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I have completed my first two months of my daily journal practice! In my first post sharing my intention for 2015, I was unsure of how much I wanted to share here. I’ve decided I want to try sharing a few photos every couple months, showcasing themes or ideas that particularly shine for me. Let me disclose there were days with just words or scribbles, but these are just as important as the entries I want to show today. I found that with no judgement, as long as I came back each day, entries became easier and easier, ideas flowed from one day to the next. Sometimes, it was the days when I had no idea what I was going to journal that were the most creative of all.

IMG_9172I have recently been infatuated with the flying geese pattern, as some of my recent projects show. Flying geese became a major theme of my first two months. I enjoyed the zentangle like quality of drawing triangles and playing with color combinations. These are very peaceful and meditative to draw.

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Occasionally, I’d also get an idea for more of an art quilt idea. On these days I’d use words and rough sketches to put down what I was imagining in my head. In the past, I’d have these ideas, and since I wasn’t journaling, they would just drift away into my subconscious. Now, that I’ve captured them down in a rough form, they feel more real and tangible. It is like my brain doesn’t need to work to keep the idea, I’ve released it into the world, and it is there waiting for me should I want to make it into a quilt. I can foresee that this journal will become a place of inspiration, to look back through past entries, and pull out an idea to make into a quilt. I get the sense I can hold a lot more quilt ideas in my head, now that I am letting them go instead of keeping them in.

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When Play Crafts announced their 2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge using Marsala, I enjoyed spending several days sketching possible quilts to make using marsala. This was also the first time a design I sketched got me excited enough to where I took time to calculate size and dimensions and how I would turn it into a quilt. The process resurrected a lot of high school geometry I haven’t used in years. Maybe you will see it as a quilt in the future!

IMG_9156Most recently, I wanted to make a baby quilt for a friend, and spent one of my daily entries sketching out what the quilt might look like, as I had fabrics already purchased.  I am fairly humming with excitement at making my first design into a quilt that is all my own!

IMG_9162Recently, one of the quilt blogs I follow, Quilting Jetgirl, posted her notes on lectures attended at QuiltCon. In one, she quotes the lecturer as saying, “Alissa’s advice to those of us considering how we can find our voice was not to analyze what else is out there or how we’re different, it’s simply to do what we do, again and again, and eventually our unique voice will emerge.” This spoke to me in reflection of my daily journal practice. My intent to start on this new experiment was that I’ve traditionally followed patterns and copied other ideas, and wanted to find my own voice. Her advice echos my experience in these first two months, that day by day, going to my journal and doing what I want again and again, eventually my voice will emerge. We’ll see!

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This year I totally splurged and subscribed to the Alabama Channin Swatch of the Month club. From the moment I first found an Alabama Chanin book at the book store, I’ve been intrigued by their patterns and stitching, and am excited to stitch along this year. They focus on hand stitching, which I love to do!

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When ordering, I could pick from five different colorways: Reds, Blues, Neutrals, White/Natural, and Navy/Black. My first inclination was to choose blue (of course!), but I’ve been sewing on my Ocean Waves quilt for the last few years, and I’m kind of over blue. So I thought red would be a fun way to mix things up. It is probably my least favorite color, and I thought it would be good to spend some time with it. Plus, they match the most gorgeous ruby and maroon colors with the more traditional red. After receiving my first swatch of the month, thread, and beads, I’m so glad I chose red!

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As you might have picked up on following my posts, I love hand sewing. I think this monthly swatch club will be a great way to practice and expand my skills. I don’t typically use beads or do much embellishment besides the simple quilting stitches, so I hope to broaden my appreciation for and ability to use beads. I’m going to try to use beads in every swatch.

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The typical Alabama Chanin style is to take cotton jersey, and stencil one layer with a pattern, and overlay it over another piece of cotton jersey. The two layers are then stitched together with a heavy duty thread called button thread. Then fabric is cut away to reveal the fabric beneath. This allows for complex patterns to emerge between the colors, the layers, the stitching, and the embellishment. The possibilities are endless!

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I chose to do reverse applique, sewing around the stencil with a simple running stitch, then cutting out the circle revealing the color beneath. I then chose to use beads to create another circle around the circle.

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As a quilter I typically use quilting cotton, regular thread and a small needle. It was such a pleasure in sewing my first swatch to feel the different materials: the stretchy softness of the cotton jersey, the thick sturdiness of the button thread, and the shiny sparkle of the glass beads.

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Last year, when I was on the fence about whether to purchase the 2014 swatch club, I chatted a bit with my crafter friend Vickie, who has sewn a few clothing items from Alabama Chanin. She brought up a great point that it is good to prioritize where you want to go, and to spend money on projects that help you go in that direction. Additionally, we have so few opportunities when we live so rural, that these types of online or mail learning options are good to take advantage of. These ideas have been mulling around in my head for the last year, so when the swatch club continued in 2015, I knew it was a direction I wanted to go!

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I can’t wait to get started on February’s swatch! What to make with the blocks at the end of the year? Alabama Chanin suggests putting them in a binder to create a kind of reference library, or sew them together to make a small lap quilt. Already, I’d like to try my hand at making a shirt or skirt!

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In the new year, I had a few days off and realized I was low on fabric color options, So I  decided to start the new year with a dye session. I pulled out my entire stash of dyed fabrics to see what I have, and what colors I wanted to dye.

IMG_9056I had plenty of red, purple, green and yellow. Low on blue and brown. I read once in a quilting book, that a quilter’s stash will often tell you what kind of colors they don’t like to use. In that case, I love to quilt with blue and brown!

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So my first dye batch was a run of 7 colors, mixed in three values, to make neutrals. I was hoping for more browns, but the mix actually came out more diverse. As I was mixing and dyeing I was bummed because it wasn’t what I had hoped for, but after drying and ironing, I love the spread!

IMG_9099When I see them all jumbled together, I think of a cottage garden, with roses and hollyhocks and herbs. What do you see in these colors?

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As I’ve said before, I am strongly drawn to neutrals, and already this bunch has me imagining and thinking about many different projects to use them in!

IMG_9110I also dyed a nine-step colorway from blue to green.

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My first project with the new fabrics was to make a new set of coasters. I chose one of my ice-dyed fabrics as the backing, and picked six individual colors for the front of the coasters.

IMG_9132I wanted to try making a round coaster, so found a lid in the kitchen that was roughly the size I wanted. I cut a circle from the backing, from the front, and from batting.

IMG_9134I sewed all three layers together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2″ gap to turn inside out. I then ironed flat, and stitched around the edge to close all three layers together. And then this is where it got fun!

IMG_9143At our last meeting, we starting talking about zentangles and quilting, and I hadn’t used my darning foot on my new sewing machine much, so I decided I wanted to play around with free motion quilting! I sketched a few designs first, seeing how they would look in a circle, which also helps me practice the non-stop movement with the pen first before stitching.

IMG_9137Because the coasters are relatively small, the pattern caused the thread to be quite dense in some areas, which really created a new color and pattern of its own.

IMG_9140One of the best pieces of advise I read that helped me become more confident with free motion quilting, is from Leah Day, who teaches and uses travel stitching a lot. It opens up the doors to so many possibilities!

IMG_9141I think these little projects are a great way for me to find designs I love, to then use on bigger quilts. I could make coasters all the time!

IMG_9142Which stitching pattern is your favorite?

 

At our January Out of the Box meeting, we brought our blocks for the Mono Basin Historical Society quilt.

IMG_9074A few ladies (like myself!) weren’t finished or hadn’t started yet, but it was still fun to see the blocks that were done!

IMG_9075There are lots of wonderful details on each block. I can’t wait to see them all put together!

PicMonkey CollageAs my block was one of the ones that was not done yet, the meeting was great motivation to get my act together and finish it!

IMG_9084These past days I’ve been stitching and stitching, and last night the block was completed. Here are a few close-ups of my block.

PicMonkey Collage 2There are two details that really tickle my fancy. The museum sign, which my friend Heather helped me make, with her rad graphic design skills and fabric printing supplies. Of particular joy to me is the tree – that just sparkles with embroidery. I love the bright colors of the fall leaves, and the texture my stitching made. I feel really drawn to using hand stitching and incorporating embellishments right now, so I ran wild with the tree (and the little gold bell too).

PicMonkey Collage 3So now the block is off to Barbara, president of our guild. She is going to sew all the blocks together, using a black binding/strip between each. Since each block is already quilted, she is going to do a minimum of quilting, we talked about using black thread and stitching in the black outlines around major themes, just enough to stabilize and hold it all together.

IMG_9097But before I handed off my block … I took a drive north to visit the museum school house in person. It is closed right now so I wasn’t able to go in, but it was fun to see the building that I feel like I know so well now!

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Once the quilt is complete, I’ll post more pictures!

Giving the gift of tea

I’m excited to finally share these photos with you, now that all the gifts have been given! I had the most enjoyable time making these little tea wallets.1

I found this on Pinterest (of course!), the tutorial is here.

3It is a simple construction of four rectangles, two folded in half to make the pockets, stitched together, with a small elastic piece to loop it closed around a button. The only thing I changed from the tutorial was I didn’t use interfacing.

4It was such a joy to sort through my fabric stash, picking out different fabrics to make each one.

5And also a joy to sort through my buttons, picking out the perfect one for each.

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Sometimes I fussy cut to get a particular pattern to show. So cute!

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They were a breeze to whip up. I stuffed each with a variety of different teas, and distributed to friends over the holidays.

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“Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” – Peter Pan

Intentions for 2015

I’ve spent the last month pondering the new year and thinking about potential resolutions. In the past I’ve selected a project or activity to accomplish. While I still have lots of those I want to complete (see below!), I was feeling like I wanted to select a different kind of resolution this year.

I wanted something that would help me grow my skills and be creative every day.

The every day part is important. It creates a habit of doing every day. Each day, what you do gets a little easier.

Also, recently I stumbled across the quilt design a day project. Each day, you take inspiration from a photo and color palette to create a quilt design using your graphic design program of choice. I was immediately intrigued as I enjoy graphic design and love color! But after a couple of evenings of playing along, I realized I liked the creative inspiration it provided, but didn’t enjoy spending more time on the computer after having been there all day at work.

What I liked about the project is the daily practice of encouraging me to take inspiration from the world around me and turn it into a quilt design. Which led me to realize I don’t really design that many of my own quilt patterns. I follow patterns from books and online tutorials much of the time. Which then led me to realizing I want to design more of my own patterns, and encourage the creativity needed to do that.

Which led me to my new year’s intention:

Journal Every Day

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I like intention because resolution implies I need to resolve something, but what I really want to do is start a new habit and way of thinking. I also like intention because it gives me a little flexibility, if I miss a day, that is okay!

My intention is to write, draw, or doodle every day, a pattern or sketch or thoughts or feelings. I want to keep it as open as possible, so that the action of picking up the journal every day is the most important part. If I don’t have an idea that day, maybe I could do a zentangle or copy down a favorite poem, that eventually could turn into an idea, or not. I want to make the journal a place for undefined ideas, so I don’t need to feel the idea is completely thought through, and just put it down, not knowing what might emerge.

I went to our local art supply store, and purchased a small journal (easy to travel!), quality pens (so much nicer to write with), and a pack of color pens (always need color!).

Already, I’ve seen random thoughts turn into ideas. The first day I had writer’s block, it being the first day and all with a whole blank journal. So I thought about what was foremost on my mind, and thought to myself, this is what I’m thinking about so I should journal about it. I have been pondering and thinking and looking and reading about the design to make as my border for my Ocean Waves quilt. So I wrote out my ideas and sketched the pattern. The next day I continued doodling the pattern, then filling in with colors, and then the next day I thought about how I would sew such a pattern together and kabam! I made up a quilt pattern! So.much.fun!

I haven’t decided how much of the journal I’ll share here. On the one hand, new year’s resolutions work well when you have to report or involve others in them, keeps the motivation fresh. On the other hand, I don’t want pressure to make it look nice, or be thinking about an audience as I doodle and write. It needs to be an open place to explore. What do you think? Should I share or keep to myself?  Maybe once a month, I could pick a post or idea that at the end of the month stands out, and share that!

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My Projects for 2015

1. Ocean Waves

I’ve said it before, but this year I mean it, my goal to is to complete my Ocean Waves quilt by our county fair in September. I think it is possible, all I have left are the black borders of quilting, and then the binding!

2. Alabama Channin swatch of the month

I subscribed to the 2015 Alabama Chanin Swatch of the Month club. I’ve been intrigued by their patterns and stitching, and am excited to stitch along this year. I want to learn new techniques and expand my skills in beading, embroidery, and embellishment.

3. Out of the Box quilts

I want to continue to make time for and quilt with our Out of the Box group. We’ve started a stain glass quilt and hope to do another project this year as well.

4. Equilateral Triangles

I think it was my friend Penny, when I was wondering how big I wanted to make my equilateral triangle quilt, said you’ll know when it needs to be done. While I can continue to add and add triangles, I think it is time for it to be done. I have a few more to add around the edges to make a square, and then quilt and bind it. It will be a nice lap quilt.

5. Sierra Oak Threadworks

And of course there is my etsy shop to open. I need to take a few pictures of quilts and dyed fabric, write descriptions, and go live!

Reflecting on 2014

I love reading the end-of-year reflection posts around the blog world. It seems to be quite a tradition for quilt bloggers. I know I’ve been reflecting since I started my blog in 2010. You can read the posts here, here, here, and here.

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I’ve even seen some people complain about the flood of end-of-year mosaic blog posts, where quilters take their pictures of objects made and put them together in a mosaic, but I enjoy it. I look forward to making mine and seeing others. It is a powerful feeling to take a moment to look and back and say, wow, look at all that I made and accomplished in the past year. I made baby quilts for friends, quilts as gifts for weddings, I made myself special things to have around the house. Look at what I made!

mountain quiltIt’s also a moment to stop and see what I’ve accomplished. This year was dominated by working with our Out of the Box group, on our mountain quilt project. Many of you probably followed along. I grew new skills and stretched my abilities and formed lasting relationships with the ladies in the group. I am excited to go to Road to California and see it hanging in the show later this month!

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I also like to look back and see the new skills I learned. This year I dove into learning how to dye yarn with acid dyes. It was a fun way to extend my love of being crafty with friends, having several weekend dye parties. And it lends a new meaning to saying, I knit this and dyed the wool too!

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Then, there is taking time to see if goals from the previous year were met. I had set the hope to have my Ocean Waves done in time for our county fair in September … Oops! Didn’t make it! But I did make ENORMOUS progress. Last year saw me putting the final stitches in the small triangles and black squares. This means the entire center piece is quilted! Now all I have to complete is the black border around the edges. I already have plans for that … and am confident it will get done quickly (right?!).

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Whew. Thank you 2014 for being a color-filled crafty year. What will 2015 bring? What do I hope to accomplish and learn? What do you hope to do in 2015?

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