Friday, March 29, 2013

The Wholeness of the Buddha Nature

My new fiber friend Diane finished her weaving project.

In the beginning, there was the warping, with Buddha as the warping peg.

Then came the weaving.

Altar cloth?  Enormous table runner?  White carpet for a cosmic award ceremony?

Behold:  this creative energy has manifested as dish towels!  Notice how each border is a little different.  So cool!

How would you finish this sentence:
If you meet the Buddha in the kitchen, ________________________.

(I'd say, "Hand him a towel and ask him to dry.")  What would you say or do?  Let us know!  Post your comments!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pressing Business

Lest you think I haven't been busy:

I have been working on a sampler quilt for a Quilting 103 class.

These are just a few of the blocks I've been making.

Every block being different, it takes a LOT of pressing of fabrics, measuring, cutting, piecing, and pressing some more.  I tell myself, "I hate samplers," but the allure is, I get to learn so many new skills.

I have three more blocks to finish... well, plus two more that need appliqué stitching, but at least they are more or less put together.

I love the designs and colors.  What I don't love are the deadlines.  I don't know why I keep doing this to myself.  I need to get these blocks done in time for the next class, so I can learn how to 'quilt as you go.'

Yes, I've seen the youtube videos, but there is nothing to compare with hands-on, in-person instruction from a great teacher.  (Like at Quilt Ventura, for example.)

I have heard from a creditable source that even if I don't get all the blocks finished in time for the class, I can still learn, even if I'm just observing, and more to the point, the world will not end.

Good to know.  And there I thought avoiding Armageddon was all up to me.  And my quilting.

Getting that blanket knitted in time for the Maryvale graduates (see previous post) is enough pressure for me.

But speaking of pressure, it does amaze me how anxious many of us get when we are learning a new skill.  I felt relaxed learning to crochet and fairly relaxed learning to knit, but for some reason, quilting has such a foreign language, with foreign tools and skills, I notice myself and other classmates getting tense.  Having fun in spite of the tension, perhaps, but still, I often had to remind myself, "This fabric ain't the boss of me.  I am the boss of the fabric.  I am the (soon-to-be) Quilting Goddess."

And, "It's only thread."

I was teaching a newbie how to knit the other day, and her hands were shaking!  This was a beautiful, intelligent, accomplished young woman, and I was certain she could learn to knit, and of course, she did, in spite of her nerves.  I tried to be a calming influence along the way.

So, thought for the day: don't forget to breathe.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's Maryvale Time!

It's just after the Equinox and Maryvale is in the air.  In case you didn't read last year's Maryvale posts, they are here and here.

In short, Maryvale is a wonderful facility in Rosemead, California that offers many humanitarian programs, including residential and treatment programs for neglected and abused girls.  You can find out more about the institution here.

Every year, a few girls graduate from their school, and we like to give them each a special handmade blanket as a graduation gift.

Last week, Susan, who I believe was the initial instigator of our Maryvale Madness years ago, asked me to find out how many graduates there will be this year.

Susan has a lot on her plate at the moment, working full-time and getting ready for a move across the country, so I called and asked the nice lady at Maryvale for a count, and she said she would find out and call me back, which she did, a few days later.

She said, "We will have eight graduates this year."

"Eight?!" I said, trying to keep the panic and exclamation points out of my voice.  "Eight?  Wow.  Well, that's--that's--wonderful!"

And it IS wonderful, but... eight????!!!!  Eight teenaged girl size blankets??!!  By the first week in June??!!  Yikes!  (Oh, I am free with the exclamation points here, you bet.  I have no exclamation point shame.)  But I calmed myself.  I caught my breath and said, "Well, it's going to be all or nothing, eight blankets or none.  But I'm pretty sure we can get eight."

Luckily, a few months ago, Susan suggested I ask around among my fellow local fiberholics to see if I could get some other people on board with the blankets this year.  She must be psychic.  Somehow she knew we were going to need help.

So awhile back, I mentioned it to Sue, the head of the Santa Monica Binky Patrol chapter, and even though we didn't yet know how many blankets we would need, Sue got her crochet hook out (well, let's face it, she probably never really puts it away) and made two charming and colorful blankets in a flash.

Meanwhile, I have finished one, and some anonymous Binky angel donated one large enough, so I commandeered that one and Sue's yesterday at the monthly meeting.

Along the way, I took the Kitty Cat Quilt I made out of my Etsy shop and donated it to Binky.

That was really my intention all along, but every now and then I panic and think, "I really need to make some money," so I try to sell something.

Then I feel sad.  If the item sits in my Etsy shop waiting too long for its forever home, I am very likely to donate it instead.

Joy!  It's going to a child in need.

I also gave the original Color Convergence (free pattern available here) to Binky.

As for the remaining Maryvales, Susan in Phoenix has one started, which she will finish in Chicago.  Sonja in L.A. said she would quilt one.  Jaime in L.A. said he would crochet one. Susan's niece in Texas is gathering her friends to make one, and I have started knitting a second one, a Color Convergence in another colorway.  We have enough volunteers that we have a potential back-up blanket, just in case!

It always makes me happy knowing that people all over the country, in this case--and in other cases, the world--are coming together to create something beautiful as a gift for someone they've never met.

Pics of the finished Maryvale blankets will be posted in June--stay tuned!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Free Pattern Update: A Window on the World

Some months ago, I offered the free pattern for this crochet square here: Diamond Windowpane.

Now a lovely lady in Australia named Shelley has converted the directions for this square into UK terminology.  It's available now for free at spincushions blog.  Scroll down a little and you will see it.  She's doing a CAL and there are a lot of beautiful patterns available there--and they're free!

Shelley, the pincushion queen, also sells her super cute pincushions in her Etsy shop.  Check it out!

Meanwhile, I have a ton of patterns in varying stages of completion, but I've been busy doing knit and crochet repair and finishing work, teaching a private lesson or two, taking more quilting classes, and generally enjoying life.  I've been lax about blogging, but have much I want to share, so stay tuned.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zen and the Art of Weaving

Before you freak out and think, "Good Lord, now she's weaving too?!," let me assure you that I have not yet been sucked into that vortex.  As in, "How many spinning wheels does it take to screw in a loom?"

I'm not making any promises about the future, but for now, knitting, crocheting, spinning, and quilting are filling my time.

But I have met a fellow artist who is a weaver, among other things, and she mentioned she was warping her loom in her living room, as one does, using a statue of Buddha as a warping peg, as one does, and hoping it wasn't disrespectful.

I, of course, imagine Buddha would be entertained, if not honored, but that's just me.

She sent me these amazing photos which I just had to share, with her permission:

Cosmic, huh?

Check out her Etsy shop--she makes lovely jewelry as well, with more to come.

Meanwhile, I will soon be "weaving" the fish together.  Stay tuned!