Saturday, July 25, 2009

Popscicle Days

101°F | 56°F


106°F | 56°F


106°F | 59°F

Still Laying Low

It's been several days and Lila's still not her usual self. After checking all her usual spots, this is where I found her yesterday, hunkered down out of sight.

I'm glad I had the forethought to cover the quilts on that bottom shelf. She's not sick, but she's moving slow, her tail dragging behind her. I picked her up and checked her out and it took quite a while to figure out it appears she has strained her tail. Well no wonder she doesn't want to jump down from anything, it jolts the tail and she turns and hisses at the air.

Poor thing, you have to wonder what she did to herself. How do you splint a cat's tail?

Bowtie for Baby

I'm clipping along quite nicely on the wedding quilt and I have lots of in-process photos to share later. But those will have to wait, since I want to surprise the bridal couple. At the same time, I started another quilt for a friend's new baby, maybe I just needed a change of color.

I didn't know what color the quilt was going to be when I pulled out my scrap box , but the fabrics spoke to me and I chose reds and cream. Inspired by Finn, I cut squares for Bowtie blocks for two days.

It's been several days since then and I haven't started sewing yet, but I enjoy going in to the sewing room and just admiring the fabric palette. I wonder if the triple digit temperatures this week subconsciously influences my color choice. =D

Challenge Yourself

Last weekend we visited Hollin at Mount Gilead Christian Camp where he's currently working on the rec staff.

We had a beautiful day together under the redwoods where it was cool and refreshing after the heat of our town. After breakfast and getting caught up, Hollin took us to the climbing wall to show us the ropes, quite literally.

Picture from

Nathan was the first to climb and after some effort, made it to the top. Unfortunately he had the camera with him so we couldn't get a picture.

Frank was next and it was a struggle because his running shoes were too wide, he kept slipping off the footholds. Despite this he kept at it and got higher than he originally thought he would.

Having watched the guys climb I decided I wasn't even going to try. Too hard. But part of Hollin's job as assistant to the climbers and manning the ropes is his kind encouragement, "Give it a try, I'll be here to help you."

My first effort went fast and felt good, then I paused and rested. The second effort was frustrating and I got angry at my body; I wanted to do this thing and it wasn't helping. Hollin was on the belay rope and told me to sit in the harness and rest again. "Shake out your arms. Take as long as you want, it's okay." The third effort I was tired but felt good about continuing to try beyond where I thought I'd quit. Finally I was done and done in: "Okay, let me down." He released the lock and down I slid, that was fun. Going down took seconds. I was pleased. "Look, I climbed!" "Yes you did!"

Hollin belays campers on the wall every day during the week. He told a few stories about other climbers and their varying levels of success. He said one middle school girl came to the wall every day and tried. Each day she struggled with the challenge she'd set for herself and each day she didn't make it to the top. On the last day of camp she came to the wall and as she got into the harness told Hollin, "I'm going to do it today. Don't let me down unless I'm crying." She made it to the top and rang the bell. I was amazed that someone that young and yes, a girl, knew herself well enough to persevere like that. Maybe if I'd had summer camp experiences like these when I was in middle school, I wouldn't be so afraid to try new things. But it's never to late to challenge yourself.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Many Hands

I don't think I've ever posted this quilt. It belongs to DS1. He's had it about six years now and it recently came to visit so it could be repaired. But the story of its creation is worth telling.

It was the fall of 1994 and Nathan asked for a new quilt. He was in eighth grade and had outgrown the first quilt I'd made him. I chose this pattern - Barrister's block, picked the colors and began making blocks. I got maybe four or five pieced before I laid it out and when I did, I hated it. But I didn't know why. I threw it into the closet and it sat for about two years. One day I took another look at it and realized I'd sewn the hst's to the main portion backwards in each instance; I had the negative instead of the positive of the pattern. I ripped them out and repaired them, then went on to make about six more. When I laid it out again there was something less than exciting about it and my enthusiasm took a nose dive; back into the closet it went.

A couple of years went by, Nathan entered high school. He'd ask once in awhile how his quilt was coming, but I always mumbled something about 'someday' and went on with other quilts.

I got the blocks out again and when I laid them out it was obvious to me that they were too big, there wasn't enough visual movement. Each Barrister's block should be 12", the quarter-sections should be 6", not 12". I took all the blocks apart a second time, cut them down and put them back together. That fixed it and I liked it again, I was back on the job!

Originally the quilt was going to be 4 x 6 blocks with a single border but now Nathan was a sophomore and nearly 6'1". I expanded the layout to 6 x 8 and planned to use the bonus hst's in a border. He asked if I thought I'd have it done as a graduation present, but it didn't seem likely.

Five years into the quilt I had enough blocks pieced that I was pretty sure of my layout. I made too many red blocks and it over balanced the look I wanted. I pulled out some of the red blocks and set them aside. That winter, they found their way into a wall hanging for my sister-in-law as a Christmas gift. She was thrilled and displays it year round. Nathan pointed out that Aunt Lynnette got her quilt before he got his and his had been started first...

About this time he made a close friend on the internet and they become constant, virtual companions; emailing and chatting daily. It was new and exciting to have a friend from another state to share and connect with. But with time, the distant became a strain; she lived in Kansas. I pointed out that another name for the quilt pattern was Kansas Troubles; Nathan just sighed.

The top was done and I decided to machine quilt it myself. I did miles and miles of stipling in the background, because that's what it seemed to ask for but then I was stumped by how to quilt the blocks and borders. I decided they needed hand quilting so I began that process.

After Nathan graduated high school and moved away to college he asked me if I thought he might receive it as his Freedom Quilt. He'd heard the story of young men receiving a quilt as a gift on their 21 birthday as a symbol of their freedom. He turned 21 on March 2006, but I was still a long way from finished. He began teasing me that at this rate, it might become his wedding quilt. Well that wasn't likely, he didn't even have a girl friend! But I took his point.

That fall, after much trial and error I finished, stitched the label in place and gave it to him. He was thrilled! What a patient young man.

Nine years is a long time but I learned a few things along the way, and I think sometimes if I stick with my quilts they teach me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Laying Low

Lila's sorta an outdoor kitty. She likes to be away long periods of time during the day and only comes in for snacks. But we like her in at night, too many dogs, opposums and other cats in the area. She came to breakfast movin' kinda slow this morning and didn't want to be picked up. She didn't want out after she ate either, that was different.

A little while later I found her curled up on the Heirloom quilt under the quilt rack, taking a sick day I think. I couldn't think of a better way to rest up.

Summer Knitting

While I'm busy sewing 42- 12" blocks for the wedding quilt I wanted some pick-up, take along work. I decided a little knitting project might be good. It always surprises me when I get into a knitting project, because I don't consider myself 'a knitter' but I have half a dozen completed items to my name, so when will I believe in my ability?

It's called Shapely Tank and you can see the picture here. It was a free pattern in .pdf. They recommended Pima Tencel, which I'm not familiar with, but when I read about it, it sounded yummy, soft and shimmery. It would also cost $35 to make this tank! I settled for Lions Cotton Ease. If it doesn't turn out, it won't break the bank.

Wedding Gift

The day after the wedding we gathered at my husband's childhood home for Grandpa's 90th birthday. The bridal couple joined us in the afternoon and I got to present a wedding gift to them. I say 'a' gift, because they both know I'm knee-deep in piecing a king-sized quilt for them.

I enjoyed wrapping it in fabric, the perfect reusable gift wrap. =D

Danielle was so pleased. She loves 'pinkie purple' and this sectioned relish dish is pink.

Nathan liked it too and said, "Hmmm... that looks remarkably familiar."

... because I have a blue one. The fun thing about this relish dish is that both times I found them at a collectible shop, from two different stores, years apart. Who woulda thought? My sister-in-law collects depression glass and said, "How lovely! Does Danielle collect too?" I said, "She does now." =D

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Family Heirloom Quilt

My brother-in-law recently called and said he'd found a quilt my husband's Grandmother had made. It'd been in storage in the barn for many years and he felt I should have it. I was so pleased he thought of me, but didn't let my hopes get up to high. I'd seen another quilt made by Grandma Nora, who died in 1962 when my husband was three, and it wasn't much to write home about.

So I was pleasantly surprised when my BIL Tom gave me this pale, soft, well loved piece of family history.

He told me he remembered using it as a small child and believed Nora made it for him when he was a baby. He had it on his bed until he was in high school when he decided to put it away for safe keeping. This information, along with a look at the fabrics helped me place it in time, circa 1950.

As you can see it is very worn and faded with much use, but I replaced the tattered binding and washed it, and it has a charm of its own. I had to lighten the fabric for the binding in an effort to get it to match.

Does anyone know the name of this pattern? This is the block. They are hand pieced, many of them with red thread that shows through.

The block reminds me of Falling Timbers, but that pattern uses curved Drunkard's Path units sewn four by four and this is set three by three, making a nine inch block. She set them in rows, alternating top to bottom to give it a straight furrows look. But there are variations in the setting and 'mistakes' in some of the blocks that show her human-ness. I know these aren't humility blocks, they just are.

Click to enlarge

I bet this quilt was stunning when the colors were new.