Friday, October 30, 2020

Why Create on Off the Wall Friday

 

I was thinking today about my "Why"?  Why is it that when I have a day off from work, the first thing I want to do is make a To-Do  list in my studio?  Why is it that all my Christmas gifts start at DickBlick's and the Fabric Shack?  Why are vacations required to be creative  rather than relaxing?  Why?  Why? Why??  (And yes for this discussion my Why will be a capitalized noun...why?? because I think my Why is that important!)

I think from time to time its good to re-examine your "Why".  Why look at your Why??  It will help you keep motivated to complete goals you've set.  It will help you establish new directions that better align with your Why.  It is a good way to explain to others your passion.


Need some suggestions about why we create?

  • To Make things is fun and relaxing....to conceive an idea, execute it, see it come to fruition has a lot of entertainment value
  • To Bring order from chaos......So many things in our lives are out of our control.  When we create we are in the driver seat and bring things together in a meaningful way
  • To Create beauty where there is not.  Am I the only one tired of seeing what the  world considers beautiful on tv???  There is so much more to beauty than botax faces and perfect thighs.  Art can show that.  
  • To Say what words can not.  Not everyone wants to spell things out in a written work or a speech.  Art is a way to work though thoughts, emotions etc
  • To make a cultural, societal, political statements....contrary to popular belief there are other ways to express your opinion than on Twitter and Facebook
  • To get a feeling of accomplishment and self worth...there is a lot to say about adding to your skill set which feeds into your confidence which is reflects in other parts of your life.  
  • To Contribute to culture and society...so not only can your art entertain you, but it can entertain or enlighten your neighbor. (Granted your neighbor might not want to be enlightened, but that is a whole other post entirely)



So those should get you started.  For me, the biggest Why is because I have to.  I always have and I'm sure most artists will say that too.  Now it took till I was 26 to settle on fabric as my life long passion but before that I played the flute and piano, was editor of my college literary magazine (yes I use to write a LOT of poetry), did a ton of needlework and doodling etc.  All of that was before I realized that I was a creative person.  I also love the process of starting and finishing a project and saying "See What I did" even if what I did is not that hot.  Also, I love trying to find the answer to "What If".  So many times in life we are driven by other people's wishes.  When I'm in my studio, I'm Queen and I can ask myself "What if" as many times as I want.

So those are my Why's. What are yours?

Under things that I like....This week I found the most interesting article on Baltimore Museum of Art Deaccessioning 3 pieces of art worth  65 million dollars.    Wow did I learn a lot from one article.  Now I knew that a lot of politics surrounds a museum's collection but honestly I didn't realize how much.  Also I found the reasons why deaccessioning parts of a collection super interesting. Taking some expensive pieces....selling them at auction...to buy lesser known pieces from a more diverse artist pool seems risky and bold all at the same time. I mean really, how else are lesser known artist going to become the next masters if museums can't buy their work for display?  But what if they aren't future masters??  See???  Interesting, Interesting!  

As you can tell I was thinking of more than just the US Presidential race this week... But of course I will add my voice to others you have heard....if you haven't already VOTE!  We have elections for a reason and every vote matters.  

Yeah, I know I'm chatty this week....enough about me....

What Have You've Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, October 23, 2020

Zink's & Lehman's on Off the Wall Friday

 



My favorite thing to do during the fall is take a road trip.  The leaves  are at peak color and the air is crisp.  This year getting out of Erie for a bit was especially important since we never get out of Erie any more!  So I dragged my husband on a day trip to Zink's Fabric Outlet  and Lehman's Hardware in the Amish Country of Central Ohio.  Both are about 2.5 hrs from our house and it was a gorgeous day for a drive.

Zink's Outlet was on top of my bucket lists of places to visit.  First of all, I suggest not going anytime in October since the traffic in Berlin, Ohio was literally backed up for miles.  It just so happens that God was smiling on us and we were going the opposite direction of everyone else.  Even though Holmes County Ohio was inundated by people in search of pretty foliage,  we never got stuck in any lines.  I had heard  you're never quite sure what you'll find at Zink's on any given day.  What I did find were two massive rooms of bolts and bolts of all different kinds of fabric - quilt cottons - home dec - Apparel ... you name it - they had so some.  My Zink's haul included cotton duck (super cheapie at $3/yd), yardage of fossil ferns (because let's face it - that fabric line fits into any quilt) and a some precuts of Boundless Fabric lines that they bought when craftsy sold out.  I also found some MUST-Get polyester sheer fabric with big red stitch dots on it.  I have NO idea what I'm going to do with that but it has definite possibilities. 



 The whole experience was great!  The store was clean, easy to navigate, staff was friendly and the prices were good.  Don't go there looking for $12/yd name brand cottons though.  If you find one here or there fine but this is mostly a place where you have to look through flat folds and off brands of fabric.  But really who doesn't love a good treasure hunt?!

After an hour at Zink's (yes I did a lot of shopping in an hour since I had my husband with me) we headed 20 min north to Kidron, Ohio to visit Lehman's Hardware. 



 


Now honestly how they have the nerve to call it a hardware store is just crazy.  It really is a 3/4 mile department store of everything country. Once again the place was mobbed but it's so huge it didn't seem to matter.  I could have browsed for hours in there.  They had a housewares department that just wanted me to look at everything, a holiday department that has quality holiday decor, a ROOM FULL OF CANDY ... yes just candy, a department of lamps and candles, a huge wall of everything canned etc etc omgoodness I was in retail heaven!! (Did I mention they carry 70 types of rootbeer?!?!)   You know when they give you a map when you enter the store you're in for a treat.  Now the prices weren't cheapie but they weren't outrageous either.  We came out with some nice measuring spoons I've been looking for, 1 1/2 pounds of fudge (of course),  and an Ohio made crock for Paul's starter (yes he's had a bread starter for years and now it has it's own crock). Oh and I found a hand made little basket that I plan on making into a pin cushion.   One thing it didn't have was fabric ... sighhhhh.... but since that section of Ohio has TONS of fabric stores I imagine that's why.  We spent a good 2.5 hrs just browsing and I never felt crowded.  The store actually has cashiers in every department and the staff was friendly as well.

We ended up the trip heading north to Mentor, Ohio to eat dinner at my favorite Thai Orchid and stop at Hobby Lobby to pick up some framing I left there.  I mean why go to your own Hobby Lobby when you can visit one an hour away?!  It's the new normal....grin!!  

All in all it was great trip.  I definitely see us going back for a few days overnight.  There is so much to discover.  With 37,000 Amish living there, the area has a tons of small businesses  explore.  Plus you can tell that they understand people who work with their hands.  Sometimes, we go some place and they don't understand what drives people to creatively work with their hands.  But you can tell Central Ohio gets it. People's handwork is every where. 

So What Have Been Up to Creatively? 

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Friday, October 16, 2020

The Umbrellas Continue on Off the Wall Friday

 


Okay, I admit it.  This one got away from me.  And when I say away, I mean REALLY away.  Now I won't pretend that this is the first time a quilt has taken on a life of it's own...basically a life it was never meant to have.  Still, I'm a little shocked that this one did.  It was suppose to be quick little project that was to stir my creative juices and get me visiting my studio on a regular basis.  Next thing ya know, I'm spending hours and hours piecing bits and pieces of  Sue Daley's Abbie collection...over and over....and

LOVING IT!.  

I've been using my fitbit smart watch to keep track of the hours and they are slowly starting to add up.    (I'm quite sure that when I bought my fitbit, it wasn't to help motivate me to sit at my sewing machine, but what's a quilter to do?!?!)  You know I'm spending a lot of time in my studio when my family starts to visit me there to make sure I'm still alive.  The funny thing is that I think I'm only about 1/2 to 2/3rds done.  I really don't know since I just keep piecing away.  I figure sooner or later, I'll figure out when its done.  


So how did this happen?!  Well I started out with the 42 little Epp/Applique Umbrella blocks.  Then there was suppose to be the little Abbie blocks that were fussy cut from the signature fabric of the collection.   Fine easy, right?  Nope!  I needed some new blocks with half square pinwheels.  Oh they look good!  What if I added some cool scrappy blocks the same size.  But wait!!! I have all these strips left over, maybe I can make some them into really scrappy strips ...in all different widths.  Wowwww this is getting tooo scrappy.  It needs some nice stripe strips and black strips to hold it all together.

See what I mean?  This quilt has taken a life on it's own.  One thing I did manage to come up with is that the "blocks" (and I use that term VERY loosely) are 11" wide.  They will be big strips the length of the quilt. I was going to hand quilt it but with all the seams, I changed my mind and am going to do it with my machine. I manage to watch a Marti Michelle class on Quilting in segments and I thought I would finally give that a shot.....as soon as I finally finish piecing the quilt.....which might or might not get done this month.



I do love where this is going though.  This is the kind of quilt where a little girl will be able to see how the 21 different fabrics play with all the little Abbies that are scattered through out.  It really will be the kind of quilt that made me fall in love with quilts when I was a little girl.  Also, it makes me wonder when I got so tied up with the art side of quilting and forgot how much I loved the traditional end of it.  I'm sooooo a Gemini - never really happy with one side without the other!

Hopefully by the next check-in the piecing will be done and I'll be onto machine quilting it.  

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, October 9, 2020

Bullet Journaling for Quilters on Off the Wall Friday

You know I just noticed that  that should read BOOKS  :)


 I love journals.  I love the feel of them in my hands, the pretty pictures on them, the way they smell.  What I don't like is actually journaling.  Over the years I've  bought so many great journals with every intention to fill them up with my hopes, dreams, vents, etc etc.  But NOPE!  not a one gets past a few beginning pages.  

Well except for one...and that didn't even start as a journal.  You see, I have a very busy, social church.  With that busy church we are expected to serve. So I was on various committees and headed some big events.  With that came planning...a lot of planning...a ridiculous amount of planning.  So I started a nice sturdy composition notebook to keep it all straight.   Every time I had a meeting with notes, an event with to-do lists, a  list to call for volunteers it went into the notebook.  In fact you never saw me without it if I had anything remotely to do with church because there was always someone saying something about what needed to done next.  It was attached to me so much we ended up calling it the bible.  (I'm thinking my pastor would not have found that as funny as we all did but that's another blog post entirely!)  I referred to it time and time again.   It became my Go-To book for church year after year.

So why was this journal so handy and others I had not??  It's because it was all about function, not fashion.  What I needed was a journal that kept my projects, ideas, life in one orderly place!  What I didn't need was a place to write down my hopes and dreams and what I had for lunch.


Jump ahead to this last weekend.  Tessa and I decided to get out of the house and take a ride to Mentor, Ohio.  I love Mentor!  It has a Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, and Michaels all in a quarter mile radius.  Heaven right?   It was more a browsing day rather than a buying day but I did manage to buy a new journal.  Yes - insert groan here !  But this one was pretty and cheapie - like $2.61 cheapie.  And it came with a stencil.  And stickers.  And it said  EVERYTHING STARTS WITH AN IDEA.  Did I mention it was pink?  with sparkles.  

It was a bullet journal.  What the heck is a bullet journal?!  Its a blank journal that for the most part has little dots through out so you can customize it anyways you want.  (There are other forms with lines, blank, graph paper but you get the picture).  It can be used as a diary, a planner, notebook, list book.  Basically anything that will make your life more organized.  Of course, creative people can't just leave it there.  Over the last 5 years, people have made them into a big creative outlet where they used all forms of mix media to decorate the pages of them.  When I say a creative outlet, I mean they have taken bullet journaling to its own art form in itself.  


Maybe that's why I never thought of a bullet journaling was for me. I never wanted to scrapbook a pretty journal. I didn't want to play with great layouts with amazing lettering.  I could however use a book that had all my creative life in one place. With a little research I could see how it could work.

So  I spent one evening setting it up.  I didn't get crazy...just used markers and stickers.  I already use a Happy Planner so I have PLENTY of stickers.  In about three hours I had a useful  little journal that  is a little pretty and a lot functional.  Perfect!

How to Bullet Journal For Quilters 

There are no rules to bullet journaling.  Pick a notebook and pens/markers that you really like.  Keep an eye on if the markers will bleed through page.  But besides that...you're good to go.  The way I chose to use my journal might not be the way you chose to use it.  But let me get you started on how I did it.  

The way I decided that would work good for me is to have a front section of the journal for my main lists.  Some lists you might want to add are

  • Table of Contents
  • Master To-do list
  • Important Dates
  • Favorite Online Links, Blogs, Shops 
  • Brainstorming Ideas
  • UFO Progression Chart
  • Gift Wants
  • Favorite Fabric Lines
  • Favorite Inspirational Quotes
  • Monthly/Yearly Goals
  • Bucket Lists for Online Classes/Conferences
If you belong to a guild or a Bee you can have a section for Guild notes, Swaps.  You can also add a section for quilt retreat/conference planning.  The nice thing about this section is that you can just keep adding onto it as you go.  If you run out of room, just write "Continued on Page XX" and go from there.



REMEMBER YOU'RE  THE QUEEN OF YOUR JOURNAL!

I personally left some pages between the front of the journal lists and the next section in case I want to add more lists.  The next section I called PROJECTS.    In this section I plan to name out myindividual  projects including things like inspiration, materials and techniques, and final critique.  I also am keeping a running time log on how long I work on the project just in case I need to do it again for a client.  Plus

it's fun to see how much time I spend on a project.  

With this type of journal I can keep a running section  on several projects at a time.  Plus with a journal staring you in the face it's hard to ignore projects that you keep saying, "Ohhhhh I really need to get back to that!"


The back of my personal journal, I'm keeping for class notes.  Right now they are scattered in sketchbooks that I take to classes which is okay but it would be a lot nicer to get have them all in a journal.  Also the pages set up like they are, they're perfect to sketch out ideas that jump in your head.

Now what I'm NOT going to do is use my journal as an everyday planner, lists pertaining to anything other than quilting, or a diary. Also I don't plan on using it as an art/meditative project in itself.   I have my Happy Planner for my everyday life stuff and I have this blog  as a running diary of my creative life.  And I don't really feel the need to look for another creative avenue in mixed media. 

So we'll see if I can manage to use this bullet journal like a bullet journal is suppose to be used.  If it works out as well as a "The Bible" than I'll be happy.  Between this blog and my new journal I should remember exactly what I need to do, how I did it and what's coming up next.

At least that's the plan.

So What are You Up to Creatively??




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Friday, October 2, 2020

Wonderfil Thread Review on Off the Wall Friday

 


Okay, I'll admit it.  I'm getting obsessed...with thread.   Yes, there are more dangerous and worse things to get obsessed with but still, it's getting out of hand.  It all started when I saw that people were using bobbin thread to English Paper Piece.  Then I started looking at  new and different thread lines that have come out in the last 10 years.  Then I started ordering samples, trying them out, watching videos...etc etc....You get the picture.  Yes, I've gone  down that rabbit hole of THREAD.  

So what have I learned in my journeys??  I found this simply amazing blog post by Nancy Purvis that shows the quality of threads under a microscope. This post was written in 2012 but still is SO interesting. Then there is Dr. Bob over at Superior Threads who has a really informative set of videos filled with practical knowledge of thread.  Some are videos on their products but most will give you thread knowledge that will make your sewing life easier. Yes it's basically Everything You Ever Wanted To Know about Thread, But Was Afraid to Ask!  Thennnnnn each brand of thread has not only information on their thread lines, but cheat sheets on what threads can be used for what applications and with what needles.   

See what I mean ???  A Rabbit Hole.  Most of the thread lines, I've tried in one shape or another through the years...all except Wonderfil.  Wonderfil is a Canadian company started in 1988 and their threads aren't widely available in my little part of  NWestern PA, so it's nice that their website is so easy to shop from.  They also have been giving out 4 packs of sample spools of their products with orders (I believe they were the ones that were from the cancelled AQS shows) so you can try different lines. FREE is perfect for trying things out! 

Now as always, I have no affiliation with anyone, anywhere with anything connected to quilting. (grin)

A Wonderfil Thread Review

I've made three orders with Wonderfil in the last few weeks.  The website is easy to navigate , shipping to the US is free and relatively fast, and there is a lot of helpful information on their site.  The threads come in small or large spools and they carry some really handy thread packs of different lines.  The thread is competitively price but it seems like some lines are limited in colors.  I started with the DecoBob line which is a 80 wt polyester thread. Compared to Bottom Line (60 wt polyester) , I felt it worked smoother in hand sewing for EPP and applique.  Plus its more affordable and offered in smaller spools packs which are really handy.  I did have a few spools that did not start smoothly (and I really need to get back to customer service about those)

That got me wondering....how would DecoBob work in my machine.  I have one big criteria in my



machine thread ... it needs to be LOW Maintenance.  Honestly, I have little patience for thread that breaks, has tension issues, needs special needles, won't feed evenly into my machine etc.  If you listen to the Dr. Bob videos though, a little knowledge goes a long way in most of these issues.  Still each machine (and operator) has different issues with different thread types.  

I said to myself, "Self, what would happen if I just grabbed a spool of thread, slapped on my free motion foot, put the pedal to the metal, and got quilting?"  I mean honestly that is how it usually happens.  Nothing is worse than when finally its time to put in thread work or free motion quilting, and your thread will not cooperate.    So here is  what  I found....

Aurifil 50 Wt Cotton   

This is what I use all the time pretty much for everything. I use light grey and dark grey big cones for piecing and bobbins.  I don't really tend to match my bobbin threads (even with quilting) and find the grey works with most colors.   Like everyone else, I find it works great in my machine with little lint considering its a cotton.  It does however leave a pretty big quilting line.  It sits on top of the fabric more.  Also, when I  get going at a little too fast it can break.  I personally think that is a operator issue rather than a thread issue.  (that photo should say 50 Wt - I keep forgetting I switched to 50 wt 10 yrs ago)

Wonderfil's Efina 60 Wt Cotton.  You wouldn't think that there wouldn't  be a noticeable difference between a 50 wt and a 60 wt but there definitely was.  It seemed to give a finer line that sank more into the fabric instead of resting on the top.  I had no problem machine quilting with it and it worked smoothly.  




Wonderfil's DecoBob 80 Wt Polyester.  
I don't know why I never thought to use bobbin thread on top!  Wow!!  This free motioned quilted easy and I love the line it gave.  It's super fine with just enough definition.  It tended to move easily and sink into the fabric.  I had no breakage even at my highest speeds.  

Wonderfil's InvisaFil 100  Wt Polyester

So this is where the first hiccup happened.  I had to change my needle from a universal 80 to a Microtex 80 to get this thread to free motion smoothly.  Even with that I had to slow down my speeds and take extra care.  There were still skipping stitches.  BUT this is the kind of weight that you can use instead of using a nylon visible thread.  It definitely looked like that on fabric without any kind of shine.  I have totally given up on using invisible thread because it has thrown off the timing of my machine twice and landed it it into the shop.  Also, ruined two  - yes - TWO - Bobbbin cases!


Anddddd....while rummaging around in my threads.....I found this .......several spools of 

Aurifil 100 wt polyester



I'm not even quite sure when I bought these but I know it was a long time ago. Wow!  these free motion like a dream and easily withstood my high speed crazy moments.  It even worked easily with a regular universal needle and the tension was perfect.  I really do need to search out some nice neutral colors.  I'm sure when I bought it, I had no idea of thread weights but this is one nice bobbin thread. 



Well that was fun!!  I also tried out Wonderfil's Fabulux which worked great and had a lot of the same characteristics of Mettler Polysheen thread which I love, love.  Lots of time I want a nice shiney kind of look to my quilting.  I started with rayons (aren't they pretty?) but never could them to work on a consistent basis.  Finally, decided that the Poly Sheen worked so much better  - came in a ton of colors and in a nice thread size.   The Fabulux is great but just doesn't have the color range that I would like. (not to mention Ihave a full set of polysheen now - lol)

Of course, this is all my experience with my machine and crazy quilting.  

Have you tried Wonderfil??  What did you think??  What is your favorite threads??



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Friday, September 25, 2020

Facts You Didn't Know About Faith Ringgold on Off the Wall Friday

Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, 1991

 I love female artists....all ages...all media.  Shrug...maybe it's because it seems like I can relate to their subject matter. Basically what they think is important is lots of times what I think is important.  The female condition.


That's what originally brought me to Faith Ringgold (age 89).  Not only was she a female artist, but she was one that took her subject matter from causes that were important to her...racism, sexism...segregation.  Every woman, especially every African American woman could look at her work and relate.  

Subway Graffiti #3, 1987


Facts You Didn't Know About Faith Ringgold

1.  Faith started out as an art teacher.  She enrolled City College of New York to major art but

The American Dream, 1964

instead had to major in Art Education because female students were limited to certain majors.  (Stop and let that sink in a minute!!)  While teaching, she was also raising two daughters alone with the help of her mother.



2.  Faith was an activist starting in the 1970's.  She was included in a protest on the Whitney Museum of American Art during an art exhibition that not only didn't include any women but didn't include any African Americans.  She was a member of Women Artists in Revolution and a founding member of the National Black Feminist Organization.  Her activism continued right through to the 1990's.


3.  Faith is not just a quilter.  She started out as a painter letting her trip to Europe first influence her work and later starting letting the plight of an African American woman push her into new series.  In the early 1970's she started experimenting with other media including textiles sculpture and masks.  The masks lead to a natural progression to performance art where she explored African story telling and music. 


4.  Faith is not your average quilter.  She originally made the switch to fabric to better align herself with a traditional African American medium.  Plus her mother, Willi Posey, helped in her quilt construction since she was a popular Harlem clothing designer and seamstress.  Her quilts are painted canvas, cut and stitched into quilts (3 layers) with stories written within them  The written word is very much a part of the quilts themselves.

Faith and Willie Quilting

5.  Faith is a award winning author.  She has written and illustrated numerous children’s books, including Tar Beach, Harlem Renaissance Party (2015), as well as an autobiography titled We Flew over the Bridge (1995).



I'm always a little shocked when I do one of these "Facts You Didn't Know" posts.  It's amazing how one woman's life can contain so much ... a lot of which people along the way told her she COULDN'T do.  Can you imagine how her life would have gone if she had listened to that art teacher in college who told her she didn't have what it took to be an artist?  It boggles the mind.


After my quick trip to my parents cabin, I haven't quite gotten back to my studio, but I've been itching to do it!!


So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, September 18, 2020

The Value in the Umbrellas - Off the Wall Friday

 I'm so happy to be sewing regularly again.  I try to get in a couple of hours a day which goes a long way at getting a quilt done...go figure!  Progress Report on the Umbrella Quilt....40 Umbrella Blocks done ... 40 Fussy Cut Little Girl Blocks Done ... 10 Pin Wheel Blocks Done. (For the record I literally had to take out my first quilt book I ever used to remember how to do quilt block math and get my half square triangles to come out right .... how soon we forget!! )



I stopped right there and looked at all these little 6 in blocks I had amassed.  A lot of blocks considering I had  no set in mind.  I do know what I didn't like in the original pattern set.  It was #1 the lack of Underlying Value  & #2 Not Enough Whimsy for the Cute Fabric.  Now this isn't a criticism of the original designer.  The pattern was suppose to be for a beginner quilter who wanted to get her feet wet in EPP and applique.  But my obsession with the Abbie fabric line has moved well beyond THAT.


The original Quilt Pattern

I have been  brainstorming some ideas.  I found plenty of more of the Abbie fabric line to play with so that was no problem, but one thing I've noticed.....a lot of the prints read the same value.  With so many middle medium values, it's hard to put together a quilt design.  Luckily there are some really nice lights around those little girls, but nearly enough darks for my taste.  So I started there.

Since a good idea is to ALWAYS MAKE VISUAL DECISIONS VISUALLY....up the blocks went for a quick mock up.

The pinwheels are working ...with more of them they are adding some much needed movement and whimsy to it .... but they are still sorta all medium-medium.


See how just a little black makes everything around it pop?!  Now the question is how much black and where.  One thing I did not like about this collection is only one dark-dark - a black - sighhhhhhhh.  EVERY COLLECTION needs some really good light - lights and some good darks-darks!

There is this idea hmmmmmm but I don't know ....I'm thinking these blocks are too big - they would have be way littler if I do it!!



Anyways that's where I'm at......

Since I'm finally heading to go see my parents this weekend ... yes across state lines...Call Gov Cuomo and Gov Wolfe....I'm making a jail break.... the umbrellas will have to wait a bit.  I have some good ideas though to add a bit more whimsy to it and some scrappy bits.  Every little girl's quilt needs some scrappy bits.  

Honestly with my own princess turning 23, this might just have to get done waiting for her first daughter.  OMG did I just say that?!?!?!  These Abbie prints ARE getting to me.

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?!

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