Friday, January 23, 2015

Inspired by Amy Butler and Oaxaca

I'm inspired by Amy Butler—her fabrics, her ability to combine color and pattern, her fresh palettes. I have a special place in my heart for her because she was my very first profile subject for Quilts and More magazine, back in 2006, which was my first freelance piece for a quilting publication. The opportunity to write that piece, so graciously given to me by editor Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, really changed my career direction and consequently my life.

Last week I got the chance to interview Amy again and it turns out she loves Oaxaca, Mexico, as much as I do. We talked about the incredible colors, people, landscapes, and textiles. It reminded me to share a few photos from our Christmas in Oaxaca. Hope you enjoy them.

Friday, January 16, 2015

No Sewing Without Lipstick!

Thought you might enjoy this tidbit from our sewing past. As my friend who sent it to me said, it was obviously written by Mr. Singer....All this preparation for sewing would mean I'd never get to it! And the prep involves nothing creative, only making yourself look presentable should others stop in unexpectedly. By the time I'd made all the beds, washed the dishes, put on the clean dress that I undoubtedly had to first iron, fixed my hair and put on lipstick, I'd be ready for bed. I'm grateful the "rules" of sewing engagement have changed.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Sew Together Bag

Sometime this fall, I managed to make a Sew Together bag. The design is so clever and I've seen lots of them on Instagram, so when I stumbled upon the SewDemented booth at Quilt Market, I bought a pattern. I thought it might be a good class project, but truth be told, it's pretty darned labor-intensive.
I used fabrics I'd had in my stash for a long while—Echino prints and Cloud 9 Geocentric canvas—all on heavier substrates, which I thought would make for a nice, sturdy bag. And indeed it did, although I think it made the layers a little thicker and more challenging to sew through.

I didn't wind up having enough of the exterior Echino fabric and so pieced in some Cloud 9, and I'm pleased with the result and will definitely make the bag again, although doing some batch sewing (making several at once) would be more efficient.

I also highly recommend the Quilt Barn sew-along tutorial from last March. It broke steps down even further than the instructions and was super helpful.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's a New Year! Looking Back and Looking Forward

It's been two full months since I last wrote. There are lots of reasons why, including the suspicion that blogging may be on the way out and time is best spent elsewhere. But much of it has been about a phase of my life, one that involves adult children and elderly relatives, career successes and considering what's next, all mixed with the usual anxiety, guilt, and pleasures that come day-to-day.
Stockings for a class I taught at Home Ec, and for the public library holiday bazaar
I last wrote about my surgery, and while the result has been great—most people don't seem to notice the scar or are at least kind enough to say they don't—it took me out of circulation for most of November. Then I had two sets of houseguests, work at Home Ec, and work deadlines. I had to decline some work and missed some deadlines on other jobs, which is not my style at all and still grates on me. But my houseguests were important people in my life and I wanted to be with them,

Now I'm looking forward, toward the publication of Art Quilts of the Midwest, and thinking about how to do some publicity. It's looking like marketing the book will be almost as time consuming as writing it. But I can't wait for the day (next month!) when I get to finally see the finished book.

I've done a bit of sewing (the stockings above and a few other small projects), but I've been knitting like a fiend. Below are some cowls I finished up in time for holiday giving.

And though this poor blog has been neglected, I do keep up with Instagram. I love seeing what folks are up to, catching a brief glimpse into their lives, giving them a thumbs-up or making a brief comment, and moving along. I'm not so good at Facebook or keeping up with this blog, but if you're interested in what I'm up to, Instagram is a good place to find out. Follow me at @seamswrite and let me know your IG name and I'll follow you, too!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Passing the Soup: A Metaphor for Being There for Friends

When I write about myself, it's usually about my relationship with textiles. But today I'm going to share what I think is one of the loveliest and luckiest things about my life, and it's got to do with soup.

I consider myself a pretty healthy person—I try to eat thoughtfully and moderately. I walk 3-4 miles several times a week, I do pilates twice a week, all last winter I swam between a half-mile and a mile twice a week, etc. etc. Nevertheless, I've wound up needing significant medical interventions in four of the last five years. It's challenging on a number of fronts, not the least of which is because it doesn't fit with my self-image. But what's made it all bearable is the passing of the soup.
Pre-Soup Veggies
This past Monday, the day before I was scheduled to have significant surgery on my nose for skin cancer, my friend Emily called and said she wanted to stop by with some soup for me. She did and we chatted and she left a wonderful container of carrot-potato soup and some sweet potato pie. I had to cut our visit short because I was taking soup to my friend Greta, who had just had a baby. It made me realize how lucky I am to live where my community of friends looks out for one another in good times and bad.

This past year I've shared wonderful joy and deep sorrow with friends, and as much as possible I've tried to "pass the soup." Often I feel guilty that for one reason or another I'm not able to make someone an entire meal and feel that the little I do is inadequate. But when it's me on the other side, I'm reminded how there are many ways the "soup" gets passed, and how each one of those acts is meaningful and helpful.

Since my surgery, I've had a cadre of volunteers who arrive twice daily to walk Pearl, and who've brought dinner and breakfast. I've received flowers, take-out Thai food, cards, and phone calls. Greta's texted me photos of her dear, sweet new baby. Everyone has their own skill set and an amount of time they're able to give at that moment and each act of kindness adds up to an amazing whole. I've felt so loved and cared for during this medical incident (and the others). I hope I remember in a few weeks, when my face isn't swathed in bandages, that no matter what I do for someone, even if it seems small, it matters. It's worth doing.

Pass the soup. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Knitting vs. Sewing

Some days I worry that my love of yarn is overtaking my love of fabric. I do believe they can co-exist, but there are only so many hours in the day and if I'm knitting, then I'm not sewing (and vice-versa). But these cooler temps seem to call out for sitting in my chair, feet up and a cup of something warm by my side, knitting away on some rich, beautiful yarn.
Finished (but not blocked) Low Brow Cowl: Pattern on Ravelry, Madeline Tosh DK yarn
I've also really enjoyed upping my skill level and trying techniques that are new to me. I have had the grand advantage of working at Home Ec Workshop on Wednesday afternoons, when Lisa Wilcox Case serves as the Knitting Nurse. Lisa is a certified Master Knitter (I wrote about that here) and when it's not busy in the shop she freely gives of her advice and expertise. Suffice it to say, I am spoiled (but I've learned a lot, too).
Sugar Cane Hat: Pattern on Ravelry, Shibui Pebble and Silk Cloud yarn
I'm going to have a bit more time for sewing and knitting in upcoming days as there's some surgery on my horizon that will necessitate me staying home for two or three weeks. I've got work lined up, of course, but I won't be fulfilling my usual exercise classes, grocery runs, and other out-of-the-house activities, so I imagine more free time will be mine. I'm already lining up sewing and knitting projects—I'm in a real mode of wanting to finish those WIPs. We'll see how it goes.
Imposter Shawl: Pattern on Ravelry, Madeline Tosh DK yarn


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September is nearly over and it's 80 degrees outside. I am thrilled. I was already worried about the cold weather we'd had earlier and whether I'd  survive another winter if it started a month earlier. This little bit of extra sun and warmth gives me hope.

All that said, September has flown by. I taught mitered corner baby blankets at Home Ec Workshop and had a great group of students:
Our friends John and Dianne visited with their Great Danes Bella and Cobalt:
I kept working away at my Lowbrow cowl—a knitting fiasco that has finally been righted:
I attended the opening of Common Thread, an exhibition organized by artist, teacher, and professor Greta Songe (my friend and soon-to-be mom). Here we are with Vanessa Christensen and Astrid Bennett (we're standing in front of one of Astrid's quilts). Greta invited me to participate, but I just couldn't envision myself as an "ARTIST." Time to disabuse myself of that sort of thought, right? Next time, Linzee, be bold.
Attended the opening of Erick Wolfmeyer's exhibition in Davenport. His already amazing quilts looked even more so in the lovely gallery setting at St. Ambrose:
Finished an Everyday Skirt with Cotton and Steel on the outside and a touch of Carolyn Friedlander in the pockets. Fun to sew, cute pattern, totally comfy, but challenging to wear if you're no longer of the tucking-your-shirt-in generation. Trying to figure out the right top to go with it.
Spent a day with the Cake Bible, making Paul a couple of cakes in celebration of his significant birthday. My favorite part—he actually id'd the instrument as a Les Paul Gibson. Total guitar-nerd.
How was your September? What have you been sewing...or baking...or seeing?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Vacation: Stitching, Reading, Relaxing

Spent a couple of weeks at our family cabin in late August, and though we didn't have swimming weather and our guests weren't able to come, we still had the most relaxing time. Though we did a lot of kayaking we never did any real swimming, but we couldn't leave without our traditional inner tube-and-a-brew float.
Because the weather was so crummy, I didn't feel too guilty about staying indoors, reading and sewing. I read three books and managed to finish my string-pieced top, cut out and sew a new quilt (Mod Nine-Patch from the Moda Bake Shop made with Zen Chic Spheres and a few stray fabrics), and bind the hexagon quilt I started in 2012...finally!!! (Don't have a photo of this finish.)
We also went fishing one day, way up in the Boundary Waters, with Don Beans, a guide of 32 years. He definitely knew where the fish were hiding and where to put the fish guts at lunchtime so that an eagle would come and visit. It was a fantastic day that included a shore lunch, cooked by Don over a wood fire. Such a treat, and we're still eating fish we brought home with us.

Our great guide Don Beans
We paddled across the lake and did a little blueberry picking—despite the late-summer date we still managed to pick two cups. And my sister Marcia and her husband Gary picked a gallon of berries and left them in the freezer. They'd been up in July, when the berries were more plentiful. So I baked blueberry coffee cake and we had blueberry pancakes twice.




Returning to reality hasn't been much fun, I'll admit. While I hate leaving Iowa City in the summer, and especially this summer, with its moderate temperatures, I never relax at home in the same way that I do at the cabin...PJs til noon; cheese and crackers and grapes for dinner if we feel like it, along with an extra glass of wine; and reading til all hours. It's definitely the good life!