More QuiltCon posts at UPPERCASE

Here are two more posts about QuiltCon. Sorry for the lack of photos here—some computer issue—but there are plenty on the UPPERCASE blog.

Inspired by Amy Butler and Oaxaca

I’m inspired by Amy Butler—her fabrics, her ability to combine color and pattern, her fresh palettes. I have a special place in my heart for her because she was my very first profile subject for Quilts and More magazine, back in 2006, which was my first freelance piece for a quilting publication. The opportunity to write that piece, so graciously given to me by editor Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, really changed my career direction and consequently my life.

Last week I got the chance to interview Amy again and it turns out she loves Oaxaca, Mexico, as much as I do. We talked about the incredible colors, people, landscapes, and textiles. It reminded me to share a few photos from our Christmas in Oaxaca. Hope you enjoy them.

No Sewing Without Lipstick!

Thought you might enjoy this tidbit from our sewing past. As my friend who sent it to me said, it was obviously written by Mr. Singer….All this preparation for sewing would mean I’d never get to it! And the prep involves nothing creative, only making yourself look presentable should others stop in unexpectedly. By the time I’d made all the beds, washed the dishes, put on the clean dress that I undoubtedly had to first iron, fixed my hair and put on lipstick, I’d be ready for bed. I’m grateful the “rules” of sewing engagement have changed.

September is nearly over and it’s 80 degrees outside. I am thrilled. I was already worried about the cold weather we’d had earlier and whether I’d  survive another winter if it started a month earlier. This little bit of extra sun and warmth gives me hope.

All that said, September has flown by. I taught mitered corner baby blankets at Home Ec Workshop and had a great group of students:

Our friends John and Dianne visited with their Great Danes Bella and Cobalt:

I kept working away at my Lowbrow cowl—a knitting fiasco that has finally been righted:

I attended the opening of Common Thread, an exhibition organized by artist, teacher, and professor Greta Songe (my friend and soon-to-be mom). Here we are with Vanessa Christensen and Astrid Bennett (we’re standing in front of one of Astrid’s quilts). Greta invited me to participate, but I just couldn’t envision myself as an “ARTIST.” Time to disabuse myself of that sort of thought, right? Next time, Linzee, be bold.

Attended the opening of Erick Wolfmeyer‘s exhibition in Davenport. His already amazing quilts looked even more so in the lovely gallery setting at St. Ambrose:

Finished an Everyday Skirt with Cotton and Steel on the outside and a touch of Carolyn Friedlander in the pockets. Fun to sew, cute pattern, totally comfy, but challenging to wear if you’re no longer of the tucking-your-shirt-in generation. Trying to figure out the right top to go with it.

Spent a day with the Cake Bible, making Paul a couple of cakes in celebration of his significant birthday. My favorite part—he actually id’d the instrument as a Les Paul Gibson. Total guitar-nerd.

How was your September? What have you been sewing…or baking…or seeing?

Vacation: Stitching, Reading, Relaxing

Spent a couple of weeks at our family cabin in late August, and though we didn’t have swimming weather and our guests weren’t able to come, we still had the most relaxing time. Though we did a lot of kayaking we never did any real swimming, but we couldn’t leave without our traditional inner tube-and-a-brew float.

Because the weather was so crummy, I didn’t feel too guilty about staying indoors, reading and sewing. I read three books and managed to finish my string-pieced top, cut out and sew a new quilt (Mod Nine-Patch from the Moda Bake Shop made with Zen Chic Spheres and a few stray fabrics), and bind the hexagon quilt I started in 2012…finally!!! (Don’t have a photo of this finish.)

We also went fishing one day, way up in the Boundary Waters, with Don Beans, a guide of 32 years. He definitely knew where the fish were hiding and where to put the fish guts at lunchtime so that an eagle would come and visit. It was a fantastic day that included a shore lunch, cooked by Don over a wood fire. Such a treat, and we’re still eating fish we brought home with us.
Our great guide Don Beans

We paddled across the lake and did a little blueberry picking—despite the late-summer date we still managed to pick two cups. And my sister Marcia and her husband Gary picked a gallon of berries and left them in the freezer. They’d been up in July, when the berries were more plentiful. So I baked blueberry coffee cake and we had blueberry pancakes twice.

Returning to reality hasn’t been much fun, I’ll admit. While I hate leaving Iowa City in the summer, and especially this summer, with its moderate temperatures, I never relax at home in the same way that I do at the cabin…PJs til noon; cheese and crackers and grapes for dinner if we feel like it, along with an extra glass of wine; and reading til all hours. It’s definitely the good life!

Back at It and a Slovenian Round-up

Yes, I am actually back at work and have been for awhile. Book edits occupied some of my time, and a birthday party for me (yay!) took up another chunk. We also had my aunt visiting from Minnesota and enjoyed touring Amish country with her.

My vacation to Slovenia (to visit our daughter) and Spain (where my husband had a meeting and my daughter and I tagged along) was grand. I honestly don’t believe I’ve been to a country with more natural beauty than Slovenia. The Alps, the Adriatic Sea, forests, caves, rivers—it’s all there.

Lake Bled
On the hike to SLAP (waterfall)
Slovenian wine country
Wildflowers in the Alps
Bobbin lacemaking in Idria
Ljubljana at night
Up and over the Julien Alps, heading down into Italy

I’ve been itching to sew, but it hasn’t happened in quite some time. I’m wearing my Sorbetto tops again, now that the weather’s warm, and really want to make more. I work Wednesdays at Home Ec Workshop and for the past two weeks the workshop has been filled with sewists working on the Oliver + S Weekend Getaway Blouse and I’ve got my eye on that one, too. And then there’s that quilt that’s partially done in my sewing room…hoping maybe this weekend to do a bit of stitching. Is that on your calendar for the 4th of July (along with fireworks, of course)?

More Oaxaca, More Color

More shots from our February trip—our great escape into a world of color.

Colander garlands
A quilt-like textile made of embroidered squares
One of the Santiago brothers in La Union
La Union guard turkeys. Seriously loud and scary.
Then sacred and the profane at a ceramics shop
Ocotlan Market wares
Oaxacan fabric store zippers

February in Oaxaca: Colors

I was lucky to escape the Polar Vortex this winter for 8 days and nights, and to once again visit Oaxaca. While the food, friends, and temperatures were a highlight, it was being in a landscape that wasn’t monochromatic that did me as much good as anything. This was a winter that left so many of us feeling trapped, physically and mentally. And I also felt trapped visually. Being in a place where color was so enmeshed in the everyday did my soul a lot of good.

Here’s some of what we saw. There will be more to come.

Market crochet samples
Carvings in La Union
La Union brickyard
Oaxacan embroidered shirt 
Sweet baby of a bookmark vendor
Young plants in a greenhouse
No explanation needed
Al fresco chess tournament on Oaxaca’s zocolo

Where It All Comes From

I’ve just returned from nearly two weeks at our family cabin. My grandparents built the place in the 1950s and I’ve spent at least a bit of most of my summers there. This year the hot weather in most of the Midwest made for lovely lake weather and there was lots of kayaking, swimming, and simply floating around in an inner tube.

Because I’ve spent so much time at the cabin, it’s decor undoubtedly has had an influence on me. Certainly all the “folkloric” touches have been embedded in my psyche. And I find more and more that I’m drawn to red—I have a big red chair in my living room and red makes an appearance in most of my rugs, pillows, and much of the artwork in my home.

Here are some photos of the things I’ve seen nearly every summer of my life—the elegant, the funky, the international, the provincial. (Decorating still courtesy of my grandmother, who passed away more than 40 years ago. Some things never change, and the cabin often seems as though it’s frozen in time, which isn’t all bad.)

A Heart Full

Apologies for the silence on Pearl the Squirrel. I took a trip to California to visit my folks and attend a “significant” high school reunion (the first I’d been to in decades). Then home for a week of writing four stories, quick visits with friends, and away again.

Squeezed in amongst the comings and goings and writings was a wedding. Maret and Ian are two of my daughter’s friends from college and I’ve known Maret for more than 10 years—she and Maggie would share rides from Iowa to school and ultimately became college and post-college roommates. She and Ian were wed last night in a church near her small hometown and the ceremony was attended not only by myriad Iowa friends but also a vast contingent of San Francisco buddies, both family friends from Ian’s childhood and Maret and Ian’s contemporaries (they live in San Francisco now).

As we were pulling up to the wedding I saw Beth, one of my editors at Meredith and the first person to say “yes” when I queried her about freelancing nearly seven years ago. When I told Paul who she was and reminded him of the connection to Maret and Janet (Maret’s best friend from childhood and her maid of honor and also Beth’s sister—it’s complicated) he said “They changed your life.” And he was so right. From that first “yes”—an offer to write a profile of Amy Butler for Quilts and More—my writing opportunities have expanded to a full time job, and one I feel so fortunate to have. And the second profile she offered me, and the ones that followed, gave me the confidence to pursue that career. What a reminder that saying “yes,” that taking a chance on someone, can change their life. Thank you for that Beth, and thank you Janet for connecting me with your sister, and thank you Maret for connecting me to Janet, and thank you Maggie for connecting me to Maret. These interwoven relationships have given me so much!

On top of that epiphany, I was a little overwhelmed at getting to watch my stunningly beautiful daughter, one of Maret’s bridesmaids, walk down the aisle. And it was wonderful to see a number of her college friends, too. Several have babies or are about to, and watching them move into this next phase of life fills my heart—they are such a smart, lovely bunch of folks who will make (or are making) wonderful parents.

Finally, I think I loved being with people who know both Iowa and California. It’s not often in my life that that geographic distance is bridged so tidily and there was something so comforting about being on a hilltop above stands of walnut and locust trees and rolling fields of corn, among people from the Bay Area. I am a very lucky woman.