offering by doing a give away. Jen Sinkler owns a gym with her husband, she is really straight forward in her fitness approach, and she is badass, goofy, and fun (all of the things you want in a person who inspires you to exercise). Jen had a scheme where you got one point for entering yourself in the drawing, and 10 points for every friend you refer. The grand prize to this giveaway, is a home gym set up.

I took a screenshot of all the swag, just so you could see it. 

And, ohmygoodness, I wanted it! I began to use my social networking feeds to get my points up to winning levels, I told my friends that I wanted that grand prize and asked them to sign up for Jen’s email list, just so I could have a chance at winning all that loot. My points started racking up and I was excited to get detailed messages describing how many points I had earned in my email box. Pretty fancy. 

But then…

An unnamed admirer went and bought the entire grand prize offering and had it shipped directly to me. Just typing out these words, almost a week afterward, makes me tear up. All of the items, and more, were on my ‘wish list’. I had just been shopping for them and trying to find good deals.

Here I am with my newest kettle bell, a heavy bugger that I look forward to swinging soon.

But what really touches me about being given this gift, this random act of kindness, is the note that came with it. Which said, ‘Simply because you are an inspirational woman.’ 

This touches me deeply. I am honored to receive this generous gift. I feel gratified that my actions are received in the manner I had hoped. I have decided to live out loud, in all of my Flat and Fabulous glory, and to advocate for us Flatties as much as I am able. Talking about this topic, putting an image of my body on the web challenges me. It does not come easily. But at the same time, I feel passionate that women need this information and perspective, so I choose to do the work anyway. I know that if I am able to affect a single person, it was worth it, even if it is difficult to do.

So when this kind act was given to me, it was as if I had received physical confirmation that I am doing good work. It also feels somewhat permissive, as just last week, I was reviewing topics I would like to discuss on this blog, and one of them is fitness, my new hobby. So, rest assured, I will be talking fitness in the weeks and months to come.

And as is the hope when giving and receiving Random Acts of Kindness, I will be looking for a way to ‘Pay it Forward’, when the time comes. 

And in the meantime, I choose to allow myself the love and kindness and generosity that was given to me along with the physical aspect of this gift. Thank you universe. Thank you very much. Some very heavy items will arrive this week and you gotta know, I look forward to lifting and writing about them.

Oh! And, I bought Jen Sinkler’s Lift Weights Faster eBook/video compilation, I love it! I have been studying it (and trying new lifts out) in downtime all week!

Of friends, jelly roll quilting and embracing long unused skills.

DSC_0002This last year I have been in deep and total immersion into multicolor printing using Procion MX dyes. I have printed about 50 yards of cloth, believe it or not. And when you print that much cloth, it goes to say that you should also try to use as much cloth! At the same time, I have a back log of cloth that I have been printing and gathering for the last 10-15 years! I don’t consider myself to much of a stasher, not compared to my friends anyway, and I would love to get to the point where I am not stashing at all, but rather, making cloth per project/quilt and acquiring materials to fill out and finish said project.

I have been sorting, cutting and stacking, cut squares. I mean, Damn! Look at these fat stacks!

What you see here is  my backlog fabrics, not the ones I printed this year. These older pieces of cloth work really nicely in padding out my current multicolor printed cloth and they also show me my progress as a dyer and artist. Win!!

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This quilt, a jellyroll quilt, I put together a few weeks ago, while at my twice yearly quilt art retreat. This quilt is filled with girlfriend love. We put aside our personal projects to exchange strips of fabric with one another and bang out a usable quick and dirty beauty. This quilt has one piece of fabric from each member of the group and then then some (!!!).

Yesterday, Teri came to Brooklyn to help me bring my machine in for repair and to help me with the many, many projects that are piling up, with ‘just one last thing’ needed, before being able to call them complete.

Teri Lucas helped me complete the jellyroll in many ways. 1. Teri helped me with trimming the quilt down, teaching me how to square it and what to square it to. 2. Teri cut and attached the binding (teaching me her methods all the way through, this is a 2″ French straight grain binding, I usually cut 2.25″ bindings [the straight grain part was my idea and is related to the cloth I wanted to bind it with]). 3. Teri gave me the fantastic idea of utilizing my local quilt store to cut quilts down and possibly even baste- NYC apartment living can really crimp a large quilts style! 4. Teri got me out of the house and made me re-member how important it is to hang out with friends, I tend to be a bit of a recluse and artistic shut-in.

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 And then!! Last weekend, Stephanie Forsyth and her best friend Sally came to New York City. Beside walking up a storm, going to the Statue of Liberty, going to Carnegie Hall to see Handel’s Messiah, and eating and drinking while basking in our shared friendship, Steph hand sewed the binding on this quilt, made of my own printed cloth.

Do I have awesome friends, or what?

Want to know what I love best about both Stephanie and Teri, in addition to my retreat gal pals? I learn from these women. First, I learn what love, affection and friendship means, and I get to do it while dishing about cloth and fiber. I learn (relearn) that it is OK to ask for help. And my soul becomes fortified to what it means to have and be a friend.

Teri put forth a challenge to me to try sewing the finished edge of the binding she applied by machine. I have never done this before. I usually sew that last bit by hand. Elizabeth (a member of my retreat group) did this and I liked the ‘Done!’ factor! I mean, that is quick! Do you think I should take her up on it? Let me know in the comments.

Love and Happiness, filling the well.

DSC_0084My creative efforts are paying off in more than just the physical manifestation of cloth piling up and asking to be pieced. Making stuff calms and centers me. It helps me to remain true to myself, and it gives back in numerous and often, immeasurable ways.

Having been diagnosed with cancer, going to doctors appointments, settling into life post-treatment is an interesting endeavor. When I was going through treatment, I used writing Dreaming from the Journal Page as a focus to keep me steady, grounded and open to Melanie as a whole, healthy, well rounded individual. Cancer and its treatment can be all consuming, and I imagine that without a grounding force, it could be quite easy to give yourself over to your diagnosis and start identifying as a patient and survivor. I knew from the start that focusing on myself, my whole self, commiting time and energy to making artwork for the book and to writing it, was going to help me get through the difficult bits and help prevent identifying too closely with being a patient.

I will always be a ‘survivor’, but I find this sort of label to to be just a single facet of a broad and sparkling life. I am also a wife, an artist, cat mom, a woman, a friend, a human being. Life can be overwhelming. The trauma of treatment, worry over recurrence can be debilitating or even just plain distracting. When we say things like, ‘art saves lives’, I can honestly say, yes, this is true. In the last 8 months, I have been actively applying art to my daily regimen of getting used to being flat chested, taking Tamoxifen, getting Zoladex shots, healing my body, mind and spirit.

Printing cloth, steaming and ironing it, sorting through it and seeing the results of my efforts is a serious dose of Self Love. 

IMG_2513Loving what you do and refilling the well of the self is truly important and can do as much good for the body as going to museums. Last week, I went to  The Morgan Library and Museum with my friend Kailey (see photo below) and I did this as a celebration of my birthday.

What you see here is the imprint of an ancient seal. Seeing the minute detail in these seals and knowing a human, at one time, held, carved and used these little pieces of magic is amazing. What you see here is the seal itself, not the carved cylinder that creates the impression (that can been seen as a tiny bit of red at far left, but I did not capture it in photograph).

While I was at that museum I also saw the illuminated manuscript show (photographs were not allowed). I love illuminated manuscripts and this collection was amazing. I like to ingest illuminated manuscripts as if watching a movie, I want to see every detail, I like to think about the monks who painted and wrote out the pages, I wonder at the symbols, the scrolls, wonder who held and used the book. This time I was able to see an illuminated manuscript owned by Pope Leo X, and there, tucked into the scroll work on the outer left edge was a unicorn…

Sigh.

That book was almost 500 years old… maybe even older.

I am a mere 44 years old. 🙂
IMG_2515Wait a minute now.

Who is this gorgeous girl? Why, it’s Kailey, a woman who photographs things with real film. Huh? I love this young woman. I can say she has interned for me, but better still, I can say we are forging the bond of a friendship that will last a lifetime. Friendships heal us too and finding people you bond with is a gift beyond measure.

Kailey reached out to me as she was finishing high school and forging a path for college and beyond. She had a final project that required she reach out to people in an area of interest to her hoped for, eventual profession. I was one of those people. You might say I mentor Kailey, And I do, but there is so much more to our friendship.

Again, this is a relationship that fills my well.

IMG_2524And in order to fully celebrate my birthday I needed some girl time! Cricket and her girls, Elliot and Alex, came over and I took this as an opportunity to get the girls sewing and quilting. You can’t start too early! (I must say, Cricket has a jump start here and her girls see her knitting, quilting and making stuff often). Afterward we went to Farmacy and had ice cream! Vanilla with caramel sauce… Yum.

IMG_2526I guess the real point of this post is to say, I am writing a perscription to broaden and expand what fills  my well. I love hanging out with friends, going to museums, walking, lifting weights, making things, hanging out with my man and loving on a certain Peach colored being. These things help heal the rift caused by the traumas of cancer treatment and they help me leave the trauma behind.

One would think that after almost two years, I would have this aspect of my life wrapped up and tucked away, right? In my experience of cancer, the fight starts just after treatment ends. But we all know, even if we have never faced a diagnosis like cancer, that the only way out of a situation is through it. When we ‘stuff’ the effects of daily life, it only seeps back into our present through back channels.

I read an article in the New York Times called The Trauma of Being Alive, it’s quite a good one. It helped me. It suggests that you lean into your trauma. I like this term, I like the image of ‘leaning into’, it suggests being in control-being able to back away, but it seems gentle. I would push it a bit further though and say, ‘Lean into the trauma’ but also look to your passions and invest in yourself through them. 

So what do you do to fill your well? How do you regenerate, slough off  the ‘trauma of being alive’. Do you lean in, as the article suggests? When you are faced with difficult times, do you invest in yourself and your passions? Take naps, go for walks? Exercise? Bury your head in the sand? Drink some awesome beer?

How do you fill your well?

IMG_2540Maybe you lay on the rug and take salacious photographs of your furred friends!

Print, print, steam!

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Today is a day for steaming, soaking and washing finished work. I will print as I am doing this. I have the windows open, the high will be 77 degrees today and printing in warmth is a good thing.

What you see here is 4.5 yards of cloth (layered, three deep in newsprint). I love seeing my sample pile grow larger and larger.

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But honestly, it is time to start thinking about quilt block patterns and how to use the cloth I am printing. Last week I went to The City Quilter with Teri Lucas. I leafed through books and magazines and I realize, I am out of the loop. I have not quilted in quite some time and I feel like I need a refresher course in quilt blocks, settings, styles.

My fabric bits are small, measuring about 9×10″. I want to feature the prints but also want to use every inch of cloth. I have not yet decided on a block, and do not know if I will even try to create a specific block. I love the look of lots of white or light colored fabric alongside bright and cheerful prints, I like darks with bright cheerful prints. I also love busy prints side by side. I just don’t know! 

When Teri and I were hanging out, I threw several of my least favorite prints her way. This week she has been my ‘Tricky Quilt Fairie’ and has been making the cloth into a 9 patch blocks and setting them on point (she has been updating her facebook page with pictures). I love seeing the cloth in this way and it is helping me to get to the cut and sew stage. 

Hey! Help a girl out! If you know a quilt block or quilt that you think would show of my printed cloth well, please comment and leave a link! Pretty please?

 

QSDS

This last weekend I took a trip out to Columbus, Ohio to teach at QSDS, and boy was it a great experience. I worked with women who were focused, ready to learn, open to new information, and each and every one of them made really good cloth. I found companionship in Denise and Susan, who are pictured in the video above. We ate meals together, took a walk, talked and bonded, one of my favorite parts about teaching. Christina and Tracy and I bonded over Becky’s bead table (The owner of St. Theresa’s Textile Trove, and a fellow teacher). We laughed so hard! I fell in love with all of them. I met so many new and great people. Like Diane Muse, who prints the logo’d tshirts for QSDS, I now own two and also bought a printed kitchen towel. I met up with other teachers like Elin Nobel and Rosalie Dace. I met  Bob Adams for the first time, a great man (I like his art a lot), who was traveling with his lovely wife. I feel blessed.

It was Ab Fab.

I enjoyed every minute of it and I am happy to be home too.

P.S. Don’t miss out, Lyric Kinard is giving away a copy of Dreaming from the Journal Page and I would like you to win it!

American Bittern, thought differently.

American Bittern 13

 A few years back Pat Gaignat taught the Journal Study Gals her Faux Screen Printing technique. I remember feeling overwhelmed and not quite knowing what to do with myself or how to use it. Then I went home and started thinking about it and the technique just bloomed and became something quite interesting and useable. I have been working steadily with The 20 series, and have for the most part, used Pat’s technique step by step. But then, I started wondering how else I might use and expand upon the idea. 

And Oh-My-Goodness, I think I have come up with something very interesting. The American Bittern image, above, can be printed using any of 13 different stamps, and I still have a stamp or two that I want to make for the set. I really look forward to trying the stamps out, and will have time later this week.

And the interesting thing about this is, I can use any of the 13, some of the 13, or all of them. It is as if I can build each  image separately of the last. The image here uses 7 stamps to complete the image, so I have 6 more stamps to add shadow here, a compositional element there. I have to say, this is quite interesting.

PeachWarm

 Peach is settling into apartment living quite well. She did go into heat last week, which was interesting. The vet says they spayed her but that it must have failed. I don’t want her to have to have surgery again, but she does need to be spayed. She will go to the vet tomorrow. 

 

Happy New

Welcome the new girl in town.

I have not blogged in about 3 weeks, if not more, and I apologize for it.

To be honest, I have been depressed and needed a break. The Newtown sadness affected me deeply, life has not been easy for a few months and it all came to the forefront and slowed me to a halt. Through all this, I have been applying myself creatively and even if nothing is lighting an intense fire, I am producing some great work over here.

In the meantime, David and I contacted an animal rescue group called Infinite Hope. Then we did some soul searching on what we might like in a feline friend. At first we thought kittens, exciting little fluffballs that we might be able to form and mold (think lap cat), but then we started to see all the adult cats who are harder to place because of their age, quirky health needs, missing body parts…

(Huh?)

Meet our new (as yet un-named friend). This little girl has had a full life and has done a great job of it so far. She was feral, got pregnant, had three kittens, managed to get all three kittens and herself trapped, adopted her babies out and then placed herself in her forever home. She got herself and her babies off the streets of New York City!

During her adventures she contracted ring worm which went undiagnosed. Her tail became so itchy, she chewed a portion of it off (missing parts, anyone? Some of the best of us are missing a few 😉 ). Her tail has healed, and is a great attribute! The rescue facility did two ring worm cultures to make sure there was no chance of a lingering illness and both came back negative. To have gone through so much and still has a great temperament? Wow.

I am so happy we went for a rescue cat and that she is so wonderful.

Round Up!

I participate in a pool program, offered by my hospital to help survivors recover. I love this program, I go once a week, I connect with other survivors in a predominantly physical but also, at times, emotional level (which works best for me, I can’t go deeply into the emotional side or breast cancer or its treatment, I would rather enter into a more physical connection with other survivors) and we stretch, play and laugh together. Teri, our instructor is well versed in Range of Motion issues and the exercises that will help with them.

I made sure to ‘represent’ for us Flatties, and I squealed when they mentioned me specifically. 

I would never have thought that an aspect of the cancer experience would madke me feel so passionate. I firmly believe the ability to ‘Go Flat’ is an issue of women’s rights. This is an issue of body autonomy, women must have complete control over the only thing we can control, our bodies. As a result, Going Flat must become normalized. Women who forgo reconstruction should not wear breast forms for any other reason than having a preference to do so.

When the beautiful, deminuitive 75 year old fella pool program attendee, looked at me and pinched her ‘bubby’, which is what she calls her breast form, telling me she hated wearing it for the last — years (more than 2 decades). I fell in love with her, and fell in love with being a feminist, again. Her daughter keeps telling her to put the breast form away. But she does not feel able to leave the breast form behind! 

She called me brave. A teacher. She looked at me in awe.

And I am brave, many women cannot imagine leaving home without their breast forms. Others very much want to leave them behind, but feel pressure to wear them for their jobs, and for the people in their lives who expect them to look a certain way. As more women like meMargaret  W. Smith and Jodi Jaecks put their bodies and their choices out there, normalization of this bodily form, this aspect of women’s lives, will occur. Society will  re-member the full array of shapes that an individual woman’s body can take in a lifetime. But no woman should feel compelled to wear forms because our society is misogynist and ignorant and has set up an expectation of what the female form should look like. Especially in light of breast cancer.

Breast Pockets are being made around the world!! I have put out a challenge for folks to make 1000 breast pockets to raise awareness for the women who choose not to reconstruct their bodies after breast cancer and to pave awareness for those who would like to put their forms aside entirely. October 22 is the deadline, you can make pockets in whatever way you choose, paper, cloth, mixed media. You can use this pattern, if you feel the need. If I have not answered your email (they are piling up) on where to send them, please be a greasy wheel!  😎

The above pocket was made by my good friend Elliot (who will be turning 9 on October 31) and can be seen here with her sister Alex, snuffling

Alex (who is 5 years old) and Cricket (we will leave her age up for debate!) also made some pockets. I have heard from folks as far ranging as Hong Kong, Australia, Finland, Canada and here in the U.S.  I really hope to get 1000 pockets made in a very short period of time. Will you please help?

To update you on my knitting world, my Boardwalk is coming along just fine! I need to knit about 5″ of stockinette stitch before the neck detail will start. I love the Malabrigo yarn I am using. The color stacks up beautifully. I am hoping this pattern will become a favorite, one that I can knit again and again.

And one last thing.

My mother has begun a new venture, a store featuring ‘Coastal Inspired Items for You and Your Home’ (I love this summation) called The Captain’s Chest. I am so very proud of her for doing this and would love for you to click over and see what she has in stock, perhaps you’ll see something you cannot live without! My mother is passionate about coastal living, entertaining, food and family and she does a beautiful job combining all of these into this new endeavor. Please check it out.

A wondrous day.

Ah.

I feel a confessional coming on. 

I feel like I am just about landing in my body and settling into my life right now. The cancer treatments are behind me. I go for my monthly check ups I am getting to know the nurses, it is becoming normal. I am moving into regular old life. I am slower than I used to be, I can’t seem to keep up with my email or blog. Sitting in front of ‘The Computer’ almost feels toxic, I am in the mood to make! 

I bought some yarn and I am going to be knitting this (ravelry link), in this. We are taking a short vacation soon, and I am preparing for the creative time I will have! Sew-plie purse, check, knitting project, check! Some hand sewing too, but I have the goal of finishing the sweater during this time.

I am taking a creative break and challenging myself to try out new ideas. I am dreaming up projects and scenarios, like sewing with thread on buckram out in the wild, Sew-plies purses, walks, exercise. Tomorrow,  my Man and I plan to walk to the Promenade, while there is a chill in the air, then off the Matt Umanov for music supplies… I love to encourage David in musical purchases! Maybe we will go out for lunch.

I want a new power strip with the rocker switch in a particular orientation.

Tonights’ dinner, homemade eggplant sauce oover pasta. Fresh, good, yum.


I am hoping you might get a chuckle at seeing this, Elliot and Alex are snuffling my ears while we wait for a scoop of ice cream at Farmacy

It is magical.

This weekend we went to our friend Clark’s house for a picnic. Clark lives in a home that has been in his family for 110 years. The house was 60 to 70 years old when they bought it. It is an amazing house. There is a creamery, they used to sell milk. A barn, several acres of land, farming machines-rusted and dilapidated, two swings, trees and lots of shade. It was a fabulous weekend. We relaxed, we ate, we chatted. I sewed.

This sew-plies purse is coming to a stage of completion, but because it explores ideas of graffiti, it may just be waiting for the next step, I am not certain.

This purse is a big(ger) one. I should have perhaps measured it before I went ahead and sewed it shut. I don’t mind though. I even kind of like it, the one change I think I will make is shifting the snap placement. Do you see when it is closed that the right side of the purse has more cloth than the left?  Part of me likes this, part doesn’t. The part that likes it says, it is almost like the proud city boys who wear their baseball caps off to the side. The part that doesn’t like it? I do get off on symmetry sometimes! 

I have figured out a great way to make the scissor pocket. This week I am going to update and expand the Gather your Sew-plies pattern, I have begun working on it already.

This cane stand sits just inside the front door of Clark’s house. How tidy. What an amazing collection.

Clark has clothing from his great grandmother in his home. I snuck around and peeked into the closets and drawers. I found lace, beaded lace, a sewing kit (!!!), a velvet cape!

Look at that peplum. That had to be part of a bustle, I wish he had the skirt that went with this jacket. The cloth was probably cotton flannel, though it may have been a very light weight wool. I was sneaking around, so I didn’t linger to find out! Clark didn’t mind. But I was still sneaking!

Look at those beautiful buttonholes.

Facebook, Friends and the World Made Smaller

So, I posted to facebook my pure joy at finding a Japanese Pattern Book and wanting to sew from it. Cricket piped up that Masako might be able to help me interpret the pattern book! Um, excitement. Masako speaks and I presume writes in Japanese. I have lots of questions and we have made a date! And just so you have it, and if you want to purchase it and sew…along…with me, here is the link to the pattern. You will also need the magazine, which gives full illustrations of how to approach sewing the garment together. You can just purchase the magazine, though. It has a full sized pattern tucked into the back (mashed up with all the other patterns in the magazine). You will just need to trace it off, add seam allowances and then start cutting.

To say that I have obsessive compulsive tendencies does not quite cover the scope of my ability to focus. It is more like I have an inner hound, a scent, a trail and I am doing my primordial job. Last night I began tracing the pattern off. I need to discern what seam allowances should go where, for instance, I think this blouse has a 1/4″ clean finished hem, but the illustration says 1.7 cm in one place (with a drawing of a turned hem) and a reference to 2.5 centimeters in another. So. Hmmm…

What I love about the illustrations are that if you know anything about clothing construction and pattern making you can figure out how to draft your own version of the pattern, the illustrations give that much detail. I sure wish the U.S. would make the switch to centimeters.

Today I will wash the cloth and finish tracing the pieces and adding seam allowances. I like having the ability to decide what my seam allowances should be. I think that American patterns generally cater to an odd mindset. I don’t understand using a 5/8th” seam just to fussily cut it down to a 1/4″. Shouldn’t you just learn to sew a 1/4″ seam? Beside which, when I was a sample cutter and learning to sew, the professionals used a 1/4″ seam in almost every instance, except for special instances, like sleeves, where a 1/2″ was used.

And because stretching is my part time job, and we mentioned OCD tendencies, I show you my stretch log and my helpful stretching sticks.

So, what do you say? Would you like to do a sew along with me? You don’t need to make this blouse, you can make any blouse you would like. Or  dress, or…??

If you would like to do this, I will create a Flickr group so we can share our photos in a single place. Leave a comment if you are interested.