Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Dear Fabric Store,

You haven't seen me in a while, I know. It's been far too long since I've visited, and many is the time I've been tempted to give in to my longings and cross your threshold.

I miss fondling your soft cottons, running my hands over luxurious fabrics flowing from bolt after bolt. I miss gazing at the array of vivid colors laid out on your shelves. I miss the anticipation of the hunt for new bolts of fabric peeking coyly out from behind familiar friends. I miss the gentle dance the book rack and I do together, as the books twirl their colorful covers past to tempt me. I miss scanning the neatly arranged notions for shiny new gadgets, and running my eyes over the lush piles of hand-dyed fabrics and threads.

Yes, I'm longing to see you. But I dare not place myself in your presence.

You know all too well that I have made commitments to others. During our past dalliances, I have succumbed to your temptations. Under your spell, I have purchased yards of fabric, piles of fat quarters, spool upon spool of finely-woven threads. I have drawers filled with the gadgets you've so cleverly promised will improve my life.

I am only one woman. I have only so much time, energy and money to devote to your wares -- and I have over-committed my loyalties to the investments I have made in our past encounters. I must pay some attention to the offspring of our encounters, so to speak, before I can in good conscience return to you for more.

I weep for the distance between us. But know that you are ever in my thoughts, and that I will be dreaming of the day when I can once again surround myself with the warmth of your fiber-filled embrace. In the meantime, please understand that I must devote myself to the closets-full of materials you have already bestowed on me. In short, my stash is full and my pockets are empty.

But I do not love you any less, but I will not be jealous. May you stay well, and be comforted by the company of others.

With fond fabric memories,

Friday, February 27, 2009

Six Degrees

Several months ago, I got telephone call from a woman who introduced herself as Liz and explained that she'd gotten my name from my friend Cleo in London.

Yep, London.

Turns out that Liz -- who lives right here in Healdsburg -- is a consultant who specializes in organizational development and transitions. (You can read about her interesting business here.) She'd met Cleo online, though Cleo's blog, when she realized that Cleo had linked to Liz's book on women in management transitions. Cleo blogs as the leader of Price, Waterhouse, Cooper's Gender Advisory Council, and writes about gender issues in the global workplace. (It's a fascinating blog -- you can check it out here.) So basically Liz and Cleo have a professional connection, which led to Liz mentioning where she lived, which led to Cleo saying "My friend Diane lives in Healdsburg!"

Cleo and I have been friends for years... maybe 15 years, I'd say. And, funnily enough, we met online. She and I were active in a Compuserve craft-related message board (back in the day when it was all DOS, and Compuserve and AOL were the height of online-connectivity). We not only had crafting in common, but rapidly discovered that we both loved to read and had very compatible taste in books. We started recommending novels to each other, then talking about our lives and families and more. We met in person when Roger and I traveled to London "BC" (before Caroline), and since then Cleo has visited us here in the US a few times. What started as an online, email-friendship became a close personal friendship in which we've shared a lot of personal and professional changes over the years.

So, back to Liz. We chatted on the phone that day, but as I was in the throes of the Month of Migraine Madness, we agreed to meet in person after the holidays and when life calmed down. And, finally, today was the day.

It's a funny thing, meeting someone in person with whom you've emailed and talked but not met face to face before. I suspect many of you bloggers will know what I mean, if you've had the opportunity to meet someone whose blog you follow. There's the simultaneous feeling that you're talking to a friend whose life you know, even while you're looking at the face across the table and it's a complete stranger. It occurred to me, as I entered the Starbucks where we'd agreed to meet, that we'd not talked about how to identify each other. And as I approached the line to order coffee, I heard a woman say to another, "I'm meeting someone I don't even know!" That was her, and we laughed about the fortuity of my coming up just as she said that. Instant recognition.

Liz and I chatted away, and discovered that we have a fair amount in common: many mutual friends, active involvement in the school system (how we didn't meet in that context we can't figure), and an avid interest in reading fiction. 90 minutes flew by as we talked about our professional and personal lives, balancing work and family, living in our community, and more. We exchanged a few book titles, too.

We parted with plans to meet again. It was a wonderful encounter -- and a reminder that the world is a pretty small place.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Taking myself on a date

Yesterday, I gave myself a play day. I had an artist date with myself, and I had a grand time.

My first stop was a tree farm in the area. It had rained in the morning but it had stopped by the time I arrived -- perfect picture-taking conditions -- so I slogged around the mud, taking pictures of the newly-blooming fruit trees and other things that caught my eye.

From there, I headed to a shopping center that's great for roaming purposes. I wandered around Marshalls (found 2 different black toile plates -- I have a small collection of them, each one different, that I love using...)

I can wander for hours at Target. My big find there was some pretty turquoise stoneware bowls to go with the new spatterware plates we have...

After lunch (the honey mustard chicken salad from Quizno's -- yum) I headed to Border's bookstore, in search of this magazine:

And there it was -- I got the last one on the stand. I'm loving these specialty magazines that Somerset Publications is putting out. They're pricey but I generally find a lot of inspiration there.

And I stumbled onto this, which I couldn't resist...

Have you seen this magazine? It amuses me that there are magazines and books about blogging ... but this is well worth a look if you've not seen it, especially for us visual types. It's lovely to look at, it'll show you more blogs (like we all need more blogs to read, right?) and it provides good food for thought about where you want your own blog to go. Since I've been in a sort of slump blogging-wise, this is just what I needed. (Oh! Guess who's blogging now? Jane Fonda! You can check out her blog here...

Then, because I had an hour to kill before I picked up Miss C from school, I treated myself to a caramel latte at the Seattle's Best Coffee, right there in Border's, and I sat and looked at Photoshop books. (There's just SO much to learn about Photoshop...)

By the time I got home, to the smell of stew simmering away in the slow cooker, I was rested and happy and recharged.

Boy, I needed that.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Bloom

The fruit trees are starting to bloom, and there are clouds of pink brightening many of the streets in town. Our flowering plum tree is showing off a stunning color, and I can't resist taking picture after picture...

after picture...

after picture...

They're just so... pink.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A dose of pinkness

I'm ready for spring! Our little flowering plum tree has started to bloom, and it has put me in a seriously PINK mood. You've seen me go through this before, I know. But what can I say -- sometimes I just need a serious dose of pink.

So, in celebration of spring (and because I'm sick of the other UFOs currently pending) I started a new project. Last October I fell in love with some beautiful, large-scale floral prints and bought a batch of them --- so I've started on a pieced quilt using lots of pinks and greens and aquas, with flowery prints. I'm making Pauline Smith's "Blooms Quilt" out of the Kaffe Fassett book "Country Garden Quilts" - it's easy piecing, quite calming and enjoyable.

And, for the ultimate enjoyment, my friend Pat came over today and brought her machine and we sat in the kitchen, sewing and chatting for much of the day. It was so nice to catch up and just talk and sew and talk and sew -- with dark chocolate snacking to keep us going, too! We both marvelled at how pleasant it is to sew with a friend and how well worth it it is to go to the trouble of hauling the machine out of the house.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get 3 inches of rain ... but I will be brave and head out to my Practical Design workshop, which I've not been able to attend lately. I'm looking forward to the inspiration.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Book Review: Color Mastery: 10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts

I know a lot of quilters who aren't confident about their color choices and who are always looking for information to help them. I also know quilters whose instinctive color choices are great but they don't know how they choose what they choose. Whether you're in either of those categories -- or whether you just like exploring color in your work -- you'll be interested in this new book by Maria Peagler. It's called Color Mastery: 10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts, and it's terrific.

You might know Maria from her blog, Quilts and Creativity. Maria teaches color classes to fiber artists of all kinds, so she's working from a wealth of experience when she sets out some basic principles to guide working with color.

The principles are clear, well-explained, and beautifully illustrated. Maria not only shows different ways of working with a color wheel, but also PROVIDES a color wheel with the book! What more could you ask?! The principles are explained through projects which Maria made pulling from her stash -- with the idea that this book can help any quilter work from her stash, and/or understand what her stash is lacking to make colorfully dynamic quilts.

The nice thing about this book (well, ANOTHER nice thing) is that it's really suitable for all levels of quilters, and the principles apply to all methods and techniques. Whether you make art quilts or traditional quilts, the color concepts can make or break your final piece.

This book can definitely help you improve your work with color. You can order your copy here.

Check back here soon, by the way, for an interview with Maria herself!!