Sunday, February 15, 2009


Okay...I am just gonna say it. Either my posts are incredibly boring or my readers are terribly afraid to comment. Or don't really know how to post a comment to my blog. I suppose that might really make sense since the three of you who tell me you read my blog actually also tell me that you are terrified of your computer.

So, this one is for you...

There is no need to fear your computer is likely under warranty. It also will not stalk you. Fear is incredibly paralyzing in this arena.

My precious husband HATES technology. He has figured out the DVD player and a master at VCR (even though that language is headed to extinction). But, he truly believes the computer is out to get him. I do understand his fear because I have had to listen to it the whole time I have been immersed in computer technology.

Was I born with this gene? Absolutely NOT. I am mathematically challenged...incredibly challenged. Since most computer core is mathematical, I knew early on that I was in disability zone for myself. The reason I am not afraid of computers is because I am incredibly humble about my ignorance. I will admit to anyone what I do not know.

I also am not terribly afraid of breaking the computer because I have always owned them myself and knew that if I broke it, I would pay to fix it. This sounds terribly simple but it is a learned behavior.

I do not give a persona to my computers. They are not out to get me. My computer does not send me a Viagra ad because it thinks I need spark in my love life. (My husband takes this very personally...howling at the computer "Who is sending that to me?!")

Fear stops us from thinking. My first computer that dumped my life out in no-man's land did it because I didn't appreciate the process of backing up my files. The anxiety of losing my files was so painful for me. However, I did not yell at the computer that it had intentionally gobbled up my files. Because by nature, I accept that I make a lot of mistakes, I tend to accept changes fairly well and am usually seeking out ways of upending protocols to improve. Next time you feel your blood pressure rise over your computer, stop and remind yourself that there is not a person inside that computer. The computer has no way of reading your emotions and deciding to irritate you. More important than that, READ THE MESSAGE on the screen of the computer and try your best to interpret it. Also, remember that if you push the wrong button, the computer will not will not suddenly turn to dust.

For sewers, I can explain this to you best in these terms. If you are sewing along and you see that your top thread is not connecting and making stitches, you check your bobbin. If you are sewing along and the machines makes a loud crack and no stitches are going in, you look at the needle, see that it is broken and you replace it. If you are having trouble figuring out why a loop forms on the back or front of the fabric and you have tried tension adjusting, you would then bring your machine in to our store to have the technician help you sort out the problem. These are all the same processes as one would use with a computer. Each of them have to do with NOT giving a persona to the sewing machine and deciding that it has taken on the personality traits of your former junior high enemy who is embodying your technology and coming back to haunt you. (Notice how you knew just what I was saying in that statement and felt the same anxiety!)

To be inspired to create, we each need to be free of self-doubt, anger and fear. I give you permission to face your computer or sewing machine or big project at work or worst problem at home and realize that it can only control you if you personify it and let it take you by the ear.

So, there's my pop-psychology on technology and creative inhibition. If you post a comment to this blog, you will not suddenly receive dozens of emails. You will just add your voice to the collective wisdom of blog-dom.

All the BEST to you, jill

p.s. The fabric show I am sharing with you is from the collection FLOWER SHOW from Benartex. The top one is my John Deere tractor combination. The next is my personal favorite that I like to call Vibrant and Vital. The last is my Sunrise collection.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Bolt is Over

Super Bolt Sale at the store is essence. The soldiers of empty bolt boards haunted our office when we got in to work today. It was a good reminder of a lot of fun we had. There are some fabrics left in the back room. The staff and I went and perused the remainders. We were shocked at the very useable fabrics that are still waiting to go home with people. In fact, a couple of them started buying again for themselves. It is so interesting what discount fabric can inspire in people. However, when I say discount fabric, I really mean good fabric that is on sale.

When I first started quilting, I didn't have choices for fabric. I bought the fabric for my first quilt at a chain store and made a monster queen sized bed spread from a double Irish chain pattern called Quilt in a Day. (What a sense of humor!!). Nine years later, my daughter's friend had spilled nail polish on it before I even had finished hand quilting it. Yes, I was taught to hand quilt it in a frame. My kids would lay down for their naps and I would go in and sing songs to them while they dozed off and work on the borders of the quilt. Being a garment sewer, I used my new (then) favorite gadget....Threadfuse and attached the binding. I didn't have anyone to show me and thought that made sense.

I had actually started in the business of making quilted items for sale before I ever finished that quilt. As a garment sewer, I created this same way. Usually I started Easter dresses on Good Friday....often night. I am not condoning this. I used to make all the Christmas presents. Now...I have rules. I only make things I want to make and when I want to make them. I create because it makes me happy not because my sister wants a quilt for Christmas. In fact, if someone asks me for a quilt (which rarely anyone does---I have understanding and appreciative family and friends), I suggest that they cook for my family for at least a month and consider cleaning my house at least four times in a month as that would be about equal share for the energy I would put into a project-on-demand. As I have aged, I have now added a one hour massage once a a professional. Suffice it to say most think I am kidding. I am not.

Create because you want to create....not because you have to! If you have to sew of obligation, set a timer, call it your job and be sure you reserve space for your better creative energies.

All the Best to you, jill

ps.....How does this inspire you? I love morning glories and this piece is really speaking to me. So, try a blog and give me your opinion. This is Benartex's new fabric line called Flower Show. The staff is teasing me about it, but it is metaphorically growing on all of us.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Artist in Me...and You

I always loved art class. Fortunately I grew up the 60s (there you have it…I am old in the blog world but very proud to be this age…I had to work hard to get here and would never want to be 20 again). Most of my art teachers in high school and middle school (the 70s) had come through Woodstock and Peter Max and the Beatles. What a privilege this was to work with art teachers (who the other teachers thought were a little wonky) who really understood that creativity will come out of everyone in the right environment. The more one liberates themselves to embrace that creativity, the more rapid the growth in our brain and very soul to not only find creative solutions but to express them.

Being pegged as the dreamer type of kid who liked art and reading, I had the privilege to like what I wanted because artists and dreamers don’t seem to be on a fast track, and we seem to resist being corralled. Most people don't think we will make much of anything in the world; so we are (for the most part) left to our own means. Relatives and friends keep pushing us to do something constructive with our time and our hands. Mind you, I learned how to sit in my seat, not be seen and try to stay out of the teachers’ radar (all likely reasons I became a teacher myself as a need to free those creative souls in the world). And I enjoyed my years as a teacher immensely. I wasn't big on a lot of rules. My biggest peeve rule was teachers who expect kids to ask to go to the bathroom. I always told the kids if you have to go to the bathroom...don't ask my permission....just go. So suffice it to say, I loved the other teachers who taught me how to bring out the big ideas in kids and help them find the biggest dreams and visions. See my p.s. at the end of this blog and you will get an idea of the kind of teacher I am....that's the kind of person I am.

In art class, I learned color theory not in a dry way but rather by painting and listening to my art teachers lavish over curious color explorations. I was especially drawn to pop art and studies of shapes. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an author and illustrator. I remember writing a book when I was around 7 that I was so very proud of. I showed it to my teacher who taught me the word plagarism—big word for a little kid but I got the picture real fast. Indeed, the book was written about a cartoon I had seen. While it didn’t stop me from writing or drawing, it made an indelible impact on my life as far as observing and respecting the creative efforts of others.

So, why didn’t I become an artist? My real dream growing up was to move to Paris and live in a flat and be an artist and roam the streets studying great artwork. I don’t have real knowledge of any of this but I suppose someone told me Paris was the place to be if you're an artist. Or maybe I was affected by the guys wearing the beret and the paint palette on their hand in the cartoons (see a pattern here?!). Have you ever seen the movie “Christmas Story” where the kid is told he can’t have a bb gun because he’ll shoot his eye out…I suppose that is what happened to my dream of being an artist? It didn’t seem like a logical way to support myself and I knew I had to do that (a very clear message since I wouldn’t likely ever want someone else to support me).

Now before you get sad for me, let me tell you that I enjoy the most creative life and always have even though I didn’t get to Paris or have a degree in art history and a minor in painting. I have had the privilege of expressing my creativity in finding creative solutions and interspersing whimsy and inspiration in every walk I have had the privilege of journeying.

But the best part is I now play in a medium that has all kinds of flexibility and expression…FABRIC!! Recently, we got the trunk show from Blue Underground. Talk about an explosion and exploration of color. What a fun time this has been to study these quilts. Some of them I like to call two-steps. Taking two complementary colors and matching them singularly. Then there are the ones that do a bit more of a color dance. And some throw all abandon to the wind.

They were so inspiring that I finally bought myself a couple of bundles of batiks that have been crying out for creation. I made Modern Thinking and then took the leftovers and made up Circus. These are my sun room quilts….comforting and the colors of nature. I love it, love, love it. Some days I just wander around to the corner where they are displayed at Pine Needles just to stroke and enjoy them.

The designers of Blue Underground are brave and inspiring. An artist knows they really have reached the viewer when the viewer launches off and expressees themselves in their creative venue. Perhaps that is why sewing is contagious and so affecting to so many of us!

All the Best to You

p.s. This last note is tribute to a quilt after my own heart. See the back of the Jester's Court quilt. Black and white....fabulous finish to a bright expression. I think if I were a quilt, this is the quilt I would be....a clear and concrete side and a playful side. But even the clear and concrete side of my life is whimsy and play.