Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Day of Thanks

A day of thankfulness, a day of remembrance... as my mom noted, my house is full of things that remind us of those who have gone on before...the empty seats at our table... dad, my grandmother, my great aunt... We ate at Ma-ma's table, sat in Aunt Luna's chair, were surrounded by things that Dad had made...many things that they had given us...

What they gave us was a rich heritage, a life filled with love and an empty place in our hearts as we miss them so much this time of was called to the Lord's Army December 2003, my last time with him was Thanksgiving Day 2003. My great Aunt Luna joined the heavenly choir the day after Thanksgiving 2007, and recently my grandmother after celebrating her birthday here on earth in September 2009 was reunited with my Papa who preceded her through those pearly gates January 1994....What a reunion they must be having, what a celebration to be in the presence of their Lord and Savior be together forever.

In the meantime, those of us left behind who are trying to remember that it's just a temporary separation, enjoyed the presence of those of us in the present. As hard as it is sometimes to go on without those who are missing from our table, our side, our lives, we know that we must - for we are the present generation making memories that will one day comfort one another as one by one we make our final my pastor says ' the statistics are staggering, one in one dies' - but we do have a choice of living forever if we make the choice for Jesus before we go to the other side...

So we enjoyed our day. Hubby smoked a chicken with Pixxie keeping diligent watch. Mom taught me how to make "potato boats" or what is sometimes referred to as twice baked potatoes. I told everyone to mark this day in history as this instant potato gal made REAL mashed potatoes for the first time in my entire life! And they were great (if I do say so myself)

We enjoyed our meal and then the fellows went to the man cave as the gals gathered in the quilting studio where I showed my sis how to make the fabric bowls.... went to check on the fellows and this is what I discovered!

Yep, a day of memories. A time to reflect on what truly matters in life... the short version: Jesus, family, and a cute puppy!

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. I pray that your day held wonders and memories and gratefulness that our founding fathers had the vision for freedom and creating 'one nation under God'. God bless America! Thank you to our men and women who sacrifice for our freedom and thank you Jesus for your ultimate sacrifice of love that we might indeed be truly free.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What makes me smile

It's been a long couple of weeks since I've last blogged. I've wanted to, really I have...just not enough hours in my day....have had some really cool things going on that I'd love to share about in more detail....touring a batting company (lots of photos), visiting with two of my long distance quilting buds and seeing their studios, going with hubby to the Texas Motor Speedway for a NASCAR race, and working on some incredibly beautiful customer quilts (including some that took an incredible amount of time to complete). But alas, as I posted on my FaceBook status "put a fork in me, I'm done"

Tis the season to be frazzled, worn out, ready to scream, to throw in the towel, to say I'm too tired to even think about the holidays....Tis the season for an attitude check!

Last Sunday we had a special guest speaker who spoke on Jeremiah 18's passage, the Potter and the clay, with a very hands on visual of actually having a potter's wheel and throwing pots as he spoke. There's so much to learn from this passage and from the knowledge shared by our visiting thing that came back to me last night when I was upset over something (and not handling the resulting pressure very well ) was the reality that I was now a cracked pot. I'd messed up. My attitude certainly wasn't something to be proud of....

I was reminded that sometimes it takes brokenness so that the Master Potter can put us back on the wheel and mold us into something useful. I was also reminded that the molding process is caused by pressure on the clay...something we all don't like (or at least I don't) and I'm trying to realize that the pressure and trials I'm going through right now are all working for my good....I just have to stay on The Potter's wheel and trust that He is using these things to shape me into what He wants me to be.

Right now, true confessions, I've jumped off the wheel and said I've had enough, I can't take this, my feelings are hurt, I'm tired, I want to quit, I want to give up, say 'no more!'...thankfully my heavenly Father is patient and merciful. I'm repenting. Ready to rest in Him and trust that He will give me the strength I need for the coming days....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ode to the Unknown Piecer

By definition an ODE is "a lyric poem expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion"

I'm not a poet, I'm a rambler...but this post does have what I hope to be enthusiastic emotion.

As a longarm quilter for hire, it's my job (and my joy) to assist piecers (quilters) in the finishing of their masterpieces. Sometimes the owner of the quilt top isn't necessarily the one who pieced it, sometimes it's an inherited top, or even a special purchase from an estate sale or antique market. Sometimes I don't even know the story, as in the case of the quilt I'm working on this week.

One of my faithful customers had a neighbor with a quilt top that needed to be quilted. If I was told the story I have certainly slept since then and don't remember. All I remember is my good customer telling the neighbor that she would show it to her longarm quilter and see if anything could be done with it...for you see, the top had "issues."

I wish I had more of a command of vocabulary because "issues" seems disrespectful, and I certainly don't mean any disrespect to the unknown piecer, but this is another one of those "bless her heart" quilts...

This particular quilt was hand pieced, and judging by the fabrics full of feedsacks and other recognizable designs, was probably pieced in the 30's or 40's when the double wedding ring pattern was very popular. I always love taking a photo of the actual hand piecing before it is covered up forever and ever amen. For a reason unknown to me, the piecing was done in both a black thread and occasionally a white thread - could it be that the unknown quilter was using what was available as far as thread choices were concerned? Could it be that she was a beginner and the black thread was a way for her to see where she was working, or could it be that she was a seasoned saint whose eyesight was aided by this choice of thread color?

The double wedding ring is not a pattern for the faint of heart. Yes, its symbolism is one that will warm your heart - sometimes made in hopes of a future marriage, sometimes made for a wedding, or perhaps even for a special anniversary. Regardless, it's a difficult pattern to piece with it's small ring of colorful scraps and it's odd size melon in between, not to mention the large center piece whose proper geometric name escapes me....

Yes, this quilt had some 'issues' - for one, it didn't want to lay flat when spread out on the floor, and as you can see in the photo above, it didn't end on an even note. The edges looked more like ruffles potato chips with it's ridges than a quilt that would grace a bed ensemble.

Ah, but that's only if you look with your eyes and not your heart!

Not knowing the quilt piecer, the history of the quilt, or anything really except the current owner wanted it finished and was willing to accept puckers in the completed project - I was left up to my imagination as to how to quilt this particular masterpiece.

The design needed to take into consideration that there would be many pleats and puckers along the way, yet I didn't want to just meander or stipple over the entire top. An edge to edge pantograph wouldn't work either, number one simply because it would again be difficult to ease in the fullness and number two (which was really number one in my mind) is it just wasn't befitting to a double wedding ring. Too much time had been invested in the piecing, it would be disrespectful to rush the finishing by just stitching any ole thing to hold in the batting.

For somewhere in time a lovely lady set her mind upon piecing a double wedding ring. Perhaps in hopes of her own marriage, perhaps just because she liked the pattern. Could it have been her first quilt, or even one of her last? After all the careful planning and choosing of the scraps for the rings and the countless hours of piecing did she grow weary and decide not to quilt it? Was she frustrated when she couldn't make the seams obey and lay flat, or was she piecing during a difficult time and the simple motion of needle and thread working in her fingers brought her peace and the end result wasn't the focus? Some thing I'll never know unless the current owner has a story to share - but what I do know is this unknown piecer had the tenancy to finish that which she started - not a ring missing, not an unfinished row, a little uneven and a little full, but a complete top. Bravo!

A top that cried out "finish me". And to the best of my ability that was my goal. In an effort to mask some of the fullness I decided to double layer the batting, with an 80/20 cotton/poly on the back to help shape the quilt and a high loft poly on the top to soften the fullness that was inevitable.

What to stitch? What would work the best considering the obstacles and still honor the piecer's love and attention to the completion of her top? what indeed but hearts! When that thought hit me, the love just flowed out from one quilter to another. The shared passion and perhaps the shared imperfection. Somehow I could relate to this unknown piecer. My designs aren't perfect, I don't make a perfect quarter inch seam in all my quilts, sometimes my blocks are a little wonky, but the love is never less than a perfect love - love for the process, love for the journey, love for the therapy brought about by playing in fabric and thread, and love in hopes that one day this labor of love will warm someone's heart as it warms them from the outside elements. Can the love be felt? I certainly hope so, I tried to match it stitch for stitch with the love I imagined of the unknown piecer.

So yes, it's a little uneven, yes it's a little puckered, and yes it still needs a binding put on to make it complete (tomorrow's task), and yes, it's FINISHED! (almost, except the binding). I hope the recipient will savor the character added to the quilt by it's age spots, creative piecing and beautiful scraps.

And yes, I hope it's loved when it finds it's way home. I hope it will be said that I completed my task of honoring the quilt maker by finishing her quilt so it can be used as intended.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Accessorizing At It's Best

Of course the photo of Pixxie on one of Ma-ma's quilts has nothing to do with the title - but as a certified rambler I'm allowed to jump around with my thoughts! The other day I was really missing my grandmother so decided to cuddle up in one of her quilts while I read my One Year Bible reading for the morning....later I saw that Pixxie was also enjoying good memories...

Okay. On to the real story. Well, one of them at least.

In last week's episode (sound like a bad TV announcer don't I?) if you remember (if not read the post below) I spent my "day off" quilting some yardage...a test of new thread and new batting...well...I had another plan for that project besides just reporting in on my findings...I planned on making a new purse!

So this week I cut up that quilted yardage and put it to good use!

This is the inside zippered pocket of a pursed based on the book Zip Couture by Linda F. McGehee.

I've made good use of my friend Kay's zipper stash that she loaned me several months ago. I like the way this pocket is done, not only is there a secure zippered part, but the top is open so there's actually a pocket behind the zippered pocket.

This is the outside pocket. Somehow I got it a little more 3D than the pattern, but I learned how to use part of a leftover zipper as trim! (Top of pocket) This outer pocket will hold my phone.

Decided to try the cording option around the exterior of the bag. Not bad. And not hard to do.

The hardest part was putting in the separating zipper around the top and then putting binding over that. It wasn't too painful! Can you see that I covered the webbing with fabric that matched the binding and cording? Gave it a fresh look I think.

And of course I had to make a few interior zippered bags to organize the inside. No pattern, just leftovers and a zipper. The tall one on the left holds my calendar, pen, calculator, business cards. I made it a little pleated on the bottom so it would stand up. The smaller one on the right holds my girly stuff such as comb, gum, mirror, small hand sanitizer, etc.

Next I decided that I wanted a new wallet so I used a pattern I found on the internet called Cash Keeper by Studio Kat Desgins.

I changed up the easy pattern just a tad by adding a vinyl sleeve for my driver's license. Of course to protect my identity I covered up the vital statistics (actually I didn't want anyone to know my age!)

This is a cool little wallet, there's a zippered coin purse on the back and in between is where you keep your bills.

I purchased several patterns by Studio Kat Designs and hope to make more of her designs. I was impressed with the ease in following this pattern, so gives me hope for the others! She does have a purse organizer that I hope to make, but in the meantime I think everything is pretty well organized thanks to all my little zippered bags.

Oh, and see the key hanger! I like that feature. All I need now is to make a new eyeglass case to match and a checkbook cover since I changed from a wallet that had one built in to the little cash keeper. Another project for another day!

It's been a busy week and I wish I had more time to fill you in on the details, but did want to let folks know who contributed to Stashbuilders that all the boxes of fabric have been turned over to the guild's board to be distributed among the ladies who lost their stash last year in Hurricane Ike. Thank you for your generosity!

I for one enjoyed the extra hour's sleep this morning that Day Light Savings Time offers - however, I hate that it gets dark so early. I'm not really a cold, dark season sort of gal - really need the blue skies and lots of sunshine to warm my heart and keep my attitude in check. Fortunately today was beautiful outside and I enjoyed my drive to worship services this morning and took a little detour on the way home just to enjoy the drive more. Sigh. Now's it's time to close the shades and hibernate, dark-thirty came early today. Sigh.

Ah! but it's time to pack up the new purse and go out to dinner with hubby, a Sunday night ritual that will certainly brighten any gloom of darkness! Too bad I don't have time to make a matching vest....nah...too much of a good thing is simply too much!

Thanks for stopping by and seeing how I spent my day off this week!