Thursday, January 14, 2021

Parting Ways

I'm parting ways with some of my possessions.  Not exactly because of a challenge, more like, "Do you want to do this game with me this month?"  My daughter was referring to the Minimalism Game.  She knows my penchant for collecting (fabric and thread and paper and sewing supplies, small cards with beautiful images, lace, seed pods, multiples of almost anything that catch my eye, and so much more) and how hard it is for me to let things go.  But this seemed both sensible and doable--giving up one item on the 1st day of the month, 2 things on the 2nd day, 3 things on the 3rd day, etc., through the whole month.  "Sure," I told her, "I can do that with you."  I didn't realize how much time it would take to decide which 12 things to pass out of my life in one day, and which 13 things the next.  I have no idea how it will be on the 31st!  (It was easy choosing 1, 2, 3, even 8 things, but at 10 it began to take time to sort and decide.)  Anyway, that's one of the things I'm doing this month.  (Or should I say 31 of the things I'm doing.)

A few weeks ago we moved an overstuffed chair-in-need-of-reupholstering from the room where I sew, which gave a clear view to a very large bag of thrift store clothing and fabric, a box of already cut-apart shirts and crochet cotton, and a stack or two of shirts that had been hidden behind it.  The view was too dismal so I pulled all the shirts out and began sorting them, in-progress, above.  I bought some of them before I had a good idea which fabrics are better for quilting and which are not.  (Some shirts are either too thick, too stiff, or just plain not friendly to a quilting needle.)  But still, what to save, what to pass on? 

The stack under the chair is going and probably a few more of the uncut shirts.  Some of them I've already cut apart and they're ready to be cut for blocks and sewn into a quilt.  The ones below are no longer shirts (except the reds on the left), but fabric, stacked in the closet.  Will I use them all?  Who knows.  

I've sorted through the clothing/fabric that was behind the chair, but there's more upstairs, and downstairs, and on the bookshelf.  I can't sew fast enough.  

So far I've passed on or thrown out uncut shirts and other clothing; some toiletries that have been sitting in the bathroom cupboard for too long--that cupboard's really deep, and I sorted only one shelf; some outdated canned goods; some plastic hangers; some papers; some toys that haven't been used for a while....  I honestly don't want to do a deep clean of all my closets but I may get to that point by the 25th or 26th.  Of course, I could always go through magazines, but maybe not books.  Or I could go through the stacks of genealogy notes and papers sitting near the computer.

We've lived in this house 21 years.  It's bigger than the one we lived in before.  How did this one get so full when we had just enough in our old house?  It seems I fill the space that's available.  Of course, I wasn't quilting when we lived there.

Every day I'm quilting Autumn Maples and I'm stitching the angel for Baskets of Plenty.  I also cut out triangles for trial hourglass blocks for another quilt, and now I'm wondering what I was thinking.  Sometimes I make quick decisions before getting the full effect of quilt blocks.  I see four hourglasses together when I really need to see two dozen to get a better idea. 

I had been thinking about making another quilt for my granddaughter.  I will be making a quilt for a granddaughter, but not the granddaughter I already have.  There's a new granddaughter coming along in a few months.  Exciting news!

I hope all is well in your world.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Quilt That Wouldn't Let Me Sleep In

This quilt woke me a few Saturdays ago at about 5:30 in the morning.  (I'm not a morning person so it was a bit of a rough start to my day.)  The day before I'd spent time quilting two leaves.  I chose modified Baptist Fans, beginning and ending the fans with the borders of each block.  The first arc is in the corner with the stem.   

That morning, my first thought was that the arcs were too close together and there were too many of them.  My next thought was that the fans turning every which way would look awful.  I tried to go back to sleep but ended up mulling over what to do. 

Later in the morning I pulled out the quilt and looked at the quilting again.  Maybe the arcs in those first two blocks were a little close together, but they didn't all have to be that way.  I decided to continue quilting the fans, just to see.

And this is what I see now.  It's a poor photo but you can clearly see the quilting lines.

The fans are not of equal distance from each other, which doesn't bother me at all because the arcs are smooth curves, which pleases me a lot and was my goal in the first place.  And I found that some curves can meet at the edges of blocks and continue the smooth curve into the adjacent block.  Who knows but what I might not be thrilled by the time the quilt is finished, but for now I'm happily satisfied that the quilting reminds me of wind swirling the leaves into the air.

As of today I have quilted 14 of 80 blocks, about a sixth of the quilt.  My One Monthly Goal for January is to quilt another 15 blocks for a total of 29 quilted. 

I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal January Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year to You!

Good riddance to 2020 and welcome 2021.

I know I should not be too excited about 2021 but I sincerely hope it's a better year than 2020 has been.  Gosh, we've had ups and downs--plenty of downs--since March.  As if Covid-19 wasn't bad enough by itself, the year was rife with discord and unpleasantness across society.

I know January 1 is just another day, the next day after December 31, but couldn't we all use a fresh start?  I'm not as full of enthusiasm and expectation as the little one in the postcard above but I can't help but hope!

Happy New Year to you and yours.  I wish you blessings galore.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 in Review, a Year of Finishing, More or Less

I determined that 2020 would be a year of finishing quilts that I'd started and were still in progress.  I set my sights high with nine quilts in varying stages of progress to work on and, hopefully, finish.  Photos are below descriptions.  

Baskets of Plenty was first on that January, 2020 list.  I needed to remake two blocks and make one new one to have the nine I thought would make a good-sized quilt.  Those are finished and the blocks are sewn into sashing with borders on part of it, awaiting applique on the top and bottom borders.  So, from these blocks on the left to the still-unfinished top on the right.  Not a finish, but still, progress.  You can read all the posts about these baskets here.
Baskets of Plenty applique blocksBaskets of Plenty applique blocks

The Blue and the Gray was the next quilt on my January list.  I had only the blocks and cornerstones finished so it still needed the sashing to become a top.  I'm thrilled to have put the last stitches in the binding in November.

The Blue and the Gray quilt

Everyday Patchwork was next on the list.  Ohh, I love this quilt.  I had 30 blocks made at the beginning of the year.  I added 5 more for a total of 35, for a 5 x 7 block layout.  It also needed sashing, borders, and applique on the borders.  The top is awaiting batting, backing, and quilting.

Everyday Patchwork Sampler based on Cheri Payne's patterns

Autumn Maples, I'm happy to say, is in the process of being quilted.  I'm hoping the quilting will bring to mind leaves swirling in the wind.

hand quilting on Autumn Maples quilt

Red Circles on Green Squares needed many more squares, so I've been working on those now and then.  My enthusiasm wanes and it's easy to lay them aside when there is other handwork to do.  I need 192 and have finished 182.  Just 10 more to go.  The stack below is about a fifth or sixth of what I have now.  There's still lots to be done with this quilt.  I'll need to decide on sashing and cornerstones (or not) on the groups of 9 blocks, and then sashing between the 9-circle blocks.

Cheddarback is a finished top.  This was a sew-along so I couldn't choose my own pace to finish it.  It was about half finished at the beginning of the year.

Cheddarback quilt top

Little Rubies is a finished quilt, the last stitches put in sometime in April or May.  I love it, I don't love it.  But it's finished!
Little Rubies quilt

Linda Brannock's Flowers and Quarter Cabins saw no progress at all.  Flowers will need some unstitching then restitching.  I tried to make it larger by adding more sashing.  It's not right so I'll make it the way Linda did and add borders. Quarter Cabins needs a few decisions about the next steps.  I didn't look at either quilt all year.  I know they'll wait patiently for me, though. 

Linda Brannock's Flowers quiltQuarter Cabins quilt

Two quilts that weren't on my January, 2020, list were these:

Blue and Lights.  When I realized I had three 12" blue and white blocks left over from Cheddarback I decided to just make more blocks.  Most of the year it seemed I was doing the back end work of finishing.  It was fun to make blocks to continue a quilt in progress.  Here are 15 of the 20 blocks I've made.  I'll have to decide on layout, sashing, cornerstones, and borders.
Blue and lights quilt blocks

Ohio Winters Browns (from Lori's 50 Shades of Brown at Humble Quilts) was the other finish for the year.  It's hard to go a whole year without starting at least one thing new, and this was it for the year.  It's a little quilt -- the small squares finish at 1". 
Ohio Winter Browns

So that's my year in quilt-making.  When I began this post I was feeling down-hearted, thinking I had accomplished nearly nothing.  It's been a good way to realize that all my small efforts have amounted to something, even if there were only a few complete finishes.

I hope you had a good and successful year, whatever you did, and I wish you all the best in 2021.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Reading List 2020

I should probably post books I've read each month but since I can't seem to manage it, this is my list for 2020.  There was lots of comfort reading this year, some I would call fluff, but not all.  I've included a few quotes and an occasional comment.  I put an asterisk before the titles of the books I really, really liked or loved.  Children's books are indicated by a vertical line in front of the title. 

* Grit.  The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  Angela Duckworth
Excellent!  We often consider talent the big thing but Duckworth points out that so many people are where they are not because they have natural talent but because they have grit – passion and perseverance, they never give up, are driven to improve, and hang-in-there.

Books by Lester L. Laminack  (Illustrator in parentheses.)
| Jake’s 100th Day of School.  (Judy Love)
| Saturdays and Teacakes.  (Chris Soentpiet)
| Three Hens and a Peacock.  (Henry Cole)
| The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins.  (Constance R. Bergum) 
| The King of Bees.  (Jim LaMarche)

Deep Creek:  Finding Hope in the High Country.  Pam Houston

The White Witch.  Elizabeth Goudge

* The Whistling Season.  Ivan Doig 
The Sister of the Angels.  Elizabeth Goudge

APRIL  (Now reading books still out from the library or that I can find at the thrift stores because the library is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.)
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.  Katherine Howe

Work Song.  Ivan Doig
"It is surprising how persuasive you can be when talking into your own ear.”

Light a Penny Candle.  Maeve Binchy.
Lucia, Lucia.  Adriana Trigiani.   

JUNE   (Books from the library again, though slow to arrive!)
Back on Blossom Street.  Debbie Macomber
Morning Comes Softly.  Debbie Macomber
| Quiet.  Tomie de Paola
The Shop on Blossom Street.  Debbie Macomber
Summer on Blossom Street.  Debbie Macomber

| Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes. Alice Schertle  (Petra Mathers)
Oh my goodness what a fun book!  The clothes talk, telling stories in rhyme about what they do.  My favorite:
    Bob’s Bicycle Helmet
    Bob’s on his bike / and I’m on Bob. / I’m Bob’s helmet. / I’m on the job.
    Bob burns rubber. / Bob climbs hills. / Bob does wheelies. / Bob takes spills.
    Bob skins his elbow. / Bob scrapes his knee. / Bob doesn’t hurt his head— / Bob’s got me.
    And if some day / the sky should fall / it will not hurt / Bob’s head at all.
    Bob’s on his bike again.  / I’m on Bob.  / I’ve got him covered.  / I’m on the job.

Blossom Street Brides.  Debbie Macomber
* The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living.  Louise Miller

| Nothing Stopped Sophie:  The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain.  Cheryl Bardoe

* The Late Bloomers’ Club.  Louise Miller   
“The antidote of envy is to rejoice in the good qualities of others.
“All the suffering that is in the world arises from wishing ourselves to be happy.  All the happiness there is in the world arises from wishing others to be happy.”

A Good Yarn.  Debbie Macomber
| Angels, Angels Everywhere.  Tomie DePaola
The Rose Garden.  Susanna Kearsley
The Echo of Twilight.  Judith Kinghorn
My Favorite Things.  Maira Kalman

* The Firebird.  Susanna Kearsley
“We cannot know a man's nature when all does go well with him, but when those people he thinks will assist him oppose him instead, then we know, for a man has the patience and humility that he shows then, and no more.”   [I have been thinking a similar thought for a while:  the truth of a person’s character comes out when he or she is in ill health, in pain, or under duress.]

September.  Rosamunde Pilcher
“Fear knocked at the door, Faith went to answer it, and no one was there.”

The Day of the Storm.  Rosamunde Pilcher

* The Water Keeper.  Charles Martin
Love “writes over the old memories.  Makes beauty out of pain.  Love writes what can be.”
“Don’t let your pain speak louder than your love.”

* Bellewether.  Susanna Kearsley

| Tomie de Paola:  A Tribute to the Young at Heart.  Julie Berg
The Memory of Lost Senses.  Judith Kinghorn   (I disliked this book a lot!)
* Stay.  Catherine Ryan Hyde 
“We’re all just doing our best, even if it doesn’t look so good from the outside.  Try not to judge....”
“It’s really important... when you’re thinking bad thoughts about yourself, to remember that they might turn out to be wrong.”

* Eat Cake.  Jeanne Ray   (Challenges, but told with lots of humor.)

The Pioneers:  The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West.  David McCullough

* The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter.  Hazel Gaynor
* Allie and Bea.  Catherine Ryan Hyde
* The Book of Lost Names.  Kristin Harmel   

As Bright as Heaven.  Susan Meissner
“Home isn’t a place where everything stays the same; it’s a place where you are safe and loved despite nothing staying the same.  Change always happens.  Always....
“We adjust to it.  Somehow we figure out a way.  We straighten what we can or learn how to like something a little crooked.  That’s how it is.  Something breaks, you fix it as best you can.  There’s always a way to make something better, even if it means sweeping up the broken pieces and starting all over.  That’s how we keep moving, keep breathing, keep opening our eyes every morning, even when the only thing we know for sure is that we’re still alive.”

The Jane Austen Society.  Natalie Jenner
* When We Meet Again.  Kristin Harmel
* The Sweetness of Forgetting.  Kristin Harmel
| A Leaf Can Be....  Laura Purdie Salas.  (Violeta Dabija)   
* The Life Intended.  Kristin Harmel

* | The Bookstore Cat.   Cylin Busby.  Illustrated by Charles Santoso
| Leaf Man.  Lois Ehlert   
Catching Christmas.  Terri Blackstock
| Andrew Henry’s Meadow.  Doris Burn
| Wee Gillis.  Munro Leaf.  (Robert Lawson)
Christmas at Harrington’s.  Melody Carlson
Where Angels Go.  Debbie Macomber
* The Book of Mormon
* The Christmas Angel.  Jane Maas
* Christmas at Thompson Hall.  Anthony Trollope
The Christmas Sisters.  Sarah Morgan
Shirley, Goodness and Mercy.  Debbie Macomber

When I want to know more about a book before choosing to read it, I usually check goodreads for a brief synopsis, reviews, and ratings.  I try to stick with books that have a 4.0 rating or above unless the book has been highly recommended by someone I know or has content that is of great interest to me.  And these days I have no qualms about not finishing a book (for any reason).


Monday, December 21, 2020

A Little Early

This Baskets of Plenty quilt was the focus of my One Monthly Goal for December, specifically, to sew the horizontal sashing and cornerstones together, sew them to the rows above and below, and sew the side borders.  A little goal for a busy month and it's done -- a little early!  There's plenty more to do, for example, the applique in the cornerstones and bottom border, finish the angel, and sew the top and bottom borders to the rest of the quilt.

I have an ongoing discussion with myself about the angel.  She's too large and overtakes the blocks.  She's just right.  What's the point of an angel at the top of this quilt?  Does she contend with the baskets?  And on and on.  But still I work on her as if she belongs and is staying.  I suppose she will probably stay....  I just hope she won't be a distraction.

Her wings are nearly ready to be stitched together.  Then I need to applique them to the upper border, but before I can do that I need to decide on her face fabric and arrange the center of the wing fabric so it doesn't peek out above and below the star.  Little details.

Choosing skin fabric is always hard.  I tend to think that my skin looks pinkish but when I put those pinkish fabrics next to my skin, they seem a little light or too pink -- sometimes, but not always.  And sometimes I think my skin looks a little tan, but not always.  The fabrics below are the only ones I have that come close to skin color but I'm having trouble deciding which to use.  What color skin do angels have, anyway?  Is it rosy cream, or tan, or...?  I actually think a shot cotton with pink/peach and tan would be great, but I've not seen one.

If I'm able to do more on Baskets of Plenty before the end of December, I'll write another post (which didn't happen) so I'll link this post to the One Monthly Goal December Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts when it's available.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

This has been a strange and unusual year and this Christmas season has been no less strange than the past 9 months.  I hope you're being kind to yourself and kind to others, too.  Years ago I was praying about something and received the inspiration to "Be a blessing."  There are so many ways we can bless others.  A few that come to mind are giving the benefit of the doubt when there's a misunderstanding or contention; being gracious to someone who offers less; not taking offense; not judging another based on our own situation or our perception of the other and her situation; offering kind words, encouraging words. And just loving others.  I think it requires mindfulness of others, an art I haven't completely mastered yet, though I keep trying.

If you celebrate Christmas, I wish a Merry Christmas.  I also wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year.  It has to be better than 2020, doesn't it?


Sunday, December 20, 2020

A Little Late

I had hoped to layer, baste, and begin quilting Autumn Maples in November.  I ordered fabric from a new-to-me online store on November 6.  I wanted/needed 6 yards, their website said they had 4, so I left a message that I'd really like 6 yards but to contact me.  They indicated the fabric should arrive in about two weeks.  Sometimes it becomes a fiasco to order online but this time I couldn't find fabric locally so I didn't have much choice.  After several back and forth conversations including a text to a land line, the fabric finally arrived on December 6 -- a little late -- with less than four yards.  Not enough for the back.  What to do, what to do?  (The company offers great prices and selection but communication is a problem.  I'm not sure I'll order from there again.  Perhaps only if I don't hope to get the fabric quickly.)

This is the fabric I ordered.  I love it!  And I think it's about as perfect a fabric as I could have chosen.

Since I needed 6 yards for the back, I finally decided to choose a second fabric, a solid, to make up the difference, either a teal/blue, if I could find one, or some other color.  I finally chose a red, shown below.  In real life, the red is just a bit darker and a little less rosy.  I wasn't sure about it at the store but seeing it with the maple leaves and the other backing fabric I think it will be just fine.

I'm thinking of putting the red in the center with a wide border of the teal/blue around all the edges.  If I have enough fabric.  I have to calculate measurements before I'll know.  And I probably won't get to it till after Christmas.  How I wish I could have had this in the hoop in November!

As far as the quilting goes, I'm thinking of quilting curves in each block, Baptist Fan-style, with the direction of the arcs changing in each block. We'll see how that goes when I can finally begin.

I hope all is well in your world.

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