Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Sis and Me Making Stuff

by Leann

This past week I was lucky enough to have my sister visit from Seattle. We have always been close, talk all the time, but live 2500 miles apart. No fun there. She's five years younger than me and I was her surrogate mother. Our mom was an alcoholic and pretty absent. So I took care of her--woke her up, made she got breakfast before school, stuff like that. She even got married at my house and I made all the arrangements. No family except for my husband and two kids attended. Very fun. And no pictures! I know I took some, but they got lost in one of our moves.

When I started my new cat series, I decided to use family names in various forms--match one side of the family with the other. But one name I kept was hers. If you've read my first cat book, you know that the police officer friend of my heroine is Deputy Candace Carson. That's my sis. Always by my side, even in my fictional world. Now the folks at her job call her "deputy" all the time and she gets a kick out of it.

She paints and I write. She sews and I quilt. (There is a difference.) But since I'm rather hobbled by Lyme and fbromyalgia, I thought she could help me with a project while she was in Houston. I've committed to making two small quilts for cats--the kind my heroine makes. I was sure I could find a pattern, but before I could say "let me check my gazillion quilt books" she picked up her sketch pad and designed the cutest quilt. And an easy one at that.

But after the fabric was bought and the layout confirmed, it was late in the day and I was very tired. I showed Candy how to use paper piecing to make triangles and emphasized that with quilts, every cut must be precise. Super precise. While I put my feet up, she started making those half square triangles. I didn't check on her. She knows better than I do how to use a sewing machine.

The next morning, however, I was able to teach my baby sister one more lesson. When I say precise, I mean precise. She didn't quite understand that part of our conversation. Putting a quilt together with all the blocks lining up exactly right is only as good as the consistent seam allowances and those first fabric cuts. The quilt top will fit together perfectly if you remember those two things. Our little quilt didn't quite fit together. (Did I mention my sister always likes to do things her way? LOL)

I laughed, we cut and recut and she understood what I have always believed. You can learn many things from making quilts--especially if you didn't have a mom to teach you things.

1. Listen well. You will learn something.
2. Mistakes are part of life. You will make a lot and you will be better for them.
3. Turn a weakness into a strength. (If it doesn't look right, get creative. You might be surprised at the result.)
4. Laugh while you're learning. It's so much easier that way.
5. Love makes doing anything so much better.

Do you love making things? If so, what? And what have you learned from the process?

21 comments:

Dru said...

I love making quilts (as a hobby) and I've learned to accept the mistakes that I make as unique characteristics and with every quilt I make, the mistakes becomes less minimum. It has also taught me patience and understanding as well.

I've made that pieced cat, but I love the kitty that you and your sister worked on. Do you have the pattern for it?

Leann Sweeney said...

As soon as I finish the quilt, I'll take a picture and post it. The pattern is on sketch pad paper and I'm not sure how to explain it. But it looks more like the pieced quilt picture in the blog, only the cat has a great big wonderful tail. I have to finish it and another one in the next three weeks, so it won't be long!

And I love what you said about patience and understanding. I didn't have a lot of that growing up, but quilting (and other handwork) really does teach you that!

Andrea C. said...

I so wish I was more crafty. I tried to learn to quilt (but gave up) and recently a friend taught me to crochet, but it is a long,slow learning proecess. I have a problem with wanting things to look perfect the first time - I need to give that up if I want to be crafty ( I guess this is what I have learned)
I do love to scrapbook though. Pictures are a passion - I love memories and making them look pretty is so fun!

Vicki said...

What a great story! I wish I had a sister, but I am an only child. My mom and I had wanted to take a quilting class long ago, but it never happened. I do cross-stitch when I can and I enjoy it (except when my threads knot up). I also took a Wilton cake decorating class once...that was fun and although I like to cook, that was a whole new take for me. It requires a steady hand and acceptance of mistakes (unless you can carefully make the mistake into something else, I suppose). But at least you can eat your leftover materials. :)

signlady217 said...

Quilting, sewing, crossstitch, scrapbooking, rubber stamping/card making. Plenty of mistakes along the way, but still having fun with them all! Along with reading and the online medical transcription class I'm taking, there's just not enough hours in the day!

Leann Sweeney said...

Decorating cakes seems like it would be so hard. But eating the leftovers sounds AWESOME. My daughter is the rubber stamp, card maker and scrapbook queen. I love cross stitch, but you're right. Those KNOTS. Hate them. Or when you have a gazillion colors of floss EXCEPT the one you need. Why does that happen? :-)

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

I love to do all sorts of crafts, but quilting is my fave.

Quilting is trying to teach me tolerance (of imperfection) and perseverance. Alas, I'm a poor student ... the mountain of unfinished projects and fabric that wasn't *quite* right looming in my office is testament to my inability to learn these important lessons.

Do share that cat pattern with us when you're done ... I'm intrigued. :)

Mare F said...

I love the picture and the story. I'm glad that you got to spend the time with your sister and that you still have fun together, no matter what you are doing. That's precious.

jbstanley said...

I wish I could sew, but I can barely put on a button. Leann, I want a huge quilt covered with cats. 9my b-day is in August).

Seriously, I am glad you shared that time with your sis. These are the moments that matter!

Leann Sweeney said...

These quilts are for the Malice auction (small ones like my character makes). WHY did I ever think this was a good idea with a deadline looming and hardly anything written? I have no answer. None.

Katie said...

I'm a knitter, I have a learned a LOT of patience through it all the frogging (rip it, rip it...) when I make mistakes. sometimes I let the mistakes go if it doesn't ruin the pattern because it brings uniqueness to the project.

Leann Sweeney said...

That's what I love, Katie. Making something different out of those mistakes. I tried so hard to knit--my last attempt was when my granddaughter was born. I am not good. But I suspect considering how much yarn I bought that I will try it again.

Lindy said...

I was going on a long flight, so I bought some bright red yard, some knitting needles, and a book, "Learn to Knit in Four Easy Steps." I told my sister I was going to make her a neck scarf for Christmas. I couldn't get past Step 2, so for Christmas my sister got the yarn, knitting needles and book.

Leann Sweeney said...

That's funny. And very creative!

Vickie said...

I only wish I could create. I dream of quilting each time I read Jennifer Chiaverini or Earlene Fowler. I want to write a book after I read a particularly wonderful book of a favorite author.
I used to cross-stitch, but stopped when I had Lady K seven years ago. I should start up again, I'm pretty sure Lady K will stay out of the thread.

Heather Webber said...

Leann, I can't wait to see your quilts in person! Kind of makes me wish I had a cat (alas, my son has allergies).

I knit--badly. I want to learn how to crochet, though. Just need to find the time.

Lover of Books said...

I quilt, scrap book and stamp cards. I've learned to relax and not get so uptight. I love doing all three but no room for my sewing machine at our apartment.

Krista

Anonymous said...

I quilt and am working on a rag time quilt for my nephew for Christmas. He was supposed to get it for his January birthday but I didn't finish it in time!

Leann, I'm looking forward to seeing your cat quilts at Malice. I plan on bidding on one or both. See you there.

Shirley in Baltimore

Debra said...

I can't sew, can't even do buttons well. I have read we learn what we are interested in learning. I guess I'm really interested in yarn because once I started knitting I have(could) not stop. It started with a rock, I wanted the paper napkins on the kitchen table to stop blowing away so I put a (clean) rock on top of them. Then,for no good reason I painted the rock blue. Then son came home in 4th grade and said he had to learn to knit. A light bulb went off and I pursued knitting like a hound dog and have not stopped since .Now the boy is off to college in the fall and wants a cable shawl sweater and I can actually make such a thing.

Leann Sweeney said...

I have learned so much about all of you! Every one of you have something special to offer and have great stories to tell. I LOVE this blog!!

Jan said...

I have my hand in card making and cross stitch, mostly. I do some sewing, but Project Runway material I am not! I like the feeling of accomplishment and how nice it is to give something made by my own hand. Also, It's kind of theraputic, especially when I have a friend crafting along side and we can chat and have a good time.