Click this LINK to see how everyone did in the month of May.
My self-imposed challenge was to take these (donated to me) flannel scraps and create ONE baby quilt to “donate it forward” to Birthchoice.
I was able to make THREE.
Besides Elm Street Quilts, a big motivator was a Baby Shower invitation that appeared in our church bulletin. A neighboring church was holding the event for Birthchoice. Perfect! Attending a fun party and saving me a trip out to deliver the quilt myself? Win Win. So I got busy and used up all the pieces I brought home, filling in with more of my own. Win Win.
I started by laying out those different sized blocks that had already been pieced. Their sizes made no sense, and I couldn’t trim them down to get uniformity. If I did, the overall size would shrink way too small, and I was going for at least a 40 by 40 inch quilt square.
I eventually figured it out.
Next, I made a rag quilt, my first. I didn’t have to figure out a layout this time, just finish what someone else had started:
Last, my friend saw what I was doing and wanted to get in on the action. She gave me this panel and I quilted it up, using the last of the donated flannel for the back:
My favorite thing about this third one is the binding. At first I couldn’t find anything that matched those pastel colors. Then I remembered seeing them on some old marimekko scraps I had:
Aren’t they cute? The colors were “off”, so although I tried, I couldn’t seem to find ways to use them up. Even so, I never could part with them. The longer I hold on to something, the harder it becomes to let it go. I don’t think time adds value, but now I’m very glad I didn’t purge them with the rest of my spring cleans. As a scrappy binding, they were the only thing I had that worked.
All finished and freshly washed in plenty of time for the shower:
The WordPress prompt for today: When do you feel most productive?
This just happened. For context: Right after getting out of bed, and before attempting anything else, I start my day with one cup of coffee. I pop in a Keurig, then stand and wait for it in the dim morning light. So yes, I was right there, standing patiently in my kitchen while it poured out onto my counter. Next time I’ll make sure I place my mug right side up. I don’t know when I feel most productive, but I can safely say when I do not.
So how’s your morning going so far? Happy May! John Milton would appear to be a morning person:
Now that I’ve taken a few sips of my second attempt at a coffee, I’m ready to set my May goal.
Under last month’s quilt top, I discovered that the rest of the basket contents were folds of yardage big enough to use as quilt backs. I had forgotten all about them. They had been moved out of their closet when our daughter moved in for a few months. So back they went into the reclaimed closet on hangers and the basket returned to the bathroom to hold towels.
What now? What other piles of possibilities have been ignored even though underfoot? My next move will be to that closet, which is overflowing with just such annoyances. I’ll chip away at it month by month, and hopefully get the same result. Sorry, I’m not brave enough to take a “before” picture for you. It’s that ridiculous.
First up: This paper bag, ripping at its seat. How annoying is that. It was brought home awhile ago, filled with donated flannel pieces for donation baby quilts.
It’s time to move forward and sort this bag out.
My goal will be to figure out how best to use these pieces and assemble them into quilts.
And because baby quilts are so small, my challenge will be to design, piece, sandwich, quilt, and bind one quilt project in this lovely month of May.
When I was teaching full time, with a commute that really bit into my day, I felt like my life was running on a wing and a prayer. Laundry piled up until the weekends. Utensils and socks were thrown unsorted into their drawers. Meanwhile, my best energy went into my classroom. It was clean, bright and orderly, and I never left for home until I had everything set up for the next morning.
I started my teaching career in third grade. Eventually I taught all the primary grades. All of them were my favorite. But I learned the best way to run a classroom in kindergarten. The room was divided into centers, and the children smoothly rotated through them like well behaved performers in a three ring circus. I had an idea. During the summer months, I sorted my home: my gardens, kitchen, laundry room, and bedrooms into centers to maintain some semblance of order. It worked for me.
Then I retired. The lockdown year of the pandemic that quickly followed my retirement date gave me the needed discipline to stay in and focus on my neglected home. I fine tuned each of my centers. I cleaned up and cleaned out. I relished simple tasks, like gathering together the scattered garden tools, oiling them, and putting them away in the tool center. I’m telling you, these little things take time, and time isn’t what I had before retirement. I hear people say they’re busier now in retirement than when they were working. Not me.
What’s it like to be retired? Retirement is waking up to a gentle internal body clock instead of an annoying alarm. It’s like being a kid again, with the prospect of a whole summer day ahead to play in. I have headspace to wonder and time to explore whatever I find interesting. Every day feels like a Saturday. Retirement is freedom. I hope I never take this for granted.
Best of all, the deadlines are gone. The only deadlines in my life are the ones I self-impose. The choices are mine, and there are no consequences to suffer for any failure to meet one. I don’t make resolutions. The farthest I’ve gotten with fitness goals is thinking about them. I have projects waiting for me around the house, but I don’t stress out about them.
Which is interesting to me, because I have had success in achieving my OMG every month I’ve participated in this challenge.
Here’s the first of four blocks I have added to the original 96 of the Bible Sampler quilt. Why am I adding more blocks? It’s because I’m doing a different layout. My quilt will be 10 blocks across by 10 blocks down for a total of 100 blocks.
The Bible has been read cover to cover, so for these last four blocks, I’m stepping back to look at the Bible as a whole.
“Stepping back and looking at the whole” has been a theme here lately. I’ve been tying my Farmer’s Wife Sampler this month for the OMG. I’ve seen my rookie errors and sloppy piecing up close and personal as I’ve tied each block. Ugh. Discouragement. But when I step away, the parts are lost to the whole. I like it again. It’s going to be okay. I have to remember to step back and take the long view in other areas of my life as well.
Stepping back and reviewing the Bible as a whole, I thought of how it is called a sword: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).
The sword pierces and reveals our sin. Yikes, what then? How do we deal with that?
At the Maundy Thursday service during Holy Week, our pastor reminded us that the Garden of Gethsemane meant “place of crushing”. Literally, the olive presses were situated there to process the olives into oil. Why did Jesus choose to spend the last night of his life at that place? For him, a sleepless, soul-crushing night of agony and struggle? It is there that he ultimately chose to crush his own will in submission to that of Almighty God.
Here’s where the anvil comes in. Besides a sword, the Bible is like an anvil too. It is solid and unchangeable. We cannot take a hammer to it, bending its words of truth to suit us. Instead, we are what must bow to the hammer, allowing the anvil to crush us.
So that’s what we do. Once we’ve been pierced by the sword of the spirit, we must face the anvil. Being a follower of Christ requires complete surrender of our own will to God’s. How do we do that? Read the Bible. Pray. All of the answers as to how we are meant to live are found in the pages of God’s word. The truth is all in there. Out there, an overwhelming amount of teaching is available about Christianity. None compare to the straight up reading of the Holy Bible. Stick with the source, and it will do its work.
“And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2.)
I don’t know how He does it, transforming our minds, I just know He does when we fill our heads with the words of the Bible.
I’ve loved all the rain we’ve had here in San Diego County, so unusual and so appreciated.
New month, new goal to set. Instead of spending time considering my choices, I’m going back to the basket under my desk. It will decide for me. And next up, OTOTP (on top of the pile), is my Farmer’s Wife quilt top. Okay then.
I can’t even remember when I started this, it’s been that long ago. It was when I was enamored by Civil War reproduction fabrics and the color brown. In case you don’t know this one:
I learned how to piece on this project. Piecing a top is one thing, quilting it up is quite another. I want to DIY every step of my quilts, so having it sent out to a longarmer is not an option for me. Laurie Aaron Hird’s was custom quilted, but my Grandquilter on a frame isn’t up to that task. Using a pantograph just doesn’t fit with samplers. Hand quilting is mystifying. This quilt top has been waiting a very long time for me to figure out the right finish.
But now I know what to do. Let me tell you how.
My friend was over the other day, looking at my progress on my Bible Sampler quilt, which is another Laurie Aaron Hird quilt and the inspiration for this blog. The top is nearly done. I told her I was clueless as to how I would quilt it up once it was finished. She suggested I tie it.
Tie it. Yes, that’s perfect!
Tying my Farmer’s Wife Sampler quilt is perfectly appropriate too. I can treat this as a kind of a trial run. I haven’t tied a quilt before. I’m counting on YouTube to guide me. Hopefully I’ll work out the kinks on this one before tying my Bible Sampler quilt. Both have cornerstones in place just for that purpose. I’ve got embroidery floss and perle cotton to play with. Trying something new will be fun and exciting. I hope. The “something new” for last month’s challenge was Pounce chalk and fan templates. Let’s just say it was underwhelming. I’ll be donating back the Pounce blocks next time I volunteer at the thrift shop.
The challenge I gave myself for the month of March was to quilt all the blue sections of this old quilt. I lacked the confidence to do so back then, because the beige thread would actually show. So I stayed with the white sections, and left the darker blocks alone until I felt I was ready.
Then of course that never happened. It took a naughty dog to push this quilt back under my nose.
Here’s the block she chewed up, all patched and quilted down.
And it took participation in the monthly challenge to keep my nose to the grindstone to quilt up the rest of it. There were 36 of those triangles, and 34 of the smaller ones in the border. I hadn’t realized how much of this quilt was unfinished when I chose this project to complete.
It was boring and tedious. This quilt was made before I acquired a Pfaff Grandquilter on a frame. Now I can pantograph across quilts with no wrestling involved. Here’s some baby quilts I breezed through this month. They took less time than the OMG challenge.
But this old quilt brought me back to the old days of tugging and twisting under my regular sewing machine needle. (I can’t do straight lines well on the Pfaff.)
A view from the backside. I like the texture, puffy and all. I like the angles going in all directions. Most of all, I like that it’s DONE.
We’re taking a little rest this afternoon from a morning spent outside. The rain finally stopped and the sun finally dried up the jungle of weeds enough for me to make inroads to some outdoor spaces. Today I cleaned out and reclaimed the shade house. It was overgrown with nasturtiums, which filled an entire trash can when I was done.
I wish I could say that it’s quiet this lazy afternoon. Instead, the foot massager is rumbling under my husband’s feet. The battery charger is humming as it recharges the lawn mower battery. The roomba is making its daily rounds on the tile floors. The water heater is blowing off air in the closet. It all adds up to an electrical dull roar. My ears are actually ringing.
As an antidote, I’ll write about my treadle sewing machine. I believe I mentioned that I would tell the story in a blogpost long ago. Here goes.
When I was a teenager, I came upon a White treadle machine cabinet in my uncle’s garage. This was a dark, damp one-car garage with the lath and plaster walls exposed. He used the cabinet drawers to store his tools. The little twigs were broken off from the handles, and the top was in bad shape. There was no machine inside.
When I asked my uncle and my mom about it, I was told this story.
The sewing machine sat in the front hallway of their childhood home in Indiana. It was nestled under the stairs. One day, a traveling salesman knocked on the door. His pitch was that people wanted to update their old treadle machines. All the neighbors were electrifying theirs. He offered to install a motor, my grandma agreed, and off he went with the machine.
He never returned.
When I asked my mom if they pursued legal action, what about the receipt and so on, she just shrugged her shoulders. She was only a kid, so life just happened and what could you do? The cabinet was pretty, and it remained in its place.
I don’t know how the cabinet came to California. I assume it came with Grandma when she came out to live with Uncle Kenny. Years passed, and the time came to clean out the house. Grandma was moving to my aunt’s house, and no one wanted it, so I got to be the keeper of the beautiful cabinet.
I took it with me when I moved into my first apartment. It was the eighties, so lacy cloths and doilies were strategically draped to cover the dings and scrapes.
It came with us when I married and we set up our first house. But by the 2000’s, and our second home, it had passed its prime. I wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons, but we had no room. So I contacted all the family members I could think of to offer it on to them. No one wanted it. The day came when I said good bye and let it go at the Goodwill.
Fast forward twenty years. We were empty nesters, and I once again had room. I had always regretted letting it go, so I started looking at treadles on Craigslist. I took my time, knowing that if it was meant to be, then the right replacement would present itself.
After a year or so, it did.
The cabinet was an exact match to my grandparents’. So maybe the machine was a match as well?
Now here’s where the story becomes interesting. In my haste to check out all the parts and pieces and workings of the machine while negotiating with the seller, I didn’t take the time to look at the serial number. When I got it home and starting cleaning it up, I finally looked . . .
What??? It had been scratched off. Why would anyone do that? It looks like someone took a drill and went to town on the numbers to obscure them. Why? Could it have been a so-called traveling salesman who really was a thief destroying the evidence?
AND … the machine had been electrified after-the-fact . . .
The first thing my wonderful husband did for me was to uninstall the motor from the machine when we got it home. I wanted it treadle only. And this add-on is very creepy, wouldn’t you agree?
I wonder how many treadles were stolen, refurbished with electricity, then re-sold with their serial numbers removed? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What are the odds that this could be my grandmother’s machine?
But it’s a good story. And I love this machine that sews beautifully, elegantly, and most of all, quietly.
I’m sticking with the basket under my desk when choosing the monthly projects I want finished. Great motivation lies in the prospect of seeing it emptied and moved out. I have zero motivation to complete the projects that lie within, so the OMG will get me there.
On top of the pile is another repair job created by Audrey, the naughty dog. Good thing she’s cute.
Audrey came to live with us, along with our daughter, for a season last year. She disapproved of being left behind when we’d go out. To be clear, she was not left all alone, or for very long. Even with the companionship of our dog, she’d destroy things. We’d return home to scenes like these.
One day, Miss Audrey chewed up a block in this quilt.
I managed to cobble together a patch for the triangular piece she ripped to shreds.
This was one of my first quilts. I put it together from a bag of precut triangles I found at the thrift store. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t quilt in the blue triangles at all due to lack of confidence.
But with this piecemeal patch needing extra security, I’m going to go back in and quilt all the puffy blue parts. Then this quilt will be truly complete. I picked up some fan templates and some pounce at my thrift store. I haven’t worked with these things before, and I know they’re obsolete. But it’ll be a novel experience, and isn’t variety the spice of life?
Well this month flew by. The goal I set for the month of February was to repair all the unraveling seams on a crocheted throw. I think it’s actually a twin sized bedspread.
I finished with only one day to spare.
And here I thought I was maybe being a little too easy on myself when I set this goal. Ha! The process was doable, and I had plenty of time. But I was hit with a challenge which presented itself: Boredom. Tedium. Even a little anger, as in: “THIS is a prime example of why we can’t have anything nice around here.” (You know I’m joking on that last one. I’ll choose people (and pets) over things every time.)
It started out fun. I made a special trip to Hobby Lobby to pick up a cute little ball of perle cotton. Hobby Lobby is fun. I hadn’t stitched up broken crochet chains before. When I was successful it made me feel clever. That was fun. But after several repairs, with more in sight, the fun factor was gone. The more I’d fix, the more I’d find. Had it not been for this challenge, the throw would be, well, thrown, unfinished, back into the basket. So thank you, Elm Street quilts, for hosting this. I couldn’t/wouldn’t have done it without you.
Here we are, and so soon. The final block in the book. And the last verses of the last book of the Bible:
“The Spirit and the Bride say “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
This last quilt block was an unusual one to make. The name “Water Beauty” explains that maybe it’s a water lily? And the connection is to the “water of life”?
There’s a new movie/documentary being promoted right now, called “Jesus Revolution.” I’m not sure if I’ll go to see it. I don’t think I can separate Kelsey Grammer from “Dr. Frazier Crane.” Besides, I was in high school in Southern California in the 70’s, so I experienced the Jesus Movement firsthand. I attended Chuck Smith’s services. I’ll share a little from what I remember.
I was what you’d call a goodie two shoes. Actually, I was a scaredy cat and keeping on the straight and narrow was the safest way to grow up in my opinion. My high school sorted itself into these groups: the “soce’s”, the “jocks”, and the “bags”. I never knew what “bags” stood for, they were the scary students that came to school stoned. I avoided making eye contact with the “bags.” Then the Jesus Movement happened. I remember seeing “bags” completely transformed. One day they’d be sleeping through the class period. The next morning they were smiling, friendly, and enthusiastic about sharing the gospel. They carried the Living Bible around, a green hardback, or the paperback Good News Bible. They’d consume the Word while eating lunch on the quad. The change was genuine.
I was a Christian, and went to weeknight Bible studies with mutual friends. They were there reading their Bibles, thirsty, open, real. We grew together in faith.
The Jesus Movement rippled through all the different denominations. Maybe it was in part because of our baby boomer population, but most all church youth groups grew to standing room only. We were discussing “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsey. The end times was on all of our minds. The Calvary Chapel nearest me was in a stately old movie theater. They would have movie nights, and show “A Thief in the Night” on a regular basis. We felt we were in the last days for sure.
The music was everywhere. Free concerts were abundant. I still have a stack of albums, of which I have no means to play, of Mustard Seed Faith, Larry Norman, Keith Green, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Pam Mark Hall, Love Song, Phil Keaggy, Barry McGuire, Malcolm and Alwyn, Honeytree, Children of the Day, Karen Rafferty, Twila Paris, Wendy and Mary, and so many more, all purchased at their concerts.
Back to this final quilt block. It reminds me of a spaceship, which reminds me of Larry Norman’s album, “Only Visiting This Planet.” He would close his Friday Night Concerts out at Point Loma College with a certain song, “One Way”. We’d all point our index fingers to the sky and sing along, as there were no cell phones to wave.
One way, one way to Heaven Hold up high your hands (we’d sing “point your fingers high”) One way, free and forgiven Children of the Lamb
Two roads diverged in the middle of my life I heard a wise man say And I took the one less traveled by And that’s made the difference, every night and every day
So I say one way, one way to Heaven Hold your heads up high Follow, free and forgiven Children of the sky Children of the sky, halelu Children of the sky
This finger pointing became a “thing” of the Jesus Movement. When we’d pass another believer in a school hallway, or in traffic, we’d point to heaven and smile. It wordlessly conveyed this message: Remember, we are only visiting this planet. Jesus is coming soon.