Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Its All About the Love

When I decided that I would work the energy BE THE LOVE YOU SEEK, it almost became something to get obsessed with and expressed through my quilting projects.


The word itself can be found everywhere in the stores because of the next holiday. It is branded on everything one sees. And then, like all holidays, when the day passes, we move onto the next thing to sell. Summer.

One of my friends said her favorite holidays were Hallows and Beltane. Beltane of the May Pole. Beltane of the May Baskets and flowers. Suddenly, I had become obsessed with making these heart-centered holiday expressions, and the plans for how to execute them have been constantly rolling through my mind.

I started thinking that this energy is not just about the word love, as much as it is defining what I seek that is love. The year hasn't really started yet even though I have plans for the journey and the process.

I bought a small wooden cutout for the word LOVE, and have it sitting on one of my bookshelves. The same bookshelf where the words JOY and PEACE stand. They also remind me of energies that are invited into my home and my life.

I remember the first time I worked with the word and archetype of PEACEKEEPER. Wow, that one really changed my values. Up until I worked with it, I had a very narrow concept of keeping the peace. I had come from a generation of people, friends, who went into the war and never came out. We protested war. We protested the government and leaders who took us to war. The war was at home between civilians and the people in the military. They didn't get it any more than I did. We were mobs in the streets and on the news, and the violence was with us night and day.

I knew nothing what keeping peace was about. After working with that energy on a deeply spiritual level, I understood the service and sacrifice that men and women give to make peace and give peace that chance John Lennon sang about.

And so here I am making a commitment to BE THE LOVE YOU SEEK and maybe, like the character of another Jon in Game of Thrones, 'I know nothing'.

I'm going to try to learn through the simple mini quilts I plan to make that have this twisted heart as center. We shall see. We shall see.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Its a FIT!

Well, okay, this time the work I did fit with the measurement I need as a Valentine / Spring wallhanging. 24" square will hang on the hardware. I need to make two of them this size for my Sons and want to ship them off next week.

Not sure I like working with the smaller 3.5" squares, but it is as nice as the larger one with 5" squares. Both will have sleeves in back for hanging, and muslin so that they can also lay flat on a table or across a love seat sofa.

I've chosen to work with the energy of BE THE LOVE YOU SEEK and decided to make the larger 5" pattern in various holiday and color themes. These mini quilts will go to some of the folks who commented on Facebook when I posed the questions of: 1. What is your favorite holiday; 2. What are your favorite colors; 3. Are you open to receive something I quilt either a mug rug, a table topper or candle mat, or a quilt. 

The ones I am making now need to go out as gifts and the rest of the things I do make this year will be shipped towards the end of the year, no matter which holiday they express.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

learning to count

When I bought the curtain rod hardware for the Tree Wallhangings, it was my hope to give my Sons seasonal quilted wall hangings. They measured 24" x 27".

This first one I made is for Valentine's Day as well as spring. For as lovely as it is, without binding, it measures 33"x32" and that is too wide. Too wide and too long to fit on their hardware. It needs a sleeve in back to hang and binding. As I look at this pic, the binding would look great in a darker red that matches the Spring Green border. 

I plan to make smaller ones for my Sons using the smallest of Twister templates and adjust to make the width closer to that 24". I'm going to try and buy more of that fabric for the borders on the ones I want to make them, and shop from my closet to find the red binding.

Planning for width and length using the Lil Twister is a bit of a mystery to me. I didn't keep the measurements on others I made so almost have to start from scratch. Notes-to-Self!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Just a Trim Please

When I found a pattern for a Halloween fabric panel I bought some time ago, it called for various small pieces of fabric, so I put together a 'kit' and set it aside. That was a few years ago and so it really sat. Panels are great to practice hand quilting on, doing a simple shadow outline.


The pattern called for framing the panel and creating 2 sets of 12 making 24 blocks to surround the piece as a border. I started working on those blocks based on what scraps gathered. I finished framing the panel and finished making the first set of 12 blocks. Thing is, I trimmed them up and squared them to make 6" blocks. Now I am setting the project aside once again. I have checked off what I did on the pattern but plan to write a note-to-self. The second set of 12 blocks is all that is left before assembling the complete top. With luck it will all fit...fit again, that word, that concept...and I can find something for the back.


Meanwhile, I've turned my attention to Valentine's Day. If you quilt and what you make is for gifts, you always have to be ahead of the season to get things done in time to send, and in time for them to hang or use it. Valentine's Day is a short season. A month, maybe.

I am upsizing this pattern for the Lil Twister template and making the wallhanging the same size I sent my Sons for Solstice. It is more scrappy too. 

Quilters rank themselves depending upon their skill. Some patterns will help you decide if you are ready for the task. Do I ever wish life was like that! In both quilting and life, it is a matter of practicing, trial and error, learning by observation and just taking a chance. And we really do need to self-identify. 

An Intermediate Quilter is confident enough to change pattern color choices and placement. With this Twisting Heart project, I know that I don't have the pastel pinks and that my choices are going to represent the intensity and passion for color, red in particular, that go along with my personality. 

Shopping from my closet first is not as easy as one would think. Most of the fabric in my bins has been given to me as leftovers from someone else's project or even from the leftovers from what I purchased. I try to buy only the amount that is called for, but it seems that there ends up being more. When I select fabrics from my closet for a project, it seems I spend a fair amount of time to find the right sizes and the right colors.

And I do think I will make a mini quilt or table topper that follows the above pattern in order to use up more of the pinks that are left from the bigger projects. How does the stash always seem to expand? 

I don't get it. 

When I ran that request on Facebook for folks who were open to receive something quilted by me, most of the 14 people who commented did not give me specifics. They said they were open to anything made by me. I guess that leaves a sort of freedom for me to create. They don't know what I have and I think they didn't want to seem greedy. I wonder if I could even make 14 quilts along with the 4 WIP for my family? I did say that I would be making quilts, table toppers, candle mats or mug rugs.

We have to speak our truth in order for any sort of manifestation to happen. I asked people to say what their favorite holiday is, what colors they prefer and then what they were open to receive.

What I learned from participating in the 12 Days of Christmas swap is that we need to be clear about our preferences, habits, skills and desires if we want to make it easy for the Secret Santa to give appropriate gifts. I figured that if a person likes a particular holiday, they would be open to having just about anything to decorate. Should be an interesting year.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

One Thing I Learned

Trim all squares to an equal size. 

While fitting in hasn't always been something I strive for in my personal life, I have come to see the value of it in my quilts.


I know it takes time and blocks 'should' be correct if all the pieces are cut the same. But it is not always the case. Like most of us, we change minute to minute. We change our minds, we change our clothes, we change our direction. So do these squares and blocks change with the most minute shift. These all measure 8"x12". My next step is to cut and join small blocks for the top and bottom frames. It is going to be a cute baby comforter. It will wait til I get out to buy batting for it. Wait with a note-to-self.


Going forward on these projects of the day meant I was to trim and measure twice to make sure the piece was spot on. My trimmings are going into a box for the next pet bed. I plan to donate the pet beds to the Spring Humane Society fundraiser. There is enough for one small one.


I did finish the back for the first book-panel-to-quilt. I've had this horizontal print for some time. It is cute but I could never figure out how to use it. I am not quite ready to cut into fabrics like these. What is amazing is that it fits! It is cut into two main pieces and then four on the bottom. I matched the pieces by using a strong line in the print. It will need pressing when I am ready to baste. There was literally no leftover fabric. The batting is going on my list of purchases. It would be a good goal to finish tops and bottoms of all my projects.

Directional fabrics present a challenge. When I think of humans who are single focused, and in order to fit, I wonder what their process is to find healing. They may go madly along not even realizing that there might be options. Like this fabric, a person who will not see things differently might sit alone without purpose, no matter how attractive they are. They don't have to change as much as some visionary needs to see how to include them in the process.

I am really getting on with my 2016 list. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Her passing

I just got word that the woman for whom I was a Secret Santa passed. Blessed be.

Playing Secret Santa Games

I am always impressed with the generosity of quilters. I subscribed to the "12 Days of Christmas" swap for this year. Rules were simple: You have to include a total of a yard of fabric, something hand made, and while you can give from your stash, you are also to spend at least $30. We filled out a profile so our SS would have some idea of what to purchase. Sadly, the woman I was assigned got so ill that she is in hospice and failing day by day. I don't think she was well enough to open what I sent. It comes back to prayers. I have been lighting a candle for her since learning of her health.

However, part of the fun of the SS games is assembling your package. The other part is in receiving. Receiving is a challenge for me. I grew up as a privileged child who had everything she ever wanted. I closed off energetically to receiving from others. My life is not the same as it was when I was a child. I have had to teach myself new skills such as being open to receive. 

 I've already started using some of the gifts and they have been wonderful. This one wraps around the bobbin and holds the end threads. I hadn't noticed how threads were tangling in the small drawer of the sewing machine. 
This next one is a set of three rubber bands to fit around projects. I've already used two of them to hold projects too small for a bin on their own yet. They aren't a strong binding so would snap if you pulled it but are perfect for their function.

I am hosting a year-long monthly swap on Swap-Bot that creates prayer flags for the 12 archetypes of woman. The fabric is cut 6" wide x 12" long and then folded down in back 3" to form a sleeve so the recipient can run a ribbon or rope through and hang them outside. This month's theme is the Daughter, that birth to pre-menopausal. 

Using the words, "Play like a Girrrl" says so much about what I want healed in myself. Of all the things that I bring forth from within my childhood, I do not know how to play without making it work-related, and I do not know how to rest or take naps. My fabric for this project is hand dyed. I have three pieces to work with this year and will cut my prayer flags from this material.

What I mean by that phrase, is that I remember what it was like to experience premature responsibility. I have lost what it means to feel ever-young. Playing can give true nourishment and when that is lost, like it has been in me, I see that in my lifetime, I have sought out ways that try to get it back. Now, age is a factor so I am not going to run and jump safely, and my prayer intention is to find the essence of this archetype in this time of my life.

I am so indoctrinated to be...what? Proper, act my age? ...that it is almost impossible for me to waste time like a child would. To color, to play with dolls, to make believe. My inner Daughter is being shushed. And that has to change.


I told folks who want to participate in the prayer flag project with me to keep everything simple and not add go-gahs to their flags that might damage wildlife if they fall to the ground and are swallowed. I know some folks want the pretty, artzie stuff, but this project is about prayer and healing. It can include creative art as a vehicle toward the end object. Well, you see mine. Hand-dyed fabric, some specialty machine stitching to close the seam and a swatch of pretty ribbon. Grrly to say the least.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Challenge!

I remember how the word works. You shout it out and there it is, out in the open. You either rise to the challenge or you slink away. The challenge is to myself. To keep working on projects in my closet that I started or wanted to start. 

Today, I spent time with the minutia of it all. I snipped off threads from the first of the book-panel-to-quilt top, and cut and pinned the larger piece I have for its back for piecing tomorrow. 

Then brought out the 2nd of these, and cut the panel piece apart and started pinning the smaller squares. Oye Vay! I discovered that while the pattern says to cut the panels into 8.5" squares, they will need trimming. Evidently I had cut and pieced squares for the first round of sewing. While they were checked off on the pattern as being enough, I couldn't find them to save my soul. I had enough of two colors but was going to be short on another two. The project sat too long and those colors were gone. I ripped and found two other fabrics of the same intensity and color to work. If they turn up somewhere, now they will go in the box I keep for that Orphan Child quilt.

The third project I worked on was the Halloween panel quilt. That panel was measured and cut, along with two side panels, that are pinned and ready to piece tomorrow. All the pieces are at the machine and ready to stitch.

Its an un-glamourous part of quilting, to be sure. Hard to take pictures of the process. I wanted to give up more than a few times today. I really understand the concept of UFOs or un-finished objects. They get that way because they are so frustrating and not at all joyful. I look at that first one and see what I want to do now that is is done. Probably I am the only one to notice. I am doing the second one having learned my vision for them, yet, it is taking much more of my energy to put together. There were no notes-to-self, and missing pieces. So very frustrating. It took time to go through the fabric bins and find what would substitute and work.

My studio is torn apart with bins in the center of the room with fabric tossed here and there. And I have brought the work into the great room, so more of the house is filled with my projects. This is not how I wanted to work. My first step now is to get into the studio and clean it up and work in there.

My second step is to clear out the great room and take all the projects back where I want them to belong.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Working on Next Steps

It is my goal to work on my quilting projects in my closet, and take them as far as I can before purchasing more fabric. I love the new pieces that have been coming my way from people who want to support my work.

I returned to this project and did some top stitching on the top alone. It is more of an outline stitch as it is away from seams. Now I need to put some borders on a piece for the backing and then it will be ready for poly batting. Right sides will be sewn together rather than adding a binding. And then, I will sew along the edges to add reinforcement to the end seams. I have some heavier threads to tie it and will leave that part to the end just before giving it to a new baby.

The primary lesson I learned from doing this quilt is that pre-design might make projects more appreciated by myself and by others. Also, I want to work on seeing beyond the pattern I find and want to follow. The second baby quilt that is like this uses the same pattern with completely different fabric choices. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

my Secret Santa

While the gifts keep coming, one thing I got on Day 5 was a Charm pack of gold holiday fabrics. I pieced them together to make a table topper for one of my gifts for next year. I spent the day joining the blocks for the first round, adding a white with gold stars border, then cutting it to the template. 

It is my plan to buy half a yard of a gold poinsettia fabric for a 5" border. I have other fabrics but they are too strong for the gold, and the gold gets lost in the middle. I want to highlight its charm for the season. I thought I had a pattern down for it as I laid it out, however, it took on a completely different look than what I planned for it. Fabrics, when they are cut, can take on a completely different look to them. I still like this.

I did finish the strip quilt binding and have that wrapped as a Winter Solstice gift, so am completely finished with my quilt projects for 2015.

This was Day 7 of the Secret Santa opening and each day is just so wonderful. One of the 7 in today's gift was a windmill template for a smaller size scrap (3.5"), so now I have one that made today's Table Topper at 5", and another for 10". I am just thrilled to be able to use my scraps and have ways to make that happen.

What saddens me is that the woman I sent to had been ill and nothing they gave her as treatments worked, so she is currently in hospice. Even though I shipped early, I do not think she was able to open her gifts. They may sit in that box for her family to either trash or open and give away. Life is like that. Get it while you can.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Owl Be Seeing You

I finished the hand binding on the strip quilt. What surprised me about the combination of the multi-patterned strip and the one fabric binding is how they blended. Its a lovely quilt and I am happy to have finished another one of Lee's projects.

Another of mine was finished too. The owl mug rug for a Swap-bot partner. The geometric striped fabric used on the binding is on the back too. It also was part of a swap exchange. These little scraps are not enough to do much on a full quilt but do really pop used this way.

My finger nerve endings still hurt when I type so I am not doing much of that for awhile.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Binding in Secret

I am finishing the strip quilt before the end of the year, and want it to be a surprise as a Winter Solstice gift, so its being done without being seen by anyone else for now. I had to put a stronger dressing on my finger, rather than just the bandaid because everytime I bumped it, the darn thing hurt REALLY bad. Not to be a baby about such a small wound, I know that I sliced off a lot nerve endings there and am not taking anything for pain. Some people have to deal with worse so I am just on my own with it.

The strip quilt machine quilted nicely almost making it look like channel quilting in the back, though it was, in fact, stitch in the ditch. As I looked at my 2.5" strips, at first it seemed to go with the top if the binding was all varied. However, back in the cutting days, I had cut strips out of some scraps that were a sort of Summer Island print of white, teals, purples and a dash of gold. They had been joined in a contiguous set that was rolled and ready.

Funny thing, I kept looking at the variety of 2.5" strips trying to decide, saying to myself that I should keep this for a quilt. Wait. What? This is a quilt. It went all the way around with less than a foot overage. It is perfect. What surprises me is how it picks up the colors from some strips and also looks good with the dark gray back.

Half of it is done now, and I would like to devote the remainder of the day to cleaning papers on the desk in the studio.  The doc initially told me it would take to the end of the year or the finger to heal. I am thinking this is correct.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How Sweet It Is

While I did make a new Mug Rug, the binding is pinned, ready for me to stitch, and I'll post a photo when I finish it.

What I did most of all today was to make some Biscotti, some Pizzelles, and some HoneyBalls to send to my Sons. It is my hope to get the boxes sealed, addressed and ready to post.



Nothing tastes good to me these days and so sampling these items was of no use. Thing is, because this happens to folks, they need a taste-tester and I don't have one. 

The school kids say, "you git whatcu git, and you don't throw a fit!" And then "the Sun will come out tomorrow!"

Everyone should have some elder in their family they can talk about. Heck, I still remember going with my future husband to his Grandfather's home for dinner. He served fried chicken that was still pink. My future husband begged me to eat the edges and not say anything. Turns out, I loved that old man, and remembering that experience still brings joy to my heart.

If the Dolce (sweet) sucks, maybe one day they can laugh about it too.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Batik Strip Quilt

When my friend Lee passed, I inherited 5-6 huge packing boxes filled with fabric, and quilting accessories. In sorting it, I knew there was a lot in the boxes I wasn't ready to use or might never use. I gave at least half of it away. That is a habit that encourages my health and cheerfulness. The other day, I heard from a woman. I had finished one of Lee's quilts meant for Lee's Sister-in-Law (the woman's Mother) in blues and yellows. The woman said she is giving the quilt to her Grandchild. How wonderful!

That reminded me that I have a few other projects of hers that were unfinished. I found two batik Jelly Rolls. She didn't quilt with batiks and there was no note-to-self, so I had no idea what to do with them. Another thing in those boxes were stacks of quilting magazines. 

As I browsed, I found this simple pattern that joined the rows and then joined the rows into a quilt top. All random. I basted it to a 100% cotton sheet back and plan to join random strips for the binding. With luck, I can finish it in a few days and give it to the youngest of Lee's Daughters for a Winter Solstice gift. None of her Daughters quilts and she did make each of them quilts while she was alive. This might be a special comfort quilt. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Multi-tasking

I fell behind on the BOM and worked to play catchup. Some days it seems that I can barely keep my nose above water, and then I realize that running water is musical and changes all it touches if it just keeps flowing. I remember walking in Pipestone National Park some years ago in Winter. The ground was hard crusted snow. As I came up to a bridge, the river under it seemed frozen, yet there was this loud, loud roar that I soon realized was the sound beneath the ice.


This block is called Courthouse Steps and is similar to the Log Cabin pattern. I worked on another block but am not quite finished with it and am setting it aside for tomorrow to complete. As I was working on them, it suddenly occurred to me that I might be phasing out of the habit I've had all my life of multi-tasking. I am not sure that my lifestyle NEEDS the hard-driving fast pace any more. Its all about the flow.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Catching up on the BOM

This BOM is almost a mystery quilt because each block is revealed at the beginning of the month. We only pull together the fabric at the beginning and attempt to coordinate from one block to another. 


The thing about this pattern is that there is a frame around each block and then the sashing. I absolutely love my choices so far even though I have no idea how it will turn out. The red FQs were a Secret Santa gift to me years ago. I never knew what to do with them. Some of them read more brown, yet one that looks brown is called RoseWood for example. 

I am behind on two blocks for November and December, and they need to be framed as well. At least with a photo of what is finished, I can see which of the colors need to be included more to balance out the full 12 blocks. After seeing my maternal Grandmother's candle remain lit til the end, I decided to make this a day to catch up.

My younger Son sent me a couple of batting packages for Winter Solstice and that might mean getting three quilts from them. Woot! It means I can finish quilts for the Great-Nieces.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Tradition

I was lucky to have known all four of my Grandparents. Each of them holds a special place in my heart. 


To honor them, I have two candle holders, one for the Winter months has silver snowflakes in front of each candle glass holder. I light them all at once, left to right, in the order of their passing. Tea lights will burn during the evening. What is interesting is that they go out differently each time. When I first started this tradition, it came to me that the last candle lit burned to tell me that specific Grandparent had something to say to me, and so I started listening, started remembering their values, things they said to me as I was growing up or as an adult.

This last time, the third candle stayed lit. It belongs to my maternal Grandmother who was a quilter. It hasn't been the last to glow for a very long time. Here, I just said I was taking a time out from quilting.

As a result of listening to her, I joined a grief support group to help me deal with the changes in my health, and have made a decision that I will finish the family quilts this year (2016) and concentrate on making smaller quilts such as wall hangings, table toppers or mug rugs where I can practice machine quilting,

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

time out

I found that I needed to catch up on other things besides quilting and so, after getting the closet cleared to hold another empty bin, I filled it with smaller containers for the next projects. I just need to stop quilting for the rest of the month. The shed needs cleaning. What I have for holiday decor needs to be handled with decisions about its future use. Do I keep storing it or what? Minimizing is a challenge and isn't for just one layer of life. I need answers to things surrounding me. 

Its like when I was doing all those public rituals and renting space. I had to come in to clear, cleanse, and then consecrate. I do believe that is what my next steps to being in my home are about. As I have said, there is no one here to do it for me...no one to make these choices. And I best make them while I can.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Oh Baby, Baby

I learned a few things from the first of these book-panel-conversion-to-quilt. One important lesson was that the pattern calls for 13 blocks and there are only 12 to the panel. I spent a fair amount of time 'auditioning' fabrics I had in my closet bins to get a look that would satisfy me. While there were no notes-to-self in the container for it either, I had already started the piecing process before putting it away. It was easy to understand because I had just worked on the first one. 

Effective, creative quilting takes practice. Quilting well is a matter of practice, hard work and acquiring skills. I post photos of my finished quilts at the end of each year after the recipients have them and some folks think I just whipped them all up in the last week or so. Hah!

This second book-panel-conversion-to-quilt is a lot brighter than the first one. I might have gone shopping for a better center square but am content with this green that has red ornaments on it. That batik red. I know this quilt will get pre-washed before giving it. With all that white, if the color isn't set, its almost certain to bleed and come out pink.

I'm in no hurry to finish this one either, so it was enough today to select that center square. Tomorrow is always soon enough to work it to the next stage.

Oh Baby

This baby book conversion into a baby blanket has been interesting. I am almost finished with the first one. As I think about the season, it becomes another one of choice in my opinion. I chose not to get overwhelmed by the flow of holiday shoppers. I chose to smile and be jolly. I chose to enjoy the traditional music (even though I do not celebrate that tradition). I chose to have a sense of joy and wonder with anything that comes in the mail. I chose to have a glad heart.

And I chose to keep quilting. This is the first of the baby quilts. It needs a second border, top stitching, and then the back pieced to fit before putting it back into the closet.

Like the legend of the gift bringer, Santa, I will be making a shopping list. I plan to use poly batting to make it have that fluffy feel. As I worked on this, following the pattern, what it assumed was it would be made from 13 pages from the storybook and there were only 12, so I had to improvise. I am not going to take it apart because it DID look ok when I laid it out.

When I look at the photo, it reminds me of all those times that I did something that ended up not quite right. And then I think about the joy I see in photos sent to me that are taken when the youngest of the children open their boxes. Usually all I have sent, really, is my love. The boxes are wrapped with lovely ribbons, and the contents are simple and inexpensive.

Over the years, I have witnessed how these little baby blankets with a holiday theme have become treasures. Eventually whomever the child receiving this one is, they will love the look of it, see the charm and feel the warmth and love. I will finish it up so that the next step is getting the batting. And I will move along to finish the second little conversion.

Heaven knows how I feel about it all this morning.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Coming Out of The Closet

Sigh. I am not sure how 2016 will go as I finish projects started, some maybe several years ago. The projects might go quickly or they might give me trouble. Some do not have those famous 'notes-to-self' on them and it will mean struggling to find the next steps.

The first thing I did this morning was to cut a lot (13) 6"x12" pieces that I packaged to send someone who wants to do the monthly prayer flags but does not sew nor does she have fabric. I included a small spool of thread and a needle, plus a simple instruction for her to do a running stitch. These will serve as prayer flag foundations and any work she does on them will be her own interpretation. 

Then I turned my attention to one of the two panels meant to make a fabric book. I found a pattern in one of the old magazines I have that makes a baby quilt out of the panel of book pages. The black and white small edge on it will have to be removed in order to have the 2.5" squares fit as borders. More trimming.

I spent time laying it out and machine appliqued the pine cone pic to the center of this one to cover up the book plate piece. 

There is a second book-page-panel that finishes this project. My plan (and I need to write that note-to-self) is to finish them up to the stage of adding poly-batting, and leave for another time to do a simple tie to them rather than quilting. I might re-enforce the top with top stitching but will not do regular quilting on a baby/kid's quilt. They have to stand up to a lot of dragging around and laundering.

Everything in them seems to be scraps I pulled together to match the panel. Some were cut and ready to piece. Some waiting for borders or backing. I am not sure at this moment. The challenge is that there are scraps in it, AND no note. Although there is no family baby coming any time soon, what my goal for these is to make them ready for me to finish if enough time passes and my skills wane. Tying will make it so very easy. And easy works.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Red/White/Blue

I finished the top for this project and now it goes into the bin to finish with batting and a back for another day. It looks to be a new year coming that is about renaming any self-defeating, possibly even neurotic quilting behaviors I developed. I would like to change those kinds of behaviors by working on ones I like about myself such as conservation,  or re-purposing fabrics by simply shopping from my own closet first.

I would like to make creative backs to go with quilt tops I make, such as this one. What I might have done in the past would have been to go out and purchase a fabric in a white print with something more patriotic. When I finish it, the back will be something from my stash.

I would like to find and make use of quilting tips like this one a quilter friend of mine gave. She discovered that the top of the Gutterman spools pops out and will fit in the larger spools so they fit on the sewing machine. I have a few of them that have been sitting in my thread box that I can use now! I am so excited because it means I can shop from my closet FIRST!

The rest of my day needs to be spent inside the house, cleaning, setting up Solstice decorations and trying to figure out what the heck is going on with the outdoor lights. They work and then they don't. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Remembering to Pray

Not that I need reminders. However, I love the Prayer Flag swaps in Swap-bot and joined for December. Then, I have a WTA (winner take all) for Solstice. "Be with me. Take my hand. Protect those I love. Thank you for all I have." Prayer takes many forms.

Sometimes when I make a prayer flag, I let the fabric speak for me and include a note as to my intention. This black background is perfect for Winter Solstice-longest Night energy. On the swap flag, I wrote 'Sing with Joy' and am not sure if I will include the plastic & string snowflake on the top. The one with the 2 birds for the WTA is perfect.

I love prayer flags so much that I asked if I could do a 12-month swap using the archetypes women go through in their lives as the theme for each month. January starts with the Daughter. I'll work up a commentary with suggestions and see what happens. I'd like to hang mine on my new wrought iron arbor in back over next year.

Whatever comes my way in these prayer flag swaps is always just what I need, just what I want to pray for or about. It is a connection to community and the divine, flying prayers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When in December

At the core of my being, I want to remember people in the world for whom family is lost or something they never had.

I spent another day running errands. Its best for me to get into the stores early before the crowds come each day, because my empathy kicks in and I get home feeling so stressed I climb the ceilings. I pick up on sensations of deprivation and want, of confusion and terror. While maybe other emotions are there too, they are minimal at best.

For many years, I used to volunteer at kitchens to feed the hungry or sort and wrap gifts for kids that were collected by various organizations. Tehachapi is small and if those things happen, they are run by church ladies. Not me.

I found an ad for the Humane Society here. We have one that is open one day of the week. They usually have a fundraiser selling baked goods in front of KMart, and say its where they get their biggest donations from towns-folk. This year, I saw the ad in time to volunteer and am set for it Saturday, 12/12.

I also stopped to buy some baking ingredients and items (baggies, paper plates, etc.) to lay what I make on to bring to the tables. I came home to put everything away that I bought and ran a bath. Then I sewed the binding on the three mug rugs so that I can hand sew them tonight while watching the Dancing With the Stars Finale.

Elsewhere in Southern Cali, people were shot. Their families are forever changed. Just like that. And my guess is that there were more events around the world not so close, and just as tragic. Although my lights are electronic, a candle is lit on my altar tonight. Just because. Its December and there is much and more to love here on Earth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Charity Begins at Home

I can start on the various projects now that 2015 is done, so I found a FQ that I had 'won' in a game at the guild several years ago. Its a Valentine print. Then I cut 4 mug rugs out of it and laid 3 of them on batting, plus another scrap that I also batted. No note to self so I didn't know what my plans were, but it is an easy enough project to finish.

What I did was to echo quilt around the sweet little images. Three of them are ready to bind. The fourth one wasn't ready with batting to take to the next step and so I added it to the GYPSY ORPHAN box for that quilt. I don't remember why I stopped this project. Maybe I missed the holiday. These will be finished with enough time to send them off to someone.

The most important part of it, the charity-beginning-at-home part of it, is that I am working from my closet and making something from what I have. It is the acknowledgement of my need for my own charity. It is a good goal to have and will be the lesson for 2016.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Paper Pieced Quilt is Finished!

Although it is finished, this was the most difficult project for me so far, and only love for my friend kept me going on it. Determination to get it done and do the best I could provided the energy.


Its the only quilt I have taken to a long-arm shop to get done but was very worth the price. She said she top quilted it so she could meander over the joins that were 'iffy'. I reinforced a few more that kept popping up. Now it is what it is.

I tried hard to stay positive while working on this quilt. Amy is a breast cancer surviver, though she did develop lympodema and has a permanently swollen arm and hand. It was important to me to stay positive and put positive energy into it.

I made this quilt in honor of a black cat she had who passed over the rainbow bridge.  As I look at the photo here, it is lovely. What I hope is that she can look at it with softened eyes and not see the mis-matched seams.

Done is done. 2015 is done.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mystery Within

Not a mystery quilt, yet the mystery within me has my mind bouncing. All but one one of this year's quilts have been shipped. All but one holiday gift is wrapped and ready to ship.

For so many decades in my life this was a difficult time of year. I think that the commercial advertising might have fed into my sense of self, tearing me down for not having enough to share. At first it was getting the right toys for my Sons. The right ones were usually expensive, often broke or were discarded before the day was out.

Then Grandkids showed up and one by one helped to increase my angst. Not them, but me wanting to give them something that was special. It was me increasing my own angst. Me.

What I wasn't learning is that its not about the things as much as it is being present, sharing space and time, laughing.

Then I started to quilt. I got it in my head that I needed to make everyone in my family a quilt. I started out fast and furious. The best I could do in a year was to finish maybe 10. At least 10. I am still under that system of starting and stopping them, working on them, letting them rest. It won't be much different in 2016 although only five are dedicated right now.

I shipped out 7 quilts in the last couple of weeks. Four of them have been opened. Earlier in the year, several more went out. I haven't really slowed down.

I don't really have the usual angst from years ago, but something is going on. I wonder if it is residual or habitual and if I can get over it or just need to deal with it? Its almost like I still cannot do enough or haven't done enough.

When I looked for some images about 'enough', I was surprised at how many books have been written on the topic and how many people experience this nagging thought. I am not alone in it. I don't know how many quilters or artists feel this way. I do.

So come Tuesday, everything I made or bought for Winter Solstice 2015 will be on its way. I know I should feel relieved and maybe I do. And then I look at the list for 2016 and turn my attention to what is next.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Simplify

Although the binding is not quite finished on Amy's quilt, I did get all the rolled dollars done, all the gifts wrapped and in shipping boxes, today is a day I plan to go through all my clothes and clear out the clutter. 

With all the quilting deadlines and pressure I felt to complete them, this project fell by the wayside. So for now, I am going through my home to get things done. Its interesting to see how I let certain things go in order to quilt. I wonder if it will be different this year without all the deadlines.

Yesterday, I finished tearing down the wooden arbor and filled the second trash container of broken wooden slats and cut vines. Maybe next week, I can break it up and finish hauling it out. Then the new wrought iron arbor needs assembling and installing. Of course, more of those cut vines will need to get hauled away. The plants are established so I do hope they will simply grow up and continue flourishing as before.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Small Wound

The finger continues to heal yet makes all work difficult. Its not that I am whining, just stating facts. I keep wondering if I needed a time out. Thing is, even with this, I find it most difficult to merely sit around.

One of my Nieces sent me a book as a Thanksgiving gift that I find most enchanting. Its historical fiction and written in a most interesting way. It is giving me the opportunity to do something that doesn't stress the finger. The storyline brings in a character from the other side in WWII, who now is in his 90's. Picoult researched her material so as to inspire the reader to think outside the usual concepts.

Amy's quilt is at the stage of binding. I've had to reinforce seams YET AGAIN. How many times I've done this and here more popped apart. The long-arm work is stunning. Already I am thinking about making one with regular piecing for her. At least now I can say I did a paper-pieced quilt. I want it ready to ship by Tuesday with the rest of my Winter Solstice gifts. And I need to keep the bandage dressing on the finger. Amazing how little bumps to the wound can evoke such pain.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Healing Time

My finger is healing. Most tasks are easier than typing. 

I've been endlessly rolling dollar bills for gifts. I put 15 in each of five gift bags along with mini ornaments and some shred for the Great-Nieces/Nephews. That's 75 tiny rolls. Its mindless work and took an entire evening to finish. Next are the ones in toilet paper rolls for the Grandchildren. 

I was able to finish my cards too and would like to make a trip out to mail them. My other POBox has yet to forward mail but closes at the end of the month.

AND THEN, joy of all joys! Amy's Cat quilt is finished. The long-armer knew my angst over some of the joints and quilted from the top to ensure the seams held. I cannot believe how lovely it turned out. As soon as all these gifts are wrapped and in shipping boxes, it frees up my work station to make the binding. I am excited to finish it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Next Step

In quilting, the phrase "All is lost" is never true. Although the quilt I am making in red and white was based on a pattern I did not follow, a little thinking about what I wanted, and then research, turned up a pattern that I can use. I am going to put these 42 blocks on point, add the same number of white print blocks and do some setting triangles.

While I CAN blame the pain I felt and still feel in my index finger for not thinking clearly, part of my core is about resisting...resisting control, resisting authority. Being stubborn, I guess. Well, here is the link to setting triangles. I am not ready to do them until I finish the top and can measure for the fabric. http://www.setting-triangles.html 

I have two more sides to piece and then will square up all the blocks and alternate them with a same-size white (with red) print block. 
Here is the concept pic, though mine will be extra rows to make up the 42 blocks. I picked up three white print fabrics for the blocks that read solid here. I see that they used some of the setting triangle fabric for some blocks, which I may or may not do, depending upon how far what I have reaches. 
While it is not going to be the same as I first thought, it did become interesting. I had one person in mind for it when I first started and another one now. Maybe that is reason enough for the change in planning.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

C Block

Luckily pinning, piecing and pressing are okay to do with my finger. And the finger is healing.

Finished C Block, those these are piled rather than laid out pretty.

The other one is in 'modification mode' meaning that its not ...wait, I am not following the pattern. Surprise.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Index Finger

I am doing some piecing and that means pinning and pressing, but its hard to type.

I posted this on Facebook and so will here too. The dressing is changed a couple of times each day just for my comfort. It is healing but clearly, there is a lesson or two coming out of the experience. This pic is between dressing. I will be wearing it for awhile and need to get in to see the doc for a wound re-evaluation. It hurts less all the time but is still open.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Oh NO! Re-do It For Accuracy

Looking back, I can always find something in my life that I wish I had done over. When I started to square up the B Blocks, it was easy to see that my 1/4" seam allowance was too narrow.  For these HSTs, its really dicey to take the chance that the seam will hold. It is much easier to correct a seam gone wrong before the entire quilt top is constructed. How I wish life were that simple.

Anyway, I set about making corrections on both projects with the HST's even though it took just as much time to correct the issue as it did to first piece it. Dang. I am not sure time was wasted as much as the lesson learned that came from re-tracing my stitches and getting a more accurate seam. Done anyway. 

connectingthreads.com/tutorials/Intro_to_Half_Square_Triangles__D4.html

It would be delightful to make changes in our lives that effect its quality as easy as it is to make a stitching correction.

I just sliced the side of my index finger, so will need to rest for a day or so. I plan to pull out magazines and dream awhile. The ER doc said to give it 48 hours. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Quilt-A-Long

Somedays its therapeutic to wish upon a star. When I saw this quilt-a-long, I decided to make it in patriotic colors and perhaps offer it as a quilt someone could use as a fundraiser. 

Its almost a mystery quilt except that a finished pic was shown. Each week, new instructions were given. #1 was to gather the fabrics; #2 was to cut; #3 was A block; #4 was B block. And that is where I am right now.

I let myself get behind and so spent a lot of time this week catching up. The cutting day. What I didn't like (for my skills) is that nothing was pinned. So while A block is finished, I am not sure if all the points will work or if I will have to back track.

Then, B block was the same. These are the HST or half square triangles. In this case, wishing is not enough for me. I need the more practical approach, but let it go the way the instructions indicated. I might take these blocks and do top-stitching just to make sure they are strong enough to hold up to any use. I see seams come apart on quilts, and while it is charming, a lot of people just toss those quilts away or use them for pet beds, which is ok too.

Wishing and work sometimes are not enough by themselves and need both to get the job done. They each have different purposes and its up to me, to anyone, to know the value each has and then to decide which one works best.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cutting is Hard on the Knees

I cut the borders on Isabella's quilt, and then pieced them because Carol (quilting friend in town) and I are taking a road trip in the morning. Its 62" square and so will need almost 4 yards of back. It really looks amazing. Everything but the green border on it was a scrap or a gift from someone.

The other cutting projects on my to-do list were quite tedious and I have yet to finish with the 4 7/8" squares, some of which need cutting on the diagonal and some need a sewing line drawn. Light has dimmed now the sun is setting and my knees are feeling a bit stressed even though I had a cushioned carpet under my feet. Its not a race.

Admittedly, I was shaking my head at both the reds and blues. Even though I pre-washed them with Color Catcher, I know this one will get pre-washed again with even more of the product before I give it away. I am not selling this product, yet I am sold on it to catch the loose dyes in fabrics. I ran both colors separately with 2 of these sheets and both sets of sheets were heavy with either red or blue. I think it is interesting that those are the main colors on the box. 

Found! The Missing BOM Box

After going through the bins again, ripping off the tag that said the BOM box was inside, I turned to my workstation to organize it. Of course, there it was in plain sight. Plain sight. Anyway, I refolded the fabric that was in the box, laid out the blocks I have to see how they look, and selected two pieces to make block #9, still waiting to do #8 which is 'Courthouse Steps' and is really scrappy. Personally, I would have made that one #12 to finish it up...but hey.


I also worked on a few mug rugs my friend Debi hinted at. I made a small 5" one for her Grandson. I know he is at the stage where he will whip them off the table and send them flying across the room. He is the most darling boy. This is really scrappy. Notice that the binding is two fabrics with the lighter one on top and the darker one at the bottom. There wasn't enough to go around. 


I had more 6.5" squares from the holiday square swap last year, and am able to make these four with the same print on the back. The binding is a scrappy 2.5" strip. I did a very simple grid on all of them and wish I had thought about doing concentric lines. Next time.

I realized that I don't want to do anything complex until I move some more of the fabric I have and find the spaces to breathe. For now, these simple projects make me happy.

Next on my to-do list is getting back to cutting. Isabella's quilt needs two borders; the BOM is ready for block #9; I need to start the red/white/blue quilt-along; and all those House Blocks from July to November are due. When I cut, I know that the metaphor makes a strong impact on me. In this case, for quilting, it is an act of destruction, slicing into perfectly good fabric with the hope of creating something more when it joins with other pieces. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Homemade Ornament

Usually, I pass by the patterns and tutorials for holiday ornaments. I used to make them most years when my Sons were young (how long ago THAT was!). Yet I found this one on You Tube and made it today: folded fabric pinecone ornament
This one actually turned out quite nicely though I had to really hunt for the artificial greenery to go on top. The instructor has a lot of samples and is a really great tutorial to make these. It calls for those egg-shaped styros, a box of speciality pins (2 pins for every square in case you cut more of them), a piece of ribbon, liquid glue, hot glue. One FQ of a brown print will make two ornaments. I used a batik and it gave it a lot of character. It gets cut into 45 - 2" squares (for each pinecone) that are folded in quarters and pinned onto the egg with a dab of glue. I wouldn't say its a craft for kids, but maybe, depending upon their skill and ability to stay focused. I wish I would have cut more 2" squares because I would have liked its top filled in a bit. Making one was enough for me even though I prepped for it a few days ago.  I also wish I had found the stuff for the top before I got started. I don't like junky looking crafts and the stores in town do not have a lot to pick from. This is actually nice. I sure do like that asymmetrical look in almost everything I do.

I found a decorated box for it and plan to ship it out to Brother and his Wife. We don't exchange gifts, but I am ever grateful for all the care he provides our Mother. It is a small token of my appreciation.