Monday, January 30, 2012

More retreat sewing - tote bags

I've probably made 50 tote bags. But not where they looked completely "finished", without raw edges... There was always either a served edge or an unfinished lining... Since most of my sewing is self taught, I simply don't get everything on my own until someone shows me. (I also learn best by being taught as opposed to reading directions)
This weekend was perfect for that. The last morning was really fun. All my big projects were done, I didn't want to start a new big one, and saw my friend Lori making a beautiful tote. Every detail was finished and perfect and I literally sidled up to her and begged her help.
I raided the scrap pile and used a few strips of linen to piece the patchwork outside. Vanessa had brought extra interfacing to share, so I borrowed some of that to try out what a sturdier tote would be like and then with Lori's help, I whipped out this bag... With french seams (hidden edges) and tucked in straps.... Ooooooh, I love it.
And now it is sitting by my door filled with the supplies I need for a much anticipated class that I am taking tomorrow. I could squeal I'm so excited about that.... Can't wait to show pics!
And on top of that, the guild meeting is tomorrow, so we get to have a reunion and share about the retreat with all our other quilty friends. Yippee!

Re•joy - indulgence. (just be)

I was taught not to be super self indulgent. I was taught that I need to see the pain in the world and do something about it. I was taught that it's okay to enjoy good things, but to hold them lightly. I was taught that I should give freely because I have received freely. I was taught to be the change I wanted to see. These are GOOD things to internalize.
But sometimes we need to rest. And as a child, I saw rest modeled, too, but I'm naturally a work-horse. I don't stop just because something hurts. I almost never rest. Which means that it's hard to take time to heal. It's actually becoming a bit of a discipline for me - to check in with myself and say, "libby, you need to just BE". Not be productive, proactive or prolific. Just be.
This weekend was so good for that for me... I laughed till I cried, I made things, but I also got to have silence and moments of my feet in the grass at sunrise.
Today I pulled over at a coffee house with a shady brick patio and had a scone and some soup in the shade - instead of racing home to get life in order after my weekend away. It's hard to indulge myself this way, but I'm trying to practice the art of resting.
After this weekend away, I feel better than I have in a year. Why? Because I relaxed more than I can remember in a long time. Not striving or pushing myself to be anything other than who I am in that exact moment. How often do we do that?
Not enough.
So I'm doing it now. And then I'll go home and put my sweats back on and get back to work. But for now, I'm here.

It's a patchwork life - all zipped up

Pics here of my new patchwork bag and the ones I made for the kids all from our (awesome) scrap pile on the retreat. I brought a boatload of zippers to share, ever noticed that most of my patchwork bags have coral zippers? That's because my pal, Tori, bought them for her stationery biz about 10 years ago and then never ended up using them. I have had about 200 in my possession for about 6 years and they were what motivated me to learn how to make pouches. And I have made tons. I came to the retreat prepared to share any techniques I knew with the girls, but when I got there, I learned that my skills (all self taught), were REALLY inferior to those of some of my friends. So I was the student instead and learned some tips to really make my bags SO much nicer. I'm really pleased with how well made these are, they are miles beyond anything I had figured out on my own. Special thanks to Ramona, Katie, and her mom, Carrie for schooling me and sharing so generously their wealth of knowledge!!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Retreat weekend quilts

a sketch I have had for years and never gotten to until now
As I wrote earlier, I was up early with the sun this morning and decided to take pics of my newly finished quilt tops in an environment a little prettier than my inner city front yard.

made by improv piecing my blocks made in the Denyse Schmidt workshop many months ago
The sun rose as I was taking these. I will always remember the sound of birdsong and wind in the trees as I took these pics.
I made lots more things... Will share them bit by bit.
tumblers - all assembled and wow, they came together fast!

Early will I rise - re•joy

Sunday morning. I woke up a few minutes to 7 as came down to our group's sewing room to get coffee. No one was there, all was silent (very silent, considering how loud and silly we were last night).
I decided that since the sun wasn't up past the mountain and the wind hadn't picked up, it was a good time to come sit on the hill overlooking this valley. I brought my coffee, my quilt tops to photograph and got to watch a silent sunrise. It's quiet here.
Each morning I have been able to sit over this valley and breathe. Between the time to sit still, the time to be creative and the laughter, I feel little bits of healing taking place.
I've also found quiet moments to think, to shed tears, to share.
Yesterday I had a short massage and there was a place the masseuse touched in my back that almost caused me to cry out - emotionally, not physically. This thought flashed in my mind: "I am carrying so much pain!" and then when she moved her hands, the thought was gone. That amazed me. I've been asked by a few people to think about and find out where I carry that pain, because our physical bodies connect to our hearts. But not until yesterday did I understand the connection was so visceral.
And if that is true, then 45 minutes of quiet overlooking a valley each day also has to have some true healing properties. So I'm soaking up this sun now as its risen.
I'll share my quilt tops with you later....

LAMQG - speed sewing for charity

We've been sewing all weekend, with a few breaks for meals and LOTS of laughing.
As one of the folks who is helping our guild have a vision for giving back with our time and talent, I thought it would be fun if we all gave 1/2 hour and speed made blocks for a charity quilt. So last night, a few us us prepared by finding a cute color scheme from our scraps pile and we all speed pieced improv blocks.
By 1/2 hour, we had 20 blocks and by 1.5 hours (four of us kept on the clock after the initial push), we had a finished top and 2 blocks for the back.

It's been suggested that we do this more often, what a fun way to work together and give back.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Re•joy - getaway

I've spent my mornings the past few days overlooking this valley. It's quiet. And beautiful. And big enough to hold a lot of thinking. I listen to the wind in the trees and drink coffee, and then head into a wonderfully happy room filled with happy friends to work on projects with for the weekend.
My quilt guild is having a retreat and I'm so happy I came. After our crazy past few months, I've not spent super much concentrated time in groups, I've generally avoided them, honestly. But these friends are safe and it's perfectly acceptable for me to do my own thing if I have to and come back to fill up on laughter again with them when I am ready. I'll post my projects that I've even working on today... After getting a few more hours in to play.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Re•building joy - letters

I'm known (or at least I used to be) for being a faithful letter writer. Email has had an impact for sure, but I love getting mail and tend to find folks like myself who also love to exchange letters.
Many parts of me became buried in these past few years of motherhood and my misadventures as a foster mom. One of them was my ability to keep in touch with my friends. I still sent letters to a select few. I still managed to get some cards as care packages out over the past two years, but things have all but dried up the past year. I didn't have nights of writing letters to beloved friends across the miles. I barely kept in touch with my friends in LA. If you didn't live in my neighborhood - and sometimes if you did - or weren't in my quilt guild - ... [silence].
Part of my joy•building is trying to reclaim things I remember loving before. I remember when I had broken my knee in high school and had to relearn how to act "natural" when I walked after surgery. It kind of feels like that... ... It takes effort to remember the parts of that may flit around happily in a time of joy, but disappear in times of grief and loss, and all the other feelings we had...
So tonight, I wrote letters. And drank strawberry tea (out of my Meetinghouse Farms mug which I made from the Worth family's farm logo a while ago)
It wasn't instantly easy, but I know it's "me". And I want to be here for my friends, after so long gone.

Re•building Joy - The Courage Quilt

I've already announced that it's done, but today I added the label and wrapped the 100% hand sewn quilt.
The label says, "to the bravest person we have ever met".
Making this quilt calmed my nerves during that crazy year. Having her (the giftee, our social worker) alongside us, gave me courage.

I'm quietly joyful that pain can be turned into something beautiful. I'm learning that by releasing this pain slowly and appropriately, it's like a fizzy soda that I am able to let out.
If things come out in methods of beauty and art, they seem to be in a manner that I can control. As I share the art and meaning, I'm able to tell small parts of my story without crumbling into fragile pieces.
By sharing this with you and others, some of those fizzy bubbles of pain are released slowly. And some beauty can rise from the ashes.
 I have to also admit that I am happy to let this quilt out of my hands. It is very painful for me to look at. Hundreds of hours of pain, fear, anxiety, anger and dread were channelled into this. It will be a big release to let the gift bring love and joy to someone who matters so much to me. Plus I think it's really pretty!

A new WIP- my big bee quilt

I received the squares back from my Seams Perfect Bee a year ago. But I am only now sure what I want to do with them. (been thinking about it long enough!) I spent tonight on an hour and a half math problem that is figuring out the layout, yardage needed and plan for my king sized quilt top. I used 3 continuous pages of gridded paper and at least two tracing paper options were tried on top of that.
And the verdict? ... I have to go back to the fabric store and HOPE the 2 yards I still need of the background fabric are still available.
And I need to go tomorrow as I have big plans to go on my sewing retreat with my guild friends this weekend.
Yippee! A fun errand.

9 women create

I have a great friend, Sarah, who urged me to join her last December, in putting up at a silent auction - a collage day, at her amazing house, with 8 spots for people to join us. We would feed them a nice lunch, then share our materials (sarah and I take a collage class together already and have a lot of materials between us) and teach some simple techniques to our attendees.
The spaces filled up fast! And with good friends! She and I have been working on this for the past few weeks and Saturday was the big day. We got everything ready and hoped everyone would show up and have a good time. One friend couldn't make it, but we saved supplies for her. The other 9 of us had a day full of creativity.

It was so much more fun than I even anticipated, and 4 hours to make art on a Saturday is always fun. But this was dear. And creative. And joy•building for sure.
Everyone walked away with finished art pieces, as well as some traded Artist Trading Cards - our first activity was to make artist trading cards to share with everyone else as a warm up and a commemorative keepsake. Of course I made goodie bags too, with candy, new scissors and glue sticks... (all three are vital to my collaging!)
I felt so blessed to know these women, or to meet the ones I hadn't yet met... We kept joking that now we were a collage clique and we have to do it again. I sure hope so.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sewing machine Sketch

The thing about a sewing machine is that a bad one will make you hate sewing, while a good one will inspire you SEW much that you think about it when you're not even sewing. ;)
I have one of each. The frustrating one (a very fussy Pfaff) is now on vacation down at my dad's studio and gets used on my days there. The other one is a simple, much less expensive, but non-finicky Kenmore (Janome) that makes me happy every time I use it. And even when I'm not using it, like when I am sketching with Z in the early mornings.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First finished quilt of 2012

Wow. It only took about a year, but I did it. And finished tonight, the 100% hand sewn, (English Paper pieced) quilt. I wanted to know if I could do it. (I can, apparently) Even Mimi knows this is a big deal and asked me today if this was only using my hands and no machines... Not even an iron.)
I was so proud to say YES.
This photo was taken of me a few weeks ago as I promised my guild that I'd finish it soon.
Promise completed.
I think my favorite part about it is how the neutrals look all mixed together, acting as one piece ... And then are all punctuated by the red thick hand quilting. Very much unexpected from how I started this, but that's what creativity is for.
All that's left is to do the label and get some good pics.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Re•building joy - Jan 19

A second time recently, I've been able to take advantage of a quiet room in my dads office building that I am allowed to come sew in, at my convenience. It's not close to my home, but it's peaceful, perfect for sewing, and I get to have lunch with my parents as an added bonus.
I was there all day yesterday, working on 4 different projects I've been sketching through for over a year. The ideas are finally getting realized and the only way I can describe my feeling is to say that it feels like I may be getting creatively "un-clogged".
The way I am is that I work on many things at once, depending on my mood or inspiration. Some ideas strike and are completed within an hour or a day or week. The ones that start as concepts with sketches and more thought actually stay in my head and sketchbooks a long time before being realized because it's easy to bypass them for today's inspiration.
To get 4 sketches turned into actual tangible projects is so encouraging. It makes me wonder what will come once these are all worked out.
You'll see these projects all developing with me over the next few months, but here's a peek through the door into "a room of one's own" - the place where I'm weekly working out my creativity and thought processes as I seek to unclog the dusty trails in my brain. (note the coffee mug and the speakers for my latest playlist to also inspire... And yes, that is my old easel from college art days. Someday I hope to have a place to set it up at home.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Project idea... Twiggy names

We have this photo with our last name in twigs up in our house. I love personalized things and have found it's a fun way to give a very inexpensive and thoughtful gift to friend... When I'm somewhere where there are lots of snapped and broken twigs around, I spell out names of people I love and take pics.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Re•Joy - jan 13 - 77 degrees and snowy

After school yesterday, we got a text from a neighbor... "we have snow on our front yard! Come sledding!" I happened to have one extra pair of pants in the car for Mimi, and z just wore his shorts, but we trucked over the 5 blocks and the kids sledded to their hearts' content. Mimi's BFF Tina was with us and had never seen snow before...
I remember seeing a commercial when I was a kid of a family in LA buying snow for their front yard, but how many kids actually ever have that happen???

Friday, January 13, 2012

WIP - timeline quilt

WIP - timeline quilt
WIP - timeline quilt, a photo by libby dibby on Flickr.
It's rare to start and finish a quilt top in one day, but this one is an idea I have been sketching versions of in my journal for months.
I'm not sure I love it as a quilt, but if I look at it as expressive artwork in the form of a quilt... It says exactly what I wanted it to say.
WIP - timeline quilt
I'll likely hand quilt it... Keep you posted...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Re. Joy - Jan 12 - working it out

I've been outside a lot. Reading. Soaking up sunshine. Thinking. Journaling.
Today was beautiful outside, but I spent it inside. I took my tools and went to my dad's design studio to use a room in his building that was once offered to me as a studio. It's quiet there. Lots of natural light, clean floor space and a great table. A room of my own.
Today I sewed for most of my day - other than having lunch with both of my parents. I was hoping to find a way in fabric to express this chaos I have walked through.

This piece is big and jarring to look at. That was intended. It's stressful looking. Also intended. It's dissonant. It's an unsolved question. It's hard to figure out how to place it properly. But, it's only a piece of the puzzle. Only a section of a larger whole. It's quite cathartic, too. Now I will work with it's placement into context.
I have to also look at my personal circumstances. As chaotic and inexplicable as they may be, they have to somehow become placed into context. They are not the big picture. They are just a piece of a big picture. I'm knee deep in fallout now, but I know there will be a bigger, more
peaceful framework around this later. And given some breathing room, it won't hurt as much as it does now.

Re-building joy - Jan 11

Jan 11. I spent it with my dear friend (and maid of honor, 12 years ago!), Amy. Ironically, Amy lives in Thailand, but passes through LA a couple times a year and as such, I see her more than any other long-distance friend of mine. She always seems to be passing through during big events... She was here the day after Z was born, the day after G arrived... So many amazing moments.
We spent the morning on a hike in Bronson canyon. (you can see the Hollywood sign behind us in that photo we took of ourselves)... It was quiet, and we laughed remembering a lot of hikes together over the years. Hikes during college in Malibu, which often took pause by trees as I sketched or took photos and Amy spread out her homework....

Hikes we've taken together in Idaho, Israel (daily home through a forest, from the archeological dig we worked on for a summer), and in Thailand when I visited her...
If there is one person in the world that I know how to be quiet with, it's Amy.

She texted this morning, saying she wished she had the right words to say. But the people I am enjoying the most right now are not the ones trying to be encouraging, finding the right things to say. The most safe people I have found now are the ones who admit that they are at a loss for words and are willing to allow the silence and unfinished sentences and unanswered questions to be a part of our encounter.
Those are the people that I am surrounding myself with these days. Those are the friends I am having lunch with. And I love them for that.
I love a friend who knows that sometimes silent presence or willingness to walk into my pain and confusion is the best thing they can offer.
You all know who you are. You friends who have emailed with me, texted, hugged, shed tears, left cookies on my porch, mailed little packages, all of it. I am surviving because I know you are not afraid of my pain. You aren't trying to fix anything or say the right thing and you love me right where I am at.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Re-building joy - Jan 10

I spent the first 23 years of my life within 5 miles of the beach. Then I moved to Chicago for 5 years and now we live about 10 miles inland and there are weeks I go without seeing the ocean. Today's little tiny sliver of ocean was a part of a peaceful day in Santa Monica - which started with tea and scones with a precious friend in a new favorite tea room and moved on to a day spent redeeming a gift certificate at a spa. I snuggled into a robe and read a book by the enclosed outdoor fireplace. It was quiet today. I thought of about 9 other things I wanted to do and intentionally cut them out.
My carpool partner and I were chatting this morning and she was holding me accountable, saying "are you making sure to not get distracted and waste your precious hours?" I told her, yes, I'm literally writing these events into my calendar and doing my chores and obligations around them. We all know that intentional time for our souls is so easy to give away to the things that speak louder... Kids, meals, laundry, a neighbor needing emergency babysitting. These things all are still happening. But in being intentional in joy-building, I'm making sure that I don't ignore myself. Or little slivers of the ocean that are still there, even when I'm not.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rebuilding joy - January 9

Yesterday our pastor read a beautiful prayer by Thomas Merton that I copied into my journal this morning during some quiet time.
 After my appt with my therapist today, I went to Barnsdall Art Park and sat barefoot on a wall in the sunshine overlooking Los Angeles and Hollywood.

Time to be quiet. Time to think... Today my therapist said that as things calm down in life I will also find that pain percolates to the surface... Because my heart and brain are finding safe moments to release it. I think of the cement stepping stone Mimi and I made this weekend. We mixed it up really well and then as things settled, I showed her how tapping on the edges, there will be air bubbles that come to the surface.  "see, we didn't know that was in there. And it would have made your stone weaker, but now it's out. And it will be stronger."

Time to be quiet... I so wish I could heal quickly, in a microwave maybe. But there are some things that seem to have to cure naturally, in fresh air and sunshine... Like cement. And broken hearts.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mimi's fabric collage

Mimi's fabric collage
Mimi's fabric collage, a photo by libby dibby on Flickr.
It took over our living room for two days. Mimi was a hard worker and even got everyone in the on the act at some point as she cut and glued through my scrap bag. The finished project is about 4'x6' and now is proudly hanging in her bedroom above her bed.
She worked on it between making a cement stepping stone and knotting a fleece pillow. The girl is a crafting machine...(can't imagine where she got that from, I wish my day were as fun as hers!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Treat mail

I think mail is one of my most favorite things in the world. I think I once confessed to J that every time I look for the mail, I harbor a secret hope that there will be a box on the porch, wrapped tight with a pink or red satin ribbon. I honestly wouldn't care what was in the box, but I have so much joy over mail coming to my door... Well, today brought a pretty painted box from a high school friend... Inside was a poem and this super pretty hair clip (I love me a sparkly flower for my hair!) it feels good to be remembered.
...Thanks, Shanno, I super appreciate the love...

Rebuilding Joy - January 7

Mimi woke up today wanting to "make a poster". To her that means fabric collages made by raiding Momma's scrap bags and creating a scene on a big piece of canvas.
I offered to help her once it's finished... To anchor the pieces down with some machine stitches. She politely declined. "no thank you. I want it to look completely kid-made."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Color scheme happiness

Not a ton to report in the " re-building" category today... I did get a haircut, which meant I was treated well by my awesome hairstylist... and I ran a number of errands. (not inspiring)
But I did come home to a package of fabric from a friend, and that's always great. She'd offered to cut the fabric for me with her accuquilt cutter and I sent her fat quarters from a color scheme I'd been wanting to explore. I mailed it out on Tuesday and by Friday, this beautiful pile came back!
She even added in three fabrics from her own stash as an added present.
I've been wanting to play with tumblers for a while, so this will be a fun project to pursue.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rebuilding Joy - Jan 4

I couldn't pic which photo was prettier, so you get both.
The lemon tree in the backyard is going crazy with lemons. Its not a big tree, but it is mighty fruitful.
I'm busy digging up recipes for lemon chicken, lemon cake, lemon everything.... I've been drinking fresh lemonade every day.
These smell just as good as they look. I swear, the sunshine makes them smell better too.



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