Thursday, February 26, 2015

What's On My Wall

Some of my peeps on FB have begun a "Show Us Your Wall!" movement. I've enjoyed seeing what they have shared, and decided to take a turn. My Wall is unusual. As you can see, there appear to be three sections. Actually, if opened out all the way flat, there would be four. My husband designed and built my wall so that it has two main sections and two side sections. The hinges work, and I can close the whole thing up (but why would I want to do that).

Here's the main section. Starting on the left, we have my current leader-ender project and the picture that inspired it. Moving down a bit is the template the the fox's spectacles and a baggie that holds some yellow and white HSTs that I can't remember what I was going to do with! In the approximate center are the first four blocks of my current project, and below them is the first of two blocks for Stephanie who is Queen Bee soon. On the right are a photo of a project I am contemplating, a hunk of the fabric I used for labels for Aberdeen's clothing, a single Birthday Part Block and the drawing for it. Finally, we have my first PP block to remind me that I can do this!

Moving on to the messy left inside panel, on the left we have instructions for an infinity scarf, instructions on fusible bonding, a couple of designs, four strips of gray fabric for no good reason. In the center are some CW blocks I made for a quilt-along that Lori started and I got distracted, a nice MOO that someone pieced for me, a few small CW HSTs, a batik star that Turbo made, an extra piece of lattice from recent baby quilts. Down low we have a yellow and white blocks that I thought I was going to make a bunch of but was disenchanted after the first one, and a sketch of shimmering triangles from a photo.

The reverse side of that door meets up with my cutting table. At the top is a baggie with some floss, and coming down are all manner of odds and ends including the Mazed pattern which I never can find when I'm wanting it. There's Carolyn Friedlander's Outhouses pattern that I cannot imagine why I purchased but I haven't given up on it yet over there on the right. At the bottom is a baggie where I put small scraps that I give to Turbo.

So, that's what's on my wall. What's on yours?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Been Busy

Blouse with ties, skirt, shorts; blouse, skirt; dress.

Close-ups of labels, placed to show her which is the back; the skirts have labels, too, but my hands were getting very cold out there!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Hope of Spring

Two little summer dresses. Size 4T. With a snowy background.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Thinking, Near Philadelphia

My friend's daughter posted an eloquent plea on Facebook this week. She was recounting the story of her father's accident one year ago, when an elderly woman drove into him in a parking lot. He sustained back damage, a broken rib or two, and a traumatic brain injury. Life for him and for his wife was changed irreversibly. Just like that. The post was imploring people to take car keys away from parents who are too old, too confused, too demented to drive safely.

She wrote of the strain her father's injuries have placed on her mother, and I have seen first-hand what she is talking about. She said that she has begun to investigate senior living communities for her parents.

The post led to a lengthy lunch-time conversation. Joe and I both observed Major Milestone Birthdays within the past month. We both drive. And, Rainman, actually we're very good drivers, and not just on Tuesdays. But someday one or both of us will need to relinquish our car keys. Our neighbor to the left did it on his own after a minor accident where no one was hurt, back when he was only about eighty-four. We admire him for that.

At what point might our son have to approach one of us and say, "You know, Mom [or Dad], I don't think Dad [or Mom] should be driving any more"? When will come the day where our daughter won't post about it on Facebook (because she doesn't have time to post much at all on FB), but will be looking into possible alternate living arrangements for us? What will that be like? Will she know what our preferences might be?

We spoke for a long time about community, continuity, change. Knowing that as good and wonderful as our lives are now, this is not forever. It wasn't an easy or comfortable conversation, nor were any great conclusions reached. We are both aware that it was the first of likely many such conversations, and as strange and perhaps difficult as it was, we are glad that it happened. We'll need to think about initiating these kinds of conversations with our children at some point.

Every single time I work a hospital chaplaincy shift, I am with at least one older couple whose lives have changed irreversibly. Just like that. Not gradually, but all at once. We look at our dear neighbors to the left -- he now well into his nineties and she our age but with failing health -- and wonder how long the status quo will be the status quo. Their son lives in another state, and some months ago they gave me his telephone number. After lunch today I sent my daughter's telephone number to my dear neighbor to the right, hoping she won't need it for a long time or perhaps ever, but it just seemed the sensible thing to do.

Just what I'm thinking about on a frigid, sunny day Near Philadelphia.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Home From India

The other night I had dinner with my young friend from church, the one who went to India for several months back in the autumn. She participated in a women's empowerment program where one of the skills the ladies were taught was sewing. She posted on her blog of a need for sewing machines for those about to graduate from the program.

I went on to say I'd send money for one machine (small, hand-crank models, they sell for $65 American) and would see if I could rustle up support for a couple more.

The results of the rustling were written in this blog post.

Mandy shared her story with us as we ate dinner, and then she shared some of her photos (she's gifted with the use of the camera) and talked about how much she misses India. "I think about it every day," she reported.  She said that the program director was so appreciative of my help in funding the sewing machines, he sent me a beautiful small zip purse as a thank-you gift. We made arrangements for her to share her story at our Circle meeting near the end of May. And then she pulled out another bag. Something she'd picked out and brought home for me.

Indian fabric.

I told you she was a terrific girl.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Year of the Sheep?

The classical music station in Philadelphia is a local treasure. Both Himself and I keep it on in our offices all day. My car radio is tuned to it. The morning alarm that wakes us is that station. As is the Bose in the kitchen. Obviously, we're avid fans and financial supporters.

There really aren't a lot of commercials on that station, and most of them are nothing to complain about. One, however, is for what we perceive to be an upscale Chinese restaurant on the Other Side of Philadelphia. We both find the spokesperson to be annoying. Lately she's been going on about the Year of the Sheep. Clearly, she has no idea what she's talking about.

It's the Year of the Fox, as demonstrated by my three recent flimsies. Clearly.

This one is gender neutral, made from my last surviving layer cake; it is all tone-on-tone subtle prints.

This one is for a little girl, made from Kaffe Collective prints. One wears rose-colored glasses, doncha know.

And this one is very masculine, for a little boy. So serious. So crisp, made from all batiks.

I've had such a good time! And am already thinking about The Year of the Hedgehog . . . .

Monday, February 09, 2015

Tula Fassett?

When I was fooling around on my Pinterest boards the other day, I came across a couple of pictures I'd pinned because I liked the layout of the blocks in the quilts. I had a bunch of Tula Pink blocks in cool color Kaffe fabrics in a sweet little stack and decided to use one of the layouts for them. My idea was to go from dark in one corner to light in the diagonal corner. I think I did it.

One of the things I don't enjoy about quilt making is lining up the blocks into rows using lattice but no cornerstones. I dislike this so much that most of the time I add gratuitous cornerstones, making more work for myself. I was determined that for this little quilt I was going to skip the cornerstones. I devised a method that I couldn't possibly explain wherein after applying the short lattices between the blocks, I cut all of the long lattice strips to the proper size and marked with chalk where the intersections would occur. It worked! Of course, this is just a small quilt. I imagine it would work on a big one, too.

Upstairs, where I do handwork in front of the Netflix or television, I finished appliquéing a second group of Liberty dresses for a second baby girl quilt and needed some other handwork. I've got a stack of baby quilts either finished or in progress, and I'm not going to want to pay the machinist to do all of them, so I decided that the first Liberty dresses quilt will be hand quilted. Got it all sandwiched and began that work last night.

Meanwhile, my leader-ender blocks are thriving. The example quilt that I started with was done with Civil Wars of all colors. It was very beautiful. I thought I would use all varieties of my Kaffe Collective fabrics, but now that I have five finished, I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep the colors in the current range. Himself is an artist, and he likes to get out his color wheel and define the color combination that I use. I use a more instinctive approach. Here I'm going from reddish-purple-including-pink across to bluish green if you are using a wheel. Plus some grayish-but-not-brownish neutrals. These particular leader-ender blocks are surprisingly well-behaved. They are getting plenty of attention, and that seems to be warding off the usual demand to turn into a "real project."

This has been the most productive head cold I've had in a good while. And so far -- knock wood -- it hasn't gone near bronchitis!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

What We Can Do

My niece is a teacher who writes a blog about teaching, about her experiences in and out of the classroom, presumably for other teachers to read. I'm not a teacher, but I read her blog because she's my niece and because I'm a learner. And I've learned a good bit from Susan who, incidentally, taught me to make a quilt back in 1986 or so.

Her post today included a link to an article about another teacher, one who does so much more than provide instruction in the Three Rs. The social problem of children living in poverty is far more widespread than I had thought.

I have a friend who responded to a magazine advertisement or article by choosing a couple of needy children in foreign countries and each month she sends a financial contribution through a reputable agency to better the lives of those children. It is what she can -- and wants -- to do. A blog friend who recently went on a mission trip to Central America returned home, so moved by the plight of the children she met there that she arranged a substantial and meaningful Christmas gift for one family. It was what she could do.

This past Thanksgiving when all of my kids were gathered, I produced an immense bag of hygiene products from hotels to see if anyone wanted them. Immediately my daughter thought of her friend who is a school nurse. Sometimes kids come to school not just hungry, but dirty. This nurse gives them things to help remedy that. Sherry thought that she could make little hygiene kits out of these little bottles of things, kits that might appeal to the recipients and after counting and sorting, she and one of her sisters-in-law went out to the local drug store to buy toothbrushes and toothpastes to supplement and then they all had fun making a dozen hygiene kits using ziplock bags.  It was what she could do, and she involved others.

My circle sister who also is a school nurse asked us one autumn if we would bring in sweatpants and sweatshirts for her to give to kids who are cold. We brought them, and we brought socks and underpants, too. And the circle regularly, twice each year, supports a local agency that provides clothing for a local clinic to distribute to moms of infants, moms who don't have the means to supply their babies with everything they need. While most of the circle moms are grandmothers who have ready access to outgrown clothing, we also enjoy shopping for little things either at the rummage sale or in the store. I make sure there are a couple of baby quilts included in each semi-annual ingathering. It's what I can do.

This morning, after reading Susan's blog and the article she shared, it occurs to me that when I hear of a need, I do what I can. The next step, of course, is to not just hear of needs, but to seek them out and to be ready to respond. To make an extra baby quilt. To pick up a toothbrush at the grocery store every now and again, to have on hand for the next time we make hygiene kits. To ask my circle sister how we can help her kids this year. To do what we can.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Thanks, Pinterest!

After I finished the "pluses" baby quilt in my last post, I didn't have a real plan for what to do next. The "pluses" had been made from some F8s  of hand-dyes I had picked up at the quilt show back in the autumn. There was just a little bit left over from each of the F8s. I thought I'd go ahead and do something with them right then and there, rather than consign them to the scrap bin.

I have no fewer than 61 Pinterest boards. But I don't pay much attention to them. Mostly they just kind of hang there. Occasionally I choose something from Soup Of The Evening and make it. I've done nothing with the 55 pins on Let Them Eat Cake. "Crock" warrants the occasional perusal and "Organization" doesn't warrant a glance.

In a moment of brilliance that astonished even me, I turned to Pinterest and the board of Baby Quilts to see what might be a possibility for those hand-dye scraps. And behold! A lowly four-patch proved to be the solution! Matched up with Kaffe Collective scraps, I think this has turned out to be a terrific gender-neutral baby quilt. And the blocks went together so quickly.

After this great success, I decided I needed a leader-ender project to help me get those 4-patch rows together. I'm on the verge of parting with my Civil War fabrics forever, so I went to the Civil War board to see if there was anything at all there that I should hang onto. And came up with a block someone was referring to as Pie In The Sky. I liked it. I couldn't find a pattern for it (have since learned it comes from a Kim Diehl book called "Simple Graces"), but it didn't look as though it would be all that hard to draft. I was right. (As an aside, the only subject I ever failed in my whole life was high school geometry, so I'm always particularly delighted when something like this works out.) Since I was already deep into my Kaffe-ish odds and ends, I completely by-passed what's left of the Civil War and while putting those little Fours together, made two leader-ender blocks and have a third nearly done.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Babies and More Babies

It started during dinner on Sunday; we were at my sister's and having a lovely catered meal prepared by a wonderful cook from our church; she had offered it for the Silent Auction at the Oktoberfest and I was fortunate to have won. Anyway, we had finished the crostini with goat cheese and chutney and also the individual beef Wellingtons with their delicious side dishes and were just about to begin the mixed berry cobbler when that unmistakable feeling in the head and sinuses began. A head cold was coming on. Came home and took cold meds and went to bed reasonably early (Downton Abbey and all, y'know) but woke up Monday with a full-fledged case of crud. Been nursing it with cold meds, naps, orange juice, and it doesn't seem to be getting any worse. But we shall see.

Himself says I seem to feel better and cough less when I'm sewing, and it just so happened that yesterday I had that baker's dozen Liberty dresses in a little pile (I like to do hand sewing in front of the TV), so I put them together in case one of the multiple expected babies is a girl. I suspect clicking on that photo will make it large enough that you can see the exquisite floral prints.

Today I did not believe that the kids at the school or their wonderful teachers needed exposure to the crud, so I stayed home, printed out a photo that had been on my Pinterest board for baby quilts, and got all of these blocks pieced and laid out, in between naps. I like it. A lot.

Have moved from antihistamine-decongestant tablets to Mucinex decongestant and cough control on the theory that a cough that doesn't begin is a cough that won't turn into bronchitis. Again, we shall see.

Planning another day at home tomorrow. Wonder what kind of trouble I can get into!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Flocks of Fox Blocks

I've been having so much fun making fox blocks. Here are sixty!

On the right are five stacks of four brown-tone batiks for one project.

On the left are ten stacks of two Kaffe fabric foxes for another project.

In between are twenty tone-on-tone foxes, one of whom is nearsighted, for the third project.

Himself tells me that foxes do not travel in gaggles, flocks, packs, or any other unit of multiples; he says they are solitary animals.  I know better but am wise enough to let him live with his delusion.