Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reorganization, Explanation, New Quilt

I'm back, more or less, and wondering how long it will take me to catch up on blogs.

First came the reorganization of my quilting studio--which I've worked on for weeks and still has a ways to go but is a vast improvement.
I have a lot of shelves of organized fabric including many of the hand dyes I've done for the last couple of decades and have been somewhat reluctant to use:
                                                                   Yes, still a ways to go!

Reorganizations of lots and lots of prints:

Little curtains over the shelves to protect them from light:

 I still have boxes of fabric, etc., about which I need to make decisions.

I do feel like I'm still healing from the "mystery virus," and I'm still not accomplishing as much as I'd like.  The good thing is that throughout this time my brain has continued to heal so that I now hear things, especially in music, that my brain is processing for the first time since its injury over 2.5 years ago.  Given how much I love music, that's a huge blessing.

I am back to quiltmaking at last, and tonight I get to layer this for quilting:
It's a prayer quilt for the husband of my grade school/high school friend Pat Orr.  Dave has finally been matched with a donor for a liver transplant, so I need to get this quilted, blessed, and on the way to Illinois.  I'm thinking his donor may need a prayer quilt too. However, the latter quilt can be selected from the  quilts waiting for distribution.

The panels in the above quilt were purchased several years ago, and I've been collecting additional fabrics to go with them, but up to this point the only thing I had used them for was for a door hanging.  They remind me of autumn during my childhood and youth on our farm near El Paso, Illinois.

School moves forward, and sometimes I do too! The polar vortex is headed in our direction (despite the fact that one of the writers on Accuweather said the Southwest would be spared).  I'm grateful our introduction to this one will probably not include the snow it's brought to much of the country.  (It's obvious I'm getting old because I talk about the weather!)

Happy quiltmaking...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Medical Mystery

No pictures for this post because they would be ugly!
I revisited the doctor this afternoon--they now think this isn't shingles (because of it's failure to stick to a typical pattern)--so I came home with a "powerful ointment" but no longer have to worry about passing this on to someone.
Both doctors say I can just think of myself as a medical mystery.  Probably as close as I'll get to being a princess!!!

Happy quiltmaking

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just a Bit Late

I seem to have gone missing again--and, in a way, I did.

First order of business is an array of photos from the It's a Sister Thing Swap in which I participated.

I shared a box of goodies with Needled Mom.  You can find her post about it here.

The secret sister who sent me a box of goodies was Jeannie of GracieOliver.
With the exception of the fall ribbon, "a decadent blend of black teas and vanilla" from Spice Merchants, and a little pin, here's what Jeannie sent to me:

 A wall hanging--that is going on my door to replace the patriotic hanging now that Labor Day is past.

 A really classy black and white tote bag.  I love the gingham print and the dots.
 A sweet lady bug button adorns the flower.  (Although I've never collected them, ladybugs are special to me because I adopted from China.  Frequently, there have been a flurry of ladybugs about the time referrals have been sent to adoption agencies.)

 Locally made milk chocolate.

And from the Amish store near Jeannie, some yardage of scripture based fabric that I've never before seen. 

I love the way these are printed,

and they are longing to become part of some special quilts, including prayer quilts.

Thanks, Jeannie, for such truly wonderful gifts.  (She says I'm hard to  blog stalk because I don't talk about myself much.  Hmmmm, I thought I did.)

Last week, when most people were posting about their swap items, I was north of Pagosa Springs, CO at a women's retreat where two friends and I helped with music.  It was kind of a shock to my system to get away to such a wonderful event in such a lovely place--probably the most relaxing few days I've had this summer.  I missed my quilting, but did work on some socks.

My new adventure, if it can be called that, is a bout of shingles.  Yes, I've had the vaccination, but it is estimated to be only 80% effective.  I confused three doctors who came to take a look in the doctor's office yesterday because I have it on both sides of my body (mostly my face), and most often people get it on only one side of their body.  My practitioner prescribed a stronger antihistimine (in case it's something else) and an anti-viral.  She assured me that even if I have shingles despite the vaccine, this will be a much lighter case.  By today, it's pretty clear this is shingles.  However, now I'm home from work because children who have not been vaccinated against chicken pox can catch them from someone with a shingles outbreak.  One of my friends from jugband had them earlier in the summer, and she shared with me some more natural things to do that sped her recovery. I'm just very happy that so far I'm itching but not having intense pain as I notice more little dots popping up not just on my face but also on my arms, chest, and belly.

I'm still behind in a lot of things, but also very tired, so we'll hope I can catch up on at least a few things.

(I'm not ignoring 9-11, but other than praying for comfort for the survivors and their families and wisdom for our country's leaders, I won't dwell on it.)

Happy quiltmaking,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More than Ten Quilty Little Secrets

I don't often join in things like this, but, yes, I will happily share Ten Quilty Little Secrets, and I thank Amy at Thirteen Spools for prompting me to do this! Furthermore, if I had a bit more time, I would have linked this earlier in the week. (However, school's back in session, and every mom and every teacher knows what that means; I did share with some students this week that there's a good possibility I'll be thinking about going to bed for the night by 6:00 this Friday!)

So here are my secrets, although some of them may be rather "guessable."

1.  I simply do not understand the fascination with "Civil War Era" fabrics and quilts.  I really can't figure out why anyone thinks those dark, dull colors are beautiful, and so far no one has been able to explain it to me.  Of course, I'm happy to listen if someone can do so. (Yes, I did make a quilt from reproductions of 1850-75 era fabrics, but I chose my colors carefully, and it was not dull.) Actually, I'll expand upon that and say I don't understand why anyone wants to spend countless hours on a quilt that isn't pretty.

2.  I can not understand why anyone wants to spend more money for a plastic sewing machine than I'd be willing to spend on a car when in five years the plastic sewing machine will no longer work or will work only with the investment of another thousand dollars (or several thousand dollars) to replace computer boards (which will be obsolete by then).

3.  I have no understanding of why people would prefer a stitch regulator when it doesn't keep stitches all that even and it's fairly easy to learn to make even stitches with just a bit of practice.

4.  I do not believe 100% cotton thread is superior to high quality polyester thread.  I both piece and quilt with threads from Superior Threads and Fil-Tec, and most of the time they are polyester.

5.  While I like the styles of some fabric designers, I simply don't understand why they use only a few colors in fabric line after fabric line. Bought it once, probably am ready to move on to different colors.

6.  I started sewing by hand when I was two and using a sewing machine by the time I was seven or eight.  I made all my clothing and many of my coats until around 1999.  The skills I gained from decades of clothing construction made quiltmaking much easier to acquire.

7.  I decided I would someday make a quilt when I was two.  It took more than a couple of decades for me to finish school and begin addressing the quiltmaking skills.

8.  When I began piecing and quilting (by hand, mostly) back in the 1970s, my only choices for learning were old books (decades old) from the library and information gleaned from aging quiltmakers (most of them Apostolic Christian and Mennonite ladies from Central Illinois).

9.  While the products are beautiful, English Paper Piecing and Hexies hold no fascination for me.  I've hand-pieced tiny hexagons for flower gardens and machine pieced larger ones. Both are faster and just as lovely as EPP. I think the Hexie thing is just past for me.

10.  I'm shocked that there are quilt police still out there--and to this day I've never been able to validate their credentials.

11.  Yes, I love my stash.  After all, when I started building it, 100% cotton fabrics were really, really hard to find.  I have fabrics inside the house and out in my little storage building.  It's true that most of the ones in the storage building are from the 80's, and some day I'll either use them or give at least part of them away.

12.  The only time my machines are likely to be exposed to expensive Schmetz machine needles is when a very, very special needle is necessary.  For years I've used Organ brand needles ordered 100 at a time from California Thread Supply; they are every bit as good as more expensive brands and make me more willing to put in a new needle every few hours.

13.  When I find parts of a quilter's stash at a thrift store, there's a good chance they'll come home with me if they are high quality fabrics. (If I decide not to use them, I can donate them to our prayer quilt ministry.)

14.  I have absolutely no understanding why anyone anywhere at any time would think it's a good idea to put an unquilted top through the washing machine--and/or ask me to fix it after they've done so.

15.  I know some quilters who insist that after they give someone a quilt they've made, they have absolutely no expectations that it will be well-taken care of; a gift is a gift, they say.  However, if I spend days, weeks, months (and, occasionally, years) making a quilt, I do expect its new owner to treat it with respect. (I do expect a thank you note too.)

16.  I'm starting to think that there are bloggers who claim to be making and finishing lots of things that they might not be making. I count something done only when it has been quilted, and since I'm the one who quilts it, it can take a while.  I love the colors and I love the quilting.  And I don't stipple or meander.

17. I love, love, love my vintage machines, especially the ones I can treadle. Their displays of temper or dissatisfaction are extremely rare--and, most often, the result of user-error or user-oversight.  I love that they are metal throughout and with adequate oil will still be going strong in another hundred years. I have an intense horror of "re-purposed" vintage or antique sewing machines and treadles that are turned into weird yard art or strange furnishings. (Same goes for painting a treadle cabinet pink or something.)

18. I always suspect that the countless rows of straight line stitching on modern quilts are there because the makers haven't yet learned to free motion quilt, and they want those quilts finished!

19. I always have multiple projects in process because I need something to work on whatever my mood or emotions.  I do have a certain admiration for people who can work on a single project from start to finish before starting another one.

20.  It's really hard for me to justify the time it takes to make small kinds of other projects; I always think, "In that amount of time, I could have made a lot of progress toward a quilt that would last for years."  The exceptions are that I'm willing to make small projects to test ideas for larger ones, and sometimes I just enjoy making smaller projects from extra pieces or small blocks left over from other quilts.

Yeah, more than 10 secrets, but that's because I've been quilting for 40 years--and I probably needed some kind of vent!

What's no secret at all:  I love the fact that there are so many quiltmakers today, that we have a huge range of talents and skills, that we produce such a huge range of quilts.

I love the fact that once we begin quiltmaking, the ideas come so fast that we will never be able to make all the quilts our brains design.

If you'd like to share your quilty secrets, you can link, as I have, to Amy's post before the end of this week.

Happy quiltmaking, everyone.....,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Victory Prayer Quilt Blessing - August 2014

Today our church held a quilt blessing for at least 55 quilts that will go to people facing cancer and other serious health challenges.  Lots of pictures here!

I started this quilt ages ago, finally finished it, put on the binding, and then Judy sewed the binding to the back.

 Near the beginning of our ministry, a lady from another quilt ministry met with us and was pretty insistent that we needed to use one pattern for all our quilts and that they should be tied, not quilted. She hadn't been gone for more than ten minutes when we all said we really needed to make a variety of quilts just to keep things interesting.  We've all stretched and grown because of that decision.

 I apologize that my hands must have been a bit shaky when I took some of these photos; however, you can get an idea of the wide variety of designs and colors that were there today.

 These two were my favorites.  Ruth made two quilts from a top that has been in JoAnne's family for many years.  Her mom just passed away a few months ago at the age of 103, and JoAnne gifted us with these.

 I loved this quilt that Judy made from a large panel with a triangle border made from many scraps left over from other quilts she made.  Of course, I love children's books, and this just sends my imagination on a great trip!

 Several of us took part in the making of this altar cloth several years ago that graces our alter on prayer quilt dedication Sundays and occasionally on other occasions as well.

We are so very blessed to be able to take part in this ministry.  There are only a handful of us who make these quilts.  Judy told me that when she checked the last of these quilts in, we were at #538. If I remember correctly, this ministry began sometime around 2005 or 2006.

Happy quiltmaking and knitting.....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quilts Finished: Early August

The whirl of school has begun!  Whew!
Before I took the College Girl back to NM Tech and returned for my new year the following day, I finished three quilts:

This is a prayer quilt for my friend Kristina.  I'm sure she's received it by now, so I won't have to be concerned about ruining the surprise by showing it.  The border is a Grunge fabric in heavenly blue and violet colors. The rest of the fabrics are those incomparable Peppered Cottons by Pepper Cory for studio e. I used a variety of Fil-Tec Glide threads for quilting.

I also finished and presented "Sweet Loreta."  She loved her quilt, and I'm thrilled that I was able to make it and surprise her with it.

I finished quilting Judy's music quilt--

I managed to get this picture when we went to set up the sanctuary for the blessing.  I think it's interesting that Judy held it at this angle because in my mind I saw the right edge as the top.

Here's the scary stuff that was in my office when I returned:

Yes, a leak (that I repeatedly reported last April/May), complete with black mold, a trash can full of water, and plenty of evidence on the rug that the water had overflowed the can throughout the summer.  Our school is located in what was once a dialysis clinic, and the landlord has refused to do much maintenance and has been exceedingly reluctant to let us make any changes.

Anyone who has had experience with these kinds of things in public schools is likely to know the difficulty getting things fixed there as well. (We are a stand-alone state chartered school, so we are not part of a large district.) While we were in training, the landlord and his wife appeared wearing masks and finally ready to investigate and take care of the problem. While this was being taken care off, one of the founders of the school kept us frequently advised of progress.

However, there is more!  For the last couple of days the cooling unit in one upstairs section of the building failed, and the downstairs hallway has flooded. (Less than an inch of water, but still treacherous.)  To our amazement, one of the best rated plumbing/heating/cooling businesses in the city arrived to take care of the air conditioning, and then returned the following day when it failed again.  The same business sent other technicians to solve the plumbing problem, and they snaked the line to the street.  When it happened the second day, they returned again.   Here's the part that would be totally amazing at any other school: when I went back to my office after my upstairs class yesterday, having been told all students and staff would need to walk around the school instead of using the stairs, our Executive Director and one of the school Founders were the ones cleaning up the flood waters while the plumbers were on their way. I know from experience in other schools, that what usually happens in such situations is that the administrators ignore the problem and label the squeaky wheels as trouble-makers or, if they are more prone to action, stand around twiddling their thumbs while they wait for help to show up.  It's a mark of the high quality of the people I work with that the "people at the top" immediately pitched in and were doing the actual clean-up.

Furthermore, my experience over decades of teaching has been that teachers return for the school year knowing they have hours and hours of preparation to do on site after preparing at home for much of the summer, and are condemned to hours of "professional development" that consist of unpleasant interactions with administrators denouncing our teaching abilities and just generally putting the screws to us for not getting better learning results from children whose families are burdened by poverty and dysfunction.  By contrast, our in-service included 12 hours of training with a phenomenal trainer who truly helped strengthen us as educators and human beings, commended our positive school culture, and empowered us to build even stronger skills.  What a difference that makes!

I'm working with sixth grade students and teachers this year (we're a 6-12 school), and while we were all exhausted by the end of the week, it's great to have such a wonderful, talented, and diverse group of students to serve.

I'll try to post more photos of Kristina's quilt later.  I'm still working on the tutorial for "Sweet Loreta."

I'm missing blog reading, and I have way too much to do, but I will continue plodding along here in our delightfully damp desert!

Here's one more glimpse of Sweet Loreta's quilt:

Happy quiltmaking...and knitting!
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