Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 2013 Progress Report

It's been a whirlwind month here and I have little to report, but some progress is being made. A few projects are in limbo because I'm working on borders for both of them, and here they are:

The first project is from the great Buggy Barn gals -- Barn Chicks. The pattern is published in their "Certifiably Crazy" book. I was able to make this quilt in just over a day while at my quilting retreat last month. I was going to add two borders, with the small inner border from the beak fabric, but there's not enough (think before you drink, my dear readers). While going through a couple of boxes I found another yellow I think will do nicely, but I haven't actually put it up on the design wall to audition it. This quilt is going to a special friend.

The second project is what I have spent just over two years hand appliqueing--the pattern is "Think Big" designed by Lorraine Hofmann and was published in American Patchwork & Quilting's February 2011 issue. It was supposed to be a year-long quilt-along project but with my schedule it didn't work out that way. I persevered and I'm so happy to have the blocks done that I do not want to do the applique border from the pattern. Instead, I plan to do a pieced border and will show you that when it's done. When I saw this pattern I thought that I had finally found the right quilt for our bed, but have since decided that it will go on the bed in our spare bedroom. That room has a lot of blue and ivory in it, and I think the black background will work nicely in there.

I love to applique by hand. It's very soothing to me to have a needle and thread in my hand, and it's especially so when I'm sitting somewhere waiting on someone or something; I take a project with me wherever I go. The Think Big project was huge (25" blocks), but I created a project carrier for it to make it portable.

So now I need a new hand applique project! I chose the Trick or Treat quilt from Blackbird Designs in their "Where the Cold Wind Blows" book. This quilt has 300 blocks that finish at 5" each. All that cutting sounded more like a trick than a treat, so I made modifications. I have an Accuquilt Studio cutter and a die for 6" finished squares. I enlarged the basket pattern by 120% and will only make 220 blocks (I hope) instead of 300. We'll see! But I have completed 11 blocks and I prepped 11 more last Saturday while the Girlfriends were here. Here are the completed blocks:

I was going to spend next week with my sister but plans have changed. I'm going to spend some time organizing the Bottoms Up! Studio this weekend and hope to squeeze in some quilting time. 

It's a soggy weekend here. Here's hoping the weather improves no matter where you are and that you're able to quilt for a spell--and hunt for Easter eggs Sunday!

Happy quilting,

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A quilt for Max

Max was born back in November, but I wasn't inspired to make him something until I saw this adorable quilt on Pinterest. It's a Moda Bake Shop pattern designed by Vanessa of V & Co., and you can get it here. Max came into the world weighing 11 lbs., 8 oz., so I enlarged the pattern because a big boy needs a big quilt. I used to work for Max's grandfather and when he saw the quilt this morning he was grinning from ear to ear. Now I believe I can count on my hands the number of times I have seen that man that tickled and I have known him for almost 40 years. Then he started talking about where the quilt would go (apparently it's going to his nephew's wedding next month in Indiana) and how the quilt will have to STAY at his house. I just looked at him and said, "It's Max's quilt. It goes where he goes."

Grandpa really laughed when he saw the back--I told him that that's how Max will know his name because most of the time it will be uttered with that exclamation point!

It did my heart good to see him smiling over something so simple. I told him I wanted a picture of Max on it, and I'll post it when it arrives.

This is the second quilt I have finished this year, so I'm on a roll. I haven't decided yet if I'm quilting another top this weekend or tidying up the Bottoms Up! Studio--the girlfriends are congregating at my house Saturday after next and I need to clear a path for them! If you see another quilt posted here this weekend, you'll know what won.

Make someone smile today--and let's quilt!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Finally Finished 2013

I want to finish a lot of quilts this year. I’m not making a list (!); I’m just plowing through as best I can.

I mentioned in my last post the quilt I took to Sharon just before she passed away. Here it is:

I apologize for the crummy photo, but I was in a hurry to get it to its new owner. The pattern is “Folk Art Angels” designed by Linda Brannock, © 1994. I bought the pattern when I went to the Houston quilt show way back in 1996 and was in total awe of the booth she had with Jan Patek. I don’t know if the pattern is still available for sale, but you might check with Linda. I love hand applique, but I started this one last year after Sharon was diagnosed, so I machine appliqued it and got the top done quickly, put it in the longarm, and then was stumped. I wanted to write a bible verse in the border and I’m not good at free handing words at this point. I stewed and stewed and stewed. Two weeks ago I decided the verse would get lost in the border, so I did a tight meander, worked some more on the large angels and larger appliqued pieces, and completed it. I was so happy with it that I want to make another for myself. I called it “Battle Angels” and the label tells the meaning of each of the elements of the quilt. Sharon loved it.

I finished another one in February which is saying something for me—I typically only complete one quilt a year—but two in one month! I believe my quilting mojo has returned after a very long absence. I’ll post it later this week after it has been presented to its honoree.

Love one another, and let’s quilt!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Order and Chaos, Life and Death

I am constantly reminded of the chaos factor when I attempt to have an orderly life. I used to be such a list maker in an effort to keep my life in order that I would plan my activities to a segmented portion of each day, and never understood why things didn't work out the way I had planned (i.e., get that project finished BEFORE the event it was honoring), until someone much smarter introduced me to the chaos factor.

The last couple of months have fine-tuned my perspective on life, however, and although for the most part I gave up making lists long ago, I did have that thought that I really couldn't set out to do what I wanted until EVERYTHING was in its place and there was ORDER all around me. I also feel like I need huge chunks of uninterrupted time in order to do what I want. And when I say EVERYTHING I mean having all the tools I might need at my disposal, and that everyone else's needs have been attended to, all before I dig in. No more.

I have been lucky and blessed in my life to have not just one BFF, but several. They are wonderful girls (ok, women) that are rich in spirit and beauty and spunk, and I love them all so much. One of those besties, Katrina, experienced the loss of her mother last month, and another bestie passed away Wednesday.

When Katrina's mother passed away, I was away from home at a quilting retreat with another bestie. Feeling awful that I wasn't there with Katrina and holding her hand while she suffered her loss, I called my fabulous DH. He and my sister-in-law Robin immediately started cooking and took several meals to Katrina and her family. It doesn't sound like much and I certainly do not consider this a grand gesture, but I am a girl from and raised in the South, and that is what my people do. I still felt awful that I wasn't in person to do the cooking and delivering, but bless Katrina, she completely understood.

The bestie at the quilting retreat with me, Sharon, had learned in November that her cancer was back. She was still recuperating from her last round of chemo when we left for our retreat on February 1, and was moving very slowly. She didn't get to stitch much but she was able to enjoy the camaraderie of our group and told me on the way home that being there was the best medicine for her. She was leaving less than a week later for another quilting retreat in Myrtle Beach and I expressed my concern for her traveling while under the weather, but she was determined. The day following her return from that retreat was her next scheduled round of chemo, but it didn't happen. Her liver had started shutting down and it was time to get her affairs in order. Her doctor told her on February 21 she had 3-4 weeks left. That Sunday, I finished a quilt I had started last year for her and took it to her along with a cake I had made in the decorating class the day before, because I wanted her to have some pretty every day for the rest of her life. I took dinner to the family the following Friday. We held on to each other for a while and she told me, "Thank you for being my friend." I told her the privilege was all mine. She was buried yesterday.

The events that have happened in the last two months have made me very aware of the limited time we have. I'm no longer waiting for my studio (or my life) to be in order, or waiting until I can get my hands on the perfect tools, before I attack a project. I'm not going to obsess over the UFOs sitting in boxes, although I do plan to get at least a few of them done. I will no longer worry about all the other responsibilities I have when a loved one is in need. It's time to live life.

I love my besties. 

Happy quilting, and happy life,