Art Quiltlet: 39/52

"Fraying," art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

“Fraying”

This is not at all subtle. I used part of an old pair of jeans with a hole in the knee, a scrap of Japanese cotton, and some running stitch. This one is inspired purely by how I feel.

I don’t like where I live. Not the house itself, which is old. I don’t care about cosmetics, although it should have gotten a deep cleaning before being rented out, and it didn’t. I do care about the ancient plumbing that hasn’t had to deal with more than two elderly people in decades. It’s one thing after another. I don’t like where I live geographically either. It’s been well over a year so I don’t think that’s going to change. It is what it is.

I’m tired all the time. That’s the schedule; it is what it is, too. I’m looking at October with a whole lot of hell no. My 12yo needs his wisdom teeth out under general anesthesia because one of them is tangled with a molar, which can’t erupt. He’s never had surgery before. He’s anxious. I’m anxious because I’m missing the pediatrician who actually knew us versus the factory version we’re stuck with down here. It’s a crapshoot whether I get the correct information when I call, and my kids have never seen the same doctor twice, and they don’t know us at all. A week after the surgery, my husband goes away for a week. He keeps texting me dates from work as he schedules more travel. I hate those texts. My daughter would like to have a birthday party with friends. I would like that too, especially since her father will be away for her birthday. But this house is way too small, with dodgy plumbing. She was in tears. It’s just one more thing.

I swear I can feel my molars, especially on the left side, getting shorter as I clench my jaw so hard it practically spasms. I could use a dentist, but very few take our insurance and I haven’t found one yet. Heck, I could use a therapist too I suppose, but who has the energy to try to find one? Every attempt has ended badly, and very few of them take insurance, too. It is what it is. I’d hoped things would be easier here after this long, and I guess in some ways they are. I don’t get lost going to the grocery store. I’m involved in some activities, some local, some father away. My kids are settled in. I have the best next door neighbor ever (until we find a house we can afford to buy that doesn’t have dodgy plumbing, and we move). But in other essential ways it’s still so hard, hard in ways that just exhaust me.

Fraying. Not torn, not irreparable, but definitely fraying.

A Bit About Running

700km-badge

I promise I’ll explain what this means

I began running again a little over three years ago. I’d run cross country in junior high and part of high school, and then stopped. I started again about twenty-five years later shortly after being diagnosed with PTSD. I’d been walking every morning I could, before anyone else woke up–I wasn’t sleeping anyway–and it helped. But at some point I felt like I wasn’t moving fast enough to shut up my brain, so I began to run. It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made.

Living in Rhode Island, my running ebbed and flowed with daylight. My kids were younger, I was homeschooling, and I didn’t feel comfortable, most of the time, leaving them home alone while I ran. So when we got to the point of the year when the sun set too early and rose too late for me to fit in daylight runs, they slowed. I’d try to get to the indoor track. But most of my miles were concentrated from April to October. Plus, my shins can get tricky. They need a break, especially my left one. There’s no sense in pushing it; I need to run regularly more than I need to run far.

I run for the love of it, mainly. I don’t like to race. I tried a couple, as an adult, but I really don’t like running with people. At all. I even get a little cranky when I come upon group runs (rather common in Annapolis) because they clump up and block the sidewalks and I can’t get by and it aggravates me. I don’t want to run with a friend, either, even though there are other runners in my neighborhood. I don’t want to talk. Running shuts up my brain like nothing else and what a relief that is, what a wonderful, wonderful thing. So it’s good I like to do it physically as well, because I need it.

And I do like it physically. Sometimes it feels awful, sure, especially, here in Maryland, in August. While I theoretically gain the ability to run outdoors most of the year, summer is pretty miserable. Not just the heat and humidity but the dew point, too. I’d try to run in the evening, when the temperature might be higher than first thing in the morning, but the humidity was a little lower. I’ve gradually adjusted. But running can be hard. It’s not all fun. But when it feels easy, it’s the most wonderful thing. It’s–it’s running flow, I guess. Everything works fluidly. I push my body, and it responds. My head clears, my body feels better, my emotions are more level.

I run with a Garmin watch and upload my runs into Map My Run. Because while I don’t like to race, I am competitive, I’m just competitive with myself. I like to keep track of how far I’m running too, as much as to make sure I don’t overdo it because of those shins. At the end of last year, I got one of Map My Run’s many emails, this one advertising a challenge, You vs The Year. The goal was 1000 km (about 600 miles) run in 2016. I’d never run that many miles in one year: between keeping my runs relatively short (shins again) and weather issues, it has just never added up to 600 miles. My neighbor across the street runs marathons and runs probably 80 miles per week. 1000 km in a year is probably an easy goal for her. But it was a stretch for me, so I decided to sign up to see what happened.

I got started later in the year than I meant to, because my shins were hurting so badly, not from running, but from wearing shoes with no support every day. (Chuck Taylors. I have flat feet. It’s a bad combination.) That badge up there means I hit 700 km last week. It means I’m on track, even accounting for the things that often crop up in fall–getting sick, too many days taken up with kid events, and so on. I usually run five miles at a time now, whereas I began in the spring running three to three and a half. Running just a little bit longer means those times of flow come more frequently. I don’t think my shins can handle long distances, but sometimes I feel like I just want to run forever.

Running is a constant backdrop in my life even though I don’t mention it here much. It’s part of what makes me feel like myself. It’s hugely important for my mental health. It gets priority; I plan it into my week to make sure I’m getting enough runs in. I figure if I’m lucky enough to have identified something that helps me so much, body and mind, it’s essential to make sure it’s part of my life. I am incredibly grateful for running.

Art Quiltlet: 38/52

batik-flowers

Ooh, I do like this one. (I like all of them. But still.) This began as a white piece of cotton, and, using a watercolor painting in my sketchbook as a guide, I outlined the flowers using gel glue. The lines that are still white were originally protected by the glue which, when dry, acts as a resist. This process is called glue batik and is a low-tech and inexpensive way to play with batik. Once the glue was dry, I added color using brushes and watered-down acrylic paint (rather than dyeing the fabric, as you would with yardage of batik). In-process photos were shared on Instagram.

I did have some areas where the glue barrier between the two colors wasn’t thick enough, and there was some bleeding. But the blending works. Once the fabric was dry, I washed out the glue, let it dry again, and then added stitching by both machine and by hand (some very subtle stem stitch on the petals using just one strand of embroidery floss). This is definitely a technique I could use again, and larger, or as part of a larger composition.

Sewn: Musette Bags

musette bags at amyhoodarts.com

These have been completed for a while, but I needed someone to help me with pictures and I kept forgetting to ask. I had the idea to make a musette bag while watching the Tour de France, of course, in July. Musette bags are the lightweight bags handed to the riders, containing their food. They’re not intended to hold anything terribly heavy, yet I wanted one anyway, because why not? As I am wont to do, I added a layer of complication by deciding that I needed to draw and carve a lino block bicycle so I could print it on the bags. So that took some time.

bicycle linoprint at amyhoodarts.com

Close-up of the bicycle linoprint. I used my husband’s bike as the model.

These are made out of utility cotton I found at Joann’s. It’s sturdy. The straps are twill tape, and I bought snaps and a snap setter from snapsource.com. I highly recommend them; installation was so much easier and smoother than trying to use the plier-type tool sold at craft stores.

musette bag at amyhoodarts.com

In the above picture I have an 8×10″ sketchbook and a pencil pouch in the bag; it’s sturdy enough for art supplies, which is probably what I’d use it for. It’s designed to cross the body.

musette bag at amyhoodarts.com

(Don’t judge the hair; it’s still so humid here and I was having an I-don’t-care sort of day.)

I love these bags. I have no use for more than one and am happy to sell or make one with a different color print or with a different print altogether. These have French seams, so no raw edges. They’re simple, as I said, with no interior pockets and a snap closure. I think their simplicity makes me love them more. That, plus it’s always satisfying to go, “I need to make X,” and then do it, and have it come out the way you wanted.

Introducing Gallery

I’ve added a Gallery tab up top there, which takes you to photos of finished work, all of which are available (unless it says otherwise). Here’s the latest addition

"Squid," 8"x8" plus hanging loops. Neocolor and hand-dyed cottons, machine and hand stitching.

“Squid,” 8″x8″ plus hanging loops. Neocolor and hand-dyed cottons, machine and hand stitching.

I had the urge to stitch a squid–things like that happen–so I did. This is a layered reverse appliqué (stitch & slash style, except I used scissors), with the blue layer free-motioned stitched first. The blue is created with Neocolor water-soluble pastels, and the red and purple are hand-dyed. The squid’s patterning is also free-motion stitching, with hand stitching to create the eye.

I’ll continue to add pieces to the Gallery page as I finish them.

Art Quiltlet: 37/52

oh hell no art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Simple and to the point. This has been my reaction to so much lately: my alarm going off at 5:30 every weekday; the new assistant principal using insulting sarcasm with my kid; every single thing that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth (or that of one of his supporters); anybody who says Colin Kaepernick is protesting in the wrong way, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or for the wrong thing; white authors who cry that calls for diversity are unfair to them; I could go on. From big to small, from local to worldwide, so much is just Oh Hell No.

My middle child, by the way, saw this and said, “You should just put that right on a tee shirt and wear it around.” Maybe I should.

Back-to-School Sewing

Sewing for my daughter is a joy. I have improved my skills so much thanks to the patterns we’ve chosen. Most of her back-to-school clothes were sewn by me, with a few more things (leggings and pants) not started yet because it’s still so warm here. So here we go:

roller-skate-dress-no-1

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

I actually bought this pattern last summer and never got to it. It’s awfully cute. The fabric was bought locally on sale.

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

Roller Skate Dress, pattern by Oliver + S

It’s such a cute pattern, she wanted two. She picked this fabric out online.

Seashore Sundress, pattern by Oliver + S

Seashore Sundress, pattern by Oliver + S

Again, since it’s still so warm, a sundress is perfect back-to-school wear. She picked this Lizzy House fabric out online too. This photo only shows the back, but the straps button in the front. I can now do buttonholes like nobody’s business and I wonder why they ever stressed me out so much.

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

She saw this fabric (Butterfly Box by Lizzy House) online and asked for a skirt. We settled on the A-line skirt pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee book From Stitch to Style.  This one has a faux button band down the front and an adjustable waist with buttonhole elastic (and two more buttonhole slits in the waistband–no problem!). It looks like a big-girl skirt. So I made another.

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

A-line skirt, pattern in From Stitch to Style (book)

I won this fabric from Ellen Baker in an Instagram giveaway and G asked for it. It’s double gauze and so, so soft. I left out the faux button band on this one.

A few things I made, I only have Instagram photos for, because I deleted some pictures when I switched phones. My son asked for a new, bigger pencil case. My daughter needed a placemat for school, so I made one with utensil slots that rolled up neatly. And I made her some reusable snack bags with food-grade laminate.

It’s so much fun to sew a bespoke wardrobe for an almost-eight-year-old!

August Reading List

Comp book cover. Sewing pattern by Angela Bowman, surface design all me

Recently sewn: Comp book cover. Sewing pattern by Angela Bowman, surface design all me

This post is a little later than I meant, seeing as how we’re somehow already halfway through September. I did slightly better with my attention reading span in August, reading six books:

The Things We Wish Were True, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Truly Madly Guilty, Lynne Moriarity
Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander *
All American Boys, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely *
Relativity, Antonia Hayes

As usual, I’ve starred some. The New Jim Crow wasn’t what I’d call enjoyable to read, because of the subject matter. I’ve starred it because it’s such a worthwhile read. I thought I knew about systemic racism, but I learned so much more from this book. And I suspect my reading of Another Brooklyn suffered because the e-book I downloaded seemed to be cut off in parts when I tried to read it in my phone browser, and the overall result was choppy. I usually borrow books in the Kindle format but it wasn’t available yet. I probably won’t try that again.

Art Quiltlet: 36/52

I swear I have other stuff going on besides these quiltlets, which I have such good intentions of posting about, and then the week goes by in a whooosh! of driving kids to schools and bus stops and picking them up again and cooking and packing lunches and cleaning and eking out some time to actually sew or read before falling asleep drooling at a ridiculously early hour most nights. But! I’m keeping up on quiltlets. Sometimes I finish one and immediately think, This one has to go bigger, too. Like, for instance, when I finished this week’s.

Symbols art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

I took photos as I went with this one, because I knew it was going to be a multi-step process. First I added color to white fabric using Neocolor II water-soluble pastels; they went on dry, then I wet with a brush.

painted fabric amyhoodarts.com

While that dried, I made a foam printing plate. But scratch foam printing results in a block of paint with the scratched-out part allowing the paper (or fabric, in this case) to show through. I decided I wanted more of the fabric visible, so I decided to cut a stencil out of freezer paper. I drew this free-hand, not terribly worried about getting everything exactly even or all the shapes the same size. Here’s the stencil ironed onto the fabric.

freezer paper stencil amyhoodarts.com

Then I painted it black, let it dry, and heat-set the ink. After peeling off the stencil, I had this:

freezer paper stencil amyhoodarts.com

Finally, I added the white geometric stitching, cropped, and finished. As I was stitching, my husband walked by and said, “I like that fabric.”

“I made it!” I said. And how cool is that? I really need to finish gathering the dyeing and batik supplies. That’s one of my goals for September–to have everything I need by the end of the month. Another is to freshen up this site a bit. And post a little more. Goals are good, hmm?

Art Quiltlet: 35/52

Playing with Curves art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

All three kids are in school as of this week, which you’d think would free up lots of time, but it’s not feeling that way. It’s a three-and-a-half hour stretch in the morning between wake up (to make sure my oldest is moving) and dropping off the final child. Five-and-a-half hours later, I start picking them up again. It’s about the same amount of time I had last year, except I’m much more tired and needing to go to bed much earlier, so I’m useless at accomplishing anything in the evenings. So, it’s net much less productive time.

Anyway, all that to say that even with my supposedly free days, I didn’t get to this week’s quiltlet until Thursday, finishing on Friday. My inspiration came from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood. I decided to try “template-free layered curve patchwork.” It was tricky at times and the curves don’t show up a whole lot at this scale, but I enjoyed arranging them and adding free-motion stitching. Here’s what it looked like before I cropped it.

art quiltlet before cropping at amyhoodarts.com

The book, which Amazon thought I’d like (so I borrowed it from the library to see) has some interesting ideas for piecing that I want to try, but I’m skimming a lot because I’m not interested in the life advice part (the subtitle is A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously). I think I’m content to get my quilting inspiration and my life guidelines in different places when it comes right down to it.

The year is winding down. Thirty-five weeks gone. There’s nothing like a weekly project to keep you mindful of the passing of time, geez.