Friday, January 18, 2019

Star Bright, a finished quilt



When I started this one
I thought I could maybe piece the top
in a day.


It's only about 50 x 60 or so,
so it seemed doable.


It wasn't.
(at least for me....)

ah well.


I basically copied a quilt that 
Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting posted about a year ago,
except I added in feathers and onion peels and ribbon candy,
because I could.
(It wasn't all that long ago 
that I couldn't quilt any of those!)


The colored fabrics are all Kaleidoscope
by Allison Glass -
woven fabric
with different colored threads for the weft and weave.

To be honest,
I wasn't all that impressed.

I was expecting a much more shimmery and iridescent look,
but the two colors are only evident 
in a couple of them.

They'd probably be nice for bags,
but not worth the price for quilting.


Even though I'm not thrilled with the Kaleidoscope fabrics,
I'm quite thrilled with the quilt.


I think the quilting turned out pretty amazing,
if I do say so myself,


and it washed up quite nicely.
(I was pretty amazed when I pulled it out of the dryer.
I was like - I did this?!)


The wool batting 
with minky backing
(a throw size blanket that I bought on clearance 
for $5 a couple of years ago
for just this purpose)
make it extra scrumptious.


plus - the minky shows the quilting really well 
😊


My friend Karen
always says that thread matters,
and I repeated that to myself many times as I was quilting;
I really prefer a thread with a bit of shine to it.

I used a spool of Coats and Cotton quilting cotton thread
that I bought back when I started quilting,
and it's just dull.

 When I got to the border,
I switched to Aurifil 
 - still 100% cotton, 
but it has a tiny bit of sheen -
and I liked it much better.

Really, 
I think I like a 40 wt poly best.
But if I had a 50 wt poly,
that might be the very best.
It'd be thick enough to see,
but thin enough for travelling.
(do they make a 50 wt poly?)


Even with
dull thread 
and my displeasure with  kaleidoscope fabrics,
this one's a favorite.




Tuesday, January 8, 2019

calling all the messengers



We got this fun message board for Christmas.

It
(and the little felt box of letters and words)
 sits on the bar
and every day
(or even more often)
the 'message' changes.


We are a big awesome family.
💗

I get so weary I forget
sometimes.

Friday, January 4, 2019

the sun will come out tomorrow


It finally stopped raining this afternoon.

And the sun came out!

And I feel ever so much better.


I've toyed around with the idea of buying one of those lights
that are supposed to help with SAD
but I hate the thought of wasting money, you know?

I probably don't have actual
Seasonal Affective Disorder,
but man do I crave the light.

The instant,
and I mean
instant,
I walked through the kitchen 
and caught sight of the sunlight in my flowers on the table,
I could fully breathe again.
Or maybe I could let my breath out all of the way.
I don't know which;
all I know is
 I could feel the benefit of the sunshine in my chest....

~
In other light news - the tree is still up
and so far, 
I am in no hurry to take it down.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

and --- that's a wrap


Well.

That's that.

Another year down.

Can't say I'm sad to see 2018 end,
though.

~

It's been gloomy and rainy for days,
so it's sort of hard to even think straight.

I have made no plans for the new year.
No 'word', or 'intention', either.

I can tell you though,
I'd really like to do more than just survive.

I've already had plenty of years of that.

~

 Looking back over December:

I sold the Razorback Quilt,

I'm so tickled with where it went, who bought it, and how the purchase came about.
And I am continually humbled that it isn't the wealthy
who partner with me, but ordinary people - with hearts bigger than their wallets 💝

made excellent progress on my current commissioned project


and


I'm pretty proud of myself - learning something new,
and having it turn out so beautifully.

But then I remember that I am 50
(Fifty!?!)
and I feel a bit silly about being proud 
that I learned a little bit of crochet.

~

House-wise:

We finally hung a mirror in the upstairs bathroom
(which sounds way easier than it was...)


but the island/bar received most of the attention.


It was a multi-phase project, and still not complete,
but it's completely usable already :-)

Some day, we'll put black walnut on the bar top,
but this pine should serve us well for many years.

One of the benefits of the bar
that came as a complete surprise,
is that it invites people
(my man, guests....)
to sit and visit with me as I work.

That makes me so happy!!

And, of course, 
I love working in the kitchen


while people I love
play games at the table
across the bar.

~

We also spent a bit of time
adding just a few things to the mudroom 
to help it function properly.

We did okay without a bench and coat hooks
spring thru fall,
but they became more important as the temperature dropped.

I know.
Y'all are so envious of both my 'styling'
and my photography skills.
When I tell you the picture of the other coat rack was too bad to post,
you know it's really bad.

We hosted (most of) Tyler's family 
a few days before Christmas
and it thrilled my heart to look in there
and see the coat racks loaded down
and 25+ pairs of shoes in a jumbled heap.

~

Interestingly,
there was exactly the same number of people
at my sister's house the next day,
when she hosted our side of the family.


I"m not going to do an end of the year round up post; 
there's just not enough energy for that.
But in scrolling through my blog and Instagram feed
I am reminded of just how much we accomplished this year,
in spite of what a long, and challenging year it's been.

I would've liked for the end of 2018
 to have felt more celebratory,
as there really was a lot to celebrate.

I mean -
we hadn't even moved into the house a year ago!
And when we did (all) get moved in
in February,
it was another couple of  months
 before we had a kitchen...

Instead,
I just feel worn out and weary.
The loss of my dad has just sort of made everything 
flat.

Don't misunderstand - I *do* feel blessed,
I just also feel very flat 
(it's really the only way I can describe it)

I find that, 
after almost 11 years
(can you even believe I've had the blog this long?!!)
I am still
pursuing joy.

Monday, November 26, 2018

the end of November


I haven't checked my e-mail in over a week.
And now I'm scared to.
I get about a hundred e-mails a day;
most of them are junk,
but there are some that I'll need to tend to,
and weeding through it all takes forever.

~

Remember my china cabinet??
The one that I had to drive the trailer
to go get!?!

We finally painted it
and moved it 
to the spot that it's been waiting for its whole life
💛


It's a tiny tad more 'French's' mustard than I'd have preferred,
but I love it anyway.
As soon as I find the china 
that we bought in East Berlin
while it was still a communist country
I'll fill it up!

~

As you can see,
we also put up the Christmas tree
(and plugged in the frasier fir fragrance...)
though we have yet to put any ornaments on it.

~

no - that's not true.
There is the Operation Christmas Child ornament 
that Lexi picked up when we worked our shoebox shift.


~



For several weekends,
Tyler has been working on our stair rail
and we finally got that finished and up this weekend, too.


I love it so much!!


~
I may have gone a bit overboard,
but I've finalized the fabric pull 
for my new commissioned project.


I'm hoping to get my first block made today,
and after that,
I'll aim for a pair of blocks every work day
(double that when the blocks are small and simple)
I estimate it'll take 4-6 months to complete.

~
Along with other leftovers,
Mom and Bill gave us 
both the ham bone
and the turkey carcass
 after Thanksgiving,
so we had a delicious ham and bean soup yesterday
and our (almost) annual day-after-Thanksgiving
 turkey noodle soup.


They were both scrumptious,
but now I am ready to get back to not eating carbs!

~

I only have four more granny circles
to turn into squares and join!

(obviously, this was taken a few days ago...)
I use an empty candle jar to keep a row of circles contained and in order :-)

I discovered there is a thing called continuous join as you go
which is ever so much better than join as you go
which is better
by far
than joining afterward,
so that has sped the process up considerably.

I couldn't find an exact tutorial,
so I sorta cobbled together bits and pieces
from various blogs and videos
and muddled through
until I figured out a good method.
I should probably write it up 
so I can use it if I ever make another one...



Thursday, November 15, 2018

breaking news


Back a few weeks ago,
I told you about TaeKwonDo testing,
and how the girls didn't break all of their boards.

Well.
What I didn't tell you then,
was,
Mr. Townsend had told Tyler and me 
that he knew they could do it;
they'd broken all of their boards in class.
So he was going to let them test again at make-up testing,
but he wouldn't let them know 
that they were testing for their black belts -
they would just think they were practicing.
He was fairly certain that removing the pressure
would allow them to pass with flying colors.

And it did!

I am so pleased to announce that both Lily and Lexi
are now,
finally,
 Christ First TaeKwonDo Black Belts

I'm so proud of you, Girls!!

You can see videos of their board breaks
I am soooo grateful that one of our friends
recorded them,
since neither Tyler or I were there
(so as to maintain the illusion of 'practicing')

Sunday, October 28, 2018

lately



The kids had TaeKwondoTesting yesterday.
Boys had mid-terms
and girls were both testing (again) for their black belts.

Gramma and Grandpa Bill came down to cheer them on,
but Jeremiah was the only one who passed.

The others were understandably sad,
but they were still happy for their friends and brother who did pass,
and I was proud of all 4 of them.

~

I was supposed to get a package yesterday.
Fabric - 
that I planned on playing with today,
but our mail carrier said it was undeliverable
because of "bad road".

I wasn't quite as gracious in my disappointment
as my children were.

Granted,
our driveway does get a bit sketchy,
but it certainly isn't bad enough
to warrant non-delivery of packages!

Tyler and the boys
fixed it anyways.

~
We haven't done just a ton of house projects
in the past few months,
but Tyler did finish making
 and installed the pantry door
a few weeks ago.


I love it!
(but it's terribly hard to photograph.)


He bought the window for $2.50 at a yard sale,
and built the door around it.
The barn door hardware was a bargain Snagshout purchase,
originally ordered for the upstairs bathroom,
but it worked even more perfectly in the kitchen.


We pretty much just leave it open,
but it's nice to have the option to close it.

~



I finally finished all 168 circles
and started turning them into squares and joining them.

I got 3 rows done super fast
(meaning - I ignored most other responsibilities
for a whole day
and may have even frustrated my very fabric-tolerant husband,
but I was trying to build muscle memory
so I wouldn't have to re-figure how to do it)
and then decided I definitely wasn't happy with my yarn choice
(I suspected I wasn't when I bought it...)
so I have been undoing
and redoing those 3 rows.


I like the new yarn much better,
so it was a wise call.
(but I still haven't gotten all 3 rows re-done,
and it's been over a week....)

I still like fabric
better than yarn.

~

The boys are taking a writing class on Monday afternoons.
They aren't exactly enjoying it,
but they are doing well.

Adding in another day of being out and about
is wearing out the momma, though!

In addition,
the class is only one hour long, 
and in an area of FSM 
that isn't convenient for most of our shopping needs
so I can't even redeem the time by running errands.

The girls and I did go to Michaels a few times
since it's somewhat nearby,
but that's not financially feasible
on a weekly basis
because it's very hard 
for 3 crafters 
to just 
look
at Michaels.

I am glad to have some assistance in teaching writing though.

~

Once I got all quilt commitments finished,
I started really hoping for a new commisioned project.
I've only given 2 machines this year...

I didn't exactly pray about it,
but God certainly knew it was on my heart.

A few days ago,
an old friend messaged that she would like to commission me
to make her a quilt!

I am so looking forward to reconnecting with her 
through the process,
and I'm excited to actually feel a little excited
about a project.
And 
of course,
 I am thrilled to be able to give a few more machines,
though this'll be a bit of a doozy
and it's unlikely I will finish this year.

that's just the beginnings of the fabric pull :-) some will be weeded out and many more will be added

~

If you'd like to see some of the progress pictures

I am making a concerted effort to post more on the blog,
but there is no denying that it's much easier
to quickly post on Instagram
so you can always check over there
if you get tired of waiting for me here.

Friday, October 26, 2018

love builds a home, a finished quilt


I have started this post so many times in my head,
but it never gets very far.

I think I need to begin
as things were before I ever started this quilt...


I keep a running list in my head,
and sometimes on Pinterest,
of what quilt I might make for which person.


Several years ago,
when my dad and Jeannie started
going to Arizona over the winter to help build houses,
I made a note to self
- 'house quilt for Dad' -
and when I'd happen upon one that I sort of liked,
I added it to my Pinterest board
so when it was their turn for a quilt,
I'd have some ideas to pull from.


And then, in Spring of 2016
 we started building our house,
and my dad sacrificed sooo much time
to help us build it,
and teach us how to build
(oh Y'all. I don't know if I can write this.)
and Jeannie sacrificed him,
so he could do that.

I knew that nothing on my Pinterest board was worthy.


There is very little in our house that Dad didn't have a hand in.


In October of 2016,
I invited Jeannie to go to the quilt show with me.
I figured it was something we could do together
 that we'd both enjoy,
but also
I wanted to be able to ascertain what sort of quilts she was drawn to
and what colors she'd like.
I'm sneaky like that :-)

I discovered that she had a preference for traditional styles,
and she liked a red and green color scheme
because at one point she said,
- and I remember where we were standing -
"I really like green and red quilts." 
and I thought,
"Well, that was easy."


As soon as I'd finished piecing Alicia's quilt,
I sat down and designed a couple of house quilts,
and texted photos to Marin,
whom I often bug with that sort of thing,
and asked her which one she thought was better for them.

She thought either would be fabulous
 - because she is so sweet 
she thinks everything I do is fabulous -
so I decided that I should make the more complicated quilt,
because that seemed only fair;
they'd helped so much!
And this was supposed to be a token of our gratitude, after all.


After settling on the design,
I drew up plans and cutting instructions for each different block,
(though my center house was an actual pattern
from a book by Lori Holt)
and even designed two different foundation paper piecing patterns
for the pine trees.


Even though Jeannie wanted green and red,
I didn't want the quilt to be Christmasy,
so I added in yellows and blues that would go in their house
and my 'reds' included a reeeeally wide range,
including pinks and corals.

I was still gathering fabrics when this was snapped

I collected scads of fabrics
(I used 170 of them)
because she'd told me once that she 'liked all the fabrics'
and made the first block July 25th, 2017.


I had hoped it would be a Christmas gift that year,
but,
as we were quite heavily involved in building an actual house
at the same time,
I knew that might not happen.


I had 2 commissioned projects that I was working on 
at the time, too,
and both of them had hard deadlines,
so they were top priority.

I diligently sewed every chance I got
but I didn't come close to finishing by Christmas.
I didn't even finish the top
by when we got together for Christmas,
which actually was in November, 
because they were going to AZ earlier than usual.


No worries.
We gave them a gift card for eating out,
and a certificate for the meal of their choice in our new kitchen
when they got back to Arkansas.

We would give them the quilt then.


I finished the top January 12th
and made the back the next day.

Then I basted it
and started the hand quilting.


I finished the hand quilting early-mid April.
and started machine quilting April 15th.
I'd stayed home from church that day,
and set up a temporary quilting station in the dining room
by laying a piece of melamine board on my portable massage table
(use what you got....)
I had to hit it fast and hard;
because they were coming for dinner in 12 days.
and we'd be camping for 4 of them.


Machine quilting was a nightmare.


You may remember my machine is not so great
with the free motion quilting....


To make matters worse
I chose 80 wt Invisifil thread.
I knew I'd be doing a good bit of traveling back and forth
 over stitched lines,
and Ronda just raves about the thread,
and she quilts beautifully,
so, of course, if I used what she used,
my quilting would be amazing too.
Or some such stupid logic.


80 wt thread is super thin,
and you can barely see it,
so I wasn't overly pleased with how the quilting looked
and my already contrary Juki hated the thread,
but I was so sure it was my best bet
for a beautiful quilt,
and I really wanted my dad's quilt to be extra beautiful.
Firstly,
because it truly was a tangible expression of our deep gratitude
for all of his help.
His help was superb; the quilt should be too.
But secondly because,
I'm still just a girl who wanted her dad
 to think she's pretty great.
And I wasn't so great with all the building stuff.
Oh sure, 
I run on about my badges,
and I did give it tremendous effort,
and even did a decent job for a middle-aged woman
who knew nothing about construction
but building a house isn't really my thing.
Quilts are my thing....
So I stupidly pressed on with the not pretty,
barely visible
(hello - INVISIfil)
giving me fits several times an hour thread.


After a few days of absolute fighting with the quilting,
the machine,
and ridiculously slow progress,
I knew there was no way I could be finished
by my second deadline.


Before they came for dinner on the 27th,
I folded the quilt 
and shoved it in a bag in my closet
and stuck it on the top shelf.
We showed them the work we'd done on the house
since they'd been here last,
and we played a few games.


And that was the last time I saw my dad
before the hospital.


 I never got to give him his quilt.


And yes - I am well aware that he couldn't care less about a quilt
now that he is heaven,
but it makes me sad all the same.


The quilt wasn't just for my dad,
it was for Jeannie, too,
so I needed to finish it.

And I did - slowly

My machine went back to the shop,
again,
and I bought a new machine
(who also does not care for 80 wt thread)

I worked on the quilt as my heart could handle it,
but there were many tears.


What began as a thank-you
turned into a tribute.


Though I'm unhappy with my thread choice,
I'm proud of the quilt.
I think it's some of my best work.


I sewed on the label on Oct 3rd.
Finally finished.


I put it in the local quilt show the first weekend of October.
For display only though - no judging.


And then
in a 'full circle' turn of events,
Jeannie texted me and said,
"I thought I'd come down and go to the quilt show"

So we went together.
And she saw their (now, her) quilt
for the first time.


This is where I'd normally say something nice to
and about the recipient,
but I am so so spent from writing this post
and I know Jeannie understands.
I love you, Jeannie. Hugs and scritches.