Monday, March 31, 2014

Received a Pay-It-Forward This Weekend

What a surprise! I had forgotten that I signed up to RECEIVE a Pay-It-Forward, so when this  little package came all the way from Australia, I could barely contain myself as I tried to open it.

It is just precious and I am grateful to receive this lovely fabric art. One thing I am becoming aware of is how different the fabrics are in other countries. I have never seen the like of these colors and this print. Shaz is interested in many fabric arts and always seems to have something new and of interest for her blog readers.

I am still open to receive, willing and able to receive as part of the language of love. The whole system of "Pay-It-Forward intrigues me. I've signed up several times and this is the first person who actually made me something. I've continued with my part of the contract (sending out something to 3-5 people). I have two projects going right now that I plan to finish and send out when they are completed.  Its a very provocative endeavor and one that I feel strongly about. It is my hope to offer it again towards the end of Summer. 

Shaz included a small card with a hand-written note, and that seems to be the custom when sending these small gifts. I have started doing that as well. This little card was a gift in itself as it held a Spring Cherry Blossom Fairy on the front, and pricing for Australia and New Zealand on the back.

And in truth, cards people send me are enchanting. I know I cannot keep things forever, so have made it a habit to keep them in a box and go through them from time to time. Those hand-written notes are simply a joy for me to read again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Languages of Love

I've heard about theory of the Five Emotional Languages of Love, which come from a Christian marriage counseling book written by Dr. Gary Chapman. I probably won't read it for those reasons, however, do like most communication theories and tend to consider them when I relate to others. This represents a theory I am looking at for today.

When we communicate as evolved beings, we think about the other person's style and know that when we adjust our interaction to meet their style, there is a much better flow of thought, emotion and connection. Chapman's list is:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

For me, quilting covers all five of these languages, even if the recipient doesn't see or feel it right away. 

Some people write on labels or the quilt. Words give the name of the quilt, sometimes a quote, and always words of love the quilt-maker feels. Most quilters will include a card with more kind words.

Obviously there is time that goes into quilt-making that is spent alone by the quilt-maker and not shared in the moment of creation with the recipient.  It does become a gift. It is an act of service. And the quilt itself provides that physical touch...again not shared in the moment.

I signed up for another quilt block swap last week. This one is for 6" blocks and again, is International. That means I am doing BOM's with my local friend (not a swap), one Calendar-themed swap with Crow Calling Woman (Rex), a 12" Christmas Block & this new 6" block swap. Additionally, I am participating in the Applique Mystery Quilt (I am WAY behind & find appliques most challenging), and another Spring Mystery Quilt.

This morning, I worked on a number of projects, moving them along to the next steps towards a finish. I don't believe I am pressuring myself by taking on these smaller projects each month. Most go out to folks who are new contacts, and they give me a chance to grow in my skills as I make the larger quilts destined as gifts of love to family and friends.

I probably will always feel a sense of isolation because my family lives thousands of miles from me. I will probably seek perfectionism, and often simply let go and move on from projects that stress me out. I am working on it all.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Price Peace?

There is a saying that peace at any price doesn't give genuine peace. Genuine peace comes from making choices that create more life, not less. And so it is with quilting.

I have been working on Baylee's graduation quilt for some time now. It really seemed like it would be done this week.

All the hearts were hand quilting, and a straight line of hand quilting went through the middle of the second border (batik). It is my intention to run a Serpentine stitch at the closing seam where the Prairie Points are just to ensure their closure.

Not sure if the photo picks up the subtleties of the stitches that are meant to blend in with fabric colors. As it laid flat, I could see that batting in the last border could easily shift. It was not really anchored going through it. Package instructions say to quilt it every 6" and technically with the quilting in the second border, it should work. It wasn't.

A 'finish' at any price in this case, was not going to provide me with a genuine finish. Leaving it and calling it done, would someday bring cause for concern. Baylee might never say anything, but if the batting bunched, it would ruin the entire look of the quilt. All the work in it would be lost and only the unlovely part would be noticed. Its how we are.

The invisible ink pen is spent, so I will buy another one when I go out today. I've pinned places on the outside border where another heart needs to go.

A 'genuine finish' will happen on this quilt because I am making a choice to give it more life not settling for less.

Any Work In Progress (WIP) seems to drone on, even for the quilt-maker. I worry sometimes that people will think that I repeat myself as a sign of aging. Its not that. There are endless steps to making even one quilt and if a quilter has many quilt projects like I do, they tend to talk about them all and think about them, planning the next steps. 

Does a quilt-maker just stop sharing? Does she make peace at any price by not sharing? How is it we learn genuine peace?  My quilt-making brings a lot of internal issues to the forefront for me to consider. Its not just about piecing or pinning or cutting. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friendship AND a Finish Something Friday

We need our friends for basic health. Old rules told us to hold back and decline closeness. I have been changing that perception over the past few years while living in California away from my family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Luckily electronic communications lifts the sense of isolation. It is still a challenge for me to talk on the cell phone, so I enjoy the visual of Skype calls as well as the ease in sending off photos and short comments on Facebook. 

This morning I worked on a Friday Finish while chatting with one of my dearest friends in Minnesota. The project going is made from a couple of pieces of fabric that came from Lee's estate. I trimmed it to be as oval as possible and keep that Spring Easter Egg look to it. It gave me experience binding on a curve.

Lacking conversations with other like-minded people can lead me (anyone) to isolation and misinterpretation of reality. Connecting with others who both support and affirm me, helps defeat the monsters living in my head who want to fill me with false notions that my work is 'less than' or that I am 'less than'. 

This little table matt is going to Mother as soon as I can get to the Post Office. Its a good size to sit next to her bed to hold a glass of water and anything else she might put there...or as a matt to hold a vase of flowers on her table. Its very egg-y in looks.

Most of my fears are like gray days outside my window and usually disappear with the sunshine or after common sense conversations with a friend. In fact, if I woke up with some angst on my mind, I can't even remember it. 

This morning was well spent with a friend who lives in Minnesota and kept our Skype appointment so we could chat for an hour. And I finished something!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

MQ for Tony

Sometimes, I need to know when to release a project, which is what I did this year for Tony's quilt that was made from an old pattern trying to make pointed houses and treetops. It just wasn't working and I was getting more frustrated than feeling at peace. I don't want to put that kind of energy into a project that will be given to someone to cozy under.

I joined a FaceBook quilting group doing a Spring Mystery Quilt. I decided that I would make one and that however it turns out, it will go to my Great-Nephew Tony. The first week, they gave us time to get the amounts of fabrics we needed. The second week, we were to cut into 3 sizes. Yesterday, instructions came to join 3 different fabrics from the 10.5" strips and press to the middle. I need to do the same joining of the background material today.

I've participated in several Mystery Quilts now, and much to my surprise, they turn out amazing.

Usually adults remember their relationships with kids more than the kids do. When Tony was in 3rd grade, his teacher had them all read this collection and to ask a friend or relative living elsewhere to participate in the adventures. Tony made and sent me a flat Tony version, and I took the paper sketch with me, took photos of us together wherever we went and then wrote back to him. It was fun for me too. And even now, I still call him Flat Tony.

My family all lives in the midwest, and due to the rising cost of travel, I don't get back as much and few of them come out here. So its important to me to stay in contact with them in some way. Some times I am good with that, sometimes the best I can do is send a birthday card.

My goal in quilting has been to make at least one quilt for every family member, and I am doing ok keeping that going. This year Tony's parents will get their quilts. 

What I see happening, however, is that the children have been growing up and some of the older ones are introducing additions to our family. Can I quilt fast enough? 

Tomorrow is 'Finish Something Friday' and with luck it will be Baylee's grad quilt. The binding is almost completed and it will be an on-time finish.  I do not plan to hand quilt often. Machine quilting has taken over most of our work because it can turn out so lovely.

I definitely need the practice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Threading Needles / Pinning Fabric

A wise old woman once told me that every needle has a front door and a back door. She said most people lock their front doors and always leave the back door open. 

Someone shared this image on Facebook today, so its a perfect pic to show what I mean. If you cannot get the thread through no matter how you prepare the thread flattening it with wax or spittle, turn the needle around and use the other side of it! 

Works for me every time.

My trip to the clubhouse this morning was a bit shortened because I used up all the pins I had! Side borders are on two quilts and blocks for two comfort quilts are also pinned. It took me almost two hours ...two, two, two. Those long and wide tables are a gift to any quilter for laying out. Also, that bag. It carries everything I need. 

Glad I made it.

It is raining out today, so I am happy to be home making a cozy soup for lunch, and the smell of it is everywhere already. I have enough hand work to do for the rest of the day and am content. This will be a day when I think of the fabric artists who have touched my life and given me all sorts of wonderful tips, ideas, patterns, encouragement and support. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I am getting things ready to take to the clubhouse in the morning. Those tables make quilting life easier. Rex is considering a design board, and I have gone in many directions with having one, and know that the clubhouse tables also serve me in that way. If I made a design board, it needs to be stored. I've used a portable one on my floor. Thing is to use the clubhouse, I have to leave home.

I added yet another border to CEDAR LODGE this morning. It finishes to an inch wide, and because it is a beige almost disappears into this quilt that already is an optical illusion from the center to sides.  This photo is taken with it draped over my futon, so was not laid flat.

As I work with the combination of lights and darks in each square, I am reminded how personal wisdom shines into the less visible corners of spirit. I see how even when light and dark squares are balanced, they serve to push me to see things more clearly as a creation rather than an entrapment into chaos. Even when there is an optical illusion to a thing, if you look long enough you can see the order, pattern and system.

More patterns are out there now that promote stash busting quilts. Stash busting helps a quilter take responsibility for her resources rather than struggling with storage and guilt over not using what is there. Most of us know the rising cost of cotton that includes the land, water, production and human resources as well as what tossing usable sections does to over-used landfills.

It is a comfort and a relief to use what I have in my own closets before running to the fabric stores. Yes, I know that the small businesses get stretched for customers and it seems to me that they also need to look at lights and darks of their operations. Not to know or see the difference in any part of life is costly.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Basketball Player-size

My Nephew-in-Law played basketball at an early age through college, and became a basketball coach. He's a tall guy, and incredibly nice, so when I found a pattern I wanted to use for a quilt for him, I added blocks all around it to make it one that would work for him. 

By the time I get the border on, it will measure 86 x 96, which isn't the largest I have made, but is large enough. Here it is across my queen size bed without borders, batting, backing or binding. Its meant to be a personal couch cover or lap quilt.

I've pieced 25 scrap 2.5" squares to make up the blocks, so it made good use of some of that stash that collected since I started quilting.

There are men who quilt. There are boys and men who receive quilts (my personal agenda for Comfort Quilts). This man, like so many other tall guys, usually needs to curl up under the standard quilts tucking himself into a ball. And as he sleeps, he probably finds himself sticking out from under the covers. 

Quilts, like humans, need to be adequate & worthy. Distress, because of any shortage, is not of our own making. Many times we don't even think about what is lacking when we have learned to live with the depravation all our lives. I think it is our birthright to see ourselves as glorious, perfect creations just as we are. 

The same goes for a quilt or the gift of a quilt. It is glorious and perfect, especially when it is made with love.

Borders will be pinned on at the clubhouse on Wednesday. You need a flat surface to do this with the larger borders so they don't develop waves when you attach them. I just need to make sure they are long enough. Hah! The story of this quilt is to be enough.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

After Pismo Beach

For anything to stay alive in me, I need to step back and gain perspective in what I am doing, thinking.

Sometimes taking a short day-trip is just what I need. I live in an area that has numerous ecosystems, and most within a few hours away from my home.

Yesterday, the trip was to Pismo Beach, as directly West as the freeways go. This beach is known for the surfing waves. This is a practice season for the surfers because the waves are tame by certain standards, yet as I watched from the pier, I could see the challenges they all face. The more expert surfer caught the wave but had to watch for the less experienced who were in the way of a clear ride.

Not me in the pic, of course, but seeing this young woman with a board on her head was inspiring. It took no time at all before she hit the waves and became an unidentifiable dot. Colors were amazing and  all I could think about doing was making a quilt in blues and beige/browns.

California is experiencing a hard drought and yet, on the way home, we saw a number of bee hives set in their usual places near groves and fields.

As I look at the colors around me, I want to include them in my work. These are what Nature gives us.

Today, I have been doing those catch up chores like laundry and minor house cleaning. 

I did decide that another quilt is added to my to-do list for a young man's graduation. I have some baseball fabric and plan to do this one in blues and beige/browns. They are colors around me right now, and I love every one I see.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Finish Something Friday Cuts

With all the various steps to my quilting projects that I have going, I almost forgot today was for finishing something. 

I struggle with easing my need for perfection and balance it with more of a sense of play and relaxation. Of course, I keep my to-do lists so that I can peek over my own shoulder and know the projects are on time.

While I am still working on Baylee's quilt, I did finish hand quilting that border. Its got prairie points on it. Batting needs to be trimmed so it comes to the edge, backing material gets folded over & hand stitched to close it. I am still not sure if I want to be the one to wash it first or give it to her the way it is. 

I've joined an online Spring Mystery Quilt and got Step 2 of it yesterday. Its all about cutting the fabrics that were assembled in Step 1. Cutting takes a lot out of me, standing over the board, measuring, slicing with the rotary. A question comes up for me about what I might be cutting out of my life. Obviously in quilting, one cuts and almost destroys pieces of fabric in the process. With this as a mystery, I have to trust in the process. All my speculation gets me no where. I haven't got an idea at all how this will turn out.

Lately, I have been pondering the energy of 'worrying' and know that its an angst produced in me that is all about projecting into the future. If mystery quilting shows me anything, I can see that my efforts will turn out and make something quite beautiful.

The third project finished is cutting one of the comfort quilts. This month, I brought home fabric to make three tops. The other two aren't cut out yet, and I do think this one will go to the clubhouse with me on Wednesday to lay out on the tables.

I am enjoying the space in there as well as having a designated time to do that kind of work. I have one more quilt ready to baste for this coming week, and then these layouts.

I have decided to drive to the Ocean in the morning. Its about  a 3-hour drive, however, its the MIGHTY BLUE PACIFIC, and its only three hours away from me! With six hours on the road and more than a few hours on the beach, my day is spoken for in such a good way. Relaxing and playing is also a part of quilting.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Springtime of Spirit

There is a natural flow in nature that changes its seasons. We are always certain that Spring follows Winter. For those of us who have called for the evolution of ourselves, we have a more positive attitude and know that we can endure profound distresses.

There is nothing set in stone regarding the springtime of our spirits, we have to chose it. 

Quilting makes it easier for me.

Yesterday, I was able to use the bigger tables to get some clarity for more than a few of my projects. Last night, I made a to-do list for this day, and laid out the projects I want to work on: Winter Roads, Cedar Lodge, the new  Mystery Quilt, two of the comfort quilts, two totes, and the applique mystery quilt project. It was as though I planted seeds in the dark ground, and try to remember that they come up in the right time...try to remember not to yank them out of the ground. 

Bobbins need to be filled, the strips for the Mystery Quilt need cutting for this next step. Thing is, all this represents the smaller details. 

I can get lost in the details, lost in the plans, lost in the snowstorms and piles. If I let it happen, I can get lost in the angst that comes with my thoughts about family and individual struggles they have, or about my health, my aging, any of those 'wintery' kinds of things that go with the seasons of life.

I am almost finished hand quilting the first border on Baylee's quilt and should be able to finish that part this afternoon.  I love these colors and these fabrics. My biggest concern is whether to wash it before I give it to her. Now that is a big concern, right?

Breakfast first, then on with it. All the details. All the colors and textures and plans. Spring is coming.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Great Day Basting

I got to the clubhouse early this morning and had the quilt I brought to baste completed in an hour. Guess I am getting so used to it that its become a routine.

The white outline on this picture is batting so it will not be seen on the finished quilt.

This one is for my Great-Niece Sophia, whose birthday is the same week as the holiday. Its a bit wild, but then, so is she. Sophia is a dark-haired beauty who lost her Mother to a year long battle with leukemia, and is the youngest of the three grrrlie-grrls in their family.  I want to make one for each of her sisters too, have them started, and might finish them all next year.

Other things I brought to the clubhouse to work on included a couple that need borders, and some cutting projects. The bigger tables there make all that kind of work so much easier.

After I got home, I signed up for another Mystery Quilt that calls for 2.5" strips, suggesting jelly rolls or cutting your own. It just started so timing was perfect. The bin that holds my holiday pieces is still in here, so I started cutting away. This is going to have a fairly dark background, so most of the strips need to be the lighter colors, and no more than 2 strips in the same color. I certainly have enough fabrics.

Additionally, I've started emailing a quilter in Turkey who is doing some fabulous work with pattern concepts that I have never seen, and want to try. When I looked up where she lived, I discovered that people in her area harvest a mineral that is found floating on the Black Sea which is a body of water to their north. Its a very soft substance that they use to make these world famous Meerschaum Pipes. Meerschaum is a German word for 'foam of the sea'. This is the same area where there are numerous legends and reported sightings of mer-people...hoax or fairytale? Sometimes believing in folklore is simply ok. And why not?

No telling what a person will learn from quilting!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lost Block

I hate it whenever I mis-place something, which is one reason why I try to be uber organized. In fact, being organized is the reason why it drives me crazy when something goes missing.

This block was one of a pair that I made for the Christmas Block Swap. The second one mirrored the inner blades. It is hard to imagine without seeing them side by side. The pattern called for cutting eight of the dark and eight of the white, but the block itself only needs four of each. I searched everywhere for it before shipping the one I did have to my swap partner. It will turn up and I will use it somewhere.

It is lost.

Today, I made a different block that added in a third color. While there is room so that the points are not lost in the seams, it still measured a tad short of 12.5" square. I love it though and plan to make different versions of it to include in future swaps. It ends up being a 9-patch version and is called the "no-name' star.

If we are short, we cannot make ourselves taller; or aging we cannot make ourselves young. If someone we love has died, we cannot bring them back to life. Just because I am quilting and it seems inconsequential to the greater workings in the world doesn't mean I am avoiding the pains or challenges in my life. 

In quilting, at least, I can figure out how to make the next block fit those requirements better. In this case, it takes practice. 

As I quilt and think, and pray, I come to the discovery that I have power to deal with anything life brings me or has brought me or will bring. These seemingly easy days I live are anything but simple. These simple stitches are indeed the prayers of my life, for my life.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday at CQ

Once a month a small group of under 20 quilters meet for several hours to make comfort quilts. It takes me about half an hour to drive from Tehachapi to Stallion Springs. 

 Its a lovely way to quilt, to chat, and to be of service. I met some of these quilters when I first started taking quilting lessons in town. They told me about the group and still I hesitated to join. 

I am not a fan of meetings. I am not sure if I am borderline ADHD, but clearly my attention wavers whenever talking business, discussing, processing and making attempts to negotiate get heard, argued, and then tabled to be discussed again next time. Usually I am silent.

I just want to quilt.

When I resigned from my other teaching and meeting obligations, I was a bit more open to these group meetings. There is always something going on at one of the tables that highlights various stages of quilting. Lots to learn.

Quilters are more than willing to demonstrate what they know. I brought home materials for another few tops that I will make before the next one in April. 

On the way home, I stopped in a shop and bought a long skirt and top to wear to Baylee's grad party. Glasses, the airfare and now the outfit. I am set to visit MN/WI in June. Now back to hand quilting. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

International Shipping

Being involved in international swaps is opening me to an even greater reality of how quilters work around the world. As a child, I had a pen pal and things being things, ours was one of those connections that didn't last. Some people make life long friends and were luckier.

Friendships don't always come easily for me.

Not all of my quilt swaps have worked, and when they are done, we tend to go on our ways and keep quilting. I got a package for March from my swap partner in Australia. She sent two great blocks and some Australian print fabric as well.

Although I shipped my package very early, it hasn't arrived there, which is disappointing to both of us, I am sure. This could be another reason why the pen-pal thing didn't work. When things fail, its not always someone's fault, though we are quick to take the blame or worse, place the blame elsewhere.

My partner showed me pics of a quilt she is making that has Golliwoggs on it, which are children's characters from a book first published in 1896, and popular in Europe and Australia though the 1970's. And of course, as popular as they might have  become, they were also banned for the image without recognizing their worth. For more, you can follow this link to learn about their history. 

What I am coming away with from my experiences is knowing that we do things differently. Different, according to my Daddy, isn't better or worse, its just not the same way we do things.

In seeing differences, we also can learn to accept our own differences. Sometimes I think my differences mean thinking I don't fit...whether its in a small group or a larger community. However, in risking an International Swap, the differences melt into ...oh what...that melting pot!

Once she gets my package, the relationship of the month is completed and we move onto the next partnership. I hope to stay in touch if only to share what we do next. 

Next. That's almost as nice a word as different.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Browsing Online

Oh the hours I can spend following trails and looking at various quilting sites and awesome creations!  There are numerous blogs with new ideas and old methods; there is Pinterest with photos and ideas for anything one could imagine. I could easily become a voyeur and never get anything done. 

Every once in awhile, someone, like my Cuz in Alaska did this week, will opt out of places like Facebook, just to reclaim her life!

Being a spectator is safe. All those secondhand visuals flicker across my computer and do not require commitments or efforts, nor do they provide a sense of satisfaction and personal growth.

I learn, yes. Yes, I learn. However, my real life is in the risks I take with these fabrics as I get involved in my own dramas with them.

I am hand quilting my Granddaughter Baylee's graduation quilt. Its lovely laying over my lap in its lush purples, pinks and blues. I trace a heart shape with invisible ink around one of my heart-shaped cookie cutters. I am able to do two at a time before the ink disappears, so maybe I can get 6-8 of them done in a sitting. It needs to be completed and shipped by May, so its holding a priority in my quilting work.

Meanwhile, my mind whirs with memories of times Baylee & I have shared, current conversations, my hopes for her future, blessings, and excitement in the planning for a trip back to the Midwest to attend her grad party. She is an intense, sweet, stunning young woman who has already earned a NA certificate before even going onto formal college education. 

With so many other things on my To-Do list for 2014, browsing the web and getting lost on those trails might still be productive. Its always good to think, to envision, to dream.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Finished Le Challenge: Order

Since making a personal commitment to Finish Something Friday, every week I start thinking about what I have going that I can finish by Friday.

The deadline for LeChallenge is on the 15th, and I really wanted this tote for my quilts. So this bag was my priority.

All week, I've been posting how I selected fabrics, used 2.5" strips for the inside, joined batting scraps for the pieces, and the panel of a yard for the outside.

The work kept bringing ORDER to my stash, using what I had in it, and leading me step by step into re-organizing storage. The goal for making the bag was to have something large enough to carry my quilts either to the guild meetings or to the clubhouse to baste. Order was being built in layers.

This morning, I made the binding, first cutting, pressing, pinning and stitching. I really like doing the hand stitching for the final turn on the binding. 

I put on some tutorials from You Tube so I could watch more quilting tips. Its a great way to continue learning while you work. 

Yes, I multi-task.

The bag is perfect and just what I want. Here is is with all the things I plan to bring with me to Monday's Comfort Quilt meeting. I am so delighted to have order in this way, and I love, love, love my new bag.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

An Old Saying

There are many old sayings that we gather from our families, our friends, books we read, speakers who touch us. I remember one that said: "Be careful what you wish for because it just might come true."

When I was a young child, my family had enough resources to almost grant my every wish, even before I made one. Then, as I grew up, I was also privileged enough to go to the right schools, marry into the right economic class, get the right house, the right furniture, entertain large groups, wear the nicest clothes. 

Something happened to close me off to those material things. Not sure if it was a college class I took, or working for social service agencies, or what exactly. However, I shut down my ability to receive.  It was as though I saw an impoverished world and felt like my share was bigger than the shares others had and it made me feel greedy.

When I realized I had shut down, I started sending out a message to the cosmos that I was open to receive. That very night, at a meeting, the woman next to me offered me a peppermint, and I laughed internally at how funny the universe is. It was a small start that opened my heart.

Being open to receive is different than being ABLE to receive. This week alone, I received a number of fabric gifts beyond what I shared earlier that came from two of my friends. I poured over the different parts that came to me and felt such joy!

What happens when I receive gifts is that my mind says I must give that person something in return. I think this is another reason why I like having the Pay-It-Forward experiences.

As I put away the various parts of gifts I received, another small package came my way, and then another and another. Receiving has become a sweet reality. And now, I am working on the part that allows me to be ABLE to receive without feeling like I have to give something in return, right way.

At this stage in my life, my financial resources are limited, but not much more than the resources that our general culture experiences. I still feel quite rich with what fills my life. I wonder sometimes if I will ever live long enough to make quilts with all these wonderful fabrics stored in my closets. I work as fast as I can, and sometimes feel like the old pioneer women who made quilts for their families with all their love and commitment just so they could stay warm.

May you be warm, comforted by quilts, and open to receive.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mailcarriier Bearing Gifts

My PO Box was full of treasures yesterday. They came at a time when I felt the energy around me shift to such negative proportions. I dislike giving much space in my mind to the goings-on around me and try to keep busy.

A large package came from a dear friend in MN who passed on some things from her Mother's estate. The vintage holiday fabrics are quite precious and will go to good use in my work. I love that season and continue to quilt with those types of fabrics. Also in the package were a number of rulers and quilting guides that I am exploring and know will use. One of the rulers had been on my want list and I can hardly wait to play with it. It was quite the generous gift on a day that came when I needed affirmations.

The other package came from Crow Calling Woman (Rex) who made a check book cover to include with this month's Calendar block swap. She has built up a very interesting stash since starting to quilt and likes making the smaller quilted projects.

Her mug rugs are stunning, both front and back. Rex is such an artist. The bottom mug rug is made with hexies and matched perfectly to make a greater display of the colors. Amazing work always from her.

The backs show how she quilted these minis. She simply followed the lines of the hexies on the bottom and then outlined the blocks on the front with a shadow outline as well. I know she watches tutorials & reads the quilting magazines for ideas.

Her block for March is a brilliant Iris. She did machine applique for this piece.

I had been out in my gardens before the mail came & saw first flowers in various places. 

Gardening was my great love before getting into quilting. I find such joy in handling the rocks, the soil and the plants.

I harvested a lot of rocks to build a wall, set in a pond and hold various flower beds. The first few years here were spent in separating the old Iris beds and replanting them so they could bloom.

Another thing I did was to plant random groups of flowers like these Hyacinths.
They give such a burst of color and are always such a surprise (like the mail today). I forget from season to season what is there. I have several packages of bulbs that will go in as soon as weather permits.

Another plant I put in the first year here is in a bigger container, only blooms in Winter and the fragrance that comes from it is astounding. The flowers are so tiny that its hard to believe they hold so much scent.

If this day brought me anything, it brought me the joy of friendships, a sense that there is good in the world in spite of the what the news has to say, in spite of the trauma in the lives of people I know and love. There is good in the hearts of people I hold dear. There is a generosity and sharing of talents and skills. People smile and laugh and the world goes on spinning. Beauty can be seen inside and outside and is there. It is there to behold.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pieces Moving Toward Peace

Someone once told me that to think is to discover what is inside our head, and to share is to discover what is in our hearts. Most of the time, we don't know what we think or feel until we share it.

True for my quilting. True for my blogging. Even true for my teaching. One of the evals I got yesterday for the class that is just ending was a comment about how I share my personal stories and that they help open doors to how others think.

I am working on the quilt tote bag today so that I can get it done by the 15th and link up to Le Challenge.

They aren't as hard as I thought but still take time.

I was able to use batting scraps for this project and then re-ordered/re-organized my batting scrap container. I join some of the larger ones and use them in quilts as long as I know I will quilt over the joined area enough so it holds. These smaller pieces are of use too. Every so often, I will bring them to my machine and join them to make larger pieces. I tend to toss the much smaller scraps.

This morning, I plan to run some machine lines to make a grid quilted look. Again, because I am doing this bag with such a random attitude and little planning, its hard to know how it will turn out. 

Last night, I did more hand quilting, and pressed some of the seams I pieced, checked for places that got skipped. Its all these details in quilting that have to be done, and yet are so boring! 

I know that logging in these experiences is a valuable process. I used to journal a lot for many decades and filled book after book til one year, after reading them, I tossed them all in the trash bin. I got it in my head then that what I had been writing had little value.

Even with this blog, its so much text to follow, and a lot of the photos like those above are not really that much to look at. So why do it? 

Sharing or writing is some mysterious, subtle, powerful act of opening up one's soul and being courageous enough to shed fears about what I say, how to ask for what I need, and gain support for what I think or do.

Its all the pieces that seem insignificant that make up that wonderful end product.

I am not sure I have the real courage to be out in the open with my thoughts and experiences. I usually tell people that I only share what cannot bite me in the butt. And so it is for today. It is what I can do and maybe, for today, it is enough.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Now, This is Lovely

Whenever I take on the task of learning something new, its like battling the fears of being inept because I don't know what I am doing and do not have someone standing next to my machine offering guidance. I think that my sense of perfectionism has been dealt with, and then here it comes with all its loud talk, flippant put-downs, and immobilization. Its hard being human. 

This pattern is really easy and is done with triangle squares that match light with dark. Its a very scrappy look and is called a stash buster. It is a quick pieced method that is often referred to as HST's or half square triangle. Triangles are new for me and what I wanted to make this year as my personal challenge and growth opportunity in quilting.

I still suck at them. Oh here I go battling that fear of being inept. Taking a deep breath. With all my careful laying out, a few blocks got turned and so the larger picture was lost. How like life. Simple choices effect the greater good.

I am working on a quilt that seems to have 2 working names; CEDAR LODGE & CEDAR TREE. By the time it gets basted, a name seems to come forward. This top is not completed, and is still in that WIP stage.  I was able to finish the hardest part of the center for the top. It is one block, laid out in two different rows. I stopped worrying about matching the patches and let it take on a life of its own. 

Borders are next and with luck, they will attach and make this more stunning. My goal is to have it done so it can go with me to the clubhouse on Wednesday to baste.

There is a sense of accomplishment here as I look at the picture above and see that even though all the points are less than perfect, that the entire look of it works.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Making ORDER

Its not always easy for me to create something for myself. Many other quilters I know keep their quilts or quilting projects, and are able to do those trunk shows I see at the guild.  I do have a project going for myself which is to make a tote to carry quilts.

This one is coming along. I saw most quilters at that big quilt show in January carrying bags they made. Groups of quilters walking together must have decided to get one pattern and then each quilter made it her own with her fabric and color choices. Many of these small groups. Many individuals who also carried their homemade totes. It was fascinating to see, and I wish I had seen them early enough to take pictures.

For this project, I wanted to use the 2.5" strips in one of my storage boxes. With all that I did use, it barely made a dent in how much is in the storage box. The pattern I am using is for a beach bag, and calls for lining it to make it more sturdy. I plan to add batting as well. 

I found one yard of a panel print from Lee's estate fabrics her family gave me. Its actually a pretty piece and I wish I knew why she bought it and what she might have planned for it. 

I laid the tote bag pieces over it like a puzzle so they do fit to cut from it. Like the front, I am less concerned about how the finish will look, and more interested in using up this fabric to bring order to my storage containers, as well as making a tote for my quilts.

Hmm...what I thought might be the inside might make a lovely outside.

Today, I need to press all the pieces, pin and cut, and then get started on the next round of assembly. Project challenge instructions for this blog-along say that what you make is to be completed and ready to link up by the 15th.

Deadlines are great for things like this. I could let it slide so easily because it is for me, not anyone's birthday, or graduation, or holiday gift. Me. 

Its a step away from being a perfect self-y gift only because I am using leftovers/scraps and doing random piecing with no care to the end result. However, that is also who I am, spontaneous, carefree/careless, and open to what comes.