Saturday, February 20, 2016

Home Again

The contractors are all done and I am home again. My house has been under siege for the past 6 weeks and it has been a real mess around here. Although I stayed here while the painters were here in January, I had to move out while the wood floors were being refinished this past week. This will be my second major cleanup operation. The first time it was plaster dust which made it difficult for me to breathe as it was suspended in the air for a while. This time it is wood sanding dust which is all settled out and not too bad. Let the dust settle as they say :-)

The painters, the wood floor refinishers, and the movers who put my furniture in the garage 8 days ago and then back in the house yesterday after the floors were done all did a really great job. Surround yourself with good people and things will work out. There were times that I questioned why I am doing all of this but not really. My real estate lady told me what I needed to do to sell my house and I am doing everything that she said. I want to live in a smaller place that is easy to take care of and my son's condo which will be available this summer will be perfect for me. It even has a fireplace!

Needless to say, not much art or quilt activity has gone on around here. I have done a little hand quilting at the condo and at a friend's house and a little art journaling, but not much. I wanted to share something that is special to me so here are some quotation cards from one of my five altered card decks. I love making these card decks with different themes - they are made using ordinary playing cards. I start with some gesso so the paint will stick and then I paint and glue to my heart's content.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February Blues

This is the time of year in New England when you wish winter was over because you are tired of wearing boots and bundling up with a winter coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. We are having some arctic weather this weekend so it was 9 below zero when I got up this morning and with the wind chill factor it is dangerous to be out for very long. I went out yesterday and had fun quilting with a friend but I am staying home today.

I am not doing much which is unusual for me. I made this asymmetrical mandala this morning using my colorful Tombow markers. I sent some text messages and emails to special people. I read one of my favorite creative books. I listened to music. I cried a little bit for getting stuck in the past again and somehow felt better after accepting and then letting go. Not because it is Valentine's Day (that is a happy day to show love) but because it is the anniversary of my divorce, when I always ask why this happened, and there are no simple answers.

Most of the time I don't think about it. We can get along now that we are not together and the turmoil is over. I have made a new life for myself, I have a lot of new friends, and I enjoy doing things that I want to do. It is water over the bridge as I like to say. The correct saying is water under the bridge but I think water over the bridge paints a more accurate picture of life changing events. As my quilting friend said yesterday, I was floundering back then. I guess I was, although I never really thought about it and just went from day to day. My life is much better now and I feel like a whole person. I can just be myself and not what others want me to be.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hand quilting

Last month I decided to try hand quilting again as a way to relax and relearn an old skill. This is something that I used to do when my kids were small, as it is easy to watch little ones while you are working on a handwork project. It takes a long while to finish a project when you quilt it by hand. Most quilters machine quilt their quilt tops now and a lot of quilters send their quilts out to be machine quilted by others. I machine quilt my own pieces as I feel that makes the work fully mine.

I am starting to feel better about my hand quilting. When I started over with this last month I got very frustrated. My stitches were uneven and crooked and I was not happy with the way they looked. But I left those fledgling stitches in and did not rip them out, because I wanted a record of my attempts - of making mistakes and improving. I don't like to do anything unless I can do it well, but I realize you have to start somewhere.

I use very small needles imported from England - John James betweens size 10. Right now I am using variegated blue cotton thread from Romania and I have an assortment of Sulky rayon thread picked out for this project. With hand quilting you develop a rhythm with the needle being pushed down and rocked back up with a thimble on your finger, while the finger on your other hand underneath the quilt helps to push the needle back up. It is a very meditational process and you can work through a lot of things that way. You can hand quilt and carry on a conversation. It can be a group activity if you find someone else who does handwork. Not everything is a race to see how many quilts you can complete in the shortest amount of time.

Here is my Under the Sea quilt that I am working on. It was an online round robin or progressive, where everyone made a center and then they were passed around with each person adding a border. It was fun because you had no idea what you were going to get back. This quilt had been sitting in a UFO (unfinished object) box in the attic for years. I felt that it was worth finishing and I am enjoying working on it. I ordered a portable Ott task light today as you need good lighting to hand quilt.