Month 1: Hey, sugar

Who's hungry?

We gave ourselves the challenge of taking a month off sugar. No doctor driven health concerns or vegan/yoga/crossfit/doctrine, just a test to see what it means to challenge habits, plus I wanted an excuse to pause booze for a while. Drinking is so intertwined with socializing that I needed a loftier reason to tout as my excuse.


For this challenge I took some ideas from Psychology studies. It’s important to make “bright lines” to follow for any changes or experiments.  What that means is that when you want to change a habit you need to know what your edges or limits are, for example if you want to stop smoking, you can say “I need to cut down” or “I can smoke 1 a day” the former as you can see isn’t very clear and will most likely melt right back into the existing habit whereas the second one you know right away if you have adhered to your new choice. Similarly, “I should cut down on eating sweets” vs “No deserts except Sunday” the latter is very clear and the person who chooses to adopt that will know what the boundaries are and if they have stepped over the “bright line”. For us, when we chose the challenge of “No sugar” we clarified with “ No added sugar or alcohol”


Important to note that when we say Sugar we didn’t go too far down the rabbit hole of what ones body metabolizes into sugars or we wouldn’t be able to eat carbs. Since we clarified with “no added sugars” and not many people add flour or barley to food to sweeten them we were good.


We chose November as the month for no sugar [giving ourselves the obvious exception of Thanksgiving] since we had just come back from an around the world trip and having a little conscious eating would be good.


I thought it may be difficult, but OH MAN! It was so hard!


I really wanted sugar!


We had stevia as an alternative, which was awesome, but that didn’t take the place of a drink with dinner or cake or the occasional gummy bear.


I thought of myself as not eating a lot of sugar and being very moderate with drinking but when faced with the breadth of items with added sugar-when I knew I wasn’t supposed to eat them-I really learned about myself AND how many things have sweeteners in them! We had to concoct a lot of alternative condiments and start meals from scratch often.


Day 6 I had some heart flutters and Nicole made me go to urgent care. I thought it was something to do with heartburn or anxiety from moving/traveling the world/5 shows/new city/budgets/renovations but a few google searches and some inquiry suggested that in fact heart palpitations are a common sign of withdrawal.


That is crazy! As someone who has a drink with dinner maybe twice a week and the occasional weekend out and rarely had dessert I figured I would have no symptoms and an easy time with the challenge.




I wanted a drink every time I saw the occasion socially and when triggered by usual pairings like a red sauce with wine.


I REALLY wanted chocolate and the all the cinnamon rolls!


We tried not to have fruit since it is ostensibly sugar just colored and has fiber, which was also difficult. 


I was hoping for some HUGE catharsis and a weight loss of 20 pounds and more energy, but really what I found is that I was cranky from having to avoid my favorite things both as a social device and as a sweet dénouement to a good meal.


What will likely come of this experiment is that we will use a lot more stevia [which is a leaf-based sweetener that has a 0 on the glycemic index] and be aware of all the sugar I ingest without actively choosing, like most tomato products and quick foods.


When I started back those pancakes WERE SO GOOD!! And I think I enjoy not having as strong of a liquor trigger.  


Next we have chosen to Meditate 10 minutes a day for the Month of December.


[Note: I am in full support of anyone who has an alternative eating style for health or religion or personal reasons. I myself am allergic to milk and it’s various forms so I understand the trials and tribulations of a life with eating caveats, so if you take offence to my verbiage or my process feel free to reach out.]

[The American Context #16] American Gothic

This piece was created to talk about the collision of art and craft. The people in it are life sized to reference that it is a quilt which historically is a utility object and therefore human scaled.  I chose to allude to the postures in the famous painting to say: "this is art" which not everyone may agree about quilts. there are those that say its merely "craft". I think that can be the case, but not always, and I wanted to make a work that talked to that duality. 

American Gothic

The painting this quilt alludes to is universally agreed to be a piece of "fine art" so by using the postures from it on a quilt I am saying that this piece is art too. Though not everyone may agree that quilts are art, they will have to do that actively and not because they are running off assumptions.  

Here are the other folks participating in the blog hop: go give them a gander!





Teaching at the American Sewing Expo


I have been teaching a class called "That Favorite fabric" where we as a class discuss ways to use fabrics that are to precious or to interesting to cut. These are some examples of ways to showcase a busy or bright fabric. Of course these were my trials in class so there is no right or wrong way. [well there  can be a wrong way...but that is only if you personally dont like it]


Teaching in Lithuania day 2 (of 2)


Look at how amazing the project came out!!

I am so proud of my students. They really stepped up to the task. 

We took what we made day one and cut it up and shuffled it around to create a new piece. It becomes a visual history of the two days we spent learning and playing. 

I have asked them to lend it to me to finish. I want to make sure it ends up done, square, and flat so it can live in the collection of the school. 

Teaching in Lithuania Day 1


I had the immense pleasure of teaching in Lithuania. I knew I had 18 students of various skill levels and majors, 5 sewing machines, and two days, all of which is slightly different than I am used to. 

I had the opportunity to think differently.

I decided that rather than each making a small project we can all participate on one larger project. that will allow us to put roughly 200 person hours into a single project rather than 15 into smaller individual projects. 

I will admit [after the fact] that I was nervous.

I find the transition from learning to teaching akin to that of child to adult. really there is no change, just one day you announce it and then people expect you to be more responsible. 

So we began. 

I had asked them all to bring clothing to cut up or yardage to add, so the quilt would be a conversation between the whole of the class and the textiles they wanted to incorporate. 

I showed them how to wrangle clothes into yardage and then we embarked on learning some traditional methods of piecing. I wanted to show them ways of creating traditional patchwork so they can get a sense of the how if they wanted to explore some more intricate piecing later. We also worked on creating some larger panels from strips of the fabrics we had to show ways of using multiple fabric types in the same project. 

The we as a class turned it into one big top. 

day one done. 



More things  

Remember to be.


“If I return it will be on two wheels or four”

I’m guessing the man was hovering around 50 years old; he had a great rural accent, a clean shave, white tennis shoes and slacks.

I’m not sure that I have ever sat next to a person on their first airplane ride.

Could have happened in the early days before ubiquitous air travel, back when it was amazing that people other than the highly affluent had access to faster than car transportation. If I did, I don’t remember because I was new too.

“Are you ok sir?”

“I’m ok…Can I have a water?”

“I’ll get you one when we are at cruising altitude”

I never caught his name. His row 28 seat C small talk hadn’t been developed through years of passing cups and pushing past for a pee break. Before we took off, the steward asked him an additional time if he was ok. We were in an exit row, but I used that as a catalyst to conversation, we had 3.4 hours together almost touching facing the same direction towards the west coast, might as well be polite.

[Plus people are far more amendable to let you to the bathroom if you have started your knowing each other before asking for a favor.]

He was traveling to meet his brother who worked at a shipyard in Long Beach. He was coming to help him on his house and if he liked it, then stay. No return trip booked but he was sure that if it came time to return he would buy a car or a motorcycle and never get on an airplane again. 

The flight was taking off, he had his eyes closed and gripping the hand rests, hard.

How often are you present for seminal moments in people’s lives?

I got to tell him when the worst of it was over and then when the captain turned on the seatbelt sign later that it meant there may be turbulence.

It was that feeling of helping an old lady across the street or helping a child reach something on a high shelf or telling a stranger they dropped something of value.

I had a value to another person of real tangible use, knowledge. In this case it was used to assuage fears and to show camaraderie in the face of questionable physics.

[A steel tube flying through the air does seem suspect if you think about it.]



If feels good to be reminded of the human experience of existing. I find that so often I am stuck in a world of cerebral planning or creating similitudes between previous experiences. I don’t register new or present moments often; it’s nice to be reminded of “new”.





Opening at the Asheville art Museum

I had the honor to be in my home town for the opening of Man-Made at the Asheville art Museum. 

And so was my family. 

It was SO nice to be able to show my family what I have been up to for the past few years. A little known fact about be is that I dropped out of Architecture school [twice], which for a family of majorly traditional professions seems like one way ticket to bagging groceries. My family has been supportive, but I know a little unsure about what it means to spend all day sewing squares together and not even for a bed. 

To be invited back to Asheville, where I spent lots of high-school and to see my works on the wall and to have my family be around to take pictures with me [hi grandma!] was such a beautiful catharsis. Maybe they are still unsure what my actual job is, but at least they know more about what it is that I make/do. AND I was able to walk then through the pieces on the wall and share with them some of the ideas that went in to them further than the obvious. 


Starting a blog from scratch is hard!

I have SO much that I have done over the 6 years I have been a full time quilt-maker and self employed! I have so many adventures and trials [and errors] to share. I had a blog for a few years which was all that, but I decided to start over. to curate stronger, content that may reflect my readers. Who are you? [Who am I?] Maybe I will just got forth with telling you about my projects and let my life be kept to the pages of Facebook and at the tables at parties. [maybe a memoir?] Do please keep me apprise of what projects you want to hear about. There's always plenty. you are the reason I can keep going so I want this to be a dialog not a diatribe. 

Second quilt I made was a wedding present.

It's fun to write this blog because I get to look back at these projects. This was the second quilt I made. I made it while I was home for the summer from Architecture school. I went to the fabric store and bought the fabrics that I thought were super stellar! Of course batik. I bought what I thought was enough fat quarters then set to work assembling them.  [As you can see there weren't nearly enough.] I haven't looked at a picture of this in some time. I love that I used the Half Square triangle for the project. I recall spending a lot of time working on the geometry of this project and wanting to make sure there was a really great secondary pattern within the layout. Looking back now I see a pattern that I am very used to seeing in the vernacular of quilting, but at the time I knew very little about quilting so it was to me a great innovation. 

After making the "whole" top I measured and realized that it was WAYY too small for anyone's bed. apparently when you sew fabric together the seams decrease the size of the overall amount of fabric. hah! so I went back to the store and bought another fat quarter bundle and sewed it around 3 sides of the quilt. 

This was a present for my college roommate as he got married. After making it I spent so much time and money on it I really didn't want to part with it. Which means it's a good gift. If you have an emotional attachment to the present then you are giving some of your self with the object. 

Second quilt

The first Quilt I made.

To start off this blog Seems fitting to start at the very beginning. This was the First quilt I made. Started small. 7 feet tall by 10 feet wide. I started it in art school at the North Carolina School of the Arts. I started from an images I had taken in high school. I was studying Chuck Close and decided that using a grid I could translate an image into fabric. I had these squares of red black and blue fabric that Mom had gotten me years ago that I towed around with the rest of the "I should make something out of this" The process of this first one was quite the learning curve. I started the first few pieces hand sewing them together during my 8am english class. That was quickly abandoned in favor of using the machines that were created to make that process more efficient, a sewing machine. The top probably took me 2 years and then asking around I found out that you could just pay someone to finish it! amazing! The reason it was so large was that the pieces I had already were the size they were and I couldn't make the grid any different and still get the details I got. which is still very abstracted. 

First Quilt


Here's to the new and the old! Lets start from scratch. I will be adding a post on all the quilts I have made. [the ones I remember and have photos of anyway...] as well as the things going on in the world of LUKE. Stay tuned!