New Year’s Comes, and Goes Well

I won’t go as far as resolving to write here more often, or to do any particular thing, but I will resolve to try a little harder. I hibernated early this year – thanks to the Camp Fire and air quality way beyond the comfort zone for a part-time breather. For two weeks I could see my sewing space out back of the house, but stayed in the HEPA filtered house, and concentrated on staying healthy. In my defense, 3 days in the squirrels and birds completely disappeared from the backyard, too. Dax the dog was pretty freaked out. Some folks posted on Facebook with pictures of squirrels stretched out on railings and decks, waiting for the situation to improve. I can’t imagine what it was like to be any closer to the fires than we were (100+ miles).

img_1460The squirrel (and we) knew the smoke would finally go away, and it did, suddenly, the day it poured rain — the Air Quality Index dropped from unsafe to good within a few hours.

Of course, that was also the beginning of the rainy season, and the Holiday Season… no time for hibernation, and little time for sewing.  We’re done being sick now. Bo’s officially back to school, and things are back to what we laughingly call normal.

After the rainy days we sometimes get a sunset. Today was 746, and tomorrow is a sewing day, I hope!

Time to get back to work, and maybe even make up some of that lost (hibernation) time!

Happy New Year to All. Best wishes and good luck this year!



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Snapshot From an Earlier 746 Observance

This month’s 746 will be on a Saturday, after two months of Wednesday observance. Traditionally, 746 happens from 4-6:00pm on the 7th of the month, as suggested by one of the founding members of the movement,  sometime…possibly April… in, 2014…  as an ironic nod to the “420” movement. For the record, my laid-back, vague grasp of these facts owes nothing to the 420 movement. I just don’t tend to take notes regarding things, no matter how important they may someday be. I promise I’ll do the research before our membership breaks 10,000 members.

746 is the Dewey Decimal prefix for Textile Arts.

The mission of the 746 movement is to encourage the acknowledgement and celebration of textile arts of all kinds, in as informal a fashion as possible. The movement currently includes 50-60 members, dispersed over 2-3 continents and many more time zones — who have promised to TRY to spend 746 celebrating textile arts in some fashion. We welcome makers and artists, experts and novices, as well as fans and patrons.

Not only are all forms of textile arts included, but there is a specific loophole specifying that one can choose an alternate date or time-zone for 746 if 4-6:00pm local time on the 7th of the month is inconvenient. We aim to be convenient, for anyone who wants to be supportive!

Thus far the only 746 get togethers have been held in my California backyard, but anyone can have one, anywhere. Invite your like-minded friends and share your stuff! Have fun and be supportive!  Because the date is constant, the day of the week changes, which (in theory) means most folks can make the gathering, at least sometimes, no matter what their usual schedules. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works.

If the movement catches on, we may have to issue membership cards or make up a secret handshake, to let folks know they belong to something important – but it will never be the case that membership or participation excludes anyone but mean people or the non-supportive. That just wouldn’t be very 746.


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Autumn and Entropy

It’s been a long and unproductive few weeks (creatively) and I’m trying to accept that’s okay. I did meet a couple of deadlines because I had to, but otherwise seemed to go almost dormant after Labor Day.

The fires in the North Bay (50+ miles away!) exacerbated my tendency to huddle since the house was less smoky than the shed… and breathing seemed much better when I didn’t try to do anything else. In addition we’ve been ferring a lot of previously deferred maintenance projects, with the goal of being safe and productive, soon. Temporary Inconvenience, Long Lasting Improvement, as the signs on the Jersey Turnpike probably STILL say, decades later.

Everything below is from the Summer, but now it’s Fall. Not yet cozy, but not sunny and airy any more. Maybe productivity will return with the shorter, cooler, days, or the time change, or something else. I know it will come back at some point, and that’s comforting enough.

More on these project soon. The bottom left is the most confusing — the pins and tags are to keep track of the fabrics for a “Sudoku”, that’s actually on the back of a throw quilt I made (finished!) for my sister, for reading in the cozy times to come.

Trying to take the long view…. For now its enough to deal with other priorities, safe in the knowledge that dormant’s not dead, its deciduous.

Happy October.

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Abundance, Grace and a long time since the last Post…

While part of me wants to apologize for failing to post in such a long time, I’ve decided to celebrate instead — I want to celebrate the huge amounts of life and creativity and mess and kindness and confusion that I have witnessed over the past few months.

I am the willing recipient of abundance in life — perhaps even an over-abundance! We have had so much rain this Winter…leading now to so much green Spring growth and such healthy “weeds”.  I’ve gratefully received an abundance of love from family and friends (including a ridiculously enthusiastic new puppy dog, and the boy he owns). I’m not sewing enough, but I am sewing and intend to continue for the foreseeable future…  I am humbled, and filled with an abundance of gratitude for my blessings and the bounty I see everywhere around me. I hope I’ve given as well as I’ve been getting.

This is not to overlook the difficulties of life. Our days here are full of stress and busyness and mud and occasional illness — and, there are giant dust bunnies  multiplying all over my house… But, in an Internet based world where bad acts and rumors can be broadcast and debated in real time, all the time — it seems vital to stay attached to the presence of good, so much good in the world if you see it. Look for it! Bad stuff happens, all we really get to choose is how we deal with it. Good stuff, on the other hand, is always within our ability to create.

So. I’ve been busy — no apologies, but I’ll try to do better.


Update:  The day I wrote this draft I also got news concerning the evident mortality of someone I love (a health issue). It’s not my place to identify the person or the concern, but to appreciate as always the importance of seeing and making as much good as we can, in the time we have — and honoring the good already around us. Shit happens, but plants grow in soil composted with manure….


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Observing 746

Here’s a photo from last week’s 746 Observance in my backyard. Missing from the picture are the patient husband, two big dogs, and two very quiet teen-aged boys who got swept up in the positive energy of the day.


Here is another candid of part of the group, including the husband and at least one of the dogs. Teen-aged boys still well hidden.


746 is a (small) international movement of support and encouragement for textile arts and would be textile artists, who make a loose commitment to do, discuss or at least think about textile arts of some sort, between the hours of 4-6:00 local time on the 7th of each month.

If that time or date is inconvenient, members “can reschedule, its more than alright” [see “GALAVANT!” S.2, E.9]. Many members  belong to a closed Facebook group, that also serves as an excellent place for “show & tell” and to share hints and encouragement.  For some of us its a little like crowd-sourcing a mom, and proudly, shyly, posting our artwork on her virtual fridge.

746 Observances for August, 2016, will be held on Sunday (the 7th), from 4:00-6:00 (am or pm) local time, wherever you are. Enjoy!



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An Important Resource for Quilters

It’s been awhile since I posted. Not for bad reasons, it’s just been a busy year, and it gets awkward to just pop up again and carry on, even though I want to…apologies, and here we go:

I want to share with you an important resource I hope you have access to; it’s one I’d under-utilized, or at least under-appreciated, until fairly recently.  That resource is other quilters. Quilting is both solitary and social. I get a lot out of interactions with other quilters — and the expectation that I’ll have those interactions on a regular basis. Quilters, as a group, are especially good at being both honest and tactful about the work of others. We energize each other, we provide each other with alternative solutions to problems, and even occasionally point out to each other that a perceived problem isn’t really a problem.

When I worked in the quilt store there was a steady supply of quilters available, spanning the full gamut of abilities and confidence. In that context it was easy to learn from some and help others learn, too. There are more than a few things I learned by trying to explain them clearly to others, and ideas I got by suggesting them to someone else, for whom they might not have been the answer.

When that adventure ended, I knew I didn’t want to lose contact with other quilters. Over the past couple of years I’ve tried harder to maintain a range of connections with quilters — from membership in a large guild to the commitment to just meet and sew with a couple of friends once or twice a week. With friends, I struggle to nurse a mini-group into a perennial state, and awhile back some of us started a silly Facebook support group for fiber artists called “746” (the Dewey Decimal prefix for textile arts). Hopefully I even get to spend a few days at a retreat with quilt friends again, this Fall.


Bo’s quilt, which I made last year. It hung in the local guild quilt show last month.


This is the description for the quilt, which is part of what got me to thinking about quilters as a “resource”.

All this as a way to keep the ideas and energy flowing. All this because, years ago,  I got “too busy” to keep up with quilters for awhile, and ended up without the energy to even sew for a few years. I don’t regret that time, which was wonderful and hectic and full of teenagers and sports and carpools, etc.  BUT — I know that when I started sewing, again, and hanging out with other quilters, a little part of my brain restarted and its the creative, problem-solving, can-do part. For a lot of us family life is a tug-of-war between the urgent and the important. I’m grateful to have friends to remind me to make time for both. I hope I do the same for them.

[I’m also grateful that my first crop of teenagers has become a group of wonderful twenty-somethings, and that the current crop is one, fairly well organized, 14 year-old who really does understand.]




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Part 4: Simple Piecing that looks Harder

As promised, the final, brief, installment of “What I did on my Summer Vacation”.  Playing with piecing that was easier than it looked. Some of these pictures have been used before, and some of the projects may be from before the Summer. In Berkeley it’s hard to remember when Summer starts and ends….

I got to make circles from “tumbler” shapes in a couple of different sizes, and use the Six-Minute Circles method to make them into square blocks. I learned about this method from Dale Fleming’s book, but there are countless links on the Internet you can check out as well. Simple, but not for the purist as it involves the use of both freezer paper and washable fabric glue. I am not a purist.


These “peppermints” also have the set-in centers, but were cut in a more traditional, rotary cutter/template method.


This is the template I used for the wedges, using a red/white striped fabric alternating with white-on-white. Alternate the direction of the template on the striped fabric — just be sure the skinny ends of each wedge line up on the edge of a red stripe, if you want the stripes to match up.

The last items for this post were these four, all experiments, as my projects always are. The picture on the left is an assignment from a book called 15 Minutes of Play: Improvisational Quilts, by Victoria Findley Wolfe. This particular assignment. like some others in the book, is a good warm up or a project to keep on hand when you “gotta have something and it’s gotta be sweet and it’s gotta be a lot and you gotta have it now?” [see: Crackerjack for this definition and others.]

The middle two pictures are shapes that often occur in “charm” quilts (where every fabric appears only once). These were cut with the aforementioned Accuquilt GO! Baby, are both quite striking and cheerful. The major difference between the “tumbler” and “spool” shapes is the curved seam on the “spool”. For a minor effect, it makes a huge difference. Curves are harder than straight lines! I liked doing both pieces, but the spool quilt will never be bigger than crib size. A fun experiment, anyway, and it will be a fun baby quilt, the solid colors are Kona cottons, but the “grey” is seersucker. I’m thinking of ways to add more textures to it…

The last picture is of a quilt I call “Burano”, made with a simple block called “Hugs and Kisses” that Angie Woolman showed us at the Albany Library quilt drop in awhile back. She had another name for the block, that referred to happy rabbits, because this quilt pattern tends to multiple and spread… Indeed, several of us made tops using the block, and showing them off was a delight — unlike rabbits, every one was completely different. Mine is very special to me, as an experiment I think worked, and as a memento.

But… that is a story for another day. For now, wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving next week. Hope you are warm, well, and with at least some of those you love What’s not to like about a four-day weekend that reverts to leftovers for the last three days? It’s the scrap quilt of holidays!



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