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Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Style

Second post of the day! Funny how drafts don't publish themselves.

  I’m not a modern quilter.

 A shock I’m sure.

I like bright colours, new ways of putting things together, negative space and lots of other elements that are typically associated with modern quilting.

But of the many contrary things about me is the fact that I don’t like labels but also that while I like wild and crazy, I like wild and crazy inside a defined boundary or calm that is allowed to spill out, not as big on either being fully one thing, so I’m neither traditional or modern, I’m just a quilter.  

My style is something along the lines of twisted traditional or complicated simplicity but even that really doesn’t describe anything.

 And I have to wonder why this industry, and really any creative community, feels the need to define, refine, categorize and analysis and judge the always fluid concept of style. I understand it at an academic level, it is easier when the body of work is so large to narrow the focus, and I understand it psychologically, we all want to feel unique, different but not so different that others don’t share our esthetic/worldview.

I understand it, but I don’t get it. Why is everyone so closed to the notion that there is far more that we share then differentiates?

Where is the issue with allowing everyone to be an expert in their own craft, and celebrating that fact?

Why do we need more to separate us? Is our sense of self so fragile and weak that anything that challenges what works for us as being “THE WAY IT IS DONE”, elicits a defensive aggression to tear what works for others apart?

And why do we want to see that which binds us fray and separate? We’re quilters. We cut up fabric and sew it back together again. We make things for the joy of it, to give, to keep warm, to connect. What the hell does it matter what style we use?

I hate it but the Quilt Police are real, they are out there waiting to judge. We give them power every time we judge another’s work as “other”, and the jail is where our creative impulses go after learning to fear their judgement, and our cells are the “movement” or “style” which we attach ourselves to when we start to label ourselves, because those labels exclude far more then they describe and subconsciously we shrink our potential because we want to belong.

Find your voice for the sole reason that it is YOURS. And that is awesome. You have something amazing and I desperately hope that you will find the courage to share it with yourself if no one else and don’t allow any intimidation to stop you from seeing your own greatness in at least trying.

Words Matter - Non Quilt Post

We all have strengths and challenges. I don’t name them weaknesses because I don’t think they necessarily are weak, they are the very thing that can push us further and to develop new strengths, and anything with that much potential cannot be referred to as weak, as less than.

I love language.

A lot.

And I’m good with them.

 I should be, seeing as I have a near eidetic memory, intense curiosity, a love of reading/learning, and an incredible access to words from all kinds of languages- used in all sorts of ways, by all sorts of different people trying to communicate their passions.

Each language is made up of ideas, expressed with words and numbers, which are built with a set of characters that have developed over a large amount of time/location.
Learning the way ideas are expressed, what meaning is ascribed to each word, what sound each character makes- individually & in frequent combinations- and the ability to remember and retrieve at will all that information, and to make accurate inferences based on what you do know is all that is required to learn a language.

I confess, at some points I get bored with no motivation or persons to utilize my skills so many of the languages I’ve learned are mostly basics, a few, with practice, I’d be back to being proficient in.  Without the motivation beyond curiosity, I have trouble pushing myself to learn past the foundations, or the point I can compare and contrast a language to ones I do have a much greater fluency in the desire/need/want to figure out more starts to wan.

So what does that mini lecture on language have to do with this quilting blog?

Well, mostly it is to give context to my next ramblings, which is mostly on why words matter, and especially why they matter so much to me, and since this is my blog about me & my journeys that means it matters.

 So why exactly do words matter, and furthermore, why do they matter so much to me?

 Words matter because ideally they express the originator’s {“person who ‘said’ them/the Speaker”} intent, context and knowledge. Beyond those three things from the speaker, words then have to go through filter(s), namely the person(s) receiving the words.

So that’s part of the reason words matter, and the me part is fairly simple as it was partially explained above.
Above where??? You may ask, and I answer with “The paragraph that starts ‘I should be…’”
I have a near eidetic memory.
 I say near because there has to be some level of alertness/awareness/mindfulness for me to both have the memory AND be able to recall it with little or no effort.

What that means is I remember everything.

All the time.

 Good or bad, angry or happy, intentional or not, I remember. If I get anxious- like I do in most confrontations, or as my family knows it, communicating in any way- my mind will blank on me, but once I feel secure again, it will be there.

 This is where most people say something along the lines of ‘how terrible’ or ‘I can’t imagine’ with the odd ‘Cool’ or ‘Liar’ thrown in for interest.
Very comforting, I’m sure. To someone. Somewhere.

So honesty matters to me because I cannot forget, and lessons learned are just as impossible to forget, no matter how much I may wish to.

Because I remember all those words, and grew up actually being told I was not as I was/am, I’ve developed a very keen sense of compassion and empathy. ( The two are not the same but that is a different ramble.)  

Which means I really do try to be careful of my words, but when others don’t hold their words to the same standard, or I allow myself to lapse also, well things get messy and I don’t like messy, especially if it means confrontation or aggression.
 I really, really don’t like it. As in I will go to silly lengths to avoid it, because in my experience it leads to me being hurt, and more often than not, very large levels of invalidation of me also happening.

So that is why words matter so much to me.
 And why when you aim yours at me, make sure they are true and honest, because I cannot forget them, no matter how much we both wish I could.

I ask you to remember only one thing from this post-

You never know how others are different than you, so remember that your words matter, simply because you said them, and they will be remembered, even if only as a light impression of who you were at the time they slipped from your lips.

 And when you don't know what to say...maybe this will help.

Friday, March 28, 2014

rediscovering my hands and voice, an update.

          Self reflection is often a painful and unpleasant thing, even for those of us who are more then slightly acquainted with the insanity that is self awareness, and conscientious mindfulness. But without agency, or "hands" it's all just a bunch of stuff in your head.

Why am I saying something about self reflection & agency on my nearly abandoned quilt blog?
   Because it is through self reflection of the most unpleasant but productive kind I have come to all kinds of points on more than a few areas that had finally managed to get me so wrapped up I was unable to create or nurture ANY aspect of my life in a way that satisfied anything, leaving me feeling without hands or voice.

Even when things did go well, which to be honest started to become more of in spite of my efforts rather than because of them, I got less and less out of it.
   I don't just mean less joy, I mean less anything.
Only my curiosity, a drive to understand so I can protect myself, occasionally popped up to keep me involved, and the very deep fear/painful memories of being abandoned/left out, kept me moving forward in parts of my life someone reading this blog may be familiar with.

I, who anyone who has known me for long will tell you is passionate and curious, couldn't muster any enthusiasm for what I had/was working for, and everything I did manage to accomplish become another stress, another load to carry for reasons I did not understand.

I will not label the above because it is incredibly complicated and interconnected with a whole lot of other things that really I feel no need to share broadly, but whatever you're comfortable labeling it with your understanding of life and me is fine with me, the point is the same regardless of the "cause".

    No matter how many times I tried to get back to "me", or how hard I was on myself for not getting that abstract task done, things kept getting worse until I hit a point I've been to before.

This is a point we all hit occasionally- lucky hit it in a way and at a time when there is some kind of net to help with the fall and climb back up, unlucky hits the bottom head first on their own at a time when no one is helping them. I'm not lucky but neither am I fully unlucky.
I have hit bottom, violently, many times before, betrayed by every person who ever could/should have saved me, including me, in ways that most would/could never believe.
I am a survivor in so many connotations of the word, a survivor of more than any one person should have to ever expect or accept.
I have been beaten, silenced, violated, betrayed, intimidated, brutalized and convinced I am worth less then any who will choose not to give me what they in return demand, but the point I'm making is not about what I survived or what destroyed me, but that I survived.

The point is that, this time it was just a bit more complete in the destruction but like every other time chaos & hurt has hit I arrived at the point past triage. For me this is the time to make a choice.
 Choose to allow what was destroyed to die as total a death as possible for it, and if I choose this option what parts of me & mine will be destroyed with it and is it worth it?, or to build upon the ashes of what had come before and use what survived with me to build stronger.

  What to build is a question that comes after making the above decisions and I'm guessing you can figure out which I choose over and over and over again. I mean I'm writing this so it's somewhat self-evident.

This really is the only thing I feel I do know, that I can say and it be as true later as it is now- I survived, I will survive again, I will create, and I will no longer allow others to push me where I know I am not able to thrive, no matter how good their intentions.

     I cannot fix all that broke before or still waits to be broken around the corner, but to those who have been hurt, disappointed or angered by me, I'm so sorry.
I can tell you my intentions but you probably know them enough or you wouldn't have cared enough to feel strongly by my mess ups, or you don't know me enough to care what my intentions were and your anger/hurt is less caused by me & more triggered by my actions.
 Regardless, I fully & unequivocally apologize to you. Your feelings are fully valid regardless of how or why I or my actions became a part of them and I regret my own chaos injured you in anyway.

The question of what's next?

Well, first, I'm going to try to get myself balanced with my husband, daughter & those I call family, those of my heart who will fight as hard for me as I will for them.
 Then I will figure out what to do with those outside of that, not because outside means less, but without a stable foundation to rest on, anything I create now will be temporary/weak, and I believe in building to last and  that's what I'm going to do.
As I go, those and that which is toxic to me and mine will be removed from any sphere that allows their poison into my foundation, it is that simple for it is that necessary.

Instead of CaraQuilts, I'm going to take a detour as Creating Cara, let's see where and who that gets us.

One thing that I have rediscovered already is my voice, which has been silenced for far too long by chains placed on it by others but held there by me afterwards. And once you start breaking chains, each one becomes easier- this much I know, it's not easy, but easier each time, until one day it is automatic to break chains others place on us.

So thank you to those who have said this to me in countless ways small ways over my life, most will never know the great gift they gave to me, and to any who need to hear it, I say it to you.

I believe you can survive, I believe in you, that you have what it takes keep going & grow.

Choose to survive & you will find a way, this I know, but be ready with your own hands to reach out, be it to give or receive, for your hands are only yours, and I believe they can be strong enough for whatever you choose to do with them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fat Quarter Shop's Charm Pack Cherry in Mixed Bag!

 I was asked about 2 months ago to make up what would be a new free pattern from Fat Quarter Shop made from charm packs, of course I said yes as I am a precut addict.

 I was intrigued by the size of the quilt, charm pack patterns rarely make my 40+" minimum for usable quilts, and the Charm Pack Cherry is about 52-54" (I forget now, I did measure I swear! It is perfect for  using 58 or 60" backing fabrics. Just saying)

You can find all the goods, including a tutorial video with Kimberly all ovver FQS's social media, as well as what I'm thinking is going to be a fairly large parade of quilts (or bloggers who made the quilt) to give you lots and lots of ideas.

 Basically the pattern uses 4 charm packs, two prints and two solids (about 3yards), and you have 12 of each type of charm left over, these are great for adding a border or making a fun back, especially if you make a medallion or maybe something like flying geese or HSTs in an arrow shape, or even a super scrappy binding!

Because I was going to give mine to a baby, and I confess to disliking the hassel of pieced backs that have to be perfectly centered etc, I did back mine in Moda Snuggles.

I only used a FQ for binding, cut to 1.5" and using the Clover bias maker in 3/4" size (the red one), so over all a very scrappable or all new fabrics pattern, both would work awesome!

For another layout/look check out Sara's over at Sew Sweetness! She's a sweety for sure and her version is like I had imagined mine to begin with but I didn't want to get in trouble so was careful to follow the pattern placements.

And to encourage some new ones  All Charm Packs will be 20% off at Fat Quarter Shop from Monday morning until Sunday at midnight CST

The pattern is easy, pretty quick, and depending on the colours you choose will look really different, or in one or two colour families even. When I looked at the instructions I actually thought of stained glass windows, the abstract/mostly vertical strips kind, but I don't see it as much with the red. 
A great way to use up charm packs, especially ones from the same designer but different lines, would make this quilt even more interesting, and you could of course choose more than one solid as well.

And because Chelsey is always on top of things over at FQS I have all sorts of images/graphics to show! YAY!

  This one in Sphere, which may be one of my all time favorites, really makes me want to make another! This was the colour combo I wanted originally but it hadn't hit shops yet. I also would love to see it in Plum Sweet with a cream or mauve background.

So looks like fun doesn't it? 

Tell me, are you a stash shopper or always up for some pretty and new? Got tips on either?

Monday, December 16, 2013

non quilting post. PTSD and anxiety

As someone with complex/multi event PTSD and an anxiety disorder I get my side of it but it's hard to share how to help, especially in the middle of a flashback or attack.
I saw this article has some good points and appropriate caveats, aka touch is good except when it isn't. So here you go.

PS I sewed! I made skirt! Post coming soon!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Reasons I shouldn't sew blocks at different times

As you can see I had sewn one group of blocks together with the colour placement messed up. I'm trying to decide whether to leave it, break apart & use the 2 orphan blocks I found to create a finished block in each colour way (the middle ones would look right basically & L-R would mirror) or to make some more blocks (assuming I can find the yellows which I can't currently)/

Always lot's of choices!

Don't forget tomorrow night, Tues 9pmET, is #talknt  and #talknt2 is Wed from 3-4pmET, 8pmGMT.
Chat quilting, meet some new people and maybe win a prize!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I've sewn!

So I've actually done some sewing in the last few weeks. Before this the only work I'd done in a long while has been handwork, none of which is finished.

 But I have sewn for the sake of sewing! I'm thrilled with this because it really did let me relax in a way I haven't for a long time. Creating for the sake of creating with pretty fabrics that make me happy and warm feeling.

I don't know what I'm going to do with these but it will be for no reason but to make me feel like I'm creating beauty and positive energy.
I will post more about how I made them using the Sizzix Big Shot and what fusible I've finally found that I can't mess up most of the time! You can see from the light blue it is still possible to destroy but you have to really overheat, which of course I did.

I've also started work on a quilt that was supposed to be made a year ago for my inlaws. I hate that I haven't had it done for them before now but I do like having something to work on that will be appreciated. My inlaws, especially my father-in-law Sam, really appreciate and love quilting, (and think everything I do is awesome!) as it was part of both their lives growing up in a poor town in Appalachia. You can see one of the many reasons I adore them.

This is a version of my Twilight pattern using Indigo Crossing by Minnik & Simpson for Moda. Twilight was available as a PDF at Fat Quarter Shop but it seems to be missing now, but you can still get it over on PatternSpot.