Monday, September 15, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop


Ailsa at Cape Pincushion tagged me for the Around the World Blog Hop! Thanks, Ailsa! (Go check out her blog, she does lovely, lush patchwork.) I have to admit I wasn't sure whether or not to join in this Hop. Then I read the questions for us "hop-pers" to answer & my doubts disappeared. I love probing questions like these, not the what's-you-favorite-color kind, but the real, what-makes-you-tick kind. Not only do they help others to better know you, they help you to better understand yourself.

So here goes:
  • What quilting/sewing thing am I working on?
Where do I begin? It might be easier to tell what I'm *not* working on. This year I'm experiencing a sort of Quilting Adrenaline Rush! All I want to do is cut & piece & quilt. I have a spouse, home, job & cats who would all suffer if I indulged myself as I wanted, so I am not able to devote every moment to quilt making. When I do get into my sewing space, I am going in many directions. But to specifically answer the question: I'm quilting a gift for a friend's birthday & working on several small gift projects. I have 5 (!) stacks of blocks & block parts that I am dabbling at & I'm eager to begin quilting my dotty 16-patch.

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I feel most closely aligned with the Modern esthetic, but because of the youth of many of the Modern Guild's members & because of my lack of youth, I sometimes feel marginalized from it. My stash is deep, so I use fabrics not usually considered "modern", I think this makes me different from the Modern mainstream. I'm not just talking about the charm of vintage fabrics but also those just old enough to be stodgy. Don't misunderstand, I definitely buy new fabrics, but I love blending the old with the new, I think it makes for a more timeless quilt. For some time now, I've been using the cloth from clothing in my patchwork. It began with memory quilts from family clothing, but now I am as happy buying 'fabric' at the thrift store as at the quilt shop.

  • Why do I create/write what I do?
Quilt-making is more than a hobby for me -- avocation, passion are better words. During the years of my Mom's decline, then death, quilt-making was a balm -- restorative & healing. Even now, it is my calm center. I quilt & I blog because I have to. Sometimes I think I might burst into flames if I didn't sew or write about my sewing. Crafting & sewing go back to my childhood, they're in my blood & bones. The writing is fairly recent, since I began my blog -- oh my goodness! -- almost 4 years ago. Blogging may be dying, but I really like writing mine & find writing it helps me think more clearly about my quilt making. Also, because of blogging, I've made some real connections with friends I've never met who live Around the World.

  • How does my creating/writing process work?
Most often, my quilting begins with a piece of fabric. Less frequently, I begin with a sketch or pattern. Whether it is finding a design for the cloth or cloth for the design, for me, that is the most joyfully fun part of making a quilt. I am process- rather than product-driven, so it isn't about The Quilt, it is about Making The Quilt. As for writing, I find myself mentally writing all the time now -- sort of narrating my own story to myself.

Now to pass the baton.
I'm passing it to YOU. If you have read these questions & my answers & have begun to ponder your own answers, then you have been tagged. Blog them if you like (if you do, link back to me, please) or just keep them in your head -- though I have come to believe there is value in actually writing them down.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oh, Shirt

Before I married, I probably did a thrift store outing at least once a month. I would usually go to more than one store & I would often have my Mom with me. After moving to Texas, there were fewer opportunities, less time & I got out of the routine of thrifting. Then several years ago, a Goodwill store opened up just minutes from our house. I was so excited! I went once. It was early in Mom's move to nursing care & it just made me sad being there alone, so I left & did not go back.

A few weeks ago, I took a stay-cation from work. One of the things I wanted to do was revisit the Goodwill. I went & among the curtains & linens, I found something labeled "laundry bag". The fabric looked vintage & at $2, the price was right. Examining it at home, I realized I had just gotten a feed sack that was still an actual sack! Well, this primed my thrifting pump! So in 3 days, I visited 3 Goodwill stores. At the 2nd one, I looked at the men's shirts & found lots of large (VERY large!), good quality, crisp-from-the-cleaners blue & white dress shirts. Well, what can a fabricholic do? I am now the happy owner of 12 de-boned men's dress shirts (longing for a few more, maybe some gingham & some oxford solids).

I have no business starting something new -- there's the birthday quilt I need to get busy on plus several more small gift projects & then there are aaaaaallllll the WIPs I have hanging around now.

But that didn't stop me.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Detour

Recently, I learned that my cousin's husband has stage 4 esophageal cancer.

Together, my cousin & her husband are a formidable pair; on an even playing field, I'd bet on them over cancer. But as you know, cancer rarely fights fair. They have quite a battle ahead of them. There isn't much I can do from such a distance, but the one thing I can do is make a quilt to warm them during treatments &, fingers crossed, recovery.

He was in the Navy when they married -- a handsome sailor in his dress blues at their wedding. So I thought country-style, Americana fabrics would be appropriate. A pull from my stash (this was a total stash quilt, from top to pieced batting to backing  -- very satisfying!),  a quick & easy pattern from Timeless Treasures & a quilt will soon be in the mail.

Number Eleven -- Wordless*

* Because, really, what can I say.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Sorry. This post's title -- Nonplussed -- doesn't really fit. The dictionary says the word means confused or surprised. Although a second, informal North American definition is given as unperturbed, not bothered. (I suspect, by "North American", they do not really mean to include Canadians & Mexicans. It seems a uniquely United States of American thing to do -- take a word & through mass misuse, change it's meaning to nearly the opposite of its definition.)
Anyway, enough semantics.

I just wanted to update you on my Christmas + quilts.

One niece quilt is almost done, quilted & nearly all bound. I'm close to finishing the quilting on the one for my brother & the blocks for the other niece quilt are over half made. My quilt's status remains at the first 4 blocks I made. I suspect it would be a big mistake, but I'm kind of tired of + blocks & am thinking of putting them aside for a while, not finishing it with the group. Historically, this sort of behavior has meant that this is the quilt that does not get finished. So -- big sigh -- I will keep the parts at hand & will continue to plug away at them.

Come to think of it, maybe you are nonplussed -- maybe I am, too!

Monday, July 14, 2014


I first saw Emma Jean Jansen's fabric line, Terra Australis, on Instagram -- it was love at first sight!
The dots! The stripes! The eucalyptus! The colo(u)rs! The KANGAROOS!

Then, my friend, QuiltingCyclist, had a 'log' (aka, bundle of 2.5 inch strips) at the HMQG retreat. I was eager to see the line in person. She started something fun with it at retreat & made some sly & oblique comments about how I might get some soon. That weekend, I got on Etsy, found a seller who had a Terra Australis log, put it in my cart, but did not Proceed To Checkout. The following week, a mysterious, squishy package arrived in the mail -- funny, I didn't remember ordering anything. I opened the package & found Terra Australis! *Very* funny -- had I accidentally ordered this? Then I found the note: "Enjoy! From your Friend!"

{Big Hug}, QuiltingCyclist! I *will* enjoy! Thank you so much!!!

So what to do with this fun fabric? In my Idea Book, I have lots of sketches of things to do with 2.5 inch strips. But I wanted to use this line to its fullest advantage, so maybe following a pattern -- something I don't often do, something I'm not very good at -- might be a smart way to go. This way I'll know how much fabric I will use & how big my finished quilt will be. A new book provided the path:  Strip Savvy by Kate Henderson has a simple, strippy block that can set together in a variety of ways.

I chose a pale gray as my background. My choice is, well, interesting -- it is nearly the same value of some of the prints, darker than some, lighter than others. Hmmmmm, I am eager to see how this develops.

Machine No. 10

I don't really think of myself as Sewing Machine Collector, but there must be a threshold when casual accumulation becomes obsession.

For many years, I had just the one machine, my Bernina. Then I was gifted with not one, but two Singer Featherweights by my French friend. The first one proved a lifesaver when my Bernina was in the shop, making me see the wisdom of having at least 2 machines. I inherited my Mother's & Grandmother's cabinet machines -- Mom's, a Kenmore from 1949 or 1950, is the machine I learned to sew on; Grandma's is a treadle machine, a Ben Hur, that hasn't worked in decades because the belt is broken -- both are more sentimental than functional. I got the hand-crank Singer for power-outage sewing. The Brother machine has a deep throat-space & lots of power; I got him because I was quilting more & larger quilts. My Singer 66 Lotus is an Art Object -- I haven't sewn with her, she should be on display. I was casually looking at machines on eBay & saw the pale green White. I liked her because she was pretty & after a tune-up, she's a joy to sew with.
  • 1 machine, a deliberate & considered purchase that I've never regretted
  • 4 machines, gifted or inherited, I think of them as passive acquisitions
  • 2 machines, acquired to fill a need,
  • 2 machines, acquired merely because they are pretty
  • Total: 9 machines
I had been seeing old Kenmores & Whites on Flickr that had the same rough texture & dark colors as Mom's & was just, well, curious, about what I might see on eBay. I saw one like hers only in a reddish-brown color & a portable -- though at 30 pounds it's not really all that "portable". Offered at a good price & with free shipping -- a few days later Machine Number Ten arrived at my house.

I'm officially in the "like another hole in the head" zone with my sewing machines. For no good reason, I still hanker for a blue & white Morse -- they look like a 57 Chevy, 2-toned & chrome-y -- & a pink International. I had thought I should stop at 9, a perfect square. Now I have 10, a nice base number. But maybe I should try for 11, a prime number? A friend suggested 13, a baker's dozen -- & another prime number!

Mathematicians? Numerologists? Financial counselors? Suggestions?

Monday, June 30, 2014


OK, so I guess if a person wants to be a literal, hair-splitting sort, a project that one has not actually begun cannot be called a "Work in Progress". But I sort of think of this un-begun quilt as a WIP. Maybe because it's a kit? I don't know. Anyway, the back story is this:

In the autumn of 2008, my Mom fell in her house. (She had been falling more. At the time we did not recognize that this was probably an early sign of her dementia.) She hurt her back & had a mild concussion & it was then that I realized that I should be checking on her more often -- so began my daily phone calls. A year later, I called her from Quilt Festival 2009; we chatted, she said she was doing OK, I said I was calling from the Quilt Festival & she told me to buy myself something to be from her. She was always generous & in the years after Dad's death, she was especially so, trying to give us things, writing us big checks (probably another sign of the Alzheimer's). Mostly, I turned her down & I had no intention of getting anything "to be from her" this time either -- then I passed the Den Haan & Wagenmakers booth. This is the Dutch shop that has the beautiful, old-world polished cottons; they had fabric, patterns & quilt kits. I lovingly stroked the beautiful prints & started to pass them by. Then I stopped, went back & bought myself a kit as a gift from my Mom to me. She was so pleased I did!

A few months after that, her physical & mental health nose-dived, she moved into nursing care, then into memory care & now she's gone.

The quilt kit sits untouched. It is a challenging pattern --  a small block with small, odd-shaped triangles. And the instructions are in Dutch! I kept trying to figure out a way to simplify it -- partial paper-piecing was the best I could come up with, but I never got it started. And now I don't really want to make it as instructed -- something simple & spare is more appealing. So I'm going through my Idea Book & making sketches. There are 22 sort of fat quarter meters plus the yardage of the 3 shades of blue (& a few extra prints that I added at the time). 
Flying Geese? Friendship Star? A modern, trendy pattern?
Stay tuned!