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!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Design for the Last Play Days

Judy's Bernina BSR is very sick and has to go back to the company, so she asked me to quilt this musical prayer quilt.
I debated and debated with myself and then chose a turquoise Glide thread and am making it into a sampler of free motion quilting designs.

There are even more designs in my sketchbook--and plenty of prayers in this quilt.

Our rain total at the end of July reached 6.89 inches.  We've had about a quarter of an inch so far in August.  I have allergies for the first time in eight or ten years.  If this is the kind of moisture this valley received when it was being settled, I can understand why it was a prosperous agricultural area.  For the last ten or twelve years, we've been lucky to get 10 to 12 inches some years.  We've had our windows open for the last four or five days (during the hours we've been home), and the weather has seemed just about perfect!

Tomorrow Sweet Teen has a chemistry final and then we head back to New Mexico Tech with a packed car.  I'll miss her, but as I head back to school Wednesday, I should be too busy to get too lonely!  Being gone two days a week since school was out means I feel my summer was very, very brief, but time marches on no matter what we do!

I still plan to do a tutorial for the Sweet Loreta quilt, but the only time I've had to work on it has been while I was waiting while my daughter was in class, and the connectivity at the college was limited, so the writing is still in progress.

I'm linking to Judy Laquidera's design wall Monday--the link is in the column to the right
Happy quiltmaking,....
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