Wednesday 3 May 2023

Workshops & Lectures

I joined the North California Quilt Council today aka NCQC. They have a regular teachers parade where new and longtime teachers get to show off their offerings to guilds and groups looking to book people for lectures and workshops. I've started building and so my offerings are on there. Which is where this blog needs to go too! I'll be sad to leave blogger but I'm going to slurp a load of this content over there so it won't be lost. 

This will be the blog link in future: 

Monday 1 May 2023

A Time to Tear and a Time to Mend

I am not a religious person but I do find some of their texts highly quotable. For instance, the Bible's Ecclesiastes 3:

I have not had the best few years. In my last post I'd just ended my marriage and at some point I'll talk about my divorce quilt aka "Fifty Five Thousand Dollars". Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer out of the blue during lockdown. Then I got burnt out at work, had a disastrous breakup and started dealing with a childhood trauma, while navigating mass layoffs and reorganizations at work. That was a tough month. Then things got really bad. November to March were dark days, punctuated by suicidal thoughts, lakes of tears, complete loss of direction and a lot of alone time. March saw me start Ketamine assisted therapy (KAT, and all perfectly legal here in California) and that, on top of the years of therapy and hard work I've put in, seems to have helped. I've realized a few things. 

1. Fuck those men who used and abused me at various points in my life. 

2. Time for a fresh start. 

3. This is going to be challenging. 

I'm currently researching different business ideas but after years of telling myself 

"You can't make a living from being creative" 

(despite the zillions of people I see doing just that), and the last year of hearing a little voice say 

"Please don't decide to try and make it as a creative because that is going to be SO hard" ...

I've made the decision. I'm going to try and make it as a creative person. It is going to be hard. Really, really hard. But then I've always loved this quote. 

Image shows the quotation "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F. Kennedy

He went on to add "...because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...". I've challenged myself to make a go of it between now and the end of July. Watch this space for details!

Sunday 21 June 2020

It could all have been so beautiful

Let's start with a recap of where things currently stand. I’m still in San Francisco. Pooch and I are no longer together as of April, although at this moment we are still living together. I have an awesome one eyed cat called Charlotte.

I work for Shopify. I’m still quilting, sewing, knitting, creating and generally making things that look different to how they did before I got involved with the base materials.

After a period of having completely lost my mojo creatively, I’m generally expressing myself artistically in whatever way I feel like in the moment. I suspect it is displacement activity since one thing that hasn't improved since I started this blog is my ability to express and feel my feels. In fact I'd say that it's got a lot worse. The six years I've spent here living with Pooch have not been easy, and the last year in particular had been especially hard. I'm no angel, but when I let my eye drift back over the vista of those years I can see that I've been manipulated and used. Of course, I brought some of it on myself by marrying him again after the first divorce. The fact that I don't feel particularly angry or upset about this split is what I'm currently working on with my therapist, and what I'm trying to express creatively. I was thinking about this earlier and the phrase I've used as the title of this entry is what kept going around in my head.

I signed up for Joe Cunningham's quilt classes when he moved online, and one thing he said in the first class has really stuck with me.
"If I want to communicate with you I'll give you a call. My Art is what I want to express."
So not only am I trying to express myself by feeling my own emotions, but also by expressing myself in a more abstract form.

The class was about interpreting a classic block (in this case an unnamed one of HST flowers in a vase) using Joe's techniques. This is what I ended up with.
I quilted it as if the "vase" had been shot and was in the act of shattering into shards. I don't like it but I am really pleased with it and have had it hanging up in the bedroom ever since. I finished, quilted, faced and labelled it all in one weekend which was extremely satisfying. His next class is in a few weeks and is about his use of bias tape which promises to be intriguing.

I've been knitting scrappy socks as a mindless exercise to keep my hands occupied. I'm onto my fourth pair, having not knitted any for a few years, and they are starting to pall. I did break out and make this yesterday, using two pieces of english paper piecing I'd had in a drawer for years. 

1" and 1/3" hexagons. I inset the smaller ones using the 6 minute circle method which is amazingly effective, although definitely not 6 minutes for me. This is the May block for the SF Quilters Guild "lone robin" since with Covid we're not able to meet and exchange blocks. The prompt was to use a circle. The June prompt is to add flying geese although my first attempt was aborted this morning. I have a back up plan but the first looked too crazy even for me. I do like this start, using up orphan blocks and elements left over from old experiments or projects. The Guild's online meetings are currently free and July will be a trunk show of rare and historic quilts on July 21st. More details are online.

The next step in the dissolution of my marriage is to find a new place to live. I have one option with an awesome friend but there would be a clash of cats. I'd love to find a 1 bedroom apartment of my own and am open to anywhere in the SF/Oakland/Berkeley area as long as it's got some sort of public transport. My dream, and what could have been so beautiful, was to have a little house with a garden. I thought we were there last Autumn until I got played on that too. That was really the end of the beginning of the end and made it a definite thing. So for now I'd settle for a tree just outside so Charlotte can watch the birds from the windowsill.

Friday 10 August 2018

Floating Confetti Quilt Pattern

My first published quilt pattern! Free on Craftsy.

Floating Confetti Quilt Pattern

This is perfect for someone who wants to try something a bit different  to basic blocks. You assemble the fans or plates and then applique them onto the background. The finished quilt is approx 36"x44".

I used the V&Co Ombre Confetti Metallic range which I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. The confetti dots made me think of bubbles, champagne, lemonade, blowing on dandelion seeds and summer. The full range is discussed here. It can be bought from a variety of retailers. I purchased mine from SoJo Fabric (⅛ yd cuts) and The Heart & Home Co (backing), both on Etsy, but buy local and support your local stores where you can. For the petals I used Magenta, Plum, Aubergine, Indigo, Turquoise, Lagoon, Lime, Honey, Coral, and Persimmon. The centers were Sand and Mustard. The background is Popsicle Pink. My backing and binding is Kona Cotton in Honeydew. I was originally going to use the Honeydew as my background but it looked all wrong and I am very glad I changed it for the ombre pink!

Let me know what you think...

Thursday 26 July 2018

SF Quilters Guild Show Challenge 2019

This has so far only been announced within the Guild, but the topic for the Challenge Quilts for the 2019 Show is to be "San Francisco". As soon as I heard this I had an idea.

When I was in Tokyo I used to love the manhole covers.

Fireman Drainhole Cover

I collected them in a little album on Flickr.


I only collected 15 but there are albums of many more than that. So when I came to SF I kept an eye out. There weren't many interesting ones but I started seeing this one in a few places.

sf manhole cover

When I heard of the challenge, and with Mel Beach's Magnificant Mandala Class so recent in my memory, you can understand my thinking. This is what I made in Mel's class.

Magnificent Mandala from a Mel beach class

My first thought was to make a mandala based on the manhole cover. But then I thought about how well it would lend itself to EPP (english paper piecing). Hexagons are my absolute favourite shape generally as well as in EPP. And I feel more comfortable madala'ing with curves rather than straight edges. But...the challenge quilt isn't due until at least February so I'll have to see what my mind tends towards in the meantime.

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Quilt Like An Artist

Have you read the book Steal Like an Artist? (That image is an affiliate link to amazon.)

I've had it on my amazon wishlist forever but finally got a copy from the Library (SF Libraries are brilliant). I decided to buy a copy because I know I am going to want to refer back to it a lot.

I have been spending months contemplating the infinite and what to do with quilting. The question that kept going around in my head was "What is my style?" and the answer seemed to be "You do not have one." I have a bucket list of quilt styles I want to try. Actually this is it:

Quilt bucket list in wunderlist

I use an app called Wunderlist which lets you make multiple lists and add info and whatnot. As a list addict I've tried a ton of them and this is my favourite. But I digress. What I kept thinking was, if I keep fannying about and trying out different types of quilts, then that must mean I haven't found my personal style yet. Because if I had I'd be like Bonnie Hunter or Joe Cunningham and you'd see a quilt and say "I bet that is a Joe Cunningham quilt". But then actually if you click on their names (non affiliate link to a google images search) their work is pretty diverse. It took me months of solid thinking to get to that point. Then I got hold of Steal Like An Artist.

This is not a long book. Text is big and pages are small and there are lots of illustrations. Chapter 2, or possibly the second rule, is called "Don't wait until you know who you are to get started". Genius. He then goes on later to talk about how bad Jurassic Park 2 was. We're talking about the sequel to the one with Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough in, not the reboot. He loved the first one so much he wrote his own sequel and then when the actual sequel came out it was nowhere near as good. This leads to a suggestion that you make your hero's next piece of art. Write "The is America" part 2, paint another Pollock, sew the next Cuningham. Oh ho, I think, I did a class with Mr Cunningham in 1901 and still have the unfinished top in my drawers, so to speak.

Here it is. WWJCD? He'd add bias tape, obviously, so I auditioned mine (bottom of pic).


The winners were painstakingly wetted and ironed into circles using a high tech template (baking parchment with circles drawn on it). 


I went totally nuts and used my twin needle for the first time in my life and after having got one with each of the three sewing machines that preceded this one. It still seemed to be lacking something so I decided to embroider it. A small self portrait, bottom left, I thought, based on the photo Roc just took of me (in my previous post). More auditioning of thread. I decided on the clothesline, obvs, which is a bit too thick to embroider with SO... 


Possibly a pro wouldn't have used quite as much glue to get the fecking stuff to stay still but I am only pretending to be a pro so it's fine. And now for the quilting. I decided to KISS and went with straightish lines. Naturally I ran out of the first bobbin 2 rows before the end.


The finishedish quilt.


The small portrait, bottom left, grew somewhat. I am also slightly worried that it is TOO derivative, especially thinking of Joe's portrait of Luke Haines. But I figure the next one will be less so. Naturally I will trim and bind it soon. Soonish.

The one thing I always hear from quilters is that the way to develop is to work in a series. So it will come as no surprise to hear that I have already cut out and sewn the base of the next one! I did fairly amaze myself since in the past it has taken me years to cut out and sew a quilt. In this case it took about 5 hours. It just goes to show the power of motivation.

Monday 23 July 2018

Teaching in San Francisco

Quilty byrne 400pix

Not only do I have a new 'teacher' photo...

...I also have new workshop outlines to put it on. I am the newest teacher to join the Sips N Sews crew which I am very happy about. I also have another workshop coming up at SCRAP which they tell me will go live this week. AND I am teaching for the SF Quilters Guild in a couple of weeks.

Here is the list of what I'm currently offering:

  • Quilt as You Go...Everything!
The project is a cushion cover but I've taught this using hand sewing only at SCRAP and we did pin cushions. Photos show samples.

  • Sew Together Bag
Making the whole thing from start to finish! Pattern included. 
Patchwork Sew Together Bag Patchwork Sew Together Bag

  • Rope Bowls and Dishes
I just made my first one with pompoms and ricrac. Hello silly bowls! But easy to make them classically lovely too. 
Fabric Wrapped Bowl and Coaster

  • Weaving with Fabric and Ribbon
We'll be starting with the 'usual' square weave then trying triaxial or 'mad' weaving. Rainbows are optional.

Rainbow Ribbon Metal Frame Purse

triaxial weaving rainbow