February 15, 2017

With her own wings

A lot has changed since I last blogged. It took a while to feel ready to come back here and speak about it frankly, with honesty but without rage. I'm divorced now, a choice I made following a time of great confusion and hurt. I made the feather above from a chunk cut from my wedding dress; a little artistic vision that wouldn't leave me alone. When I see it I think "alis volat propriis", the motto of my state, Oregon, which, translated in the feminine means "she flies with her own wings".

So. It was rough. The last years of my marriage were a tangle of lies. It may, in fact, be that the lying started before the marriage itself, I acknowledge that I have no way to know. Realizing you don't even know what the truth was, when the lies started, is terribly disorienting.  I read an article recently that spoke to this. The liar knows the truth, even if they don't share it, and there are no holes missing from their story.  If you're the one lied to, however, how do you even begin to reconstruct your story? How do you learn from it when you're not even sure what actually happened?

The most important thing I've learned is that it doesn't hurt some people to lie. For some people it's simply a tool. They can lie to friends and counselors, they can lie with tears running down their face, they can lie while pretending to confess.

I've learned never to ignore my gut. Even, no, especially, if the person it's telling me to get away from seems to be suffering.  "But I love you so much" will never, ever, be a reason for me to go against my own wise instincts again. Because while people lie, my gut seems to be pretty good at her job.

I've also learned that there is normal hard for marriage, hard where the natural incompatibilities and misunderstandings and developments that happen between two individuals need caring for, and there is improbably hard. Improbably hard is where there are endless no-win situations created. Where problems are discussed and agreements found but nothing feels better. That kind of hard is the kind of hard that I had and I didn't understand. Now I understand. If a person has done immoral things but wants to see themselves as a good person, they will need for their spouse to be their enemy.  And no marriage can succeed where one person secretly treats the other as their enemy.

I wish someone had laid this out for me. All the marriage advice I took to heart was the stuff about  patience, accepting your spouse the way they are, and not harboring resentment. That only works, though, if both partners are doing it. If your marriage feels improbably hard, take stock of your situation.  Get an individual counselor (in my experience marriage counselors aren't great at detecting lies either) to give you some perspective. And if there is ever a whiff of infidelity, even if it was "only a kiss" (ask me how I know) get the savviest kind of help. For me, I found a lot of good advice at www.chumplady.com. She showed me, systematically, what I was dealing with and helped me move away from it with grace and certainty, so I didn't need to waste any more years than I already had.

It took so much energy to go through that process. And all the dominoes that fall after it: the legal stuff, the money stuff, the kids hurting as their world splinters in two. Life even gave me a few extra dominoes (like my car getting totaled) allowing me to see without a doubt that I've got this. Well, got this with the help of family and friends who I will never be able to repay for being there with humor and compassion and downright hands on help when the chips were down. And thanks go also to you lovely quilters for all the words of encouragement you gave me way back when. You have no idea how often I re-read your kind thoughts.

So, things are better. I'm getting back to living my life. The kids are bringing their bravery and big hearts to adapting to living in two houses. I just finished writing my third book. I feel like I've put myself back together pretty well overall, but... I haven't regained my center as an artist. It's intriguing to me that that's the tenderest spot left. I'm ready to nurture it, and to share with you the fruit of the few seeds I managed to plant during the last year. I'm relieved that I can be honest about my world here again, in the way that I used to treasure. So that's where I've been, and where I am. Thanks for letting me catch you up on the story, and I'll see you soon!

May 16, 2016

Rainbow Happy Sewing Land

It was a true pleasure reading everyone's entries for my giveaway post. What I loved most of all is how many of you made a point to say that you sew when life gets stressful. Of course you do! You read quilting blogs because you love quilting and doing what you love helps you feel good. You are wise.

Sewing helps me feel good too. I can't believe that this feels like an epiphany to say it. But happily I've been doing more lately! And more of my favorite kind of piecing: sewing color coordinated scraps together. This is some secret sewing so I can't show you what I've done just yet. But it's fun enough to keep me up until midnight most nights. 

My daughter recently organized a new box of sidewalk chalk like this. I love that she thinks in color groups too. 

I realize I haven't been around here much and thus haven't shared that I will be teaching in Savannah next spring for QuiltCon. I am really looking forward to that trip! I hope to meet more of you there!

So now for a winner of Lara's great new book Crafted Applique - New Possibilities.  The random number generator chose #164, which was left by Sandra at The Bias Edge. Sandra said "I work full-time but I will always squeeze some time to sew and quilt every night after my children has gone to bed. It can be just half and hour and it makes me happy just before I go to bed. This is my de-stressor". 

I love it! Sandra and I are riding the happy sewing train to the land of good dreams. To Sandra and everyone else: 

May 11, 2016

Crafted Applique, and a ray of giveaway sunshine!

Hooray, I got myself to sit in front of my computer long enough to blog!

Today it's because my blogger friend Lara B. sent me her new book, Crafted Appliqué - New Possibilities.  I've been so curious about it ever since she told me what she was working on. "A new approach to appliqué" she would say. What could it be? I wondered.

Eventually I got a look at the cover and became even more curious. The detail! How does this super cute appliqué look so perfect?

I dove into the book to find out, and I am delighted. Lara has developed a simple approach to appliqué that takes the best of other methods and comes out with a quick, non-toxic solution that gives better results than other raw edge appliqué methods. Three years from now everyone's going to be using this method all the time and we'll hardly remember a time that we bought that other stuff with the paper when we wanted a quick appliqué. Seriously, it's that kind of "aha!".

Lara shows off her method with a ton of cute projects. The structural house sewing machine cover is my favorite (and not because Lara used my selvage fabric on the inside, it's charmingly clever!).

After seeing all Lara did with the projects in the book, I had to try the method myself. I prepared some fabric using Lara's simple and well-documented process, and then cut out a flower. I fused it to the fabric and straight-stitched it down for good measure. This happened at approximately midnight. Did I mention it was fast? That's good because I'm exhausted this year.

Normally with fused appliqué I would zigzag stitch, but Lara promised good results and no need to zigzag, even with washing, and I wanted to see for myself. I'm so glad. All those little petals would have been a nightmare to zigzag around. Here is the appliqué after a machine wash and dry the next morning. The edges held up great, no fraying!

And here's the happy, toothless girl it delighted.

So are you curious? Good! I don't want to spoil Lara's hard work and tell you how it's done, Crafted Appliqué does that so well. And here's a sweet chance to get your hands on it, Lara is letting me pick a lucky reader to send a copy of the book to!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on the blog post telling me something you do to stay calm when life gets stressful. Don't email me! Comment on the blog! I'll choose a winner this weekend. The giveaway is now closed, thanks everyone!

I'll be sure to show pretty pictures and give a sewing and life update when I come back to announce a winner. I've been missing blogging!

February 22, 2016

Wild Quilting is here!

Hello everyone! I landed late last night from QuiltCon and today I get to jump right into announcing my new class from Craftsy, Wild Quilting. Such an exciting quilting life!

First things first, I know some of you have been really excited for this one, so I have a link for my followers: click here to take the class for $20 off! Here is an updated link to take the class for 33% off!

I have to tell you, this is absolutely my favorite class I've done with Craftsy. It was my favorite class I taught at QuiltCon too. Maybe that's because I love wild, organic, unpredictable quilting so much. Or maybe because I know how many of you are aching to make your quilting more expressive and interesting. Either way, I'm so excited to see what you all do with it! 

If you look at complex quilting and don't know where to start, this is the class for you! As you probably already know I love making complicated things simple and straightforward, and that's exactly what I've done in the seven lessons of Wild Quilting. Let me give you the confidence to start doing more with your quilting.

First I show you individual techniques like the Grouped Combinations above, and then we work on putting them together into bigger compositions like this: 

Even if you don't want to use all the techniques together you can still use the individual techniques in your quilting to make unique, personal finishes for your quilts and projects.

I can't wait to hear what you think of it! Thanks for taking the time to read about it and don't forget to use my link for 33% off!! Happy Wild Quilting everyone!

February 16, 2016

A peek at my class! And a chance to take it free!

First I want to say, your responses to my last post really helped me. Thank you for all the wise words you shared in your comments and emails. I made a little document with my favorite line from each of your messages and it's the best pick-me-up.

NOW, as promised I'm back here lickety split because I get to show you little peeks into my upcoming class with Craftsy!

This is the best picture I have of what the Craftsy quilting studio looks like. There are so many lights. Three cameras. It feels very weird to be the person they are all pointing at. I'm perching on this chair that just barely allows my legs to slide under the table. I'm wearing socks (I prefer to sew with now shoes!). My producer was huddled in the corner behind so many monitors I couldn't even see her. It's so so different from doing an in-person class. It always makes me a little nervous and I stitch too fast. But I've done this two times before and I know that the classes come out fine even though there's things I wish I had done better. So here's what we worked on:

That's right, it's all Wild Quilting! I hope that looks fun and inspiring to you all! Because it is fun and inspiring to do, and you don't have to be great at FMQ to make beautiful designs. I'm not allowed to say exactly when the class goes live but trust me it's SOON. There's just barely time to do a giveaway!

Crafty likes to run their giveaways over on their site so if you want to enter click here:


I'll come back when the class goes live to give you more details. I can't wait to see what you glorious creative souls do with it.

February 04, 2016


You guys are so kind and caring. I've been pretty quiet on all my media channels for a while and I'm starting to get the loving "checking in" comments and emails. So, as much as there are pressing things that need doing I wanted to make an update.

I finished quilting my Star Baby quilt a while ago, dropped it like it was hot, and never even took a picture of it. I adore it. It's everything that's fascinating to me right now: wedges and "wild quilting". I want to hang it on the wall. Some quilting close ups:

If you have great attention to detail you may recognize that grey wall behind the quilt: I was just back at Craftsy shooting another class! I got to see a big old Denver snowstorm and everything. And they've really sped up their turnaround time so I probably won't even get to blog much before I'm back here telling you all about it. I hope it thrills you like it thrills me!

About my disappearance, I don't know what to say, and it's part of why I've been so quiet. I really like being able to be authentic with you, to talk about what's moving in my heart about life and art right now. And I feel like I have to be cautious, and not say anything that would be taken the wrong way by lawyers or something.

I will say that something I put my heart and soul into is failing, and it is a great sadness for my entire family. Things that I thought were true simply aren't true, and maybe they haven't ever been true. It feels like patches are falling away from my very being and I'm not sure whether I need to stitch them back there, or if they were covering up something important. Anyway, it's a common kind of tragedy and I'll survive it, and all the better for the reminder to never trust someone else's instincts over my own. But it does mean that I'll be struggling to find the time for the blog for a season or two.

Thanks for the concern and the love. Thanks for supporting my work, and thereby supporting my little family. Being a part of the quilting community is a great joy in my life and I'm extra grateful for it right now. In just a couple of weeks I'll be going to QuiltCon and hope to have lots of big hugs with you lovely peeps! Until then...happy stitching! Or even not-happy stitching if that's where you are. It's where I am sometimes, and the world is still a good place to be.

October 06, 2015

Peace, uncertainty, and beauty

Someone asked me recently "What do you want most in the world, and what are you most afraid of?" What I want most in the world is a peaceful home. Sometimes to promote that peace I quilt. Sometimes to provide for that peace I don't quilt. Maybe I take a nap or take the kids camping. Maybe I handle errands or play too many games of Uno. But the quilting and the not quilting are two sides of the same coin. Peace. I guess that's my way of saying this quilt is taking a while to finish, and I'm ok with that. 

If you had told me two years ago my quilting would look like this I'd have thought you were dead wrong. But we keep learning, surprising ourselves. I'm glad to have this outlet for experimentation, revolutionary shifts and whimsy. My work in health care is not like that. It's careful, practical, double checking, safe.

In art there is no safe. If I'm where it's safe, it doesn't feel like art anymore. And that's fine, quilting doesn't have to always be in art territory. When it does feel like art to me, I feel a little naked. A little like I've swum out too deep. I can feel like that in the middle of these stitching sessions, when I don't know what I will stitch next. And then I keep going and step back to look at it and I like it. That's the real magic of stitching like this. Seeing how without premeditation a story appears in thread, uncertainty becomes beauty.  Straw into gold.

If you're in Portland and want to try it out yourself, come be a part of my class at Modern Domestic. I'll tell you all the little tricks I use to make this kind of magic happen. And you can turn your uncertainty into beauty too.