December 2011 - Posts
I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions. They have a reputation for being short-lived, so I have always avoided them. I do, however, make annual lists. I've mentioned before that I am a list person with a list of UFO's, so making an annual "To Do List" seems perfectly reasonable.
I have kept a journal for many years and would list my top ten goals for the new year. Generally, the list contained something I wanted to complete in the year, such as so many quilting projects or reading a certain number of books. I added goals that included my personal and professional life, family, religion, health and hobbies. This year, I haven't kept the journal since beginning this blog. So, I am placing my list here. But, I have decided to call this my "List of Intentions for 2012". The difference is that I intend to make changes throughout the year that will make an impact upon how I live my life. And, I am not writing them in a journal that no one will read. I am bearing them before everyone that reads my blog.
So, what will be my top 10 list of intentions for 2012? I have only just given thought to making this list, but I have been putting thought to my intentions for quite some time. So, I'll jump in and make the list, but may revise it down the road.
1) I will be there - physically, emotionally, and lovingly - for both my daughters as they complete their pregnancies and bring two dear grandchildren into the world. My number one focus is my family, being there for the important events and the mundane activities that occur.
2) Put a focus to my quilting. I have dabbled in so many areas of quilting and created so many projects that will likely not be completed. I want to put into perspective why I quilt, so that my creativity can expand. This will require some thought and change in direction for how I have proceeded with quilting in the past.
3) Develop my relationship with God through meditation on His words and through prayer. It's really hard to hear His Spirt speak when there is so much noise and activity going on in one's life. So many of us need to slow down.
4) Continue to focus on my overall health. I will be experiencing a milestone birthday next year. I have not always focued upon my own well-being. Rather than regretting what I haven't done, I will focus on what I can do to keep my current level of health and make improvements that will benefit me as I age. Working for several years with the elderly has shown me what is needed to maintain independence and dignity.
5) Be an encouragement and influence to my grandchildren that will impact their lives as they grow into adulthood. This is obviously an intention that begins now and continues for many years.
6) Work side by side with my husband to secure our future retirement. With the current economy, many are feeling the pinch and we are no different. We cannot all expect to have a luxurious retirement that is touted in advertisements. I just want to be comfortable and happy.
As I have pondered what needs included on my list, I find that ten items may be unrealistic, as intentions go. These intentions aren't just a task to complete that can be counted up at the end of the year to determine success. Each intention has the ability to expand into greater possibilities that will take time and committment to maintain. Success will be measured in many different ways. Hopefully, each of you will be able to see the difference as the year progresses.
Happy New Year!
I hope & pray that everyone enjoyed their Christmas. This year was the best Christmas in recent years. I was able to enjoy family and activities without the usual stress. I owe this to my new job that began last year at this time. Working for the State of Michigan has it's perks with holidays off and not the usual scramble to catch up work before and after the time off.
I finished a couple more Zippy Stripy bags for gifts.
I also made a wool stocking for my granddaughter. I used a pattern meant for embroidery and used the shapes to cut out the wool pieces. I also added additional shapes and attached everything with a variety of embroidery stitches. I chose pink and purple for the main colors and mixed in a variety of other wools that I had on hand. I used a butterfly embroidery pattern and interpreted it in the wool, as well.
I really enjoyed the process of making this stocking. I just started putting together the pieces and added more wool pieces as I went along. The creative process can be so freeing. If you haven't stepped out of the box of using a pattern or kit, give it a try. Just use a pattern as the starting point. If you can't visualize your idea, sketch it out first. Start with something small and try out different fabrics until you get the results you are looking for.
Christmas is over and 2012 is just around the corner. I will be spending my time at the hospital having surgery to remove my left thyroid gland, followed by recouperating at home for the first week of the year. Please pray for the doctors, a successful surgery, and tests that show no cancer.
Happy New Year!
I've finished three Zippy Strippy bags to give as gifts for my staff at work. I had planned to do a different pattern, but chose to do this one instead. It was a lot quicker and I needed to finish gifts quickly. The pattern is an Atkinson Designs and you can probably find it at your local quilt shop or online. They have tons of patterns that provide some different ways to put items together. This pattern uses their technique for putting in zippers that makes the process very simple.
I embellished two of the bags with rickrack and one with a yo-yo & button. My Groovy Girls club gave us patterns for additional ideas, but I chose to do my own. The rickrack on the green bag was my own design addition.
Here's a better look at the bag.
Hope everyone has all their Christmas stitching done. But, for those who don't, I'm still working on a few gifts. And, I have baking planned for Friday. I made plans with my granddaughter, Emma, to bake Christmas cookies. She's only two, almost three, but loves to climb up on a chair and help in the kitchen.
I've been diligently working on homemade Christmas gifts. I have almost everything complete with the flannel PJs for my great neices - six in all. I also decided to make a pair for granddaughter. Each pair has an appliqued initial, so that the girls can keep straight whose is whose - or mom, can when she does laundry. The process for applying the letters is quick and easy, so I thought I would share the steps with all of you.
I start by drawing my own block letters, but you can easily make them on computer paper and select from the array of fonts available in a word processing program.
Trace the letter onto a tear away stabilizer. I use tissue paper. Cut a piece of fabric for the applique letter, about 1/2" larger than the letter shape, all around.
Position your fabric on the background and place the letter, traced onto the stabilizer, on top. Pin in place. I also pin stabilizer to the back.
Using a straight stitch, sew along the outline of the letter through all layers.
Tear away the stabilizer. Your letter should look similar to my letter "J". You can use a matching or contrasting thread color.
Using sharp scissors, trim the fabric close to the stitching. Don't forget to stitch & trim center parts of letters, like in the letter "R".
This is how your applique letter will look when everything is trimmed.
Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch. Sew a satin stitch around the entire letter, covering the edge, including the straight stitch previously sewn.
Remove the stabilizer on the back side.
Voila! You are done.
Check out all seven pair of flannel PJs. The girls should all stay warm this winter.
I am preparing instructions for a mystery quilt. The block that attracted my attention was from Carrie Hall's quilt block collection titled Godey's Lady's Book Block. The pattern is found in Bettina Havig's book Carrie Hall Blocks which has over 800 historical patterns from the collection at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. I knew that Godey's Lady's Book was a magazine back in the 19th century and was edited by Sarah Josepha Hale. Ruth Finley writes about her influence on women and women's arts in her book The Lady of Godey's: Sarah Josepha Hale. I decided to do a little bit of research about Godey's Lady's Book and here is what I found.
Godey's Lady's Book was the most popular periodical of its time. Published in Philadelphia prior to the Civil War, the editor, Louis Godey, marketed the magazine to women of the day. Pulication began in July 1830 and continued until 1877, when Louis Godey sold it. It was considered the most popular periodical of it's day, boasting 150,000 subscriptions at it's peak. An annual subscription was $3, which was considered expensive, especially since Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post sold for only $2 annually. Although Louis Godey was the noted editor, author and poet, Sarah Josepha Hale, was the real person behind the magazine.
Sarah Josepha Hale, 1831, by James Reid Lambdin from wikipedia.org.
Born: October 24, 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire
Died April 30, 1879 at the age of 90.
What many of you may not know is that Sarah J. Hale is the author of the beloved poem and oft sung nursery rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb. Godey's Lady's Book wrote about fashion, etiquette in women's dress, composition, and poetry. Many writers were first published in Godey's. As well, patterns were provided for many of women's arts, including quilting. Godey's was the first to publish a quilt pattern, which we take for granted today with the miriad of quilting and craft magazines to choose from on the newstand. The pattern was the honeycomb or hexagon quilt pattern.
Many of you are more likely to know this quilt pattern by the 1930's rendition called Grandmother's Flower Garden. Typically made with an English paper piecing technique, the small hexagons are hand-pieced. This is one of the first patterns that I saw in a quilt book back in the 1980's and I've always wanted to make one. I currently own two quilt tops that others have started. One is a circa 1930's Grandmother's Flower Garden from an antique shop, while the other is a pieced section and a tin filled with hundreds of cut hexagons that I picked up at a flea market for $5. The tin itself was likely worth the five bucks I paid. They both remain on my UFO project list that I will someday complete.
When I started this blog post, I indicated that I was putting together a mystery quilt and chose the Godey's Lady's Book Block for the pattern. Some of you probably have forgotten about that, but some are wondering when I'm going to get back to the blog topic. Well, the block in Bettina Havig's book has a two color block stitched in blue & white. I played around with the block layout and came up with a three-color plan that gives a secondary contrast when four blocks are put together side by side without sashing. However, I found a picture of a block on a quilt barn that has the block in five solid colors.
This block is striking in the solid colors. Now, I'm debating about how to proceed with preparing the instructions for my mystery quilt. I really like the look of this barn quilt. Tell me what you think!
The holiday season brings a flurry of events that keeps each of us scurrying and hurrying to finish everything on our lists. This year, I have tried to keep my hurrying to a minimum. My shopping has been limited, to save on trips that waste precious gasoline. Not to mention, I don't like the crowded stores and shopping malls. Instead, I have stayed home stitching up gifts. I may have bitten off more than I can chew, although this isn't new for me at Christmas. When my children were young, I spent many years stitching up all kinds of gifts. Mostly this was for financial reasons, when I was in college. I would spend the 2-3 weeks off at the holidays sewing, with my Singer taking up the dining room table. I stitched together Christmas dresses, ornaments and gifts, staying up late to finish everything.
This year, I have revived the handmade gift-giving. This week-end, I finished a fleece hat, scarf & glove set for my younger daughter. Yesterday, I crocheted beaded socks for my granddaughter. I hope to make more of these over the next few years. They are so simple and I'm sure that she will love them.
Doesn't it make you want to stitch up a pair to give away? I used mini pony beads and crochet cotton, making two chain stitches before attaching a bead in the chain, followed by two more chain stitches, with a slip-stitch along the sock edge. I counted the rows of ribbing to determine how far apart to space the beads. After completing the beaded row, turn the cuff down so the beads dangle. Very sweet!
The hand-made gifts continued tonight, as I cut out four flannel PJ pants. I have already made three pants, which I personalized with a large initial on the right thigh. Six of the pants will be for the same family and I wanted to make sure that the gift was unique to the person. No mixing up these flannel pants in the laundry.
I enjoy making gifts for others. The best gifts are always those with a little love stitched in. What are you stitching up for Christmas this year?
We received our first BIG snowstorm Tuesday. My usual commute home took double the amount of time. The snow was coming down at an angle, such that I could barely see the road in front of me. I tried to follow the car tracks in the road but, kept an eye on the lines on the side of the road. It seemed the tracks wove back and forth from one lane to another. Made it home safely, thank-you God! At least we can expect to have a White Christmas, if this continues. The hot tub felt much warmer than usual with the cold air and snow coming down.
That thought brings to mind my hot tub quilt. Last year's theme for the National Quilting Association SewBatik challenge was "Log Cabin" and I entered a wall-hanging depicting my hot tub. I titled it Cabin Fever Reliever. I made it entirely from Batiks that I have collected over the years. The brown fabic for the hot tub was the challenge fabric. I spent a lot of time embellishing it with seed beads after I FMQ it on my Bernina. It is also embellished with sequins, netting, yarn, lace, picot trims and foil stars.
This shot shows the quilt hanging in our Mid-Michigan Quilters' Guild show in October. I will have to find the photos that I took at the NQA show that have other challenge quilts. Mine didn't compare to the challenge winners, but it was an honor to have my quilt hanging in the national show.
I finished one of my wool Matryoshaka ornaments and continue to work on finishing a second one. My Kiltie Quilter Christmas party is tonight, so I've met my deadline. This is the ornament for the gift exhange.
The second photo shows my second ornament in progress. They both use embroidery stitches to attach the wool pieces including running stitches, split stitches and chain stitches. The front and back are joined together with a blanket stitch. The red hanging ribbon is glued between the pieces before stitching them together.
Finally, I want to end with a quote from my desktop calendar. At this time of year, it is important to remember that the holidays are more than giving and receiving. Amid the hustle and bustle, purchasing gifts for so many occasions, and attending holiday events, we need to be thankful for the little things, especially with so many that have so little. Melody Beattie reminds us to seek gratitude, the best gift.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more... It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events."