Friday, July 4, 2014

California One/But Not As Much As Tomorrow

"And the road a-winding goes
From golden gate to roaring cliffside
And the light is softly low as our hearts become sweetly untied
Beneath the sun of California One"
-The Decembrists, "California One/The Youth and Beauty Brigade"

July 25th, 2008

There really are roosters crowing outside, I thought to myself as I ran mousse thru my jheri-curl wet hair. It was 5am and the sun hadn't risen yet. Why are you little shits making so much noise?! It doesn't matter really; I'm already awake and Mark sleeps like the cousin of death. Mark was in the back bedroom of the house; the bedroom that shares a wall with the swimming pool pumps outside that make soothing gurgles. They used to scare me as a child and now they have a Linus-blanket effect. It's funny what happens when you grow up and you realize that the monsters outside are really just water being filtered and redistributed.

I finished grooming myself and made my way back to the bedroom, dirty clothes in hand. I glanced over at Mark and for a second I thought that maybe he wasn't breathing. I threw the dirty clothes on the carpet and climbed back into bed. I put my head on his chest and waited. And waited. Finally I could feel his breath on my forehead. Oh Lord. You really had me going, I thought to myself.

I lay there, head on his chest, for what seemed like forever but was really only a half hour. I don't know if I'll ever get this moment again, I thought, so I better enjoy this right now and live in it. I could hear the slow wheeze inside his chest; what I imagined steel wool pads would sound like if they could breathe.

Rise, fall, rise.

Looking back, I wish I had stayed there all morning like that.

August 10th, 2008

It's pronounced Bell-ARE-us, genius, I laughed. No, it's not, it's Bella-ROOS! Bella-ROOS! Go team go! His eyes glittered with mischief and he let out his trademark cackle.

This doesn't mean I'm not mad at you, I said.

I know honey. 

But do you? Do you really know? Because your mom called me today and told me not to let you in the house. You were doing SO WELL, Mark, what the hell happened? How could you do that to her again? 

You don't understand, it's not me. I can't help it, it's not me I swear. I'm trying. 

I hate you right now. I hate that you're so sick. It's like a car accident I can't help but watch. It's killing me. It's killing your mom. I LOVE YOU. I can't do this. 

Tears are streaming down my face. He grabs me swiftly in one arm where I stand and pulls me tight. We collapse onto the couch from the force of his movement. I sobbed silently in his arms. It's ok, it's ok, I'm going to get better, I promise. This is the last time, I swear. 

Come on, honey, are you coming to bed?

No. I'm going to stay up and watch more of the Olympics and keep cleaning. 

Come on, honey. 

Nope. Not coming. 

The next morning I called my mom. "Can I come stay with you? I'm having a rough time. I just need a break."

I showered, moussed my hair and applied mascara to my cow-eyes before coming into the back bedroom.

Honey, I'm going to stay at my mom's for a few days. You can't stay here, but you can come back when I come back. 

I walked him to the back door of the house.

His lips touched my forehead first, then my lips.

I love you, Darling. 

And that was the last thing he ever said to me.

After I left my house and stayed with my mom and dad, early the next morning Mark was attacked while he was sleeping in his car around the corner from his mom's house on Bennington Avenue. He was stabbed over 15 times. His white Mitsubishi Galant was set on fire. In the Turlock Journal, it states that nobody could hear his screams as he ran down the street for help. What poorly written journalism. Someone heard his screams---the one holding the knife and the gas can.

On June 25, 2014, almost six years after his death, Nicholas Harris was found guilty of second-degree murder.

I wish I could say I threw up a V for Victory. I wish I could say that I jumped for joy and that I fist-bumped somebody.

I wish I had my beautiful boy hand-in-hand. Now we've thrown away two lives like Sunday's trash.


This Wednesday I rang the doorbell to Mark's mom's house after a 3-day drive to California from Texas. I hadn't even unpacked the truck yet. Not much has changed in six years.

Where's the lamb? I asked.

What the heck are you talking about? 

The lamb. The little lamb figurine that used to be on top of the coffee table. 

It's under the coffee table now, she laughed.

Not much has changed in six years.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Love You: Quilts are Dope Giveaway!

I've had something to tell y'all. It's been on my mind for a while and I wasn't sure how to say it. So I decided instead of telling you myself, I'd let my friend Richard Simmons relay the message:

In case it is not abundantly clear, I thought I'd let my friend Mitchell Davis go in on it.

"If bees had little tiny knees, you'd be it."

I love each and every one of you so much. The fact that you are reading this right now makes me smile. I watch my analytics on my blog and it both freaks me out and delights me at the same time that I am able to connect with such a massive amount of people. It's dope, really. I feel privileged to know you. 

I love you so much that I've been planning a sweet little giveaway and today is the day!

There are several ways to win:

*** "Like" my new Facebook page
*** Use the hashtag #quiltsaredope on Instagram or Twitter
*** Leave a comment on this blog- #quiltsaredope. Dope can mean anything from stylish to interesting. What's dope about quilting to you? 

This is a quilt by Annie Brenneke that I found while googling "hip hop+quilt". I'm pretty sure this is my definition of dope quilts. UGH! HIS SWEATER!!!!!! I want to add 10 more exclamation points but I am past the point of obnoxious already....

Soooo....what's the loot, you may ask? Why are you sharing all my stuff- what's in it for you? 

Sweet fat quarter packs from Andover!!! There are three different bundles you can win!

Villa Rosa Designs Prize Pack! Includes our new cardholder key ring, 3 new Rosecards and a Seamsters Union pinback button. There are 10 chances to win! TEN! DIEZ! There's enough winners to make a scrimmage basketball game. Just sayin. 

Autographed Big City Bags By Sara Lawson, aka Sew Sweetness!!! Seriously, who loves ya, baby? I almost kept this little diamond of knowledge for myself, but tis far greater to give. The winner of this book MUST tag me in their projects made from it! I love Sara, I think she's incredibly talented and I know she works very hard to produce such great bodies of work. I know you'll enjoy gleaning some of her tricks and will produce beautiful bags as a result of this book! There is only ONE chance to win this book, so cross your fingers!


Since this blog is all about love, I thought I'd touch on it for a minute. In the 28 years I've been on this planet, I've learned a little bit about love. Not much, just a little. One thing I have learned about it is that sometimes love means letting go. I've been experiencing this lesson recently in a few different forms. Even though it's growth and I understand that, it still hurts to do it. 

Three days ago, I said goodbye to one of my most loyal companions. She was the most effective listener I've ever met. She was chatty, too, don't get me wrong---but her predictable little noises lulled me to sleep at nite and provided a comforting white noise during the day. I did the most growing up in my life with her by my side. When her new owner came to pick her up, I felt like a mother giving up her child for adoption. I didn't want her to touch Tina. I needed a moment with her alone, to clean and tidy her, to praise her for all of her beautiful work, and to tell her that I appreciated her and that it wasn't her fault that she was going to a new home. I simply have to provide her with a better life, and that life isn't with me. I said my final goodbyes to Tina Turner, tears streaming down my pathetic little face. Tina is a machine. Why do I feel like I just gave my prize winning racehorse away? I'm a fool in love when it comes to longarms, but I know that it's a lifestyle that's no longer compatible with me. Have you ever loved someone but knew they weren't the one? 

This is the last photo that Mark Henson took before he was killed. I am the chola on the right, in case you weren't aware. We were friends for eight years. Mark spent 5 nites a week at my house from May to August 2008. He had been going thru some major life issues. I'm good company, and had a big empty house to myself. You know what I really miss about those times? The simplest things, like Mark used to take my trash cans to the curb for me on Thursday nites and take them back in on Friday mornings. To this day, I think of him when I'm taking out my trash and I wish he was here. Isn't that silly? And I miss his little devious laugh, and his enormous nostrils that I swear you could fit a full-sized carrot into one....I miss his songs and his jokes and his little booty shakes. I miss watching films with him, because I don't really know what I'm supposed to be appreciating. Mark was a talented actor and a seasoned comedian. I've never laughed so hard in my life- laugh till you pee a little bit. But it's love pee. 

Letting go of him has been truly difficult. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about him every day for the past six years. The nite before he died, he was staying at my house. I remember it like it was yesterday, as cliche as that sounds. It was the opening nite of the 2008 Olympics and he was pronouncing the country Belarus like Bell-are-us and I couldn't stop laughing, especially after he insisted he was right. (It's pronounced Bella-Roos, FYI.)  I left to visit my parents in 
Sacramento and told him he had to find another place to stay. When I woke up in the morning after sleeping in at my parents house, he was dead. For years I carried this guilt that it was because I had gone away that he died. The reality of it is, after learning the details of his case, if I had stayed, there's a possibility that I wouldn't be here writing this blog. 

After the trial is finished, the verdict is read and sentencing happens, I have the final leg of the journey to face- letting go. Releasing all negative feelings for Nicholas Harris and for the hateful, disturbing acts that he committed will be the biggest test of my faith and my character. I so desperately want to do the right thing. I'm filled with emotions and they seem to change by the hour. 

But real love means letting go when it's time. And my friends, it's time. 

It's time to pack. Holy crap. I'm leaving in less than a week and less than half of my house is packed. 
Gotta go. Gotta go go go go go! We'll talk again soon. I'll keep you posted on everything. 

Go! Follow. Like things. Tag people. Win stuff. Follow the directions! And I will keep packing my chotskies and keeping my cool. 

We're in this together, 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Giveaway, Letting Go, Laying Low, Ebb and Flow.

"Don't clean the crime scene cause time means money
Don't need visine when my eyes seem bloody
I see dead people, but who doesn't?
We walk undercover, deadpan blending in with other human puppets
Discussing nothing but the sports and weather
If I stare long enough they all morph together
Then I freak out, it'll blow my cover
So I just keep out, no, we don't know each other
I'm on the road to recovery, no GPS
Hoist in my sails ‘till the sea breeze rests
Suck wind if you wanna player hate
Day to day I use my fear of falling asleep to stay awake
I appear psychic-like, but I'm not a psychic
You're just predictable with no fight left to fight it"
Sage Francis, "Vonnegut Busy"

Yesterday the new Sage Francis album, Copper Gone, was released. It's the first body of music that Sage has released in four years. I thought it only fitting it was released yesterday, but I'll get back to that in a hot minute. The album is dark and moody. It retains such a "traditional" Sage feel to it- back to the DIY drums and tape-deck DJ sound that core fans will truly appreciate. It has remnants of Personal Journals with its raw diary of the past four years- Sage went thru a breakup, health issues, deaths in the family- I feel for obvious reasons so much relativity in this album to the life I've been living. I feel it's the best album he's made in recent years. I know LI(F)E had a lot of critical acclaim, but I felt it lacked the depth that its predecessor has. 

I was up late last nite, doodling in this new journal that I bought recently. I attribute the new scratch-book to the lack of blog posting lately. 

journal entry about my mama using vellum and sharpie, found papers, Amy Butler cardstock, an old San Francisco map and some colored pencils. 

I was thinking about everything going on in California while I'm steadily packing up my fabric, taking time to pet it and sometimes to stitch up little WIPS that I see laying around. Each project strikes a particular memory of where I was at the time I was sewing it the first time. Most of these memories were of me stressed out, emotionally deficit, sewing to forget. When I was avoiding my failing marriage, I starting cutting jelly roll strips in my favorite colors out of my favorite designers. I didn't measure, just cut and cut and cut. When I felt like I had a satisfying pile, I started sewing the world's largest jelly roll quilt. When I look at it in hindsight, I'm so glad I got divorced! If I hadn't, we quilters might have had the world's largest jelly roll quilt on our hands, and that's a record I really don't want to be proud to own. I'm sure it would have blanketed the entire city of Austin at one point. It finally tipped the scales at a slender 130" square. Do you know else makes 130" quilts? 150-year old ladies waiting to die. LOL. *Life flashes before eyes* I'm a modern-day Miss Havisham. "They will come at me here...."

I imagine the type of ladies that make 130" quilts on a consistent basis look a little like this.
It freaked me out when I unearthed this quilt recently in my archive of projects unfinished. At first I wanted to pitch it in the trash;  burn it on its sacrificial pyre of bad decisions along with all of my tube tops, DMX cd's from junior high and photos of Fat Jessica. Then I realized that, like the others (except the tube tops, they can go),  it was an extremely valuable piece of my history. I didn't want to keep it, or at least all of it. I split it up into parts and made smaller quilts out of it. I decided to give these normal-human-sized quilts to the friends of mine that really helped me when I was struggling last summer.

I also kept a sliver for myself and made it into a bed quilt. I have never really made myself a properly sized me-quilt.

Beautiful new beginnings, you and me.
 I backed it in Amy Butler voile (of course I did) and I said a prayer after I bound it. I blessed it for the lessons it taught me, I blessed it for the peaceful rest it will now provide for me. 
highlight of the free motion quilting- it's not McTavishing. Or McNachoing. It's McDarlinging. 

Packing has never been an easy task for me, not because I'm not efficient or good at it, but because I'm the type of person that puts tremendous emotional attachment into chotskies and knick-knacks, old concert tickets, letters from friends, and the like. I even feel for some of the clothes in my closet. I saved an old dress of my moms when she died, even though it doesn't fit. It just reminds me of my favorite times with my mom and my sister. As I toss, donate, rehome, sell, fold and pack, I see my life in my personal effects. I'm carrying so much weight from these items. Dead mom stuff. Old school awards. 87,000 quilts that never get used for trunks shows or favorite tv shows. I feel like Fat Jessica all over again, except I'm not shedding baby fat, I'm shedding emotional weight; the intangible kind that only I can see and feel. It makes me question how much a person truly needs to live and be happy. I thought I'd be scared to get rid of my most prized colored Samsonite suitcases, or my small painted chairs from the shop, things like that, but I'm feeling happier and lighter. I let go of a lot of relationships recently that were dragging me down or not serving a purpose in my life as well. This was also a huge burden lifted. I'd rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies. Heard? 

FYI I sold the APQS. The Gammill Optimum is still for sale. She is a beautiful machine and needs a good home. Feel free to contact me at jessicakdarling at gmail dot com if you are interested.  I still have plenty of fabric for sale and am taking longarm service until around the 12th or so, or as long as I have the machine.

I'm trying to head out West a little sooner than later and it's really important in this proverbial weight-shedding about which I've been musing. I've talked about this many times, but for the sake of my new readers, I'll drop some background. In 2008, one of my dearest friends was the victim of a violent crime. He was stabbed over 20 times in his car in the middle of the night. The cause of his death was jealous rage- a crime of passion. For years since this event, I've obsessed over it. My only way to cope with what happened was to follow the legal proceedings carefully and discerningly. For over five years, this case has been postponed over 12 times for various ancillary reasons. Yesterday, the moment our family and friends has been waiting for finally happened. It has definitely caused an emotional grade-school-science-project-volcano feeling in the pit of my stomach. We are all on pins and needles waiting for the outcome. Seven long weeks to go. I'd like to be there for as much of this as possible, as part of my healing process but also to support Mark's mom, our friends, and the Turlock community as a whole. Please pray and think good thoughts for my friends and me as we enter the final healing process. 

Lastly, since you have been so patient, I have a sweet giveaway tomorrow as a reward for your loyal readership. xoxoxo

One last thing! I have a new Facebook page. Like it. Join me. Follow me in a non-creepy way. Write smiley faces on my wall so I'll think I have friends. Yes? Yes. 

Keeping it moving, 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chiaroscuro: Keep Moving.


“You know why you’re my favorite model, Jessica?” Richard asked as he wiped sweat from his brow. He furiously waved his paintbrush over the curve of my outer thigh, thinning down the previous underpainting. 

“Is it because you say that to all of your models?” I teased. The kitchen timer we used to  time our poses sounded its alert. I took the baby out of my hands and placed it gently into the basket by my feet. That disgusting little creep. Richard painted it to look like something related to the Chucky doll from Child’s Play. I uncrossed my legs and put my cotton shift back over my head. Ten minutes to stretch. 

“It’s because your face is perfectly proportioned.  From edge-to-edge of your brows is the same distance as from the top of your head to the tip of your nose. The top of your head to the tip of your nose is the same as from the tip of your nose to the bottom of your chin. Not everyone’s face is as beautifully proportioned.”

I blushed, although this really wasn’t a compliment. Richard and I had more of a brother-sister relationship, so this was weird, but sweetly weird. 

“Tell me something about art, Richard.”

“Like what?” He wiped the brush stained with yellow ochre paint onto his linseed oil-stained rag. 

“Like, the underpainting...tell me about that...” We would do this sometimes. Often he’d open a book and turn to a page with a painting on it so that I’d have something to focus on while I posed. Gustave Courbet, mostly, since that was Richard’s favorite. His self portraits terrified me, but his female portraits were soft and feminine. 

“It’s chiaroscuro, sweetie. Remember? The contrasts between light and dark. See how in this painting Courbet uses the ultramarine violet and the indigo instead of brown? In order for us to appreciate the daintiness of the model’s pale skin....” He brushed my arm and smiled playfully, indicating that I, too, shared the same shade of lightest porcelain. “...he had to create the dramatic shadows rising from the curtains and in the corner by her face.”

The timer beeped, indicating that breaktime was over. 

“Do you need a few more minutes to stretch? I’d love to knock out the underpainting on the thighs and the forearms tonite, and if we scoot we can do it. Do you like Ozomatli?”

I picked up the baby and settled back into the pose. 

Moonlight Sonata, for sale at


Brevity is not my strong suit. This is a substantial post, and I thank you for reading it. 

This is it.

I want to start out first by sharing with you a few of my Heart Study photos from earlier this month: 

Last time we connected, I briefly talked about the heart thing. I’m telling you, the Heart Study was the right paradigm shift at the right time. Like I said in the previous post, it started out as a fun experiment to see how many hearts I could spot. The first day of the experiment, I spotted TEN hearts. A few of them were leaves, some were graffiti, and a few were cracks in the sidewalk that naturally formed hearts. 

For the past four months, I’ve made it a daily exercise to look for hearts. At first I looked for them, and now it feels like they look for me. Everywhere I go, hearts are there. Expect to see a few in my upcoming patterns. 

Seeing results from this experiment empowered me. The law of attraction has always been a concept that I’ve been interested in, and have dabbled in its practice, but have never really fully committed it to my daily living--until the hearts started popping up everywhere. I couldn’t deny that this was a force greater than me. 

I wanted to take this idea, this feeling, these intangibles, bottle all of them and drink them in. I thought to myself, if I can attract all of these hearts into my life, surely I can attract anything I want. Anyone, anything. 

My mom used to say, “When you are still, you can hear.” I could hear her words ringing in my ears this winter. If you’re wondering why my posts have been few and far between since the shop closed in September, it’s because I knew that I really needed to listen to my mama. I was silent and still. I took a hundred long, windy country drives to clear my head. I thought about quilting, and how much joy and pain it’s brought me. The juxtaposition of quilting full-time as a longarmer, while aspiring to develop my teaching and designing careers, was killing me inside. I experienced the worst creative burnout, and I felt guilty for it. This is what I do because I love it, so why do I feel like putting all of this fabric in a sacrificial pyre and burning it?

I asked God for a change in my life, for clarity, and for a rebirth. 

I took a step back from designing for a few months. Each time I would try to revisit, I felt empty. My creative bank was overdrawn. After fighting it for a few months, I decided to just relax and take some personal time to myself- only personal quilting, just for pleasure; no designing. 

I started hanging out with my friends again and going to hip hop shows. South by Southwest, or SXSW,  is a huge musical festival that occurs every year in Austin, and for the first time since living here, I finally participated this year. I saw so many amazing hip hop acts and got a change to reconnect with old friends that I hadn’t seen since the shop opened. I didn’t know how badly I needed that downtime until I made myself take it. 

forever fam- the kind of friends that are always in your life; also referred to as "kinfolk"

DIZZY WRIGHT!!! I kind of geeked. He is SO HOT and so nice!!!

My buddy Austin from this previous blog post flew out from Vegas to go to SXSW. Austin started a skateboarding/lifestyle boutique in Vegas called Recognizing Real. He started it around the same time that I opened remnants. His shop carries elite brands and caters to the huge skateboarding scene there. They’re directly across the street from one of the west coast’s largest skate parks.  We talked quilts, skating, hip hop and business; and how difficult it is to be a small business owner. I’ve really missed Austin. He’s got a very authentic spirit, a soothing soul, you know? I like friends that keep me grounded. 

A month after SXSW, Austin called me. It started out as an ordinary conversation- shooting the breeze, how’s everything going, etc. Then he hit me hard. What do you think about moving to Vegas and running my shop? I know you’ll wreck it out here. 

I won’t lie to you. I didn’t even have to blink. 

How much time do I have before I burn off? I asked. 



And there you have it. 

I have been keeping this secret for about a month, which is extremely hard for me. You know I like to be as open as possible. What I’ve learned from that is that sometimes you have to leave a little meat on the bone. Timing is everything. 

there's a tiny tiny heart inside the Indian paintbrush- can you spot it?

So now that this is all said and done, I’m sure y’all have many questions. 

Am I still longarming? Yes. Up until I leave, I’ll still be quilting. I lowered my prices as a thank-you to my loyal customers and will continue to quilt. Currently my turnaround time is a week--this could change at any time, so if you need any quilting, please call me ASAP. I’m also in the middle of Quilt Market prep, so the sooner the better. 

Am I taking my machines with me? No. My Gammill and my APQS Millennium are going to be for sale. 

Do I plan to longarm in Vegas? Yes and no. Part of the reason why I’m leaving is to provide myself a balance between regular life and quilt life. I love to longarm, and love providing the service. I don’t plan on having the same size operation as I currently do, but I couldn’t discount doing it again. I’ll still be designing Homegrown patterns for Villa Rosa Designs, that much is for sure. 

Moving to Austin was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was in a dark place when I left California. When I came to Texas, I felt lighter and I was so full of hope. I accomplished more than I ever thought possible. It’s real-life chiaroscuro. In order for me to appreciate all of this lightness, I’ve had to have a little dark. I feel like even though last year was such a dark time for me, I’m a figurative snake that’s shed its skin. My new skin fits so much better. The more time goes by, the closer I get to being my 100% authentic self. I have faith in this move because it’s one more step in the right direction. For the past year, I’ve yearned for the west. My body’s been in Texas, but my heart’s saying “Hey boo” to California. I’m going to take a little time off before Vegas and spend some time in the Golden State. 

Real talk, I’m so excited about this transition and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I convinced Jen to drive across country with me in a U-Haul to Vegas for one last Ebony and Ivory hurrah. Having her as a roommate/life coach/forever fam is a blessing that I don’t quite deserve but wouldn’t refuse and quite frankly, my separation anxiety’s on overdrive. But all things in life are transition. The only thing that stays the same is change. 

I figured y'all were tired of hearts, so I added this photo of my favorite person ever, Macaulay Culkin. Thanks for being patient readers. 

One last thing before I move on and keep making Quilt Market samples:

I am teaching one last workshop at Honey Hill Retreat Center in Pipe Creek, just outside of Boerne. It will be the weekend of June 20-22 and is part of my Color Party installment. I’ll be having a trunk show on Friday evening and all-day workshop on Saturday. I would be honored to teach you and to share my joy for color with you! There are 8 spots available. If you’re interested in signing up, visit and secure your spot. 

I'm finna finish these samples. Market is coming up way too fast. Thanks for reading. 

xoxo with all my love and honor, 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hearts Everywhere: Why I Decided to Lower My Prices

It all started with a contest that Amy Butler was having on her Facebook page- spot a naturally occurring heart shape and snap a photo of it.

At first I thought I'd find one and do it just for funsies. And sure enough, on my run that day I found a stone shaped like a heart and snapped a photo.

[This is where said photo would be, except my iPhone got stolen yesterday off the checkout counter at Walgreen's. Ouch. I'm an idiot for not paying attention. Photo edit to come when new phone arrives. Thank goodness for my work phone, which is sadly from the 1990's and does not take awesome photos of heart shaped anythings.]

It seems like since that day, hearts have been following me everywhere. I really enjoy looking at graffiti when I'm on my daily run, and it seems like everywhere I turn there is a lovey theme to the art that I've found.

castle hill, austin texas

When the tree in my front yard was cut, there was a heart shape left where the branch used to be.

not the branch in my yard, but a reasonable facsimile. 

I started thinking about how happy this made me feel when I saw these images. My thoughts turned to joy and love, period, and what those words really mean.

the beauty of street art is that it's forever changing--this graff on lamar is long gone. 

I've learned a lot about love---not necessarily romantic love (I'd be lying if I said I haven't learned a bit about it this year, but that's not what I'm talking about here), but what it really is to have love in your heart, just because you can.

Love is a choice. We choose to be loving or not to the people around us.

So speaking of loving choices....

 I love each and every one of you so much that I've decided to lower my computerized longarm quilting price back to $.01/square inch. The type of quilting I do--quick, quality and computerized- doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg. I overheard so many of my guests in my shop rationing out grocery money savings or deciding which quilts get done and when they can do so, simply because it wasn't affordable.

I'd like quilting to be more available, because the more quilts you finish, the happier you'll be and the more love you'll experience.

If I can spread the love of quilting and bring a little joy into your life, then that brings joy into my life and gives me those lovey feelings, too. I quilt because I love it, and because I want to share that love with others.

I'm off to bring joy and love into my life by entering my studio! Bring me your quilt to finish, and stop by to see my studio- I'd love to see you!


Friday, January 31, 2014

Color Party: How to Chase the Winter Blues Away

Hello. Helllllllooooo. Hi.

It's been a while, hasn't it?

The cleanse of the new year has wiped away the dust left from last year's atom bomb and things seem to be on a beautiful upswing.

Things got a little weird this winter- I caught a bad case of the Winter Blues. I missed the quilt shop. It didn't hit me until after the stress of moving out of the shop and into the new house, designing and publishing the new patterns, and Market was over.

Then Long Island and I broke up a few weeks after Market.

The rush of summer and the transitions we were going thru made it the perfect summer romance for us both; but in the long run, a peacock and a hummingbird are birds of a different feather. Although it was a decision that we came to together, it demolished me when we broke it off. Our dynamic was so....dynamic. He brought light to my life in a time that had previously been casted with dark shadows, and I didn't want that to go away.
peacock sighting in Southern California, captured on my iPhone post-Spring Market

Long Island taught me to play more and to enjoy simple amusements.
He made me laugh more often than not. Looking back, that's what I really needed out of our time together. He had a challenging energy and motivated me to do a lot of things, like start running.

6.66 mile run mapped out on iPhone app Map My Run- an essential for street runners!

I started with a mile and a half, around the track at the college. I felt so empowered when I finished! It had been at least five years since I had run a mile. That simple victory encouraged me to keep running. I settled into a comfortable route close to the UT campus and increased my mileage slowly over the course of the past ten weeks. The longest to date I have run non-stop is eight miles! This is my Urban Victory. Since doing this, it seems like I've been more creative and thoughtful.

Victory pose after the first time I broke 5 miles!

I think about quilting a lot when I'm running. The street art downtown gives me design ideas and the colors of the buildings, signs and other city scenery are so inspiring. I have a renewed love for Austin from hitting the streets. Running has also been a driving force in chasing the Winter Blues away. It's a healthy break from the world that lets me become lost in my head.

seen on Duval- I've also been seeing this seahorse graffiti tag in other places in Hyde Park. 

seen on a steel panel on a wall on Guadalupe

 Quilt Mama came to visit this Christmas and sparked my creative fire. She has this wonderful invigorating energy about her that seemed to dust Winter Blues and sweep them out. Moms do that, right? Open up the curtains in your room and let the sunlight in so you can start your day. I love it.

I've been quilting more than I've been documenting, which is why my New Years Resolution was to share more of my quilting with you, my friends! This is a charity quilt that I free-motion quilted for the Austin Modern Quilt Guild.

fun and vibrant charity quilt made by members of Austin Modern Quilt Guild

This is a candid photo of a fun vintage house quilt that I also free motion quilted for a fun client for a Christmas gift- this photo shows the quilt in-progress while it was loaded on the machine.

little houses on the hillside, little houses made of ticky-tacky...

The most inspiring event to happen as of late was the improvisational color lecture and workshop I had the pleasure of doing for Houston Modern Quilt Guild. They have a large invigorating group of quilters that really know how to put on a party! I had the pleasure of teaching my new color and composition method. I become inspired by my daily life and snap photos constantly of colorful images, especially when I'm running or out with friends. Or falling in love. I've compiled Pinterest boards that are color-specific to inspire you to build your inspiration palette! You can follow my boards here

Here's a few shots from the Color Party workshop:

I'm a firm believer that there is beauty everywhere. The decay of winter brings such a beautiful neutral color palette that makes the pop of spring colors that much more luxurious and rich in comparison. The Winter Blues introduced a whole new color palette to my life.  Once the new year began, the pain in my heart I felt seemed to melt away like winter snow dripping in the sun. I decided to stop worrying about the past or the future. All I have is the present and what is around me right now. 

I am writing this on the eve of the one-year anniversary of my birth mother's passing. I have been in need to reach all of you and talk to you, but the Winter Blues took away my voice. I find it bittersweetly strong and satisfying that I finally feel ready to share with you on this day. 

I feel like I've lived a lifetime since this day last year. 

She is with me, and she is fiercely proud of the woman I'm becoming. 

And you know what else? 

I am, too. 

Thank you for letting me share my life with you. I feel such a tremendous connection to you, as an individual and as a reader of this blog and a follower of my craft and my life.  I used to just be a wayward girl who lacked connection and now I feel like all of you are my family.I often wonder if you are feeling the same things I am feeling or going thru a similar trial or life lesson as I am. I encourage you to create a dialogue between us about anything- quilting of course is probably our common thread, but as I weave the fibers of my career, I want you to know who I am authentically, and I want to know you, too. 

If you want to talk hip hop, however, you'll be immediately moved to the top of my Awesome list, because I have so very few with which to share that passion and also the passion of stitching!

You can reach me by emailing remnantsfiberculture at gmail dot com, or by simply commenting on this blog post. 

Lastly, I pledge to be more visual and to share with you the inspiration that I'm seeing thru my eyes. Now that the Blues are gone I feel this tremendous responsibility to show you the artist that I am becoming and all of the things I'm oozing creatively. It won't all be boyfriends and the Wu Tang Clan. 

And lastly lastly, Grandma Pam, if you're reading this, I want you to know that I thought of you today when I was looking at my latest quilt samples. You taught me to have a passion for color and to play with it- to not be afraid of it, to live it. I'm so grateful for your presence in my life, and when I come home next week, I can't wait to give you the biggest hug and tell you how much I love you!