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.

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


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.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Paper Project Weekend

I wrote out several postcards to send to a few people in my life, mostly kids, and some elders. It takes just a minute to write a note and send the card on its way.

When I got to the store, I found one last specially priced box of holiday cards. The clerk said they would not get in more of the same, so 'whew'. The find of the day was this group of Star Wars toys with candy. Some times, its fun to pander to the sense of play for my Sons. These are not sox, nor jockey shorts, nor leather gloves. The clerk commented that I lucked out with these as well. 

The PO was just that. Pay for packages sent overseas, and buy two more sets of stamps. I tried to purchase brighter lightbulbs at Home Depot, and as luck would have it, the brighter ones are more scarce then I thought. 

I need to print off more return address labels and get to writing notes inside of the cards. My handwriting has always been hard for others to read, so I sort of print and only do a few at a time.  Another thing that happens to me as I write is getting into the relationship and when I am real, there is an emotional cost to the work. I cannot explain it other than those words. 

What I did get while I was out is the increasing stress from other shoppers. If my purchases were any measure for what happens, then its easy to see how the best of what is out there goes off the shelves right after Halloween. I don't want to be out shopping any more this year to feel that stress. I am sensitive to the energy others put out and feel it drain me to the core of my soul. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Paper Projects (not paper piecing)

I wrapped a few of my finished gifts and have them ready for shipping. I also spent time getting holiday cards ready. Am I early? Maybe for some folks. Two gifts are going out of the country; one to Austria (not Australia) and one to the UK. Most of my quilts and holiday mini quilts need to go the week of Thanksgiving and if I wait too much longer, it will be stressful to finish. AND I closed down my POBox for the end of December, so want to get holiday cards out early this year too...I don't always send them, but its a way to tell people that there is a different address to use AND to send them a holiday greeting. I have noticed that people are not sending out cards as much. I hope they don't feel pressured to reciprocate, however, that is their choice.

I bought a box of 40 Hallmark cards on sale the other day, and started by putting on the new Snoopy Forever stamps, and new return address labels. I made up a simple announcement of the change, cut them apart, and tucked one in each card. Then I printed off address labels and after simplifying it, still have 70 addresses on my list, not including cards for the Grandchildren. I will need to buy more and plan to head to the store and the PO to start shipping out of the country. Busy work. Sometimes I really dislike it, but sometimes, it has to be done. And I am the only gal to do it!

It felt like the day was ill spent, in truth. Maybe this is another reason why folks dislike sending cards. The world has turned electronic and it has become easier to push buttons and send out e-cards. Reduced cost/reduced trash, yes. Yet, what about the card makers, the card designers, the postal workers? What's more, what about tradition? What about the folks not online? Happy Mail? Oh Jeeze. Something got me started.

It was a surprise to have that long a list, and I did cut it down by changing my address in one group I belong to. My intention to write is always good, and I know when I get a letter, a card, or one of the swaps, it simply makes my day happy. I belong to the Boomer Generation, and yet have those communication tendencies of the Traditional Generation before me. Yet, there are times when I hear from some that their kids keep every card I send them.

That gets me thinking about all the stuff we save that really has no intrinsic value, but connects us to someone. Every once in awhile, I come across a card or note from someone who has crossed the rainbow bridge. It does make me stop and remember them in a way that is deeper for some reason. And when I think of them, I really believe that we had a good relationship that their card sort of spoke to.

There are so few elders left in my family. And all of them, except Mother are living alone, still independent. So yes, before spending too much more time on the Solstice cards, these are about 5-6 cards for Thanksgiving that need to be sent out. I want to write in the card, not just sign my name. Its the little notes that make it personal. I am not sure what I will write. Just write. 

This is the plan for the entire weekend. Write. Connect. Paper projects.

Friday, November 6, 2015


I don't know if my machine has an automatic ruffler, so I am back to reading the manual. Sometimes when people make those jokes about men not stopping to ask for directions, I can identify. Maybe it comes from being a triple Aries, you know the archetype; just whack those bushes! And how easy it is to see why I have little success reading patterns. 

Ok. Well, that reminds me too. I put the closed captioning on the computer so all my videos and movies have them running at the bottom of my screen. Last night one of the characters kept saying the word, and the spelling of it was always OKAY. Heck, I go for the shortcut even there. 

No ruffler foot, so I made this apron pattern again without one. Its cute enough and will last a washing or two because the bottom seam where the ruffle is doesn't finish enclosed. Its stitched several times. I may try to figure out a way. I also realized the little mug rug I made for another swap, using this fabric also turned out cute, but I didn't photograph it. I pieced two scraps and did some outline stitches horizontally on the snow, over the trees and the three animals on it. The back was done in a golden star fabric and the brown was its binding. All scraps.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Isabella's Autumn

Pieces to the center part of this quilt are done. Now it needs a sage green for a border between the center and outside border. I think the same fabric would look nice for the binding. 

I want to put a quote on the back when I write my name and date for Isabella on a quilt label. I love this one by a female poet who is a favorite of mine. It captures my love for the spirit of the season, the bird, and the Earth. Perfect quote.

The pieces went together quite easily. The pattern has the border just added to it, however, I want to make it a tad larger and shopped for a green. I am still not sure if it would take a flannel back or a cotton print. And I am not sure if it would work better with a fluffy poly batting or cotton. If I do poly, then I would tie it. If it is cotton, then it needs to be machine quilted. I would make this quilt again with the 3" squares. Also, the triangles can be cut from the 8" squares, and the strips from any of the 2.5" strips. It just needs a theme and coordination.

The more I look at the photo, the more I think it will work with machine quilting a grid. I think I might run stitches on the top, use poly batting and tie it.

Then I cut 90 - 2" squares for the folded Acorn Holiday Ornament. Its for my Sunday free time. I have two round styro balls that I may make up too. When I was newly married, I made all the ornaments for our trees for many years. They were sweet, silly and cheap. I wish I had photos of them, but didn't have a camera and didn't think much of what I had done. However, now, I cherish the memories.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Those 3" squares

My quilting friend here in town asked what I do with squares I was cutting from fabric scraps. Right now, most of them are collecting and making what is called 'stash'. Let me justify my situation. I am not at the stage of hoarding because my plan for this year and until it is way down, is to use up what I have first.

However, when the 'stash' becomes overwhelming, there can be a tendency to over-react and see it as a do-or-die situation. I have a number of projects that are in containers from hard-sided plastic types to baggies. They are self-made kits that were put together at least this year. I started with the scraps, found patterns and then matched what I had to the pattern to make up my own kit.

Isabella is the middle Daughter of my Niece who passed a couple of years ago after leukemia took her precious body. When I started making quilts for her three grrrlie-grrls, I wanted to do them according to the seasons they were born in....Spring, Summer and Autumn. Isabella's birthday is the end of November. 

The pattern I found in a magazine had a more scrappy look to it. I realized I could make it work by using 3" squares to form the blocks. I gathered all the Autumn fabrics I had and started cutting the squares and the triangles for this quilt. It is absolutely luscious. What surprised me is the thought I put into re-designing it according to what I had. 9-patches are made a lot of different ways. They all have darks on the corners, lights forming the crossbar and the same green swirl in all of the centers. I have the setting triangles cut, and striped-bar triangles for the outside border. Now, its a matter of playing with layout.

There are 13 blocks in the quilt, so 13 centers. From that point, all the other blocks will be simply coordinated to the theme and unique. So each one needs 4 Lights and 4 Darks. This is as far as I can see it right now even though it is in a 'kit'. I plan to finish the top first and then measure for the back. It would be nice if I had enough fall-themed fabric for the back, but my plan didn't go that far. 

Next on my list to-do is catching up on the monthly House Block swap. My partner lives in Australia and has been trying to move/sell her home. She's been in chaos for a few months, so we agreed to hold off making them and then send several at a time. I am really backed up with them.

I've also signed up for two Solstice swaps and want to make something for each of them. One group is Myth/Legend/ Fairytale and the other is The Natural World. I love that little apron I made my youngest Grandgrrrl out of three FQs and think I have fabric to make one for each swap. The swaps have International partners possible. Postage is so high now and usually adds a good $10-15 to the package. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

After all these years

Many of us, including me, are scared to death of the wounded child living within. So many fears. We are afraid of remembering too much, both the good and the challenges. We are afraid of feeling overwhelmed again. We are mostly afraid of the rage we have suppressed. Mostly.

Every time I have finished one of the bird quilt tops, I find myself declaring that it is the most stunning. Well, it happened again with #7. The blues on it are stunning. 

When I remember my maternal Grandmother, who gave me all her patterns and taught me the very simple embroidery stitches, what I remember most about her is that she taught me to play. She made play possible and inspired imagination long after she passed.

Wonder, and trust, love...were all part of my life as a child. Play was a simple as counting my fingers and toes. She made learning play. All my experiences with her were playful and productive. And then, just when I was mature enough to start thinking about asking for more, she passed over the rainbow bridge and was gone.

She always returns when I quilt. Heck, she returns when I read or cook, or take a walk among fallen leaves. She collected and pressed leaves in books. Her daughters found them and thought she must have lost her reason. I knew. She found her joy.

So when my inner child peaks her head out, I do get scared that when I walk over that bridge some day, that none of my Grandchildren will know about my joy in life. When I think about Lizzy, I realize that she just waited for me to come back for a visit. No guilt. No shame. She just picked up the conversation where we left off as if time and space was inconsequential. Now that is a lesson.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Movies to Work by

The two projects currently happening here are finishing up the Tree Wallhanging, and rolling dollar bills.  I took time to dampen and press a lot of the older dollar bills so they would crisp up. That was smart. Then separating them into three piles of worn, creased and crisp, I started rolling, rolling, rolling.

To make such mundane work go easier, I put on the more recent King Kong movie. The story is one of injustice at many levels, but was three hours long, so gave me a chance to finish the dollar bill rolling project. I need to go back to the bank and get more bills to have the gifts that are planned for the Grands and younger Greats in the family. Its still not an easy gift like tucking larger bills into cards would be, but will give the kids something to open. I also put the finished quilts into boxes and have smaller boxes ready for these dollar gifts.

Next to finish up was adding all the charms or findings and buttons to the second of the Tree Wallhangings. I plan to wrap the gifts before sealing them in their boxes so that they arrive festive. Part of the reason I do this is for me so that I am engaged in the celebration. I will also need to write cards and print off care instructions. I know that everyone will open their gifts right away and that is perfectly fine. 

Movies I watch while I am working need to be ones I have seen before so I can listen and look up from time to time. I don't really want to engage in them. Luckily they can be found on Crackle, You Tube, and occasionally on Hulu. My computer is heating up again but not the way it was before it got serviced. I know its a matter of time when it will go out.

I pre-washed the blues I bought the other day and the 2 Color Catchers came out of the wash a very deep blue. My guess is that for as much color as was caught there is still more to come. Thing is, if this one fades to a lighter blue, its so much better than if the red faded to a pink.  So sad even good fabrics are doing this.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Scary Shows To Quilt By

Today was fun, from seeing store clerk's costuming, to attending the town Halloween Trunk or Treat event, eating out and then coming home to watch scary movies. Traditions.

The town event is interesting. When they first started doing this, the idea was to get the kids off the streets, and so at the time, more adults decorated cars and trucks and less kids were out gathering candy. Well, that has flipped with less decorated vehicles and more kids.  Even the cops were on a corner with a dummy crash victim. They all stood around looking buff and serious, but handing out great treats. I keep thinking how easy it would be to join in and then forget about it as time gets closer.

At home, I watched Bram Stoker's Dracula and then needed something else to tone it down before going to bed. Hulu always has new episodes of something. Starting at the beginning and into several episodes, I watched something called The Player, which I am not that sure is good TV.

It gave me a chance to sew on the findings and some buttons. One of the tree wallhangings is done. It just needs the rod and can be rolled, wrapped and tucked inside its mailing tube.

When I was out, I stopped at Walgreens and picked up a few empty boxes. My orange October hat will fit in one of them and hopefully the others will be the right size for a quilt or two.

So that's it. My day. Sacred Hallows. In my soul, I feel the connection between all the women in the world who have struggled for their beliefs, sometimes being persecuted, often misunderstood and even shunned. I remember. I feel them. It is my hope that they feel me too.