Thursday, May 30, 2013

Help, Anyone?

Friends, I'm in trouble. I've used Heat and Bond Lite for years without any difficulties. But the last two times I've tried to use it, I've run into terrible problems

The first time I had applied the film to the back of the fabric, cut out the design, and when I tried to peel the film off, it wouldn't come off. It ruined the piece of fabric. Thinking that perhaps there was sizing on the fabric that was interfering with the process, I washed everything. I haven't tried again but I really want to. Soon.

Today I tried to bond a design using some actual genuine Liberty of London scraps. And the same blasted thing happened! The paper will not peel off and leave the stickum on the design. The stickum peels right off with the paper! Obviously I don't want to proceed any further with this without some help -- that Liberty is too precious.

Any ideas on what the problem might be? Anyone else ever have this happen? What did you do to remedy it? I JUST bought it a couple of weeks ago at the grand opening of the new Joann's near us. I wonder if they moved old stale stuff to the new store?

Here's a picture of a quilt I made eight years ago using blocks from a swap. We used only blue, gray and purple Civil War fabrics. I thought it turned out nicely and really appreciated the variety of baskets that the swappers produced.

I gave it to someone who likes to make actual baskets.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Four More (Well, Not Quite!)

Oh, my, I can't believe I was surprised to see this quilt in the quilt-photos-to-organize folder! I made it for Sam, apparently quilt a while ago, because I'd totally forgotten making it. I love the bright colors, and the different size nine-patches.

As the oldest grandchild, he'll prolly always have more quilts than the others. 

Truth be told, I don't know how many I've made for him!

This is a baby quilt with the fabrics chosen more for the mother's taste than for a baby. But I have always loved it.

It's made from older William Morris fabrics, and the block is Louisiana, a block I never seem to tire of making. Just laying them out side by side creates the most wonderful design! That baby Henry must be about ten years old by now. I've lost track of him and his parents.

This quilt has a nice story. There used to be a shop proprietor in Bird-In-Hand who put together the most terrific packs of fat quarters. She mixed several different lines so that her packs all went together beautifully but weren't matchy-matchy. I bought two aqua and milk chocolate packs and started making this top, with no idea at all what its final destination would be. After the flimsy was finished, we were invited to spend an evening with some friends who had just done some redecorating. To my delight and amazement, the family room was all milk chocolate and aqua! So I finished the quilt for Dottie.

No, this isn't a quilt or even a top yet. I had a fantastic couple of FQ bundles of hand dyes that I bought from Milly Churbuck before she retired. When I was early into my Basket Period, I determined that these needed to be made into an Amish-looking top. So I worked hard on these baskets and laid them out and even sewed them all together.

And when I looked at the finished flimsy, one of the blocks didn't belong. The yellow that I'd used just didn't go with the subtlety of the other colors. I fussed and fumed and wondered if I could learn to live with it. Eventually, I took it out. This was perhaps four years ago. And I don't know whether I have enough of Milly's hand-dyes left to make a replacement block!

Now that's a story I'm not at all proud to tell. But I bet some of you might have similar confessions . . . . :-)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Four Quilts

I have been doing some organizing of photos on my new laptop. I had spent some time a month or so ago importing files from two previous laptops as well as the computer I had used at the school. There were a great many photographs of all kinds, and when I finish my coffee in the morning, sometimes I spend a little time moving them around and putting them in folders. There are, as you might expect, a few photos of quilts I have made. Some of them are pretty old and it may be that I've not shared them before.

This fan quilt was a Confirmation gift for a young girl who is now finishing her Freshman year in college. The fabrics are all batiks and some of the fans were made by friends in one of those swaps where one person shares a couple of pieces of fabric and a plan. I'd always wanted to make a fan quilt so I sent out two batiks and asked participants to use only batiks in completing the fans. Since I was a big fan of Ali's, I thought she should have this quilt.

This quilt lives in our living room, on the back of Joe's chair. I had gone to the big quilt show when it was at Fort Washington, years ago, and in the last aisle of vendors ran into Maria from Pinwheels who had a quilt on display that was different from anything I'd see before. Turned out it was a new-to-the-U.S. kind of fabric called Daiwabo Taupes, and the quilt -- called "You've Got Mail!" -- was available as a BOM. I signed up right then and there. As I worked on the blocks, Joe became more and more drawn to them, and claimed it for his own. The border wasn't part of the BOM; we picked it out together from the fabrics on line at Pinwheels.

Tea Party began as a swap that I initiated where people would applique teapots, tea cups, sugar bowls, etc., using blue and white fabric that resembled china onto white backgrounds. I wanted a gift for a friend who is a tea afficianado. She had recently bought a home at the shore, and I thought a housewarming gift would be in order.

The swap yielded perhaps half of the blocks that I needed for Cessie's quilt, so I spent the next few months planning and making the additional ones needed for the quilt.

I haven't done much of that buttonhole applique recently, but have a project for this summer lined up that uses that particular technique.

Speaking of hand buttonhole applique, this is one of my favorite projects. It was another BOM, and I can't remember the source at the moment. I can't even remember whether the wool fabrics were included or whether I had to acquire them myself! I do remember sitting at the Chautauqua Amphitheatre hand buttonholing bloom after bloom, and embroidering the names of the flowers.

This is the end of this little quilt show. It has been fun to revisit these old friends. Perhaps today I'll start tracing the elements for the next hand-buttonhole project -- a transportation quilt for dear grandson Eli!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Assembly Begins to Gather

Dear Janet asked for a progress picture of the little people, and I am happy to oblige. Some of the folks lack embellishments that their creators provided; I will affix all of them once all of the rows are put together.

In other news, our church Circle has decided to make the Baby Bureau a regular project and I'm glad of it. I contributed two little quilts at our recent meeting and hope to finish two more by the time we next meet. I can prolly continue this indefinitely; goodness knows I've got plenty of scraps!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5 T

Why, yes, thank you, I have done a bit of sewing lately.

I'm doing the binding on a charity quilt that my sister made. I've completed a couple of table runners.

And I've begun to put the Little People quilt together -- not in the lay-out shown in the photo from October, but rather in rows with pale grey lattice and slightly less pale cornerstones. When it is all latticed, there will be a narrow pink containment border and then more pale grey. Aberdeen is one-year-old and sometime in the next couple of years will need to move to a Big Girl Bed, and, by golly, I mean to be ready!

And then there's this Kaffe dress for Caroline. Size 5 T. I do believe KarenDianne would say it is "stinkin' cute."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

An Unusual Form of Stress

This is going to be an odd sort of post and it could turn out to be long. We'll see.

It is a month now since I left my job at the school, and three weeks since I began my new part-time at the church. During that time I've had a lot of time to think, to reflect, without that thinking and reflection complicated by worry about What Comes Next (which had occupied my thoughts almost non-stop for the previous two and a half months).

I cannot tell you how good I feel.

I cannot tell you how good I feel.

I do not feel stressed. For the first time in a very long time. I come home from work and I putter around the house, I catch up with my on-line Scrabble games, I read, I play at the computer. Sometimes I sew. Let me say that again: Sometimes I sew. This is in great contrast to Before. Before I left the school, I had to sew every day for as long as possible. I was just driven to do it. Something that had begun as a pleasure had turned into an obsession.

I have thought this through, and here is what I have come up with.

For thirteen years I worked in a job where I did not have enough to do. This is something that not very many people know.

I am a fast (and accurate) typist and I do my work efficiently. I enjoyed the work that I did. But there was not enough of it. I invented things to do to keep busy so that the time would not drag. I felt like an anomaly -- many of the people that I know talk at length about how overworked they are, how crazy-busy they are at work -- I always kept very quiet during these conversations. I needed to appear busy when there was very little for me to do. I played a lot of on-line Scrabble. I wrote a lot of blog posts.

You may be wondering why I did not ask for more to do. I did. Every summer at my annual evaluation, I would tell my boss that I could do more. More in quantity, more in scope, more in depth. I suggested that he delegate to me projects that he ordinarily would give to another person, one who always appeared to have way too much to do, and in fact, said that was the case. I was capable of doing more, and I wanted to grow. But it never happened.

And now, away from that atmosphere, I realize the incredible stress that I was under for thirteen years. Stress of needing to appear busy, to manufacture tasks to occupy myself, to help the hours to pass. And when I got home, I think, I sat down at that Bernina and turned out project after project, flimsy upon flimsy, out of a nearly desperate need to be productive, to be creative, to be busy.

I don't know whether I'm right or whether this even makes any sense. Honna seems to think it does. And, really, it doesn't matter one way or the other. I know that I feel good. That I do not feel stressed. That I feel more like who I used to be, a long, long time ago.

Before. Before I worked at the school.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Post Number 1600

I looked for a number 1600 that looked festive. I didn't find one. So I looked for celebration photos and thought fireworks are almost always appropriate.

Seven years and 1600 posts. All begun as a sort of a journal for me, and maybe someday for my grandchildren.

And what has happened has been friendships with wonderful people from all over the world who read my blog and leave comments (or just lurk -- Hi, Linda!!!). Wonderful people who have rejoiced and commiserated with me as the occasion would suggest, who made cow blocks for me a couple of years back. Nearly five years ago, when my husband experienced a sudden heart attack, the outpouring of prayers and good wishes from people who neither of us had ever met was overwhelming.

Thank you.

For my celebratory give-away, I asked readers to tell me their favorite color and suggested I would send a gift package that would include a mug rug in that color. I had such fun reading the comments!

After determining that red was the favorite favorite color, with 14 people liking it best, I drew a name from the red group and it is Kathie who is Inspired by Antique Quilts. Kathie, please email your snail mail address to me so I know where to send your gift.

Then I thought that since purple is my favorite color, I really should do a purple mug rug for someone and drew out the name of Gretchen, who blogs at Stella Bella and has gorgeous cats. Gretchen, I'll need your address, too.

Tomorrow my dear blogless friend Helen and I are going to indulge in a bit of retail therapy. I'll see what I  might find in red and purple to include in the packages that will be sent out as soon as the rugs are finished, hopefully within a week.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Three Questions

Question #1 is for Barbara near Richmond: Can you email me directly? Through some mysterious force, my address book has done some kind of a self-clean, eliminating a handful of addresses, yours among them. I haven't been ignoring you -- just can't write back!

Question #2 came from No-Reply Susan who wanted to know the name of the pattern I used to make dresses for Caroline.:Here it is. Friends, please keep in mind that if you send a no-reply comment, I can't reply and if you ask a question, I don't have a way to answer it!

Question #3 is for readers: What is your favorite color? This is post #1599 and has come very close in proximity to my seventh blog birthday. So I've determined that it is time for a give-away. Leave a comment, please, telling me your favorite color. When I am ready to write post #1600 (!), I'll draw a name and the winner will receive a give-away, the precise details of which are yet to be determined, but will likely include a mug rug in your favorite color.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Turning the Page

It is the beginning of the second week at my new job, and things are going well!

I work as parish administrator for a small Episcopal church; my position is part-time: five hours per day, four days per week. I am learning to say "senior warden" instead of "council president," "vestry" instead of "church council," and "rector" rather than "pastor." Otherwise, the subject matter is pretty familiar!

My commute to the school, I used to tease, was "seven minutes, eight if the traffic is bad." My commute to the church is much longer ;-) -- ten minutes, eleven if I hit the lights wrong. My office has a window out into the world, something I'd missed for the past twelve years.I have children who are older than the rector, whohas five little ones of his own. The congregation is small, and the church rents out the sanctuary to a Pentecostal-style denomination for a service later on Sunday.

Space is also rented to a small, private school, very much in contrast to the school I left. Whereas the students at the school I left were in many cases people of privilege (with tuition nearly $30,000 per year in some grades), people with great ambitions (99-100% college attendance following graduation), the students in this little school are among the most marginalized. They are all autistic. With a nearly 1:1 teacher:pupil ratio, I am discovering what one branch of sainthood is. These men and women appear to have infinite patience and unfailing optimism. I'm going to learn a lot as I experience this new-to-me population.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Not Quite Yet!

I had said a couple of posts ago that my next post would be about the new chapter in my life. Not so. And again, alas, not so.

Because I finished this little quilt yesterday and wanted to share it. Not a great photo -- I think you can click to enlarge it.

One of my Circle sisters from church has a granddaughter who was born with some heart defect(s) and has spent more of her little life inside the hospital rather than at home. She is finally doing well and it appears that this is the path she is following. I made this quilt for her to have when she comes home to stay. I'd shown the top previously, some time ago, before it was designated for Lily. I hope to deliver it to Lily's grandmom this week.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

May 4

No, we weren't there. But we might well have been, had not Joe's college education been interrupted by a four-year hiatus, courtesy of the United States Navy. We were living in Norfolk (of course) when it happened and were filled with grief combined with disbelief.

We were there for the second annual memorial observance, and several more after that

Today this date is observed by the general public with Star Wars images and a slogan, "May the Fourth be with you." At first I found that offensive. And then I began to like it. Anything that will keep the date in people's minds. Anything. If someone hears the slogan and then pauses and thinks, "Wait, wasn't that . . . ?" that is good. We must never forget.

And also with you.

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Whole Truth

It's the part in the middle that's the sticking point. The "whole truth" part.

My next blog post will begin a new chapter, a chapter that promises to be interesting and refreshing. But before going there, I want to clear up one last thing about recent events in my life.

I have to begin by saying that for the past eight years I worked for a man that I admired tremendously. My head of school is a person of integrity, of deep spirituality, whose go-to question in making a hard decision always was "What's the right thing to do?" I learned a great deal about compassion and decency by watching this man deal with many different kinds of difficult situations.

So I was totally taken aback when one of the parents from the school told me she had heard that I'd quit my job and left the school in the lurch so close to the end of the academic year. This information had come to her through a letter from the head of the school. I couldn't imagine such a thing to be true. Then someone shared the letter, which apparently went to all of the school parents and possibly to other people in the school community.

The head's letter began by saying that the school had "bid a fond farewell" to me, and that I had taken on a new position elsewhere. Later it goes on to say that he was "happy and thankful" that someone else was "stepping in . . . in this interim period." Don't taking on a new position and interim period sound as though it had been my decision to leave the school and that it was just a matter of time until someone would be hired to take my place?  I understood, then, how the parent had inferred what she had. Technically, what was said was true: After being told that I would not have a job at the school after June 30, I chose to leave earlier when -- in this dreadful job market -- a position was offered to me, with the full support of the school's head and certainly no talk about breach of contract. And, yes, my coworker was now doing my job, not temporarily as implied, but because this was preordained in the grand plan of restructuring.

Oh, the letter includes lovely things about me. Which is nice. They make it clear that I wasn't fired for some terrible reason. I don't know that I could have written a better letter, considering the subject and the circumstances. But simply beginning the letter with "As part of planned restructuring of the school's administration, Nancy's position was combined with another. In the face of that, she has accepted a position . . . ."

That would have been the whole truth.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


On this date seven years ago, I wrote my first blog post, "Having Fun With Intentionality." I went back and reread it today. At that time, writing a blog post was a new experience, and I wasn't sure what my intention was or where it would lead.

It has led to all kinds of wonderful.

This is post #1594. Who'da thunk it.

At first, I wrote my blog only for myself. It was to be a kind of a diary, to explore thoughts, to record events, to do whatever. And that is still what it is, but it isn't only for myself any longer. Somewhere along the way, I began to acquire comment-leavers, and it became apparent that I had a regular readership, mostly made up of people I did not know. Yet.

Over the years, the on-line relationships with other bloggers, has come to matter greatly. Never more than during the past three months as I dealt with an unexpected difficult life change.

And then there are the bloggers, mostly quilters, that I have had the opportunity to meet Up Close and Personal. They did not disappoint. They are wonderful ladies, and despite the geography that separates us, I am proud to call them dear friends. Others I look forward to meeting one day, in spite of even more geography. I know they will be wonderful, too.

And so today I celebrate. I celebrate seven years of blogging. I celebrate all that I have learned from other bloggers. I celebrate the friendships that have developed and grown. Reader, I celebrate you!