Ironing Day-Oh!

It’s been a very long time since I have last posted. To be honest, after that last quilt I posted back in June 2017, I haven’t really worked on any quilting at all. As I went to move to the actual quilting process of those quilts, my heart hurt even more, missing my mom. The quilting part, you see, was her favorite part. She would piece only when she had to, she preferred quilting for other people because she got to do the part she loved and skip the piecing altogether. So when I would even think about sitting at my quilting machine, I would just cry. Sob cries. I was a mess.

The odd thing is, in the weeks after my mom passed, I found myself stockpiling new fabrics. I collected new fabrics from both local stores and from my friend Jessica Darling’s online store Shop Darling Rose. (Jessica, I can’t thank you enough for being there for me in the weeks after my mom died. It’s a shitty club, but I am thankful there are people like you in it to help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.) I had planned on immersing myself in quilting. It’s close to a year later, and I am just now ironing the fabrics that had been washed, and getting them put onto my comic boards for my fabric wall.

I guess maybe it was one of those instances of foresight, the stockpiling of new fabrics. As I go through them now, during the hardest part of a long winter that is compounded with still dealing with grief, the cheery florals bring me great comfort. My mom would have loved almost all of the fabrics I chose. The above images are a very, VERY small selection of all the fabrics I acquired during that time. Some of them I have no recollection of even buying. I think that’s a pretty good indicator of where I was emotionally then.

The other aspect that is bringing me back to quilting, is just the circle of life. I have a new niece on the way, and she needs a quilt. Her brother and sister each have one from me, and I can’t have her feeling left out or loved less, can I now?

And so, I find myself back in the studio, ironing, folding, cleaning and preparing to piece AND quilt a baby quilt. I’m thankful to have a happy reason to put my hands back to fabrics. I will still feel sad, but I will also feel joy at the fact that I will soon get to meet my new little niece. I am thankful also that her mama is a mom that appreciates the quilts, and also lets me be a part of their lives.

And so, I will begin pulling the fabrics I would like to use, and designing a pattern for the quilt.

I was listening to a 50s music station as I ironed today, because it was some of my mom’s favorite music. She would have laughed to have seen my antics, I could always, always make her laugh. So here you are mama:

The Second Quilt

I just finished piecing the second quilt since mom died. It’s called Tears in the Spring. Rather appropriately, we have had an incredibly rainy spring. I pieced this quilt out on our porch with my mom’s black featherweight. I brought it home from her house, oiled and cleaned it and started piecing this quilt.


Tears in the Spring 50×60″ – Stephanie Forsyth

I had been holding on to the Cherrywood Robin Egg fat quarter pack for about a year. My mom’s favorite color was teal, so this was the perfect pack. I didn’t have a plan at first at all, Just a general idea. I used my Accuquilt Go and cut as many half square triangles from the fat quarters that I could get. Turned out to be 24 of each color.

After they were all cut then I decided to plot my idea into EQ7 and make sure the colors spread across the quilt the way I saw in my mind’s eye.

I cried a lot piecing this quilt. I suspect I will cry more when I’m quilting. The relationship mom and I had was interesting and difficult. We had SO MANY similarities, but our difference were pretty stark, the few that were there. Our relationship was challenging for both of us, that’s for sure! And these last few years had been years of not as much time together for many reasons: work, business, (one ex-husband who was an absolute asshole as it turned out) and personally for me putting up some more boundaries. (Remind me to focus on a quilt later to work through my “father issues”.)

But, one of the things that we definitely had in common, was the quilting. She and I both would much rather skip the piecing bit all together and just get to the quilting. So, when I sit down to quilt this one, my intention will be to focus on thinking of the things that mom and I had in common.

Death/dying often results in regrets for those left behind. Regrets and second guessing. Both mom and I had many challenges these last few years. I readily admit hers were more in number and greter difficulty than mine were. She dealt not only with several health issues, but also a divorce. I had pulled away from her quite a bit, hoping she would go on and make some new friends as she lived nearly two hours from us – I couldn’t be her only friend.

I have to say, she did make some good friends through her work. But, I think mom was pretty much where I am with the quilt community right now (with the exception of a small number), which is, disappointed. Neither of us are (were?) “popular” girls, and that is a handicap in the quilt world it seems. She also had small town popularity issues to deal with. (If you’ve never lived in a SMALL town, you probably just won’t get this, sorry!) To be pointe blank, the quilt world can be like “Mean Girls”.

Sewing and quilting gives me time now to think about mom and to talk to her while I sew. I feel like taking mom into our home and my caregiving to her in her final months gives me a bit of leeway on how guilty I feel. She was sick, but I think she was happy living with us. I told her I loved her all the time. Seriously. All. The. Time.  I also lost my patience, a lot. While it was directed at her, it wasn’t really about her. And by the end of each argument or nagging was my apology to her that I was just scared. Really fucking scared. I wasn’t mad at HER for not eating, I was mad that she COULDN’T eat more. But then, it wasn’t really that she couldn’t eat. It was that she was fucking dying. I was just inconsolably angry that my mommy was dying before my eyes. Getting smaller and weaker each day. (I want to say here that my friends were miracles at that time. They came over. They visited with mom. They checked in on me. They supported our little family. They played music for my mom, and just let her zone out and listen. They made her feel welcome and included in our activities and parties. Thank you a million times over, each of you.)

This is getting long. I know. I’m sorry. I don’t really expect many to read all the way through, because right now it doesn’t even matter. These posts are more about my therapy. My process.

So, as the months go on, I do hope you will forgive me and allow me my posts about mom. A blog is so much cheaper than therapy after all. And Lord knows, mom would love me to save some money. 😉

I love you mommo.

I’ve Been Interviewed (and a new project!)

I was interviewed by Eric the Quilter on Sexism in Quilting – The Conversation Worth Having. Eric asked some great questions, which gives me hope that in fact there ARE some people that get this!

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a feminist to the core, and am also fascinated with the sociology that makes up the gender issues we deal with in day to day life. Sexism is pervasive in our culture, which means there is virtually no way that it ISN’T in our quilting industry. Sexism is an institutionalized practice of bullying. But it’s so ingrained, that in many ways, we women have just learned to adapt and work within the constraints we’ve been born into.

I really loved chatting with Eric and would love to do so again, on a wide variety of topics. I suspect though, that this article might bring to the forefront a lot of stories of women who have faced sexism in our industry. I for one, am looking forward to an open dialog!

On a quilting note, I have begun a new quilt project this week, using a Cherrywood color pack (Robin’s Egg), and I am extremely excited about this one! (Have I mentioned I am in LOVE with their fabrics? Mmmmmm!)

FullSizeRenderScreen Shot 2017-05-25 at 12.35.16 PM

I finally utilized my Accuquilt Go and cut the bundle up into as many 4″ HST pieces as possible (FYI, 24 of each color!). I did this without having the plan for the quilt yet worked out on paper, but I saw it in my head. Fortunately the numbers worked out for a perfect rectangle! It will be a 48″ x 64″ quilt unless borders are added. (Which at this point I don’t intend on adding.)

I need to press the HSTs open, and then start the piecing. (UGH!) I wish I could snap my fingers, and have the top be done so I could start the quilting process. The quilting part is where my heart really is!

My mama, my teacher. I miss you.

My mom, Leanna Spanner of Anilee Creations, passed away on Monday April 17th 2017. She had been living with us for just over two months. The cervical cancer we thought she’d beaten three years ago, came back, all over. They gave her six months to a year. We got just over two. She dozed off watching Grace and Frankie, and passed in her sleep as far as we can tell. We were at a ballgame, that she insisted we not miss. She was feeling really good that day, after a really good weekend.

My mom was a quilter. She LOVED the actual quilting part – and could take or leave the piecing. So she became a long arm quilter. Her shelves were always full of people’s tops to quilt, and she loved that. A lot of her clients chose pantographed allovers, and she was insanely good at fitting and positioning the pantograph just right so that it filled the space perfectly.

Sadly (for me), mom quilting for OTHERS means I only have twelve quilts that were hers and are done. Pretty amazing considering she quilted thousands of quilts over the years!

It’s been two and a half weeks since mom left me. I’ve been afraid that sewing and quilting would make me sad. But I have a project I really want to do, so I washed the fabrics yesterday, and cut and sewed some today.

The cutting mat that I worked on, was the first cutting mat my mom ever gave me, back in 1996 (my best guess…), and even has her name on it. The machine I was sewing on is a beautiful little Featherweight that she gave me as a present one year. She taught me how to do all of this.

Me and my mama about a month ago.

How to figure my half square triangle sizes. How to sewing them in chain piecing. How to make them bigger than you need, so you can trim them down and have PERFECT points. How to press so that the seams aren’t clumped and too thick. To press, and not iron the piecing.

My hands came back to cloth today. I’m still scared though, because what happens when I run into a question I don’t know the answer to? I always called my mama for help on quilts. She always had the answer for me. She could fix my machines. We went in on battings together, big rolls of them. She would check my patterns for errors. She could help me with weird math problems in quilting when I got stuck.

I don’t want to give up quilting, but I feel like it’s a mine field for me right now. That anytime, my foot might come down and the realization of her…goneness…will sweep over me and crush my heart again and again.

I suppose some day, most or all of the mines will be detonated, but until then it might be a pretty bumpy damn ride. God I miss her so fucking much.

I’ll close with one of the quilts she made, that made it on the cover of a magazine.

Going Traditional

For the past year, I have been re-embracing my love of creating art. I am working on building an illustration portfolio. So much of my work has not been in fabric. It’s been in watercolor, gouache and digital. My most recent work is this piece that I created as a children’s book cover for a contest at Make Art That Sells. In reality the chances of winning are slim (aren’t they always), as there are SO MANY good entries! The opportunity for a guided portfolio builder is to great to lose out on trying!


But over the last few weeks, I’ve started piecing again. I finished up a quilt top that I started awhile back. I’m really happy with the outcome of this top, even if it seems a bit unconventional to others. I was attempting to pull inspiration from the 1940’s Christmas trend of using non-traditional colors for Christmas. Particularly the juicy turquoise and pinks they embraced. I can’t wait to get quilting on this one!


I also started and finished a more traditionally colored Christmas quilt, made from fabrics that were given to me as a gift. Also can’t wait to plan out the quilting on this one.

What’s really exciting, is that these quilts are MINE! I hope to get them done in time to use them for the couch this Christmas. Which means I have some BUSY days ahead of me in the next week or so. I’ve forgone making presents for other this year, to make beautiful things for my own home. Much like the carpenter whose house is never done, I often don’t seem to have any quilts, so it’s time to change that.

What are you working on this holiday season?

Wear and care…the Lost Art of Mending (aka I’m not giving up and neither should you)

I admit it. I am a sucker for a big, puffy, store bought comforter from places like Target. I’m especially partial to the Shabby Chic line.

I purchased this one a few years ago, when I knew I was going to be having foot surgery and would be sleeping on a queen bed in our living room for a couple months.

It suffered a rip in one of the blocks. And it occurs to me, that there are a huge number of people today, that would likely throw this comforter in the trash, rather than mend it.
There is so much more to this than just a blanket. It’s been rough here in the US ever since our election. We feel broken. Divided. Torn apart. Scared. Stressed.

Fractures and rips that have always been in our nation’s fabric, have been dragged into the light. Our minority populations have never been treated or felt quite equal. Women have never been fully equal either.

Right now, there are white supremecists in the nation, who are so emboldened that they are painting swastikas on building and parks. They are attacking minorities: blacks, Muslims, women, with seeming impunity. Our president elect won’t come out strongly against him; largely because he’s appointing their leaders to positions in our government.

But the US, to me, is a lot like this comforter. There is still more good in it, still so much it has to over. It’s our job now, to again invoke our abilities to mend and repair our nation. We need to speak up and out. Fight against those in our country that wish to keep tearing at the fabric of our goodness.

We can’t just give up on all of the progress that those who have walked before us fought so hard for. It’s time to pick up our tools and get to work.

I firmly believe that often times, change begins within the art community. So I implore you, create art that reaches out to your fellow citizens; whose hearts for the most part are usually good and kind. We must use our artist voices and call louder and longer than any hate mongering white supremacists.

I am saying let’s start a movement of love, kindness and progress:

“Healing: It Starts with the Arts!”

Making the World a Better Place: It Starts with the Arts

There is no use denying it’s been a stressful week, and that things don’t seem to be getting much less tense in the near future. As a white American woman, I don’t have a lot to fear I suppose, for myself anyways. But what about my friends of color, my out LGBTQ friends? They aren’t feeling very safe these days, and that hurts my heart.

I have decided to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an effort to help them defend American’s civil liberties by defending the Bill of Rights.

My personal take on this, was to put my love and extreme disappointment in many of the hateful message coming out from this whole ordeal, and creating a paper piece pattern, to represent ALL the strong women out there, fighting every day to break down glass ceilings. I am selling both the PDF downloadable pattern, as well as an option for custom made finished quilted wallhangings in either a red, blue, or white pantsuit.


I am donating 75% of the total monies earned from these items will be donated directly to the national ACLU organization. I opted for national, versus local, as I know there are areas of the country that may be in far greater need for them than where I am in Minnesota. I will leave it up to the ACLU to use that money where it is most needed at this moment in time.

Please consider purchasing one of the items, to help the American people stay on course in regard to civil liberties. We need to hold fast to the ground we have gained, and dig our heels in to resist being pushed back in time. These are the two items I am listing, and donating the 75% from! I hope you’ll pop in and consider helping me to help others!


Gender Kisses: The Conclusion


The Gender Kisses project with Molli Sparkles has wrapped up, and it has taken me awhile to start to get my thoughts together, to be honest. I’m forever grateful that Molli and I took the time to discuss the initial Men and Quilting topic, and move forward into a fun project together.


My quilt is quilt A.

Prince passed away while I was making this quilt, which puts a little more meaning into it for me personally. Prince was many things, and a couple of those things are “gender fluid” and also, believe it not “feminist”.

Things got pretty heated after my Men and Quilting post. Mostly it has calmed down since then, with the exception of one commenter who is now blocked from my site due his harassing and offensive comments he has repeatedly left on my blog since January. I was left creatively empty for a good long while after, I was so disappointed with the reaction towards feminism in the quilt world.  

What interests me more, are the comments that were left on the post about the project on Molli’s page. The most common were “Who cares?” and “Why does it matter?” “Why are we talking about this in quilting?”

It started to make sense to me what was different from my perspective. I am not doing quilting as a hobby, and I am not doing it as a long arm quilter. I came to quilting via the traditional quilt world, but quickly immersed myself in the art quilting side. I cam to quilting as an artist. I came to quilting as a feminist. I don’t think most quilters are accustomed to political and sociological protest and discourse in this realm. Many people come to quilting as “retreat” from such things.

I am currently even more grateful for the project and discourse with Molli. I have learned something about myself, my quilt making is very much about my beliefs and experiences. I find a special feeling of accomplishment when I make a piece that is a visual representation of something I stand for.

This will likely mean putting more of those beliefs INTO my quilts. In fact, the next post I will be putting up, is a combination of the traditional quilt world and the call for civil rights. I’m pretty excited about this one, and can’t wait for decent weather/lighting to get the photos done for it!

To the people that don’t feel quilting is the place for a “forum”, that’s okay. You won’t be forced to read my blog. 😉

To the couple men who still find themselves so angry at my feminism that they leave hateful comments, I have this parting quote:

Men of quality are not threatened by women of equality. – Thomas Jefferson

Gender Kisses: Kiss and Tell
This past January, I was immersed in a conversation on men in the quilting world. As a result of the kerfuffle from that, Molli Sparkles and I decided to do a sort of experiment. We would pick a block pattern, set a size, and use solid fabrics only to make a quilt that was “ours”. Would the finished pieces be glaringly obvious as to whether the boy or girl made it? Would either of us make the quilt inherently obvious of the gender of the maker? Would people be able to guess who made each quilt, the boy or the girl? We called the project, “Gender Kisses”.

My personal reason for the project, was that I want to find a common ground between the men and women in the industry. I still stand by many of the things I said previously, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want men in the quilting world. I don’t inherently believe that the quilts that men and women create are so radically different from each other, which can give us a commonality to use as a springboard toward equality for each gender.

I recognize that men may not always feel welcome in quilts stores, quilt shows, etc. I also recognize that women have been working very hard for some time now to legitimize quilting as a career, and find frustration that it appears inherently easier for a male quilter to obtain that recognition in the “out side world” beyond the quilting community. Since we are both facing challenged, why fight with each other instead of recognizing our challenges and helping each other toward our separate goals that both lead toward wanting equality?

In order to keep an accurate tally of the decisions you all make, we are keeping the survey to one page only, over on Molli’s blog. Please head over there and make your selections, you have a week to do so!

We set some parameter rules to level the field:

  • Use the Raspberry Kiss block tutorial (based off the block “Pattern without a Name” attributed to Nancy Cabot) in any way we choose
  • The finished quilt must be approximately 40″x40″
  • Solid fabrics only

So, hop on over and tell us who you think make each quilt!

Prince, Art, and Being


Forgive me, if this one is a doozy. It’s been a hell of a week around here.
(Hold out till the end, there’s a video of the memorial!)

I live in Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis. I actually live about ten minutes from Paisley Park. Where Prince lived. Where Prince died. I don’t have a “prince story”. To be honest, even if I had ever come across Prince in my daily life, I’m not sure I would have even approached him. I’m not an “star meeter”. I don’t generally try to meet musicians after shows, or ask for autographs, etc. It makes my anxiety shoot through the roof if I try. If I had ever saw him, I probably would have smiled at him and ran away. (I’d like to think he’d have appreciated that, too.)

People can say what they want, but it won’t matter to me how or why he died. He was a musical and lyrical genius, and he is gone from this world far too soon. I found a documentary on Amazon streaming about him, done in 2008. It gave me a whole new perspective on the man.

Yes, Prince received numerous awards and nominations. Watching the documentary on him though, I had a personal revelation.

From the very beginning, Prince refused to let other people produce his albums. Many of his albums hit the charts, because of one or two songs on them. Many of his albums are considered failures (by the general public). What strikes me, is that maybe Prince didn’t care about the “outside world” labeling any of his works as failures or successes. Because they weren’t about that. That man could play almost any instrument in the world I think, and why? Because he kept trying and learning new things. He kept growing. He never compromised his work in order to “please” an audience. Egotistical or not, Prince expected his audience to evolve and understand HIS music on HIS terms. That takes hutzpah.

I consider myself an artist. It took me a long time to actually be able to introduce myself as such.  I have often worried whether it’s egotistical to call myself an artist, given I can count on my fingers then number of works I have sold. I’m ashamed that I have felt that way now.

Art isn’t about what sells. Selling or not selling is after that act of making it, not part of it. It’s commerce, not art.


Art for me, needs to be focused on experimentation, learning and growth. If Prince had quit after his first album did poorly, look at all we would have missed. Art for me, needs to be non-compromising. I can’t make or not make things simply to keep others “happy”. Art needs to have a feminist approach for me. Even if there are some out there that want to bully me for it.  Art needs to be about me, for me. If I’m not putting “me” into my work, what will differentiate it from anyone else’s work?

It’s strange to mourn someone you never met, until you realize it’s not just the person you are mourning. You mourn the loss of his talent, words, truth.You mourn the courage he gave people. You mourn the timeline upon which his songs serve as an instant flashback whenever you hear them. You mourn the time you have let slip away, in which you perhaps have not fought for your dreams. You find yourself thankful for the reminder, given by the shock and sadness of his early departing, that you need to dust yourself off and continue to push towards your goals and dreams.


First Ave all night Prince Dance Party, 4/23/16

I’m thankful for what he has left us. I am thankful we still have his music, that when pumping in a club, can still make us lose our shit and dance our hearts out all night long. 



“All 7 and we’ll watch them fall
They stand in the way of love
And we will smoke them all
With an intellect and a savoir-faire
No one in the whole universe
Will ever compare?

7 by Prince