Posted in baraka, creativity, Islam, journaling, productivity, Writing

Virtuous Living 2012

virtues 2012006

Click here to view the Wordle
I made using the Virtues Project cards I randomly selected throughout 2012.  
The size of the writing reflects which cards I pulled most frequently.  
No surprises there I would say.  Or if you just click on the image you can
embiggen it.  (Hmmm, I wonder when embiggen will make it either into the
dictionary or the list of words to be banished such as "world-class" and 
"spoiler alert"?)














Lifelong learning is a theme which kept coming up over and over again 
through the year so I added it as an "extra" virtue although it's not 
in the original hundred virtues in the project.  
For this year I've also added Sisterhood, Self-Care, and 
Consolidation (in the sense of keeping one's affairs in order 
and generally being organized)

What's special about the Virtues Project is that it's part of a global
initiative "to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life by helping
people of all cultures to discover the transformative power of these
universal gifts of character."
As such the quotations are drawn from every faith tradition.
The virtues are all positive and the cards themselves stress the
importance of balance and common sense, i.e. truthfulness does not
mean being hurtfully blunt, generosity does not mean giving away
the grocery money.  
I've been continually amazed at how often the virtue I randomly
choose for the day is exactly on point!

Of course there are various other sets of cards out there, so I'm curious, 
do you use cards and if so which ones?  What have you learned?  do
share, please!

Wordle takes a bit of patience to get started but once you do it's
great fun!  I've used it in the past to create text on fabric
through Spoonflower.
Posted in baraka, productivity, quilting

Local Quilt Store comes through where it matters

pear batik005Of course there’s never a good time for a sewing machine to be temperamental, but in the middle of sewing the binding onto a quilt that has to be delivered this weekend because the recipient is about to move overseas is one of the worst times.  What a blessing that the awesome ladies at  Satin Moon Quilted Garden agreed to clear off a table so I could use one of their machines.  This despite having the store full of the Christmas Bazaar handcrafts at the front, and the classroom/sewing area temporarily well filled with notions.  They even spoiled me with fresh coffee, which really hit the spot!  Thank you Linda, Susan, and Maureen!

So:  Mission accomplished, now I just have to sew the back down and do the label.

This is something no one can compete with online.  Local independent retailers bring so much to our communities in service, support and character.  Mindful of the need to show support, and aware of the excellent specials that were on, I indulged did my bit for the local economy:  isn’t this pear batik drool-worthy?

Posted in baraka, creativity, journaling

Baraka and Spreading the Love with a Giveaway!

Baraka is when Allah/God/the universe blesses you with something wonderful.  Just coincidentally today happens to be the first day of Ramadan, although there are blessings every day, you just have to be alert.  Yesterday for example we found a perfectly good, solid, new looking wooden table abandoned (that’s it in the photo below holding up my Rolodex!)

To my amazement, today I am the grand prize winner   of a signed copy of Quinn McDonald’s book Raw Art Journaling:  Making Meaning, Making Art from tj’s blog.

As soon as I receive this, I will give away my own gently used copy of the book, which I had pre ordered before publication last week.  And I do mean gently used, it’s been opened and perused but I haven’t written anything in it.

So you know the drill, post a comment to this post and when I receive the signed copy, I’ll do a random drawing and have Young Sprout pull a name out of a hat, so stay tuned.  It will probably be a while based on recent experience with the mail up here to Canada.

Meanwhile, check out Quinn’s site here, and consider signing up for her very generous free online class working through the book chapter by chapter.  Caveat:  it starts on August 14 and you need a copy of the book plus the site through which the course is offered, Artists of the Round Table, is a moderated Yahoo group that you have to join first, so you wouldn’t want to leave it to the last minute!  There’s also a Flickr group for posting images of your work based on the book.

And most importantly, give yourself permission to create!

Posted in Art, baraka, creativity, surface design

Starting Point

Am I finding an approach to creating art (in whatever medium) that works for me?

Were my struggles and basically dropping out of the design class I had wanted to take for so long all Hosni Mubarak’s fault?

Or am I just more of a verbal person than a visual one?

This is a mind map related to the piece I’m just starting.  So many things seemed to come together in synchronicity.  When I tried to think about drafting a blog post on these topics, my thoughts shot off in a zillion directions.  Each bit seemed to make sense standing along but I couldn’t organize my thoughts into a cohesive whole.

And here is the beginning — more pix will follow as the work progresses.  I want to create Moebius strip, so tested this concept with kraft paper (a gift from our lovely apartment manager who found a big heavy roll abandoned in a vacated apartment)

I cut and folded a strip to make a double thickness, since there will be batting inside the finished piece.

Then I twisted it into a Moebius strip to test the concept.  This will also serve as a mockup as I continue working on this piece.

Time to cut the Tyvek (from a huge piece I bought at the Sewing Show) and get drippin’!

Not having a studio space where I can be messy, I invented the small-scale paint bag.


and here’s what this work in progress currently looks like, until I can get more white acrylic to keep going!

Posted in baraka, creativity, International, Islam, journaling, Rant

Celebrating Freedom with installation art

The hours from Thursday morning to Friday lunchtime were among the most exciting and nerve-wracking of my life.

Since the unrest in Egypt began, our family has not had a moment’s tranquillity.  Even without cable TV (a deliberate choice on our part) we have been following broadcasts and blogs online and trying to stay in touch with Egyptians we know around the world, including the relatives in Egypt who were completely cut off for several days as the regime tried to put a lid on the popular uprising.

On midday Thursday (Pacific time) Mubarak was supposed to give a speech.   It was 40 minutes late, meaning that our prayer time came and went before he even started (although we prayed right after so it still counts).  This is 10 p.m. Cairo time, so it was after 10:30 when he finally spoke.

The speech began with patronizing platitudes about “I am speaking to you as a father to his children.”  Then, “the blood of the young people killed and injured in the unfortunate events will not be wasted because I have ordered a complete investigation and I will hold the guilty ones accountable.”   (I’m paraphrasing here and based on what the interpreter said since my Arabic is less than basic.)  At this point I’m thinking, no, wait, this is not good, this is going the wrong way.  After a couple more minutes the crowds in Tahrir Square started growling and waving their shoes, which by now everyone knows is like giving the finger only worse.

At one point the interpreter started one sentence over three times.  I thought it was the interpreter stumbling, but it may have been Mubarak because one commentator said he seemed to be disoriented.

Important to note that in Egypt, State television showed the speech and not the reactions in the square.  And we had to phone our relatives in Alexandria to tell them to watch, because they didn’t know the speech was scheduled.

We were left absolutely fearful that he had outdone Machiavelli, that everything would end in a bloodbath with hundreds killed as they marched on presidential palaces (there are many to choose from), Army bases, and the television building, and that the regime would spin this as foreign agitators and inflamed students.  On the other hand if the people just packed up and went home (as if!) the regime would say that there were no problems.

I left a window to a breaking news blog open and kept refreshing it to watch developments.  Although we’ve probably had a lot more sleep than friends with cable, who have been getting by on two or three hours, I actually stayed up most of the night as I had to work.  Frequent breaks to check on what was happening, e.g. “The Pyramids are open.  But there are no tourists.”

Finally on Friday morning Pacific Time a relative called to say Mubarak had stepped down.  After jumping up and down and shouting and crying we headed out for candies.  No one had dared to hope for any kind of celebration, especially after the disappointment the day before, and of course red, black, and white don’t match the colours of any North American celebration, so we had to improvise.  The white candies had to be hand picked out of the Valentine’s mix (Wearing a plastic bag as a makeshift glove).  It’s installation art because they were loose in the dish, meaning it couldn’t be carried anywhere, except very carefully around the apartment.  It’s currently disassembled but sorted by colour.  I’m hoping for a party or get together of some kind that I can either reassemble it there or perhaps make sheet cakes and stick the beans on with butter frosting.  We’ll see.

Umm Sprout improvised a bag for the candies we took to prayers, using a Body Shop bag which originally said “thank you Canada.”  This is more exciting than a planned celebration where you have time to either buy or make decorations and favours, and it’s unrepeatable.  Everyone is so euphoric, and yet calmer at the same time.  I really see and hear a change in the people I know.  Abu Sprout sweetly said that he felt sorry that I’m not Egyptian, but right now I almost feel Egyptian!

Posted in baraka, productivity

New Year, Clean Slate!

Appreciation was the virtue I pulled a day or so ago, reminding me to be more expressive when people do nice things.

So, a shout out to my DD, who is the most organized person in the family.  Here are the “after” shots of my lair, er studio.  No “before” shots are fit to be shared, and that is one hundred percent moi!

As can be imagined, the closet doors do double duty as bulletin board/design wall, soon to be covered with sketches for Elizabeth Barton’s Inspired to Design class through Quilt University.  But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that under all the masking tape and paper there’s actual doors.

My prized write-on/wipe-off globe.  It just sits in the stand so you can put Antarctica on top if you feel inclined.  The ginger jar is modern and I use it to store inspirational concepts, as suggested by Julia Cameron.

Scrap busting pillow and on the bed, Who Moved My Haloumi?  a quilt that has turned out to be oddly prophetic!

Also much appreciated was the tactful way DD accomplished this rebarbative and gargantuan task, non confrontationally and kindly, and without throwing much out (although I know she would probably love to!)  I just trundled back and forth to the recycling bins and the Dumpster with stuff and she tidied and vacuumed away very cheerfully.  Since then, I’ve tidied away a few more bits and pieces and really made an effort to keep things shipshape.  Why, I recycled the remains of one of last year’s calendars (I have to keep two desk blotter sized calendars, one for editing and one for everything else ~ just not quite ready to recycle the work one yet).  I also scrubbed industriously at my whiteboard to try and clean it off.  I hate how whiteboards get messy and you can never quite clean them totally.  Mine is more of a pale green, blue, and pink board these days!

What’s your opinion?  Are creative people more untidy and disorganized than others, or does it just SEEM that way?  It’s one of my biggest struggles in life … please tell me I’m not alone!

Posted in baraka, creativity, stash

Just Magic!

Just Magic! is the name of this wall hanging, which I pieced yesterday and today.  The centre medallion is Spoonflower fabric I had made up from this sketch.

Readers will know I’m not one to avoid a challenge and that I oftentimes bite off more than I can chew.

I’ve decided to go for the WordPress Post A Week 2011 challenge, both here and at my new homeschooling blog, One Size Fits None.  This is very new and still very much a work in progress.

For 2011 the virtue I will aim to practice is Wisdom. Click here for more about the Virtues Project, which emphasizes shared human values and how much we have in common across cultures.

And I picked two slogans:

Just Magic!

and Use What You Have!

Just Magic! is more inspiring and less cliched than Just do it!  It reminds me that there are miracles everywhere and that there is magic in getting things done.

Use what you have is self-explanatory.  I’m using it to refer to knowledge and techniques — to use all the techniques at my disposal as well as the fabrics in my stash.

Now this is not going to be taken to ridiculous lengths.  In the Flickr group when it started (you commit for a month at a time), there were people saying their red pen had run out and they would make do without, a lady who agonized about needles for her sewing machine, and one person who was running a craft business and was still trying not to buy anything.  Not me!

I plan to use stuff up and curb full price impulse buys.  That still leaves garage sales, thrift stores, baraka, trading with friends, and sales at quilt stores, which deserve our support because we need them to be there once the stash is used up, right?

Related to all this, I plan to jot down a list of creative things I did each day.  This would actually make for a very boring blog because it would be all cryptic squiggles and stopping to illustrate each day would not happen.  I started this habit in mid-December and I can see that over time it will constitute a very useful record.

Activities I’m looking forward to:

Elizabeth Barton’s class at Quilt University. Every time it’s been offered, it filled up super fast and I kept missing out.  This class starts on Friday and I do in fact need to do a little shopping ~non fusible gridded interfacing.  Hopefully I’ll have the time to devote to getting the most out of this class and the work at home on my own machine format will be less stressful than the last design class I took, which was not a great fit for me.

Cindy Scraba is coming to our guild in March for a one-day workshop, midweek, which I signed up for.

and at Satin Moon next Saturday Arly Haner is doing a trunk show of scrap quilts, which I’ll be able to attend.

Posted in baraka, Environment, Rant

a neeeeeeewwwww low?

I’m as enthusiastic about Dumpster diving as the next person and I’ve had some wondrous finds.  But this is one I’m leaving behind…

and considering we live in a rental complex, some do it yourselfish neighbour or unscrupulous contractor had to lug it in from the street and across the parking lot so our fellow tenants and I get to pay the tipping fee.  And our hardworking apartment manager gets to deal with it.  Tacky, tacky, tacky.

Posted in baraka, creativity, quilting, stash

Blues Singing

Rules were made to be broken and I’m hereby breaking the rule I made for myself about not posting fabric before it’s been made into something.

The fabric on the left is a Sherrill Kahn design which a retired quilter who was downsizing gave to a family member who was helping her move.  I received two meters and I don’t even know this lady!  The diamonds on the right are from a fellow editor who has also been an avid crafter and seamstress, who just gave me a bag full of fabric goodies.  As soon as I saw this I knew these two fabrics will be together in something really cool!  Also in the bag was a light purple that exactly matches one of the stripes in some fabric I got at the Guild garage sale, and two different animal skin prints.  Woo-hoo!

Things that come with a story and not just from a store are so much more meaningful and fun, although of course smart store owners do their best to create stories of one kind or another.  I can go through my stash and recall all kinds of stories, where I was, or which garment I cut up, or that something was being clearanced because other customers just didn’t appreciate it.   Perhaps I’ll start an occasional series of quilts with stories, what do you think, and what’s your best stash story?