Saturday, November 30, 2013

Secret Santa Surprise

There was a package waiting for me in my PO Box yesterday. I am such a little child that I ripped it open as soon as I got back inside my car. 


Of course, there was no return address or name on it besides the store these sox came from so I wondered all the way home who sent them to me.

I had forgotten that I mentioned my love and need for cozy house sox in my SSS Questionnaire!  This was such a surprise, such a delightful surprise. 

Thank you Secret Santa for making my day! Your selection is perfect, perfect, perfect. Just to keep our secret relationship honest, I must say that I wore the Yellow ones last night. They are cozy and wonderful.  I am so glad I joined the group this year.

The sign-up is over for this year, and this is the link to all the information we had. Maybe next year, if you are interested.

http://coloradolady.blogspot.com/2013/10/secret-santa-soiree-2013-signup-link.html

I know that some people are not lucky recipients when they sign up for swaps. Each one has its rules for final dates to send your swap and sometimes a person who did sign up for it gets busy. What I liked about this Secret Santa is that we had one person we sent our SS's to and another person sent to us. That way you know that your gifts go out unconditionally and that the one you get comes to you without strings attached. No pressure to be equal. 

Whomever my Secret Santa is, again, thank you for your thoughtfulness in reading my questionnaire and for selecting a gift for me that I do appreciate. That is the spirit and hope all children have when they make their lists and believe that Santa picks a special gift just for them. You have made my dreams come true!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Quilts of my Childhood

My Grandfathers both worked behind the scenes to support their families. That's how it was done 'back in the old days'.

My maternal Grandfather was a man of the Earth, who owned & operated a very large farm with what seemed to me were endless fields and endless cattle grazing them that were fed and milked and fed again. There were pigs, chickens and geese. There was rain, unrelenting heat, freezing snow, and dark nights. His life was driven by the responsibility that it took to raise a family and keep this life of his going.


When the snows or rains drove him inside, he read and was a follower of Rudolf Steiner, so his life was gentle inside and out. He was in his 90's when he passed and yet, every time I came to visit, he called to me with open arms and said, "Come sit here and tell me everything you have done since I last saw you." Somehow that magickal Hershey with Almonds candy bar appeared just for me. 

My paternal Grandfather was an entrepreneur and businessman who was incredibly respected in the community. For many nights, as he lay dying from throat cancer, I curled around his back in bed to keep him warm just like his arms had wrapped around me so many nights before my bedtime. Because my Daddy signed up for another couple of years of military service, this Grandfather was my first Father figure, and meant the world to me. His eyes saw inside my soul and still seem to see me to this day.




I thought about them both as I spent last night and this morning squaring up my fabric stash. Its one of those behind the scene activities most quilters do in some way. Some cut their leftovers after the project is done and BEFORE they put the material back into their storage places. I haven't practiced that part yet. Its always a mystery to me that my bins overflow while I keep taking from them until I realize that material takes up more room when it is tossed on top than it does when it fits in nicely folded.

People work behind the scenes to keep things flowing in families and in businesses, just like quilters have to do these mundane tasks that no one sees and that don't photograph with any particular interest. 



For the early quilters, the piles of scraps they gathered from other projects or from clothes their families wore out or outgrew, held precious memories for them. Each fabric cut and reused reminded them of who wore them as well as when they wore them.  

That happens for me with the material as I square it for the next projects. It happens for me when I look at old photos. 

I remember such brief moments as a child, and yet still remember the feeling of love, of belonging and of safety that these men pictured above provided me. I was lucky to have been dear to them, lucky to have noticed what work they did outside their homes, lucky to have seen them come home and be surrounded by their families, lucky to have them for so many decades.

These were the quilts of my childhood...these precious people who comforted me, who shielded me, who kept me warm with love. Come to think of it, I did that for them in their waning days of life. Maybe they were the fabric pieces and I am the quilt in the making that started in my childhood....still not completed. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gratitude to These Three

When I was a child, my maternal Grandmother taught me how to embroider. She, like many women of her time, made quilts, clothing, and aprons. Her work was pretty primitive and yet memorable. All of her Grandchildren and those Great-Grandchildren who were born while she was alive received quits for weddings, and baby showers. I got her last quilt and when my Niece visited, she saw it on my bed and cried because it was made of the same material of her baby quilt which she had loved to shreds. She took it home and loved it to shreds. 

I used my Gramma Elizabeth's pattern for embroidering the 50 State birds and flowers and stayed within primitive lines for it. This is the last photo taken of her in her home when she was 92. I think of her every day for her quilting traditions. 


From Elizabeth, I learned about contribution, responsibility and intimacy. She set the standard of how to give love & support, how to be love, find my own image & deeper self, and how to maintain family connections through this art.

The next great quilting influence of my life helped me create a small block that was to be part of a greater wall hanging for my circle in the midwest. I lived on Lee's property in Bear Valley Springs above Tehachapi overlooking five mountain ranges for five months one winter before my house was ready in the valley below. She gave me a lot of quilting magazines that winter and let me help myself to what I needed from her fabric stash. Lee was one of the founders of the Tehachapi Mountain Quilter's Guild and by the time this photo was taken, she was in her late 80's and was still quilting. When she passed, Lee left me all her quilting magazines and fabric stash to further my own work.



Lee taught me balance and composing the inner and the outer life one has as a Quilter. I am still learning how to trust, how to be open and transparent to my own joys, questions and struggles as a human being who seeks her own unique expressions in this art.

And of course, there is always a great teacher or two in everyone's life. She is the one who challenges my courage to confront, explore and resolve the difficulties of trusting someone else, of embracing weaknesses, blind spots, resistance to full expression and letting go defenses.


Claudia owns one of the fabric stores in town. She opened her heart to me when I brought in the two sets of 50 State Birds/Flowers blocks & helped me figure out how to use them & make seven lap size quilts for my Grandchildren.

Women in the shop shared my delight in creating the first top. I was sobbing with joy for how wonderful it looked. All the nights I spent for decades in embroidering these blocks were not in vain! I was carrying forward something I had learned beside my Grandmother. 

By then, I could see how the final quilting made it all and I stepped back and realized I needed to learn more, to practice more. 

I had penetrated the future by reaching into my past, by walking this path of lights and darks, my journey took me into places of moral and spiritual development: Women holding hands, looking over each other's shoulders and laps to encourage the work.

I give thanks this morning to them all, to these three as well as the countless others who quilt, who receive my mini quilts and the lap tops I make.

I celebrate our past, our present moments and the future. I feel strengthened and encouraged, as well as fiercely passionate about learning more. My every day be filled with thanksgiving for the unseen heras and heroes in our lives.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Small Scrap Give-away

Winds are howling outside. It seemed like a perfect day to stay inside and continue cleaning the house in an ongoing effort to Clear, Cleanse and Consecrate. Today, I add another word ORGANIZE

After reading Rexie's post about the construction of a new shelf for her fabrics and quilting supplies on her blog: http://crowcallingwoman.blogspot.com/2013/11/presentingdrum-roll-pleasethe-new.html, I decided to go through my containers and do some organizing. 


I look for fabrics to match something I am quilting, when I am finished cutting off what I need, I tend to toss it back on one of the containers. Ideally, the leftover could be cut into squares or strips for different containers that I have ready for other quilts.

As I sorted them again, I realized that my issue about this is that I don't allow myself to be clear about the pieces. I don't know what I want to do with them, how or if they will continue to be useful.

Other times when I have organized papers or closets, I run up against the same issue, questioning whether or not the item is still of service to me or will be of any good use. So much depends upon the stage of my spiritual, mental or emotional evolution in that moment.

Letting go of anything is a challenge when we are surrounded by a scarcity mentality. Its infectious when people fear for their next paycheck, next meal, next good night's sleep, next moment of peace.

We are challenged to believe that something good will come along, and that it is ok to release things that do not serve us. Same with material and scraps of material. I believe that when I release something, anything, like the flow of energy, another thing that I need or want more will take its place.

If you want and can make use of a bag of small scraps, leave a comment after this post with a way for me to contact you (your email address) and get your snail mail addy. Because I have not offered a give-away before, common sense tells me to put an end date to the offer, which will be December 5, 2013. That way, I can get it into the mail by the following Monday.

I think its time for me to pass along some of the small fabric pieces, squares and strips I have that are perfectly good and will make sweet additions to someone else's quilting project. 



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Clear, Cleanse, Consecrate

This is a particular formula I've used over my lifetime when I want to start something new. It removes the energy of past events or projects on the first step to Clear. I take away all the parts and pieces of the former work. 

Then when the room or workspace is Cleansed or cleaned, all the dust that gathered (and you know it does) is swept away, furniture is oiled and polished, and in the case of quilting, the machine is cleaned and also oiled. New threads come out along with the next projects for the day, week or month. 

My iron Consecrates the next project. The word means to dedicate to a sacred purpose. Pressing fabric for quilting is just that.  Suddenly, the colors and textures come alive for me.

I am in a between time, finishing up all the 2013 projects now and just pulling out the 2014 projects. 



This represents the first of the 2014 quilts and is called "Winter in the Woods". I pulled it out of the UFO (Un-Finished Objects) container this morning and pressed the pieces. It comes with 8 pages I copied from a book (and did not keep the name of the book!). It looks like I've marked the pattern where I cut fabrics, but none of the pieces are marked. 

It moves from the UFO bin and becomes a WIP (work in progress).

My next step is to lay it all out and see what I did. On the top of this photo are larger pieces of fabric that have not yet been cut.  So I am employing the Clear, Cleanse, Consecrate formula even here, starting with my mind: Clearing my thoughts, cleansing them, and consecrating by moving forward.

This quilt goes to my Great-Nephew Tony. In working with this quilt, I begin sending positive energy to the young boy. 

My plan is to work on the four quilts going to his family...my Niece, her Husband and the older Son. Just tops and backs for them all first.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie

One thing that happened to me when I started quilting is that my focus changed. It moved away from a lot of the concerns I had for people I love that were less healthy for me. Usually, actually, there is little we can do to guide others on their paths. My stress levels get unreasonably high when I hear that someone is in crisis, and because I am not in charge of what would happen next to them, even that drives me crazy with worry.

Quilting allowed me to tune into my own life. I began to pay attention to color, to the patterns in the fabrics, and to how everything felt. This happened with the fabrics, and also with the other aspects of my being.

Today starts my cookie baking, and cookie shipping. After wrapping and cushioning, there are usually less than a couple dozen in a box, so no one is overwhelmed by sugar & gluten.



This is a pan of what my Sons called "Bob's Bars", named for one of our friends who used to make and bring them to picnics all the time. They are a simple Special K bar.

There are six households I ship to this year. And so not everyone gets every cookie. Two of them go out this morning in the mail. And I think that will be my pattern; two households at a time for six weeks starting this one.

Yesterday, I finished most of the December calendar block for my exchange with Rexie. No pattern for this one, just some playing around. I am not sure why applique got included on it. Well, yes, I do know. I didn't know how to piece them into the block and want them to fit on it.  So its quite possible that the project will kick around here until I figure out how I am going to make it for her.

I am tuning into this work, whether my hands are on it or not. With quilting, I have learned there is something I can do to solve a problem; a quilting problem. Maybe its a metaphor for the energy I might have put into someone else's challenge. If I can make the magick work here, maybe there is a sympathetic energy out there to help someone solve their own issue. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Raw & Unfinished

It is the absence of love that makes our lives feel raw and unfinished. With expressions of love we are connected, and reconnected with those we love. I think this is what all the gift-giving was meant to do at the end of each year. It gets lost though in commercial shuffles and most of us fall victim to that consciousness in some way.

Love has always softened my harder edges and opened me up to the unspoken gifts of heart, and thought, and touch that others have to share, want to share.

I can count too many times that I closed myself off to those moments because I was busy, or otherwise focused.

Quilting has brought me back to a core of generous loving. I am not looking for kudos or chalk marks on a score board that give me points. I just love this fabric art and want to share the colors and combinations with people in my life.

I finished the last holiday mug rug for this year and it goes to my Cousin PK in Alaska for her birthday. She won't be expecting anything from me because I have never given her a birthday gift. Its not much, but then it is that expression of love. Over the last year or so, we reconnected on Facebook. I am much older than she, so we weren't friends as kids. We are now, and I cherish that friendship with her.


When I think about love at the end of the year, I am not convinced that it is at the big holiday tables with all that food.  

What if love was about self-nurturing the artist-within, the sports fan-within, the dancer, the dreamer, the child? For each of them within me, I give thanks this Sunday, and all week. I am glad to be alive in this moment in time. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Week #7 Reveal

I can hardly believe that I started "making Solstice" more than seven weeks ago. Its been an amazing journey and of course tomorrow marks Thanksgiving week, and so the real rush for the holiday officially begins then. For those of us with hand-crafted gifts, the start can be more than a year ahead because of the time it takes to work the arts we practice.


My Doll Quilt Swap partner received the first one I made. The theme was Quilting For or With Children. I included the Angel Kitty as the dolly to go with it. 


Then I finished another one that goes to the Infant Nursery in town.


And I made a pillowcase for my youngest Grandson, Jake. He's been riding horses this year so has a lot of experiences grooming, walking and feeling their energy. I told him I would see him in my dreams.


In the same package, I sent a Mug Rug to his Daddy that matched the cowboy material. This is the back.


And the front. 


and yes, the APRONS ARE FINISHED! Might not be the most flattering angles to take pics of them. But done is done and they will go to good use in the Infant Center.






And the last of the minis...is wrapped and ready to ship. This is the one I tried free motion on and ripped out. Its lovely.


Sometimes I get a chance to look into the hearts of people I meet or talk with. Sometimes I never get to see or feel what they are thinking or experiencing. Tomorrow I will wrap more of my work that goes to folks and know that when I tie the ribbon around the tissue and cut it...that the strings are cut.

Each piece of my work goes out with unconditional love. Unconditional in this case, means I expect nothing in return, no thank you card, sometimes because they are anonymous, recipients never know who made it for them or gave it to them.

I quilt because I love it. I know that some people will not get how many long hours I put into this fabric art. Most are too used to exchanging purchases for the slightest of reasons.

Too, they are used to exchanging love, switching allegiances to their ideals. These gifts are just that. A gift that can either be welcomed and cared for, or one that is re-gifted or even re-purposed. Once the strings are cut, they are gone. And I am good with that.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pretty Pockets, Pretty Pockets

Whew! All the pockets are sewn on the aprons. I am tired of their pictures because, after all this time, they are still WIP's!

My maternal Grandmother taught me to embroider...a pretty primitive bunch of stitches, and so when I was lucky enough to inherit her patterns for the state bird/flower squares, I bought some white and some threads. I could have finished them with more sophisticated embroidery, but somehow, I wanted to stay tied to her way of doing it.

It was a decades old project. Of course, at the time poly blend fabrics were the rage. All those years of embroidering late at night. How I wish I had bought cotton. But oh well. It is what it is and they are beautiful.

Claudia at 5HeartQuilts, here in town, helped me figure out a pattern where I could use the 2 sets of 50 that I had, and make five more of the CA block so that each quilt had that block (where I live). This way, I could make seven lap size quilts with 15 of the bird/flower squares on each for my Grandchildren. Pictured is the first one for the eldest of them all and the seventh one for the youngest of them all.




Fine, the tops and backs were completed. Then I realized I didn't know anything about quilting, and I did not want to make a mess of them, so my quilting life began.

Practice got me going on potholders. Simple 9-patch, and practice on binding. 



I moved on to table runners and and small wall hangings. Its not easy to start such a creative art form without experience and without a lot of money to buy the kinds of fabrics that make your heart sing.

I've been taking my time learning the traditional methods so that I feel good with what I do. My talents are unique. Using them in well-planned ways benefits me emotionally and spiritually. Others have different ways they approach this art. This is mine. Slow and steady.

That makes me laugh because I have never been slow at anything in my life. I just want to keep making these quilts so that each member in my family has one from me and somehow feels connected to the family because of it.

My goal has always been to feel confident enough to quilt those first ones that are still waiting for their batting, basting and quilting. THEY are the reason I started this work. 

THEY tie me to the Grandmother I loved so dearly and then to my Grandchildren whom I also love. Isn't that what women did in days gone by? Isn't who they were too?

I think I am a Confident Beginner. I kept seeing that label and feel like it fits me more than Intermediate Beginner for whatever reason. Nothing is defined and you get to self-identify. When I can machine quilt a quilt and feel good about it, then I am onto the next stage of work.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Raining Aprons

Well, it is raining outside, and I did work on the Aprons again today. My need for perfectionism is always a challenge for me. Some would say perfectionists are haunted by secret fears of not measuring up. I say yes I want to do my best, and I want my best to be best. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. Its a fallacy to hold onto any secret whether its in quilting/sewing  or any other task one my perform.

Whew, what a job making these aprons has been! I will never walk by a handmade apron for sale again without a great deal of respect for its creator. Wow, what a job they are! I understand why the going price is upwards of $25. Well-made aprons are worth even more.



All five of them are pieced bib-to-lap, with their ribbon/ties. Two of them need pockets yet. Then I need to make the little D-Ring holders, and of course, clip lose threads and make sure that none of the seams will come free.


Yesterday, I finished the last mini quilt for the season, the last mug rug for the season and the only French-seamed pillowcase. Each of them was so fun to make.

These aprons, however, continue to challenge my skills. Everyday I work on them is a day I believe I will complete the work. I have softened my expectations and just keep persevering. 

Its like mustering courage to forge ahead and not to allow them to fall into the UFO bin....unfinished forever. I know that if they fall to second place on my list of things to do, it will not be long before they fall to fifth, sixth or even tenth.

I cannot sing to them: "Rain, rain go away, come again some other day." They must stay in full view reminding me of my commitment to finish them before starting on another project.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November Calendar Block Exchange

Rexie's block came yesterday...and I just love it. We share a love of good strong coffee, so when this one arrived for November, I was thrilled. See the fussy cut Cornucopia! She included some of the gorgeous shashing print for me to use on the scrap border I have planned....generous woman that she is. It speaks so much to me that she offers me a cup of abundance.


These blocks are unique as each of us interprets the calendar month. How wonderful and freeing it is to be guaranteed recognition for what we contribute because it is offered to the other from our personal vision. 

Equality in friendship, in trade, in gratitude. Isn't that what this month is all about as we celebrate?

Below is the one I sent her. The pattern is called Arrowheads, which I thought appropriate for the traditional Thanksgiving. I tend to honor the Native Americans during this time. Years ago, I worked with a NA group in the Twin Cities called "Women of Nations". They were just getting organized and I helped them create a newsletter. They bought a 4-story house in a very good part of town and set it up as a shelter for NA kids from all over the country.



Most of the decor that one finds are the statues of pilgrims. There are some Indian Chief statues, but they are usually not the tribe of Natives that were actually part of the event. Like most commercial things, reality is not the priority for sales.

I worked on the December block today, and it was so disheartening. Even though I followed the directions and the pattern pieces were correct, the block was 14" instead of 12". So it was back to hunting and replanning. Most of the afternoon was spent trying to come up with something I like.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

WIP-Aprons

I worked yesterday afternoon and this morning on the aprons. Five of them. 

Someone once said that "Experience is a great teacher who sends in some terrific bills."

This one is ready for the D-Ring. Its a reversible pattern that took two fat quarters. In this town, the ribbon that is available comes from one store. The apron is almost finished.


Then, there was NO ribbon to serve this pink apron with kitties. Rainbow colored. It looks better than the picture shows. HOWEVER, the top pocket went on unleveled. And, its double stitched. I am not sure what I plan to do with it yet.


I laid a couple of ribbons on it to see if it would balance out and it doesn't. I am so very frustrated with these and have stopped working with aprons for the day.

Quilting. I need to get back to something that doesn't make me want to scream.

Monday, November 18, 2013

WIP-it

Yes, Works In Progress, the aprons. 

When I think of the work that the Instructors and Aides do in the Infant Nursery here in town, I am so grateful that someone is willing and able to spend days on end with that population of little ones. 

People have realized that even the babies can experience education. Former thoughts were that these little ones just ate, slept, pooped and cried. Not so. In this school, babies learn science, counting, shapes, classic songs, work with art projects, learn tolerance & acceptance. Then at 18 months, they move to the Toddler Room for even more educational experiences.


There is a lot of stop and start with this work. I am double stitching the seams on the sides, bottoms and tops of the pieces. And then each one will have 2-3 pockets, grossgrain ribbon ties and the D-rings. 

Perseverance, in this case, might well be my greatest asset in this work. As I forge ahead with the five of them, the fear I have of doing something unfamiliar AND without a pattern, seems to lose its power over me.

My confidence is growing with the progress I make with them. Each one comes together with the person in mind it is being created for. I know that she will be holding baby after baby and giving each one her full attention.

I am not backing away from this project. I will keep working until they are all completed and ready to go to the Infant Nursery Center.  Woohooo...it feels good to stretch my skills.

WIP-it! WIP-it good!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tomorrow, the Aprons

I finished the blue-doll quilt for the Infant Nursery in town. It's cute and I will save the pic for my next Saturday reveal.  And I have been working on the last of the Holiday Mini Quilts, which will also show up on Saturday's reveal. 

I've been participating in a daily Gratitude for November on Facebook with some of my friends joining in. Its helped me realize that my well-being is a gift, and that deciding what makes me happy, is in fact, often what I seek

Yet, there are so many surprises in my day; many things I learn when I am open to the experiences.

This is the pile of five aprons that are WIPs (works in progress). Each takes a special thread to run up the seams, twice for decor more than for function. 


Each one has coordinating gross grain ribbon for ties, and D-rings for one side of the neck ribbon so it can slip on easily.

The other thing I did this morning was to browse small fabric made 'dollies' and 'stuffies' to go with the Doll Quilt Swaps. I liked the little Angel Kitty that went with the November one (reveal on Saturday) but not enough to do it again. I want them kid-safe and that one wasn't.

And now, I will end my afternoon, pinning and hand sewing, and adding a prayer with every stitch.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week 6 Reveal

This is the day I do a reveal on finished projects as I link up with Janine at

Rainbow Hare Quilts: MAKING CHRISTMAS, 2013. Week 6.

 
Its so funny how I keep adding things to make. I am working on the aprons a little at a time and will get them finished quite soon.  Here are some pictures of what I finished. 

These are holiday mini quilts made with the Disappearing 9-patch. Its such an easy pattern to make these mini quilts. Folks who are getting them say they will be used on their table with either flowers or some sort of centerpiece.



Beige and cream with a green/red on cream.This one is on its way to my friend Staci in IA.




More traditional reds and greens for Dale and Carol in WI.


And one for the boys in the Infant Nursery here in town. I hear from the Instructor that they have a lot of pinks for girlie-grrls and very few boy-themed toys. I have one more to make and then will be finished with this pattern and be moving on to the new Doll Quilt.



I finished the table mat for two and hemmed the table cloth fabric. So happy with how easy it was to make my own holiday decor. AND its one of the rare times I have spent making something for myself.

The list has helped keep my perspective. I have felt a sense of reduced stress over the holiday gifting and a lot of serenity surround me.

Perfectionism places a lot of incredible demand on me to do everything right. One of my therapists asked me if there was a right way to do things, is there also a wrong way to do them. I have learned its a matter of choice. I've used the same pattern to work on these practice pieces and have selected different fabric choices.

Each one of them turned out different from the others and even if they were laid out side by side, I can see the differences as well as the similarities.

From the table mat I learned more about my fabric preferences and how to use them differently. All these small projects are meant to teach me bigger steps. I think I like working with this size because of these lessons. Yes, its less risky. And its less threatening, and more encouraging.

And I am saving the pics for my Swap partner to see first, I did finish her Doll Quilt and the Angel Kitty who went along. I'll have that to post next week after she receives it. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

Remembering to Gift Self

Many times I do not believe in my self. I teach various classes and when students give me positive and glowing feedback, I tend to say that I have only opened a door for them. However, when someone hasn't done their work, what is amazing is that they will either have excuses or reasons why they couldn't meet their obligations, or ...horrors...say it is because of something I did.  Like many others who teach or speak or somehow serve the public, I take those negative comments in and let them swirl around.

Well not today.

Today I am making something for myself to use on my table over the holidays. It is taken from a full length table runner and cut back to fit across my own smaller table. It will be a dual placement for two plates of persons sitting across from each other.


Again using scraps. Both sides are cut the same-just the photo that seems to make it narrow on one end; I measured again to be certain. It needs a thin border on the bottoms of the tree bases and wider borders to the sides, and of course binding. The backside will have a one-piece fabric to make it reversible during the holidays for different looks. Perfect for my small table. The table cloth itself is hemmed and set aside for now. 

Because my family lives back in the midwest, I have learned that I am responsible for my happiness and that special holidays are what one makes them in the moment. 

Yes, memories are great. However, reality often says that those holidays might have been filled with more stress than joy. Like those comments from participants in my classes or speaking engagements, some are good and some are challenging. 

I chose peace, peace of mind, peace of heart. Even when it seems that I am isolated and miss my family like crazy. 

Making this placement and tablecloth for myself is like those choices. These are for me. And they will be appreciated.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Things look better in the morning

I trust the day more with my life than I do the nighttime hours. My vision is becoming shrouded with 'floaters' which, I hear are a natural part of aging. Because I am an early riser, as the day fades, so does my energy and good judgement. Those three things combine to make quilting and even reading a challenge.

I finished one of the holiday mini quilts, and while the reveal comes on Saturday for photos, this one taught me a lot of lessons.  Once again, I tried my hand at free motion quilting on it. Many people tell me how easy it is, yet, my lesson learned again is that I need a class. Or maybe it was just being tired last night. I am not sure why I couldn't stop and let it go for the morning. It was such a mess.



This is a teaser for the back. The Disappearing 9-Patch front makes a sweet mini quilt, and is created using creams and a sea foam green (binding is showing here). Its going to my friend Staci in Des Moines. I ripped out the really bad-looking free motion stitches I put in last night, and came back to it using a diagonal grid, which does look nice.



Then of course, it got wrapped up for shipping in one of these 'once-you-seal-it-you-will-never-get-it-open bags and I had forgotten to take a picture. As I cut it open, I realized that the insides were too close to the edge and someone not knowing this could cut into the quilt. I refolded it to a smaller piece.

I would like to think I could resolve any problem during the nighttime darkness as easily as I can during the full light of day. If my clear biological vision is becoming a thing of the past, perhaps I need to enhance what is called 'clairvoyance' and start seeing things more instinctively and with an awakened intuition about my fabric art.

There is something lovely about those nighttime shadows, and when I am doing things in the night that sort of belong to it, then it feels good.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Look Around!

There is so much to do right now between outside work in the gardens to get them ready for winter, and transferring the Hallows decor to Thanksgiving and planning for meals during that weekend. 

I got quite the scare about the two quilts shipped out. My Brother in Law is out of town, and I contacted FedX to hold his delivery and let him pick it up there when he returns. That took so much time it was silly. The other quilt going to my younger Son gave me a strong lesson.

Most quilts are lost in transport either through general mail or other shippers. Even if you ask for signatures, and the package is signed for, they don't have to tell you who accepted it.

His package was left on his front steps, and when my older Son went to pick it up for him, it was no where to be seen. I got a text this morning saying that a neighbor who has the key to his house, saw the delivery and put it inside on the porch. Whew...however, the anxiety I felt last night thinking it was taken was pretty intense. Sure its insured for $100, but it was my choice to have them just leave it. 

From now on, all quilts will have to be picked up at the FedX offices and signed for by the person on the address listing.

Then, I worked all yesterday taking quilting steps on various projects. I finished the top for the Comfort Quilt.



It goes back with me to the group next Monday so I can pick up the batting for it and complete it. It really turned out nice. This is a close-up of the center blocks and what I started with as I selected fabrics. Some guy is going to love this quilt. 


In all, the delivery lesson will most likely continue to unfold.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lookin at Angel Wings


Yes, its true. The Angel Kitty resurrected and while this is the backside because it IS part of a Swap that hasn't been revealed yet, doing the blanket stitch around it worked. I wish I knew if she were going to a home with young kids. Its not really child-safe, and if I make it again for the January Swap, I hope my partner lets me know if her home has youngin's. 

These swaps are helping me grow in many ways. What I make goes to a stranger on the list. This is different than making a quilt that will go to someone in a hospital as a source of comfort. These are swaps. I send to someone who sends to me. Guidelines to the swaps say that you can be at any skill level, so what is exchanged is going to be different. 

This November Doll Quilt was my first in the swap, as is the Angel Kitty as its companion. We don't have another one until January.

Today was a shopping day. I live an hour drive either north or south to a larger town with shopping centers and stores that have sales, and carry merchandise beyond what the local KMart and Home Depot sell. 

Its been years now that I got into the habit of buying what I want and need, and then wrapping it up to open on Solstice. They look plain now, but in a few weeks, I'll add some bows and spruce them up a bit.



World Market imports some of the dolci (Italian for sweets) that I love, but I have to go in now when they first stock it or its gone.  By Winter Solstice, I will have forgotten what is in side the little wrapped treasures and be ever-so-surprised with receiving just what I love and wanted.



Little Bambi in this picture above came from that store too, and is standing on a piece of gift wrap. The bird house--75% off because they say its a fall arrangement-- and red bird (yes, I know its NOT a Cardinal) came from JoAnn's. If you drive an hour to get to the big city, you should go shopping! They will charm my living room for the holidays rather than being wrapped. 



Fabric designers Patty Reed, and Susan Winget are featured in what I bought. Again, the store is fully stocked with choices, and when you need 5-6 yards to back a quilt, you go for sales. Three of the fabrics will go onto some 2014 quilt finishes, so I am excited to have them in my collection.  The white with gold dots represents a new addition to my list on this blog of things to make. Its going to be a table cloth and actually I want it for my Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Out of the Trash, and into the....

My friend Rexie at Crow Calling Woman is making felt ornaments for holiday gifts for her friends this season. Remember, I said she is so very creative.


After seeing this, I pulled my Angel Kitty out of the trash basket to give myself another chance. I have not mailed the Doll Quilt for the November Swap and will give it one more try, using Rexie's technique for blanket stitches.

With the November Doll Quilt completed, I started browsing patterns for something to work for the January Swap's theme: "Try Something New".

New to me means pushing my comfort zone. I worked all day with this pattern, cutting pieces, piecing and cutting some more. I was devastated with my results after more than four hours work. 

The pattern isn't really 'wonky' and yet it asks of the quiltmaker to assemble the pieces in a very random way. And it takes thought, a lot of mindfulness to be random, wonky and careless in order to get to the place of feeling free. 

I couldn't do it. 

I couldn't create chaos. I couldn't let it happen. This quilt project is going to push me to the edge of my comfort and probably ask me to jump into a quilting abyss.  I don't have photos to share, though they would be easy to take. I have to find more comfort in what I am doing first. Maybe tomorrow. 



Like Scarlett said in Gone With The Wind: "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I will think about it tomorrow."