Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Child of the King

Do you ever feel discouraged, disillusioned, feeling down but don't really have a good reason cuz in the scope of things there's really nothing wrong that should be causing these feelings?

Maybe it's the weather, ya'know, dark days do tend to be gloomy if we let them.

Maybe it's the let down from a
mountain top experience.

Maybe it's missing someone that has passed from this life.

Maybe it's the empty feeling when everyone else has returned to their normal after a wonderful time together and you're the one left at home. Alone, with only your thoughts.

Ever feel like giving up, lost your hope? Thinking that there's nothing you can do, have done, or will do that has even the potential of greatness? Uninspired? Feeling useless?

You're not alone.

It's been my experience that when these dark days come that I have several choices that not only affect my attitude and therefore my day, but also my outlook for my future. It's a fight between giving into darkness or looking for light.

Seems I've been having a lot of these goofy thoughts lately....that's when God gently reminds me that I'm His kid, and that I need to look for His glory and not my own wants, needs, or aspirations of greatness. I am nothing. He is everything.

It's during these times that I need to refocus, be still, and get my mind off myself and ask to be shown the big picture, to know where He wants me. My place in this world....

I'm reminded of a wonderful passage of scripture assuring me that God is the source of my salvation and my light.

Micah 7:7-8
But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation, My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is light for me.

He is the lifter of my head. I am a Child of the King! Sometimes I need a tangible reminder that this life is just a journey to my real home! Greater things are yet to come! Greater things are still to be done!

"Lift Up Your Head, You Are a Child of the King"
28 x 38
Hand Dyed Fabric
Quilted by Karen E Overton
Christmas 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stash Builders Final Report

Words cannot describe nor photos do justice of the abundant blessings received tonight by members of the Island Quilters Guild, Galveston Texas.

Several months ago on an online forum with fellow longarm quilters nationwide and worldwide, I posted a comment in reply to several ladies describing how they were 'taming their stash' or 'organizing their stash' (for non-quilters, a stash is in reality a collection of fabric that may or may not get used in future projects, sometimes it's just eye candy and comfort, but generally it is used for the making of quilts...) Anyway...I casually replied that if anyone needed to find a good home for their way-ward stash or their overflow stash that I knew several ladies in my guild who lost ALL their stash to Hurricane Ike last year and that I'd be more than willing to be a facilitator to collect and distribute...

Immediately I was contacted by several of the gals who asked for my address and over the past several months boxes have arrived at my humble abode. (if you want more details please check my archives to the right).


The response was indeed an overflow. Not only did several of my longarm buddies respond with boxes of fabulous fabric - fat quarters, yardage, pre-cut squares, notions, thread, patterns - but we were also recipients of generous gifts from area guilds.

The ladies who lost their homes which included their quilting room items were asked to arrive at 4 PM this evening prior to our annual Christmas party.

We told them not to be shy or to think they were taking too much - and to use the boxes that had just been emptied and placed under the table for their treasure hunt. Our only "rule" was to put your name on the outside of the box so we knew that it wasn't one that we'd forgotten to unpack (grin)

Our goal was for all of the fabric to find a good home! The members of the board who had assisted me in storing the boxes these past few months agreed that none of it was coming back to our houses!

One of the 'touching moments' that I'll share was overhearing one of the ladies gently sigh as she picked up this piece of black fabric with little teapots on it..."Oh, I had's almost like it's been given back to me." She later shared that loosing her fabric was one of the hardest things to let go of in the overwhelming reality of loosing so much of her possessions due to the hurricane.

Those of you who donated I can't tell you thank you enough for your generosity. Thank you for your trust in me to receive your unselfish donations and to facilitate it to such a loving group of giving ladies. We have a small guild, about 60 women, who on an average make over 200 charity quilts a year. The stash that you contributed to the Stash Builders project will undoubtedly continue to be unselfishly given away once again, but this time as part of a quilt that will cuddle someone in need. The blessings just continue! And that's the way it's suppose to be!

So, you ask, how did the rest of our evening go? Well, we tried something new this year....typically our tradition has been to play Quilt-O, which is a quilter's version of Bingo...couldn't tell ya' if it's because of the great door prizes that used to be given by our local quilt shop, Quilts By the Bay (which we lost due to Ike) or the fact that we always used Hershey Kisses for our markers, or should I say the wrappers from the kisses and the contents tended to disappear rapidly...Well, this year we decided we needed to do something fresh...something different...and something that sounded a little bold...

Strip Poker! Quilter's Version (grin) We antied up with 2.5 inch holiday fabric strips with the high card taking the first draw, then descending order having their pick...with a final game at each table with 'winner take all' . Oh and yes, we still had our kisses! After all, doesn't quilting and chocolate go hand in hand?!?!

Yep, it was a good night in Galveston.
Bless you my dear online friends who shared with us, and bless each of you for reading this Quilt Rambler's tale.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Play Day

Today was a play day. My "day off".

I've been wanting to test out Fil-Tec's Glisten Metallic thread as well as a new Soy Blend Batting...and since I'm been trying to do some UFO's but not having much time I thought...well...why not do a little bitty quilt...

I dug through my orphan blocks and found a really nice block that I made several years ago in a class at Houston Festival with Nancy Johnson-Srebro called Stars By Magic. I loved her technique and actually made a wall hanging with her designs but my little class sample was still just a block...

Hum, I'm sure I have some fabric that will make a 'border' and backing...yep...P&B's Wild Things to the rescue!

So this is my little quilt, approx 14" once I put a binding on it. I used Glisten Silver Metallic on the top and Glide on the bottom. The batting is Soy Blend and the combination was wonderful.

My plans are to bind it and then wash it to see how the batting as well as the thread hold up.

Since it was a small quilt and I had some backing leftover (grin) I cut another piece of fabric that would help me not waste the already loaded backing. It ended up being about 20 x 15 and I found a couple of Bamboo Blend batting scraps that I puzzle pieced together and decided to continue quilting with the metallic. The photo at the top is my fiddle faddle from this project. I figured one day I'll use this pre-quilted fabric for a little zippered back or something. Who knows.

Now that I think about it, I finished one UFO (orphan block) and created another (prequilted fabric). Don't think that helped the stash/unfinished project pile much, but I certainly had fun!

And that's what Days Off are suppose to be! Fun!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quilter's Snow

My Professional Quilt Model sometimes has hard assignments, but Pixxie's always willing to accommodate!

Look what came on the freight truck today! Quilter's Snow -- more commonly known as Batting, unless you are from the UK and there it's Wadding...

Okay, okay, bad joke...but all around the Houston area there has been flurry sightings and it hasn't made it all the way south to Galveston County today so I just had to have my own snow story...

So here it is!

Last month we were able to take a tour of a batting manufacturer and up until now I haven't had time to share my story....

This is actually called Snow. It's Hollywood's version of snow, as in snow used for movies. Remember Tim Allen in The Santa Clause -- well, the snow for that movie came from this manufacturer and produced on this machine! How cool is that! Not only does Hollywood use this snow but large corporations such as malls who use indoor snow in their displays. Yep, it's simply made out of the same fibers our quilt batting is made from. And it can be made in different versions such as snow flakes falling, snow drifts or layers of snow on the ground (think thick batting!)

From the Snow Machine we made our way through the working warehouse on our quest to see how batting is made...

The fibers come in large bales such as this. Cotton, Soy, even Bamboo. I was able to hold some bamboo fibers in my hand and oh my goodness is it ever soft!!

Speaking of bamboo - did you know how renewable this stuff is! Take for example those cotton plants I shared yesterday...each year the farmer must plant the cotton seeds, pray for a good crop, harvest, and start over again the next year with new plants. Whereas bamboo keeps growing...the same plant is harvested approx. every 6 to 8 weeks by cutting off about 18 inches from the top growth. The plants remain useful for years, no waiting for it to mature like the full season needed for cotton. This particular manufacture has certified documentation that the plantation where this bamboo is grown has used no chemicals in the ground or pesticides in the growth of the product. In other words, it's good stuff!

Not only that, but I learned that bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial...seems there isn't a bacteria that feeds on this fiber. For example, if cotton gets wet and stays wet then mold and mildew can grow...not so on bamboo! Bamboo breathes and drys well. This manufacturer mixes ultra clean long stable cotton to the bamboo to make a very soft batting that is wonderful to quilt with. I used it in my Dangling Carrot quilt and its been washed several times. I love how it feels. This is my new personal favorite batting!

Okay, back to the story..

This company prides themselves in purchasing quality fibers, extra clean and chemical free. But they give it a good fluffing up and cleaning any way... This gentleman pictured below is actually mixing fibers as they enter the cleaning/fluffy machine (sorry I don't have techie terms, I'm just a former homeschool mom who loved field trips and I get so excited in what I'm seeing that sometimes my listening skills aren't the best, nor my memory!).

On one side he has a bale of bamboo fibers, on the other cotton fibers and they all get mixed up together in this particular machine.

I just loved how fluffy the fibers got as they went through this process. This machine also made sure that there wasn't any seeds or other items in the fibers. Indeed it reminded me of snow! Especially the few fibers that seemed to escape and float around the room. To me, this place was a wonderland.

Next the fibers traveled to another machine. I can't remember what this stage is called but it reminded me of 'carding' - I know my grandmother said they used to card the cotton between boards that had what looked like nails or needles on it. If I'm not mistaken the 'old timey' way was to not only clean out the seeds and any debris but also to elongate the fibers. I was blessed to take home a little wad of the bamboo fibers pictured above and a 'puff' of bamboo fibers from this machine pictured below. It is so soft, like what I imagine touching a cloud would be like. Have I mentioned that I love bamboo?!?!?!

From there the fibers travel through a maze of machinery. How I wish I'd of taken notes, it was sooooo fascinating!

Part of the process of course is to make the batting into rolls that many of us are familiar with. I didn't get a clear picture of the machine rolling it up on the tubing as it added a layer of scrim, but I did question about the ends that were cut off...what did they do with the discard? I was pleased to learn that everything is recycled. The discards are chopped up again and used as stuffing in the upholstery and mattress industry. Pretty cool, huh!

Once the battings are rolled off the presses (or whatever the machinery is called) the large rolls are then taken to quality control where every batch is hand inspected, counted (measured) and packaged, or cut into specialty sizes like crib, twin, queen, or king and packaged.

I so enjoyed the tour. Next I'd love to find a Cotton Gin that would give me a tour - wouldn't it be great to see the total process from field to finished! Come to think of it, I guess you could say I'm a part of that process as I take the batting and use my longarm to actually finish the quilt. Cool. Have to admit I always loved those from this to that (finished) books for kids or the shows on the Discovery channel about how things are made...

Oh, and all the batting that arrived by freight today? Well, that's for distribution as I am now a Longarm Distributor for Legacy by my fellow quilters, if you'd like more details on this fabulous line of batting please send use the contact form on my website and I'll be happy to accommodate.

Hope you enjoyed this little field trip with me...

still holding out for the real snow....which reminds me of a story....if you can indulge me for one more ramble...

When we lived in Tennessee we'd sometimes take the boys to Gatlinburg. There they had a ski slope...well Gatlinburg isn't in the Rockey's but the Smokey's so there's no guarantee of adjust for this they have machine that will make snow or "man made snow" as we explained to our young sons who were observing this process of snow blowing out of a machine.. A little later in our day nice big flakes starting falling from the sky and my son said "look mom, some God Snow not Man Snow!"

So here I wait, enjoying all the Quilter's Snow in the living room and looking out the window wondering if there's going to be any God Snow south of Houston tonight....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Texas Snow

In Texas, Cotton is king....and cattle, and oil, and... and.... and....

Okay, so we are a proud bunch, what can I say...

Hubby and I were traveling home from an A-1 Quilting Machine set up in San Angelo Texas this morning and instead of 'frost on the pumpkin' we saw frost on the cotton!

Burr, 33 degrees! Too cold for this gulf coast gal...but I couldn't resist a photo opt as we drove through miles and miles of cotton fields, many already picked... I guess as a quilter I just am naturally drawn to cotton...or could it be that my grandmother always shared stories of her 'cotton pickin' days' her later years she even grew cotton in her flower bed she loved it so much ..

Like I said, I'm a gulf coast gal and this beautiful field of cotton is about as close as I really want to get to Texas Snow....HOWEVER, it IS in the forecast tomorrow for Houston as well as Galveston county so stay tuned!