Monday, February 29, 2016

Taking Inventory

When I was a child, someone told me that we don't just go out and get a life. We live one. Start to finish, full out, living large and taking risks. I am not sure if that person was a teacher, a family member or some wise sage in my life at the time. Regardless, it was the kind of advice I lived by and contributed to my inability to slow down and even to rest. Even today, I don't think I do much in moderation or walking that middle path.

I have to trick myself into sitting still and into believing that healing is the task at hand.

I've been coloring, embroidering & watching documentaries. All in the attempt to keep myself still and allow the inner knee ligament time to heal. It is only Week #2 and already, I am tired of sitting around.

I discovered that my bag of crayons is really 8 boxes of 8 gathered together to look like they are a box of 64. A few of the same colors are missing from each box. Because some are older, papers look different and even colors look different. I pull out a blue and it is the same blue I just used, as are the greens, reds, yellows, oranges and pinks. 

I am so frustrated that I want to throw them all away, but then would be without. That is a pretty grown-up response. They will be replaced as soon as I feel good enough to shop. Meanwhile, I shop from my closet, even with crayons.

And I am resting my knee.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fox Swap

I entered an Animal Spirit Guide swap, and the partner I drew offered two to chose from. It seemed her primary Spirit is the Gray Fox. Red Fox are so much more common and most of the illustrations are for that aspect. When I asked what she had, what she wanted and what she did not want, I learned a great deal and decided that if I was to work with this animal, I needed to bring in who I am and what I do.

I've had a red fox pattern for a small quilt for some time and converted it to a black and white copy so I could make it a gray fox. The red fox has black boots and a white tipped tail where the gray fox is made up of grays, light browns and a bit of red. It is a scrappy pattern, however, I don't have gray tone-on-tone fabric so thought about going to the store and buying some batik. Hmmm.

Then I continued my research, and found ancient images for the Fox constellation, historical references, and kept looking. I found tarot imagery of a GRAY fox, and books, a coloring page, and even a movie. All these topics: Astrology, Tarot, history, books and most recently coloring pages are of interest to me.

However, making the quilt was going to be challenging even though the instructions said it was Easy. It was made for a RED fox, so I needed to re-write the pattern and make those dreaded HST that I wanted to be done with. I kept looking, and did a search for embroidery patterns and found several.

I've copied this one and plan to make it into a mug rug. And yes, it is an artistic copy, but it is the best I can do because I am not enough of an artist to create this or anything like it. I found a scrap of white denim that fits perfectly and will put a hoop over it and start on it for this weekend. She lists a few teas she likes, so I will try to find them to send along. I have a feeling this will turn out to be a nice mug rug and working with the denim will make it stand up to a lot more use than if it had been on muslin. And making it means I can shop from my closet, which also meets a goal of mine for 2016.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hallows Heart

Thing is, unless a piece is fussy cut, when you cut and piece, sometimes you get what you get. all beautiful things take time to evolve, and beauty changes with time. Some times I like something I have made more than other pieces. And because I am making so many of these hearts, they come in all sorts of combinations. I've added a sleeve to them so they are more than a table top.

This swap, 'Something Old, Something New, Something Spooky, Something Blue' is still evolving. It is a bit smaller than the others. I trimmed the background so the heart comes to the edge of it, and I made the border smaller. It measures 28" square. It is not the usual Hallows decoration even though it is made with a lot of Hallows fabrics. Only the blue charms were non-seasonal. For now, it is set aside. My next step is to get batting to fit, and then find fabric for the back and the binding. I've got til mid-April to send it out.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Blocks #15 & #16

I stopped at the fabric stores in town for two things. One is a a fabric marking pen, and I picked up an orange batik with blue in it that I thought I was going to use for a Swap-bot project that turned out not to be what I want.

Marking pens come in many forms. I used this kind for the last quilt I made one of my Granddaughters, where ink disappears when exposed to air. Some inks disappear with water or the heat of an iron. On the downside, because it disappears on its own, you have to move fast. I think one pen lasted for that quilting, so I will make sure everything is done before opening it. 

There are only two blocks left to hand quilt before I do the outside border, and return to all the blocks with more quilting. Both of these blocks were 'official' with the group. I have a template for the border that needs the marker to outline its pattern.

The Hallows Swap is named 'Something Old, Something New, Something Scary, Something Blue'. Also, it needed to be something worth at least $20. Again, I shopped from my closet first. This is actually more challenging than one thinks. Luckily, blue is opposite orange on the color wheel. This part will be cut again with the Lil Twister, and then gets a final border. I've got a Hallows stripe that has the green, orange, black and white colors in it that works so much better than the batik I bought. Should be interesting.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sit Still

I am working with a plan to sit still so my inner knee pain (MCL) subsides. It really helps to have an embroidery project at night. I finished up the hand sewing on the blue heart wallhanging for one of the FB14 projects too. 

And I joined a number of coloring page swaps on Swap-bot. It surprised me to see how many adult coloring books there are for sale. With that swap, you are to color one page, send it in a page protector and include at least one blank coloring page for your partner. I've joined four swaps, and have put together the protector and the coloring pages for each. Last night I found myself coloring a second page for swap #1 that was more a mandala, and got caught up in the pattern of it so much that it was hard to put down. It doesn't follow the theme of the swap so it is done for my pleasure only.

The lesson is the same one I think I am getting with most of the things I am quilting. The embroidery project is also destined to be part of a quilt. Doing this one all in black will make a stunning finish for it. It is almost like a 'see where this will go' attitude. 

Its all in the vision.

As young people still in school, I understand why coloring instructions have them stay in the lines, to color the sky blue, because all were lessons in learning how to find accuracy or follow directions. There was a need for conformity. However, it was so drilled into us that most of us stopped thinking for ourselves, and more over stopped appreciating those who colored outside the lines and bought a red flocked tree for the holidays.

The BOM group only made it with 12 blocks. I did 16. Most of them made a peeper border with borders on each side of it that were the same kind of fabric that read solid. I didn't do that either. So now that I have gone against the plan to do my own thing, even though the directions said I could, I am quite hesitant to show my quilt to the group even though it is stunning! 

Its like being in elementary school again and knowing if I reveal who I am, that the other students will laugh at me and the teacher will stand with hands on hips, frowning.

And so, while the MCL heals, I plan to color more pages and get lost in healing my heart. I found a number of mandala coloring pages on line. The theory about them is that they are used as a form of meditation. I like how I work with color now. I like that I can step away from the patterns to do my own thing. I like finding where the boundaries are and then deciding whether to work with them.

My embroidery project is working only with black thread. It is black work, and yet, true black work is really a counted cross stitch or counted curved stitch. Mine uses primitive stitches with black thread on white muslin. It follows a pattern I hand copy onto the fabric. And I don't know if it follows true stitches so much as what I learned as a child. I like what I make and maybe that is all that matters. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Open Spaces

Usually, I am drawn to open spaces, like being on top of a mountain range and looking out over 5 more in the distance, or those long drives through the desert. However adventure is not always made up of distant lands and mountaintops, and rather it lies in my readiness to exchange my fireplace for a certain uncertainness in my simple life.

Today, I find that in several of the sampler blocks that are created with 4" squares within the 12" blocks that need more than outline stitches. They will be left until I finish the basics. I need to purchase one of those invisible ink pens and make templates to trace. I will use a heart-shape because of my theme for 2016, BE THE LOVE YOU SEEK. Placed in the right direction for the block, they will make a sweet addition. 

For now, its just getting the basics done. Adventure lies more in my attitude and approach to my life. As I quilt to make a gift for someone, it is setting inside the stitches the dreams for them to experience comfort and joy. It is my hope that they want to be surrounded by their quilt and dream their own dreams and plan their own adventures. 

And for me, it is enough.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fingers Do The Walking

Seems that my fingers take a bit of a beating as I quilt. I sliced my left index finger tip when the rotary blade jumped the plastic ruler, sliding into the flesh and nail, sending me to ER to stop the bleeding.

When I first started doing the hand quilting, I bought a leather thimble and still use one. Its a bit bulky and as that blue elastic wears, it catches threads. When you take your life in your own hands, there is no one to blaim. You either figure out a better way to do things or you cope with what you've got at hand or, on your hand.

The next thing I learned to use were these sticky things, called 'self-adhesive dots' that I put on the finger that is under the work and pushes the needle up again. The stitches are supposed to roll with the needle going down, up, down and up again if you do two stitches at a time. The quilt I am working on has a flannel backing so I can only get two stitches done on it at a time. With other quilts that have a cotton back, I might be able to do three stitches.

I tried this leather thimble with the reinforcement where the needle gets pushed through, but it slid and bulked and simply didn't work for me. I guess its all a matter of trial and error or trial and success. Its amazing how many thimbles are out there for sale, so people get an idea for what works for them and market it for others.

This last year, my Secret Santa included a couple of smaller, rubber thimbles that are flat on one side and curved on the other. I put one on my wounded index finger more to protect it while it continues to heal and tucked the other one into that first leather one above so the needle didn't go through my finger.

I don't wear any figure protection when I embroider and that might be because its not as dangerous to the fingers as the hand quilting is. I don't wear anything when I attach the binding.

The graduation quilt is coming along. I spend at least 2 hours on it each day. There are 4 blocks and the outside border on it that haven't got any hand quilting done on them yet, and I am working on the 5th block. Yes, it is still February, so technically, I have three months to finish it.

I listened to (occasionally looking up at) a You Tube Documentary on Ike & Tina Turner this morning as I worked. It took me back a lot of decades. They were not on TV at the time. I suppose a little too racy for the times. They were on the news. What surprised me is how much Tina's wardrobe, hair (though it was a wig) and dance movements influenced me. What I did see is that her back-ground singers did most of the movements through the songs. Her hair was longer, her costume 'more' so she was front and center. 

I always thought she took control of her life without 
blaming anyone, left Ike when their lifestyle turned sour, and gets out there and at age 76, still entertains. I haven't seen her, but imagine that she has good costumes, good wigs and lets her back-ground singers show her in her best light. 

Anyway, my point is, that we all have to take care of our bodies, our minds, emotions and spirits. No one else really does that for us, not even when we are wounded or taking our last breaths.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Working with PRICE

PRICE is a medical term meaning, 'protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate'. I've got a stage I MCL or medial collateral ligament pain, which is on the inner part of my knee. It happened simply, by twisting when I got out of the passenger side of the car. Of course, its more like wear and tear on the body that is triggered by simple things.

As I thought about my body lately, it has been in gratitude for all it has done to serve me. I know that I have 'stiff-armed' my way through pain all my life and have resisted a rest since the day I was born. Now, in these later years, it is as though my body is waving a white flag in surrender.

Oh, that song by Dido! It has a whole new meaning when I sing it to my own body. When I read the lyrics or listen to the tune with MY BODY as the focus, I get chills. Perhaps a person needs to believe in reincarnation, which I do, and a person needs to see that when you approach elder years that you do look back in this way.

"I know I left too much mess and destruction
To come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble
I understand if you can't talk to me again.

And if you live by the rules of "it's over"
Then I'm sure that that makes sense

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be..."

So, I worked on the blue-heart wallhanging by cutting 2.5" strips for both a border and the binding, joined two scraps of batting, pressed the binding strip, found a piece that would work for the back and sleeve, and pinned it all for machine quilting. There was enough of the backing fabric to be cut into smaller squares, and two strips of the periwinkle to get added to those blocks I am making for a strip back.

Scrap quilting as I shop from my closet is not easy. It is looking back on what was used for some other, perhaps even greater purpose at the time. It is not surrendering. I keep thinking how much easier it is to go to a fabric store and select all new, coordinating fabrics to go forward with the pattern the way it is printed. 

Yet, when I am able to make something that turns out quite lovely, I am pleased with myself, pleased with my creativity, pleased that I did not surrender and give up.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Am I Blue?

Oh,  I love this one.  I pulled all the blue 5" charms I could find from my stash, as well as the whites. It will be one of the wallhangings I make for the FB14. 

I love working with the Lil Twister. I have been noticing other easy table runners, but until I lose interest in this pattern, I will continue making it. Different colors make it a completely different wallhanging that none of the people who receive them will ever see. This periwinkle might make a nice 3" border and binding. Not sure what I have for the back, and because it is a wallhanging, it will not really matter.

Another thing I did today was to trace a pattern onto white muslin so I could embroider it in black for the Hallows quilt. I didn't get any hand quilting done. I found a pattern in an old quilting magazine that uses

My inner knee is hurting more and more so I do need to ice and elevate it. 

The Little Small Things

Its been a little wild and crazy in my life lately. I need to simply admit that I am getting older (as are we all), and that the hard use I made of this body is starting to show up in wear and tear issues. I have been such a Personality Type A, that the biggest thing I face is learning how to rest and take more time to do things, to walk more slowly, to actually schedule time for naps...things that other people do or did all their lives. Along with all the aches and pains I feel comes dealing with the emotional impact of needing to change and adapt.

As I worked on the hand quilting, I discovered that a 2" section of a seam between the black print frame and the lime green sashing had not been joined properly. I took off the basting pins and went to the sewing machine with it to re-do the seam. Luckily, it was a block next to the last border, and while it was challenging to fix it, it was much easier than if it had been more to the middle of the quilt. Its coming along, and yet, there is so much more to do on it, and I spend a couple of hours every day with natural light doing the hand quilting.

While I did match two Hallows projects together and was excited to do more of my own version of black work embroidery, I could not find my two embroidery hoops. Shaking my head, I went to the fabric store in town and bought another wooden one and finished this square. This makes #4 of 12 patterns I am doing for the top of this Hallow's quilt. I am going to use the same framing and sashing method that is on Landi's Graduation quilt. I am not sure how this one will be quilted and need to focus on just doing the embroidery first.

Another one of the smaller projects is the prayer flag for the Swap-Bot series I am hosting. They are to be finished at 6" wide and 9" long with that 3" over the back for a sleeve. They are to be natural fibers, with nothing on them that might fall off and harm any wildlife. Simple. 

This one reflects the Blood Sister archetype and what I want to heal from those times in my life. Blood Sisters help us identify who we are and give us a sense of connection and loyalty to the sisterhood. Over my lifetime, I have had deep connections with people of all gender identities. I think my greatest lesson in those relationships is to remember that I am enough the way I am and what I do is enough, being just right. Not too much. Not too little. Enough.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Organizing HIdden Containers

I've said it often that organizing isn't a one-time event. I have several 12" square plastic containers, meant more for scrapbooking than quilting that got stacked on a closet shelf tucked in the corner. Although they are clear, after awhile fabric pieces look like all other fabric pieces. I got a ladder and pulled them all down.

Some projects got combined, like the swaps from the Orange, Black & White blocks I requested with the black embroidery blocks I am making. There are 15 O/B/W blocks and 12 cuts of white to embroider Hallows images. I printed off the directions to framing the blocks and with a little calculating, I may be able to combine these two projects into a front and back for a quilt. It seems like I need to make one more O/B/W block, join them and see what they measure at. Then adding a frame and a sashing might be where the matching can take place. I will continue working on the embroidery part and possibly have it ready to do the next step in combining the two sides in 2017.

I did label the containers before putting them back. None of those are for this year.

And then I sorted another grouping I want to make for one of my FB14 this year. After shooting this picture, I rearranged some blocks and joined them in rows. For whatever reason, taking a pic for me is better to get perspective. I have rows pinned. Then it will need a simple white border and I can start cutting with the Lil Twister and piece them for the final look. Originally, I wanted it to look red-white-blue, but may not go that direction.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hand Quilting

It takes a long time to hand quilt. The one I am working on measures 85" square and has 16 sampler blocks in it, a frame around each, sashing, piping and a final border. Its not going to be done in a snap. I've been working on it for over a week now, and pulled it off the frame to see what was left. 

I say "first round" because I am quilting each block, doing a shadow line off the frame into the sashing as what I consider the basic first. Luckily, I own a larger frame for hand quilting and can center two blocks at a time. The frame itself has corner supports that make it almost impossible to work on the corners, but I can get a couple of days worth of work done before it needs moving. There is more than 6 blocks left to finish, plus the outside border as part of this first round.

This gift might be the last one I hand quilt. Its gotten to be so easy to machine quilt and the next family member's quilt will be one of those with a lot of grid lines to it so my plan is to do it that way. I love hand sewing the binding on and it usually takes me up to a few nights to get even the larger quilts finished. I can feel the old arthritis moving in on me and am not sure if it is better to do the work, or better to rest the fingers. I plan to ask around. 

Most quilters here in town are going the way of getting their projects finished by long arm. Until I had that paper pieced Cat Quilt done on the long arm, I admit I scoffed at them. It turned out so great and the relief to have it turn out great was very high. I guess one needs to know their limits. And here I am finding out what mine are.

I know the bird quilts are left and really think they might be an exception. If I am indeed going to hand quilt them, I need to get going and bring them higher up on my to-do list.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

34 Blocks in 2 Days

Not sure what to call this block. It is scrappy. It is a variant from a true rail fence. It is 12" squares raw. Obviously, 34 blocks that finish 11.5", what I have is not enough to finish a quilt back. I did, however, clear out the container that held all my 2.5" strips. It took me two days to come up with a plan, cut, pin, piece, press and trim them all to size. They still need to be joined in rows and then joined to form the quilt back.

I can understand why a lot of quilters might choose to toss their scraps and call it done.

It is sort of like eating as healthy as you can. It takes planning to grocery shop, planning to cook differently, and it takes more money to buy good food. Well, how do I compare that to quilting with environmental consciousness?

I think that the first step comes in seeing a need to become more aware of the personal world we live in and what we can do to conserve, to recycle, re-purpose or re-use. 

Scrap quilting steps up to that plate.

Then the next step is understanding to undertake scrap quilting will take more of our time and take more of our commitment. I suppose that could be applied to any work or past time we have.  We have joys and passions. They can be experienced with environmental consciousness.

So when I finish the two family quilts that were planned for this year, then EVERYTHING else I make must, must, must be done with a deep awareness. And so it will be.

I worked at the Humane Society fundraiser today. It thrives on the donations of folks who make and bring things to sell as much as the folks who walk by and purchase something. Its hard to know what will garner some money, and its always nice to see someone drop money into the donation jar. The dried cranberry muffins I made sold almost right away. The pet beds were still sitting there when I left at the end of my shift by noon. Whomever gets them will make a donation or they will be back for sale in a couple of months.

I am back home hand quilting. I'll be gone all day on Sunday, heading up to Yosemite by train, which arrives back in Bakersfield after 10 pm with another hour drive home in the dark. I do not expect to quilt, so will probably not blog until Monday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

20 & Two

I finished the two Pet Beds for the fundraiser. The finish-fill came from the 20 blocks made from the 2.5" strips. It was a GREEN quilting day.

This practice of doing something ecologically sound came from teaching environmental issues. It was the practice for participants to mindfully do something new each year that supports the environment in some way. Over the years, I've done such things like composting in a kitchen container as well as digging one in outside, restored my gardens with more of a xeriscaping plan, donated household items that were not being used and more. Most people know the drill and probably do what they can when they become aware that it will matter.

The awareness can filter in from our homes to our workplaces where we can find all sorts of ways to make a difference for our environment.

This year, the new thing is shopping from my closet, so all year long, I may be writing about this experience and the choices I make.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I am so Excited!

Because I wanted to finish up the second pet bed and needed more scraps for it, I took out the bin that had pieces in it that needed to be trimmed to my special sizes. Those sample blocks I made were almost addictive! I made 20 of them so far, and know that its only just started to come together. 

The block calls for three 14" strips and seven 7" strips. Key to the 'design' is to have all 10 strips in each block be different. This pile represents maybe 1/4th of what was in the bin. I used up the smaller strips almost right away, and still need to trim the blocks I made for the pet bed project.

I'd like to go through one of the bins that has the smaller pieces in it and see if there are 2.5" strips to be had. I don't know how many of these blocks I need because there is no pattern to it other than how it is designed.

My excitement comes from using what might be considered waste from other projects. It will still take up room in my closet until it becomes part of a quilt, but now, it has a purpose and is a piece of art that is evolving. And that makes me excited to know that my vision for shopping from my closet and being able to make a quilt back that has as much integrity and artistry as its front. Yes, excited.

I almost felt like I was channeling women of a bygone era who made their quilts from old clothing. I would use one of the strips and remember where it came from: A baseball quilt I made Joey; a train quilt for Jackson; MattE's stars; and even Amy's cat quilt. Most of it were pieces of fabric that someone I love passed on to me. Every piece was leftover.

If these scraps stay scraps, someday someone might toss them because they don't know what to do with them. I am excited to focus on what is in my closet and make something of it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Old Templates

I also inherited a few plastic quilting templates that never came out of their original packaging. When I tried to find the company that produced them, they were gone out of business. I was on my own to figure out what they would produce. I had no luck trying to find something like them.

The one I tried made a candle mat. Or at least, that is what my plan is for it. I know that I am not skilled in attaching binding in a small round. This piece measures about 9.5" and still needs a bit of finishing work on it, and turned out to be a version of the Dresden Plate pattern. The pieces were randomly arranged and were simply color coordinated to be more of a patriotic feel to them. I turned it inside out and am going to stitch up the opening.

It takes a lot of time and work to shop from my closet and 12 small pieces and a 10" square for the back barely made a dent in my stash. While these little things are nice, if I am going to move the fabric out of the closet, I am going to need to make some quilts. Thing is, even those will need to be personal lap size or no larger than a twin for me to manage the weight of them as I work.

What I did here was to take out the bin with my 2.5" strips, sort them by color and then start cutting them into 14" and 7" lengths. My plan is to alternate each row, so the blocks will get trimmed to about a 12" square. The plan is to match pieces block by block so that there are 3 longs and 7 shorts, and none of the 10 pieces in the block will be the same. When I run out of the shorts, the longs can be cut in half to work. It will end up being a very reversible looking quilt no matter what the top looks like. I'll quilt from the top and bet that the back will look splendid.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Work Tables

The Grad quilt is basted and the hand quilting on it has begun! It is a time for quiet spaces, lots of reflection and watching my own magick unfold. Sometimes I think my life, at this stage, is not enough. It has become so much more contemplative than how it was so active in the past.

This quilt measures 85"x85" so far, and that meant it hung over the two tables I usually push together to baste. Secured with Duct Tape, I was able to pin baste most of it flat and just over the edge, leaving one row of blocks and the borders. It worked.

One of the estate quilting accessories from Lee was a frame her husband made. Its a rectangle and almost the size of a card table. I can work on two blocks at a time before needing to shift the quilt and re-do the fastening frame.

The act of contemplation is about centering one's mind and perhaps focusing on a word that is repeated over and over. This IS what happens to me when I do the hand sewing of the up and down motion of needle & thread into the fabric. The 'word' is the name of the recipient of the quilt. When it works, my mind is cleared of all other thoughts and my focus is on the recipient. Eventually, as the quilt project evolves, the energy is not only of me doing the magick or praying for the person, but it brings their life to me as well.

It becomes mystical and is not related to truth or fact. Energy that flows goes where it will during this time while I work.

This grad quilt was another one of those mystery quilts. So much about the set-up in gathering fabrics appealed to me from using FQ's I had in my closet to knowing it would be a sampler. Fabric suggestions give many options, so that everyone's quilt looks unique. While I like how it turned out, I see NOW that it would look quite different if I had used a hot pink for the sashing rather than the lime green. That 'shoulda-woulda-coulda' hindsight. It is lovely the way it is and I do like the contrast.

Some women were choosing mono-chromatic colorways and at the time, I thought that was going to be a boring look. I go for flare and splash, dramatic colors and looks. It has always been my style, and now, during these contemplative moments, I wonder if I am changing.

Having the quilting frame will make hand quilting go easily. This is the second time I have used it. It folds up tight and stores in the shed without taking up much room. Any quilting serves to keep the sandwich of the top, batting, and backing together. What happens after the first simple joining becomes decorative. My first round of hand quilting is the simple joining, and then it becomes 'a lets see how much time is left' as to whether or not more will be done on it.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Summer Solstice Blue

I finished binding this quilt and didn't blog on Sunday. It was the kind of day when the world, my small part of it, needed my attention more than blogging about what I was doing. This blog was meant for me to share my spiritual lessons and I guess there were many yesterday that were more of a personal nature and not meant to share so publicly. I am sure you know what I mean.

Being under this quilt as I sewed the binding was quite comforting. I got to see the small 2.5" squares and remembered how I worked to match them and to find a coordinated balance. Now, I smile at that part of my learning because I know that the more variety there is in these squares, the more they match or coordinate. Of course, I would not just give way to total randomness because...well, just because.

I am going to the clubhouse in a few minutes to baste my #3 Granddaughter's graduation quilt. I checked the seams to find one completely not sewn, and clipped threads in the back of it. The back flannel has been pre-washed several times using both Color Catchers and the combo of white vinegar and iodized salt. I plan to purchase the chemical that some quilters use and do a pre-wash once it is hand quilted and the binding is on it. Then it goes to MN with me in June.

Its going to be in the high 60's today, and is already a sunny Monday morning. Great way to start the week.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Never Really Done

I felt pretty good about spending so much time in bed...from 9 am to 2 pm. Of course, I was up and down pre-washing that red flannel backing which bled after many washings. I got a lot of advice on what to do with it, but red still bleeds. And of course, the real task I set about for myself began when I gathered all my quilting magazines and the 3-ring binders. I tossed quite a bit of the old patterns after re-thinking and re-filing what I had. At one time, they were patterns I thought I wanted to make. Now, I am quite aware that making quilts with squares and rectangles will make them quite stunning. I no longer want stars or triangles to match.

Then I went back into the studio only to find another stack of magazines. So back to bed I went. I really wanted to take advantage of my current attitude about sorting and resting. This bed-thing wasn't so bad. It is next to a South window, so the warm sunshine is a plus.

Thing is, there he was. Rico, the Cat. Soaking up the sunshine in a warmed spot, just ready for him. You have to really look to see him in this picture, but he is there! Hiding. Stealthy.

I had only been absent a few minutes, and lost my place. However, work is work and my job wasn't done, so off the bed he went. Many people like to say it is all about the process. Well, there is a danger in getting caught up in the process if you only deal with details, or if you only deal with the goal. 

The pile of magazines had a few really good ones that I do want to save. However a lot of the pile was quilting books and those I did not want to discard. I am happy with the finish of the project for now and can return to it when need arrives and find what I am looking for right away. That part of the process is done and it only took another 45 minutes.

I pinned and machine stitched the binding onto the Summer Solstice quilt for one of the FB14's. I started hand stitching it and hope to have it done this week. I've made an appointment in the clubhouse to baste the graduation quilt on Monday so want to try another wash in white vinegar and salt. When I washed it with some white cloth, it seemed to hold its color. However one more shot with it cannot hurt.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Crash n' Burn

We used that phrase decades ago to say we were so tired and needed to stop what we were doing and rest. I resist a rest. Always have since I was a child. However with all that shopping yesterday, entertaining the day before and preparing to entertain the day before it, I was ready to crash n' burn if I didn't take a rest. So today, I decided to go through my quilting magazines AND go through the huge 3-ring binders of patterns I made so many years ago.

I know I want to quilt differently now that my goal of making a quilt for every family member has almost been met. So I climbed into bed with the binders and some newer magazines and started re-evaluating my plan. I pulled out everything from plastic sleeves that I knew had been a dream and were no longer what I envision. I need to spend time with the shredder because most were already double sided copies.

Then I am going through saved magazines with the same purpose. I am saving ideas for scrap quilting squares and rectangles, especially if the pattern would work for a back.

I am saving all house block ideas because I am enchanted with house block, or village quilts. They might be my quilting goal for 2017. It suddenly becomes positive potential to think differently, to assess what one likes or doesn't like, and to look very hard in the mirror to see yourself.

All that by resting in bed. Hmm. I may have to rethink the value of taking naps.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Big City Shopping

All I wanted was a batik for the back, and some hand quilting thread. Of course the bolt with colors that would work was a yard short of what I needed. I auditioned regular quilting cotton and settled for a bolt of red tone on tone flannel. 

I remembered to breathe. I remembered to avoid responding to my panic with more fear. I let myself be aware of my feelings of disappointment, frustrations and yes fear. Fear that all the work I put into the top would be compromised by flannel. 

I also shopped the sales at JoAnn's. I got another package of batting, some fleece, quilting thread, wire for my Button Fairies, and then when to Kohl's next door for a few shirts, and to the dollar store for padded envelopes, fat pens, postcards and candy.

Nothing I bought made me feel better. But it did remind me to go on, to get to the next step and to drive home safely. I am so whacked as the Downtown Abbey Lord says. That's it for the day. Shopping. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Little Orphans

The Swiss people celebrate the feast of Artio today, a Bear Goddess who awakens to frolic in the Winter months and heralds the Spring where there will be such abundance everywhere. Sometimes recognizing that we have abundance, especially as fabric artists, is a way to come up with new ideas for using what is found, even in a closet.

So many years ago, one of the local quilters & I started following a BOM Sampler online and got together to make our blocks each month. Mine was made from estate fabric given to me that was in pastels. When I was finished, it had no designation so went into the orphan bin.

One of my FB14 friends is wheelchair bound now from a car accident she had over a decade ago. They are remodeling their home to help her move around better. As I looked for quilting project ideas, I found a group of quilters making wheelchair quilts. They had the measurements, and in one set of directions, used 10 blocks, plus one cut on the diagonal for the bottom so that the wheels didn't get caught. It was also suggested to back it with flannel so it stayed put as the person moved around. 

Sometimes the bear leaves the cave, or the woman leaves her home. Sometimes having that cozy-comfort of something over your legs is nice. Its a very small over-the-lap quilt and in MN where it gets mighty cold, this little bit of a quilt may just be the trick. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ready For The Back

Although everything has a coat of snow outside, I can see Springtime flower shoots peaking up. Birds cleaned out the feeder three times this morning. The sky is blue. California blue. Fairy lights under the snow make it so magickal, and tracks on the snow are thrilling to see.

The grad quilt is 85"x85" and will need 7.5 yards to back it. I love the flange-piping, barely seen yet, striking when it is. Yes, the quilt turned out more orange even though most blocks were shades of red. And yet, I love it. I would like to shop for backing fabric soon and know that means more stash after it is cut.

The other project I did was to sort my 2.5" strips by color. What was there did not work with the grad quilt, and actually, it is a special gift so I want it to look special on both sides. It surprised me that sorted this way and rolled by color, the strips took up less space in the clear plastic box. Next, I need to take each color out and see if I can sort by size.

Then, I finished machine quilting one of FB 14 projects. I clipped threads and got it ready for binding. I think mono-chromatic quilting might be more acceptable to others. Colors thrill me. Bright colors.

Monday, February 1, 2016

All About the Attitude

When I went to the fabric store to buy more for this grad quilt, I still wasn't thinking. I could say that I screwed up and didn't buy enough for the peeper border. I was looking at the information sheet that suggested 1.5" and said I would need 7 WOF strips. However, that measurement was for 12 blocks, not the 16. And of course, the store is closed until Tuesday. I could wait No peeper this time. 

Just because I screwed up didn't mean I was stuck or immobilized by the choice. My thinking was faulty, and so now it meant re-thinking and using what I had and moving along on the project.

I cut the fabric at 1" WOF and got 8 strips which are enough to make a piping on the edge of the lime green sashing. It goes on next. Then, I want to measure what is finished, and calculate how much yardage it takes to do the focus border. Its quite a bright quilt and none of the blocks stand out, which is a good thing. And it turned out to look more orange with the lime green, and that is okay. 

It is joyful for me to know that most of it was made by shopping from my closet to get the 11 FQs. I do need to find a backing fabric yet, and think I need to take the finished top with me. It is so busy. I might look at the tone-on-tones or perhaps a nice batik. 

One of my neighbors passed along some of her quilting magazines to me the other day. Lots to browse. I found one pattern that uses 2.5" strip scraps to make a modified rail fence pattern that would make a perfect back for a future project. It calls for two sizes of the strips, so the first thing I need to do is sort them into colors that work together. It is called "Lucky 13" and is designed by Jessica J.E. Smith. And she says the scrappier the better. What it means is that I can use up a lot of the 2.5" strips!

I spent more time taking a few of those Facebook 14 projects onto their next steps. I would like to keep working on them and get them shipped out over the coming months. With a little planning, I might be able to use the pattern above to do backs for them. It will be a challenge as well as being fun.