Friday, May 30, 2014

New churn dashes

Blogger is being funny about adding pictures this morning. It took forever to get these two on.  I'm fitting these in as I take little breaks from the hand-quilting of the churn dash restoration.  I've probably said before that I have no problem with having multiple projects going on at the same time.  I do that at work, right?  I don't just work on one event or project at a time, I have many projects going on, all in different stages.  So what's wrong with having a number of quilt projects going on at the same time?  Keeps things fresh, I think!

I feel awful.  I think I accidentally called someone at 4:45 this morning as I was trying to turn off my alarm.  (I use my phone as my alarm clock).  I'm not sure how that happened, but it started dialing a number.  It wasn't a number I recognized, and wasn't someone in my contacts, obviously.  So very sorry if you were disturbed, which most people would be at that hour.  I will text the number later with an apology.

Speaking of texting, there was a woman sitting next to me at a funeral yesterday who was texting the whole time!  At a funeral!  I had to make myself imagine that she was carrying on some very urgent conversation regarding an impending organ transplant or someone's burning house to keep me from giving her "the look."  Of course, now that I've woken someone up at 4:45 a.m., I have no room to talk about cell phone misuse, but there it is.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bernina - We All Sew Churn Dash

It happens every time I restore a quilt - I fall in love with whatever block is in the quilt and have to make some.

Serendipitously enough, just as I started working on the restoration of the church dash quilt in the previous post, I saw that Bernina and blogger Amy Smart were working together on a sew-along of churn dash blocks.

The directions are great if you've never done a churn dash before.  I'm not following the cutting directions exactly because I'm going scrappy - as I usually do.  I'm using anything fairly bright that I find in my scrap bins plus a lot of solids that I've been pulling together.

There's a Flickr group for anyone sewing along in the sew-along.  Fun to look at.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Before and during

This is my latest restoration project, a not-so-old but loved-to-near-death churn dash.  In fact, when the client brought it to me, I first told her I didn't think there was anything I could do for her quilt.  The sashing was shredded, basically. There was almost no quilting left.  The batting was in balled-up wads.  In most households, this would have been a dog bed years ago.  I'm almost ashamed to say that that's exactly what it would have been in my house.  It had a number of small stains that looked like ketchup but could have been who-knows-what!  I'm going to go with ketchup.

The blocks are an assortment of 70's-ish dress prints.  There's a variety of fiber content, which meant a variety of shrinkage amounts as the quilt was washed, which I guess contributed to the shredded sashing as the blocks pulled away from each other.

I agreed to take the blocks apart to see if there was something I could do with them - a smaller quilt of all the best ones, or something.  I ended up  being able to save all of the blocks except one.  The white background was the same fabric as the backing, so where I needed to replace background pieces I had "reserve stock."  I mended the blocks that needed mending and then I reset them all - a trick because they were all different sizes now, on account of the difference in shrinkage (and because while they were made with much love, they were rather casually measured and sewed together.)  It was a real challenge to my squaring-up abilities.  I still don't know how flat it lie once the quilting is finished, but I don't think that's the client's foremost concern.

So here's the top all put back together (except for the borders).  I'm quilting now.  I could make out faint signs of Baptist Fan hand quilting in the original. I hope it will look like the original quilting, but there was so little of it left, I can't really be sure.  I hope the client likes it!  I should be finished in a month or so. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When I find myself in times of trouble

When I was about 24-years-old, my brothers and sisters and I spent about 9 months watching our mother die from colon cancer.  On one of her last days, my brother Donald and I sat together quietly in her hospital room one long afternoon while she slept.  Neither of us had said anything for the longest time when I saw Don reach into his pocket and pull out one of his business cards and a pen.  He turned the card over, wrote something on it, and handed it to me.  He had written, "And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me," from the Beatles' song Let it Be.  It comforted him to write it, and it comforted me to read it.

It seems there is always a need for comfort in our lives, at least there always is in mine.  No one has a perfect, stress-free life.  We have lovely stress-free, joy-bringing, bliss-filled moments, but they are all too fleeting to be cherished for anything more than a minute and a memory. 

Yet there is still a light that shines on us.  God used Jeremiah to say it in a different way, one that never fails to bring me comfort. “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). I can’t tell you how many times I have leaned on Jeremiah.  I only know one thing about the future:  God is already there.  And if God is there, I can go there, too.

One of the most comforting things I ever heard came to me as sort of a second-hand story.  I know the person who told me the story had no idea then that it would mean so much to me since she told it to me, about 12 or 13 years ago.  I was working part-time at a different college than the one I work at now.  My boss was a happy, bright young Christian woman.  One day she received word that the husband of a good friend about her age or a little older had died unexpectedly.  Michelle, my boss, was distraught, because while Michelle’s friend was a Christian, she knew the husband was not.  Michelle went to the funeral with a heavy heart and afterwards broke down in front of her friend, the new widow.  She told her friend how upset she was and why.  Her friend took her by the shoulders (maybe figuratively) and firmly said, “Now stop it, Michelle, or you’re going to block the blessing.”  

“Don’t block the blessing” is now something I say to myself whenever something awful happens, or whenever I think something awful is about to happen (which as we all know can be worse than the real awful thing actually happening).  It makes me remember to acknowledge God’s presence in the awfulness, because it is God’s presence that gives me hope – and comfort. 

It is the blessing of God's comforting Presence always and everywhere that keeps us from becoming totally hopeless when external forces try to rob us of peace and comfort; of health and wholeness.  It is the blessing of God's comforting Presence, the Light that shines on us even when it is cloudy, that helps us take that next step and then the next one, and the next, knowing he is with us however rocky the road.

So I thank you, God, for Donald, for Jeremiah, for Michelle and Michelle’s friend, and thank you God for Paul McCartney.  Thank you most of all for your Son, the source of all comfort.  “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV)  Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What I did on my spring break

It was spring break here last week and for the first time (ever, I guess) all of the employees of the college where I work had the whole week off.  In the past, only the students and faculty were off all week and the staff had to work Monday through Wednesday.  This year, thanks to thoughtful research and presentations by our staff advocacy group, the board of trustees agreed that everyone should be off the whole week.  Bliss!

Our good friend from "out west" came to visit for the week.  We had fun eating (lots), going shopping, going to a movie (Blue Jasmine), hanging out together (he's a very low maintenance guest) and, sewing, of course!  I worked on my fussy cut grandmother's flower garden, with our friend's help:  he actually basted about a zillion of the white hexagons onto their paper pieces. You can see them here.  (My connection must be too slow to add pictures this morning, so I've linked to my Flickr site).

I'm not a huge Woody Allen fan, but I thought Blue Jasmine was just great. The theme of the movie is:  The lies we tell ourselves are just as detrimental, if not more so, than the lies we tell other people.  Cate Blanchett did a great job of bringing believability to an exaggerated character.  Only maybe Jasmine's not so exaggerated.  My limited contact (basically, next to none unless you count news stories) with the super wealthy suggests that there are some Jasmines in real life.

I ended the week bringing the container plants out of the garage, finally, and back on the patio and porch.  I also planted four tomato plants, cucumber seeds and a few other plants.  If we have another freeze at this point, I'll be completely shocked, but then, I never expected we'd have such a cold winter.

So now I have to put the hexagons aside and get back to work on a churn dash restoration.  I put it away for spring break because I didn't want to close myself up in the sewing room all week, and I limit my restoration work to that room, for safety of the projects.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A work in progress

Last night I got home from work, ate spinach and goat cheese pizza and then went upstairs to the sewing room to work on a new project while drinking diet Coke and watching The West Wing on Netflix.  Pretty much a perfect evening in my book!

A month or so ago The Quilt Show made all of their shows from all seasons available to their subscribers.  I've only been a subscriber for this last season, so I had a lot of catching up to do.  The timing was great, since I was on a self-imposed deadline to finish my latest restoration project.

I think I've watched almost all of them now.  One of my favorites is the show with Brian Haggard, who has written a couple of books about memory quilts - using old photos in quilts with lots of crazy quilt embellishment, all (mostly) in sepia tones.  Since I've also been doing a lot of family history research lately (my gosh I sound like every elderly person I've ever known in this post!  Next thing you know I'm going to be walking around in a cardigan sweater with a Kleenex in my pocket tripping over 20 or 30 cats and eating tea and toast for dinner.  Not that all elderly women do this.  But I'm pretty sure I will.), I knew I had to try to make a quilt like his. 

I need to order his book - but here's my start.  I used pictures from my recent trip to visit dead relatives in Mason.  I love old cemeteries.  I love the ornate headstones and trying to find the oldest burial.  I like family plots with iron fences around them.  I like the statues and the epitaphs.  The inscription on my great great grandfather's headstone says "He died as he lived - a Christian."  I love that.


The buttons aren't sewn on yet, I was just auditioning them.  I have to redo the crazy quilt blocks - something's not quite right there.  The quote is from the poem "Cemetery Trees" by J. S. MacDonald:  "The mighty oaks a vigil keep o'er those beneath them sound asleep."  I plan to add some embroidery.  I might extend the tree branches with embroidery into the borders.

I like it so far.  If it turns out as I hope it will, I may enter it in the New Braunfels quilt show this summer.