Friday, September 26, 2008

UFOs: True confessions

I have VERY many UFOs. I used to teach patchwork and quilting as well as hosting a monthly quilt group. For both things, I needed to prepare samples of my ideas. You have to always stay a step ahead of everyone and this meant often letting those samples sit unfinished while I moved on to the next idea. As a result, I have hangers full of neglected quilt tops in various stages. I also let quilts I wanted to make for myself sit as I was too busy with other quilts.

When I was talking to Heidi over at
BetweenStitches a while ago, we discussed UFOs. We had decided we should confess what we have with the hopes of concentrating on really finishing them. 2008 has been a year of concentrating on finishing many stitching and quilting projects I have sitting around. So far, I am really happy with my progress. I put myself on a stash diet for this year and also a start diet. I did do a fun thing in between with my Quaker Boo hornbook but have been really good about not adding to the list with lots of new starts. I will show you a new start I am doing for stitching next week. That is my reward to myself for finishing Silent Sampler, but I am still putting off a new quilt idea I have until I finish at least one more UFO.

I listed the WIPs and UFOs on the side bar of my blog. Now I do confess that it is not a totally complete list. Why? The list is simply too big to list them all. And if you take a look, you will see that there are more than enough on this list as is. *grins* I am going to spend the last few months of 2008 concentrating on a select few of the UFOs. Here they are.....

Puss In The Corner quilt. This needs sandwiched and quilted. I am considering giving machine quilting a try again on this one but not sure yet.

Roses quilt (Turning Twenty) in baby rib, satin and silks. This quilt has too many thick and unusual fabrics so I have decided it is best to tie this one. This is going to be my first project to turn to now. I will be sandwiching it today so I can get started. It is already laying on my ironing board ready for some love and attention...

Zoe's quilt is in the process of being hand quilted. For some reason, I keep getting bored with the quilting process and stopping. Only two more blocks to go and I can start the borders.

Bethlehem Star quilt which I would really love to have finished in time for the upcoming holidays. I even pieced the backing on this quilt. I think I am going to use gold metallic quilting thread for this one. One advantage to this is to see the thread well, you have to use large quilting stitches making it go a bit faster.

I sincerely hope that by the end of December I will be happily telling you that I have finished all four of these quilts. Perhaps you can prod me along every now and then?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A finish, a win and a gift...

I am very happy to say that I can cross another UFO off my list! This tablerunner has been hand quilted. I kept the quilting simple as the patchwork is also simple.

I love toadstools as anyone who follows my home and garden blog CelebrateTheSeasons knows. I have a basket of them sitting on the new tablerunner along with adorable acorn salt and pepper shakers. I received these as a Christmas gift from my friend Diane last year. I keep them on display in my hutch but am thrilled it is now the season to bring them out. Thanks Diane!

Since a quilt is finished for me only once the label is attached, I did that first thing this morning. I was unsure until last night what I would call this quilt. It is the colors of autumn but flowers of summer thus "Summer's End". I drew a flower based on the flowers on the rust colored fabric for my label. Handmade labels are so much fun to make!

Thank you for your comments on my last entry. I drew a name from them all out of one of my quilt studio's mugs. And the winner is...

Nancy! If you have never visited her before, Nancy is my mother and she is the gene pool where my needlework comes from. This is now evident in her stitching and yes I am bias since she is my mother. *grins* She swore she would never start cross stitching but she has. And how! She puts those of us who have been stitching for years to shame. You can see her blog here. I will send your cards to you soon mother.

I also received a gift in the mail yesterday from my mother. She has a fancy embroidery machine and she made me two more ornaments for my Halloween tree and a hand towel.

She also knitted me two dishclothes for Halloween and autumn. See the Jack o' lantern?

And here is a squirrel. Thanks for my autumn "just because" package!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ties that bind.....

While reading Lucy's blog, a Dutch quilter, I found out there was a quilt show up in Friesland. I was happy to find out that I was just in time to still be able to visit it. This quilt show was small but very special for two reasons ~ it is about a very couragous and special woman who worked during WWII to refugees and it gave me ties that bind me back to my home in Ohio.

The quilt show was in a tiny church in the village of Witmarsum. It is the birthplace of Menno Simons who is the founding father of the Mennonite faith. These were the ties that bind back to Ohio where there is a large Mennonite community. It is seeing quilts in Amish country as a girl that got me started as a quilter.

This is the story of An and Lynn. It is story of Lynn discovering some old American quilts in the Dutch countryside and then discovering an amazing story behind those quilts. You can find the English version of this book here. I can recommend it for anyone interested in quilting or in stories connected to WWII.

The quilts were sent to An during the war to help keep refugees warm through the Mennonites back in the US.

The show was nicely presented with historic information hanging throughout the quilt racks.

It spoke of the sewing circles working to make these quilts and this photo is of a group of girls working on quilts in Lima, Ohio. Don't forget, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

It is a very precious thing that these quilts have survived the years for us to see and connect to the stories of people searching for freedom from the violence of war.

If you visit Ohio Amish country, you can hear the story of how the Amish and Mennonites came to America. There you can view a painting of the very ship shown on this photo - HMS Volendam.

Holland became a refuge for those fleeing the oppression of communism in many Eastern European countries especially the Ukraine. Here you see the special pass they received.

I must admit that I had two favorites among the quilt shown. The first was the indigo blue nine-patch quilt shown above. The second was this log cabin quilt.

Look at all the beautiful vintage fabrics! This quilt was believed to have been made up of two quilts being sewn together as the barn raising pattern is not quite right when it is seen in its totality.

I fell in love with this photo of the little boy. He has the sweetest smile! If you look closely, you can see his very broken wooden shoe.

We went to visit the Menno Simons monument after the quilt show. I photographed the guide for you to read. This steel construction stands like a shadow of the old brick church. As you can see, it was a beautiful autumn day!

Some of the original bricks from the church were used for this part of the monument.

This day left a lasting impression on me which I would love to share with you. I purchased a set of these gift cards to give away to one of you. Just leave a comment on this entry and I will draw a name by the end of this week. Please leave your email address if you do not have a blog so I can contact you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bronwyn Bear gets a pillow.....

Here is my other finish from last week. I finally finished Silent Sampler. For some reason, I did not enjoy stitching this and that is why it took me so long. It is not a large design and I should have finished it much sooner. I love how it has turned out. It is just such a sweet and vintage looking stitch.

I knew I wanted to turn it into a little pillow for my bed. It would look perfect with the patchwork quilt I made. So then it was time for my thinking cap about how I wanted to make the pillow. I had intended to do tiny patchwork around it. The more I dragged out of my stash cupboard, the more I doubted it would be right. In the end, I realized that I needed to keep it simple. This design has a 'hidden' alphabet and using patchwork would distract from seeing that. The advantage to a huge (and I do mean huge) stash cupboard is that you can eventually find that perfect piece of fabric. I used a fabric from Mrs. March's Collection which kept the vintage theme. It reflects the colors used in the stitching too.

I will go back to concentrating on my Beatrix Potter sampler for the time being although I am going to also reward myself for finishing another WIP by starting one of my Ohio samplers. I will share the start when I get it out and organized.

In the meantime, I am going to sit on my rocking chair in my bedroom and enjoy looking at this pillow which Bronwyn Bear is happily holding...

I was given the Brillante Weblog award some time ago from Heidi over at Between Stitches. Thanks for this award Heidi. I am going to pass it along to two bloggers as I have other awards yet to pass out. I am going to pick a stitcher and a quilter for the award...

The award for a stitcher is Annemarie at Orts and Ends. Annemarie started blogging again and I have really enjoyed getting to know her more. She is a wonderful stitcher who fits in the needle and thread between working and raising her cute little boy Pelle.

The award for a quilter is Jo at
Vintage Lane Stitches. I discovered Jo's blog shortly after she started it. I love her quilting style, her sewing room, her adorable dog Charlie and her love of family and home. She has a true quilter's heart.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Halloween hornbook

I have returned from our time at Cranberry Cottage and what a great time we had. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed some wonderful peace and quiet there. I am feeling much better after having let myself become totally exhausted. I do want to take this moment to thank everyone for their sweet and supportive comments about my sharing my chronic illnesses with you. I see that there are others who unfortunately share some of these problems with me. I hope that our talking about our lives will encourage others to look beyond the physical problems and enjoy life.

I pack my bag with my hobbies first thing when we leave for the cottage. This week, I had packed two bags. The first was containing two stitching projects and my tablerunner which I am hand quilting. The second bag contained all the items I needed to work on some more patchwork blocks for the Centennial Sampler. That bag came back home today packed just as it had been when I left for the cottage. I am afraid I did not even unpack it to work on a single block.

I decided I really wanted to get my WIP Silent Sampler finished before touching anything else. I will be sharing that finish with you this week too but I also took along a new project which I like to do when we are on vacation.

I pick an easy project that I can try and finish while away. I found it this time in Tanya's (The Sampler Girl) new freebie called Quaker Boo. This came out just the week before we left. Thanks Tanya once again for an adorable chart!

I love it when things seem to just come together. I had found an outdoor chalkboard in a garden center a couple of months ago. I immediately saw that if I turned it upsidedown, it would become a fun hornbook. I bought it thinking I would eventually find the perfect design to use for it. When I saw Tanya's latest freebie, I knew right away that this was the right one for this hornbook. Since the chalkboard slides out, I was able to simply attach the stitching to it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A blogger's break...

I promised to try and get a better photo of the quilt and I think you can see the patchwork better now on this one. If you have not done so yet, read my previous post to hear the last part of the story behind my medallion quilt. Thank you so much for your comments so far and also the enormous amounts of sweet comments about my Autumn Leaves stitching and quilt. I really appreciate your taking a moment to comment and find it all very encouraging to read. Thank you!

I am afraid the quilter's exhaustion was more real than I even realized. I awoke this morning having a very bad flare up and am spending most of the morning resting. We have planned a week's vacation up at Cranberry Cottage as of tomorrow. It could not come at a better time. I really must learn to slow down. I just want to do all I can to welcome people into my home and my quilt group is very special to me. I do all in my power to encourage and inspire this amazing group of ladies. I love them all so much! I felt I had to get this top finished on time and pushed myself too far.

I don't normally talk about my chronic illness on my blog. I have indicated it but only talk about it to people who have emailed me and directly asked about it. You can skip this part of the entry if you would like as I am sure not everyone is interested in reading about my aches and pains. I just decided it was maybe time to explain why I need to slow down.

About 12 years ago, I developed Reflex Symathetic Dystrophy in my foot. I was very fortunate to be in the 50% margain of patients that was helped in time and responded to medication. It is in remission or rest phase but I have been warned to always be careful as simply knocking my foot hard against a door could bring it back. I do have problems now and then but am really pleased that it has gone away. It did however leave me with very bad and painful feet. I now have to wear specially made orthopedic ankle boots which fix my foot's movements and correct them as they are no longer supported by my muscles. These shoes are a Godsend and make it possible for me to walk well. Having discovered these problems led the doctor to look more seriously at some other problems I was having.

I have degenerative disc disease which leaves me to back pain 24/7. Now that would be a livable thing if it just stopped there. I have been taught exercises to help keep my back muscles in shape to avoid surgeries. In Holland, they no longer operate for this condition if possible. I also have progressive Fibromyalgia. This leaves you feeling like you have the flu coming on each day. It is a burning pain in your tendons, ligaments and muscles. It was likely brought on by the disc problmes and complicates my back problems in that I need to strengthen my back but can only do so much due to the FM. I thought Fm was not progressive and was recently told yes it can be and that is why I am developing new symptoms regularly. They have tested me twice for rheumatoid arthritis and I remain just on the edge of it starting to develop. Just recently a physical therapist said I should have my hip looked at again but I must admit, I am not ready to go back for all that. It cannot be stopped and I am sick of the hospital thing, if you know what I mean.

All this being said, I love life. My mind is full of ideas and projects. I enjoy each day and feel my stitching and quilting are a special gift that get me through life. Because of that, I love stimulating others to also live by their needle. A great example of how healthy it is to do any kind of needlework are the two oldest members of my quilt group. They both turned 80 this year. They are sharp as pins and great fun to be around. They are physically not doing so well this year but they have excited and creative spirits.

So I am away to stay up in our cottage for the coming week. Hopefully there will be a stitching finish and some new patchwork blocks to show when I return. I hope you all have a wonderful and creative week ahead. I will be able to have a little online time and visit some blogs while I am there hopefully. It will give me a chance to catch up with some of you.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Quilter's exhaustion but life is a quilt...

That is what I am feeling at this moment BUT it is finished. I got my last border completed. Well, this will not be my very last as there is a piece of pretty floral chintz which also belongs to this fabric collection and I want to place a border of it around the patchwork. I used it a little in the quilt but it is a large floral and needs a large enough area to be visible.

Tonight is the quilt group once again and I really wanted to have my own medallion quilt ready in time. I am also getting the sampler prepared for our new project we are starting tonight. I snapped a not very good photo of the quilt top to share it with you between getting things ready. Click on the photo to see more detail after you read the story behind this last part. I promise you a better photo soon.

The last border was to be a symbol of your current surroundings and your hopes and dreams of the future.

My blocks have a constant path (tiny 1 inch squares) moving in and out of each block. This is the path we all walk in life. I changed the pink and red fabrics on this path as it travelled along to show how life is constantly changing as I walk. The fabrics are also all various beiges and creams as background symbolizing the backdrops of life are also constantly different - where I live, what my current activities in life are and who those are around me. Every once in a while, there is a star visible out of the background. Those are the major moments in life which, good or bad, create beauty in life. For this I challanged myself to use the blues in the series as it is not a favorite color of mine to use. This color shows that often times something beautiful comes of something that seems bad. I find that in life, the moments that are difficult most often create a positive and shining effect afterwards. So what starts off as negative (blue fabric) becomes a beautiful star when seen from a distance. I just need to stand back from the detail and look at the whole. The green stars represent the moments that are very positive from the outset and immediately beautiful.

Thus I have quilter's exhaustion. Is it bedtime yet? *smiles*