Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Diversions!

I've been thinking alot about that Diversion sign....
I think the reason that I have so many unfinished projects is that I get, well...diverted.

I looked up the word to be sure that is what is happening to me! LOL

Definition #1 is "to turn in opposite directions."  True, true. But not where I am this morning. :-D   Definition #2 is the very one:

To give pleasure to especially by distracting the attention from what burdens or distresses. syn see AMUSE

Amuse...yes, that suits me better today! LOL
I have to laugh because I keep getting diverted by joy and excitement...the next project!!! :-)

There's the Circuit Rider.  I'm plugging along on it, feeling good.  Gotta finish it so I can do....
Roseville ... Kathie over at Inspired by Antique Quilts is doing hers in reproduction fabrics. And she's also working on a Baltimore Album quilt, one of my dream projects!

Crispy at Crispy Quilts just got a great deal on Philip Jacobs fabrics, and those would be yummy for Roseville, too...

And Janet at  Mrs. Sew 'n Sew just started her Civil War Bride quilt, which I have the pattern for.  Isn't it gorgeous! I wanna start it!!!

I also got my Brown Bag Quilt contest fabrics in the mail from JaiCi...
Immediately I started pulling fabrics to go with those and looking at designs...maybe Monkey Business from Scrap Basket Surprises...

And I have some "commission" quilts I need to assemble...

Here are blocks made by my guild/club members at Mountain Laurel Quilters!  Aren't they wonderful? We donate a quilt to our local Optimist Club each year which they raffle for their Youth programming. I'm auditioning sashing and borders....

And here are blocks for 3 quilts to give to a homeschooling family who lost the mom to breast cancer. 
Diverted, indeed!!!
But it truly is therapy for me! So I'm diving in.  Just need to establish priorities.

1.  Mountain Laurel Blocks...They're for a quilt that needs to be done in time for our Quilt Show (see details here:  Mountain Laurel Quilters).  I'm only doing the assembly; the quilting will be done by Paula at Paula's Quilting Pantry.

2.  Homeschool family quilts -- We'd like to get them to the family by Christmas

3.  Ongoing Circuit Rider -- 'cause I gotta get it done before I'll allow myself to start the others on my list! :-D

and then there's Numbers 4 through 178 (a conservative estimate): All the others on lists of planned, wanna-dos, somedays, and whenevers!

There's an apropos line from the movie The Great Debators, directed by and starring Denzel Washington (I love him :-D); the preacher dad tells his son, "We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do."  Good advice (if only I could apply it to the dust and dishes! LOL)!

In Scripture, the "must do" is tied to a promise.  Deuteronomy 5:32-33 says this, "So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.  Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess."

Yeah...The Lord asks that we not be diverted (definition #1!) from Him.
I'll be needing those "prolonged days" if I am to finish everything on my quilt lists!! 


Saturday, September 25, 2010

23 Years Ago Today...

I found out yesterday (which was today in Afghanistan :-D) that my husband actually reads my blog!!  Who knew!?!?! :-D  He's not much into quilting, and being he is the reticent type; all this "sharing" is not his thang.  But TODAY....Today is our Anniversary!  It's been 23 years! It seems like longer sometimes, seems like only a few days other times. :-D

Today, he made my day by telling me he checks me out here! :-D

He is in Afghanistan and won't be able to celebrate with me.  We plan a few days' celebration when he comes home, either on leave in a few months or for good sometime next spring.  So reminiscing about our day so long ago, I pulled out these babies to look at them and remember Sept. 25th, 1987:

We both had lots of hair!
BIG hair. And I had BIG glasses! LOL
(Jeff still has 20/20 vision. Rat!)

And we are both so thin!! My little suit was a size 8, I believe. Sigh.

We got married at my mom and dad's house with a preacher and a few family and friends.  Don't we look so happy!  I was actually absolutely terrified out of my wits!!  What if he wasn't "THE ONE?"

But the wisdom of that day has proved itself time and time again.

When Jeff was deployed to Bosnia several years ago, I made a quilt I called "Stars in an American Garden."  It's Snowflake from Trudie Hughes book On Point, and working on it through the months that he was away was a way to deal with our separation.

While he's gone this time, my goal is to finish "Land of the Free" by Piece O' Cake....

But I've got lots of things started :-), so we'll see!

I am humbled and amazed by him.  He takes his roles of protector and provider very seriously.  Someday, I'll tell you about how God dealt with us about our finances (yes, quilting can be a very bad thing when combined with a credit card and a tight budget!!)

That year, I didn't buy a spool of thread without discussing it with him first...We came out of that year with a stronger marriage, and I grew up enough to understand that I don't have to have EVERY piece of fabric or quilt kit or notion I see and love.  Fabrics come and go.  Another one will come along that will be just as beautiful, just as perfect, if I wait. 

He patiently waited for me to grow up and never once asked that I give up quilting (although he had reason to do so!)! :-)  A good man, indeed. :-)

Jesus told his disciples, "Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends."  (John 15: 13)  My man lays his life down everyday for his family and his country. 

I am so proud of him!

Happy Anniverary, Baby!  Thank you for the lovely email! I miss you and love you. 


Friday, September 24, 2010

Diversion Ahead

Taking Emily back to college a few weeks ago, we passed through a construction zone on Hwy 150, and I saw this sign:

Isn't it great when life warns you what's coming!?

I wasn't prepared for my quilting set-back this week.  I was meandering along very nicely, you see, on a Take 5 quilt for some young friends who are getting married next month.

Their household shower was Sunday evening, and I so wanted to get their quilt finished in time for it.  But running around with two active boys I wasn't able to get started on the quilting until late in the week.

Things were progressing nicely.  My non-stitch-regulated meandering was looking pretty decent (at least for a beginner like myself! LOL) and I was sooo excited! YES! I will have this quilt ready in time for the shower!

 But my excitement was premature.  After two good lengths of meanders -- a good 1/3 of the quilt finished nicely -- something strange happened to my tension.  And worse!  I didn't notice 'til I had quilted the whole third pass then rolled the quilt....and there they were. 

Bad tension.
Ugly loose threads.

A whole quilt's length of them.
So, time to get re-acquainted with the Un-Sewer (we're old friends, but I hadn't visited in a while! LOL).  Time to make adjustments.  Time to face an un-inspiring chore and then get re-motivated to finish the project.

Life is full of unexpected things, isn't it!  And most are MUCH more tragic than my little quilting difficulties.

I have a dear friend who is dealing with her son's drug addiction.
I have another dear friend who is battling breast cancer.
Yet another close friend must live apart from her husband 3/4ths of the time because he works away from home; there are no jobs in his field anywhere nearby.
My husband is umpteen thousand miles away in Afghanistan on a deployment.

There's a lot of trouble all around me.  There were no warning signs for most of it.  No "Diversion Ahead" signs posted to let us know that we'd be facing difficulties.  

Jesus spent the better part of chapters 14-16 of John's gospel preparing His disciples for difficult days.  He starts out chapter 14 with "Don't let your hearts be troubled." And He ends chapter 16 with these words:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have troubles.  But take heart! I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33 NIV)

Not IF you have troubles, but you will have troubles.  But "take heart!" He says.  The apostle Paul said, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors though him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8: 37-39 NIV)

I am convinced that I will conquor my little quilting difficulties.  I am convinced that I can rest securely in the One who not only knows my troubles, but gives me peace through them all.  I am convinced that I am -- and you are! -- loved.  I am convinced that when trouble comes, we can face it with Him and His peace.

Isn't peace one of the reasons we quilt, after all?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday Night Sew In

I completed my first Friday Night Sew In!! What fun! Thank you, Heidi, at for hosting the evening!

I didn't get as much accomplished as I'd like...turns out the quilt I wanted to work on, "Bali Sea Stars" from Kim Brackett's book Scrap Basket Surprises, I thought I had it cut out, but I didn't, so I spent the first part of the evening getting all my pieces cut and ready to sew! At least that's progress! :-D

I don't do random! (I get too worried I'll have an ugly combination that I didn't plan at the end! LOL -- It's OK if I planned the ugly combination. I just don't want to get surprised!!) So I partnered up my pieces to prepare to sew.

These blocks go together fast! It all quick piecing techniques.  I go ahead and draw my sewing lines -- the seam line I need and another to make "left-over" half-square-triangles!! (Click on the photo below to enlarge it and see my drawn sewing lines! :-) Then I put the patches through the machine twice, and VOILA! I have this whole bunch of half-square triangles -- bonuses! -- that I can use in a scrappy quilt later on.  I have a basket of them! I just throw them in as I go.  They'll all be the same size since they are all made with the leftovers from 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles.  I've got Edyta Sitar's Friendship Triangles book for ideas on how to use all those!  It's like a two-for-one deal.  I love it!

I managed to get four blocks completed between Emily coming home for the weekend from college, getting Will off to a Boy Scout camping trip, and chauffeuring Sam to his cross country practice.  Not bad!!

After a sweet talk with Emily (it'd been weeks since she was home last!) and tucking her securely in bed (figuratively -- she's nearly 20! LOL), I finished The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (Lauren Willig) on audio book while sewing. By then it was after 2:00 am.  Better to go to bed than try to finish more!

I've read and heard too many stories on sewn fingers! and I've cut myself on a sharp blade too many times to risk it! Words of wisdom from Proverbs 27:12 -- "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."  So it was off to bed on Friday night! Start again on Saturday morning.

More stars completed since Friday night!

I'm in the groove now!! I'll be marking this off my "To Do" list very soon!

P.S.   A great big Thank you!! to Shelley at for drawing my name in her 100th Post Blogiversary give-away!! She is a most generous quilter (With her permission, I was able to use one of her darling photos from the Augusta, Maine quilt show in a previous blog, here:  Big Girl Panties).  See her other great quilt show photos (Busy Weekend), and her thoughts on "perfection" in quilting is a great read! (Picky about Quilting)  Check her out!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

"That's just ugly!"

Have you clicked on the Brown Bag Quilt Contest button yet?  So exciting!  Here's the deal:  We exchange 2 yards (in whatever denomination -- quarters, halves, full yards or what not) with a designated person and then have to use 90% of the fabric we've been sent, along with whatever we want to add from our stash, to make a quilt.  Fun, huh?  I can't wait to see the fabric I'm getting! I hope I am creative enough to come up with a cool design.

Drew my own block out of the bag.
Am I as RED as my sweater with
embarrassment!? Um, yeah.
Curious, though, that the contest used to be called the "Ugly Quilt Contest." :-D

Apparently, the object of the exchange is to get rid of fabric that no longer speaks to you.  (The assumption is that the fabric SCREAMED your name once upon a time, and now it makes YOU scream! LOL)
Are we having fun yet!?! LOL

Well, I'm not worried.  No matter what I receive from my assigned partner, it can't be as bad as what I'm working on from my own collection of quilt tops!

One Christmas our club decided to bring friendship star blocks in Christmas colors for a drawing for a lucky quilter to win.  We didn't designate WHICH colors, just Christmas ones. OH. MY. WORD.  Did we get a bunch of interesting blocks!  AND  I -- moi, me, myself -- won the accursed lovely :-P things.

Did you ever see anything so...yeah.
 So I've put them together. And they are not pretty as a group.  I think this might actually turn out to be -- yes, you must agree! -- an UGLY quilt.

Did you know that "ugly" is not used at all, not once!, in the King James Version of the Bible?  Isn't that a hoot!? You know there had to be something ugly back there in Biblical times! 

The New International Version, yeah.  They got Ugly.  It's kinda hilarious:

Joseph (the coat of many colors guy) is listening, in Genesis 41, to Pharaoh tell his dream (of the impending famine, as it turns out).

Pharaoh says, "In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows came up -- scrawny and very ugly and lean.  I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt."  (v. 17-19 -- emphasis mine! :-D)

What do I learn from this?  Ugly is for real.  I think it's this quilt! LOL  Check out one of the friendship star blocks! I hadn't the heart to fix it.  "It is," as my friend Pat from upstate New York (not the block maker) says, "what it is."   Perhaps the maker didn't want anymore friends. :-D 

Secondly, skinny cows are ugly.  It's proof from the Bible that you don't have to be skinny to be beautiful.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

The good news is that I'll use my Christmas Quilt to practice my machine quilting with my Hobby Quilter.  I'm an optimist.  Perhaps quilting will make the quilt.  Perhaps I'll learn to love the thing. 

Perhaps it will make some cow a lovely gift!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Time

I sometimes wonder if I was born in the right age! Just this past month I FINALLY succumbed to the dreaded cell-phone plan! With a daughter at college and two boys involved in Boy Scouts and athletics and youth group activities, it's probably long overdue.  I'm being dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age.

Ironic, since I'm (clearly) online. :-) That's different. :-D  LOL

But I daydream of earlier times.  I've been listening to audio books while I applique and quilt by hand, and  I'm currently in the 5th of the series of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig.  The books are a little bit mystery, a little bit spy novel, a little bit romance, cool history stuff from the early 1800's.  I love 'em!

I'm fascinated by the stories of those long-ago days.  Maybe that's why I'm drawn to reproduction fabrics.  I'm working on an English paper pieced tumbling blocks because of an antique quilt top I purchased on Ebay (would you believe I got it for $30, shipping and all!). 

Karen Witt from Reproduction Quilts took a look at the top when she was at our quilt show a couple of years ago.  She dated some of the fabrics as early as the 1830's.  Cool.  There are still bits of paper inside some of the blocks with a script from an earlier age.  I feel like I'm in the presense of that erstwhile quilter of long ago! :-)

Another ebay find was this antique broken dishes quilt top.  I'm saving half-square triangles as I "quick piece" blocks so I can do a quilt like this one.
And finally, there's this beauty, also from the 19th century.  The hand quilting is exquisite! and while I'm not (yet) inspired to make all those little Lemoyne Stars :-D -- they finish at 3 1/2 inches! --  I think the quilt is beautiful and I wonder about the maker.

All this fascination with the past and its quilters, though, is just that.  Would I give up my rotary cutter, or my immeasurable choice of fabric, or my sewing machines? or my internet, or my ELECTRICITY!!?? Probably not.

Mordecai, uncle to Queen Esther in Persia of old, told her "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14b)

We are all, invariably, in the here and now because that is where we are supposed to be! When Paul preached at Antioch he told them, "David had served God in his own generation."  (Acts 13:36a) Likewise, we are here to serve God in our own generation.

In this age of internet and cell phones and instant communication, you have to wonder if handmade (even if we use a machine! :-D) quilts have a point.  Of course they do! We are preserving what has gone before us, and continuing traditions that matter.  We are forging new ways to create and express and dream.  We are passing along art and beauty and faith for "such a time as this."

Aren't you glad this is your time!?

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Experiences!

This time next week, Friday, Sept. 17th, I'll be experiencing my first Friday Night Sew In!!  (Click the button for more details!)

It's going to be a night of fun, fabric, food, fellowship (the virtual kind, anyway :-D) and all in the comfort of my own sewing room (where I don't forget to bring important tools!) in my PJ's and fuzzy slippers (or in my case, thick, warm, (possibly) dirty-on-the-bottom socks -- 'cause I can't sew with shoes on!). 

I seem to do well when I sew with others :-), so I'm formulating the list of things I hope to accomplish next week. I'm going to work on these, I think.... 
Bali Sea Star from Scrap Basket Surprises
by Kim Brackett
I've got this one cut and ready to sew!
Christmas Ribbons, also from Scrap Basket Surprises
I've got this one half pieced!
Being fairly new to "Blog-Land" :-D, I'm discovering this and other  new worlds of opportunities!
There are give-aways.
And quilting tutorials.
And applique sites.
And tool reviews
And organizational tips.
And instructions for cutting up your husband's shirts for quilts. Hmmmm....
And Schnibbles clubs.
And charming girl clubs.
And strip clubs....just kidding! I've not seen any of those, and if I did, I would assume they were of the Eleanor Burns variety!!! :-D

As the new kid on the quilt block (hehe), I worry a little about "pushing in" or trying  to keep up or whatever.  It feels a little like going into junior high for the very first time.  The remedy for that feeling, according to my mother way back when, is this: 

"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly"
(Proverbs 18:24 KJV). 

It's a risky endeavor, trying to make new friends.  But Jesus took the risk.  He said "I no longer call you servants...but friends." (John 15:15)  He took the time to let his followers know what He was up to, what the Father was doing.  He opened himself up -- with a known future of pain and suffering!! -- for the grace-full purpose of being our friend.

I knew a pastor who would say, tongue in cheek, "Ministry is great if it weren't for the people!" :-D  For me, quilting would be OK without people, but it's so much better WITH them!  I like knowing that friends are sewing along with me.  I have my club friends, here in town, so precious to me.  Oh! what I've learned from and experienced with them!!

And now, my "sewing circle," my "quilting bee" is extended --

There's Rose Marie and LuAnn and Lori and Heidi, Jan and Kathy, Kathie, Michelle and Staci.  There's Barb, Vivian, and Mary and Chris, Niki and Joan.  And so many others.  Their blogs are listed at left (scroll down a tad to find them), and they share wonderful things.  Many of them will be sewing with me on Sept. 17th at the Friday Night Sew In!

Go check them out and tell them I said, "Hello!"  And pull out some UFO's and fuzzy slippers and plan a night of sewing bliss.  I promise it won't be anything like junior high!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Different Drummer

"Why do you quilt?"
As I sit in dentist's or doctor's offices, or wait on my boys for their Boot Camps and races and what not, I usually bring something to work on  -- right now it's either Circuit Rider applique blocks or my English Paper Piecing Tumbling Blocks.  People are always admiring and say they "could never..."  It gets me thinking.  Why do I quilt?
Sam with his drumming practice pads!

I was asking myself this question as I waited on Sam to finish his drum lessons. Sam has wanted to drum since he was knee-high to a grasshopper! :-D  Finally we are able to get him going, and it's part of his curriculum as we homeschool.  A class in some kind of performance/arts is a requirement for graduation in our state, so we can follow Sam's muse. 

Listening to my 16 year old son blather on  (!so cool when kids are excited about something and want to tell you every single infinitesimal detail, huh!? :-D) about his lessons and their difficulty and his excitement about overcoming the challenges, it occurred to me that I quilt for the same reasons that I homeschool.

I want to pour my life into something that lasts beyond me.

Deciding on curriculum,  and tutors (where needed  -- Sam is learning drums and Spanish and chemistry from better equipped teachers than I!), and activities (youth group at church, Boot Camp, athletics, music) are all part of the fabric and design of my children's educations. 

And they are unique just as each quilt I make is unique.  Each requires different colors or patterns or skills.  Each is its own work of art.  Each brings me joy beyond just the making. 

Homeschooling is an investment in something -- in someone(s), my daughter and my sons as they become caring, responsible individuals, critical thinkers, patriots, statesmen and women, followers of Christ --  that has potential to impact the world. And my quilts (beyond preserving my sanity!)? -- if only to make the world a little prettier, a little more comfortable, a little more comforting -- they have an impact, too.

Ephesians 5:15-16 says "Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil." (Amplified Version)

Investing in my children (and, yes, I think, in my quilts, too! :-D) is a way for me to "live purposefully" and "buy up each opportunity"  in these evil days. It's not particularly dramatic or noteworthy, but in our way we are making a difference.  When I am long gone, my kids will continue to change the world (and my quilts will be there to bless and comfort them and, hopefully, any generations that follow!) because I invested in them now.

And only Heaven will reveal how wide and how far their impact will be felt.  I can't wait to see!

Mary Lou