Sunday, July 31, 2011

What I Did for My Summer Vacation

This is the Summer of Making it Work- as in- use what you have, stay away from the store and make it fun.

So I started by cleaning out my fabric stash. A closet full of plastic bins overflowing with beautiful (and ugly) cottons- some from my mother's fabric stash and at least 30 years old! I ended up with lots of bins filled with neatly folded fabrics sorted and labeled on the shelves of my closet. And at least three bags full of stuff I am going to donate.

Then my a/c died in my studio. Yeah- we have central air ( we live in North Carolina for heaven's sake!) but my little room upstairs gets uncomfortably hot without the window unit. And in the spirit of Making It Work- I decided NOT to spend the money on a replacement unit,
but to move my sewing plans downstairs- to the kitchen. With a week off from work and lots of unfinished projects resurrected from the piles of fabric, I took over the kitchen counters- Cutting space on the island, iron on the counter, sewing machine on the table. On Vacation! Oh- and outside temps well over 100 degrees. I put Pandora on the computer and had nothing but time- I had an awesome week!
I made two quilt tops from a charm pack and yardage I bought at least three years ago- I over dyed some very ugly yarn- making even uglier yarn. And I made fabric bins to organize all those pieces of fabric I so lovingly folded. I found a bolt of upholstery linen I was going to recover a chair with- The chair is history- so I had yards and yards to play with.
I have always loved Maya's blog- Maya Made, and her burlap buckets have inspired me over and over again. My original plan was to make buckets, but then I realized that square shapes would suit my needs better- so I made up my own pattern and went to town.

15 bins later- I have some pretty cool looking storage! I was going to use stamps to label the colors I had sorted my fabric into- but I have decided to use numbers instead, with a fabric strip tied to the handle to indicate what's inside. This way I can reuse these bins in the future. I liked them so much- I thought I'd put together a tutorial for them- stay tuned for that!

By now, my week of free time was winding down- responsibilities lurked- the fantasy that I could make things for a living was evaporating like the rain from a brief summer shower. Laundry needed to be done- groceries bought- threads vacuumed up- meals prepared. But I felt very good about what I had accomplished.

Then this morning I started thinking about how I knit more than quilt these days and why. It's because with knitting I can stay right in the middle of things- I can easily hide surplus yarn in the cabinets in the living room, and sit and interact with my family while knitting. Quilting requires me to retire to my studio space- away from the center of things, isolated (which is sometimes a good thing). Quilting takes up lots of space.
When I first got married and my kids were babies, I did whatever I could do to stay at home with them and not have to pay someone else to raise them. Daycare has come a very long way since the late 70's. So I had my sewing machine set up in the eating space of our apartment and I sewed zippers into eyeglass cases for needlepoint kits. I made good money and worked for an awesome woman who believed in nurturing other women's creativity. And I was available to the kids and in the middle of things. Later we moved to California and I still had limited space-but my sewing machine was always in the dining room, in the middle of things.
Flash forward to an empty nest- including unused bedrooms- and a studio space was born. I love having my own room- and I love leaving everything where it is, in whatever stage of being finished- but I miss being in the middle of things. It's a trade-off- I'm rarely embarrassed by my clutter anymore- I still get quite a bit of work done. I love knitting, and I'm happy I am getting better at it all the time. But I REALLY loved working with fabric and making quilts and having threads on my clothes and singing VERY LOUD to old Joni Mitchell songs while my sewing machine was going full power.
So now I have put away all my toys and I have finished the laundry and I'm prepared to go back to work tomorrow- But what I really want to do is make this

Hey- only 5 days to the weekend, right?

Thanks to Amanda Jean for the inspiration