I started buying the Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine when it came out printed on a mimeograph machine. I collected them even though I was not a quilter. I was a seamstress, I made clothing, including wedding apparel. When we moved from the East Coast to San Jose a group of the ladies in the neighborhood, all from New York, formed a Tuesday night group. We brought whatever handy work we were doing at the time. I did Needlepoint, my own designs inspired by a picture I might see in a magazine. Sometimes it was from a kit, but kits were expensive. I designed an occasional canvas that my friend Sharon Maher would buy from me.
One of the ladies in the group who kept the shell of an old VW bug in her backyard decided that she alone would bring a renaissance of quilting. I admired that. I thought someday I might be a quilter. With two toddlers I was sure it wouldn’t be anytime soon. I couldn’t even afford to buy a quilt at a flea market. If one was on the side of the road, I might stop for it, but that would be the only way I would own one.
I did love fabric and occasionally for an outing as a family we would ride the train into San Mateo. There was a mall there and in one of the stores they had a bin with scraps of fabrics leftover from silk ties. I learned to make men’s ties. My mother made the boys cute little short sets out of seersucker to wear so any sewing I did was usually for myself.
When we moved from San Jose to San Diego it was small and quiet. There wasn’t much to do and I didn’t know anyone. It was a young neighborhood with a lot of young children. Cheryl Herr lived down the street and in her living room sat a quilting frame. She could make a whole cloth quilt in a week completely hand quilted. She’d shop at K-Mart and buy two twin-sized sheets and a roll of polyester batting. All the furniture would be pushed to the side until she finished the quilt. I was inspired. I was not interested in a quilt made from sheets although her quilts were beautiful. She told me I could do it. Funny thing, I believed her. You have to believe you can do something or it will never happen.
The only place to buy fabric was at Sears. We had two and neither one was close, both were approximately the same distance in opposite directions. One day I was out with my next door neighbor and shopping buddy Barbara Johnson. She acted as my welcome wagon. She would drive me around and show me how to get places. One day we ended up in Escondido at Sears approximately 20 miles north of us. There was a needlework shop to buy threads for my needlepoint and Sears. I had scrap fabrics and an idea. My first quilt almost became my last quilt. When you say, how hard could this be, you then find out. Putting the top together was not as difficult as sitting and hand quilting the top. It was summer and it was hot. I had a large embroidery hoop on a frame. I would quilt during the day in the sunlight while the boys napped. My quilting time could be very limited.
I limited my pallet which simplified the design process.
I still like this quilt, which belongs to my oldest son.
Are there days you find yourself circling looking for something you want?
I wrote on my morning pages all the things I could do today. My list involved things I could do in my workroom. Clear out empty boxes that are taking up space. I checked that off. Then my stair stepper was in the way. I always kept it under the sofa in the living room should the urge to exercise strike. When we put down a new rug in the living room the stair step was moved to my workroom — yeah like I am going to exercise there? It went back downstairs to live under the sofa again. I need all the floor space in my workroom. Moving the stair stepper opened up enough space to set up my ladder to put yarn bins back on the shelf.
If you have followed what I’ve written you may remember I started sorting, and then I sorted some more, and then more. It was like an obsession. I am not an obsessive person. I just got to a point where I couldn’t find what I wanted when I wanted it. It happened again.
Since I have been going around in circles I thought it might be better to stop making new work and go back to working in a series which is what I like to do. I have to follow my instinct and my intuition. I wanted to find the last piece of art that was almost finished, but where did I put it? I am to the point where I can find everything. I have separated my finished works from my unfinished works and labeled it all.
I looked everywhere that I thought it could be for three days. Then I told myself, it will turn up I am certain. I was lost for what I may have done with it. Where did I remember having it last? The living room next to my favorite chair where I do my hand quilting, yes I still hand quilt special pieces which will probably never know a washing machine. One morning I thought of the most obscure place I might put it. I was knitting pet blankets in December, but then company was coming, so I fast gathered. Under the stairs there was a basket with bulky yarn. On top of the basket was the lid to a box I was using to put donation books into. I lifted the lid covering the yarn. Almost completely covered by the yarn was a corner of the quilt — hiding. I found you, my Very Colorful Quilt, a reason to celebrate.
Lazy Saturday, sit in the sun? The sun is out and the hurricane has passed us by.
It’s time for a pot of chili on the stove. A dinner that allows me more time to work on a project. I got stuck here in a riot of color. When that happens I either go on an adventure looking for inspiration or browse books. Needless to say I didn’t have luck with either. Instead I went back to organizing. When in doubt — try avoidance.
I worked in my library corner which has become a catch-all. It felt good. I found three bags of yarn. I found a stack of my photography books. Also found some of my favorite quilt books which I took off the shelf and didn’t get put back. It will feel good to get this space organized and also found an idea to finish the joyously colorful four patch quilt blocks.