you inspire me to quilt

Quilts from The Creative Retreats

Wow. Wow. Wow.

At The Creative Retreats on my Australia trip I had 12 students in each retreat create some amazing work. They were tasked to bring an idea - an image, a feeling, fabric, a concept - along with fabric and a willingness to play. We started with a warm-up exercise to unleash our sense of play and went from there. Over tea and a wonderful cookie called an Afghan Biscuit we developed our ideas and then people got sewing. And sew they did!

Original ideas ranged from an homage to a family property and the Outback, a trip to French cathedrals or Eastern Europe, simply wanting to play with colours or a specific block, showcasing a fabric. We could have started all with the same idea and ended up with 24 different quilts! The creativity and the creating was intense and fun.

As a teacher I worked with each student on technique, layout, and design difficulties. I spent as much time with each student as possible to make sure they were happy with their own project. It was all about each student creating the quilt they wanted to make. That being said, I was totally impressed by how they each pushed themselves to try something new - whether that was improv, a colour grouping out of their comfort zone, or a different technique. Their spirit was infectious! 

Because we were in a space where we could sew all night if we wanted to, our every need was met by our awesome host, Jules, and the laughter was contagious it was just as much fun to hang out as it was to sew. There may have been some champagne (and margaritas and scotch) along the way. To be able to spend three uninterrupted days (until I made them go for walks to see birds or the beach) was a luxurious treat for many and we made the most of it.

Thank you to the wonderful women in both groups. You came from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Ballarat, and Perth. You brought your humour, creativity, and sense of both adventure and play. I returned home totally inspired and excited. 

If you would like more details about any of the quilts or their makers leave a comment and I will try to point you in the right direction or answer any questions.

2015 Goals - A Review

The last day of the year. I can safely say that this year hasn't gone like I expected. Then again, I'm not sure what I expected? Setting goals are a good way to find some focus and keep on track. But when the world does not cooperate with you it is also important to be flexible.

I did not meet all my goals. A part of me is certainly sad about that, no doubt. But being able to respond to changes in family conditions is important too. And no matter what, my family does come first. So, for example, if I have to back away from something I don't see it as a failure because I didn't meet my goal. It can be frustrating, but it isn't a failure.

Here goes. How did I do?

1. Start, and possibly complete, the next two quilts in my Alberta series.

This one is never far from my brain. I would really like to get on this. My Mountain Meadows quilt is one of my favourites and it is received so well when I show it. These quilts would be the closest I get to Art Quilts too. That, in and of itself, is a personal challenge I like. It is always good to get out of my comfort zone.

Working with a local shop, My Sewing Room, I designed the background for their Row by Row Experience. We went with a Prairie sky/landscape. This is one I definitely want to expand upon. And a recent winter drive had me thinking about snow on the Prairies a lot too.

It is quite likely that this goal will carry forward, with some more focus.

2. Record at least 1 new online class or set of classes.

Finished this in the first quarter.

My CreativeLive classes are available and so much fun. 
Improv Quilting Basics
Quilting With Low-Volume Fabrics
Translating Inspiration in Quilting
Playing With Pinwheels in Quilting

Online classes are a great way for me to reach more students with teaching. I cannot teach in the US right now, as much as I would love to, so this way more people can have access to me.

And coming up is an entirely new experience. The Mighty Lucky Club is a monthly challenge and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. The first month is about to come out. I've seen a sneak peak and it is awesome!

3. Launch 2 more print patterns.

The Sewing Machine Quilt will launch next week!

I will fully admit to this being a tough one for me. Not designing patterns. That, I can do. It is the step  to printing that I seem to procrastinate on. I'm still deciding whether this is something I will pursue further. But I committed to this pattern and the work is done. Look for the launch.

4. Attend 1-2 quilting retreats as a guest and not a teacher.

Nope. And I'm pretty sad about it. I can't even squeeze out the time for a guild sew day. 

Thankfully, I am finding time to retreat into myself for some creative inspiration. I've been stealing mornings and taking advantage of the inconsistent naps my son takes. A few days or whole days would be awesome, but I will take every moment I get. It is amazing who one can recharge in only 15 minutes when sewing is involved.

5. Pick up 3 new freelance clients.

This was one of the ones that had to change. I love freelancing - the constant creative challenge of new articles, the editors I work with, the ability to inspire and educate. It does, however, take time. And my time to work was drastically reduced this year. I had to pick and choose and this is one thing that had to scale back significantly.

I am going to be writing for another publication in 2016 so it is good to add another magazine to my portfolio. It should be a great experience. 

6. Celebrate the launch of You Inspire Me to Quilt, because I never did that for A Month of Sundays and I missed that.

Well, there was never a big party and that's okay (You only turn 40 once). I am, however, still totally celebrating You Inspire Me to Quilt.

Right now I have a promotional giveaway going on. 

Share a photo of the person or people in your life who bring you to the sewing table to create. Tell us why too. It  may be your partner, your kid, your grandmother. It might also be someone famous who inspired you or another quilter. Share it all. Tell us, who inspires you to quilt?

Post your photo on Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #youinspiremetoquilt. All posts will be entered to win one of these amazing prizes.

7. Explore print and pattern making through regular sketching, play, and learning design programs.

Oh my goodness! So much fun. I haven't shared much of anything about this on the blog, but this creative play is amazing. And there are some fun things coming on this front in 2016. And still so much more I want to do.

8. Lose 20 pounds. Actually, closer to 25 if we count the holiday weight. I lost 20 pounds last year and want to continue on the road to health.

Not. Even. Close. In fact, I am nothing if not consistent in my weight.

I will say that I think I've mostly succeeded in adding exercise to a regular schedule for me. It isn't as much as I would like, but I have to realistic with the demands on my time. There is just too much to do in the time I have. But I do carve out 20-45 minutes most days now. 

So the weight isn't changing. If I got real serious about my eating I'm sure it will come. But seriously? I love cookies so much.

9. Find an agent/publisher for the children's books I wrote.

It's probably too early to report, but there is definite movement on this particular goal. And I am ridiculously excited by that. Not only that, it has inspired new possibilities and ideas in this genre. Too. Much. Fun.

10, Spend at least 1-2 hours a week working on one, any one, of the outstanding Quilts Under Construction. Focused, steady progress should move some of those through the list, even when I'm starting new quilts all the time.

Okay, so it didn't happen every week, but I definitely moved some of these quilts through the piles. Then others stayed exactly where they were with nothing more than a sideways glance of guilt. Oh well.

Yes, oh well. I am not going to get hung up on the number of quilts in the pile. every single one represents creativity and the pursuit of joy at different times and in different ways. 

Overall, I am pleased with 2015. It was a good year for me personally and professionally. I responded to challenges instead of cowering. New things are always tough, but I truly believe it is worth facing new stuff to keep ourselves going forward. Like an ever changing river, not a stagnant pond. Sure, the pond can look pretty (but probably won't smell great) but it doesn't have the power and energy of the river.

Having defined goals kept me on track professionally and I will definitely be gathering my imagination for the year ahead. Watch for the 2016 post.

You Inspire Me To Quilt Giveaway

The holiday season is upon us. We are surrounded by so many of the people we love, the people who inspire us to quilt. Share a photo of the person or people in your life who bring you to the sewing table to create. Tell us why too. It  may be your partner, your kid, your grandmother. It might also be someone famous who inspired you or another quilter. Share it all. Tell us, who inspires you to quilt?

Post your photo on Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #youinspiremetoquilt. All posts will be entered to win one of these amazing prizes.

Prize 1
A 1-2 hour Skype session with me to discuss quilting. We can workshop an idea you have, take a mini class, or simply just chat. Let me help you make your quilt design dreams a reality.

Prize 2

A copy of You Inspire Me to Quilt, Eco-Pouch set, and Micro-fiber wipes (Donated by C&T Publishing). *US residents only

Prize 3
Good Neighbours fabric Bundle and a Zephyr (Cotton andSteel) bundle (Donated by Connecting Threads)

All posts shared between December 15 and  January 15 will be eligible for prizes. Post and share often! Every post is a chance to win.

If you aren't on Instagram or Twitter, now is the time to sign up! Here is a quick tutorial on Instagram. It is probably the perfect social media for quilters as it is so visual and responsive. Follow me there too! I am @cheryl_arkison.

I can't wait to see all the inspiring people in your lives!