Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Block in the Mail


This is what came in the mail today.  Rexie appliqued all of this, and embroidered the little vines. The corner white gal is a rubber Duck in costume as a Unicorn...what a sweet Hallows gift today.

Pay It Forward

The concept of Paying It Forward is not new to me. There is a very ancient history to Pay It Forward, recorded back as far as 317 BC in Greece up to recent national and global organizations for our times, that all encourage us to repay our life benefits to others rather than to our benefactors.

And humans being who they are, have taken this concept to heart for all these centuries. We do it in all sorts of unseen ways, and the stories shared are endless and heart-warming.

Last night, I finished the last of my official  Pay-It-Forward projects for this year. This one is for Rexie whose blog is at http://crowcallingwoman.blogspot.com/. She was a particular challenge to make something for because she is incredibly artistic.  AND until she receives it, I don't want to post a photo of it here.

She and I are doing the Calendar block of the month and I can post this one, even though it belongs to the Saturday reveal. The block she sent me is coming through the mail system and when it does, I will post them both.


The pattern comes from the October 1998 issue of McCall's Quilting and is called "Wee Witches". It has 9 witches done in a variety of scrap pieces for a very cute wall hanging or smaller quilt. It was challenging to make just one block from the instructions, but she really is cute. None of them have faces, however, knowing Rexie, she will add the face and possibly applique a cat or bat or Moon on the block before she is finished with it. That is how she rolls. I am keeping this pattern because I would love to make it with more than the 9 on it and make it into more of a lap size quilt.

Today, I plan to start addressing the packaging for the first round of shipping going out before Thanksgiving. I've also started making a few more Mug Rugs for holiday gifts.

Hmmm....the thought just came to me that I am avoiding making those aprons. Next on my list to do.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disappearing 9-Patch

Every day I see with new eyes.  And how these quilts come together with new combinations of color and patterns is always exciting, and usually a surprise.

I am coming to love this Disappearing 9-Patch pattern. I've made it three times now on a smaller scale, and it goes together so easily. Here are two of them ready to hand sew the binding, clip threads and then ship out!  Well, waiting more towards the end of November to get to folks for their Thanksgiving holiday.


 I hesitate to share the full pics on any before the recipient sees them. These are corner edges before the hand sewing, and the pattern isn't really visible.

The apron concept baffles me yet. Even though they are just two rectangles that are for the bib and the lap, its just such a mystery. There is a big difference between sewing garments and piecing a quilt. Only one is cut for now and as I struggle with  it, I can see there is a need for me to suspend my fears and my lack of confidence.   I did sew on this one for awhile yesterday and ended up ripping one section. Grrr....I say. Grrr.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Choice

Many times when I make a choice that goes against convention, it still leaves me feeling exposed to the world and that I am taking a risk. When it turns out ok, then I feel safer and more secure, and carry with me the confidence to try something more on the edge again.

David's quilt is at the finishing stage. I decided to flip the Faux-piped Binding so that the piping was on the back and the front had the traditional look of binding. I tried folding here for a sneak peek and that you can see both the back and front. More on Saturday for this week's reveal.


The back is this darker brown fabric so the piping makes it pop, and makes the lighter brown dots on the fabric pattern come alive. It was a good choice. I wasn't real keen on sewing in the ditch without knowing how it would turn out on back, so I kept stopping and checking every 6" or so. 

And when I looked at it closer, I saw a few spots that have to be re-done just for strength. If all goes good with it and all it needs is a tuck here and there, I will declare it completed by tonight.

Last night I pressed the material for the aprons and cut one of them. Its wise for me to make one at a time because I am not really confident with garment sewing. These will go to the aides in a local Infant Nursery center. Aprons are so pricey and most people starting out in education are paid minimum wages. Having an apron while working with babies means a bit of protection against spit-up, snotty noses and leaky diapers. 

When I think of choices that people make for their careers, so many of us are under-paid for the good work we do. And I shake my head when it comes to how little any teacher makes whether she works with early education or adults. 

I love teaching. And for me, it was never about the money.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beginning of the Day

I start my mornings quite early, so when I look in the mirror towards the end of the day, I see a very tired face, tussled hair, and almost a sag in my whole energetic body. Its a very different image from what I saw in the morning when my creativity was more brilliant and my energy so much higher. 

I do not work much past 3 or 3:30 pm most days for this reason. Fresh starts give me fresh perspectives on things in the morning that I know would simply drive me crazy if I tried to resolve them later in the day. I've learned that I cannot accomplish everything in one day, and completing something quickly can reduce the quality I hoped to see.

As I become more skilled in this fabric art, the results are those of accumulated experience, my own mature development and the ongoing application of healthy principles for resting and ergonomics.

David's quilt is a larger lap size, and is the size that is most manageable for me. I worked all day on it yesterday, and was bone weary when I turned the machine light off and folded the quilt up for the night. This morning, I added the last line between the last borders.

Although its not finished, it did get to the place of where the binding had to go on. There were no official plans for it. After trimming, what I had were thinner scraps, too thin for the traditional binding of 2.5" wide.


I was pretty pleased with  the binding on Cole's mini quilt, and decided to look for some fabrics included in David's, which is a Log Cabin built with scraps and supplemented with some purchased pieces. The darker brown is the backing. The lighter brown next to it (see above) is a goodly size piece that was used as one of the 'logs' in the pattern. 

There are many recent sites online demonstrating the use of the Faux-Piped Binding that often originate from a Sept. 2012 issue of American Quilter magazine, and this time I chose the one on a blog by Pat in Color Me Quilty

Binding is cut 1 1/2 inches wide and Piping is cut 1 3/4 inches wide, pieced together length-wise. The first pressing folds the seam toward the piping.
Then they are pressed in half with backs together so the piping shows up top.

I have a lot of pressing and pinning to do before returning to the quilt in the morning to sew it on. There are a lot of basting threads to remove and end threads to deal with, so for now, its all on my lap and keeping me cozy.

What I do this day may not tie all loose ends in my life together, but as I sit and do this work on David's quilt, a few of them will tighten a little more. Tomorrow always holds great promises for me because I see it as a series of steps along my path.




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Week #3 Reveal

Smaller projects are getting finished, which is good. However, I looked at my calendar last night and realized how quickly time is passing.

The panel cookie prints turned out very cute and a bit smaller which should work fine for the Grandkids. Again, this panel was a giveaway that whomever had it, became clueless as to its use. Joining the MugRug Swap gave me all the ideas I needed to use it up. Simple stitches made it easy and were traced along the fabric patterns. Each one will go with homemade cookies, and I did make a list of which kind I would bake and ship this year.




One of the mini quilts gave me an opportunity to practice the free motion quilting, but I do need a class to feel confident. Here is the front of it.


And the back.

This is Cole's mini quilt. I am delighted with the new technique I tried on it for Faux-Piped Borders. The back is the same blue with the larger snowflakes. Its really a nice guy-table topper.


Although the Pay-It-Forwards were completed and shipped, I discovered that I did not take pictures of them. I did finish the Faux-Vintage panels as Mug Rugs last night. These go out to a few family elders the week of Thanksgiving too with a card.


Everything I work on is practice. I didn't do much on these, however, tried the various decorative stitches on the borders.


It helps me see how they finish the seam. They are all different sizes but make use of a piece of fabric that really puzzled me as to how it could be used. If the elders are anything like me, at this stage of their lives, they really don't want more things to dust. However, having something larger than a coaster to set a glass of water or a mug on at night can be useful.


I took some quilting advice, and did a zigzag stitch on a couple of the batting pieces to use up smaller scraps. This only holds them in place until they can be quilted, but clearly makes sense to do. Usually there is several inches on the sides of the quilt that get cut off, rolled up and saved. In my earlier days, I made everyone potholders with about 3-4 layers. Unwashed batting shrinks 3%, so the ones I kept wrinkled. Now I prewash it all the time.


I am starting to machine quilt on my Brother-in-Law's piece today. I've gone back and forth on how to make it happen with ease as well as appearance. Its a simple 16-block log cabin, and while I love how the colors turned out on it, its not one of the more artistic quilts I see as I browse the web. 

This one has a deadline for shipping out by 11/8 to get to him before his birthday later this month. It will take me the better part of the week to concentrate and finish.

I am linking up to Janine again (see here) Week # 3. It continues to spur me onward to "Making Solstice"! Thanks for the inspiration in planning. Select the link above if you want to see more about how other bloggers are doing their holiday projects.

Friday, October 25, 2013

So Excited

Simple things in life get me excited. 

With so many odd pieces of fabric that were given to me, combined with fabrics leftover from purchases I made to complete various projects, its both a challenge and a joy to find good use for them. Yesterday, I found and combined materials to make a mini quilt for my Nephew Cole. He's a guy living on his own now, but was raised by a Mother, my Sister, who loves all the holidays and decorates with such lusciousness that you feel you've stepped into Wonderland.

With this small piece, still a practice piece, I was able to test out the decorative stitches, AND try my hand at a Faux-Piped Border. It turned out great!


The Faux-Piping is the thin blue between the two brown fabrics. Its a simple technique once I got the hang of how to press it and fold it. Reading instructions always requires a bit of internal translation for me to make it happen. Luckily, I selected two fabrics that were of higher contrast. Some of the tutorials online used fabrics that almost looked like each other and were very hard for me to distinguish what I was seeing.

I've laid the piece out to show a front corner over a back corner. Come Saturday, I will do another Saturday Reveal for the list you see in the sidebar.

The piece is appropriate for young master Cole. It combines fabrics used in an Uncle's quilt and his Cousin's quilt that symbolize a connection to family. And the Faux-Piped Border brings in the energy for him to risk new things. It should accent his home however he decorates, if he decorates.

And this excites me. 

Part of generative spirituality is what it does to the practitioner as much as how it effects the recipient. We do these acts for our own soul work, for our own sense of connection to family.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week #2 Making Christmas / Solstice

Its been a real help to have and work on a list of projects that need to ship from CA to relatives and friends in MN and WI.
There have been many years in my life that I stress out about the season and always wonder what causes that. I tend not to go out shopping and don't have a TV to feel pressured by advertisements. Its almost like something is in the air spinning around the world to catch people in the hype.

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I have what seems to be a very long list. And at the very top of it is a quilt that is ready to machine quilt. I made a practice piece yesterday trying to do free motion quilting on it, and spent so much time ripping out lines that didn't work quite right. What I learned is that I need to take a class with the instructor in front of me to help me change what I do incorrectly. All the videos and tutorials just don't work for me.

What I noticed is that I just worked on it and rather than allow myself to stress out by thinking it wasn't good enough, or that I was doing it all wrong, I found ways to make it ok.

Being enough or doing enough is always a challenge. And for whatever reason this season puts pressure on people, I am unwilling to participate in the hustle.

Sami's Holiday Mini Quilt is another one I do not want to quilt yet because I want it to be something she will cherish. I selected such lovely fabrics for it. Quilting either makes or breaks a piece. I have some ideas for it, but my confidence is not high enough for me to do it.

Hah! Waiting is ok. I see by my list that I have time!

Also, I filled out and returned the questionnaire for the Secret Santa (Befana). The exchange limit is $20 total. 


LaBefana is the giftbringer in Italy and actually visits homes on January 6. Its confusing for some to have a Solstice holiday instead of Christmas, and Befana instead of Santa. Most of the time, I just give way to mainstream traditions and simply honor the dates of those recipients I send things to. My private practice remains, and for those who share it with me, its not so much about gifting as it is recognizing who she is and what she does when she comes into someone's home.

The other swap for the Doll Quilt hasn't assigned partners either, so both those projects that I have agreed to participate in have yet to begin.

I have started work on the November Calendar block exchange with RexieR.


I selected a block pattern that has a lot of pieces and a lot of steps to it. As soon as she is ready for a reveal, I will post the pictures of what I sent for October and what I received.

And I did more work on those Faux-Vintage Mug Rugs. Again, they became practice pieces for me to test out my machine's decorative stitches. They were done quite simply with one stitch used as a border with a plain back.  I like how they are turning out.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Good Way to Start


This practice piece is meant for me to work on the free motion quilting again. One of the women at the Comfort Quilt meeting was doing a very large stipple pattern on one of the quilts. As I watched her, I realized that I had been thinking too small when I did them. She reminded me that even on the smaller pieces, that the purpose of the quilting was to hold the sandwich together and that as a beginning free motion quilter, that this was a good way to start.



This is the scrap table top I made yesterday. I will add batting and a back, baste it and then play with the free motion quilting on it. I've got my Brother-in-Law's quilt laid across my bed this morning, and am still thinking how to name it. If I feel confident in the free motion work, I'd like to do his that way.

Yesterday, I went to the Tehachapi Tibetan Monastery where the Lama's were working on a Sand Mandala dedicated to kindness, compassion and enduring peace. It surprised me to see quilts used everywhere in their workspace as well as draped on altars throughout the retreat center.

It touched me deeply to see how the spiritual energy of any art form exists for us the world over. Someone made this quilt for this purpose and added their energy to the foundation for them to drop one grain of sand at a time. The complexity of who we are comes down to something so simple as that one stitch, one prayer, one heart.















Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Making Christmas / Solstice

After seeing so much fabric in boxes at the meeting yesterday, I came home and decided to go through the box of holiday fabric I have. I pulled out all the pieces that have been simply tossed in the box and spent time cutting them into usable squares.


Under the influence of Janine's Making Christmas (Solstice for me), I have really flown through a lot of those things on my list...see the side bar for it. Most of my family members have something from me already that decorates their homes for the holidays. However, one of my Nephews moved out on his own recently, and so I decided to make a small table topper for him. I will be sure to post this finished mini.

I've learned to respect 'small things' through this fabric art. Small things or pieces are like details in life and can often be overlooked. However, to make something greater from them, the parts of it need to have an accuracy in selection, in cutting, in placement.

I've chosen a pattern for this piece that looks quite random in construction, and needs more care than you would think to make it work. I've started cutting some of the pieces, but how they go together remains to be seen on the design board.

One thing I have learned is to balance light, medium and dark. When I think of what that means in my life, I know that each does have its own value and that too much of one of them throws the entire experience off. 

It helps me remember when things are not going as good as I might like them, that I have the option to chose. Most of the time is about choosing my attitude in the situation. 

Lately, I have been choosing more light, and maybe that is really bringing back a balance after the passing of my Niece only six months ago. Drawing in more light means a pretty radical energy shift.  I want to see how this mini quilt progresses because it seems like its become another one of those lessons for me in clearing energy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Comfort in Quilts

Today was the monthly meeting for the Comfort Quilt group in town. There were about 14 of us, and we worked from about 9 am to almost 1 pm. I understand that they donate hundreds of comfort quilts over the year to children and adults in crisis in our town and county. Its a way for quilters to give of their talents and resources.

I think I share my light with people I love in many ways. Sometimes my circle is drawn in tight when I feel wounded, or lost and isolated. Its very difficult to give of myself when my core is adrift like a lifeboat lost on a very big ocean. Then I am grabbing for the sides of the boat and trying hard not to throw up from stress.

Someone at the meeting told me that the police here in town keep quilts in sturdy plastic bags in their squad car trunks for those times that they either pick up runaway kids or need to take them from abusive environments. Sometimes the kid or person is not clothed for the weather. I also heard that more quilts are needed for boys and men because either the donated fabric is more feminine or the quilters like making the more feminine looks. 

Stories sent my mind spinning.



I sorted through the boxes and found a baseball print that could go to either a boy or a man, pulled other fabrics and got started on making the pattern. I ran out of that blue stripe and found another brown-red stripe. 

Women there have preferences in what they want to make. With this first one, my preference will be making quilts for vulnerable males caught in a crisis when their lives make them feel lost, alone, isolated and needing something that the world has failed to give them.

There is comfort in having a quilt to cuddle under when the world seems harsh and unwelcoming. And its comforting to make the quilts as well: Comforting in creating something new from boxes of left-overs or giveaways.

Maybe this is what appeals to me. Maybe I am the left-over or a giveaway, and its up to me to make something lovely of my life, to make something resonate with the rest of the world needing comfort.



Saturday, October 19, 2013

1st Sat. Making Solstice reveal

I've gotten a lot done the last few days. I felt like pulling the covers over my head, which would last as long as a New York second. I've created a schedule for myself on weekends so I can do other things besides quilting.

It might not seem so to the non-quilter, but for me, its work that puts my spirit on the line, makes me feel vulnerable, and has me taking risks all the time. Every project is like someone birthing a baby. And with every project, I have concerns about how it will look, what the recipient will think, and moreover, what kind of energy I am putting into it.

I never work on something for someone when I am off balance or uncentered. Negative energy can creep in quickly, and infiltrate my thoughts, my heart and my hands.

Pulling back from the work is refreshing. There are always frustrations and disappointments to whatever we do which are the inevitable elements of the journey. Like any path, there can be rough parts, holes, rocks to climb and places one must jump to get over.

I love being busy, and when I made my list for Janine's new concept http://rainbowharequilts.blogspot.com/2013/10/making-christmas-2013-week-1.html, I realized I was ticking them off in what seemed to be a quite rapid-quick-like-a-rabbit fashion.

Mother's birthday gift was completed and sent.


David's quilt is basted. I use the tables in the clubhouse and because the back to this quilt was a bit more on the edges, I basted it with the top side down, then the batting, then  the back.  It worked. Unfortunately, with the top down, a name for it did not come for me. My friend remarked that the flower looked like Dogwood to her and I thought I might research the plant to see if it is and if so, what characteristics it might have.


That actually worked for this one and it gave me a last opportunity to clip threads and smooth down the seam allowances.  I also basted two mini quilts, but will hold off showing pictures of them til they are more finished.

I am still working on the Name Badge for the quilters' guild I joined. Here is my first attempt at it and may be the one I go with for now. Its only 4" and feels too big, yet was REALLY hard for me to do something that small. However, I am ready for the November meeting.


Then my local quilting friend & I got together to review our Sampler BOM. 


We started in July, and even though these are wrinkled from being folded, the top three blocks are July, August, September...and then the second row, October and November.

The Faux-Vintage mug rugs are a challenge. The first one goes into the thrift store giveaway. (Someone will have a better idea for it).


I've put a stripe-& tree border on each panel cuts, and then have the batting for them cut. I think I can back them with a beige fabric, and am not yet sure how I will bind them. I did learn from my previous work, that making smaller, mini-quilts might call for a thinner binding.

My quilting partner signed up for one of the Pay It Forward pieces. This was the last of the cookie panels and turned out as cute as she is.


And so, now on with the weekend. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Life is Short

Many new experiences in life are terrifying for someone who wants to do things correctly. I know that I act either out of love or out of fear. 

When I move out of fear, I am asking, "What if?" and when I move out of love, I am asking, "Why not?" Real subtle questions that a person gets when they feel that fear or feel that love.

When I quilt and try something new, it scares me that I will ruin the work I have done. And that fear immobilizes me. I read about people doing practice pieces, and decided that everything is practice for me, and everything teaches me something new.

I woke up pretty excited to start the day after having a great night of sleep and waking to those kinds of dreams I have that give me ideas for what I want to accomplish. After breakfast, I drove into town to run errands. And of course, part of those errands was to stop into one of the fabric stores in town.

I bought two pieces that will serve as the backs for those mini quilts I am making (one for Sami) and the other for the Doll Quilt Swap.


Larger prints for the back are going to present my next experiment in quilting. It seems to me that some free motion quilting around those shapes might make for an interesting pattern on the top. In both cases, these tops are so very lovely. And it also seems to me that the plan for the free motion will be a good way to practice!



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Priorities

Someone once advised me not to get so busy that I forget to be happy. My happiness is often found in little events of my day that are whispered so quietly they could be overlooked. I think this is one reason why I keep my rooms so silent from airwaves. I love to hear my soul thinking and feeling. 

As I look at my list in the sidebar for "Making Christmas / Winter Solstice", I realize that I didn't do much to prioritize what I wanted to complete. I tend to move from project to project as my mind thinks about them. 

Already, some of the easier, smaller projects have been completed. 

My Mother's bday gift needs to ship out soon to get there for her party and so I worked on it and finished it last night. Mother drinks water in her apartment and has coffee in the dining room for meals. I bought the cup here in town and love the look of a morning rooster.


This is the back of the mug rug because I made a matching one for my Secret Santa and want it to be a little bit of a secret for her. This is the fabric I won as a door prize this weekend. It really turned out cute. 

The green batik bled a lot when I pre-washed it, so much so that I was concerned it would lose its color and not coordinate with the Moda fabric. It dulled a bit, but is fine.

My life can either diminish or be enhanced by the hot water I get into too. And like fabric that has to dry out, I can't always see the results until I've evolved and then take a look back. Usually, even the smallest of experiences enhance my beingness.

Its a wonder that I can love the projects I complete and be so very pleased in how they turn out. Through them, I recognize that I am creative, that I am learning this art and that being where I am with my skills is perfect. That realization made me wonder if or how much I see myself as lovable and worthy of praise.

At my age, I would have thought all the answers would have been handed to me by now. Yet, here I am seeking, working, living, seeking some more and listening. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Project Photos

I finished one the Pay It Forward projects, wrapped it and put it in an envelope without taking its picture. I could tear open the package but won't. Its just going to be a private gift. I've done this with more than one of my projects without thinking to make a record of my work. Thing is, all three of the people who signed up here for the PIF should get a surprise in the mail first. 

This is a photo of the first mini quilt I made before I knew what I was doing. I was living up in the Tehachapi Mountains that year and had a number of quilting magazines to browse.


The quilt end is the rust border, and the yellow is my wall behind the hanging. It is a perfect place to feature the hanging. I machine quilted around the shapes with a simple zig-zag stitch and didn't turn them under. I really love this and cannot imagine parting with it even though I know its not done correctly. It simply reminds me of where I was for that season, and calls to mind how I hauled wood for fires each night, and how amazing it felt to be on top of the mountain with stars so close I could touch them. It was a quilt I made for myself...sew selfish.

My quilts tell other stories now. Some are hidden in the fabrics and threads, and others obvious to any viewer. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

When its a Gift

I've been the lucky recipient of fabrics from friends who are no longer sewing or quilting. Sometimes the fabric goes into one of my containers and waits.  This Fall I participated in a Fall Mug Rug Swap and constructed several before making the ones for my Swap partner. 

Then I received a panel print that I saw would work for cookie-mug rugs for the Grandkids, and today, peeking out through a clear container was another panel that always seemed hopeless.  Experience changed it for me. I cut it up this afternoon, and think I can make it work for some easy mug rug gifts for folks who DO celebrate Christmas.


The design and colors on this panel are old fashioned replicas, but might make it hard to match, so tonight, I will pull out the stash boxes and see if I can find anything to work with them. Dark greens, perhaps.

Other projects I worked on today will be gifted during the holidays, so until they are shipped and received, its not a good idea to post them. With Rebecca and Janine's blog party of Making Christmas urging us on to get our projects done before the holidays, its become quite inspirational. Rebecca is the first brainstorming host for the October 19th week.  

I've got two small projects headed for my design board so I can test their layouts. With this fabric art, my common sense visualization skills have sparked more imagination for me in all facets of my life.

When I can see how a altering a pattern will work out, it also builds the kinds of confidence to know that other parts of life will work out too.Imagination is a very powerful tool in life.

Most of us lose our imaginations as we grow up. I'm not sure what happens, if its the schools we go to that demand logical and critical thinking, or the culture that sets its limits on us. Either way, it becomes harder to dream, to imagine and to visualize.

With quilting, even being gifted with fabric pieces we might not buy for ourselves, if we let it peek out through the clear plastic long enough, and see it often enough, suddenly some inspiration happens. Imagination, visualization, and then magickally, it becomes something of heart-value.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Batter Up!

Oh, BATTING, not batter. This morning I ordered four more packages of my favorite batting, Warm & Natural, to use on my quilts. I have so many of them going right now, that I have learned to watch for batting on sale, and then order at least four at a time.  


I like how this one works for me as I quilt, and love how it feels when the quilt is together and lays on my lap for the hand work. I know there are many kinds out there to use, and each has its benefits.

Batting is a bit like life when you unfold it, and you cannot see how the folds work at first, so it comes apart a bit at a time for you to get perspective. I tape the bottom piece for the quilt down on the table first, and watch how the fabric folds smooth out when the tape pulls it gently from the edges. The batting goes on, and like life, I tend to treat it gently so it doesn't tear in the process or even bunch up too much.

I take a long ruler and start smoothing it from the center going out to each of the edges. Always with a gentle touch.

My center core is where I always start my day. Oh sure, I do start with a cup of very strong Italian Roast coffee with some lovely Italian Sweet cream in it, while sitting in front of the fire. The fire is just as much a part of my core as the coffee and my spirit.

As I do this simple part of the quilting, it moves me how patient I have become with it, knowing that if I act with mindful motions, I will not have to spend time repairing what didn't go my way if I rushed through it.

Relax and let it unfold. What a simple lesson.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Making Christmas/Winter Solstice 2013

Janine at Rainbow Hare is having a link up of people who want to make various things for Christmas. My holiday is on Winter Solstice, so I have a few days less to work. My list is on the side bar, and there is no need to repeat it here. It might look ambitious however, most things were started and simply need finishing and shipping out.



I've not done this (obviously new to blogging) and want to fill up the spaces at the end of the year for some fun quilting projects. My family lives in MN so once my gifties are sent to the Sons and their families, the mad rush of planning, working and wrapping is over for awhile.

I love lists and working off them. It keeps me mentally balanced, emotionally elevated and spiritually charged. I think I started being this organized when I worked for a company long out of business and was given one of those amazing DayPlanners as a time management tool. Back in those days, I had to block time out in 15-minute increments and stay on top of offices in every state in the US, work with vendors and clinicians, plus administer activities for all 50 home office employees. 

Its not about forgetting to do something as much as it is seeing what there is to do and then having the satisfaction of completing it.

Won a Giveaway

The Apple Festival / Oktoberfest is going on in town today, and there are many folks, both residents and tourists, who have filled the streets and the shops. Both fabric stores have drawings for baskets that I signed up for and would love to win. And in one of the stores, my partner & I happened to be there when a 'cowbell' ringing went off signaling a Fat Quarter Giveaway. As a more frequent shopper in that store, I knew where the Fat Quarters (FQ's) were and moved in for the selection.


Guess, that when a quilter is in full swing creating in her art, the gift of new fabric is a joy. I know right where these two pieces will go in my work, and so more cutting is in the future for today.

I almost wake up laughing in the mornings when I realize that even in my dreams, I am planning my next steps and next projects. It takes visualizing to another level.

Those two FQ's were much easier for me to select because I just did an inventory of my stash. Women standing next to me were mystified by the color and fabric choices. So much can be too much. 

Its a visual awareness of what I have and what I might need or want that made the difference for me in the store. I know there are times when I haven't looked at my things that are stashed away. I do that with issues in my life when I don't have the desire, time or energy to work with them.

Then when something triggers me and I do need the information I am avoiding, I am immobilized because suddenly a forced choice becomes no choice. And then not having the wherewithall to take appropriate action means that others chose for me.

In the store, with all customers reaching for the giveaway FQ's, if you don't decide for yourself, you get what is left.

These two FQ's are stunning together. Its like having a vision and seeing it become a dream come true can make your day.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Yes, I did it again: Joined Another Group

Coloradolady: Secret Santa Soiree 2013 Signup Link

After reading the guidelines, this really appealed to me as a Winter Activity so I signed up! In truth, my Italian family giftbringer is LaBefana, but I am sure she will smile sweetly and indulge me this guilty pleasure of the season.



As I get more into this fabric art of quilting, I browse the blogs and pages other artists put up of their work, and usually I am blown away by what I see. Its good though, giving me something to reach for in my own work.

This event is not for quilters only as much as it is for those people who blog. I was #5 on Suzanne's list and that always feels like my lucky number. From what I read, the next thing that comes our way is a questionnaire.

I used to create a kind of list for my family members to fill out so that whomever got their name could have a little edge on shopping for items that would please them.

Another one of the guidelines for this soiree is to blog about the gifts we receive. I can hardly wait! There is something so special about getting mail that isn't a bill or some junky advertising. Let the game begin! I am ready to receive all manner of good things!

Cut the Vision Quest

Someone once told me that visualizing is a tool but not really a way to control things. I am always thinking about things that create pictures in my mind. And sometimes when my thoughts manifest, its almost scary how spot on they were to my mental plan for an outcome. I think that if I can see something turn out with a positive flavor, whether or not it does, it is better for me to see the good than not to see any possibility.

Yesterday, I did a lot of prep work, all the time holding visions for the outcomes.

The panel-patterned Mug Rugs for the Grandkids were machine basted with binding on them. I hand sewed binding on three of them last night, getting nice practice on the mitered corners. I always wonder what the person who bought the fabric thought about and then, also wonder why they passed it on. I found use for them only because I had made the few Mug Rugs as practice for that Swap and could see their potential.

Visioning.

Then I cut out the pieces for the BOM my local friend and I are doing together. This is block #5 and we will get together next week to compare what we did on #4. She & I are doing the same patterns for the BOM, just in different sizes and also using our own fabric scraps. Luckily there was a vision in the beginning, because, I am just following my own directions I placed in small bags for each month. My original vision for this quilt is tucked away at the bottom of the tote bag where all the parts are stored. It makes sense when the two of us get together, but not as I am working on it, piece by piece. I have lost sight of the big picture for the time being.


Then I cut out the pieces to the Calendar BOM for November that Rex and I are swapping. Rex is a bit ahead of me with her quilting skills. She is skilled at applique and has begun to experiment with paper piecing, both of which, at least for this time, hold little interest for me. She uses all sorts of techniques that are the newer concepts, and of course lives in a larger shopping area than I do. Within our swapping experience, I am learning to release my intimidation and keep envisioning a better outcome. I love my own challenge for each month to select a pattern that anyone would look at and say, "yes, this is November."



And then, I need a mini-quilt name tag for the Quilting Guild I joined. I found an orphan in my stash that I think might work. I'll play with this and if it doesn't, I'll try something different. I was going for some fabric that might look like the end of Fall for November, and may make a series of them for each month. I think I am just going to write my name on the striped fabric and sew it on as a label. The other part of this vision is to make this one reversible and have the other side show off a December theme. Still thinking, still envisioning.




Then I stopped in at one of the fabric stores in town to buy material to make a table top mini quilt for my Granddaughter's new apartment and first holiday season on her own. She told me the colors she wants to use are 'pink, silver, blue and purple'.


The purple is stunning with how it brings in blue and a black into the fabric. I think this will be a lovely piece and am eager to start on it. It might make up with the dimensions required for the Doll Quilt Swap, and will give me some perspective.

Guess along with all my visions and plans, I need to create something practical and tangible too. Each project I finish gives me an idea for the next ones. 

I am planning a couple of scrappy quilts that take specific colors, and so every once in awhile, when I sort through my stash, I can pull out pieces that will go and tuck them into those boxes. And I also am thinking about the theme for the Doll Quilt Swap next month that is 'quilting with or for children'. 

I have an idea.






Thursday, October 10, 2013

What's Next?

When one quilt is finished and shipped out, there is a sense of calm and satisfaction. That lasted until I got home from the shipping office.

Before I started up with something new, I deliberately relaxed my entire body, starting at the top of my head and working my way down to my feet. When I take the time to do this, its almost like scanning skin, body parts, muscles, and organs to notice if there is any stress hanging on. I ran a bath and sunk beneath the water to further let go where I had been with the quilt I sent out. 

The warmth of the water was almost like slipping into a dream state. As I sat there for a bit, washing, my mind began to visualize the people in my life whom I love. I started remembering them and the quilts that would soon come their way.

Luckily, I keep a spreadsheet of my WIP (Works in Process) and know that a short rest between them is ok. In the early days, when I left a project alone for even a short month, by the time I returned to it, I had to read the pattern, lay out the pieces and then figure out what I was doing with it. That was time consuming. Now I highlight the steps on the pattern that I have taken so I can tell what is next, and even write myself a note in case there was some different step I took.


I came home and ran these little panel mug rugs through my machine and finished simple lines on them. Today, I will cut and attach the candy cane binding and hand sew them tonight. The Grandkids will love them with their cookies. 

Then, I added the final draft labels to my Mug Rug Swap. I don't want to post pictures here yet so they come as a surprise to my partner. I want to get better making those things into something cute or funny or charming. Those were pretty bland with just the required words on them.

I finished the October calendar BOM for Rexie, and again am only showing a corner of it which is probably more than she should see.

I've made an appointment for next Friday in my clubhouse to baste the 16-block log cabin meant for my Brother-in-Law's November birthday. That should go quickly and be ready to quilt and bind right away. And as I baste it, perhaps the name of the quilt will magickally appear.

This new Doll Quilt swap will be fun. I found a pattern that can be adapted for the minimum size requirements and spent time with my fabric stash. I found some interesting pieces that feel to me that they will work. The theme for the month of November is quilting with or for children. 

Visualization has always given me time to work through certain issues, as well as help in creating the most positive events I can imagine in my life.

Whew, you comment? Well, as they say, its how I roll. I found my cookie recipe for the ones going out to the Grandkids for Hallows next week, and I will be sure to post photos of them.

Its always about 'what's next' that keeps life worth living.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lessons in Life

I've had so much fun with the Mug Rug Swap, and finished the two official ones last night. As I wrote earlier, I plan to make some to include with cookies for the Grandkids this year. Making these mini quilts gave me an opportunity to push my skill level.  At first, my concerns were that what I made was not good enough.

It is a liberating experience to lower my expectations. It was as if I gave myself permission to see the flaws, take time to correct them or simply do better the next time. Beginners are not experts.

When I read comments of other Mug Rug Swappers, it became clear that almost everyone goes through an angst about their work.

We are all awkward when we start anything new. If we knew how to do it, it wouldn't be a lesson in our life, and without the lesson, there is no thrill of achieving the next stage.

To that end, what I did this week is first to join the Tehachapi Mountain Quilter's Guild as well as an off-shoot friendship gathering to make Comfort Quilts.  And then this morning, I joined another swap that is a monthly exchange of another mini quilt.


The dimensions have gotten a bit larger from at least a 12 x12 inches to no larger than 30x30. End products can be used as candle mats or table runners and will have monthly themes. 

In my application, I was clear about my skill level so that they could match me with someone equally skilled. I looked at the pictures of past swaps to see the range of talents and can tell that this is another way to grow, not only as a quilter, but as a human with a spirit who desires to evolve.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Naming Traditions

Sami's quilt is ready to ship, except that I decided to add a quilt label to it. Previously, I've written 'secret' namings somewhere on the fabric for the new quilt owner to find. Often, I do get phone calls when they discover the surprise. My Sons' families always go looking.

One of the requirements for the Mug Rug Swap that I joined is to include a label on the back of each, and they are so small at 6x10". 

I bought some beige fabric patterned with small lines almost like you see in a kindergartner's practice book for printing.  I wrote a simple signature label with my name, the name of the quilt, the date and who it is for. 

Because I wanted to improve on it, I decided to look up some of the traditions.


When my sons were born, I had the worst time coming up with names that I thought they could live with. My own is hard to pronounce and even when I ask not to have it shortened, its surprising how many people refuse to think or say it correctly. 

I joined the Quilting Guild here in town this week, and they all make their own mini-quilt name tags. My memory is such that I wish everyone would wear one all the time! I am looking forward to making one for myself. 


As I started researching the quilt labels, and naming process, its clear that there are many options for this. I did find that others wrote on the fabric much like I had been doing.


And I think this one will serve fine for now, but as time moves along, I do believe some more creative thinking needs to happen.

I am energized by the quilting work of others, however, I know I must do this at my own pace and respect the rhythm that is best for me. Things can get harder than they really are when I compare myself to others or think I am not doing something correct in making the quilt. Guess its one of those joys in wanting to be a perfectionist and coming to realize that sometimes enough is even better.

My own pace will take me through these quilting steps, and I am enough. It is enough.