Sunday, October 24, 2010

Check It Out

Hey Folks, here's a wonderful opportunity for some fabulous free stuff!  Check out this blogspot for a fun fabric give away:

Thanks to the folks at Green Fairy Quilts for such a generous give away!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Quilter's Measure

Greg Waitz said, “For every finish-line tape a runner breaks – complete with the cheers of the crowd and the clicking of hundreds of cameras – there are the hours of hard and often lonely work that rarely gets talked about.” 

Measuring sticks!  Quilting is filled with transparent rulers, measuring tape, grids, and quilting squares in every shape and size.  Quilters even have an unspoken measure in their head that they employ constantly when tackling a project.  Odd numbers are more aesthetically pleasing than even, so often, when blocks measure 12 inches square, sashing and borders are measured on the odd – 3 inch sashes and 5 inch borders.  Even then there is measuring going on that comes out “even” that will make even the most discriminating quilter happy – for every quilter knows that 3 X 4 = 12, so a 3 inch border will compliment and “go” with a 12 inch block!!!  (See the Snowball Quilt below.)  And, when a quilter studies a new pattern to piece, her eye immediately looks to the overall construction of the block – is it based on a 9 patch, a 4 patch, a 16 patch?  If so, our minds race ahead and immediately begins to deconstruct in order to know how to construct the block.  Measuring and math – it’s innate to quilting! 
Here's my SnowBall  
When I first began course work for my Appalachian Pastor’s School class, I had signed up for a weekend course, meaning that I would read books, write a few 4 – 5 page papers and attend 20 hours of class over two weekends.  Then a scheduling conflict occurred and I had to reschedule the class as a correspondence course.  Wow!  Once I received the alternative format through the mail, I gulped at the amount of work, and bemoaned the fact that it required an entirely different set of books to read.  The scope of this project was daunting – 16 papers/projects and 86 – 102 pages in length in total!  So, I did what all quilters do – I began to look at the global picture and compartmentalize each section of the project.  I had a year to complete it, so that meant x-amount of reading each month, with x-amount of pages to be written.  That worked well until January arrived, and I realized that I had let six months go by!  I was reminded by David Lloyd George that “There is nothing so fatal to character as half-finished tasks!” 
 Unfinished projects!                                                                                     
Guilt rapidly set in and I restructured the assigned tasks to reflect a six month schedule, which still looked easily doable!  Three months later, and I had done quite a bit of reading, but no writing.  And then, a bombshell – we found out we were moving.  I don’t mind moving, and in fact, I love meeting new people, going new places, delving into new tasks, living in a new house!  It’s like starting a new quilt – incredibly fascinating, exciting, and motivating.  I did internet searches to find out how many bakeries, book stores, libraries, quilt shops, craft shops and coffee houses would be in the surrounding area of our new appointment.  And, with the move came official meetings that we had to attend, as well as the daunting task of packing!  Life was moving way too fast and furious! 
                And then everything stopped!  We got the call every parent dreads.  I had already gone to bed and was fast asleep that night.  Suddenly I heard the rush of footsteps outside the bedroom door, and Aaron, our oldest son was saying, “Mom, Michael’s been in an accident.”  I told him to remain calm and to put his shoes on.  I got dressed, gathered my keys, purse, and Aaron said, “Mom, he left a message on the answering machine.  I can’t get it out of my head.”  I played the message and heard my son screaming.  At the same time I heard the sirens of fire engines outside on the highway and knew that he had to be close to home. 
The ironing board full too . . .
                We rushed to the scene.  It was a nightmare and we were awake.  Devastating news.  Surgeries. Hospitalizations.  Nights spent awake watching him in case he needed something.  Then my own body jumped up, saying, “Remember me?”  And I had a fluid overload episode! 
                In the swirl and madness, in the loss and grief, amidst fear, while time marched on with a myriad of tasks undone, I packed, worked, cooked, and mourned, seemingly floating through each task.  The world rapidly sped by unreal.  We moved seven weeks after the accident, our son still on crutches, his prognosis unknown. 
                And the assignment?  I hadn’t even thought of it those last three months.  I asked for an extension.  Then, pneumonia hit, and an entire month went by coughing and lying in bed as the deadline drew closer. 
                Wrapping my head around a task – that’s the impetus to completion for me, just as it is with quilting, It’s a matter of seeing the needs that remain, putting my nose to the grindstone, and working until it’s done.  A few weeks ago, I joined a “sew-in” sponsored by another blogger.  I put the writing assignment away for 24 hours and just dedicated myself to completing a few quilting projects.  I applied borders to two quilts, my Baby Rose and Winter Snowball.  I also laid out two more Circuit Rider blocks and reasoned out a flower garden appliqué – I had the blocks pieced on that one, but how to border it out?  So, twenty four hours later, after refilling and refueling with creative hard work, I was again motivated to write, read, formulate, and complete yet more tasks on the never ending project! 
My Baby Rose Complete!
               At this time, I have two weeks to go, and two papers and one project left.  The end is indeed in sight, and if all goes well, I will have it completed.  Richard Bach said, “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished:  If you are alive, it isn’t!” 
And Priscilla is completely unconcerned!  Sigh!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Instant Gratification

Mark Strand wrote . . . And yet, in a culture like ours, which is given to material comforts, and addicted to forms of entertainment that offer immediate gratification, it is surprising that so much poetry is written. 
           The glorious days of fall are speeding by too quickly for me.  The final Sunday of Celebrate September with 30 Years of Joy was unbelievably grace-filled, tear-filled, spirit-led, and joy-filled!  Then, last Sunday we celebrated Holy Communion and then were surprised by the precious sacramental baptism of a new baby in our faith community! 
            I return home from such blessings revived in spirit and weary in body, and look forward to, not with anticipation, more reading and writing as I strive to finish the required work for class. 
            Friday, Greg (my precious soul mate and husband) went out of town to pick up our son, Aaron, now in his last semester at KWC.  I knew that these precious 8 hours were meant to be spent with my nose tucked in a book, or my eyes glued to the computer, my fingers typing furiously!  And, I did do some of that!  But, what a glorious day Friday was, and I found myself thinking, “Now, let’s get to that front porch!”  And, out the door I went, carrying pumpkins, mums, and a scarecrow!  It’s been ten years since we had a true front porch complete with swing, and I can tell you, I am wasting no time enjoying the front porch.  The results were good – not quite finished, but a start.  I think a few fall leaf pillows are in the works!  But once back inside, I tackled the dining room, then the kitchen.  With each placement of a pumpkin, or acorn (I am well and truly enchanted with acorns and have been since childhood) my spirit soared.  By the end of the day, I found myself back at the computer, again typing, again able to tackle a task and know that the assignment will soon be done and done well. 
                                          My first four Circuit Rider blocks.
            After a late afternoon nap, refreshed and eager to welcome my men home from a long day, my soul needed more, and I began to lay out fabric for a wall hanging that I had been wanting to make for years.  With all the projects I have going at this time, why in the world did I begin a new one, you might ask.  The answer is easy:  instant gratification.  I needed to see something done quickly that would make me smile.  I looked on the four completed Circuit Rider Blocks and knew that 38 is a long way to go!  I looked at the Grandmother’s Flower Garden and knew that though it was not an heirloom quilt, I still had two strips of blocks yet to piece before I could sew them to pre-quilted fabric to have an instantly quilted quilt.  So, that night I laid out the fabric and then found the time to cut out the pieces.  Saturday found me completing my sermon, but between times of allowing it to “settle,” I pieced and sewed.  By dinner I had the pumpkins sitting on the fence, only to discover that I had no Heat n’ Bond Ultra Hold for the pumpkins’ faces!  So, a quick trip to Walmart fixed that, and now, here I am at 9 p.m., truly satisfied with a precious pumpkin patch full of pumpkins! 

                                         Two strips of an "insta-quilt."  
            Instant Gratification – it does work for me! 
                                          Pumpkin Patch Fun!

Instant Gratification works for me!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Henry Ward Beecher said, “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

Reading, reading, reading . . . followed by writing, writing, writing.  A seemingly endless project due by the end of October is only relieved by bountiful moments of quilting or knitting.  Today I began reading, my toes curling before the fire.  The chill of the room was muting and my coffee was deliciously . . . warm!  The reading was interesting, but after three hours, lines began to blur, letters popped from the page, and I knew I had to put it down.  No matter how crucial it is that I get to the next portion of the project, I cannot go on if I am having difficulty reading.  I tooled around the house putting away books, throwing away trash, doing dishes, all mundane but necessary tasks. 

And then I realized what I was doing - avoiding, of course, the task at hand.  How to get those creative juices flowing again?  I walked into the craft room, turned on the iron, sat in the swivel chair, and picked up border and block, and began to sew.  Within an hour and a half, I had put together two complete rows of a soon-to-be quilt in delicious tones of pink and green!  How soul fulfilling the play is!

I went back to my reading, a relieved smile on my face.  Creativity spurs on creativity.  The one feeds the other, and the host is satisfied!