Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Quilters Come Marching Two by Two Hurrah, Hurrah

The quilters come marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah...some far, some near, but all here on Saturday for the quarterly gathering of the Bayshore Longarm Quilters.

This is an informal guild made up of quilters who have a longarm, shortarm, midarm, quilt with their home sewing machine on a frame or just wanta'bees...the one thing we have in common is our love of quilting and finishing a quilt on a machine, either hand guided or computer guided. We recognize and celebrate it all, including hand quilting, quilted purses, wall quilts, bed quilts, show quilts, charity quilts.... just any thing quilts!

Our group is made up of many members at various stages in their quilting passion. Generally our gatherings are just an organized show and tell, although at times we have had guest speakers or a general topic of discussion. But mainly...we love show and tell and the opportunity to ask questions.

We go around the room, introduce ourselves (always new members, and due to distance some aren't able to come all the time). As a way of introduction we usually share what type of machine we have (or if we are still in the research and planning stage), whether we quilt for hire, or for just ourselves and perhaps a few friends and family.

Members are encourage to bring show and tell and sometimes will share a quilting tip or a new gadget they have found as we go around the room with our "introductions".

The talents of our group is amazing. I love seeing different colors, different styles of not only piecing but how something was quilted.

It's so much fun to get to exam the quilts up close and personal.

To be amazed at the custom work, to see a new panto design and ask "where'd ya get that?" And always the request "we want to see the back!" Yes, after we have admired the visual impact of a quit, longarm quilters really want to see the quilting and generally the back is where that shines!

Sometimes we don't all have show and tell, but we still share the laughter, the ohhs and ahhs, and the community spirit. I always love having my quilt-ie friends over, many I only see at the gatherings or our annual pilgrimage to the Houston International Quilt Show.

As mentioned, many of our members drive an hour or more to join us. Several make a day of it, some planning lunches together afterwards and more times than not, a shop hop to this area's fine quilting establishments.

We are blessed to have several award winning quilters in our group who share their talents and wealth of knowledge with us, as well as our "resident celebrity," Tom Russell. Tom is the most down to earth celebrity I know (and he's going to fuss at me for calling him a celebrity), we all just love him. He speaks words of wisdom encouraging us to all be the best we can be, to take time for our own quilting (and not just focusing on our customers for those of us with customers). And he amazes us with his creative mind. His quilts are simply amazing, many having won awards in national shows, and one that will be published in an upcoming book on Texas Quilters...

In the above two photos Tom was sharing an inherited family heirloom that he will one day quilt. Then he surprised us with blocks from a current that he has shared photos on his blog...if you aren't already subscribed to his blog, then you need to be! What inspiration! Tom Russell Quilts

Nothing like see works of art in person and still on the "design board" - Tom, we can't wait to see the finished quilt - but as you have taught us, the process is the true journey.

After everyone had their turn it was my turn, and my show and tell was my newly remodeled studio...

It was sooo much fun to share my joy! My only regret is that I didn't have personal one on one time with all the attendees. Ah, but as they say, the road to a quilting friend's studio isn't long....

After everyone had headed out to lunch or the area quilt shops I asked Tom if I could pick his brain...I had a project that needed help...

I'm putting together a sampler quilt using the Block of the Month patterns from AccuQuilt for an upcoming class...I knew I wanted batiks, but other than that I just pieced, didn't really take into consideration the color flow, etc.. Tom is a master of color...

And he matched my room! Don't you think he just belongs here? Oh I can only wonder what creations would come out of my studio if I had Tom as an in-house mentor (grin).

I pulled out my stash of batiks and then we started playing. I am sooo glad I listened to him and my friend Dianne Anderson of The Quilter's Cabin about adding a design wall to my newly remodeled studio...even if it's a design DOOR to my laundry room ...

This is my 8 blocks before Tom came...I knew something just didn't feel right...and I needed a little help from my quilting buddy...

He suggested that I take out the lower block in the 6 o'clock position and helped me pick out new colors to replace it...

Then I asked him to help me with the center blocks colors...I wanted to try my hand at applique, not something I do, and something Tom is a master of...Okay, so I'm "cheating" I am doing all my blocks with the AccuCut Go!Cutter, but it's a start... Armed with instructions I pulled out the fabric and Go!Cutter after everyone left and had that machine a humming..

Taking advantage of my new design wall I auditioned the background fabric we had picked out..

I didn't care for it as much with the cutouts on it as I had thought I would. If I'm going to try my hand at applique it's going to show up by golly!

I liked this much better, so now the little parts are all fused down and I don't know what to do with them (grin)... but look Tom! I've actually almost made an applique block!

So here's the design wall by the end of the day....the 6 0'clock block position has been reworked and I have a new center block...Stay tuned for the finishing setting solution!

I plan on having it ready for the next Bayshore Longarm Quilter's gathering!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Walk

I wanted to share some thoughts I had during my morning walk this past Monday, July 4th. As I walked and took in my surroundings the Lord showed me deeper thoughts.

Let me explain.

The area in which I walk sometimes has a lot of barking dogs. Most of the time they are harmless (behind a fence) and are easily defused when I answer their bark with a sweet response (with no fear in my voice) calling out "hey puppy" as I continue to walk past their teritory. But to be on the safe side I have this big stick I carry with me as there are many dogs not behind a fence. Armed and dangerous (grin) I'm prepared for my journey to the bay and back.

As I'm walking along the pavement I noticed that my stick was in rhythmic timing actually off the road, and at time the ground was rather uneven making my steps difficult.

It was then that I realized not only physically but emotionally and spiritually I'd been walking on the edge of life, teeter-tottering along trying to appear that all was well.

As I neared the bay this caution cone caught my eye, more importantly it caught my heart - reminding me that some of the road I'd been traveling recently had caution warnings that I wanted to ignore...but if I would look further down the road I'd see that the caution cone was really a precursor to the stop sign - these warnings were not to be ignored as they were for my protection.

Many times in my life I've ignored the warning signs....The pot holes on my path were my reminders.

Even things we enjoy and that are good can sometimes need warning signs for our protection. (Our area was under a burn ban, so no fireworks for the 4th of July).

The good news, repentance leads to repairs (forgiveness in a believer's life) and restoration.

He leads me besides still waters and restores my soul. Yes, Lord, I'm listening Lord....

On my return from the bay my spiritual eyes were opened. I began seeing all sorts of analogies on my path...

How sometimes my journey seems dry and barren.

How many times I'm at a crossroad and unsure of the path, or which way to turn.

Then I recognize that I've been down this road before, the brokenness over repeating the same sins, and the grace that patches up my life and covers those sins.

Many times I forget to stop and dump all the worries, cares, concerns, problems and feeling of hopelessness in God's trash can. I forget that all I have to do is clear out the clutter, the unconfessed sin, to continue my journey in restored fellowship with Him.

He gives us pleasures along life's journey, breaking up those hollow times, those times we feel abandoned or that we can't go on. Sometimes its in nature, sometimes through special friends and family.

The sweet fragrance of His grace and mercy....

Many times those wondrous blessings seem scattered and too far in the past...but He calls us to remembrance. To remember the good things He has blessed us with. He reminds us that He heals the broken hearted, that our greatest blessing is His forgiveness. That He allows trials in our lives to draw us nearer to Him. And yes, that there will be blessings again!

And when the way seems unclear, all we have to do is truly look and there will be a path provided, for He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

The path leads home.

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