Mission: Peeps

posted in: Day In The Life 0
I may be looking at the next quilt I want to make; I may be looking at cheesecake. Photo: Claus
These guys are a start. Photo: Claus

I’m on a mission. “Mission: Peeps.”

Here’s what my life is like: working, traveling, writing, sleeping, running errands, hanging out with Claus. Many of you will find that list is roughly your life, too, except for the Claus part — I hope. It’s a busy kind of life, but it’s important to not lose sight of what’s really important. Community. Relationships. Friendships.

I talk to friends and family in my life and write sincere emails, comment on posts, and send/receive funny texts and things. I have people I love and I assume these people love me at least a little bit or they wouldn’t send me .gifs of dogs getting blowouts. There are catch-up calls with long-distance friends from time to time, but those are often months apart. Even years apart in some cases.

The problem (and I hope this is not a problem for you) is that I don’t hang out with people much. When someone asks me to do this or that fun thing, I’m out of town. When I’m home for a spell and want to get together (in the past year or so I was never, ever home for a spell but that’s another story) other people are on vacation. Or they have a commitment, or they have a baby. So it’s all texts and emails and it’s better than nothing.

But then I need a friend and there’s no one there. “There” like on my couch “there.” One friend would be fantastic; I don’t even let myself dream of a whole crew coming over and hanging out just because. It used to be like that. In high school, in college, people just dropped by, and your whole world was your relatively tiny campus, so it was easier to have a close community. If you were going through something, sometimes you wished you could isolate and think for five minutes, but nope, there’s The Fons coming in in her leather jacket going, “Eeyyyyy!”

This has to change for me, this lack of real-life peeps in my life who I see on a regular basis.

When I come home from a teaching trip, I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing for a long time, now: flop, bake things, write things, work on the next thing. I have to call people. People who are in town, not six states away. There’s a once-a-month sewing group that my (fabulous, steadfast, now longtime) friend Heather hosts. I love going to sewing group and even if I’m bushed, I need to go to sewing group. And I have to connect with and follow through with new friends from sewing group. I need to make friend dates and keep them. I need more women in my life and I need them in my house, not just on my text message screen. If I can go to someone else’s house, great. Not only will new relationships form, hopefully, I enjoy seeing the inside of people’s homes.

The great news is that it’s already begun. In fact, I began Mission: Peeps almost two months ago. I’m happy to report it’s working. You just have to say yes to things. For me — an introvert who likes activities that are usually done on one’s own, e.g., writing, sewing, bathing — it’s a challenge to say yes. But I need people around me like anyone else and I’m not going to stay stuck in a place that on a really bad day, has an echo.

The Art of The Monkey.

posted in: Art 0
Pretty film stars of the black and white era love this stuff.
Pretty film stars of the black and white era love this stuff.

Clearly, I have recently learned how to make art with Pendennis’s head.


The Good News + The Very, Very Bad News.

posted in: Day In The Life, Quilting, Work 2
Look at that pretty background! Look at the girl trying to smile through great pain. Photo: Friend at Fabric World
Look at that pretty background! Look at the girl trying to smile through great pain. Photo: Friend at Fabric World

The good news is that Fabric World is selling through Small Wonders yardage at a right clip. The store is enormous and the World Piece line is right up at the front of the shop. There was a lot of Small Wonders yardage cut at Fabric World today, let me tell you, and I’m so glad. The fabric is getting a lot of love and I’m grateful for that — thank you! (Visit my Instagram page over the next few days as I add more photos of the fabric used in class, on display, etc.)

The bad news is that a box of my most precious quilts are lost in a sea of brown UPS boxes in Arizona. They never got here. I am a wreck.

I shipped on Monday, three-day guaranteed delivery. But the quilts did not arrive on Thursday night. They didn’t arrive at any hour on Friday, either. I shipped to a secure location with a front desk, staffed with people who could sign for the precious cargo. Nothing. So I made frantic calls. Did frantic tracking on my computer. There were hot tears and there was (still is) much lip chewing.

A “truck failure” in Nebraska occurred, apparently. UPS said they would deliver my heart, soul, teaching materials, and life’s work (!) by Monday. But I will not be here on Monday. I will be in Chicago. And my quilts, which are more or less lost now, will be lost for longer, with more miles between us. I’ll get them back. There are scannable things involved. But… My Churn Dash. My Dutch Summer quilt. Whisper. The cloth doll that my friend Kathy made me out of the Netherlands line. It’s very difficult to type this right now, actually. I need to stop or I might start choke-crying and flapping my hands again.

My mother had a box of quilts lost, once. I called her earlier for pointers.

Opening The Door, Part I.

posted in: Chicago 0
This, friends, is what you get when you put "flip-flop, footwear" into WikiCommons image search. Thankfully I did not find this person in my home when I opened the door.
This, friends, is what you get when you put “flip-flop, footwear” into WikiCommons image search. Thankfully I did not find this person in my home when I opened the door.

There’s much more I want to say about what I found when I entered my condo on Thursday for the first time in a year-and-a-half. For now, a list of things left behind by the tenants who lived in my condo while I was out of town:

1. One pair dusty flip-flops (women’s)
2. A nice collection of dishwashing detergents
3. Blowdryer (unisex)
4. IKEA comforter, sheets, pillowcases
5. A bunch of medical textbooks, including “The Human Brain Coloring Book” (it sounds a lot cooler than it turned out to be)
6. Guides of things to do in Chicago
7. Dust bunnies the size of flip-flops (men’s)
8. English toffee from Trader Joe’s (probably intentional, tasted fresh)
9. Small screwdriver (in bathroom)

and, among a few other things:

10. Good vibes

For the Quilters: A New Way to Stash

posted in: D.C., Quilting, Tips 2
It's like the olden days!
It’s like the olden days, all colorful and random and cozy. In process: “George Washington’s Cabin,” by Mary Fons, 2015.

If you’re not a quilter, you probably don’t have a stash.

Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and make a “Well, my husband has a mustache” joke. But watch it: if there are quilters in your midst, they may be inching toward you, tightening their grip on their sharp rotary cutters. A quilter’s fabric stash is, in the simplest terms, the fabric that she owns that is not in a quilt, yet. A quilter’s stash is her library, her paint palette, her big lake of color and texture from which she brings great ladles of the stuff to put into her patchwork.

As you can imagine, some stashes are bigger than others. Quilters who have been sewing since the early 1980s have… a lot of fabric. Those who are new might have just the seeds of a stash. Some folks hoard and some folks cull (ahem) but if you make quilts in any serious way — and you ought to — you have fabric somewhere. And that is your stash.

Did I mention I moved around a lot in 2014? I moved around a lot in 2014. A good two-thirds of my fabric stash is in storage in Chicago, but I have a whole lot with me, too, and that means I’ve transported all this fabric many times in the past nine months or so. And something cool happened in the shuffle: I changed my stash organization style and this has made all the difference.

I used to organize my stash by color. All the reds, all the greens, etc., all together. Now, this is a fantastic way to do things and as a quilter who typically starts with color inspiration and goes from there, I fully support this mode of stashing. But because all my fabric has been in and out of boxes all year, keeping it all color-coded has been hard. So what’s happened is that my tiny red prints are getting thrown in with my wide, black stripes, my yellow chambray is all up in my calicoes, my browns and pinks are sleeping with each other — it’s mass hysteria. And it’s fabulous.

I’m seeing new combinations. I’m considering new styles. Fabrics I might never have put together before (e.g., pink, burgundy, navy) become, suddenly, very necessary combos.

So there you go. Mix ‘er up. Don’t be too regimented. A tidy stash and studio are essentials and I’ll keep preaching that gospel till I’m dead, but don’t be too strict with your materials. As I say in my book:

“Quilts are like dogs; the best ones are usually mixed breeds.”