Thursday, August 21, 2014

a letter to all parents on the first day back to school

To: all the parents of the earth on the day your kids start school in the fall
From: me...today on the day my kids went back to school

We dropped them off, my husband and I. We walked them into their loving classrooms. They were cool. They were fine. They were happy. They knew what to do. Our littlest one started Kindergarten without a hesitation, a misstep, a faltering or a look back. She was born ready for this day. Our oldest sauntered out to play like an old pro. Last year his teacher gave us the best compliment about our son. She said he is on his own form of Valium…that his calmness helps keep the other kids grounded. She said everything is no big deal for him. (I'm sure that is all true at school...but it is a different story at home.)

So where is my Valium, huh? I am a puddle as I type...snot and tears streaming down my face. After drop off, I walked into the silent house and the silence was so loud that I instantly wanted to turn around and go run meaningless errands to avoid it. But I stayed. I made myself stay with these feelings.

Now, after making a smoothie, the music is turned up in my studio to help me let go, but it isn't working. We are supposed to be OK with this. We waited a whole summer for them to start again, but here it is and all I want is to go get them. I miss them. My house is so quiet. No one is whining or crying or bouncing anything. I can't hear the Nerf bullets sticking to things with their whoosh-pop as they spew from the one and only gun we have in our no-guns-allowed house. I can't hear that gentle sing-song talking my daughter does as she plays with her dolls…always talking and telling stories about the characters she invents. Her characters are always friends.

This whole thing of living is a grand exercise of letting go. Parenting is a slow slide until college and then whoosh-pop like a Nerf bullet they're gone. My children are 8 and almost 5. Please don't judge me for not wanting them to go to college. One day they will go, I know, but elementary school is hard enough. If I could stop squeaking and sobbing, I could type better…but my shoulders are bouncing up and down so I keep having to stop typing. 

I know that everyone reading this knows exactly what I am feeling. I hope that these words give you permission to cry over your keyboard, turn up your music, burn some sage, eat some chocolate, text your partner, and just STAY. Stay with these feelings. Right now. Although they are uncomfortable. Don't run away from the exquisite sadness of letting go of the precious beings that call you mom or dad. Don't run to shopping or yoga today, on their first day back at school. Just pretend to work. Stay. Shuffle papers around. Try so hard to get something done, but know that you won't be very productive. Be with your feelings so they don't come out sideways later. Don't stuff them, erase them or bury them. These feelings are what it is all about. Honor them. This is a rite of passage for us, too.

Because we are raising these amazing little beings and after a whole summer of togetherness, the bubble has been broken and they are off on the monkey bars and kickball fields. They are writing and singing and drawing. 

And we are here in their wake. Oh, and isn't it so beautiful to be in their wake? The beautiful wake of the humans we made. They shake us up. They shake us down. They crack us open. They live in us and we in them on the monkey bars. All this grasping I feel…it is just the reaction of my fingers used to reaching out for their hands in the drowsy summer days of too many hot parking lots. So much hand holding. So much sofa. So much together. 

Whoosh-pop
They’re gone.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

be with me so i can...

The kids start school tomorrow–so summer officially ends. I just now cried and hugged them on the floor. My daughter starts kindergarten (which is making me cry as I type) and she suggested that I go into her room tomorrow and find some stuffed animals to cuddle while they are in school. But then again, she also said, "Oh, it's OK because you have so many emails to do and you need to be alone." She's actually right. My email inbox is jammed full...I have so many projects to finish and deadlines waiting, but I surrendered it all to summer for the last few weeks and it was good.

For a mama who works from home, runs a business alone, and also spends summer with her kiddos, summer is a wonderful cocoon-y love nest and a total clusterfuck. (Sorry for that word. Some people don't like cussing.) But that is what summer is…a clusterfuck of trying to manage everyone's needs and balance everything and still get emails and work done while keeping the kiddos and mama happy...or mostly happy...or at least mildly happy. Every year, it takes a few weeks for everyone to adjust to the new rhythm of summer. In June there is camp and vacation in July. But then there is the month of summer with no plans and not a lot of money for babysitters, camps, theme parks, etc. And it was over 110 degrees every day in the Arizona heat, so outside is not an option mostly...but still they played out there. And they watched tv, drew, built things, played, read, and we swam a lot.

But I had a brainstorm in June and I called it "be with me so I can." So I tried this new way this summer. It worked. And I thought I would share it here in case it would help you...even if it is too late for summer, you can try it over breaks or next summer.

I noticed this summer that commonly my children's malaise/acting out/ boredom/ennui/ whining/ fighting/general irascibility is usually a byproduct of disconnection. (Isn't the same true of us adults?) My kids are somewhat independent and both enjoy playing alone or together for small bits of time...but certainly not for hours and definitely not all day-every day-all summer. We are social creatures. Kids spend nine months of the year surrounded by 22 kids and teachers plus teams and friends, etc. 

So what they want is me or my husband. Period. We are their language–their currency–their bosses–their entertainment. We are the Alphas. They want us. And we want them. They want us to notice them, to witness them, to be with them, to enjoy them, and most importantly to play/read/write/draw/ride bikes with them. And for the most part, that is exactly what we do. But sometimes we must work. And we want to teach them the value of work. It is easier for my husband in some ways, because he leaves the house to work in his J. Crew duds. He dresses up, he leaves, he comes back. But I...I am working right now as I type this in my yoga clothes right next to my kids on the living room floor on my laptop while we watch a probably age-innapropriate show about teenagers on Disney Channel. My son is humming a pop song and half-staring at the screen, my daughter is rolling a bottle of warm sparkling water between her feet. And I am writing. And so when mommy "works" it is confusing because I don't dress up in my J. Crew duds and leave. I'm just here. And I want to be here. But it confuses the boundary a bit.

And so that is how I arrived at "be with me so I can." I was tired of my old method that went like this: I would say to them in a rushed, slightly manic but also sweet (or sometimes frustrated) voice, "Mommy is almost finished, if you guys would just clean up your rooms or play together for about 20 more minutes then we can play." But then I might say that again after those 20 minutes were up. And it was all guilt, all the time. Mama guilt. I'm not doing enough guilt. I didn't make dinner and it's 6:30 guilt. I am rushing my work and neglecting my two favorite people on earth guilt. So, instead I made a new way. All they want is me. All I want is them. And so I now say to them, "Guys, come be with me so I can finish this project in the studio. You want to paint?" "Hey, you wanna draw a house plan at the counter while I make dinner?" "Do you want to clean the bathroom with me? You can Windex." "Be with me while I sew this...can you push the foot pedal?" And sometimes they join me. And sometimes they don't. And that is OK because I feel better about it. If they choose to empower themselves and play independently then that is awesome, but I first give them the chance to join me in the studio or wherever I am working. I don't care if they play video games or eat sweet potato chips or make duct tape wallets. I just want to be near them, and vice versa. And they learn what work looks like. They learn what parents do. 

"Be with me so I can" changed our summer. It helped me feel good about working. And I really think it helped them self-regulate, too. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

our house on Apartment Therapy

Although  I still can't figure out why, our little house full of love and spunk is up on Apartment Therapy today here. The photographer, Lindsey Kay Averill, did a great job capturing the spirit of our home and the art wall and the tree fort. And, as ever, I am not short on words. Check it out...


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Inventory of Summer 2014


I almost read a whole book.
I had my first mammogram.
I tried to do a handstand on the beach. It is harder than it looks.
I fell down into a hole for a few weeks in June.
I stopped eating sugar, drinking coffee and eating chocolate to help myself climb out of that hole I fell into. Also, I took B Vitamins.
I turned 42.
I designed my next fabric line in my mind. I can't wait to create it.
It rained once.
My first DVD came out. I watched it like 6 times.
I travelled home to the South with my family.
Kids do well when travelling.
Family love is big and beautiful.
There is nothing like cousins.
We led prayer flag workshops in Arizona and Alabama for our Happy Flag project in honor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We got good press here.
My dad lives way too far away. It is precious time when I am with him.
My kids do not do well with boundless hours of summer stretching out before them.
My baby girl can swim...for real...like a dolphin-mermaid.
My son will undoubtedly grow up to design and engineer cool things.
He bought Fart Bombs this summer and enjoyed them very much.
My husband sleeps in our bed again after a year. (No, we weren't fighting for a year...but he couldn't sleep with the kids in there.)
It is really nice to sleep with my husband again.
We fought about money.
We bonded as our children's behavior grew so bad deep in the summer that we holed up against their attacks by just laughing about it behind our closed door. We hid from them. We giggled.
He started planning our fall garden.
I did my once yearly deep cleaning of the whole house and it was good.
I surrendered all work and obligations to the rhythms of my children and our house:
laundry, Legos, homework, dolls, cleaning and cooking.
Wars erupted all over the planet.
Also, I read Harry Potter to my kids.
And my children's feet grew–that part near the heel and below the ankle–
on each of them–it is so big–almost as big as mine.
We watched Master Chef and lots of other TV and movies together...a lot.
I ate my children. I breathed them in. I enjoyed them. They pissed me off.
They hurt my feelings. They loved me so much. ALL of the craziness happened.
And it was good.
They acted wild. They acted lovely.
They are beautiful.
So is my husband.
So was my summer.
My book about creativity, The Little Spark, comes out this fall and I couldn't be more excited.
I made a lot of green smoothies with raw cacao.
Dates are a very good natural sweetener for cacao-avocado smoothies.
(I want a Ninja blender.)
My kids start school next week.
And as ever, my heart will break as they step into their classrooms and our cocoon is shattered again until winter break.
You'd think I wouldn't miss them at all based on the way they acted this summer...
but a mother's memory is short and faulty.
All we can see is the love underneath the boundary-testing and misbehavior.
All we see is beauty.
And it was a beautiful summer.
We all spent a lot of time together in the studio making things.
And then Robin Williams...


I do hope your summer was good.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Art Techniques for Quilt Design clip!



Here is the first bit. I was kinda nervous for a few seconds but then by some miracle...I wasn't! So this clip captures those first few nervous seconds and I seem to blink a lot  and...ummm...I say, "umm" a few times. I do so like that little non-thinking word of exhale. Umm let's us regroup. Umm is the tiny stop-gap we put in our sentences to buy some time for the brain to catch up with the mouth. But after all the blinking and umms in the first minute subside, then for the next hour I teach a lot of really fun material that I have learned over my life as an artist to help you make cool things in a direct and fun way–like drawing essentials including blind contour and gesture drawing, composition and fast, fun collage techniques. I truly believe that if you can draw you can do anything. Undoubtedly, the simple drawing techniques I offer will help you see the world better and more clearly and therefor your creations will be that much better. Even if you aren't an artist and don't really want to be one, drawing helps all of your creative products from sewing to quilting to graphic design.

Confidence comes from knowing that you are absolutely good enough right now in this moment and trusting that whatever you make (even if it isn't fit for the Louvre or MoMa) is an expression of your heart and soul here and now. In fact, the more we make mistakes, the more we can learn from them and get better and better. We all want to make great things and with practice, we certainly will–but we also can have a total blast on the journey and enjoy the ride knowing that there is no such thing as perfect...and that right now you can express the magic in your heart the best way you know how and with whatever skills you have.

Go get get your copy today! The download is available right now and the DVD will be in stock on August 8, 2014. Click here to buy. Here's the Quilting Daily newsletter:



Enable your inner artist with Carrie Bloomston’s expert guidance

Art Techniques for Quilt Design

Retail:$44.98
Your Price: $24.99

Quilting Arts Workshop: Art Techniques for Quilt Design
with Carrie Bloomston
DVD - 68 minutes

Confidently create contemporary quilt designs! Join Carrie Bloomston for this workshop video that will teach you how to capture the essence of an idea in cloth by using warm up techniques, drawing exercises, and basic design principles. Then, put these techniques to the test as you learn how to craft a freeform nest pattern, create collages from fabric, and design a whimsical quilt based on children's artwork.

Pre-order Art Techniques for Quilt Design today to:

Put composition to work and create quilting designs out of cloth that have movement and balance.
Learn to speak the language of your materials — be in the moment and trust your intuition.
Uncover Carrie's expert tips to bring out the most from your contemporary quilts.
Have fun and let your materials inspire unique and personalized projects.
And much, much more!

Pre-order your copy of Art Techniques for Quilt Designand receive the download FREE to enjoy instantly!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quilting Arts Season 1400 DVD blog party




Remember how I told you about being asked by lovely Vivika De Negre at Interweave to fly to Ohio because they wanted to film a DVD and three episodes of Quilting Arts TV with me? It was such an honor for me to be included and so much fun. I wrote about the whole adventure here and my very old fear of flying, but guess what? The whole season of Quilting Arts 1400 DVD is now out and ready for you to buy or download here (or you can watch the episodes one by one on your local PBS station as they air). 

Also, I'm SOOOO excited to tell you that my DVD, Art Techniques for Quilt Designs, is now available for Pre-order or instant download now! I have watched it (ummm....like four times!!!) and I am happy to say that it doesn't suck! (I was rather relieved to watch it because I haven't been filmed very much and didn't know what to expect. Phew!) In fact, I like it so much and I think you will, too. In it, I teach simple art school techniques like drawing basics (learning how to see so that you can draw), design process and composition, how to create artful sewn goods like my Nest Quilt and how to interpret children's artwork with fast fabric collage to create keepsake treasures. Mainly, I help you trust your own innate abilities and talent so you can get busy designing original creations and have the confidence to do so. I help you Celebrate Your Inner Artist!™  Go download it or pre-order it right here right now! 

It was wonderful to work with the new host of Quilting Arts, Susan Brubaker Knapp. In honor of the blog hop that we are doing to promote the new season of Quilting Arts and the DVD, we were asked to to share a little bit about our creative process and inspiration. For me it isn't a matter of what inspires me because the list is so long and it goes like this:

my children, love, my husband, chocolate, stars, sun, the beach, being outside, yoga, the moon, art history, Japanese package design, good graphic design, movies...so many movies, books, tea, my kitchen, product design, people, so many people and teachers, artists, writers, modern dance, tea bags, old stuff, new stuff, dried things, plants, smells, tastes, food, wabi sabi, textiles, India, Japan, paper, stationery, eucalyptus pods, fireworks, weather, rain, stories, fables, poetry, screened-in porches, looking at the rain....see? I could go on and on and on...

The problem is not what inspires me but what to do with it. Inspiration is such an ephemeral and fleeting thing. I feel surrounded by beauty and inspiration every day, but that doesn't mean I capture it every day. Capturing inspiration is like catching butterflies. You gotta have a net. For me, that net looks like this: dictating notes to Siri on my phone while driving my kids to school...or like I did today, writing notes about my next fabric collection for Windham on the bookmark in the book I'm reading (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I highly recommend!) while flying in a plane...or hiking down a mountain and rushing to the car to jot down notes and most especially after yoga. I commonly find space for new ideas after clearing my head by getting my thoughts to quiet down so that I can listen to the truer source of inspiration...my heart, my soul. 


So, what inspires you? Leave a comment over on the Quilting Daily blog right here and a lucky someone will win a DVD of the QATV season! Each day one of the participants below will be writing about their experience so follow along:



Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence of the Spirit

I had a pause today–a moment of quiet reflection–staring out the window...and I had some thoughts. On this day of Independence here in the US, I'm thinking a lot about freedom. Actually, I'm thinking about whether or not money buys us freedom. And I am feeling that it does. Certainly, it does. I know. But, at what price? What do we lose in the pursuit? Of course we must work and work hard...but at what? 

I have said and I maintain that I have never bought into the "struggling artist" paradigm. (In fact, I feel that if I am struggling at anything then I am probably doing it wrong.) Yet when I compare myself to others, I very much feel the loser. On paper that is. In the realm of stuff. But not in the realm of the spirit and the soul. There I feel very rich indeed, and not even by comparison. I dare say, I feel free. There are many routes to that freedom. For me, this moment right here with the keyboard under my fingers is my goldmine. Or being with my kids as they turn cardboard boxes into homemade foosball games and other contraptions, or lost in making magic in studio, whether painting, or sewing, or just gathering sticks on a walk to turn into something later, as we did today.

My life is not leisurely, per se. There is no, or very little, sitting still. Not much leisure, rest, respite, travel, or even reading. Not much time for reveries by the open window. But my life is the reverie. I am usually making something, cleaning something, emailing someone back (usually too late) or trying desperately to teach my children to eat healthy snacks and not clobber each other. Yet, it is all the dream. I feel terribly, terribly lucky to occupy this exact very life. I love it, despite the toiling, the constantness. Because my life is a creative expression of the love that lives in my heart. 

What we toil at matters. Where we put our love, energy and time matters, and it should feel good, although that isn't always possible. Where I put my love, is where my life will go. So, I choose to go in the direction of my dreams. Don't get me wrong...I so hope there is a pot of gold involved at some point of this rainbow, but there ain't no use fretting over that too much. So I just keep showing up at work and play. I witness the beauty around me everyday and bathe in gratitude for the treasures I find in my family and in the world. Happy Independence day. I hope you have some freedom inside of you to follow your bliss, your passion, your Little Spark of creativity. If you don't, go find it. It is there. Watch this video narrated by Alan Watts for some inspiration:



Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Little Spark

My book! Preorder signed copies here.
I could go on and on about my super-secret little project that is no longer secret (and wasn't really so little after all). I wrote a book last fall. I did that largely in my tree fort, on a laptop. And I think, I mean I truly believe, that it rocks. It isn't quite done. I mean–I'm done. But it is now in the loving hands of a very talented graphic designer over at Stash Books/C&T Publishing named Kristy. Kristy is the graphic designer of my soul. She is making sheer magic out of my words and the inspiring images I collected from my talented friends around the globe.
And THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I mean, I should say, it may change your life, if you let it. Actually, the book will have, in the end, very little to do with you altering the course of your life and stepping into a passionate, creative life–no matter if you want to quilt, sew, belly dance, bake cakes or paint watercolor still-life paintings by the seashore, listening to the tinkling sound of wind chimes made from seashells dipped in resin. All the tools you need are inside the book, but you'll do the digging, the playing and the exercises. You'll be inspired to dive in and make a mess. You'll start your own bonfire. You see, my book, The Little Spark–30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, will be your road map. It is an interactive workbook filled with questions that only YOU can answer. And when you do, you will come alive to the part of yourself that may have been sleeping for a few decades...you will remember the tiny creative spark you were born with and what you want to do with it. But, The Spark is already lit within you, like a pilot light. It never goes out. It is sitting there, at the center of who you are, waiting for you to turn on the stove.
So anyway, my publisher is almost done producing my book. And then they'll print it in a distant land on printing presses run by gnomes and fairies–each letter hand-carved from bamboo. (Nkay, not really.) And then the books will fly on the backs of winged horses to a store near you in November. (I mean, I think they may actually be crated and shipped on huge faceless ships in big sad, steel boxes, but where's the magic in that?) In fact, if you are a store owner, ah hem, so glad you've read this email because now's your chance to order the book on page 30 in the C&T Publishing Fall 2014 catalog right HERE.
I want this book to be found, to be bought, used, read, dog-earerd, lost, found again, colored-in, cried over, shared and spread from mountaintop to mountaintop, in great waves of love. Because I think it will help people..and that is the spirit I held in my heart as I wrote each chapter. My North star was LOVE. My goal, as I wrote, was to help people see their own beautiful creativity–the creativity they were born with and are still in complete possession of–even if they have forgotten.
In the meantime, you can go and preorder your very own signed copy (and save the date for my book launch party/reading/signing on December 2) at my favorite local indie bookstore, Changing Hands Books, right here. They will ship everywhere! You can also go find your local indie bookstore at indiebound.org and go tell them to stock my book :) or you can preorder it on Amazon.
Please forward this post to your favorite local shops so they can go order itThis book is perfect for ANY kind of shop: quilting, sewing, craft, art, yoga studio, museum store, Market Bistro, gift shops, foodie food huts, boutiques, bead stores, lovely gardening shops, pottery studios and stationery stores. Also, I have a weird fantasy of this book selling in airport bookstores.
Lots of love and gratitude, 
Carrie Bloomston 
This is me seeing my book in their catalog for the first time at Quilt Market. I cried! I wasn't expecting to see it. Good surprise.




Friday, June 20, 2014

Pat Sloan Radio Show

I am honored to be on the Pat Sloan Radio Show podcast on Monday, June 23, 2014! The show airs at 4 pm Eastern Standard Time. You can listen on your computer, subscribe by iTunes (search American Patchwork & Quilting), or download to a player.

Click here to listen. 




Saturday, June 14, 2014

Have you heard of Kraft-tex?



Have you heard of Kraft-tex? No? Well, let me introduce you. You are going to fall.in.love. I did. You know that little tag on the back of your favorite old pair of Levi's Jeans? You thought it was printed leather, didn't you? It used to be. But now manufacturers use products like Kraft-tex–a tough paper that performs like fabric. It is durable, flexible, washable, paint-able, dye-able, stamp-able, sew-able, emboss-able, fold-able…getting the idea? You can make almost anything with this stuff. And that’s what you get to see in kraft•tex Style–a new book I'm in by Roxane Cerda (coming out in September from Stash Books) which shows so many very cool Kraft-tex projects. 


My Indestructible Yoga Mat Sling in Krafttex Style by Roxane Cerda.
The great thing about Kraft-tex is that you can use the raw edge (without turning it under or hemming it) because it won't fray or rip. So I made my Indestructible Yoga Mat Sling in less than an hour using a simple rectangle of Kraft-tex and some webbing for handles. I added a pocket for a cell phone and a carabiner for keys. Let me say that I hated sending my yoga sling to the editor for this book because I didn't want to let it go. I used it once to test it out and I fell in love with it.  Most yoga mat bags are fussy and annoying. There is nothing worse than trying to cram your sweaty yoga mat and wet towel into a cotton yoga mat tube after class when you are all blissed-out. But with this sling... aaaahhhhh... the bliss continues as you roll up your mat, place it on the sling (no matter how sweaty or bulky with your towel) and hop on your bike and head home. Blissicus Non-interruptus. 

This book is filled with so many cool projects. You'll be so inspired to make, paint, sew and create with Kraft-tex. I am in love with Jen Carlton Bailey's Tech Stand below. You can buy Kraft-tex here. It is offered in white, black and natural. Order the book here.




 Watch the video below to learn more about this amazing product and then have fun.