Sunday, April 26, 2015

It is Hard to Keep a Quilting Woman Down (or Cracks in My New Modus Operandi)

I had no sooner written my blog about my new well-thought-out Three Ring Circus Modus Operandi, when I discovered that I would soon have to expand it. Easter with family, as well as unexpected activities seemed to expose some cracks to my best laid plans. I have long known that "life is what happens when you make plans", but I did forget to factor this into my new modus operandi. I don't give up that easily however!
Trying Woolite and Shout Color Catcher to hand-wash wall hanging.

Forgetting the other details of my life wasn't the only oversight in my plan to become better organized and productive, it seems that any change has a ripple effect and the response isn't always so fun! Change at my house is often met with resistance in others. Even the cat and dog seem to want to re-stake out what they consider to be their territory!
Hand-washing worked to remove glue worked well!

Zeldie, my cat, normally sleeps on my sofa or on the back of my vacation chair and now has taken to my ironing station chair or rolling on my freshly-vacuumed living room floor, that I have blocked off to keep clean, so I can iron my quilt tops and keep them free from any dog hair, but my cat sheds worse than the dog and the spaces I have recently cleared seem to fill up with my family spreading like melted butter across a plate, sucking up any new space I have created!...And don't you know that even my own body seems to have taken on a course of its own suddenly demanding rest when I am super motivated to get projects done instead!!
Added rings to my new Modus Operandi.I forgot to factor in my leader, Zeldie.

No matter that my goals and plans are now off-schedule, I am going to "go at it again" and be a bit more discrete about it! My will is "set like flint" to get my sewing goals done, no matter that already my project completion dates are already off by several weeks!  I do see much progress and I remind myself that nothing is perfect! I remained focused on my goals to finish my unfinished quilts plus create still more.  It is hard to keep a good quilting woman down!!
Used my hand-made insulation board with flannel to lay out 9 Patch blocks.

Enough 9 Patch blocks left over to make another top using rose versus muslin.
Pinning 3 blocks together to make 9 Patch-9 Patch blocks
Fleece socks cut and ready, along with 2 quilt tops, all pinned to sew.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Different Perspective and Attitude Readjustment

Every few months or so, I need to sit down with myself and have an attitude readjustment! All it takes is seeing things through a new perspective!

I get annoyed with the limits imposed on me by my illness...Taking breaks to rest, alternating my sewing activities so my hands won't hurt, and constantly taking my projects in such tiny increments isn't my style.  I like having good days, when I out-do myself, and feel satisfied with my accomplishments.  I am, no doubt, a work-a-holic like my dad. Feeling productive and doing things is what I live for.  I am also fiercely independent, too much for my own sake.There is nothing wrong with needing others and appreciating their help from time to time.  I am not an island any more than anyone else!

My friend sent me a video of a person with ME/Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue.  It showed the before and after.  He is weak enough now to be confined to a wheel chair, while his wife and children take over the running of his farm.  I am certain that his decline has not been easy on his self-esteem, but his dear wife has seen to it that it has been done with all the dignity befitting her esteem and love for her husband.  He now is learning for the first time ever to communicate with his eyes and the help of a computer, for he can no longer talk. His voice is coming through his computer and his voice is loud and clear in saying "thank you" to his wife, and telling her "how much he loves and appreciates his life and how he looks forward to, what most would consider a dismal future.  With his wife at his side, he seems to fear nothing. Should I be so brave!?

It reminds me of how lucky I am.  I may have to rest in between my tasks, or alternate my activities but my craft goals are all secondary to my main goal of continuing to do for myself and my family and being as healthy as I can.

I loved the story of one of my friends who was consulting with her financial adviser and said to him something about "should she ever decline or die" and his reply was, "that isn't a matter of IF but WHEN".  None of us will avoid our inevitable physical decline or eventual death! Keeping our priorities straight is what matters.

My sewing arts business is about keeping busy doing purposeful things until I no longer can. It is a delightful business, one that I eagerly wake to get at everyday, but the real goal is keeping me focused, using my brain to learn something new each day, communicating with others to encourage and support them, and embracing the challenge everyday to do and be what I can be. My sewing therapy is all part of that.

So when you are struggling, take a look around you.  There is always someone that is giving it there all in ways that we can't even imagine. Take courage, and say, "I can too, with God's help!" and hang in there! Rest if you need to and "get back in the saddle". Your ride is NOT over....NOT NOW and NOT EVER!!

...And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to Donna, who is the winner of this month's Common-Thread Give-Away Drawing! Please be in touch with Kathleen to redeem your beautiful necklace and ear-rings!  Don't despair if you didn't win as we will be having another Give-Away in May, so keep visiting our blogs! Thank you for your interest in our regular artists as well as guest artists.  Blogs of our artists are listed on the right side of my website.  All you need to do is click on any of them to access their websites! Thank you again for your interest in our work and writings!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Updated Version of April's Common-Thread Give-Away Guest Artist is...

Kathleen Nohe is this month's Common-Thread Give-Away guest artist. She will be giving away a sample of her wearable earth jewelry. She has a special love for the rocks of the earth and enjoys turning them into beautiful, wearable jewelry and we are pleased to showcase her, her website and work this month.

In order to register for this lovely necklace and earrings set, simply go to her website and leave a message for her any time from Monday through Wednesday and she will randomly draw a winner from all who register and notify us of the winner by the end of the week.Her blogsite where she talks about her give-away is located at (Her website address as well as her blogsite addresses are different from the first version of this blog.  We are sorry about the mix-up, but this updated version has the correct addresses!)

This is our Common-Thread Artists' Group's way of thanking you, our readers for continuing to support our work and visiting our blogs and websites. Every month we feature an artist and their work and offer a free give-away sample of their work to our readers.  We are pleased to introduce you to Kathleen. Her love and appreciation of the stones is evident in her jewelry, as is her precise and creative silver work. Do take time to view her creations on her website and share your thoughts with her. I thought it fascinating to see which of her creations "drew me in the most". They truly do have a way of speaking to the heart and soul. Hopefully, you will be the next winner of this month's give-away drawing.

The members of our Common-Thread Artists Group are listed to the right.  You need only to click on them to access their website. Please feel free to visit us, leave comments, or questions.  We are only too happy to hear from our readers.  Thank you again for your support and interest in our work.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Testing a New Modus Operandi

Three Ring Circus Modus Operandi--swinging from one project to another.
I have been testing a new way of operating.  I call it The Three Ring Circus Modus Operandi.  I have borrowed bits from Bonnie K. Hunter and Teresa Rawson, who are both avid and well-organized quilters, and added a bit of my own individuality to come up with a functional work model that will hopefully function for me. Both of these women have much experience and knowledge when it comes to organizing themselves and their materials to maximize their creativity. Do check them out, if you find yourself, like me, bogged down with too many projects, unable to use your time wisely or find yourself unable to find what you need when you need it in all your sewing stash.

Their writings have convinced me that I CAN, in fact, sew projects bigger than pincushions and fleece socks, though I have never been one to make something start to finish if I can help it, especially if it is a long term project, like a quilt. I am not exactly sure why this is, but I think it has something to do with being a perfectionist. I take my time when I create anything, and though I can stick to something for a very long while, I find myself more creative when I take a pause to let allow a project to speak to me as to how to best proceed, while I go about doing other projects.

I knew how to organize myself and my materials to do multiple small projects but am now learning to organize my large ones as well, making changes in my studio spaces to better facilitate not only finishing my several partially done quilts but creating new ones as well. The first change I made was to pull out all of my unfinished projects, and write a plan for each of them, including pictures or sketches, noting where I have left off and what is next.  I then put the plan in a plastic sleeve and put it in the bin or basket with the materials needed for that project.  This is actually Teresa Rawson's idea, but what convinced me to actually do this was a comment made to me at a sewing sale.

I joked about cutting up all of my materials before I die while I was shopping at a large sewing estate sale. One of the people running this sale overheard me and rather curtly replied that she didn't think my comment funny.  She went on to tell me, in no uncertain terms, to be sure to keep my projects sorted and bagged, in kindness to those that would be selling my wares following my death. Apparently she knew the habits of sewers from putting this sale together...that we always have too much to ever finish and apparently never wanted to again do the sifting and sorting that it took to organize her poor deceased friend's sewing goods. It was a point well-taken. I have no guilt now. Whatever project is done or not done, it is altogether so another can pick it up if they choose and have the materials needed to complete it.

I also laughed with friends, telling them that completing my seven unfinished quilts in my lifetime seemed an impossible task until I considered making more quilts and not less.  My unfinished seven didn't seem like so many then. Crazy?  Completely!! Yet, how many of us have beautiful work started that we are less than inspired by as we look at new patterns and new materials?  It is enough to make me give up sewing altogether if I consider doing nothing but finishing my old projects without keeping my creativity sparked as I consider new ones yet to come.  My Three Ring Circus Modus Operandi takes these foibles and eccentricities into consideration.

I also have come to realize that I am sewing for therapy and fun. Anyone that has been reading my blogs for a long while, knows that I have Chronic Lyme Disease, took a medical leave from work, was sick enough that I decided that it was now or never to create what I always wanted; organized a studio space in my basement; and then another in my dining room; and set up a small work table in front of the TV in my living room with thread and notions in and on top of a little set of drawers next to my table and went to work. I started by creating a pincushion, and then another and another, and when I had too many pincushions, I found markets to sell them.  I then created a blog and an Etsy store and the rest is history, except for finishing my quilts. I have finally gotten brave enough to consider a plan that allows me, God-willing, to complete them, and design more, while still doing other small sewing projects too.

None of this would likely have happened had I not needed to keep busy and my attention diverted away from my rather difficult and seemingly endless medical protocol. Though I love to embroider, sew and create, it reminds me that there are blessings to be found in whatever circumstances find us, as I continue to contend with a body that doesn't always do what I want it to do. I have good days along with some that aren't so great, and schedules that are often backwards and have to content myself with goals that must be as flexible and varied as my daily capabilities.

Leaders and Enders piecework.
Back to my new modus operandi that I started in January. I am sewing on three projects at a time. This keeps me sewing all the time, but offers me three projects with different tasks to be completed. One of the three projects includes something unfinished that I will at least take to the next level in the process of it's completion.  The second is working on a new or newer project. The third project is doing what Bonnie K Hunter suggests as having "a Leaders and Enders" basket of machine patchwork going placed right by my sewing machine. It is her way and quickly becoming my way of continually doing piecework for quilts to come.

Prep work to do Leaders and Enders work.

Leaders and Enders work becomes my favorite work.
Prep work is often part of having such a basket next to my sewing machine and so occasionally prepping materials by cutting, pressing and pinning are part of this third project. I have added a portable ironing board to my living room so I have a pressing station as well. All of these steps are rather mindless activities, that I do when I simply want some busy work in front of the TV.

I do admit that I am the one that mostly lives in my living room, though I have a sofa and a vacation chair cleared for whoever will sit and watch TV with me as I sew. My husband has his "man cave", which has been a sound investment and allowed for my Operation Sewing Creep all over the house excepting the bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen and his cave.

Strips of material sewn together to make fast 9 Patch quiltblocks.
The past few months my three projects have been: 1) to finish my daughters' patchwork duvet covers--Christmas gifts past due 2) to design, cut out and applique the top of a wall hanging for a friend using Teresa Rawson's freezer paper instruction on her website and 3) Bonnie K Hunter's Leader and Ender machine on-going patchwork-- nine patch blocks for upcoming nine patch quilt top(s).
 #1 Ring: Center piece later appliqued to black sheet for duvet cover.

#1 Ring: Patchwork side of above the above duvet cover.

#1 Ring. Second duvet cover, front side.

#2 Ring: freezer paper, hand- appliqued wall hanging using Japanese fabric.
#3 Ring: 9 patch squares for 9 Patch, 9 Patch quilt(s). Leader, Ender work.

Enough 9 Patch blocks to do 2 9 Patch quilt tops.
I also use a diary to organize myself before I get out of bed. I can save my needed energy everyday by visualizing what I am going to accomplish.  By having three projects going, I simply decide which one I am going to work on, and can then sew guilt free without thinking about another. I do find that some projects require a pause to problem solve the next step.  This can be done rather passively when I am sitting and mindlessly working on another project that is more "brainless".

Some tasks can overwhelm my low energy levels, and thinking ahead helps me break them down into smaller steps that make them more do-able.  I am learning that I often sew on what is easiest, procrastinating taking on more challenging processes, though sometimes a good challenge is just what I need. By having three projects going at a time, invariably one gets done before the others, but no matter, as all three will reach either their end or their next step before moving on to new goals. Goals, for me, are not necessarily finished projects but rather taking them to the next level, especially when working on long-term projects.

I will report to you, my readers as to how this Three Ring Circus Modus Operandi is working.  I have only been at it a few months now. No plan is perfect. If you are a multiple-project sort-of-person like myself, it can be easy to feel very scattered and I am hoping that this plan will keep me focused and goal directed, without losing the fun of being spontaneous and creative! Like the circus performer that I always wanted to be, I have three rings to perform in, and how exciting it is to think of myself as hanging by my knees and swinging into my next project!...My imaginings of being a circus performer are best left to another blog however, one about how Walter Mitty and I lead exciting virtual lives!

Can you tell that I was a special education teacher that used to write IEPs (individual educational plans) with goals and objectives?..."Let no skill, or knowledge go to waste," is my motto, especially when you become older and have needs that can no longer be ignored.  Aren't we all special with unique needs?

(To access Bonnie K Hunter and Teresa Rawson's websites simply click on their names in the first paragraph.  They are quilters whose instruction and inspiration are not to be missed!)