Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And the Old Year Fades

I spent time re-doing my lists on the blog side bar. I only have two things I want to learn but they are both biggies. And I pulled out the Solstice gift projects and made a new list for them. Then I sorted two of my fabric bins into colors. Maybe this sorting will work better than the last ones.

One of my 12" Quilt Block swap partners for January lives north of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. Most people, including myself, often forget just how big Australia is. Queensland is more than twice the size of Texas. 

Whenever I get an Australian partner, I like to find them on a map, and also research some history. Of course, it was named for Queen Victoria, and the capital is Brisbane. The history is so expansive that its hard for me to know where to start or even what information I would like to have. Sometimes a partner will share this information, sometimes not. In truth, I am more interested in plant and animal life than I am in populations and industry. Its all overwhelming, and in isolating the information, I learned that much of the northern area of rainforests were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.

This partner changed her block request after we were matched. She told me not to go to too much trouble on her block and that she did not want what was on her profile.

I've always wanted to try the Disappearing 4-patch because I have made the D9P and loved it. What I learned is that it was a similar construction (similar but not the same) as some placemats I made for a couple of friends in MN. Here is the first layout. Each block is cut 7.5", sewn together as a 4-patch, and then cut 5.5" from each of the sides.

Then the twisty-turn magickal part of it is simple. You swap out the smaller strips, top with bottom & left with right. Piece together like a 9-patch, then trim to the 12.5" square. Very easy & it took less than an hour from fabric selection to final trim and press. Its a great block pattern that is clear to read.

My second 12" Block Swap partner was also just assigned, and she would like any Star block in jewel tones. I plan to make both of them 12" Friendship Star blocks and hope they go together easier than the 6" stars did. I will be getting needed practice on those blocks.

The Gas Co. tech showed up today to evaluate what was needed in the house. She gave me 4 energy efficient light bulbs, and lots of papers to read. Now, she said, another woman will call on Monday (maybe, right?) to set an appointment with the repair person. Also, she is sending another person to re-do the insulation around both doors, and replace my shower faucet, and ....well, I need to read the papers. Evidently, when you get to be a senior citizen, the utility companies make some changes without charging. Nice, if it happens. I just want heat in the house again. 

Big thing is admitting that I am a senior citizen. Jeeze.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Friendship Stars

I do like this little block. It brings me lots of joy either in seeing the points match or not.

For instance, this one, headed right to my "wonky" box. The bottom strip got turned around and would have been easy enough to rip and re-do. Yet, there is a certain charm in it. I like having that wonky box to fill with the blocks that just are not quite within the requirements for my swap, while my partners who are making 'official' wonky blocks really struggle to get the block "right". Its not about being right or wrong as much as it is smiling at the results.

I did ship off 4 successful blocks to my partner. However, I made nine of them before feeling good about these 4, and they do provide enough differences for her to select what will work best on her project. I made each one in different fabric combinations so that if they did not work to ship, and I kept them, that there wouldn't be any repeats.

I rather like all my attempts at them, because it gives me an opportunity to see how fabrics go with each other. The largest square here was 2 7/8" used for the HST (half square triangles) and the others were 2.5". I've learned that the prints must be smaller and the contrast higher for these smaller 6" blocks.

Also, I made the 72 copies for the paper piecing patterns. Each block has its own pattern that gets sewn over and then cut away. My next step with these copies is to label them with the block number as well as the colors that go on it. Then the fun begins.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hand Quilting

Yesterday, Sunday, I spent a good deal of my day heating up the house by oven roasting veggies, making Kale chips, soup, running hot water for dishes and laundry, burning candles and moving the two space heaters around to generate heat. Sun came through the Eastern windows so it was really nice in the house. Then the sun went down and temps began to drop. Its 28 right now and my body is already chilled after a good night's sleep feeling warm under the quilts.

With the heat in my office-studio, I was able to relax a bit and take on my usual positive attitude for life and for quilting. I cut more material for those 6" Friendship Star blocks, so they are ready to piece, watched another tutorial on paper piecing, which propelled me along on that quilt planning.

And then I pulled out the Kaleidoscope project and hand quilted two of the center blocks, and have moved my quilting hoop onto the third of them. I have less than a month to finish that project so it is shipped out on time for Jer's birthday on 2/2. 

A little heat provided me with enough for my needs to rise above simple survival many rungs above it to possibly the needs for Belonginess & Love, past Esteem, and into Cognitive Needs. I wonder if it is easier to climb this 'ladder' because I operate on it at a higher level most of the time? Thing is, that earlier human needs remain present throughout life. 

As I look at it, it is interesting to me to consider how the movie videos I watched played a part in my recovery. I put my container of holiday-feel good movies away, found a site called that had different movies to watch other than what has been on Hulu. As I review them in my mind, I realize the over-riding theme of them was about survival, safety, and esteem. I wonder and might guess, that at least for me, their themes gave me a boost up.

Other graphs, such as this one, dealing with Maslow's Hierarchy, expand on the initial rungs he created, and talk about finding energy, freedom, effectiveness, community, uniqueness, diversity and go further into creative leadership, and stages of peace and personal power. Still yet, other folks see our human development as physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual, and that fits too.

Which brings me back to my quilting and to the purpose of this record my spiritual progress using quilting as the learning forum. I am a spiritual being and everything I do and experience has spiritual lessons for me.

The house re-warming has begun again, and I will make calls to get this furnace control fixed. While I understand that it is another holiday week & scheduling me in may not work for them, I am going to speak assertively to get my needs met, if even all that happens is that I say what they are. 

I'd like to believe all the lessons from this issue have come up and are being dealt with. And as soon as the office-studio gets warmer, I can work in it again. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

too cold to quilt

Time away was nice...yet, LA's temps are unseasonably cold and I watched the car outside temp gauge fall from the high 40's until getting home to 27 degrees. Its really cold in here without a furnace. Oh sure the space heater and even candles help. But I am not kidding myself. It is cold. I've given up waiting for the gas company and emailed a local plumber. I know that tomorrow is Sunday and he may not answer his emails, so plan to call him on Monday to see if there is a possibility he can fix the control box. I know that its special training to work with gas issues and not every plumber is licensed for it.

Meanwhile, the trip to JoAnns did not prove entirely fruitful. Fabrics were picked over, or at least what was there was not something I wanted to work with. I bought 4 yards of a black tone on tone and some black thread. This gets me closer to working on that paper piecing project. But not tonight and maybe not tomorrow if it is this cold.

What a freeze baby I have become. These Cali Winters have nothing on the MN cold I grew up with. Yet, here I am brain frozen and whining about it all.

Family and friends have been sharing their snow pictures with me and while I appreciate them and the snow, right now, this below zero cold is just the pits.

I want to stay positive, but realized on the way home, that according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I have fallen down the ladder from Transcendence on the top run to the bottom rung of Biological and Physiological. A person must get the lower rung needs met in order to get to the top this pyramid.

Its been a wonderful theory for me to consider as a teacher for many years now, but this is the first time that I have PERSONALLY felt how a person's ability to function is based on getting these more simple needs met.

I can feel muscles tightening, and even locking up on my back, so I am doing a MN trick to get warm by putting some towels into the dryer. I am not putting quilts in so that the batting doesn't fry from too much heat. There are candles going here on my desk and the space heater is warming the bedroom. 

Other times when I have thought about Maslow's theory and have seen how it has been applied to various settings, it always, always, always makes sense to me. 

People who are deprived of their basic needs are not lazy or inept or stupid. All of us need to have these things in our lives to evolve.  

I think that it is far too easy to feel guilty that we are non-productive or to shame others when they aren't performing in ways we think they should. I know I think these thoughts about myself and about others even thought I know and believe this theory. This theory has been around a long time so why don't more of us get it? Why don't those of us who get it practice it?

The towels I have over my shoulders and lap are starting to chill and so I am closing this post and heading back to my dryer for them to re-heat. Sleep is on this bottom rung too so maybe its time for me to head to bed and relax under their warmth.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day

This isn't a holiday I've ever celebrated, however, if the Gas Co. had been open and had sent me a tech to fix the control box on my furnace, I would have had a gift. 

Our control panel went out and the furnace was shut down on the 17th of this month. Normally, it would have been more tolerable, however, the valley is being hit by below freezing temps and the house is cold, even with a space heater, candles, an oven for baking and layers of clothing and quilts. Unfortunately, these two holiday weeks have shut most repair offices down, except for emergency (and this is no longer considered an emergency because they shut the furnace down) and no techs are available to provide service. Its an easy fix once someone comes who can do it. Its just replacing that box that has the "Danger" sign on it.

My Friendship Star block swap potentials are sitting at the cutting board because of all the issues I had making them work. I am too cold to want to work at anything for now. Seems that the body muscles lock up as do the mental muscles.

Its funny how the changes in seasons or temperatures or light make a difference for how I move through my world, but they do. I don't want to whine to people, because everyone has something they deal with regularly. And in the greater scheme of things, this is a minor issue.

I don't like being cold. It was one of the major reasons why I moved from MN to Cali. And then, missing the snow and four seasons, I moved to Tehachapi. I have been missing the snows here too...these snowfalls melt almost the same day so they have been more esthetic than anything. The drought here not only means no rain, but no snow.

In this rather pissy state of mind, I don't want to look at patterns, I don't want to plan, I don't want to do anything but get this furnace control fixed.

Luckily, I have an out-of-town trip planned for the next couple of days, so will be gone until Sunday.

One of my Sisters gave me a gift card for Jo-Ann's so that is one stop either on the way or coming home. I am sure the store will be crowded with other quilters and crafters who are looking for the after-holiday sales. Me too.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Goldilocks-kinda Day

I worked on 6" blocks for my December swap. My partner requested the easy-breezy Friendship Star Block in any color combination, so you would think that making these little Baby Bears would be a snap.

Yet here I am after 5 attempts with blocks that are too big, like the Poppa Bear, finishing at 1/4" larger than the requirements.

And blocks that are not spinning quite right with one point refusing to match, like a Momma Bear on Christmas who expects more company at her table and feels the stress of it all. 

I've set the project aside for now because I need to get cookies baked to take as my contribution to a holiday meal that I am invited to attend.

I am following the pattern from an online source that has it in both the 12" and 6" sizes. What this pattern doesn't say, is what they mean by the 1/4" seam allowance. Some patterns want you to do a scant allowance, which is moving your needle one thread over from the true line, and others just assume you will do the true quarter-inch allowance. This has been a trial and error for me following this pattern, and it is obvious NOW that they mean the true seam allowance.

The top two blocks will go into my orphan bag, to be used on a back in another project, and the second two that are in an off course spin will go to the "Wonky" box. Some of those wonkies are going to seem just fine to the casual glance. But I know. I will know and I will see. OMGoddess, I sound like Santa Claus! 

Sometimes checking everything twice is a good thing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gift Exchange

I finished the fabric box for the gift exchange on the 25th. These fabric boxes turn our very nice, and this one did too. I am not sure why I feel so shy about my work being good enough or enough.

Another thing I like about this project is that I can go into my button jar, spill the contents out and search for the right buttons for each spot one is needed.

In this case, they don't have to match, and in fact, do not. 

That is the charm of it for me.

My family is celebrating the holidays back in the midwest in various ways. My Sons, Daughter-in-Law, and Grandchildren each have their packages either already torn open on the Winter Solstice, or sitting under their tree waiting for tomorrow morning. Yesterday's mail brought a couple more gifts for me and a number of lovely cards.

I plan to bring the Kaleidoscope quilt with me to work on while I am at the holiday party. There is this perfect chair in a corner of the living room. Most people are up and moving through the day, so its not a place of high demand in the room. When you hand quilt, it is the kind of project you can set aside or pick up without needing much fanfare. And because I have just started this work on it, there is much to do so, the quilting hoop can move around without too much effort.

Like making the fabric boxes, religious celebrations are like choosing fabric and then doing the work to make it come out useful or esthetic. There is so much joy in the work for me, in this work of spirit, that its a slight ripple to have it be designated to one god, or one religion or one way any more than it is to use only one fabric, one pattern and one way of getting the work completed.

In an earlier stage of my life, I might have decided that the way I had chosen was right for me and for everyone. I stepped away from organized mainstream religion and followed another path. After awhile, it became organized too. I  think humans simply need structure and don't realize that going off the path from one thing eventually wears a different path in the forest.

All my quilts have been different, even the small ones that were candle mats or table toppers. For some, I have used the same pattern (see my Log Cabin quilts and Disappearing 9-Patch table toppers & even this fabric box), but the fabric used in them changed their final outcomes. 

This art is called "Bringer of Light for Yule", not at all a Santa or Christchild image.

So I can step into any religious practice, and after some research, and perhaps some personal exploration, understand what motivates its followers. I am ok with most of them if they are positive in nature, yet, I am not ok with being forced into worshipping and saying I belong to them.

As 2015 approaches, I do have a to-do list of quilts I want to make. AND I have an idea of new methods I want to learn. My life feels full of potential this morning, and I am like a kid waiting for Christmas morning to open all the presents that have gathered under the tree....and waiting too, for Santa, that jolly ol fella, who is part of a community of gift-bringers, including myself.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Found a Pattern

Some time ago, I was given a novelty print that has teapots and teacups on it. For awhile, my Daughter-In-Law collected the teacups and may still have them in storage. I've been looking for a quilt pattern so I could use up the novelty print and the other pieces of fabric I thought might go with it.

I finally found a pattern, though it means looking for one more print to give it some variety, which is fine. The magazine I found it in is a Fonz & Porter's Quilting Quickly, Summer 2014. When I looked online for it, the magazine published a pattern digitally and has a free video tutorial.What a find!   realigned_large_blocks_quilt_project

I am not sure I will get to this one this year, but am one step closer to making it. I want to engage her in a casual conversation to see if she is still interested before I start it.

One of my dear cousins sent me a gorgeous card with Cardinals on it. I must let the world know how much I miss them (they do not fly West of the Rockies). I was impressed that she remembered that about me, and told her that I am not as aware of people's preferences. It made me think that I need to step up my consciousness in this area and pay more attention to what people say.

Monday, December 22, 2014

OK, On With It

It was a disoriented day for me without any good reason. I think that this was my first attempt at bending time and I was suffering a psychological time warp. Its a very interesting place to be in, and instead of making me smile and enjoy the energy, I really got stressed.

Sometime in the past few weeks, I made a plan to spend each 22nd day of the month working on small holiday gifts and even put a list of them on the side bar with the quilts I want to finish. With all this unusual stress, I wondered if I took on too much, what the resistance is, and if this was going to happen each month. Its like a challenge of sorts that my inner being presents. I wondered if I wasn't clear enough with myself and if I needed to make these projects more structured or designated. I pondered all this for hours.

My first project was to be the Double Oven Mitts.

Well, I spent most of the morning doing other odd things that are not worth photographing. Then, I started a fabric box for my gift exchange on the 25th, and ran out of thread on the bobbin and had to do a little backstitching to make it work. It is to the point of stitching the corners up inside and adding four buttons. 

Next, I wrote three letters to a few of the elders in my family.

Finally I started on a Double Oven Mitt and discovered that I didn't like the tutorial I had bookmarked, went looking online, and discovered this link. double-oven-mitt This one seemed to be more functional and safe enough for anyone to reach into an oven. The photo appealed to me when I saw how it hung over the oven bar. 

To work with this project, I found enough of the insulated batting and some scraps of other batting. The pattern calls for 34"x11" of both a feature fabric and a backing, plus four cuts of 9"x8" pieces for the pockets.

That part stopped me. I have a lot of scraps but this really breaks out to a quarter yard of WOF (width of fabric) for those two pieces. My regular bins didn't turn up anything that made my heart sing for this project. I put everything away and started over. 

The holiday bin proved much more successful with endless options. In fact, I was over-stimulated. Whatever was going on with me felt unusual.  These fabrics popped out, with an autumn theme, which would go nicely in my Daughter-In-Law's kitchen and with her favorite holiday of Thanksgiving. This was key. I understood that I need to have an objective when I work on projects and just doing something without an explanation doesn't work for me.

Gathering was as far as I could progress for some time. The energy of the day, whatever it was, overcame my will to continue, and I simply surrendered to getting this far on the project. I do hope something comes of this and that next month, on January 22, I can breeze through this project to its completion.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

I do have a project that needs to be completed for a gift swap on the 25th, but am still thinking about it. I want to make two coordinating fabric boxes and only bought 1/3 yard of two different fabrics. I do not plan to work on it today, and because it is also a New Moon, I am making besoms or small brooms from herbs I harvested from my garden.

Winter in Cali, where I live is always odd, and this year is no exception. Roses still bloom, and horrifically, my furnace is out (control box has a leak) so I am using a couple of space heaters. It is going to take awhile to get it fixed because we are in the midst of two holiday weeks where folks are not working.
The two herbs I harvested are bee balm flower centers, and broom corn. My plan is to make two smaller besoms.

When I think of the shortest day and longest night, I know that change is happening. This is a balance of sorts even though they are not equal amounts of time. And balance isn't about equality, though certainly, equality comes to us in various ways.

My thoughts suddenly went to civil rights and equal rights, and women's rights, and religious rights. These movements started because people saw and felt the injustice of inequality and wanted change. I am not writing more about any of them, though I could. 

What I am doing, what I always do, is to go on with my day and do the next thing that I can get done. I change things by my attitude and my intentions. I change things by what and how I say things. We all do. Today, I am making these besoms using the energy of both the New Moon and the Winter Solstice. And in case, you are not getting it, I am putting a lot of magickal intentions into my work to bring balance back into the world.

Happy day and night.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Trying Something New

A woman of courage is also a woman of faith. I read once that our courage is animated by our faith, yet to risk something new or what we think is outside our reach, is like having to grab hold of both courage & faith to get the job done.

I went out shopping for fabrics. Yes, I know, all those fabrics already in my stash just waiting. One of my dearest friends asked for a quilt. It started out as a wall hanging and has become this twin size quilt that I know I will enjoy. I had to shop to get the right colors and may or may not have scraps from this project that will add to that stash.

This quilt will make a difference in my life because I am stepping into the unknown to learn a new technique. I've had a lot of role models in my life who have continually reached out for what was not common in their lives. I am not sure what they believed in, but whatever it was, they were willing and able to take a risk. I want to be that kind of woman, whether its quilting or just living my life.

As scary as this new way of quilting is, its just paper piecing. Its a Jinny Beyer pattern, and I really want to make it. I went into the fabric store and selected 12 pieces that have the color-way ranging from olive greens, into blues and then into dark mauve and ending in pink. I really love them.

The online tutorials say that once you get started, paper piecing becomes easy. So OK, I am game for a new skill. I admit its daunting, and wish I had someone who could come into my office-studio and show me how to do it. However, there are tutorials on You Tube, and that is where I will spend some time getting to know it.

Meanwhile, I need to make two 6" blocks for the Australian swap. My partner for this month requested the Friendship Block in any colors. I had not put away the scraps from Jer's Kaleidoscope quilt, and they were just a little over-size for what I need and are perfect. These pieces are just cut and not joined. The plan is to do another one in reverse. Of course, they have to measure 6.5" square before they qualify for sending, with enough room on the edges for the points.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Note To Self

As we perform, our life happens and our experiences determine what our identity is. 

So it is with quilting. The blocks for Nick's quilt back were pieced in rows and then the rows were pieced for the center of the back. To what end? Still no Note To Self from when I originally designed the back with these blocks. 

It is so very different from the front, which is detailed, and orderly, structured in color and design. (in my previous post.) I surrendered to the concept of random construction when I joined the blocks. Sure more time could have been spent laying them out. Even now, as I look at this pic, I think to myself that I could have shifted certain blocks...and then I let it go. The only thing preventing total chaos is the sashing to one side that forms columns. Yet, there is no outside border. If I add an outside border, then it can be trimmed after the basting/machine quilting. 

Was this something I considered with the leftover & uncut pieces of fabric? Maybe, just maybe, a new fabric can be introduced for this border. 

As I pieced this quilt or performed the fabric art, it happened or started to take form, and this experience is determining its identity.

Yet, it remains a mystery. I don't have a plan. I can't write a Note To Self unless what it says is that "I don't know".

It has to be enough for another time. I folded both the front and the back, placed them in a to-do bin with the leftover fabric, and wrote a Note To Self that says, "Good luck! The back needs a top and bottom border to fit with the front. Good luck, because I don't know what I want to do next."

This is the value of the Note To Self. Its about memory, and the time it takes to start over or figure out what was going on. Its about being clear with myself about my goals. When I see the Note To Self, I can change my mind or just pick up where I left off. 

It is a signal of self-respect, one of honoring creativity and time management. It is me loving my work as a fabric artist.

And if, by chance, someone else picks up my project, they can see my Note To Self as good information and decide if they want to finish it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Golf quilt

I took out another quilt I started earlier this year and plan to give to one of my Great-Nephews for Winter Solstice 2015. My unwise self did not leave a note, however, my skilled quilting self figured it out anyway.

Thing is, the time factor spent figuring out the next step is why I want to leave notes to self! This is a quilt pattern I modified to include a square panel of a couple of golfers. Its another scrappy quilt, plus that icy winter blue fabric as an accent. Most of the fabric came from a friend's estate.

Interestingly, I really scrapped the back blocks using any piece that coordinated with the color theme, joining them any which way. AND I put a sashing on one side. Rather than call them 'wonky', they are more 'freestyle'.

What was I thinking? Can I remember what I was thinking so many months ago?

I brought the blocks to my cutting mat and trimmed them all the same size so that they fit. They are pinned six to a row. I found 2.5" strips of coordinating fabric too, and wondered, "what was I thinking? Can I remember?" It seems to me from looking at it, that it will make a perfect binding. However, with this, its one step at a time. Because they are trimmed to a 12x13.5" size, I know that an additional border will need to go on at least one side to square them up to match the top. Hopefully, that will be easy-breezy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Feeling Bold

To be bold, in my mind, is to chose our own destinations, and to be brave enough to change course if where we are going is not in our best interest, or simply that we have changed our mind and want to go or do something else. To be bold is to act with determination, reaching out and moving forward toward our goals rather than to sit around waiting for something to happen.

I've been cutting for a couple of days now, and put the results of it into a clear bag. Of course, I checked off what I had done on the pattern. The next cutting session is that dark blue fabric with the constellation stars on it. Below that is the white contrast fabric.

What was left for me was this pile of fabric that needs to be re-sorted by colors, and perhaps, if time allows, I will trim pieces to fit in the scrap boxes that hold smaller squares. Those boxes really helped in the gathering of blocks for this quilt.

And now, it gets set aside so I can join the two larger pieces for the back of the Kaleidoscope quilt. Before setting it aside, I want to re-examine the pattern to make sure I was clear about the next step and what I had done. 

Learning to proceed like this takes patience and even courage, along with a firm conviction that I do this for me, and I am worth all the time and trouble. When I come back to the project, I can open it with peace and even joy. I don't have to wonder where I will wander and be all over the place. 

I could say that this is how I do my magick as I quilt.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ready for backing

The fabric store is open this morning. The quilt measures 68 x 98 and my calculations say it will take 5 1/2 yards, so at least $12.50, that brings it to around $70. And yes, I could go online to get some cheaper fabric, but this one needs to be matched well, and I am not taking chances.

I've gone shopping for garden supplies already today using a gift card for Home Depot, my only big store in town; besides a shovel and furnace filters, I got a foundation block for my water fountain, some white gravel to go around it, and seven 16" square stepping stones going from the back gate into the yard. Of course, I need to wait until we get some warmer weather before I want to get out and do the work. There was just a couple of dollars left, so I picked a Mexican Coke- Coke made and bottled in Mexico. 

Cutting on the Constellations quilt is coming along, but seems slow. No, wait. It is boring. Cutting fabric is boring. There is so much on this one, and as soon as I finish doing the light fabrics, I will set it aside for another day. 

Monday, December 15, 2014


Some people lift our hearts in special ways, like my older Son. Maybe its his tenderness, his sense of humor, his way with children and strangers and elders. He just changes the world with every step he takes. Some could say its just a Mother's pride, however, this is how everyone sees him. He simply lights up the room when he enters.

I've started his birthday quilt. The pattern comes from Fons & Porter's Scrap Quilts magazine and is a quilt by Liz Porter she calls Match-A-Patch Stars. I have renamed it Constellations. While it is fat quarter friendly, it is giving me an opportunity to use up scraps I have cut just for this purpose. I've learned over time that the more variety there is in the scrapping, the more interesting the quilt is, and the less blocks have to match. This pic represents almost all the dark pieces, with 10 more pairs to go. The two stacks in front need to be cut in half diagonally yet. The next step is cutting the lights in about the same amount so they are matched in 4-patches and stars. There is a dark blue background that will also be partnered with lights for what is called an hour-glass block.

His birthday isn't until mid-October (yes, typical Libra), yet, I want to get the quilt finished and ready well in advance. I don't think any of the projects have time deadlines, yet, it is good for me to keep moving on them.

I selected this pattern for him because of the balance of lights and darks in the fabric, something a Libra loves to see. I get this theory as I create this quilt, because of my Libra Son, because of the balance and reflection of lights against the darks.

Our healthy relationships have a positive effect on our self-esteem because the people we surround ourselves with mirror back most of what we appreciate in ourselves, though we rarely acknowledge that part. These people, our close friends and family, reflect our depth and the best of who we are as joyful and loving people. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Measure of Success

Someone once said that the measure of our success is in how we overcome the obstacles in front of us.

The odd size borders that I made work on the Kaleidoscope quilt. It is still quite long, and is actually wonderful laid across my queen size bed. Its wider now that the borders are on, and that was my goal. I need to measure it so I can purchase the back fabric, but many stores in town are closed Sunday and Monday.
The larger side borders work both to extend them and show it as visually appealing. It is hard to really see in this pic, however it does show the larger side and the shorter top of that second border; once the back is taped to the tables in my clubhouse for basting, and this piece is laid over it, it will show off the work better. The final or third border was cut at 3.5" all around and is the same as the background fabric in the center. I am quite excited for how it looks as well as the functional possibilities it has.

I cannot help but think about how I set my own borders or boundaries. And of course, some are not as wide as others, but it is how I surround myself with emotional protection. After doing this quilt, I realize that my personal borders define who I am and actually either make me look odd or enhance my beingness. It is really an interesting theory. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Finding the Complement

We are not all the same. We have not all started from the same place, nor do we have the same skills and interests. Our life task seems to be to stay within ourselves and not measure our successes against another. We need to know ourselves and quilt our own quilts, or do our own thing.

As I build this Kaleidoscope quilt, I've made a few trips back into the fabric store to lay out what I had and find the next border. The store is simply eye candy for a quilter with colors arranged on the shelves for easy selection. I usually pull a half dozen fabrics to make my choice. I look closely. I step back almost to across the room to see what I like.

Because I chose to make a twin size quilt, I changed so much of the pattern and have had to adapt in interesting ways. And because I selected a very interesting design for the work, using it for the border in a way that is usually seen did not work.

What I selected for my second border reminds me of the handmade Florence (Italian) marbled paper. The colors of this fabric seemed to blend and support the middle of the quilt. In order to make the odd size seem less odd, I cut the long sides 8.5" wide and the top/bottoms 2.5" wide. Each will lose half an inch in the piecing. The layout is already stunning. 

This is not the way most quilts are made. I know that I have to be happy with it, and have some sort of internal designer at work. After looking at numerous pictures of this quilt pattern finished by others, I could see what might work and what simply was not going to please my eye. I came to the store with three options I wanted to try out and settled on the third option which was to get a coordinating fabric for this second border. I also selected more of the background fabric to make up the third border and think I am satisfied.

Changing the pattern has brought me more work. This focus fabric brought me more work. Yet, I know that as it evolves, it is becoming a work of art. 

Is this what happens to a child who has been given the freedom to walk her own path? As a quilt-maker, each of my pieces is almost like a child I am birthing. They are unique and require a unique kind of attention from concept to the point of cutting the strings and sending them off into the world and another person's arms. What happens to them is dependent upon the reception they get in a new environment. Thing is, like any parent or quilt-maker, once the child leaves home, there is little we can really do to change what happens next.

Friday, December 12, 2014

First Border

The plan with this pattern is to use the same fabric as the blocks as the second border. I don't like how that looks. However, I do like the fabric I selected for the first border. Its a lighter teal than the background and is seen in the blocks. This isn't the way I have made quilts in the past, going back to the store after each border, but it is the way I am doing this one. Luckily, the entire town is only 2 miles long, so it isn't a hardship to shop several days in a row.

The kaleidoscopes are so interesting that adding the very detailed fabric again on the outsides takes the focus away from the inside. I tried calculating the pattern return on the fabric, with what I wanted for the four borders and could not make it work to my satisfaction. Its a very odd size right now at 88" by 47", which means the side borders should have at least another 20" added to them while not adding much to the top and bottom.

So I pulled away the fabric and just looked at it with only the first border. Its clean looking to me. I think what I want to try is more of the tone-on-tone fabrics with that same color value but not the pattern. What fabric I have won't go to waste and was leftover from making the blocks work. Some of it will serve as the binding and the the rest will find some usage elsewhere.

It rained hard here last night and the power went out. It has been so needed and is welcome.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Got a lot done

While it was interesting for me that I had no computer access, I did get a lot done. First on my list was to finish joining the blocks and setting triangles to the Kaledescope quilt. Its amazing how I let go of laying the blocks out, and went for the true random effort. I will take it in to the fabric store this morning and buy material for the first border and talk to her about the other borders and back. I may end up making several trips in to get it done the way I want.

My project list showed Grace's Spring quilt next. She is the eldest Daughter of my Niece who passed after a battle with leukemia. She has a Spring birthday, and her Sisters have either a Summer or Autumn birthday, so I am making their quilts to reflect the seasons of their births. Her quilt was in that clear plastic shoe-box size container so I thought there would be a lot of work to it.

However, much to my surprise, the pinwheel blocks were joined with sashing and cornerstones. The next step to them was to press and pin together two rows, which I did. I can take it to finishing the center for the top and then will need to purchase border, binding and back fabric. This was another scrappy quilt in pinks and yellows and is so very cute.

While my original thought was to give them quilts on their birthdays, I changed my mind about that. Gracie is 12 and the others younger, so kids don't always get the concept that they will get one too on their birthday. They have suffered enough loss for several lifetimes and do not need any more disappointment whether its intentional or not. I decided that I would finish them and send them in one box.

The others are named Summer and Autumn. Summer is ready for quilting and Autumn is ready for piecing. I am not in any hurry to finish Grace's now that its not going out for her birthday.  However, it was really a fun discovery!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Off Line for Awhile

My computer guy is taking my IMac so he can look at why the sound isn't working. I will be off line for a couple of days.

Da Bears

My guess is that my Nephew is not a Chicago Bears fan and that the title for his quilt needs to stay away from that one. Bears in Birch Trees has been a good working title and I am open to it shifting while it gets basted. Its interesting to me what happens when I do that.

It took me a little time to press and re-group. It is laying across my queen size bed, and while I haven't measured it, it seems to be a good size. The dark brown final border is not really showing up in this photo.

I took a close up of the corner for the bears. Its such cute fabric, and it was my hope that it didn't compete with the center stars and I think it did fine. I am leaning toward making this the quilt I try my hand at free motion. The borders are large enough to call for a design.

With the exception of the bears in birch trees fabric, this quilt top is completely from my stash and is a scrappy quilt. I really love how it turned out.

Its one step closer now, and I am glad to have had the time to work on it, which let me release the angst I have about having enough fabric for the Kaleidoscope quilt. I know it will turn out fine.

Monday, December 8, 2014


I have pieced as far as possible with the cuts I have. For me to spend time trying to figure out what I need to do next would take me all day. I've decided to go back to the instructor, bring what I have and let her see what I am to do next. Its been several months since we were on the retreat, and hopefully the original bolts will be there if more fabric is needed. There is a small first border framing this middle piece after it is fully joined. I wanted to bring it in when it is at that stage, and lay fabrics against it to see what works and what to bring out from the Kalidescopes. I haven't purchased it yet. 

I did a quick layout for this twin size quilt on my floor this morning, and know the setting triangles and corner triangles are cut. As I figured, I am missing six small triangle pieces for two lower blocks. I looked for them and cannot imagine why they weren't all cut at the same time. There is 22" WOF of the teal, yet I am not sure if it was dedicated to a border. Why this became such a mystery, I do not know. I've looked in the two bins set aside for 2015 projects and there is no extra teal fabric to be found.

I am going to wait before cutting into it. At other times in my life, I would have just pushed forward and let the chips fall where they may. Not with this quilt. It so lovely even unfinished that I do not want to take the chance of it being short of the plan. In this case, I am most willing to follow directions.

Most small businesses are closed on Mondays here in town, including both fabric shops, so I am waiting until Tuesday to go in and ask my questions. Claudia, at 5 Heart Quilts is an excellent teacher, who honestly cares that her students are happy with the quilts they make. Like most business owners, she struggles to make a living selling her merchandise. But at the core of who she is, there is the heart.

I've gotten into the mode of quilting for 2015, and brought out Bears in the Birch Trees.  And just as I figured, some of these quilts are going to be new puzzles for me to solve. The first thing that will happen for each one (that has laid in waiting) is to get it pressed.  Then, if I left notes-to-self, just pick up where I left off. If there are no notes, then I sit and wait with it. This waiting will be a perfect time to remember what energy was going into it. Perfect time to calm myself, regain my center, and remember that I am renewed by the process and able to engage my younger self.

BBT needs borders. Its a square center, and while a lot of quilts work this way, I want to use a technique that extends the top and bottom so that it is rectangular when finished. I left myself a note with measurements for the borders and do have enough fabric for them. Pressing. Waiting.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Found the Missing Pages

Ok, I am still a bit foggy about this, however, the pages thought to be gone are still in the design function of the blog. I feel pretty accomplished that I found them, even though I haven't been able to restore them to the blog as of yet. Well, I haven't tried, and may not bother for a little while.

It got me thinking about what I wrote about the delete button. Computers are just brains, and like the human brain, when something fails, its a matter of re-routing the information. Nothing is really ever lost when you hit the delete key, or try to unsubscribe from something that won't let you go. Memories might fade, but it doesn't take much to be reminded of something and find yourself reliving the adventure as if it was just happening.

Last time, when I left the quilt retreat exhausted, I thought I simply gathered up my things to go home. As was said in my previous post, I was so surprised to find that I had pinned the remaining four Kaleidoscopes individually, and more so, one just had four sections to completion. Another was pieced so that it could go to the sewing machine. These two are complete.

The third one was at the stage of piecing so that half of it is finished. The other half and the fourth Kaleidoscope need back ground triangles cut, which is the project for tomorrow. I want to lay out what I have, and make sure I have the setting triangles cut before going back to the fabric for six more background triangles to finish these.

Again, this is all a memory thing. I can only hope that the next quilts have been left in as good enough order for me to just step into the process again without too much heartache.

My gifts are packaged and ready to ship out on Monday. I even baked a homey batch of Oatmeal Raisin cookies. Today was filled with unexpected treats.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

From Where I Left It

Effective, creative living takes practice and work. Learning how to live happily is a matter of acquiring certain skills. While our past can be powerful, our new, becoming self is without the strength of personal history. That younger self cannot gain power if it doesn't do the work.

The Kaleidoscope quilt is on the top of my to do list, so when I pulled it out from on top of the first bin, of course it needed to be pressed. Pressing gave me the opportunity to remember where I had left off, and to sort the pieces so that I could figure them out. 

For some reason, the pattern book seemed to be written in the Ferengi language, and of course, I couldn't read it. Luckily, there were pictures to follow.

After pressing, and looking at the pattern book, pictures in it showed me that it would take 11 of the kaleidoscope blocks to make up the twin size quilt.

When I left the retreat from sheer exhaustion, I had the good sense to pin the parts needed for each block together. There are seven completed blocks, one was partially pieced, and three were pinned. The partially pieced one is in four parts and just needs to be joined. It really helped me figure out the next steps. Everything is cut, but is unidentified. 

The theory of having a new, younger self for this project makes sense. When a person is not experienced and tries to tackle a new project, they feel confused and inept and are challenged with taking the next step.

My quilting always takes on a spiritual component. Somehow, there is an energetic relationship between my intentions and the person I make the quilt for. In this case, the quilt goes to my younger Son. Some people lift our hearts in very special ways, and our relationships are based on many things. I remember selecting the fabrics for it based on what I think he would like. 

There is a real pleasure for me as I work with a quilt from start to finish. Thing is, all the quilts I plan to complete in 2015 are going to go through this process. They were started and are in various stages, which means that if I left off working on them, I can only hope I left myself a note, and hope that I can pick up the work where I left it.

We all experience the interruptions of our life in some way. I had several days of immobility after finishing up everything for 2014. I couldn't go forward, even though I knew that if this was to be hand quilted and it would take time, work on it was all blocked. I actually looked for more things to do and kept avoiding the 2015 projects. 

I had to become my own guide, my own parent, my own teacher, my own counselor. This younger self has been a surprise to me, as well as a sweet gift. To think that she, my younger self, even exists is a powerful gift to my spirit.

Friday, December 5, 2014

To Blog or To Quilt; That is my Question

I went onto the title page here to make some corrections, and accidentally deleted the top bar that gave information about me, about my swaps and tips I had collected. It was a surprise for me to see it suddenly gone. There was no seam ripper to make a correction on the blog like there is on a block or quilt. 

When a person hits the delete key, gone is gone.

I spent time trying to fix it for awhile, and then wondered what I was doing and why I was spending precious moments with it when it really doesn't matter. This blog was created to make a record of my quilting progress, as well as a record for my spiritual journey. Its not meant to generate large numbers of readers, and in fact, I haven't checked the stats on it for months.

A few people use the private email function to make comments and some of my closer friends and family members email me privately any way. I honestly don't expect folks to read this daily the way I expect me to keep my commitment to writing on it daily.

All my gift-making and gift-buying for this season is completed. There are a couple of Quilt Block swaps left to finish. It took a couple of days to wrap everything and get things ready for shipping. A few boxes and some cards go out each day just to keep me from holding up the line at the PO.

I am really committed to a few things for 2015: One is to finish quilts listed on the side bar; the second thing is to write here daily; and the third thing is to make small projects each month so they are ready for the next Winter Solstice.

My goals are pretty simple compared to what they have been in my lifetime. I've learned to settle down and settle in. 

Another thing I did was to 'unfriend' some folks on my Facebook page. Most of them were friends of friends of friends and people I have never met, never will meet and have nothing in common with. I kept family members even if they had those same qualities. Family is different. We share a history in ways that often do not need explanation or reason. I am enjoying those relationships immensely. 

Therefore, I plan to get back to quilting later this morning, starting with the Kaleidoscope quilt. It needs a gentle pressing and I need to read the pattern and see where I left off. This may be one I hand quilt, so I really need to get on with it, finish the top, add batting so it can be basted and do it. It will require almost full attention for the hand quilting.

I've gone through all my quilting magazines, narrowing down patterns I might like for a quilt I plan to create for my Daughter-In-Law for her birthday in November. They can either get tossed or put back on the shelf. The tossers are just that. I am not interested, never plan to work with any of the patterns and don't need them taking up space on my shelves. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Working With Lights & Darks

There are two successes today, both because I followed directions and both because they came from great patterns.

This is the way yesterday's block is supposed to look. Blocks for this swap were requested in any holiday fabrics.

I really like this pattern and my version of it is called Naughty / Nice. Both blocks were relatively easy to make as long as the directions were followed and contrasting colors were used. Both measure at 12.5". This month's partner has not emailed to say what her plans are for the blocks she gets, and that always can change. What she did say is that she is withdrawing from the swap due to personal time demands.

It does take time to do these blocks, and a 'fail' means starting over. Its like being in quilting school or having training that you do on your own. It means being exact, knowing what your skill level is and then, as they say, pushing the envelope.

One of my closest friends told me that her black cat died last week. I plan to make her a comfort quilt that has cat blocks. Merlin was the only cat whose company I enjoyed who was not my cat. For as long as I can remember, whenever I visited my friend, Merlin slept with me. I think the quilt will comfort me as much as her. This is the quilt pattern we settled on from the Jinny Beyer Studios called Tessellating Tabbies, and it is paper pieced. I plan to make it with a tone- on-tone black for the background cats, and use batiks for those shown here in colors. Guess I am upping my game with this one and the paper piecing. I really like the play of lights and darks with this and other quilting choices I make.

The JBStudios presents a lot of free patterns online that have always both intrigued and challenged me. There is so much to be found on this particular site, including some of her fabrics, which are advanced high quality as artisan pieces.

Lights and darks have had controversial meanings in our culture, much like north and south, mainstream religions and politics. I wonder why humans need the opposition or contrast, and yet here I am loving the work with it in the fabric arts. Clearly in this art form, the high contrasts make the piece pop so much better for some of us than monochromatic projects do. While I like fabrics that 'go together' or blend because of their harmony and peacefulness, they don't hold the same interest for me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lesson in Following Directions

Thought I might try another block for my second swap partner this month. Its challenging for me to make single blocks rather than to chain stitch them into a quilt. Yet, this is a very excellent way for me to learn.

This is a successful attempt at following the pattern. I've tried this one before both as a 12" and a 6" block, and what was different here, is the pattern maker included her personal tip or success story about trimming after each part of the pattern was assembled. Her tip made it come together the way it was planned.

This is an unsuccessful attempt with the same pattern. It is good enough to go on the Wintery Bed runner I am making for my own bed where no one will know or see anything that might be considered a mistake or an out take. It has no real shape when I look at it, yet done is done. I may give it another go and pay attention to the instructions. Its a laugh on me when I do this, and I wish that my mistakes would end up looking more creative or artistic.  

Its sort of funny that this happened because I was just musing to myself that I could make more 12" blocks for that bed runner, and here is another. Number 7 of 16 planned for it. I can see what happened and could pull out the ripper.  Its just as I wrote, done is done.