That’s Better!

Once I knew what was going on, I was able to knit my scarf very quickly.

I generally do not work with worsted yarn. I am a yarn snob. I know my great grandmother who used to crochet did not spend this much on a skein of yarn, but there has to be more of a sensual feel to the yarn for me to handle it for a long period of time. And I LOVED the look of this worsted yarn! The stripe quality is phenomenal! There are TOO MANY cute bohemian patterns out there for me to pass up, so making this scarf helped me to restructure my wardrobe.

I am a total fan of 1960s and 1970s vintage clothes. I love eras before then, but I notice with myself, that I tend to look best within that era. Maxi dresses sing to me. Blue jeans with flare in the leg are the only jeans I will allow in my possession. A scarf with a blouse reminds me of the stylishness I saw out of the women around me. When I was little and my parents were gladly getting rid of their 1970s clothes and carting them off to the Goodwill, I begged them to place them in a box for me until I grew up. I KNEW I wanted them for myself.

Off to Goodwill they went.

And I grew up and I had to start over, looking around for what I wanted. Luckily for me, the textiles in knitting and crochet gave me what I was looking for: Unique bohemian chic.  One frogging on the way to completion of this project isn’t bad, now is it? From what I understand, it is not at all unusual to see people doing more than that.

The scarf measures 40 inches long. I will need to get knit more scarfs before the winter comes. I forgot how to bind off, so I will have to ask my fiber arts group about that. There are worse things to indulge in. There are worse activities to bond with people over. Either people do not ask why I do this or they make assumptions. But it really very simple for me: There really are worse things to do besides knit a scarf and I simply do not want to be involved with any of them.  That's Better!

International Quilt Festival 2015

This year, the International Quilt Festival had a Rubies quilt exhibit. The International Quilt Festival is held each year in various locales throughout the country: Chicago, Houston, Long Beach and Cincinnati. Although the International Quilt Festival was a few months ago in Chicago, I feel writing about it in light of the patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day) is appropriate, hence all the red and white fabric from the main quilt exhibit. I love Americana fabric (fabric with a patriotic theme). I donated my proceeds from working the festival to Quilts of Valor, an organization that makes quilts for veterans.

Considering my father is a Vietnam veteran, the Quilts of Valor organization was of interest to me. Also, because Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), a very breakthrough trauma treatment I personally had for PTSD due to rape trauma and domestic violence, actually originated in the veterans hospitals. I felt my donation was a way of giving back for some of the help I received, thanks to the veterans and their advocacy for appropriate trauma treatment.

Other than that, the International Quilt Festival is one of the most wonderful times of the year for me. Other people live for the holidays. As a healthcare worker, I usually work the holidays. So, I live for the International Quilt Festival.

I adore being a part of the quilting process, whether it is making them myself, packing them up at the festival, unpacking them and/or displaying them. It is all pure joy for me. Quilters from around the world send their quilts to be exhibited within these conferences. There are a lot of traditional designs as well as art quilts that are featured. I meet all kinds of different people and it is a lot of fun. I appreciate being around other people who know what goes into an endeavor like making a quilt. I also appreciate the fact that they understand the psychological benefits of creating something by hand and I do not have to explain it to them.

International Quilt Festival 2015

Here Comes The Bride!

Wedding 1 Wedding 2 Wedding 3 Wedding 4 Wedding 5 Wedding 6 Wedding 8 Wedding 9 Wedding 10 Weddings 6No, no silly! Not me! However, that doesn’t mean I do not know someone who is getting married at some point. Actually, this has taken place during the vast majority of my life. There has been media coverage about African Americans not getting married. There is even a book out there called Is Marriage For White People? By Ralph Richard Banks. However, I usually think, “Whoever these people are, they have not been to my house and they have not gone wedding fabric shopping with me.”

If they did, they would find me usually making things for other people to get married. My mother and I have done this for years: veils, purses, etc. People know they can go to David’s Bridal and House of Brides for their special day, but for some reason, people love having something hand made for their special day. We have sewn for a couple who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. They renewed their vows. The husband was 87. The wife was 84. I felt their union was a blessing. We have also sewn for young, up and coming couples.

Sewing for a wedding usually means a pilgrimage to Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. We have to get the good stuff for a sewing endeavor like this. Most people who work with textiles know this. There are people here from all over. This fabric store has a long history with my family. I still own the quilts my great grandmother pieced together using their remnants. The remnants department is also a good place to find fabric for those wedding quilts, like charm quilts and double wedding ring quilts to give as presents.

Much like any endeavor in life, especially marriage, the process of sewing for a wedding is an exploration into the unknown. What will we find on sale? What will it look like once it is done? Will they like it? Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt the prettiest part of Vogue’s Fabric Store was in the wedding section: rhinestone notions, tiaras, veils, satin, lace, pearl embellishments.

Romances are some of my favorite novels, but books about manifestation have taken over my precious bookshelf space. Although I have used these books to manifest other things in my life, two of my favorite books on manifestation are actually for manifesting a mate: Calling in the One by Kathryn Woodward Thomas and From Your Vision Board to Your Bedroom: Using The Law of Attraction to Find True Love by Sue Vittner.

For me, manifestation and sewing for a wedding are creative processes like any other. And I love creativity. It helped that love songs like “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey and “Let’s Stay Together” by Tina Turner played in the background as we shopped.  Playing love songs during the process of sewing can inspire as well. Beverages like Zhena’s Gypsy Love Tea, eating chocolate, incense, candles and watching romantic comedies are other wonderful ways of getting into the spirit of things. Needless to say, one of my favorite romantic comedies is The Wedding Planner with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez.

Yes, I am a feminist for obvious reasons and a humanist overall. I am divorced. I volunteer at my local domestic violence shelter. I have not dated in nearly 10 years. Still, there is an erroneous assumption that because of this, I might be against the institution of marriage, men and hate life in general. Not so. I believe in love and marriage. I am happy for people who find love and feel that love strongly enough to marry and share in life’s rewards and challenges. I believe that everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and/or religion deserves happily ever after. I also believe that there are decent men out there. But moreover, I also know that divine timing for this type of milestone is everything. In the meantime, though, making my life as whole as it can be is the best gift I can give myself and others. After that, I completely get into sewing for weddings. I love the idea of a big party, a white dress, and flowers.


Author Reading With Mariel Hemingway

The new books, Out Came the Sun and Invisible Girl, written by Mariel Hemingway were long overdue and I don’t mean at the library. Out Came the Sun is an adult memoir. Invisible Girl is a young adult memoir describing her feelings growing up within her family. There are also detailed resources at the end of each book, including resources for domestic violence. The inner jacket of Out Came the Sun says, “Seven suicides. Depression. Bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia. Addiction. All in one celebrated, beautiful, brilliant family.”

And to think I almost stayed at home. Mariel Hemingway’s author reading took place at Anderson’s Bookstore in Naperville, Illinois. I am not finished reading yet, but I have found Mariel’s books to be phenomenal so far. Personally, I have to say I think she is a better writer than her grandfather.

I must commended Mariel for taking the very challenging step to become a mental health advocate. “Most people don’t want to talk about any of this,” she said, but Mariel changed that dynamic by talking openly. She shared how her family had their issues with mental illness, their denial of the situation and how she dealt with it by becoming a caregiver to them. She also revealed how she overcame her family history of suicide through extreme self care including, but not limited, to studying meditation, adequate nutrition, and a regular yoga regime.  Mariel even made suggestions for others. “Writing is very good,” she said. Everyone in the audience nodded their heads in agreement with her.

“I’m so happy you bought my books!” she said. Mariel didn’t know I majored in English, nor that I worked as a psychiatric nurse many years ago where there were four staff suicides in a six month period. This did not include the patient suicides. The issue was so prevalent that the medical college wrote an article surrounding the suicides that were taking place by the staff.

My previous workplace situation is a large reason why last month, I completed an art instillation for charity to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and assist with suicide prevention. One of the central issues I saw while I was working as a psychiatric nurse was the inability of families to talk openly about the difficulties they were having. But thank goodness I didn’t talk about myself at Mariel’s reading because I didn’t have to.

A lot of other people shared my sentiment. It was a full house. People stood along the sides of the bookshelves to listen to her talk. When questioned about why she was writing her story, she stated, “I think I am not telling a story that is different from anyone else’s family. This is a story that many families share. And people need to know there is help for them out there.”Mariel Hemingway

Santa Paula Art Museum Exhibit (Hopefully!)

Agricultural Quilt 1Okay. I am going to admit this: I want to do an art instillation at the Santa Paula Art Museum in Santa Paula, California (which is next to Ojai, California where the movie How to Make an American Quilt was filmed!). Each year, the Santa Paula Art Museum has an agricultural exhibit. I have been collecting appropriate fabric for years. This is another grandmother’s flower garden quilt. Hey, I love grandmother’s flower garden quilts and I make no apologies! This is my progress so far. One thing my art instillations have taught me over the years, like the movie Field of Dreams, is this: “If you build it, they will come.”

Sheila E. Memoir Book Review

Sheila E. MemoirThe Beat of My Own Drum by Sheila E. is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. She has always been one of my favorite musicians on the face of the planet. Sheila E. details her musical upbringing in Northern California. She also goes into detail about the rape she suffered as a child as well as discovering her life’s purpose to play music at the age of five. Music is what she said saved her from a life of strife caused by her early trauma. This is a good book to read whether you are a musician or not. She goes into detail about the rigors (and sexism) of the music industry that we don’t know and cannot see when we are looking at our favorite artists on television and magazines. She gives useful advice to all artists at the end of the book, regardless of their chosen area. Sheila E. has started a music therapy program to help other children exactly like herself. I read this book straight through and recommended it to everyone. I even recommended it to a woman I know in California who is getting a Ph.D. in psychology and is studying how the working with one’s hands helps to alleviate trauma.  Memoirs are not easy to write, but Sheila E., with the help of Wendy Holden, did a masterful job. I am proud of the work she did to heal herself. I wish her every good, right thing in the world. I cannot wait for the movie!

Drawing and Watercolor Class

I started drawing my first flowers in my drawing and watercolor class. The first day was challenging! I was attempting to draw a person. Today is better. I just had to draw a flower. My teacher said I did well. I am learning about composition this week. I have been waiting for years to take a drawing and watercolor class along with the art quilting class I plan to take next month. We are reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I have had that book for years. We also had a great conversation about high art versus low art, the myriad of ways people have expressed themselves creatively and how we have just appreciated art for art’s sake. My teacher said my drawing might have been too detailed. I felt that was a good thing.  It meant I was paying attention to what was all around me.Drawing and Watercolor ClassDrawing

Frogging (Rip It! Rip It!)

FroggingI had to rip it! Frog it! Unbelievable! Who heard the instructions wrong?! More than likely it was me! “Cast on 25 stitches, knit in garter stitch until the skein runs out. “ Fine, no problem. I found out today, though, that knit 1, purl 1 means knit one stitch, purl the next stitch, not knit one row and purl the next row. I couldn’t figure out why my yarn was drawing in on itself like moistened crepe paper. I was almost done with the skein! I had to rip it out, start all over again. “You’ll never get that out, even with blocking,” people told me. What?! I thought that that’s what blocking was for! To get out anything that rolled up. This explains why I ruined a perfectly good sweater years ago. Long story. . . . But I am not about to ruin this strippy scarf! “Just knit it,” I was told. I will admit it is going a lot faster and I like it. I didn’t even measure the length when I took the picture. I was just too scared. It was just the initial shock of it all was too much, like how could I mess that up?! I was doing this project because it was simple.

Or so I thought.