Tag Archives: creative endeavor

The Quilt Book Challenge: Gauntlets Up!

Starting here. Ending where?

When I turned 60 a couple of years ago, I discovered something new about myself. I like creative challenges.

That year, it was publishing every day through a blog I set up just for that exercise.

This year (I always start these things on my birthday which is in a couple of days), it’s to push my creative boundaries in fabric and on paper. (Not writing this time but drawing and collage, etc.)

Being a Taurus, child of the bull and elemental earthling, I need to put a practical spin on my challenges. Here’s the practical spin on my fabric challenge.

About a year ago, I started a little project to distribute handmade quilts—lap-sized—to people with Parkinson’s disease. Given that the project has suffered from my need to take care of Irene stuff, it’s still done well.

Now it’s time to make Parkinson’s Comfort Quilts a legitimate 501(c)3, form a board, write bylaws, fundraise and make a new website. (I have to replace the  original website because  Apple no longer supports that nifty little program called iWeb, which is a pity. But I digress.)

My son Jesse has taken on the bulk of the admin duties for PCQ while I work on fundraising. Which is where my desire to push my quilting boundaries meets my desire to do something practical.

We need to raise $2,500 to take care of filing fees and website building costs. In order to raise that money, I’m going to make small quilt projects that push my creative skills with fabric and give them away to folks who donate $100 to the Parkinson’s Comfort Quilt project.

At the same time, I’m going to carefully study the quilt books I use to get a better bead on what really works and what doesn’t in this subset of the how-to genre. It will help me improve my own quilt books, and the ones I help others publish.

A few days ago, I sorted through my quilt book library, organizing them into broad categories: Books oriented toward blocks or discreet projects that work well in a small size; books oriented to all-over quilt patterns; books that specialize in specific techniques such as paper piecing, flip-and-sew or appliqué; and books oriented toward art quilts.

Then I paged through the blocks books one by one, using Post-its to mark blocks or projects that are outside my norm AND will work well as wall hangings. This book, Fast, Fun & Fabulous Quilts, which is a bit of an oldie, ended up (much to my surprise) having a number of such ideas. So I’m starting here for inspiration to learn new techniques, and then make them my own.

And you can sit back with a cup of tea to follow along. Or get out your own sewing machine and create with me. How-tos, inspirations, and finished projects will be found right here.

A Werthy Sampler and Other Quilting Tales

My quilt with colors from Werther's Originials

With a whole lotta help from the terrific women in the Northern Lights Quilt Guild, we hung a show of over 40 quilts in the Cafe Gallery of the Lebanon Coop today. This is my quilt (to the right), the very first time I’ve ever hung a quilt in a show. I put my quilts in books but I’ve never hung one in a show.

(Yep, I’m shy.)

There is such a feeling of satisfied accomplishment when you get to see something like this all in place. I’ve seen all of these quilts a few times since we collected them. I brought them to the Howe Library in Hanover so that we could design the show. I took them one at a time, and photographed them for a slideshow that I hope appears on the guild’s website.

And then Jay and I packed them up to take to the Coop today.

But then the quilts go up on the walls, and you stand back to admire everyone’s color choices and styles and approaches to this incredibly versatile art, and you just have to say “Wow!”

By the way, many of the quilts in the show are challenge quilts. It’s a tradition in many guilds for a selected committee to craft a set of specs for the group, and everyone who wants to join in takes those specs to interpret in any way they choose.

This year, we had a grocery challenge. We had to select a packaged, edible item from the grocery store, choose four colors from it plus a motif, and then create a quilt. Mine was based on the packaging from Werther’s Originals, a toffee candy that my Mom loved.

There’s an oval picture on the package of an idealized village with red-roofed buildings, a brilliant blue sky, and bright greenery. Much of the rest of the package is some shade of yellow with a swoosh motif across the front. So my quilt is red, yellow, blue and green with swooshy quilting.

Below, you’ll find a small handful of some of the other quilts that are in the show, just to whet your whistle. Seriously, if you’re in the neighborhood, drop in to ooh and aah. The show is open every single day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. through April 29.

Plain or Peanut? (from M & M's packaging) by Joanne Shapp
Circles of Fun by Cynthia Dalrymple
Bee Happy by Ruth Buchanen
Bumble Bee by Chris Maute
Yearning by Peggy Sadler
Sunflowers by Rosalie Cutter
Moose Alley by Joyce Lundrigan

Sometimes, It Just Flows

I always write my first drafts of fiction by hand

Every writer I know has to learn the lessons taught by every other writer who comes before. The lessons, like the truest platitudes, are simple and direct. And yet, somehow, every newbie thinks they can be ignored.

Take diligence, for example. I’m talking about the diligence that comes from writing every day. The kind of diligence that gets to the last page of the book you’re writing. The kind of diligence that moves all the other crud out of the way so that you focus on your work.

At one point in my writing career, I spent time reading interviews with other writers, mostly in the Paris Review of Books (still the best, in my opinion). When asked, every single writer talked about the importance of regular writing habits. Every one of them echoed Carl Sandburg’s dictum that books are written “One word at a time.”

There’s no way around that in any creative endeavor from making soup to making a quilt, to constructing a building or drawing a picture of your cat. It’s one onion, one seam, one wall or one line at a time.

I’m coming around the corner on a novel. I can feel its last page on the horizon, like the sun at the moment before it crests over the mountains to our east. I’ve poked at this novel at least twice in the past, abandoning the effort after reams of paper have sacrificed themselves because I’d cornered myself in something that didn’t fit quite right. But when I started this time, the writing just flowed out of me.

Mind, I’ve had to adjust the arc of the story a bit to fit my time frame better, and spent time going back to assess what I’ve learned about my characters. But the writing flows. It’s become a need, an act that I must do like a ritual every morning before I can move onto anything else in my day. Yep, Sandburg was right—one word at a time, daily.