Monday, February 27, 2017

Ladies of the Lake

I can't remember how many years ago my [currently inactive] little swap group decided we needed to make Lady of the Lake blocks. We used WOW and sea-color batiks, and I ended up with a massive stack of LOTLs that promptly went into the cupboard. My friend Kathy got hers put together last year and jazzed them up with some red-orange HSTs. I liked what she did and picked up some red and white lobster fabric with a similar plan in mind.

Now, you know, almost every January 1, almost every quilter vows, "THIS is the year I finish up the UFOs!" and then starts something new. But this year, so far, I've taken six flimsies to the machinest, picked them up, and have most of the bound. One -- Polar Vortex -- has gone to its forever home.

Over the weekend, while foraging for a possible back for one of the next two flimsies (see, I'm trying to stick with it!), I rediscovered the LOTLs. I put them up on the wall. They were boring. I simply couldn't muster up any enthusiasm about sewing them together. I even messaged Kathy to see if she wanted to take them off my hands. Then I went upstairs to start lunch and began muttering to Himself about all the work that had gone into those dratted blocks and how uninspiring they were. He had no idea what I was talking about, so while I stirred the soup, he went down to take a peek at the wall. When he came back up, he said, "I fixed it."

He certainly did. His layout rocks. I couldn't wait to sew them together! (There are still twenty more, in my Guild bag now to take to Kathy.) I love what he came up with.

Now, here's the question: Should it stay the way it is? Does it need/want border(s)? If so, how many? What kind? Opinions are gratefully solicited.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Next Blog

On Friday, I visited a friend of more than thirty years; she is in the intensive care unit of the hospital where I work. She is very sick, and I left the hospital honestly not knowing if I would see her again. She has been much on my mind since.

This morning, I awoke to find my Facebook feed saturated with news of another passing. 

Nearly eleven years ago, when I was a brand new blogger, I was eager to learn more about this world of cyber activity. I had a few friends with blogs, and through their blogs made new blog friends. Occasionally, I would click that button at the top of a blog; you know, the one that says "Next Blog."

"Next Blog," one fateful day, turned out to be a moving account of a hospital experience written by a man undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. His was some of the best writing -- blog or elsewhere -- I'd ever seen. I left a comment.

Eleven years. I read everything he wrote. I learned of his unsavory past, his resurrection, his marriage, his job loss, his separation, his politics, his reconciliation. By the time his daughter was born, we'd been blog friends for so long that I knew I had to send her a quilt. His marriage came apart to stay and he remained a devoted, proud, and enthusiastic father. He found a new love; he became engaged. All the while, he wrote. He blogged. At some point a year or so ago, the blogging dribbled off; he'd become involved in podcasting and television production. 

We never did meet, though we talked about it. He has family Not Far From Philadelphia and recently promised that the next time he went to visit them . . . .

I'm about the same age as his mom, and I've always had a motherly feeling towards him. He confided in me about things he couldn't share on his blog. I listened. I sent him things I'd written; he critiqued them. 

And now he's gone. I don't know how, and I think it is actually better to leave it that way.

"How do you mourn for what never existed? How do you grieve not for the past but for the future, a future that will never be? I suppose that's what true grief is -- it's not the disappearance of what was there all along as much as it is the sudden absence of what you were so sure was to come." - Chez Pazienza


Chez Pazienza
December 11, 1969 - February 25, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Have No Fear, Little Flock

I've always liked that hymn, "Have No Fear, Little Flock."

My little flock has nothing to fear. Two of them have already gone to sleep; I wonder if they were counting people? I've had a good time making these and I have a layout planned. But I'm not going to get to that until sometime next week.

If you were thinking you might want a flock of sheep, you can get the pattern here from Rumi.  There are even more sheep in the pattern that the ones I have made. One caution: You must add the quarter inch around each segment before reproducing your patterns for sewing.

My other sheepish quilt is hand quilted now. I know what I want for the border, and that is going to necessitate a trip out to the LQS. Nasty business, but it has to be done.

And that's what I know, Near Philadelphia.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Baa Ram Ewe

To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true! 
Sheep be true! 

Three more to go.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Remember "Polar Vortex"?

In our family, whenever one of my kids needs a quilt for a wedding gift or for a new baby gift, they take a look at what quilts I have finished or in the flimsy stage, and then pay me whatever they would have spent for the gift they need. Works well, provides unique gifts for them to give, reduces the number of quilts on hand (we only have two beds), and gives me a little extra fabric money.

Tom and Anastasia have a wedding to go to this spring and they picked this flimsy from the selection available. It's name comes from the big storm that we had a few years back while I was working on it. We lost our electricity for, I think, three nights. It was cold. We went to the hospital cafeteria to get meals and charge our phones. We lived in front of the fireplace. Blackberry was nonplussed. 

I'm happy for Polar Vortex to have found a home. 

Presently I'm hand quilting a baby quilt of sheep, waiting to bind another baby quilt, and getting ready to layer yet another. 

Thursday I was having a bad day at work because of a strained ankle. One of my teachers made me this wonderful balloon flower to cheer me up. It worked!

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Almost Anvil" Finds A Home

There's a young mom at our church who is doing battle with breast cancer. When I read this news on FB, I had that all-too-familiar feeling of deja vu. 

Pretty many years ago, when I wasn't much of a quilter, another mom at our church, one of my [honorary] Circle sisters received that diagnosis. She was someone I greatly admired. And loved. She sang in the choir and when she reached for a high note (think "Gloooooooooooria!"), she looked for all the world like one of those Byers' Choice carolers. She was smart and clever and crafty, though not a quilter. Yet. And, even after she had received her unwelcome diagnosis, she spearheaded what turned into a major renovation to our church to make it accessible to handicapped individuals. She was a mover and she was a shaker. She had four children, the youngest of whom has grown up to be a wonderful wife, mother, and mover/shaker, too. Dagmar would be so proud. Oh, and that daughter is good friends with the young mom mentioned above. 

When I heard this news, although I really hardly know the young mom, I couldn't get her situation out of my mind or out of my heart. 

Most people know that any woman dealing with breast cancer will do much better in her recovery process if she has a nice quilt to nap under. It's a well-publicized although -- as yet -- not scientifically proven premise. In memory of Dagmar, I wanted this young mom to have that advantage.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

New Kid on the Block

I bought my Bernina 1031 in the autumn of 1995 and have never looked back. Well, the first one I bought was a 1005 and within two weeks had discovered that what I really wanted was a slightly more sophisticated machine. My local dealer gave me full credit on the trade-in, earning my loyalty. Before that, I had a 22-year-old Kenmore with a 25-year guarantee.

My 1031 is a workhorse of a machine. I've no problems with it. She's on the heavy side, though, and since I go away for a quilting retreat at least twice a year and sometimes go to sewing days at other locations, I got to thinking that I'd like to have a lighter machine, one that was easier to carry. I acquired a Featherweight and while it was light and easy to carry, I never really bonded with it. My main complaint was that the bobbins seemed to run out every time I turned around. There were other issues, too. A couple of friends had picked up Hello Kitty machines, made by Janome, and were happy with them as their light-weight travelers. So I got one of them, and again, we didn't connect. I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks.

My sweet friend Judy recently got a Bernina 380 and is smitten. But now Bernina has stopped making 380s. I decided to investigate the 350, the main difference being the number of fancy stitches it provides. My dealer was having a sale over Super Bowl Weekend, and as soon as I sat down with 350, I was a goner. She came home with me and has scarcely had a minute's rest. If possible, she's a better machine than the old faithful 1031. Smooth running, quiet, nifty little needle up/needle down feature, push button stitch size, you name it. In the few days I've had her, I've machined on a binding to a quilt without struggling, without swearing, I've pieced a few blocks, and paper-pieced a third of a flock of sheep. I'm in love. Oh, and she might even weigh a little less than her predecessor!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A Quilt for the Refugees

This spokes/blades quilt was my project when I was spending eighty minutes per week learning to become proficient at paper piecing. I am delighted with how it turned out. It came home from the machinist last week (I think if you click on the photo you can see her marvelous work, especially in the border). I considered various colors for the binding; in the end Himself said it had to be white and as opposed as I am to white binding, he was right.

I was at a meeting last week for the four-church group that is sponsoring the Congolese refugee family and learned that one of the congregations, the Swedenborgians up the road, are having a fund raiser -- a musical evening -- to benefit the family. I was bummed -- I have to work the night of the musical offering. Then somebody mentioned that they are going to have raffle baskets, too. I told her that I thought I had a small pink baby quilt at home that I could contribute. When I got home, I discovered that the quilt I thought I had was already gone -- it went to the Baby Bureau back in November. But I did have this quilt which is more toddler size (about 45" square) than baby size. I emailed Pauline and she said she was interested. She'll be picking it up this afternoon. When I made it, I didn't have a specific recipient in mind; I guess I just thought it would wait until someone had a baby. Instead, someone had a need. It turned out to be a great opportunity to support a most worthwhile fund raiser.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Crisis Response

Like almost everyone I know, I've been finding it hard to read or listen to the news lately. Despite my weeding efforts, Facebook remains an ongoing source of anger and sorrow. We can scarcely get through a meal without discussion of our fears. It is a scary time.

People are trying, though, in their own individual and collective ways, to make things better. They are marching and signing petitions and calling/texting/emailing their representatives. I was tremendously flattered when two different thirty-somethings that I know invited me to attend a protest! I couldn't; I had to work. But still, I was pleased that they recognized in me something that called out for change.

On the individual front, a dear friend has turned her own lemons into lemonade: Being homebound with a broken ankle, she crocheted a little hat to cover her chilly exposed toes and then went on to crochet a couple of dozen more that she took along to the cast-maker when she went to get her upgraded replacement cast, the idea being that these could be distributed to others getting foot casts with exposed toes. A small gesture, and one that will be appreciated so much.

I so applaud my sisters and brothers who march, who text, who petition, who act collectively to effect change. I admire their urgency, their zeal.

For me, though, the individual approach seems to be the right one. Some time ago, I learned that the Chinese character for "crisis" is made from two other characters, those for "danger" and for "opportunity." Our world does seem to be at a crisis point; the danger is felt everywhere I turn. I'm looking for the opportunities. And the more I look, the more I find. To try to make small differences. The quilt for the ballet school will raise money for fighting breast cancer. The drawstring bags for menstrual supplies will help thirteen girls somewhere to get a better education. I've been listening as I go about my daily life to become aware of other opportunities to make a small difference. And I've discovered there are many, many more.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Thirteen Done

One of our Guild members had the thought that we might support an organization called Days For Girls. The premise of the project is this: In many third word countries, because they lack sanitary supplies, girls must miss school when they are menstruating. This can add up to sixty days per year of  school (or work) absence. The organization provides girls and women with kits containing reusable, washable sanitary supplies. Each kit contains eight reusable absorbent pads and two moisture barriers along with two pair of panties. For cleaning, there are two large ziplock bags and a bar of soap. Everything is contained in a drawstring bag. At the last Guild meeting there were instruction sheets for making the pads, barriers and bags. I picked up the lesson for the bags, ordered the labels, raided my stash, and made a baker's dozen. The job took about two afternoons. It felt good to be doing something to make a difference somewhere.