Thursday, August 31, 2006

Circles of Inspiration

When I flew into Pasco airport in Washington State last month, I was fascinated by the shape, texture and colour of the irrigation crop circles:

I have so many ideas about how these circles might translate into a quilt. Free cut pieced circles are one possible interpretation:

Thank goodness for digital cameras which capture different layouts:

Or maybe split the quilt into two. One with dark circles:

The other with light:

I think I am just going to keep sewing circles and see what happens. This might just turn into a series...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Man and his Shed(s)

If previous years are anything to go by, sometime in the next 24 hours I am going to witness an interchange along the following lines:
  • Radio/TV/Television Announcement - "and for the first day of spring we are expecting a very pleasant temperature of..."
  • Outburst from (American) David - it's not spring! it's still 3 weeks until equinox. Why do Australians think that seasons coincide with calendar months?
Why indeed? In any event, David is eagerly anticipating the warmer weather so that he can return to his "office" down at the beach. Not that he has been slacking off over winter. While I was in America in July, David was building a ramp under the house to his workshop. While he was at it, he installed a shed for overflow from his workshop. Here is the undercover ramp:

The shed is the corrugated section in the middle of the picture. Here is the inside:

And lest you think this state of organisation is preternaturally neat. Just check out his main workshop:

With standards like this, there is no way I am showing photos of my studio anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sleeping In

I'm an early to bed, early to rise kind of person. When I was lawyering, I much preferred to be at my desk at 7 in the morning and to have some quiet time before my colleagues strolled in and the phones started ringing. So when Jonah Keegan from The Blog Reader proposed a 7am appointment for a telephone interview, this was fine with me. Except in all the excitement of last week with teaching, having my Mum to stay and getting my new website out live, I neglected to put the appointment in my diary and decided to snooze a little this morning. Whoops!

However, Jonah and I did get to talk and I understand that the article/interview will appear in a week or two. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Surfing Around

I did get some time at my sewing machine today but not before I had spent just a little time at the computer. Thank you for all the kind comments on my new website. While googling my name to see if the new website has established any presence with search engines yet (the answer is no), I stumbled across the Australian craft portal which happened to refer to my workshop at Terrigal last week. The portal makes for quite interesting reading but it was a reference to Craft Australia's National Craft Mapping Project that really caught my eye.

According to its website, Craft Australia is the national peak industry body advocating and lobbying for Australian contemporary craft and design. The National Craft Mapping Project was undertaken by Craft Australia to provide a needs analysis of what makers require for the ongoing professional development of their careers and to scope the breadth of the services available to them through professional craft organisations. I've downloaded a copy of the 40-page report for later reading but a quick search reveals that the word "blog" does not appear once!

Back to sewing these blocks which were (very loosely) inspired by the crop circles I saw from the air when flying into Washington State last month:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Trumpets Please - my new website

For some time now, I've been wanting to set up an additional website with a focus on my contemporary and experimental quilts. So I am delighted to let you know that has just gone live:
Brenda Gael Smith: Contemporary Quilts
I've had a great time building upon my web design skills and following my own advice of getting up close and personal with html and css code. I hope you like the result! There are still some refinements that I plan to make to the content, images and links but the basic framework is in place.

I will still keep my existing website but hope to take this in an increasingly commercial direction for promoting patterns and kits of my original quilt designs. Watch this space!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Spreading like Bushfire

As many quilting teachers will attest, one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is seeing sparks of enthusiasm and understanding ignite and ripple through the class as students "get it" and surge to do more. It's also a thrill when students return with more advanced projects incorporating the techniques or designs they have learned in your class.

In yesterday's Colour Rhapsody class, there were a number of students who had previously attended my Making Waves workshop. Many had completed quilts and quilt tops to share but Pat's bushfire quilt is the only one that I managed to get a photo of:

Friday, August 25, 2006

Popping in...zipping out

Welcome to all those new readers who are popping over from visiting Melody Johnson's blog. Fibermania features a fabulous new banner (designed by her website guru David Walker) that I helped Melody tweak so that readers using browsers other than IE don't miss out on seeing those wonderful character lines under her eyes!

Following my post on how to create a personalised blog banner, I've helped or heard from a few people who have successfully inserted customised headers including:
  • Erica Spinks who has set up an editorial blog for Down Under Quilts magazine to capture all those interesting items that might otherwise get lost between publishing deadlines;
  • Leah - who apparently has the logic of a Puggle; and
  • Judy Coates Perez.
I'm about to zip out the door for a day of teaching but you might like to pop in and say hello to these fellow quilting enthusiasts.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Other FMMQ Queens

Whether you are new to free motion machine quilting, or an old hand, there are some great resources around. Here are three domestic (cf longarm) quilting resources that I refer my students to:
I enjoyed a very pleasant day of teaching with the Arcadian Quilters yesterday. My route to Galston from the Central Coast took me through Berowra Waters where my little car got to ride on a punt across the water:

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Successful Quilting Collaborators

Congratulations to Nic Bridges who has, together with Gay, has won third prize in the two person quilt category at the Birmingham Quilt Festival with a fresh looking quilt incorporating a leaf motif and units in various scales.

Nic is the (longarm) FMMQ Queen and has also successfully worked with Lisa Walton on many occasions. My personal favourite Lisa/Nic collaboration is the Power of Three which, as I recall, one first prize in the commercially machine quilted quilt category at the 2004 Sydney Quilt Show:

Other successful quilting collaborations that come to mind are:
  • Kay & Bard Haerland - Kay does the construction but Bard often provides valuable design input including the factually accurate star constellations that feature in one of Kay's owl quilts;
  • Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr - the dynamic duo behind; and
  • Nancy Crow and her handquilters including, in particular, Marla Hattabaugh.
Can you think of any other successful quilting collaborators?

Monday, August 21, 2006

En route to quilt shops

Today my mother and I went fabric shopping for her quilt. After going through some magazines yesterday, it was clear that more traditional, medallion style quilts appealed and Mum had some palettes in mind so off we set.

The first shop we visited is closed on Mondays so that was a false start. But between the following three shops, we've compiled a lovely set of fabrics which I will share at some later stage.

Today was a brilliant late winter's day and we enjoyed a mini picnic at Norah Head Light House:

Then we went to see the daily feeding of pelicans at The Entrance:

Ever have a day where you feel like doing this?

Waiting, waiting, waiting:

Happiness is a fish in your pouch (or whatever it's called):

In further praise of baby quilts

As I have mentioned before, smaller/baby quilts are a great medium for experimenting with new techniques and mastering skills. Here is a small sample of the 70+ baby quilts that I have made.

Popsicles uses dimensional pieceing. Not a technique that I care to use again but effective enough here:

Heartened was an experiment using Barbara Bilyard's "Keep it So Simple" S-bends technique:

Copacabana Beauty was my first foray into foundation piecing - another technique that I am not overly enamoured with but I did get some great points on my New York Beauty blocks:

And baby quilts don't have to use traditional blocks or designs. I love the quilt that Robin made following her recent workshop with Nancy Crow - a new baby classic.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

No, I haven't disappeared. After the Guild general meeting yesterday, I picked up my Mum who is over from New Zealand. Today, she spent much of the day browsing through magazines and books identifying the design elements that she would like to see in the quilt that I will make for her. Tomorrow we are off to visit some quilt shops so maybe I'll have some purchases to share. I trust that you are all enjoying and equally low-key but quilty weekend.

Knitting was featured on Sunday Arts today. Check out Caroline Love's sculptural masterpiece - The Big Knit.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Surprise in the Mail

When I cleared my post box this morning, I was delighted to receive a surprise envelope from a Quilt Camp buddy. Jeanette is a "Sewing & Craft Consultant" with SSS Pty Limited, a role that I gather involves a mixture of product testing and product promotion. Here are the goodies that Jeanette sent me:

These are some of the new Rainbow Spun bonded fabric range. I can see them coming in handy if I ever into doing some more postcards and artist trading cards. I particularly like the silvery, grey metallic piece.

On the subject of goodies in the mail, I understand that the United States Postal Service is finally issuing their Gee's Bend quilt stamps next week. Sarah, my tablemate from my Nancy Crow workshop, is kindly sending me a set. Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Quilting in Progress!

Photographic evidence that I am making progress with quilting "Unplugged" :

Yes I know this shows the quilt upside down but I wanted to put the baggy, unquilted sections at the bottom. The quilting is quite heavy with lines approximately 1/8" apart. As an experiment, I am quilting these lines with a darning foot rather than a walking foot. Here are a couple of closeups.

I will quilt the purple centre of this block in due course:

By the way, Ngoia Pollard Napaltjarri of Watiyawanu Artists won the 23rd Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award 2006 with her subtle, black & white textured canvas - Swamps West of Nyrripi .

Nautilus (going round in circles?)

More housekeeping in store for today. My list includes:
  • finish off teaching notes for next week's workshops and consider whether more samples are required;
  • final review of Quilt Show 2006 CD catalogue before release to the market;
  • pay bills :-(
  • put on lawyer hat and draft software development agreement for an exciting guild project;
  • make guest room bed with flannel sheets so Mum doesn't freeeze in her sleep; and
  • so on....
I leave you with this hooked rug creation by Sabine who I met at my Quilt & Book talk last week:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Newsflash! Hoffman Challenge Winner

Today I travelled into the city for a meeting to review this year's quilt show and to start preparing for Sydney Quilt Show 2007. Karen Malone also attended this meeting and shared the very exciting news that her 2164 mosaic piece quilt "Leaf No Stone Unturned" won first prize in the Applique category of the 2006 Hoffman challenge. Congratulations Karen!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mission Accomplished!

As I write this, I have half an ear and eye to tonight's episode of Top Gear, a TV show that I have previously praised for its ability to make car talk accessible and interesting even to a non-motoring enthusiast. Which reminds me that I forgot to report back on my speaking engagements last week.

The first presentation was a "Quilt & Book" talk at Woy Woy library which was attended by 20-30 people including some intrepid souls from Southern Cross Quilters (SCQuilters) who travelled all the way from Western Sydney and Newcastle. Thanks Jessica, Lissa Jane and co! Not everyone in the audience was a quilter, at least one attendee is a passionate rug hooker and I hope I can persuade her to send me an image of one of her spectacular creations so that I can post it for you all to admire.

A bonus from the presentation is that some extra people have signed up for my workshop next week. My new students popped in to visit this afternoon and decided to buy a Rhapsody fabric set in the rainbow, rainforest and autumn palettes:

I like all the palettes, I'm so glad that I don't have to decide!

My second presentation was to the Terrigal Rotary Club - another attentive and appreciative audience. I had to cover a lot of territory in my 20 minute speech (reflections of an 80s exchange student; my life as a lawyer; my seachange experience and my current creative endeavours) but I pulled it all together and now the group knows a whole lot more about contemporary quilts. Mission accomplished.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


This week we satisfied one of our civic duties by completing the 2006 census. Among the many questions was an estimate of the number of hours per week we undertake unpaid housework. My husband is very domesticated so I get off lightly but I have been doing my own kind of housekeeping over the last couple of days.

First there was the unexpected, but very welcome, visit of friends from Ireland for lunch on Friday. I whipped up some homemade pumpkin soup and a variation of Rooruu's splendid scone recipe with extra tasty cheese. Alex and I weathered many gruelling transactions together when I was a law firm partner and it was great to catch up. It was also fun to make the acquaintance of 1 year old Finn for whom I made this quilt:

In my view, making baby or cot quilts is too often wrongly maligned and devalued. Smaller quilts are a great medium for experimenting with new techniques and mastering skills. Especially when I was lawyering full time, many of my quilts were destined for little ones. Smaller quilts are manageable projects and give you a creative buzz without being overwhelmed. We should celebrate the baby quilt accordingly.

Another housekeeping task that I have been undertaking is the preparation of Bali batik fabric sets for my forthcoming Colour Rhapsody workshops. I am offering a selection of palettes including wildberry, rainbow and ocean:

I've also been doing some frontend work on the establishment of a new website concentrating on my contemporary quilts. I expect to unveil the additional website in a week or two although my Mum is arriving from New Zealand later in the week so it's entirely possible that I might get sidetracked.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

How to create a personal blog banner

24 May 2007: Blogger now has a "header widget" that enables you to insert an image from the hard drive of your own computer as your banner without mucking around with any code (at long last!) so I will be updating this tutorial soon. In the meantime, check out the tutorial in the sidebar of Carol Clasper's blog.

Alternatively, the steps set out below involve minimal changes to your template code. However, please note that this tutorial does not appear to work for images with Blogger urls (ie images posted on Blogger) or with images posted on certain photo storage services such as webshots, yahoo or flickr. If you are able to post your image on your own website server (or a friend's!) or a blog, then this tutorial works VERY well.

Image preparation:
  1. Find your favourite photo or photos.
  2. Using a photo manipulation program (eg Photoshop Elements), resize the photo(s) to approximately 600 - 700 x 100 - 150 pixels and add any text you desire such as the blog name and description. (Tip: If you look near the beginning of the code for your blog template, you may see something like "#header { width:660px; " or #content { width:660px;" which may assist you in working out the optimum dimensions of your banner image. )
  3. Save the new image in a memorable place on your hard drive.
  4. “Park “ the new image on your own website server or a friend's blog. (This tutorial does not appear to work with images with Blogger urls or with images posted on certain photo storage services such as flickr or yahoo.)
  5. Right click on your parked/posted image to find its url (look under “Properties”). Some photo storage services resize your image so try to find the url of the largest size image. For example, if you have posted your image on your blog, it has probably been resized so you should double click to take you to the larger image and then right click for the url.
  6. Cut and paste the url details into a word document, notepad or similar where you will compose the code for your banner.
I created this banner with Arcsofts’ Photo Impression software which came with my digital camera:

Banner Code preparation:

Here is the magic code:

<a href="http://insert the url for your blog/"><img src="http://insert url of your banner image" alt="insert blog title " /></a>

For example:

<a href=""><img src="" alt="Serendipity & the Art of the Quilt Blog" /></a>

This code does three things. It points to the beginning of your blog. It finds wherever you have parked your image. And it shows some text when you "hover" over the image (although this may not show up in some browsers). You can use the same code (but smaller image) to create a blog button.

Template edits in "New" Blogger:

  1. Log into your Google/blogger account and click on “Customise” on your dashboard.
  2. If you haven't already done so, you may need to "upgrade" your template. Be aware that taking this step will mean that many customised elements (eg third party counters) will be deleted and will need to be reinstated later. This tutorial only deals with how to insert your personalised banner.
  3. Click on Template and "Edit HTML".
  4. Take the opportunity to save a copy of the code for your existing template.
  5. Scroll down to "Edit Template" and tick/check the "Expand Widget Templates" box.
  6. Scroll through your code until you find something like this:
    <div class='titlewrapper'>
    <h1 class='title'>
    <b:if cond='data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl'>
    <a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl'><data:title/></a>
  7. Replace the tags highlighted in red with the code you prepared for your banner.
  8. Click on “Preview”.
  9. If everything looks OK, click on “Save Template”.

Template edits in Old Blogger:

  1. Log into your account and click on “Change settings” on your dashboard.
  2. Click on Template and scroll down to the code for your template.
  3. Copy and paste all of the existing code for your template and save it in a safe place. (I recommend that you use "notepad" (or Mac equivalent) for this task. This a standard Microsoft accessory and it saves code without any extraneous formatting that MS Word might like to throw in. ) This saved code is your back up and means that you can revert to the status quo if all else fails. This is especially important if you have added links, counters and other customised options to your blog.
  4. Scroll through your code to find something like this:
    <h1 id="blog-title">;
    <ItemPage><a href="<$BlogURL$></ItemPage>
  5. Replace the tags highlighted in red with the code you prepared for your banner.
  6. Click on “Preview”.
  7. If everything looks OK, click on “Save Template Changes” and republish your blog


If it doesn’t look right, it is probably because there remains some formatting code for your old look. It’s impossible for me to troubleshoot all the variables in this general guide but here are some likely suspects:

1) If there is a border showing up at the top of your blog (and you don’t want it). Find and delete the code relating to the borders. For example, in the new "Minima" blogger template:

  • From under the lines " #header-wrapper" and " #header " delete: border:1px solid $bordercolor;

and in the old “Minima” blogger template:

From under the line “#header” delete: border:1px solid #ccc;

  • From under the line “#blog-title”delete: border:1px solid #eee; border-width:1px 1px o;
  • From under the line “#description”delete: border:1px solid #eee; border--width:o 1px 1px;
2) Your banner image may be too wide for your particular Blogger template. Never fear, you can resize your image without going back to your photo manipulation software simply by fixing the banner size in your code. You do this by adding width = "650" height = "125" (or whatever are the relevant sizes for your template) imediately before the "alt" part of your banner code. For example:

<a href="http://insert the url for your blog/"><img src="http://insert url of your banner image" width="insert number of pixels"height="insert number of pixels"alt="insert blog title " /></a>

Different browsers have different formatting tricks so, for example, even if everything looks fine in Internet Explorer, do not be surprised if you receive feedback from Firefox users who report that your banner is out of alignment. In my experience, these alignment problems can usually be fixed with a little tweaking and I am happy to help if you e-mail me.

Of course, there are many other steps you can take to customise the colours and appearance of your blog. Don't be afraid to get down and dirty with the code!

"Up Over Down Under" ATASDA Exhibition

The combined exhibition of the Australian Textile and Surface Design Association and the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh is showing in the "Fountain Court Gallery", Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney until 31 August 2006. This is right downtown so if you are travelling to Sydney for any reason, don't miss it!

From 10 -14 September 2006, the "Up Over Down Under" exhibition can also be viewed at TAFTA's "Gallery 159" in Brisbane, Queensland.

You can also view images of some of the works at ATASDA's website .

Friday, August 11, 2006

Code for my Blog Button

If you would like to add my button to your blog, here is the code to insert into your blog template:

<a href=""><img src="" alt="Serendipity & the Art of the Quilt Blog" /></a>

It should look like this:
Serendipity & the Art of the Quilt
Let me know if you have any difficulties and I'll try to help.

Serendipity & the Art of the Quilt Blog

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Finishing a Quilt Without A Binding

I am currently quilting my "Unplugged" quilt top. Due to its irregular shape and design, I do not want to finish it with a binding. A query I posted on the quiltart list yielded lots of helpful responses. Here are two methods that are described online:

1) The "other" contemporary quilt artist called Brenda [H] Smith kindly sent me this link which apparently outlines the method used by Marla Hattabaugh, the handquilter who has quilted so many of Nancy Crow's quilts; and
2) Ellen Lindner has these directions posted on her website.

And look out for the forthcoming article by Kathy Loomis in Quilters Newsletter Magazine on this very subject. Kathy has generously sent me an advance copy of her article and the technique looks very nifty!

11 August PS: It was remiss of me not to mention the "escape hatch finish" of Mrs Mel.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Quilting Passion in Top Gear

Tomorrow is turning into something of a quilting talkfest for yours truly. In the morning, I am giving a "Quilt & Book Talk" at Woy Woy library and in the evening I am making a presentation to the Terrigal Rotary Club.

As the name suggests, the Quilt and Book Talk involves sharing a selection of my quilts together with some of my favourite quilting-related books. Apart from refreshing my notes on the quilts that I have available and updating my book list, little preparation is required. By their very presence, my audience will have demonstrated their interest in quilting and I find it easy to talk about my quilts.

By contrast, I am finding that preparation for my Rotary presentation is more arduous. I anticipate that at least some of the audience will have little or no interest or knowledge of quilting so I need to pitch my talk at a level to grab and hold their attention. My inspiration in this regard is the BBC television program Top Gear which I first saw in Yorkshire in May and is now screening on SBS in Australia. While I have only a passing interest in cars, I find the enthusiasm and passion of the Top Gear team most infectious. As noted by Sydney Morning Herald columnist Jim Schembri in his recent review:

"The primary concern of Top Gear is to make auto culture interesting to people who can't tell the difference between a diff and a distributor cap...Top Gear offers another sterling example of just how entertaining it can be for a dispassionate viewer to watch people enthuse about subjects they are passionate about."
I'll let you know how I go!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Little Something I Made Earlier

It's nearly a week since I got back from America and I have succumbed to a nasty cold. It started as a sneeze, then a runny nose, sore throat and has settled in my chest. Quite apart from feeling miserable, it's had a negative impact on my productivity. It's hard to machine quilt when drips keep plopping onto the quilt and it's hard to be super-creative when you're permanently attached to a box of Kleenex. So I have been going easy, doing mindless stuff, like finishing off the binding on this more traditional lap quilt:

And here's another close-up of the "back to front" quilting (using the butterfly motif on the backing fabric as a quilting guide):

Monday, August 07, 2006

Recognition of the Rajah Quilt

After watching the Sunday Arts program on ABC yesterday, I went to the website of the National Gallery of Australia to find out more about the current exhibition of the works of Imants Tillers who creates larger works from smaller canvas panels.

In passing, I was surprised to see a quilt featured prominently on the NGA website banner. Closer inspection reveals that it is the Rajah Quilt, a pieced medallion style unlined coverlet (cotton sheeting and chintz appliqué, silk thread embroidery) made by British convicts on board the Rajah en route to Hobart in 1841. Makes you wonder what textiles from 2006 will be viewed by others in 165 years...

Quilt Critique

On the quiltart list recently, there has been a discussion about critiques and reviews provoked by this comment from Lisa Call:
"While I know it's wonderful to get rave reviews doesn't it seem likethat is about all the quilt world has to say about itself?

Where are the critical reviews to challenge us and to make us think honestly about our craft and our art? Are we afraid to look under the hood for fear of hurting someone's feelings? How do we as a collective whole get better if we don't challenge ourselves with our shortfalls?

When I've attended quilt shows lately the artists have plenty of not so positive things to say about some of the work and the shows in general. Yet some how when all this translates into a written review in the SAQA journal it's all sunshine and happiness.

Why is that? What would happen if someone were to seriously review all these group quilt shows? I'm sorry but there is a lot of bad work out there - andI think as there are more opportunities to show work I see moremediocre work being shown."
These comments are made in the context of the American quilting scene where there are perhaps more juried shows and other exhibition opportunities compared to Australia which is dominated by the big guild member exhibitions. But it got me thinking about sources of critique for my quilts. I have found it difficult to find which is part of the reason why I stuck my neck out for extra critique and feedback while I was doing my workshop with Nancy Crow.

Twyla Tharp also discusses this issue in her book
The Creative Habit which I mentioned earlier. Twyla notes:
"As we mature, we need to build criticism into the working process...For a long time now I;ve had my own validation squad, a small group of people I invite to see my works in progress. I trust them to look at my crudest, clumsiest noodlings and reward me with their candour...My criteria for these validators is very basic: I pick peole who (a) have talents that I admire greatly (so I know they have judgment), (b) happen to be my friends (so I know they have my best interests at heart), (c) don't feel they are competing with me (so I know they have no agenda no matter what they say) and (d) have hammered my work in the past (so I know they are capable of brutal honesty...all you need are people with good judgment in other parts of their lives who care about you and will give you their honest opinion with no strings attached..."
Do you have your own validation/critique squad?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sweet Bagatelle

"Sweet Bagatelle" is one of the classes that I offer and this afternoon I worked on some new teaching samples. Here are two views of one bag:

I also finished the four units of a quilt top from my Nancy Crow course and experimented with some different layouts. Each quadrant below shows a different set of orientations:

Which combination do you prefer?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Serendipity Factor

It's a long way from Seattle to Sydney and I ended up spending a lot of time hanging around airports. So I was grateful that I had packed an interesting book in my hand luggage. I've been reading about Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit - Learn It and Use it for Life for some time now and thought it might usefully reinforce and augment some of the messages that I had taken from my workshop with Nancy Crow.

By way of background, Tywla Tharp is a distinguished choreographer and her core argument is that creativity is less a matter of genius than of disciplined work habits. "Creativity ... is within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it". All it takes is preparation, consistent effort, organization, and commitment. Show up with dedication. Do the work with full commitment. Throughout the 12 chapters, Twyla includes 32 exercises designed to assist you in fulfilling your creative potential, whatever your field of endeavour.

I am not a great fan of self-help books - they remind me too much of the multitude of management fads that I encountered in my legal career - so I am not likely to slavishly follow all of the exercises. However, many segments of The Creative Habit resonated with me including this part of Chapter 7 - Accidents Will Happen:
"...there's a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work...your creative endavours can never be thoroughly mapped out ahead of time. You have to allow for the suddenly altered landscpae, the change in plan, the accidental spark - and you have to see it as a stroke of luck rather than a disturbance of your perfect scheme. Habitually creative people are, in EB White' phrase, "prepared to be lucky". The words here are "prepared" and "lucky". They're inseparable. You don't get lucky without preparation, and there's no sense in being prepared if you're not open to the possibility of a glorious accident."

I've long embraced what I call the "serendipity factor" in my quilting. Now that my travelling stint for 2006 is over, I'm looking forward to embarking on some quality time in my studio and seeing what emerges.