Transitions in Creativity

Sarah Bush on Make Great Stuff blog was talking about transitions while being creative in her blog post recently. She give some great examples, which make this concept easy to relate to our own lives.

I cataloged the techniques I use to being creative. They are below. I think you also need to know some other things about yourself:

  • when you work best. I am a morning person. By 6 or 7pm, I am done machine sewing and just an accident waiting to happen.
  • self motivation. I am very motivated, which is good. I can work early when I don’t have anyone around to spur me on. I also don’t need groups (mostly) or to follow something like a mystery quilt project to be creative.
  • your morning ritual related to your creativity. I like to get up pretty early on the weekends, do my exercises, drink my tea, perhaps write in my journal. If I go to bed at midnight the night before none of this will happen, because I will get up too late. My whole date will be off.
  • how you get back on track. If I am off track like described above, I need to know my techniques for getting myself back on track.
  1. I keep a lot of different things going so I always have a hard thing or an easy thing depending on my mood.
  2. I keep the creative inputs coming using podcasts and blogs if I can’t be actively engaged in creating personally.
  3. I also do warm ups. My warm ups are sewing squares or random pieces together. Eventually they may end up as something, but their important function is to get me engaged in my work for the day.
  4. Pressing fabric is a good way ease transitions and give me a few minutes to think about what comes next. Pressing is also a good activity when someone calls and they are interrupting, but you can’t not talk to them.
  5. I also prepare work to be done later. Not only is this a good activity in itself, it prepares work for later (see #1 above). For example, I may make the straps for a bag, but not make the bag until later. When I do get around to making the bag, the straps are ready. Also, I often cut all the pieces for a pillowcase or set of napkins or a bag and then sew later. Breaking up the steps of projects eases transitions from one project to another or from a non-quiltmaking task to a quiltmaking task.

I am not sure if the techniques above always help with transitions. I am constantly seeking a way to move smoothly from life to quiltmaking. Many of the items above do help me NOT have to think about what comes next. The podcasts and other “creativity on the go media” help keep me immersed in quiltmaking.

I also have to be strict with myself. For example, I sew first and play on the computer later, or if I finish this journal cover, then I can play on the computer for 15 minutes.

Sarah mentions other tricks and tips that help as well. Clearing off your cutting table or organizing your supplies. Last week, when I felt so grumpy, clearing off the desk in my workroom helped change my attitude. I didn’t even really do a great job.I did, however, go through everything on there and file a few things, which helped make me feel better.

I think humans like rituals. Part of transitioning to getting down to business is creating a ritual that gets you there. What is your ritual?

Chocolate Box Finished

Chocolate Box Finished
Chocolate Box Finished

The last bit of the Chocolate Box I had to do was the sleeve. I made it in a short amount of time and then it seemed to take me forever to sew it on. I really had a hard time keeping the tucks out of the back of the quilt. Not sure why. Anyway, another project off my plate. Hooray!

Creative Prompt #82: Curve



Blackberry Curve

In mathematics, a curve is, generally speaking, an object similar to a line (geometry) but which is not required to be straight. (Wikipedia)

Curves Health clubs and Fitness Centers

Dynamic Yield Curve


Post the direct URL (link) where your drawing, doodle, artwork is posted (e.g. your blog, Flickr) in the comments area of this post. I would really like to keep all the artwork together and provide a way for others to see your work and/or your blog.

The Creative Prompt Project, also, has a Flickr group, which you can join to  post your responses. I created this spot so those of you without blogs and websites would have a place to post your responses.

Take a curve too fast

Learning curve

Daily Treasury Yield Curve

Photoshop Curves tool

Demand curve


body type


New Bag for Me!

Half Moon Tote
Half Moon Tote

This is the larger size of the Anna Maria Horner Multi-tasker tote. I wanted to make a bag that worked with the Moda Half Moon fabric after the Mini Multi didn’t turn out as expected. I am pretty pleased how this one turned out.

Half Moon Tote - detail
Half Moon Tote – detail

I might be done with this pattern. I dug the Cruzer & Little Cru pattern out and may start working on that.

Old Project Resurfaces

Cross Stitch Sampler
Cross Stitch Sampler

One of my first serious craft undertakings was cross stitch. Counted cross stitch. I started cross stitching when I escaped to Denmark for a week during a difficult year. I went to visit my Danish sister and her family. Ulla, my Danish sister’s mother, treated me like her long lost daughter. One of the things we did was go to downtown Copenhagen and buy a cross stitch pattern. The pattern I bought, daffodils, was Eva Rosenstand / Clara Waever brand, as is the one above. It was the perfect for a long, cold, snowy winter project. Ulla showed me how to follow the pattern and make perfect stitches.

I finished that daffodil wallhanging and gave it to her. The next time I went to see the family, my little cross stitch was hanging, framed, in a place of honor in her dining room. It made me feel so good.

Cross Stitch Sampler Top/Middle
Cross Stitch Sampler Top/Middle

I bought this pattern years later. I think I bought it in Solvang and it was wildly expensive. I worked diligently on it and was so proud when the border came out perfectly.

Cross Stitch Sampler Top Corner
Cross Stitch Sampler Top Corner

I have never created a quilt border that perfectly. You can tell it is Danish, because of the extra letters from the Danish alphabet. No, I do not speak Danish.

I gave it to my grandmother as a gift fo her birthday. I didn’t have the money to have it framed, which was a shame, because the presentation would have been a lot better. She opened it and before she got the whole thing out of the box, her husband said “WHAT are we going to do with THAT?” I felt so deflated and I never saw the piece again. I worked so hard on it and I was sure that it went to Goodwill in one of the regular purges that my grandmother loves.

Cross Stitch Sampler Bottom
Cross Stitch Sampler Bottom

Last week, my mom gave me a small package wrapped in lime green tissue. I wanted to go to Solvang on the way to or from Long Beach to get another cross stitch pattern from the shop there. It just didn’t get high enough up on the priority list.

When I opened the package I almost cried. My grandmother had sent me back this sampler. She hadn’t gotten rid of it! I was thrilled. I really did a nice job on this project and I am going to get it framed and hang it in a place of honor.

New Bag

Blue Flower Tote
Blue Flower Tote

This is one of the totes that made over the past week or so. I think I bought the fabric when I was in Maryland a few years ago. I bought the fabric specifically for a tote bag. It has been in my tote bag fabric box for awhile. I started to wonder why I bought it and then I found a great use for it. I like the fabric, but it turns out not to be a fabric that I would carry around. I think I bought it at the beginning of my tote bag making mania when I didn’t have a lot of tote bag fabrics.

I used a tea pot fabric for the inside.

Blue Flower Tote Bag - detail
Blue Flower Tote Bag – detail

SFQG: Christine Barnes Lecture

Barnes' Color Wheel
Barnes' Color Wheel

Christine Barnes spoke at a guild meeting last Tuesday. I got the notice and decided I would attend. My mom is still moving, so she couldn’t go with me. I have long admired Ms. Barnes work. I really enjoyed some work on luminosity done by her students, which I saw at the Monterey Quilt Guild Show. I’d like to sign up for that class. Barnes was teaching it at the Peninsula Quilt Guild last week, but work was crazy, so I couldn’t take off and had to miss it.

At the meeting, while waiting for the lecture to start, I went up to peruse her patterns, displays and other materials. I was impressed with her color work, but also with Ms. Barnes as a person. She came right up to me and started talking to me like a normal person. She came across as very real and not at all egotistical. She wore violet jeans! 😉 We talked about the magazine articles she had written or which had been written about her. One article had a picture of her kitchen, which is white and chartreuse! It was gorgeous. She also showed me a magazine I had never seen before: Fabrications. It is a UK publication and I will have to check it out.

Speaking and Showing
Speaking and Showing

Christine has degrees in Costume Design, Textiles and Journalism. She lived in Palo Alto for years and was an editor at both Sunset Books and Martingale. She has taught and lectured about quiltmaking for more than 10 years, including 7 or 8 years at Empty Spools / Asilomar. She has a new book coming out with C&T called The Quilter’s Club. During her entire lecture, I got the impression that she LOVES fabric, loves making quilts, really enjoys working on her projects and just has fun. I loved that!

She calls the color wheel a magical tool for quilters, because it helps a quiltmaker go past using the focus fabric to add color to quilts. In her travels, she has found that many of the preeminent quiltmakers use a color wheel so often that they have one posted on their studio wall.

“Magic fabric” is a concept that Ms. Barnes talked about and uses in her work. A magic fabric is a fabric that makes blocks glow. They are shot with light, often gradated, create ethereal effects, have vitality and life to them. Often hand-dyes and batiks fit into this category. Chaos can reign if one includes too many magic fabrics in a block or quilt. They are side dishes in your projects, a place for your eyes to rest. She uses magic fabrics as backgrounds pretty often in her quilts.

Elin Noble, of Massachusetts, daughter of Maurine Noble, creates beautiful hand-dyes, which Ms. Barnes mentioned frequently. I had no idea, so I’ll have to go check out her work. We were warned that Noble’s fabrics are not cheap.

She talked about luminosity, transparency and depth as effects. She also gave examples of her use of those effects. Value was something she gave a simple definition for: value is about light, medium and dark fabrics; how light or dark a fabric is. Christine Barnes said that value creates the pattern in a quilt and creates a sense of depth. I have heard value described in different ways. I kind of like this definition, but need to think about it and look at some quilts with this idea in mind. Some other information she uses:

  • temperature: how warm or cool a color is – red, orange, yellow are all warm and come forward. Cool colors recede and include blue, green and violet.
  • intensity: saturated, pure, clear. Not about color.
  • proportion has an effect on the impact of the quilt.
  • Ms. Barnes thinks a lot about how light hits color when she is choosing fabrics.
Wash of Color
Wash of Color

She had some other things to say about fabric, which I thought were interesting:

  • stripes with gradations (especially batiks) can organize a design especially when there are a lot of curves in your block or quilt.
  • woven plaids can be luminous
  • bringing a little color into a neutral quilt can create success;
  • in general, brining in little bits of other colors will make a quilt/project sing
  • when in doubt, throw in some black and white (her friend, Velda Newman says 90% black, 10% white)

Christine Barnes obviously loves fabric. She knew designers and fabric lines. She appreciates hand-dyes, but also uses commercial fabrics. She also knows her way around a sewing machine. She spoke about using partial seams like it was a no problem technique. YAY!

One thing I LOVED about Christine’s lecture was her concept of cheap thrills. One cheap thrill is mitering a striped border so that the corners end up with a chevron kind of look in the corners of your quilt. Another one of her cheap thrills is making large simple blocks and then cutting them up into quarters and put different parts back together in different ways.

Most of the quilts she showed were geometric, but Barnes showed us one quilt which was an abstract depiction of Kilauea volcano. It looked to me like a quilt showing cloud cities. I liked seeing that she was not stuck in her ways and was stretching herself in other ways besides just color.

Her color wheel was made from P&B Basics fabric and has 12 segments. You can buy one from her website.

Speaking and Showing Quilts
Speaking and Showing Quilts

I am really glad I could go to this lecture. I really enjoyed myself.


Block-a-Long Sneak Peek
Block-a-Long Sneak Peek

I finally decided that I would commit to posting block designs and instructions so we could do a Block-a-Long. What is a Block-a-Long? It is a project to make blocks. Hopefully, they will turn into a quilt, but that is a project for another day.

The blocks pictured are some of the blocks that we will be doing. Each block is 6″ finished. I have designed 40 blocks so far. All of them, so far, are straight line sewing – squares and rectangles. There won’t be any curves in the project, but there may be some triangles.

I don’t plan to give you step by step instructions on how to put a block together, though in the blog post, I may give you some tips and tricks to help you along.

The directions will be from EQ7 and will include a picture of the block, what pieces to cut to make the block and that’s it. Of course, if you have questions, you can leave them in the comment field.

First task: go and choose your fabric. Choose some colors that you enjoy. Select a fat quarter pack you have been saving. Choose a theme such as dots or stripes. Go buy yourself some new fabric (FabricWorm has some great fat quarter and half yard packs that they have put together). Use some color combinations that you have always wanted to try.

I’ll wait about a week for you to gather your fabrics.

I selected my fabric a couple of months ago when TFQ was visiting. I am hoping to use each fabric 3 times in the quilt.

Sorbet Fabric Palette
Sorbet Fabric Palette

Yes, there are a lot of fabrics in my group. I want my quilt to be really scrappy. You don’t need to have this many. You can always add more later.  This is a great project for scraps, so you could just pull fabrics out of your scrap bin. A two color quilt will work well, too, I think, though you may want to use different fabrics of the same colors

I know you have seen the blocks below before. These are some of the first blocks you will be doing. The point is not to make you miserable by posting difficult blocks to struggle through, but to have a little fun and, perhaps, work with color. Have fun!

Sorbet Blocks
Sorbet Blocks

Creative Prompt #81: Middle

Post the direct URL (link) where your drawing, doodle, artwork is posted (e.g. your blog, Flickr) in the comments area of this post. I would really like to keep all the artwork together and provide a way for others to see your work and/or your blog.

The Creative Prompt Project, also, has a Flickr group, which you can join to  post your responses. I created this spot so those of you without blogs and websites would have a place to post your responses.

Middle manager

Caught in the middle

Middle class

Middle school

Soft in the middle

Middle child

Middle East

The Middle Way [Zen, Buddism]

Find middle ground

Middle English

Middle man

Middle C (music?)

Get in the middle [of an argument]

Middle Kingdom

Middle Atlantic

Middle Ages

Middle Cyclone by Neko Case

The Middle Passage

Battle for Middle Earth

Malcolm in the Middle

Middle Tennessee

Middle ear

What’s on my Design Wall

Design Wall 8/15/2010
Design Wall 8/15/2010

I have mentioned several times recently making incremental progress on a variety of projects, but not any major progress on one project. I decided I would show you some of the projects.

I have to say that the FOTY progress I made on Monday really helped me feel better about my progress.

Above is my design wall over the weekend.

Frosted Stars - Cut
Frosted Stars - Cut

First up are the pieces for the Frosted Stars. Keep in mind where the fabrics are is not necessarily where they will stay in the finished pieces. As I cut them, I slapped them up. A lot of the creams with various motifs were on top. I definitely won’t put them all in one block next to each other.

I added that turquoise in because I thought it needed some. It really makes the piece pop.

Frosted Star with Turquoise
Frosted Star with Turquoise

The blue in the 12 Days of Christmas by Kate Spain line is more light sky blue. It reminds me a of turquoise, but definitely isn’t. I asked DH what he thought. Being a much quieter person and more fond of earthy colors, he was diplomatic. I could tell he thought it was a little bright. 😉 He suggested a silver.

Frosted Star with "Silver"
Frosted Star with "Silver"

I want the quilt to be scrappy, but I do want some continuity within the blocks,, thus I want the four triangles that make up the third piece in the star to be the same fabric. Above I have added some Robert Kaufman Fizz to audition for that spot. The photo was a little dark, so I lightened it up a little bit so you could see it better. Yes, I am copping to digital enhancement.

Silver is hard to find without delving into the lame’ realm. I like this Fizz line, as  you know, and this silver grey looks pretty good with the other fabrics.

So far, that is my take on the Frosted Stars.

Next up: Upper lefthand corner

Upper Left
Upper Left

I have been cutting 2″ squares and making random four patches out of them. Some of them I stick in letters to my friends. If I make enough of them I will eventually have enough for a quilt. Sandy from Quilting for the Rest of Us did a podcast on scraps. If you haven’t listened to it, please do so, because it is a good one and this sort of dovetails into it. Bottomline: great way to use scraps.

Zig Zaggy Pieces
Zig Zaggy Pieces

I thought I mentioned these pieces in some detail, but I only found a brief reference. The long pieces are what I am going to make the Zig Zaggy quilt from. The small pieces have to be replaced with other fabrics and they are on the wall until I do so.

Sorbet Blocks
Sorbet Blocks

In case I didn’t say, this project is no longer a palette cleanswer. Now it is a UFO. I haven’t completely lost interest. In order to generate some interest, I am thinking of doing a Block-a-Long. The idea would be that I would post patterns for each of the blocks at regular intervals and you would make them. Stay tuned!

There is quite a bit going on on my design wall.

And More Diamonds

Diamond 8/16/2010
Diamond 8/16/2010

If you thought I was kidding when I said that I had cut a lot of fabric on Monday, you were mistaken. I think that is the way I shed those Crankypants I had been wearing for a week or more.

This group looks a little more light and airy than the last batch. The next group of fabrics I have to press are for the Frosted Stars, so I won’t be cutting diamonds from those until I have used all the fabric I need. I don’t think it will be long. I am almost done cutting fabric for those stars and then I can cut diamonds.

I am getting scared about how big this quilt will be.

More Diamonds

FOTY Diamonds 8/2010-2
FOTY Diamonds 8/2010-2

Here is another batch of FOTY Diamonds. I diligently pressed and cut for a good portion of the weekend. This isn’t a very lively batch. I am working my way through the stack that TFQ pressed and for some reason this is not a cheerful batch.

I have to admit that cutting the patches makes me think about sewing the project together and that prospect makes me a little bit anxiety ridden. I am thinking about using the P&B Fizz as the anchor colors. I still want to do a colorwash with the diamonds, but thought that if I lined them up in color order across the quilt, I could use them to start laying out the piece.

My other idea was to arrange them like a Lone Star and radiate the other fabric diamonds off of them from the center.

For the moment, however, I need to cut diamonds out of my fabric.

Interim Goings On

Well, my crappy day was put into perspective by Sandy of Quilting for the Rest of Us podcast fame. Her son was put into the hospital with severe appendicitis. He had surgery and is now in the ICU recovering nicely. YAY! If you have time, put a comment up on her blog wishing her and family some good thoughts. And I will work on getting over my stupid work issues.

If you haven’t listened to Sandy’s podcast, try it out. It is REALLY great. I chomp at the bit every week waiting for it. Sandy is funny, works hard to make her podcast professional, but keeps it human as well. She has a number of episodes up and all of them have some good information. I appreciate her research and find that she doesn’t perpetuate quiltmaking myths. She also seems to use more than the Internet for her research, which, as a librarian, warms my heart.

In my Inbox was this message from Judy Martin:

“Greetings quilters,

Three quick notes for you on a Sunday afternoon.

1) My big kitchen/bathroom renovation begins tomorrow. I’ve begun documenting the project with photos and tales at

2) If you have ever wanted to own a quilt or quilt top made by Judy Martin, the time has never been better. I’m losing a lot of my storage space, and the cost of the renovation scares me. I’m motivated to sell some quilts. Here are all the details:

I’d certainly be grateful if you would pass this along to anyone else who might be interested.

3) While dancing through the chaos, I’m going to try to get a regular newsletter out in the next 2-3 weeks. Thanks for all your support.

Judy Martin

I took a look at the website and can understand needing and wanting to remodel. Of course, nobody ever WANTS to remodel, because the hell seems to go on forever. Take a look at her remodel pictures and her quilts.

Also, from the Good Quilt Customer Service Department comes this story:

I decided that I wasn’t going to use the Hunky Dory Jelly Roll that I bought for the Zig Zaggy Quilt back in March? April? I can’t remember, but it was a few months ago. I can’t always tell what the fabric looks like when I am shopping online.  I ordered the Me and My Sister Favorites as well as the Hunky Dory to see which was better for me and my project. I am a bright color kind of person and the Hunky Dory was soft and not for me and this project. After all of these months I decided that I needed another Jelly Roll for the Zig Zaggy quilt. FQ Shop had some.

I sent the invoice and asked if I could exchange the Hunky Dory Jelly Roll for the Me and My Sister Favorites Jelly Roll. Not only did Kathy at FQ shop say yes, but she also called me to make sure that I wanted a second Jelly Roll. She noticed that I had bought one back in March? April? As I said, I can’t remember,  it was a few months ago. We went over the shipping details and my Hunky Dory Jelly Roll will go back to Texas tomorrow to be added to someone else’s stash. Hooray.

And I will get to make the Zig Zaggy Quilt just a little bigger. I am tempted to put up my portable design wall and lay out the Zig zaggy quilt so I can see what I am facing. My regular design wall has no space.

So, I guess the day wasn’t completely crappy.