When I was growing up, there was this cardboard box in the cupboard in the hallway between my room and my brother’s and it was full of fabric scraps. I recognized some from things I had in the closet, mostly pajamas, honestly, but some other bits and pieces from dresses and tops. I had some scraps of fabric in college from classes I’d taken; being told that fiber and fabric were not of artistic merit, I ignored the professors and found classes at art centers in weaving and batik and eventually quilting. In the early days, I bought 1/8 yards, because I couldn’t imagine using up that much fabric ever. Eventually I graduated to half yards, which is mostly what I buy these days, except if I need yardage for bindings or backgrounds, or if all that’s available is fat quarters. When people give up quilting (whether temporarily to move to Morocco or permanently because it no longer gives them joy), they call me and I pick up their stashes. When someone dies and no one in the family sews, I pick up their stashes. When people move across country and can’t take it all with them, I pick up their stashes. Sometimes people see a piece of fabric and it speaks my name to them, and I get it in an envelope in the mail. Someone gave me an apron once because they thought I would like it; another person sent me a scarf.

I do love fabric, the patterns, the colors, and the texture, the flow, the hang, the drape, the shine, the touch, the feel of it.

I do probably have too much of it. Every year, I make a goal to use more of it, to piece backings and backgrounds and bindings and the like. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes it’s a shit year full of a pandemic, and although my shopping has been limited, somehow my stash has grown.

Hey, so this is just what’s in here with me. I took the doors off the closet. Each bin is color-coded. This is mostly cottons, although the crazy quilt fabrics are on the left.

So all that was the yellows, purples, whites, and some of the blues, greens, and blacks. I have a plan for redoing all this and reorganizing it…but I spent all the money to do that on fabric. OK, not really…I don’t actually buy a ton of fabric. Sitting at the computer and looking under the ironing board (like you do…damn…this is a small room and it’s impossible to get a photo without the ironing board in it)…these are most of the browns, all the oranges and reds, and a few more whites and pinks. Oh yeah, and one drawer of blue and one of black.

Well…pink isn’t exactly right. It’s my flesh collection. Yes, I wear Crocs in here…they’re bouncy and cushioned against concrete floors with no padding. I stand a lot.

Most of the fleshy pink bits hide under the sewing table, along with one more brown drawer and three black.

I like me some black and white graphic stuff.

This part is mostly a disaster. There’s some crazy quilt stuff in there, some muslin, some other solids, some quilts in progress, a pile of hand-dyed (by me) a bunch of batting, some pieces big enough for backgrounds or backings in the white drawers, plus grays, greens, and the rest of the blues. And behind all that is a small cat tunnel made of batting scraps. Don’t ask.

The cardboard box is where the cat has been hanging out lately. I can’t take it away from her.

It all needs cleaning and/or organizing. Don’t tell me to purge. I’ve tried it multiple times and it doesn’t bring me joy.

There is also fabric under my bed…mostly crazy quilt fabrics and wools and a few things that I don’t know how to get rid of, like velvets and dresses from my grandmother or mother or great aunt or who knows? Fabriholic. Yes I am. I’m OK with that. It’s not like I don’t use it.

Speaking of using it, I got a goodly chunk of the body parts ironed last night, the stuff that makes up the rest of the body besides the flesh…also a bird. But I still have lungs and hair and a baby to iron. Hopefully tonight. Then I’ll be done…

That’s all. That’s a lot of colors…

Then I get to cut stuff out.

Looking forward to it. I relax with scissors. Actually, I also relax on walks. We dared to take the old lady dog out on a longer walk (it was probably a bit too long), but we saw two white-winged kites…first time ever, I think.

Great photo, I know…distance is not a phone camera’s friend. Same with this…

Spot the blurry coyote. Ah well. Reminds me it was there.

The skies have been gorgeous for weeks…probably a sign the world is ending.

We’ll find out later that COVID has infected the sky. Lovely poinsettia from my school friends. Matches the sky.

They also brought me this calendar for 2021, since I will probably be distance teaching for most of it. Shoot me now.

Yeah well. It’s hard not to give a shit and still care about teaching. I don’t know how to turn off the ‘care about’ part, so I just try to keep as chill as possible about it with the rest of the crazy shit swirling around right now.

But in good news, even with the stupid electoral college, we now no longer have a Trump in office. May his fuckery take him down. But we’re watching, y’all. Put it all back where it was. Bring back the environment and get those immigrant families back together and if one of our asshole doctors removed a uterus without permission, then those families need to be compensated, and surely there are numerous people who belong in jail right now, and probably numerous people who ARE in jai and DON’T belong there, and let’s talk about global warming and taking care of people and finding money for businesses and people who are struggling right now. ALL OF THEM. Not just the Democrats, not just the rich people, not just the white people. Sigh. This last year has been such a fucking mess. And today is the 8th anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. So let’s do something about guns for once. Really.

Also this…

That’s for sure. OK. I have ironing to do. And I need more tea.

Love Your Fabrics…

Today’s topic is least favorite color. Huh. All colors are useful, even baby mustard-poop yellow-green. I don’t like red and yellow together, but they’re still useful…together and apart. Now WEARING colors, I won’t wear yellow or pink or orange, but I use those all the time in quilts. I don’t wear red…well, I wear dark red and burgundy and claret and other wine colors. But in my quilts? Holy crap, every color goes…they all have a purpose. I’m making pictures.

Now are there colors I don’t use as much? Depends on what the imagery is in the quilt. This current one is chock full of blues and purples in the sky and browns and greens in the earth. The flesh tones are a little brighter than what I normally do…there’s some orange and blue mixed in the pinky flesh tones. Yes, this one is pink. They aren’t all pink. This quilt doesn’t have much yellow in it, because there’s a moon instead of a sun, but it does have some.

Yeah. Color is necessary. All of it. The muddies, the brights, the dulls, the sparklies even at times, where they belong (I used sequins in one quilt and satin in another).

Look. Here’s the fabrics that are in the current quilt so far (I’m not done picking them yet)…

I think they’re all there. More to come tonight…

This was last night, ironing down the fleshy bits, which went on until well after midnight.

What I do for fun on a Saturday night hasn’t changed much…

This is the back side, but you can see that’s some pretty bright flesh.

Anyway, enough with most favorite and least favorite. Love your fabrics. Make them work for you.


Maybe it’s the word ‘favorite’ that bugs me. I’m not such a black and white person. The topic for Day 12 is Favorite Color. When? Today? Right now? Purple. Tomorrow morning, when I’m barely awake? Maybe teal or turquoise. Tonight I’m supposed to start ironing the figure in my quilt, so probably heading into the flesh terrain…so those are the pink boxes, which for me are one of the largest parts of my stash…not because I love pink (I don’t), but because I stash all the flesh tones in there, unless they are hiding in brown or purple…which some of them are. For backgrounds? I love a seriously dark blue…not black, which is my favorite (not)color to wear. And draw with. I love using really bright colors in my work, in my quilts, not on my body. But I appreciate a toned-down palette for when that’s what’s needed. So ‘favorite’. Not a thing. All of them. Wait until tomorrow…I’m supposed to talk about ‘least favorite.’ I think because I make figurative quilts, quilts that tell a story, that all the colors are important and useful. I don’t think of one being more or less useful than the others. They all have their place and I don’t dislike any one.

It’s different if I’m wearing them. Then it’s a different story, right? But every color has its place in the palette.

I ran that year of color thing on my Instagram for 2020 (a weird year, yes, but I still post on Insta almost every day)…

They analyze the colors in your photos by how much they appear. Interesting. So many flesh tones and blues.

I barely ironed last night. I worked and gamed and worked some more. I ironed a rocket ship and I think that’s it.

Oh, I laid out all the 800s. Flesh, baby.

This next section is a big commitment, with all the body parts in there. And it’s already almost 10:30 PM.

We hiked this morning, Boden Canyon, the third hike we’ve done in the Coast to Crest Challenge…

It was pretty; fall colors everywhere.

It’s probably pretty hot in summer, but I was freezing at the start.

It started down in the canyon and then climbed out a bit.

The whole Boden Canyon loop is over 14 miles with 2000-foot gain, which we did not do, although we did do 6.7 miles.

Came home, ate, exhausted, then graded for 5 hours, but got progress reports done. Woo hoo! A miracle.

Now I’m trying to wake up enough to start picking flesh fabrics. The man is working on his Santa disguise.

It was a nice hike, mostly flat for the bit we did.

I’m really not sure how this gate is supposed to work.

Intriguing construction. Anyway. Go outside. Do the nature thing. It’s good for you.

Me? I’m going to try to iron for a bit and then collapse into a death-like sleep. Then tomorrow, I’ll try to figure out what my least favorite color is, in between grocery shopping and trying to finish planning for the week. It’ll be good.

I Don’t Mind It…

Friday. Finally. I was surprised by my team today. They showed up here at my house (masked and social distanced) with wine and a poinsettia and a calendar of Fuckery (seriously…I’m going to love this desk calendar all year because distance learning will be forever, right?). I appreciate them coming over and sitting on my freezing cold deck in the dark on a Friday. The lack of connection to school is difficult. Really difficult. Even for an introvert.

Today’s blog challenge is ‘most impactful class’. Well, there’s the classes you like and the ones where you walk away and think, I’ll never do THAT again, or That teacher may be an amazing artist (she was), but she’s not a teacher (she wasn’t). I do think of three teachers who guided (pushed and shoved?) me in the direction I eventually ended up wandering off into.

The first was Susan, my original quilt teacher. She can be bossy about doing things “right”, but incredibly creative and supportive when you ignore her advice and do your own shit. I learned most of the basic quiltmaking stuff from her and then took classes from a ton of art quilters to get where I’m at today. Without her groundwork, though, I wouldn’t be able to make what I want.

Early on, I took a class from Joan Colvin. I don’t even remember if she provided pictures to start from. If she did, I didn’t use one. I didn’t even have a drawing. I just made shit up out of my head. But she would walk by my table and make minor suggestions and answer questions, giving me ideas of how to do things in ways I’d never thought of. Probably there’s a bunch of teachers who could have helped me in that way, but she was the first one. At the end of class, she was talking about class samples in quilt shows, and how you had to admit you’d started something in a class, but then she walked up to me and said, “You don’t have to admit you started that in my class. You did that without me.” It wasn’t entirely true, because I hadn’t considered how to make quilts without piecing or hand applique at that point, and how she did it was a significant change in my creation process. I do sometimes work that way now, but mostly not…it’s more the idea of having the fabric do the work of making the image without worrying as much about the process of attachment.

Here’s the Joan Colvin class quilt, A Study in Flesh (1999)…

The other early class was Laura Wasilowski…and again, I’m pretty sure she had patterns available, and in Nida fashion, I just started cutting out a naked woman and made the quilt. This is Fallen (2004).

She was actually started much earlier than the finish date…it took me a while to decide to turn her into a quilt. There are so many things wrong with the piece, but a lot of things are pretty good.

Eventually I took what I learned from all three teachers and turned it into what I do today. I honestly don’t take a lot of classes any more (although I’m doing a few at Craft Napa this year, just for fun). Summer 2019 I took a class in embroidery on paper. I think that was the last one. I don’t have much time outside of work right now, and I’d rather spend it making a new piece.

I think the most impactful class is the one that teaches you techniques or general ideas that push you off a cliff into making your own stuff. I do realize not everyone wants to do that though. I don’t mind it.

Last night, I got some bits in the sky ironed down…

I’m in the tail end of the 700s. Getting there. About to start ironing flesh.

This quilt seems to have a lot of colors in it. I don’t think I’ll get done this weekend. I have a long hike planned for tomorrow and grades are due Tuesday, plus I haven’t even gotten halfway through planning for next week. I worked until almost 11 PM, I think. Shit, it’s almost midnight. Sigh.

What I was doing with 6th grade art…

Should be interesting. They’re engaged in it anyway.

Advanced art is almost done with their self portraits. So much weird stuff I’ve done this year.

We’re almost at the halfway point.

Kitten curled up next to me as I tried to figure out how this stupid curriculum works.

I’m so tired these days. Anyway. I might iron one thing down, just to say I did, and then collapse into bed.

All About the Sky…

December is the month of Instagram’s Top Nine…always interesting to see what OTHER people liked of my posts. When I was younger, I’d listen to the top 106.7 songs (radio station) of the year. Do they still do that? I realize with the whole work-from-home thing that I am never in the car, never listening to the radio. That was the only place I listened. Interesting. So much new music could be coming out and I wouldn’t even know. For the daily blog challenge, today is the Top 5 books…probably not fiction, which is good, because I don’t think I could take it down to 5…like ever. My head has so many books in it, I wouldn’t be able to suss out this one from the next one. The top 5 books are the ones I’ve loved the most recently. I just finished Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir…great book, second in a series, but I think the second book was better than the first, and I loved the first one (Gideon the Ninth). But you’ll have to like some sci fi/fantasy to read it.

So probably, this being a quilty blog challenge, we should talk about quilt books. Probably most people would talk about how-to books or pattern books, but I’m of the opinion, being an art quilter, that you should peruse quilt art and fiber art books, or even just plain old ART books. Tickle the mind with inspiration and ideas and signs of others’ creativity. Book catalogs of the big artsy quilt shows, like Quilt National and Visions…I read those like novels, staring at the photos, reading the statements.

Compilations of many quilts, especially when they expand on the artist technique or intention…

You know, I love picture books.

I don’t want to know how to make that quilt. I’m fascinated with the why and the thinking behind it.

They don’t all have to be quilts to be inspirational…branch out.

I sold most of my quilt how-to books and pattern books years ago. I kept a few, Baltimore Album stuff, some historical ones, some embroidery how-to books, but mostly I have art books now. And I thoroughly enjoy them. Over and over again.

I should be doing schoolwork right now, but I did a lot of that today. Grades are due on Tuesday, though, plus I need to put together posts for next week for all three subjects/levels, plus finish grading all the panicked late work kids are doing, and do some weird engagement thing that I still don’t understand. So it makes sense that my brain is completely shut down at the moment, talking itself in circles actually, trying to decide whether hopefully cautious makes more sense than cautiously hopeful. Fuck me.

I ironed the sky last night. I made a run of 17 sky fabrics.

I pick out my favorites and then try to make them all work together, and in the end, they mostly do. I had a quilt drawing pop into my head just now when I was thinking about this run of 17 fabrics. And it was all about the sky. In a week, well plus a day, I’ll have time to draw it.

Sky pieces ready for ironing…

Fun stuff.

It’s only 10:30 and I’m exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for weeks.

Hi Nova. You are a sweet slightly cross-eyed cat.

I feel like I’m going cross-eyed with tiredness. I’ll go to bed a little early tonight. I still want to iron tonight, and I’ll have to work my butt off tomorrow getting stuff done (what’s new?). But I need a break from school and Zoom. I need a moment with my fabric, y’all.

Dream Project?

Sometimes I wonder what the assigned topic for the day MEANS. Like is there a project that someone is dreaming of doing? I guess? Like a Baltimore Album quilt or a Dear Jane? I don’t even know what the current-day equivalent is of those, I’m so out of the quilty loop. I did join a new quilt guild this year, right before the COVID shutdown, so although I occasionally go to Zoom meetings and see what people are working on, that one is the Modern Quilt Guild, so it’s really outside of my wheelhouse…I love looking at modern quilts, but I certainly don’t make them. And I don’t have a project I’m dreaming of doing of someone else’s design.

So what is my dream project? Well, it’s my own work. You know, I keep looking at artist residencies, and I know what I think I would like…at least a month, maybe two, far away from home. Not in California. Somewhere different than here. By myself (meaning no fam, no friends). In a space where I could roll out of bed into artmaking onto a deck overlooking a stunning view, a place that tempted with day hikes and just sitting outside, where I didn’t see people most of the time. Maybe dinners are communal, and once a week, a hangout of some sort (see this shit is pre- or post-COVID…not now). Just time and space to make what I want, away from needing to clean the house or empty the dishwasher or deal with the groceries. So I could just be in my Art Brain for a damn good long time.

That’s my dream project. I have researched some, although the one that was top on my list closed about three months into COVID. They couldn’t keep it going. It seemed a permanent shutdown too. Sad but true. There will be others, I know. It’s on my list of things to do in the future…whenever that future might be. Don’t assume you have plenty of time for that…sooner rather than later. I might need to downsize my ambitions to two weeks during the summer one school year. It’s definitely on my wish list. Think I’m hard to buy for? Laughing at that.

Speaking of laughing, my great uncle (who is now dead) encouraged me to draw when I was younger, and apparently while his son was cleaning out his flat files of very important things, he found this.

Oh yeah. A Nida original, circa age 9 (1976). He thought Louisa May Alcott? Perhaps. Perspective is uber flat. Nice though. Definitely showing this to my art students. I don’t remember drawing this AT ALL. Not surprising, although I do remember drawing some things back then.

In other artsy news, I finally ironed last night…

All those pieces for two books on the ground that take up maybe a 2″ square on the quilt.

That’s what’s left of the 400s? or the 500s? Don’t really know.

It’s the 500s. Getting close to halfway. The last two weeks have been such a clusterfuck. I was hoping to be much further along. Oh well. Here’s everything I’ve used so far…

Branching out beyond the greens finally.

My work station, now with Christmas lights.

I hung a Christmas quilt on the bookshelf behind me and put a tiny tree back there, for the kids to see. No. Really, it’s for me.

My real tree came in off the deck on Sunday…

She’s grown tremendously in the last few months…my original plan was to keep her in the house for four years and then plant her out. I figured out the growth each year and where she could go. Last year, she fit on the fireplace hearth. Not this year.

Here she was the first year, three years ago, 2017…

Same desk where I’m teaching now. Ah, Satchemo. So this is the fourth year, yeah? Fourth year as the official household Christmas tree. I think I thought I might get one more. I think not. Same pot. Probably needs to get planted out this year. I got the lights on and stopped there. Sweet Calli asleep on the couch.

Sweet Nova on me.

Sometimes you just need to blow off your job and pet a cat. Or a dog. Doesn’t really matter which. It was a long day.

Nice gift from a friend…I miss my peeps…

It’s a fowl language mug. There’s a Tit inside it. I do the blue-footed booby dance for my students normally. These are all real birds (the man is obsessed with the dickcissel), so I can take it to school with me. Zoom school. Yeah.

OK, it’s 10 PM. School really wiped me out today. Too much of things not working the way they should, of kids not helping each other. My expectations of what they could do were probably too high. We’ll adjust…make it work. No choice there. Gotta do it. For now, I’m allowed to have some apple cider and ironing time. I worked hard and long today, and tomorrow will be more of the same. Gonna keep thinking about that dream project though…maybe a few days in an Airbnb for Winter Break? Somewhere foresty and green? We’ll see.

Oldest What?

OK, the 6th day of this blog challenge is one of those topics that I feel like is more about project people than art people (and there’s some serious overlap there, y’all…art people sometimes just make projects, like me and the baby quilts, and project people sometimes make their own art)…Oldest UFO. I seriously don’t care if I have UFOs. Some of them will get done eventually, some of them will end up in another piece, and some were just so I could figure out how to do something (or how NOT to do something), and its existence in my current stash is really just because I hate to throw things out.

I know that somewhere in this house is an old cross stitch or embroidery from when I was a kid that I haven’t (and probably never will) finished. I’m OK with that. Also, some early quilts from when I was learning how to do things…that I will never finish…like this one.

There was some painting and some fusing and there must be some piecing that I don’t remember (I think there are directions somewhere, yo Susan, I think this was one of yours?)…

That is SOME cloud there. I don’t know that I will ever finish this, and I’m totally OK with that. I took a lot of classes when I started learning how to quilt and I have a bunch of unfinished stuff from it. This was when I learned how to do hand applique.

I did a lot of it for a few years. I think every single one of those quilts is unfinished. Sewing things together is not my forte, unless it’s one of my art quilts. There are only two unfinished art quilts, no three; the first two probably don’t need to be finished. They were experiments in a style that didn’t really work. The other one is hand applique and will eventually be finished. It takes so long to make an art quilt in my style by hand.

I also did a lot of crazy quilting for a while…

These are still in process. I think there are 20 of them…and they are all just hanging around, waiting to be stitched on. And maybe they will be finished in the future…

But like I said, the art quilts get done. I have a drive to finish them that beats all the projects I do as hobbies. I guess every drawing I make could be considered a UFO, since less than half of them become quilts. Some years I draw a lot and some a little (this is a little year…which sucks, but I can’t get my head out from under the day job and carve out more time and energy).

So the oldest UFO? Those are all old. Some older than others. I don’t really care about that. They will either get finished or not. I even have other people’s UFOs…unfinished quilts and blocks. UFOs come to me to live an unjudged life. I will love them, unfinished or not.

No art has happened in two days. I’ve been really tired and working a lot. I am making walking and exercising a priority, best I can, so Saturday afternoon was a long walk/hike thing outside. This is the Walker Preserve Trail in Santee…

It’s pretty flat…

Not very strenuous. Might have been all I could deal with. There was a line of painted rocks at one end of it.

A rock snake, as it were…

Interesting idea…I do like these signs…

I think lots of people need to see that sign.

Maybe not that one.

We did a little over 3 1/2 miles. Probably could have done more, but the man’s back started acting up. My next walk is hopefully Tuesday. Too many meetings this week. Too many things I have to do. I’m fairly sure I’ve forgotten some of them. I’m holding space in my head, a bubble, where I can feel OK with the world. I can’t stay in there for long, but it helps. Many things are hard right now. More walking, more art. Speaking of which, getting off this machine and onto the ironing board (not ME on the ironing board…the fabric y’all).

First Quilt…I Think…

OK, y’all, I have made it five whole days posting every day. I know I used to post 6 days a week before COVID hit (you’d think I’d have more time with being at home all the time, but no, I don’t. Don’t ask me why, well, except for that pesky day job that continues into the early morning hours and often wakes my tired ass up at 2 AM to poke at my to-do list and stress me out).

Today’s challenge topic is my first project. Well, I started sewing at age 8 (or was it 7) and no way in hell does that project still exist anywhere, because I am old and I occasionally get rid of stuff I don’t want any more. So then I thought about my quilt start…which was at age 23…and I THINK this is the first project I did? I had walked into this quilt/country stuff store and saw they offered classes (this is back in the day before websites, so I literally would have had to WALK into the place to even know this existed), and I signed up for a quilt class with this crazy woman named Susan, who is to blame for my deep dive into a fabric stash that has taken over the world. Now I don’t actually remember which was the first project I did with her, because I did MANY, but it was early on, and I think it was a pieced quilt…before I knew I don’t like to piece things because that involves straight lines and making a lot of the same block and ugh boring. (No offense to those of you who enjoy it. I’m just not one of you.)

That said, I think this was my first official quilt.

OK, wait. It’s a quilt top. I never quilted it. It was big and that was a million years ago (OK, thirty or so), and I didn’t have quilting skills then. Even now, I’m not sure it would fit under my machine.

Yeah, even then, I was into weird color combos and strange patterns.

I mean, the whole idea was that you learned a 9-patch and whatever the other two blocks are called and you made a quilt. I figured that shit out.

I’ve pieced a few more quilts over the years, mostly baby quilts all using the same easy peasy pattern that makes like four different blocks, using really bright colors. I pieced another quilt, also supposed to be for my bed, that has the same issue of not being quilted, because I don’t have a machine big enough to quilt it. It has a lot of alien fabric. It might even be the same pattern I used for the baby quilts. I don’t piece.

From there, I pieced I think one landscape quilt, and then went full on into hand applique, which eventually led me to what I do now. CAN I piece? Sure. Do I want to? Not really. I did one earlier this year with my quilt guild as part of the pandemic shutdown, and it is also still a top, albeit a much smaller top. Not quilted.

Meanwhile, my day job continued last night until 10 PM or so…I did game during that, but honestly was off my game, mostly trying to figure out how to teach tsunami alert warning systems and Google Drawing for 6th graders. Exhausting stuff. But I managed an hour of ironing for the newest quilt, which felt really nice (it’s like I forget that every time…get your ass off the couch and go iron and you will feel SO MUCH BETTER).

Some vining ivy there…

Still lots of green. How many pieces have I ironed? I think I mostly finished the 400s and the 500s, just a butterfly here and a bug there. And then moving up into the sky. Actually, I think I have a lot of the 500s to do. Never mind. I think it’s all bugs though. Not even halfway. Getting there.

Have you see the thing on the NY Times where you can predict your place in the vaccine line? Check it out. I don’t know how I feel about it.

At first, I was like, oh man, only 210,000 before me? That’s not bad. Although I have to admit to being terrified of vaccines, having had some really bad reactions to them. I can’t even have the tetanus vaccine any more. It’s been 20 years (?) since I had the last one. I’m still good, still protected. So there’s me.

But this made me pause. I want those 868K other elderly to go before me. And the homeless. And the other essential workers. And the teachers who are actually teaching in a school with kids, I want them to go first, and I want the prisoners to go before me too, because they can’t control their environment and COVID is raging through the prison system.

I may hate teaching online, really, I do, I so miss being in the classroom and at school and it is so fucking isolating and trying to talk to parents and help kids is so fucking hard, but I don’t NEED the vaccine yet…maybe by next summer, when I want to go back to school in August (are we going back in August? Who the fuck knows). Then you can give me the vaccine. Until then, I’m like the crazy bitch in the grocery line letting everyone go before me. You go, you go, no you go.

OK, lots to do this weekend, hopefully some of it art (the left eyelid is twitching like a bitch, so I need to do something relaxing).

The Tool Belt Box Thing

Tools. First thinking of the saws and screwdrivers and that big thing that takes the shower head off. Plus those cool leather belts or the one pocket-thing that goes on the 5-gallon bucket. I have no need for a tool belt, but they just look fun and cool and then I could walk around the house with all the screwdrivers and wouldn’t that be…um…well clanky and probably heavy and unnecessary for the shit I do here. Then how when you are a teacher, they are always talking about putting things in your Tool Box (of tricks and skillz and all that shit you have that makes you a better juggler of teacher things).

But NO! As a quilter/sewist/art quilter/fiber artist/geez, what am I anyway, these monthly posts are always asking what my favorite tools are, and hell, they haven’t changed much over the years. For a while, my mom would always be buying me the newest thing, to see if it would help me sew this way or that way or faster or more efficiently or just better serve me…and some stuck. I still use Machingers gloves…I buy a pair a year. I even wash them, because I use them enough that they get dirty. When the sticky stuff wears off, I buy a new pair, because they’re comfortable, they do the job, and they’re not hot. Sure, there’s 17 new types of fancy machine-quilting hand covers since Machingers came out, but they work, so WHY on Earth would I need to get something different? I don’t.

I’m not the one the quilt shops and designers market to. I’m the one who will find what works and buy it over and over and over. Until I can’t. And then I’ll find a replacement.

So my favorite tools? Number 1 (and 2)? A nice big sketchbook (prefer 14×17″) and a black pen, Sharpie, or my new favorite for full-size pattern drawing, the Lumocolor by Staedler. Probably there are nicer pens, but they might be harder to get or more expensive, and until these don’t work for me, I’m good. I did once buy a bunch of different types of fine black pens, and tried all of them, and kept using the Sharpie. Ultra Fine. The pen, y’all, not me.

Scissors…again, I have some generics, some Fiskars, and some other fancy ones my mom got me. I use them all. I think there are probably 50 pairs of scissors in this house, maybe more. I use these spring-action ones for cutting fabrics. I’m lazy and never get them sharpened, because it’s always days and times I don’t even know about when you can drop them off. I wish I could just bag them up and leave them on the porch, and the traveling scissor sharpener fairy would come by and sharpen them all and leave me their Venmo handle, and that would be the end of it. I’d pay them and put that little scissor emoji in there and be so happy. So yeah, they all are dull. Because no fairy.

Wonder Under…is what I use to fuse my quilts together. I’ve been through many iterations of the Wonder Under formula, and it’s pretty stable at the moment. Easy to get, relatively cheap, has the paper I need for my process, works for what I need. Totes happy about that.

I think that cutting matt is the first one I ever bought, which would make it probably 25 or 30 years old. Does that seem possible? I bought a new one, but I still pull out the old one, because I don’t want to ruin the new one. That’s my grandmother, the one who reused her tinfoil and saved all the rubber bands (um. I still do the rubber band thing.). Sure, there’s other tools I use: an iron and ironing board (so fancy), plastic shoe bins for sorting stuff, a giant light table, a mechanical pencil, tape, some plastic rulers for trimming stuff and cutting binding, some really big Teflon sheets for ironing. That’s really it. I came out of the quilting world a bog standard quilter, except for what I put on the front of them, eh?

OK. More of this 31 days of blogging…I see a few topics that will challenge me because um, yeah, no. But it is making me write. So there.

School? My art students finished their stuffed animals today. Mine will never get finished. The advanced class is still doing self portraits, working on the creative part. I decided I didn’t want to draw hair. So I’m not. And both classes are doing monster zendoodles…which is more my roll. Science is deep into tsunamis for now.

I’m so exhausted. School. Wildfire. Family stuff. Exhausted.

Gaming tonight. It wasn’t really with cats. Long story. It’s Star Trek gaming. That still doesn’t explain it.

It’s late. I want to iron fabric to Wonder Under a little bit tonight though, because it’s been nothing for two nights (thank you, job) and it starts to drive me more than a little bonkers to not make art. Too right.

Mah Machina

OK, old music wandering through my brain. Today’s 31-days-of-rambling about my sewist existence topic is my machine. You know, the beast of burden that helps me make all the quilts. I started sewing on a 1962 Singer sewing machine, y’all. When I was 8 (I was not 8 in 1962, just to clarify). It’s still in the garage. From there, a Viking from the 70s, then a Viking from the 80s? Maybe 90s? I drove at least one of those into the ground. My repair guy sourced another Viking for parts. Until this last one (um, still a Viking), all my machines were hand-me-downs from my mom, which was fine, because they were good solid beasts and they were free. The last one…well, that was my Christmas present because I’d…um…well…I think I ran that one into the ground as well and mom didn’t have a hand-me-down available for me.

My repair guy says most people use their sewing machines like little old ladies use their vintage Buicks…only a few miles a week, and at a slow pace. I use mine like a Corvette, pedal to the medal, outracing the law. Across the country and back. In a race. Off road. In the rainy season.

This is a Viking Sapphire 855. She works.

She’s used. A nice little old lady driver used her before me. She goes in for service at least once a year. Because I’m hard on machines. I quilt at about 400 miles/hour.

Weird things about my machine. OK, they’re actually weird things about me that involve my machine. There is always a roll of tape on the top right.

I used it to get the pet hair off the fabric as I’m quilting or stitching stuff down. Always. I have 5 furry beasts in the house. They prolifically make and discard their hair. Quite annoyingly.

Arcane symbols that help me quilt.

This was on the last machine, and I moved it to this one. Yes, it makes sense to me. You’d think I could remember settings on the machine, but I can’t. So there.

Ah, so nice. I never use any of those.

Not ever. Nope. Uh uh.

Ironically, the only other pictures I have for this post are of something that has absolutely zero machine stitching on it.

All by hand. Hopefully there will be more.

I was hoping to iron stuff last night, but a wildfire popped up a couple miles from here and had us debating evacuation gathering (when you gather all your stuff in piles in case you have to evacuate in the middle of the night). I’m paranoid as hell since the fires down here that jumped 8-lane freeways. Plus the winds were crazy last night. In good news, the fire is contained and I think only one structure was completely destroyed…no humans lost, hopefully no animals as well. Scary though. The wind is one level of scary, because I have some massive trees on my property, and the fire is another level of scary. Mostly I think I got about 3 hours of sleep last night, and the boychild might have gotten less, because he was monitoring CalFire for us. And yes, I taught all day, ladidah. Like you do.

Tonight, I had a stitching meeting, where I worked on something I’m not allowed to show until they publish the book (not mine), and then I worked on school stuff, because although my new curriculum is “digital”, what that really means is “we have papers you can make into packets and sometimes there will be stuff online”. I am now way more of an expert on how to make shit drag and drop and draw and color code without a pen or pencil. Ugh. Hate this.

Other shit is still shit but might be hopeful shit but we don’t know shit. So explain that to my brain. I’m gonna have a nightcap and then bury my head in a pillow and hope it helps tomorrow.