Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Boomerang Daughter is Boomeranging Out!

Things all work the way they are supposed to, like hammers on piano strings.
I said that there were big changes at Little House and the biggest one of all is that our eldest daughter who boomeranged home several years ago is taking flight. She was our Peter Pan that wasn't in a rush to grow up and guess what?  She has a grown up boyfriend who is a widower and comes complete with a family.  Talk about growing up fast now!!  She is quickly moving into the role of step-mother to three children, ages 8, 10 and 18.

This didn't fit my idea of how love was to find her, and yet, over time we are all adjusting to the changes and my neighbor and I are now seeing that she seems the perfect fit for this family. She is a very smart young woman, and though I brag, I was never so shocked to find out just how smart she is, as she truly didn't get it from me! She has been more than a challenge to raise, usually being a step ahead of me, and now I see that "what goes around, comes around" and have to sit back and smile as I see God's justice in all of this!

These children definitely need a mother in their life and she is ready to meet that challenge, albeit, more on some days than others!  Our relationship has moved into woman-to-woman relating, and I am suddenly appreciated for the mother that I have been to her.  I don't think anything is more rewarding than to see your values being re-lived out right in front of your very eyes. And for how many years did I wonder if they had fallen on deaf ears? Not only is there an increased love and appreciation between my daughter and I, but she is bringing new hearts into our family!  How blessed we are!
The tuning pegs on our piano, like us needing to get tuned for our new roles.
I am so grateful to friends that have encouraged me through this growth process. They have assured me that no matter if "genetically linked or not", God usually surprises us with the very sorts of children/ grandchildren that will push us into areas that are beyond our comfort zone.  Isn't that the truth!!??

While I am sad to have missed their days as babies, I am under no illusion that those days would have been easier, as colic ran in our family, or was it congenitally acquired Lyme? My oldest cried straight for three months and our second for six! We weren't so sure, at first, that these children weren't exchanged in the hospital and likewise we weren't sure we were meant to be step grandparents to these children. They definitely had/have some issues due to their mother taking ill and dying when they were so young, but truly my daughter is becoming a great step mother. They have taken to her like ducks take to water! She captured their hearts and now they are capturing ours! We are ready to love them no matter what, and we notice that, miraculously, they seem to be as accepting of us.
Making music takes contact and practice, not unlike new relationships.
This has not come without other changes that will have to be reported on later but suffice it to say that our house is beginning to breathe a sigh of relief as my daughter is packing up all that she has packed in here the past several years.  Her art supply collection as well as her own material collection and books will soon occupy space elsewhere, freeing up a couple of rooms and many a shelf in other parts of the house!  We are looking forward to creating a little den to act as TV and game room to the eight and ten year old boys and we plan for it to double as a guest room and then we will have another spare bedroom besides and hope that some of our friends will come and visit us here in beautiful Vermont.
Yes, this room will soon breathe a sigh of relief...too much in too little space!

My daughter and I are very close and we are enjoying each other more now than before. I have never seen her so happy and it spills over.  We are still canning, and sewing and creating together! It is interesting to see that her changes are begetting more changes as well...if you don't believe it, stay tuned for my new blog! It is coming to you soon!! We are embracing changes in our lives and seem to both be on a  roll, for more are in the works!

I think I fell in love with these little boys when my daughter took them, my other daughter and myself to see the new Disney movie, Inside Out!  The characters were right there in front of us on the screen, as well as sitting next to us. How quick they were to see themselves and see how Sadness is needed for Joy and mix Fear, Anger and Disgust into it all and how quickly our minds can become derailed!...Aren't we each a mixture of them all?  I had to let go of some pre-conceived notions about my future grandchildren and they were, in turn, still grieving the loss of their mother and past.  We are all moving forward and opening our hearts to new relationships, loves and joys. We are now wrapping our arms around these dear children and blessings are flowing both ways!

Their eighteen year old sister is "a sweet princess" as well as a headstrong young woman.  What isn't to love about her when she invites you to her prom march and comes to your house to try on her new ball gown and get your approval? My daughter is up to the challenges ahead with this child as well. Graduating from college eleven years ago, made it such that my daughter was able to help her apply for scholarships and encourage her to keep on learning!  This has been a real joy for my daughter as well as her future step-daughter!
These Lego characters,not unlike my little alien step-grandchildren!

The boys decided it would not be a good idea to send their faces into cyberspace, learning all that they have about safety and the internet, and though their sister is likely more than willing, I decided that that I didn't want to encourage followers for all the wrong reasons.  Suffice it to say the boys and teenage daughter are smarter and better looking than average! I did tell them about my intentions to write a blog about how special it is that they have come into our lives and they seem to be quite excited about having another set of grandparents to dote on them...of course it has nothing to do with the fact that I am keeping well supplied with ice-cream and candy bars...just a cheap trick I have learned from some other grandmothers I know.

Grandmother love-bribes, how sweet they can be!!

When my kids were growing up we had a used book, called Kevin's Grandma, where Kevin would "one-up" the other kid's stories about their grandmothers.  Instead of baking cookies, Kevin's grandma would take him to karate classes  and then out for Chinese food on her motorcycle...Well, I won't go that far, but I did take the front off our old upright piano to show them the inside of it so they could see how the little hammers hit the strings.  I wonder if that will put me in the category of being like Kevin's Grandma? I hope so...
Can I become a "cool" like Kevin's Grandma?...I hope so!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Because You Asked...Redwork

My Redwork  hand-embroidered baby quilt done in the 1970's.
I am going to start a new strand of my blog that will appear from time to time.  I am calling it Because You Asked.  Each week I am not writing less, but busy corresponding with people who ask questions regarding my work or their work. It is too fun to share my bits of sewing trivia knowledge, knowing that others are out their sharing my passion for stitching! Perhaps other readers might be interested in these subjects as well, so here goes my first Because You Asked blog:

The blocks were simple iron-on designs (likely Aunt Martha's brand)  
Last week one of my good friends wrote to me that she had found red and white embroidered quilt work and was in process of creating some of her own embroidery designs! Her interest was near to my heart, as I too love, what is known as Redwork. I wrote back to her that I featured Redwork information in my craft booth as when I started Little House, as one of my goals was to feature traditional needlework art forms and feature their histories. I was creating and selling Redwork, Bluework and other monochromatic embroidered quilt blocks done on my fancy sewing machine at the time. I  had to be very careful in creating these blocks so as to not violate any copyright laws of these computer embroidery software companies. Of course I wasn't selling their patterns but only single block creations, but even those are marked on some software packages as for single person use only and not for reselling of wares. Before doing embroidery on my embroidery machine, I did such work by hand.

My friend has asked to see pictures of  the Redwork baby quilt and the Bluework child's quilt top that I had written to her about. Meanwhile I mailed her the information that I handed out in my booth, before I deciding to share it with all of my readers.
Machine embroidered quilt top (designs by Cactus Punch QLT04-redwork CD.


I compiled this information about Redwork about three years ago and credited all the e-resources used to gather this information, though some of them are no longer available and so I removed them from the resource list below. Some of you may be interested in reading more about this art form or locating old fashioned Redwork embroidery patterns and books so I have included a listing of those as well.  It is a mere sampling and there are many more wonderful sites and tutorials on line. A special thanks to the reader who asked!

Redwork History   


Note simple hand-work stitching.
Redwork is believed to have originated at the Royal School of Art Needlework in Kinsington, England in the early 1800's. In those days embroidery was part of a girl's education. The poor could use their sewing skills as paid work and the rich would use it to embellish their trousseaus.

Redwork got its name from the Turkey Red cotton embroidery thread used for this simple outline-style embroidery design.  Its name didn't just denote its color, but also the lengthy and complicated dying process that made this thread colorfast.  It was an inexpensive machine-made thread whereas other embroidery threads of that day were expensive silk threads or non-colorfast threads that would "bleed" or run.

Silly and fun designs!by Aunt Martha's Iron Transfers.
From 1860 through the 1920's this form of embroidery became very popular. It was easy and simple, making it a popular way for young girls to learn and practice their embroidery skills. Sears Roebuck and other dry good catalogs stores of the day would sell "penny squares", which were simple preprinted designs on muslin squares that sold for a penny.  For another penny, a skein of Turkey Red embroidery thread could be purchased and then these squares would be embroidered and sewn together without sashing or borders to make summer weight coverlets and spreads.  Once the squares were seamed together, the seams would be covered with a feather stitch. These summer weight spreads would simply be a "quilt top" hand-tied or tufted to a cotton backing without any batting or filling between the layers.

Redwork became so popular that magazines would provide pull out Redwork patterns to promote selling their magazines.  In 1870 iron-on transfers were developed and do-it-yourself pattern stamping kits were offered by catalog companies along with published patterns.
For the love of this Redwork Cactus CD, I bought an embroidery machine!

No color variations exist. The differences are due to my amateur photo skills.
Bluework joined Redwork in popularity in the early 20th century as it was the next color to become colorfast (indigo blue).

After 1930 synthetic dyes were manufactured in the U.S. and then a wide range of colorfast threads were available. Designs became multi-colored and the style of embroidery changed from this simple outline style to solid stitched designs.
Humpty Dumpty is one of my favorites. This pattern was from a free e-site.


Thank goodness for modern, inexpensive colorfast embroidery threads!
A renewed interest in all types of handcrafts became popular again around the American Bicentennial in 1976. Quilters were inspired by the antique Redwork quilts and were largely responsible for making it a popular art form once again. Antique Redwork quilts are occasionally found in antique stores today and such quilts are valued treasures.

Redwork Designs and Use

Redwork designs were simple, outline designs done with a basic outline stitch (AKA Kensington Stitch), and might include other simple stitches such as cross stitch, chain stitch, stem stitch, double running stitch, French knots, colonial knots, back stitch and split stitch. Eventually more fancy crazy quilt stitches were also added.

Redwork customarily is done using two strands of six stranded embroidery floss or one strand if line detail is to be added. DMC #304 or #498 are considered by some to represent the most authentic "Turkey Red" color. Bluework, greenwork and blackwork also became popular.  Some even do Redwork in purple.  Generally Redwork is done in darker thread on light colored fabric (white, muslin, tea or coffee-dyed). Now Redwork is the term used to designate the style of this basic embroidery instead of the color of the thread used.

Other tools used in Redwork embroidery include an embroidery hoop to hold the material taut and embroidery needles that have bigger eyes, making them easier to thread. The use of the thimble was thought to be quite essential for a person who stitched, though skill is needed in its use and some prefer to stitch without one.

Common Redwork style embroidery designs include but are not exclusive to vintage sorts of flowers, fruits, vegetables, historical scenes and places, children, nursery rhymes, Sunbonnet Sue, days of the week, holiday designs and even Bible verses or moral sayings about the virtues of hard work. Simple designs can be hand-drawn or copied from coloring books and can be transferred by taping both the design and material onto a window and lightly tracing the design with a pencil.

Sewing motifs are popular too. (excuse the glare from its cellophane package.

Fruits and Vegetables are common Redwork designs.


Recognize this simple heart from Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls?




Traditionally, Redwork designs were added to common household items like dish towels, pillow cases and shams, coverlets and spreads, tablecloths, luncheon cloths, decorative pillows, laundry bags, dresser scarves, antimacassars, splashes,(cloths behind a washbowl), mantel covers, quilts, aprons, appliance covers, sachet pillows and handkerchiefs.
Again this design is from the Cactus Punch QLT 4 Redwork CD. So sweet!


E-Sources of Information and Patterns and Stitching Tutorials:

www.secretsof.com/content2597
www.allsands.com/home;deocorating/redworkembroide_sdw_gn/htm
www.grandmasatticquilting.com/Redwork.htm(www.grandmasatticquilting.com/Redwork.htm)
www.redworkpllus.com/dynamic/?page= 3
www.straw.com/equilters/library/techniques/redwirj-embroidery.html
www.redwork.info/instructions.html
www.pretty.impressivestuff.com/redwork.htm

Bibliography of A few of my favorites on Redwork:

Cherished Redwork for Baby by Leisure Arts
Redwork Quilts and More by LaureneSinema
Redwork from the Workbasket by Rebecca Kemp Brent
Learn to do Redwork, 77 recreations of Antique Blocks by American School of Needlework
Blackwork by The Bee Designs, 1975.

Check out these great Redwork patterns and books:

www.imaginating.com (Let's Sew #2752 by Ursula Michael)
www.cottonpinkindesigns.com (Tea Time #E-TEA)
www.CrabappleHillStudio.com (#254 Victory Garden)
Praise Publications, 5 Main St. Ext., Plymouth, Ma 02360 (In the Garden)
Praise Publications, 5 Main St. Ext., Plymouth, Ma. (Down the Garden Path by Dottie Krueger)
www.black-cat-creations.com, (Afternoon Tea by Judy Reynolds) (tea pots)
www.black-cat-creations.com (Sadie's Keepsakes by Judy Reynolds) floral designs


                                                               

Sunday, August 9, 2015

From Pincushions to Quilts


Machine quilting at last!
I just emailed my friend to tell him that making his wall hanging was more of a gift to me than to him, as it made me realize that I needed to make some major changes in my life. He was reminded of a quote that he wrote back to me,  "The longest journey begins with a single misstep". He said it was his twist of a "Confucius truism". I had to smile! He finds ways of using few words to communicate what I can't seem to say in many.

My Daiwabo  hand-quilted wall hanging...the game changer!

My life has truly been a very long journey starting with the first misstep of making, what then seemed to be, a rational and logical decision to become a nurse instead of following my first love of sewing and creating lovely things. I remember well that my engineer dad, God rest his soul, who was very smart but not so very creative, gave me the choice of becoming a nurse, a teacher or a secretary. Art and sewing had their place in creating a home, he felt, but I was sent to college to earn a degree as "an insurance policy  to have in my back pocket if something should happen to my husband". This "insurance policy" was to be a career.

My mother had never worked outside the home, and I think that my dad assumed that I likely wouldn't either.  But I graduated and there was no husband and my insurance policy turned into a real life career that didn't always suit me, though it truly did become a way for me to support myself and later would help support my family and it has given me much fodder for good stories. Fortunately I didn't have to become a widow to use it!!

From nursing, I went on to graduate school to become a special education teacher, and then an educational consultant.  I loved my work, though the best part were the summers off when I could sew and create! Sewing still captured my heart and I longed to sew more and work less. Our needs were such that it wasn't possible to stay home and when I did, I still needed to make an income, so I tied fishing leaders. I later returned to nursing, and continued raising a family!  When I was too ill to work, I found my basement filled with various unfinished projects as well as materials and threads that I had collected but didn't have time to use and this is when Little House Home Arts was born.
Wool Cactus pincushions.

After making many pincushions I took my wares to market with the help of my husband and daughter and sitting at a small table stitching on my penny rug style wool lap throw at a farmer's market craft show, I told one of my customers that I was a retired nurse when out of the blue, she said, "Clearly you were meant to sew for your work is so beautiful!" I realized then that I had come almost full circle and was at last doing what I loved most! I wasn't making much money, but I was at peace!



My Penny Rug Style wool lap throw that I would sew on at shows.
Pincushions were my marketable samples of my hand-stitching. In the back of my mind, however, I planned to get back to quilting. After I emailed my friend about my beautiful collection of Japanese Daiwabo fabrics I had purchased from sewitsforsale@yahoo.com, he came to visit me from California and ordered a quilted wall hanging. After finishing it, I appreciated that his request had pushed me into making the changes that I had longed to make. He had listened to my dreams and in seeing my collection of quilts in various states of completion, he ordered a quilted wall hanging out of my favorite material.  His challenge forced me to do what I couldn't  quite figure out how to make happen in a long while...to quilt.

I was realistic and told him I couldn't start his piece until after Christmas. Before Christmas, I furiously pieced duvet covers for my girls and I also started to cut strips from materials that I had received from a girlfriend. Her mother had died and opening the box of her mother's materials, I immediately envisioned a simple 9 patch/9 patch scrap quilt for her, and once again my do-list grew!
Materials from  a friend, whose mother passed away, a special memory quilt!!

I felt like I was going a bit crazy, but couldn't seem to help myself. I was going in a zillion different directions and so I gave serious thought and study as to how to organize myself and my materials and unfinished quilts in such a way that I could start to complete them.

I listed all the quilts that I wanted to finish and added my two new quilts to the list, and with much study of well known and prolific quilt makers, I began to dream and scheme as to how to organize and work on quilts like I worked on pincushions. I estimated how long it would take to complete each one. I figured if I worked on them "factory style" and grouped them into the various tasks needed  to complete them and then created changes in my work spaces and schedule, I could incrementally get them all finished and create even more. I even wrote blogs about some of my ideas, a three ring circus modus operandi became a multi ring circus model instead as I needed to factor in my life tasks as well.

Inspiration: Bonnie K Hunter books, and Teresa Rawson's Fabric Therapy
I was moving from pincushions to quilts and from short-term to long-term creations.  It seemed like a logical progression.  I started making incremental changes at first and only now can I see just how much needed to be altered. Initially, it didn't feel like I got as much sewing done but my reorganization will save time in the future! More blogs will ensue about the the other areas of my life that were changing simultaneously.  Change, I find, often brings about personal transformations.

I have compiled a list of some of these changes:
1) Wanting to finish my unfinished long term projects, I went through each one and grouped the materials needed to complete it, and then wrote directions and placed them in its own plastic sleeve to keep with each project. This enables me to move from one project to another more easily, picking up where I left off. This also provides much relief that should the project get passed to someone else to finish, they would have all that is needed to complete it. Nothing is sadder than a partially done heirloom quilt without the materials to finish it. I have never been a person to do only one project at a time and I am learning that many people work this way.
Plastic sleeves are used for directions for each quilt and also for new skills.

Practice stitching with notes re  machine settings and hand positions.
 2) I select a few projects at a time to focus on, moving each one along incrementally, with pauses to problem solve and alter my design as needed. This means that I always have something available and ready to work on each day, both on the machine and by hand. I made schedules but find I rarely stick to them. Some days I get more done than other days, but do what I can, as I can. My recent projects included the Daiwabo hand-quilted wall hanging; a small quilt to practice hand-quilting prior to and after quilting my wall-hanging. I also focused on two 9 patch/9 patch quilts that I worked on in incremental steps, piecing them and am now quilting them by machine in a quilt-as-you-go fashion, as well as a small lap throw quilt to practice more straight-line quilting. By practicing the same skills over and over, I am mastering them before moving to more complex stitching.

Practice straight line and stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.

Practice hand-quilting on this New York Beauty Quilt.

Hand-quilting outlining design so far.
 3) Looking ahead at what new skills I want to learn, I organized the tools needed to do them into boxes or trays that I can pull out to use at my sewing table or simply stack trays of what I need next to my machine.  They include: an applique box  with a stiletto, glue sticks, tweezers, laying tools, sharp pointed scissors and my freezer paper close by; a hand-quilting sewing box with chalk marking pencils, hand-quilting needles, Sashiko quilting needles, thimbles and quilting wax; several assorted machine quilting trays (I used plastic meat trays as they are free).  In one tray I have all my machine quilting needles; in another scissors, small ruler, screw drivers and a machine cleaning brush; in yet another, I have medium-sized safety pins; in another, my quilting threads for my current projects; another contains chalk with a clear ruler to mark quilting lines; and in the last, I have my quilt clamps. I have many other assorted quilting threads that I store elsewhere.  I also have quilting stencils in a large flat plastic bin that is stored in my basement, keeping out only the ones I am using.
My applique box for glue-stick technique applique.

My hand-quilting box.
My machine quilting tray with machine tools, bobbins etc.

My machine quilting marking tray and ruler for straight lined quilting.

Bernina, backed with quilter's ironing board and stack of trays with all I need. 
Trays have quilting threads, quilting needles, safety pins and quilt clamps.
4) I purchased a bigger work table for my living room at a second hand store and switched it to the right side of my living room so that I can extend my sewing machine table and add an ironing board to the left side to better support bigger sewing projects like quilts.
5) I selected a specific semi-soft chair in my living room next to a blanket chest to set up my ironing station. I can press fabrics or blocks and use the chest to place my blocks, or materials or can even hang pieced strips on the door of my TV cabinet.
My ironing board station temporary set up for making quilt sandwiches.
6) I added an iron, light, spray bottle with water, scissors, pins and waste basket to this ironing station so I can clip threads, and pin blocks there as well. (All of this is easily removed if I want to use my living room for entertaining, which isn't very often.)
7) I purchased a big quilter's ironing board which is presently on top of my dining room table, (it is portable so it can be used in my basement studio as well to press large materials/and/or quilt tops). It is just the right height when sitting on top of my table to match the level of my sewing machine table to support large quilts so the weight of materials will not pull on my stitches when I sew.
A quilter's ironing board on my table to support my quilts as I sew.
8) Next to my machine I have used my Husquvarna plastic extension sewing table, partially supported by a plastic storage container and with a couple plastic file folders taped to the top to fill in the hole that fits my other machine. This make-shift extension table is added to my Bernina machine sewing table to make it bigger in front of the large ironing board, again making a platform to support my quilt as I sew.
9) I have purchased a dual feed quilting foot for my old style Bernina and have my other old Bernina in the living room on my sewing table or on a folding table behind my chair. They both use all the same accessories and so I can quilt in either room, but for now I am quilting in my dining room and doing regular stitching in the living room.
A dual feed quilting foot for straight line and stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.
10) I have washed, ironed and stored my special quilting fabric collections (quilting wools, Daiwabo, homespun, Civil War and 1930 Reproduction materials) in separate flat plastic bins. My general sewing fabrics collected through the years are stored in other containers by color. I have also started filing my extra quilt pieces by size into labeled plastic trays for easy ready-to-use future piecework. Likely these will become plastic containers in the future, but for now trays are sufficient.
11) Years ago I covered two insulation boards to pin blocks to, and have a larger one that is hanging on the wall in my sewing space in the basement. The portable ones have been the most functional for me to lay out quilt blocks or use for my wall hanging, placing it upright to view and better plan the layout of my fabrics. One is 16" x 21 1/2 " and the other is 22" x 35" (simply scraps from making my wall board).
12) My husband recently treated me to a new ergonomic chair for my computer that will double as a quilting chair in my dining room. I cannot believe that this wasn't the first change to be made! For years I have used foam cushions on top of chairs to create the right height for sewing or ironing and still resort to this at my living room work stations. Being "ergonomically" comfortable to do tedious sorts of tasks is critical!
An ergonomic chair! (note make-shift quilting table extension to support quilt.
13) I have reorganized my collection of quilting books and magazines for easier referencing. I inherited my mother's quilting books and along with my own, find them invaluable and have my computer in my dining room sewing area as well. It is a wonderful resource for immediate instruction!
Resources for machine quilting for the DIY method of instruction.

Although it feels like I have worked at a snails pace the last eight months, I have completed my wool, log cabin lap-sized quilt, the Japanese Daiwabo hand-quilted wall hanging and have pieced blocks for a queen and king-sized quilt that I am now in the process of machine quilting along with  two other small lap-sized quilts  for both machine and hand-quilting practice.

I am frankly surprised that I have accomplished this much as I have taken much time to read and learn new skills, plan changes in my work areas and taken time to actually prep and re-organize. I have also dusted off old skills not used in a long while. I had never before machine quilted a bed-sized quilt. My mother loved the quilt-as-you-go-method to make it easier to work on her quilts in blocks or strips that are later joined to make large bed-sized quilts. Using this method to machine quilt my full-sized quilts, by large blocks on one and the other using long strips of blocks, will give me much confidence when I use this same method to finish two more quilts in the future!

I have also learned: more efficient ways of cutting out projects; doing piecework on the machine with greater accuracy using lightweight cardboard guides; pressing quilts seams by setting seams first to make them lay flatter for quilting; and using a new glue-stick method of hand-applique that increases my precision for detailed work. I have practiced hand-quilting, and am learning to machine quilt, using stitch-in-the-ditch and straight-lined quilting using a dual feed quilting foot. My end goal is to be able to do all kinds of quilting techniques on the machine as well as by hand. My mother and I used to consider it sacrilege to even consider machine quilting, but the older I get, the more realistic I have become! At quilt shows I rarely see hand quilted quilts, which speaks to the time constraints all of us have, along with the advancement in technical machine quilting skills.
More precise piecing using a light weight cardboard guide.

Precise pressing for flatter seams.

Glue stick method of applique for greater precision. (Teresa Rawson's tutorial)
By learning new skills and then practicing them on several projects, I am gaining the confidence I need to move more proficiently through my work. I didn't realize it, but the projects I have procrastinated doing are ones that I am most insecure about. I am a perfectionist and the only way to do the quality of work I want to do is by practicing and mastering my skills. I am adding patience to my list and hope I get more of it RIGHT NOW ! I have a sign in my sewing area that  reads "finished is better than perfect" though I would like my work to be both finished and perfect!

Regarding the subject of perfection, I learned to fix errors when I worked on the wall hanging. It is a problem solving skill that I used to hate! I often used to trash many a project if it wasn't perfect. I am learning creative ways to correct or hide my errors. Correcting work is a critical skill to have when doing long term projects, and I have to remind myself that Amish quilters, whose work is next to perfect, purposely create an "off block" for "only God creates perfection."

My mother's candlewicking quilt that she left for me to finish (quilt-as-you-go)
I confess that I am still overwhelmed with how many UFO's are waiting to be finished, but I can now imagine getting them done and making more as well. What I am learning today will get easier and better tomorrow. I do realize that I have many stitches ahead of me and that talk is only talk, but I am beginning to see the fruits of my efforts and finishing my long awaited unfinished quilts seems more possible and probable!

These are big changes for me, but stay tuned. The changes at Little House don't stop here!

This blog is dedicated to SN who started all this change with his request for me to make him a quilted wall hanging. My thanks to him!


Monday, July 27, 2015

"No Readers Left Behind"

Clue #1 Daiwabo fabrics pre-shrunk and pressed...all ready to go.
 "No Readers Left Behind " is the first piece in my "Series on Change" blogs that I am going to write to inform you, my readers of the many changes that are happening at Little House! It all started last year when two friends came to visit me in close proximity of each other.  I  gave them tours of my work spaces and had dug out some of my projects to show them. I was excited for them to see the variety of my work.
Clue #2: My pressing and pinning station. Making quilt sandwiches!
 

Following both of their visits, I felt panic instead of pleasure! My projects and dreams were exposed enough that I could see them too clearly, and frankly were enough to overwhelm anyone, but mostly me! Once my projects were literally pulled out and in the open, I figuratively found them hard to get back into the genie bottle from which they came. I could see my own insanity and wondered what I was thinking! I didn't begin to have enough years to finish them all, much less create the many more projects that were in my brain, none of which matched the visions I had for my craft business. I was caught, in a matter of speaking, "with my pants down" and my dreams laid naked and exposed.

Clue #3: Home-grown Napa cabbage.
I have had many sleepless nights and confusion, befuddled with the conflicts before me. I began to read, explore and make changes though at the time they didn't make rational sense. I was "off  and running", but truly wondered where I was "off to" and was bothered by changes that didn't seem to make sense. I followed my heart instead of my brain and it is only recently that some of these changes are beginning to now make sense, such that I can  write about them with any clarity. They are not complete, but in process and there is still much uncertainty before me. As with most changes, some are planned and intentional, and some are not, and some seem quite serendipitous and "coincidental", though in my heart I really don't believe in coincidences. I believe that all things happen for a reason and any coincidences are really God Winks. I have found out more than once in my life there are plans that are greater than my own! I am always blown away when I see glimmers of this bigger plan unfolding, as fulfilled dreams that I really had not thought possible.

Clue # 4: Squash, Zuchinni,Watermelon, potato puffs, and a Kitchen Aid
 "The Bucket List" was a movie done in 2008 staring Jack Nichols and Morgan Freeman. It is the story of two old codgers that meet when they are hospitalized, each facing a fatal illness. Though very different in personalities and values, they share what they want to do before they die and challenge each other to face their fears, live their lives more fully, and complete their "Bucket Lists" before they meet their maker. I have a chronic illness but don't feel that  I am in any imminent threat of dying any time soon,but am growing more aware that we are all "terminal".  As my friend's insurance man once told her, "Death is not a question of if  BUT when and like these old men, I too have a Bucket List to complete!

Clue #5: Sewing station moved from left to right side of my living room.
Before the second friend left he ordered a quilted wall-hanging (featured in my previous blog), and this has made all the difference, though  I didn't know it at the time. His request was a much bigger challenge than I had imagined and though small in size, it was huge in terms of the changes that it started to create at Little House. I was astounded as to how long this project took me, but realized later that more was happening than met the eye.

Clue #6: Worse before it gets better!
Changes were needed within before the external ones could fully materialize. I wasn't ready to jump into the world of long term projects like quilting besides which, I hadn't really done serious quilting since my young adult years, albeit, I had made lots of simple comforters for family members and had given my mother advice regarding her quilt making.  I had even made quilted pillows and had started many bed-sized heirloom quilts. I thought I was a quilter and for a time I was. I had taken a quilting class at Bonnie Lehman's Quilts and Other Comforts in Lakewood, Colorado in the mid 70's and had learned all that I thought I needed to know, but like others, I grew up, got married, started a family and all hobbies got pushed aside and the following years became a blur.

My mother seemed to catch the "quilting bug" from me, though she had quilted in her youth. She did what I didn't have time to do; she quilted. I gladly shared my passion for quilting with her and became her official "quilting guru". I even took her to quilt shows! She collaborated with me on her quilt-making and went on to make quilted pillows for her sisters, a few baby quilts and then several bed-sized quilts. She even finished the hand-quilting on my first sampler quilt. Being her "partner in crime", she generously left me her three hand-pieced and hand- quilted quilts, along with one that was left unfinished. I promised her I would complete it and sincerely looked forward to finding time to finish it and proudly use it on my bed.
Clue #7:Strength AND brains!

I have since realized that I have "talked the talk" more than I have "walked the walk", or should that more accurately read, "talked and dreamt quilting" more than actually done it. When I was showing my friend some of my unfinished quilts and my mother's last and most beautiful candle-wicking quilt, the one that I promised to finish, I realized that the time is NOW! I am not getting any younger!

Clue #8: A bit of Yankee Ingenuity and I am ready!
I needed to muster some serious courage to re-learn all the quilting skills I had once mastered and learn new skills as well. It was also time to face my serious handicaps of starting long-term projects without finishing them. I remember too well, standing behind a boy at a quilt show and hearing him read aloud  and IN TOTAL AMAZEMENT, that it took the featured quilter, a WHOLE YEAR  to make her gorgeously detailed quilt! I laughed to myself and inwardly replied, "That's nothing honey!! My quilts take twenty or thirty years and none are finished yet, nor are they masterpieces like this one!" I then bought a plaque to hang on my wall that reads "Finished is better than perfect" and set about to change myself.

I have considered that I likely have serious attention deficit problems when it comes to finishing what I start and my Bucket List of UFO's (unfinished objects) proves this fact. Though I have since learned that I am NOT unlike many quilters in thinking faster than my needle sews, I also knew that defining the problem didn't solve it.  Serious changes were needed  IF I was to finish what I had started, and this year, on the top of my New Year's resolutions were listed some simple steps to start to make it happen.
Clue #9: "Oh had I a golden thread and a needle so fine!"

What I had learned about making pincushions needed to be transferred to larger projects. I shared with my readers how I read tips and tricks from prolific quilters and then devised new organizational schemes, schedules, and studio changes to work on my bigger and longer term projects to turn my dreams into realities, and create a new modus operandi  and then gave it a test run.
Clue #9: Remember these projects...moving ahead...with new learned skills.

I have learned much and  will share my experiences with my readers! Change seems to find us all, ready or not and I have come to learn that embracing it, along with accommodating and growing through it, may well have saved the skin on my knees and chins (yes, I have more than one!) "Keeping up" with change beats being drug through it!


Willing myself to change became more than surviving! I believe it has been vital to living my life to the fullest and accomplishing what  I have set my mind to do. Yes, I still have much to do on my bucket list, but there is progress! I still scratch my head and question as to how my changes will get me anywhere close to meeting my goals. I often lack vision when it comes to the paths that prepare and take me where I need to go, but I am  miraculously, getting some divine intervention it seems and am thrilled!


Clue #10: what does "Martin" Potato Salad have to do with anything?
My pictures are clues for my upcoming blogs that I am calling my "Series on Change". Do stay tuned....I am on a roll that I hope you will find as stimulating as it has been for me!