Yesss!

Visualize me doing a mental fist pump. Wait, that would be hard to observe. The reason? This proof of a win, I had enough red scraps to make this block.

Never mind that it looks like a candy cane. Or a barbershop pole. See that little piece on the mat? That’s all I had left. Now that’s what I call using it up.

I’m not sure why I get such a kick out of this. It seems much more fun to quilt this way rather than to plan out and purchase all of the fabric for each project up front. Maybe there’s the thrill of just going for it without measuring ahead, followed by the suspense of not knowing if you have enough until the last piece is sewn. The funny thing about this is that the risk is non-existent. If I had come up short, so what? I would’ve just chucked it and started over with new scraps. After all, I’ve acquired my scraps from second-hand resources, so they’re practically free of cost.

I’m still piecing my border triangles:

They’re slowly but surely adding up.

I came by quilting thinking it was borne of frugality. I grew up reading the hard times stories of Little Women, The Long Winter, and so on. Remember when the March sisters took apart and re-sewed their dresses inside-out to refresh their wardrobes? Now that’s frugal.

I’ve always been intrigued by frugality. I remember a little paperback I bought in the summer of 1969 entitled How To Live On Nothing. I read it while riding in a motor home with four siblings and a dog. Mom and Dad drove us up one coast, across Canada, and down the other coast. We made a 6,000 mile-long rectangular loop through the continent in six weeks. It was the Summer of Love and people were throwing caution to the wind and boldly going where no one had gone before. I wasn’t one of those people, but rather a compliant adolescent who really wanted to understand how to live on nothing. The book gave great “hacks” regarding squatting in abandoned buildings, frying eggs on radiators, foraging for food, and so on. I saw this up close and personal on that trip. People really did have flowers in their hair in San Francisco. Barefoot hitchhikers were everywhere, gathered alongside the highways. I vividly remember being surprised to see all the American young men living on the streets right over the border in British Columbia. Draft dodgers living on nothing.

If I read that book now through my responsible adult citizen lens, I’d probably “tsk tsk” my way through the chapters. There is always a cost to living, whether the person living it incurs the expense, or puts it on others.

Which reminds me of a song:

https://youtu.be/FFqb1I-hiHE

I hope you’ll allow me my trips down my personal memory lanes.

This song, like so many songs of the sixties, alluded to Biblical themes, and evoked deeper interpretations than what the songwriter probably intended. I think it’s just about people leaning on others to do them a favor, and how that can add up to frustration. This song reminds me of a trait of those times. People were exploring, discovering, self-realizing, blah blah blah. But along with those countercultural experiences came consequences, which meant that ultimately somebody had to pay. Those burdens were most often unwittingly carried by their loved ones.

Now to return to the purpose of this blog, I will report that I’m halfway through the book of Daniel. Talk about putting a load on another person; King Nebudchadnezzar does this a lot. Not only does he demand interpretation of his dreams from his palace cadre of magicians and soothsayers, he also demands that they tell him what he dreamt in the first place. And if they cannot fulfill this impossible request, they will be put to death. Thankfully, but not surprisingly, God imparts all knowledge of those dreams to Daniel, which puts a stay on the executions. More than once, Daniel carries the weight for the whole team. And even as the king showers Daniel with power and wealth, Daniel always gives credit where credit is due. He acknowledges every time that it is the one true God whom he serves, not himself, who takes the load and does the heavy lifting.

Of course I must finish my post by pointing to our loving Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who says:

Matthew 11:28, 30: “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

Lamentations

As I was reading the book of Jeremiah, I kept thinking how awful the punishment was for God’s chosen, yet rebellious, children. And the book that follows, Lamentations, took me through that place of profound suffering. It spared nothing in describing the horrible events of their Babylonian captivity. I was thankful it was a short book, and despite the deep despair, messages of hope and mercy flashed brightly throughout the book. I had forgotten, or more likely, never knew that this passage came from Lamentations:

3:22 – The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.

This passage triggered the ole memory banks to recall this song:

https://youtu.be/96wFybfgspM

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in the Southern California “Jesus People” movement of the early seventies. We used to sing this song All. The. Time. How wonderful to be reminded of it again now.

Some people think this saying comes from the Bible, “God will never give you more than you can handle”. It makes you squirm a little, doesn’t it? Because there are a great many things too big for us to handle. This makes us question: “Does that mean I’m not quite up to snuff in the strength department, or my reliance on and faith in God?”

Not at all.

If I could tweak that well-known non-scripture, it would instead say: “There is nothing you will face that is greater than what God can handle”. There, that puts the power in the right place. And God’s got this.

Because there’s no Bible Sampler Quilt block that accompanies Lamentations, or in fact, the rest of the Old Testament books, I’m going to share instead some blocks I’ve been working on behind the blog scene as I’ve been reading through the books of the major prophets.

I’ve decided to go all in with the Jane Stickles quilt look. I’m going to make those icicle blocks all around the border, which is, in my opinion, the element that makes her quilt so unique. And I really want to use up all the fabric I’ve gathered from this era. I want to use it up and move forward to brighter palettes. As much as I love these Civil War era reproductions; they have the curious effect of reminding me of my age.

But sewing is ageless. Do you feel like a kid again when you let yourself go with an idea, make creative chaos, and play in your stash?

I do. I started paper piecing the triangle border blocks. First I made up my own:Will they fit?

Then I found Susan Gatewood on the internet.

See the difference? I do believe I’m going to love them. Her blocks aren’t the right size for my quilt, so I’m stretching them out a bit. And the blocks with curves and appliqué? Forget about it. They will be replaced with those very simple blocks that were done pre-Susan Gatewood.

I’m excited to see that a few new subscribers have found my “secret blog” (as my husband refers to this. I’m slowly growing more comfortable with social media). I hope it’s inspiring you to consider making your own Bible Sampler quilt, and reading along with me. Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you’re up to. What are your thoughts on the book of Lamentations?

One Monthly Goal

Just dropping in to post a link to a UFO Challenge,

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/02/one-monthly-goal-march-link-up.html

Since I’ve decided to finish at least twelve projects anyways, I thought I’d join this challenge. Who would turn down a fun source of motivation and inspiration?

So, to review, my January finish was a needlepointed pillow top. In February, I put the finishing touches on the Good Fortune, which was Bonnie Hunter’s mystery quilt last year. I’m progressing very well on Frolic, this year’s mystery, but I’ve chosen my snowflake quilt for the month of March UFO challenge. I’ve got three snowflake tops in various stages of assemblage.

Goal: get one of the three tops quilted, bound, and threads buried.

Snowflake Babies

Warning: this post will overuse the descriptor “amazing”. Readers will proceed at their own risk, for I cannot and will not apologize.

I’ve finished reading the book of Jeremiah! Have you ever heard the term, “simple gospel?” The more I read it, I’m coming to this conclusion: the gospel is anything but. When God makes plans and stuff, it is with amazing, thoughtful, mind blowing complexity. Although we have come incredibly far in scientific discovery, we’ll never ever plumb the depths of His designs. How much farther do we have yet to go? Answer: To infinity and beyond!

Before I leave Jeremiah, I’d like to share Jeremiah 1:5:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” This verse reinforces that life begins long before the baby’s birthday. We all know this. And we know that our omniscient God knew us always, for He is the Alpha and the Omega, not constrained by our limitations of time and place.

But look closer; it reveals when life begins for us. This verse says we came into existence before we were formed in the womb. Which is exactly right. Egg and sperm meet in the Fallopian tubes. Our embryo is made there, with all its genetic and cellular material in place. All that little boy or girl (as in, gender already determined) needs from then on is time and nourishment to grow. (Which, by the way, is something we continue to need until the day we die.) We spend our first five or so days of life traveling through the Fallopian tubes before making our soft landing in the cushy lining of the womb. So could Jeremiah 1:5 refer to the time we spent in those Fallopian tubes? The more I read, the more I see that God’s word is perfectly complete, right down to the teensiest details. Isn’t this just absolutely amazing?

Consider the snowflakes of the air. Ephemeral and tiny, they are designed by an eternal and omnipotent Creator. With just the right moisture content, wind speed, and temperature, ice crystals join up and create columns as they fall from the sky. The prismatic columns sparkle, reflecting the light. How is this not amazing? Just think of how we meticulously labor for hours using special tools to cut minerals into mathematically formulated facets to achieve the same thing with our diamonds and jewels.

Now I’ve saved the most amazing for last: Have you ever heard of snowflake babies? My friends have written a book I’d like to share with you. A Snowflake Named Hannah is the story of the first adoption of a frozen embryo. It’s being released next month and I’m so excited. I’m usually not the bossy type, but I’m telling you, get it and read it. It’s an amazing story that’s still being written.

https://www.amazon.com/Snowflake-Named-Hannah-Ethics-Adoption/dp/0825425573

To quote Marlene, Hannah’s mom, “With regards to Jer. 1:5: God knows you before you’re in the womb…either in the fallopian tubes or the petri dish”.

Coincidentally, I’ve been working on my snowflake quilt this month. It’s now quilted, and I plan to bury the threads and bind it for my March UFO monthly finish, same month as the release of the book. I find coincidences to sometimes be amazing. P.S. I know these blocks aren’t technically snowflakes. Snowflakes are always formed in thirds, with the typical six branches instead of eight. This was a free pattern of Jenny Doan’s called “Big Star”. You can watch her tutorial on her Missouri Star Quilt Company YouTube channel.

Keep on Keeping On

Remember this saying? I had a high school friend who would use this phrase as his good bye. Maybe it annoyed me just a little bit because I didn’t understand his meaning. He played guitar and was into soul music, and we all thought him to be a cool guy. So he wasn’t asked what was meant by it.

Another saying from that era, much more annoying, was “Keep on Truckin'”. What, exactly, is it I’m supposed to keep doing now? How does one “truck”? Again, no one asked that question, and we tolerated the popular tee shirt with the cartoonish guy with the big shoes.

This blog post returns to the Bible Sampler Quilt project, although I don’t have a block to share with you. The book of Jeremiah isn’t used in the quilt, but I want to talk about it anyways.

Still thinking about my high-school-aged self, I remember having a hard time synthesizing the punishing Old Testament God and the loving New Testament God as one and the same. When I started reading the Bible earnestly as a teen, I found myself avoiding the Old Testament books of the law, and focusing on the good news of the gospels instead.

This time, my reading through ALL of the words of the Bible is an altogether different experience. I didn’t catch it in my youth, but in the midst of the bad news, there is also good news. In the midst of judgment and condemnation, there are glimpses of hope and salvation.

The book of Jeremiah begins with the setting, which establishes that he was a real person from a certain time and place. The very fact that God listed the names of the reigning kings to inform us of the time period is our first glimpse of hope. (The kings were Josiah and Jehoiakim, and God’s people knew that their savior would come from the lineage of David.)

Bad News: The Israelites were behaving extremely badly. Therefore, God would punish them and they’d be taken away into captivity by Babylonia.

Good News: Babylonians didn’t kill when they conquered, rather, they enslaved. So Israelite kings would live, which means the lineage of Christ could continue.

Bad news: The captives were struggling to keep their chins up during their exile. It was hard to try and remember their special identity as God’s chosen people, citizens of His promised land, while stuck in Babylon year after year after year.

Good news: Halfway through the book, in chapter 29, God lets His children know that He will bring them back to the promised land after seventy years time. He promises to restore the fortunes of His people. He basically tells them to “keep on keeping on”:

Jeremiah 29:4 – thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. To all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon; Build houses and live in them, and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.

The Israelites heard this and probably thought: You mean I’m just supposed to simmer down, settle in, be kind, and get on with everyday living? I can do that.

Aha, so that’s what it means! This new decade will see my fiftieth high school reunion, and I finally understand how to keep on keeping on.

And think about it, having all those babies means that there will be a plentiful population when it finally comes time for them to pack up and move back home to Israel.

Aha! That will be when we share an encouraging word, like: “Keep on Truckin'”

I get it now.

A blogpost would not be complete without a photo, so I’ll share this “One year ago” email I received from Google today.

Aren’t they lovely? Both taken by my husband in our back yard, catching God’s perfect artistry. Both also show evidence of the neverending state of our fixer-upper life. One year later, the ladders and shovels are still being put to use somewhere else around the house. We’ll just keep on keeping on.

February Finish

Good Fortune – Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2019

Flu season continues, in that I mean the sewing strain of Finishupitis. I don’t do resolutions, goals, or a word for the year. But I’ve been thinking that I’d like to follow a theme for 2020: Finish it.

I know it’s a reasonable plan because I know myself. My favorite part of the creative process is the middle part. There’s the planning on the front end, and the finishing at the back end. I don’t like to see things end, so I get to the point where I’m about 95% done, then I move on to the next project. I want to keep it alive because – Who knows? Maybe I’ll add or change something as my subconscious does its creative ruminating behind the scene. Maybe, given time, my skillset will suddenly improve, so the free motion quilting I dream of will actually be executed to my satisfaction. Whatever the reason, I want to push myself out of this habit and complete one project per month.

It’ll be easy to fine twelve projects around here, and besides, I’ve already taken care of the first two months. I sewed up a needlepointed pillow top in January, and now I show you my February finish. This Good Fortune was done and bound a year ago. All it needed was to have the threads pulled in, a general clean up, and hand stitching the quilted areas where the needle skipped and the thread traveled too far. This quilt was sitting at 99% done for a year. Finishing it up took less than two hours.

How are your projects progressing? Your words of the year, your resolutions? I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. The reading of the Bible for the Bible Sampler Quilt project continues, in case you were wondering. I am deep in the book of Jeremiah. It’s not a reading to be rushed, so thanks for your patience.

A Bit of a Natter

This is a phrase I picked up while attending Capernwray Bible School in England’s Lake District. It’s a lovely way to say that you’re enjoying a friendly chat. We don’t get to use this phrase here, but it popped into my head when I considered how to share these photos with you:

Eleanor Burns and I chatted about the “old days” when she taught classes through the Parks and Rec department. My mom and her friends attended those classes, and brought me into the world of rotary cutters, mats, and stripping in the nineties.

Jenny Doan and I nattered about our hands, our rings, our nails . . . Your basic girl talk.

And last but not least, the Quilting Cowboy and I had a chat about his Instagram presence. I had a story about that, which gave him a laugh.

People who have met them always say that the quilt world “celebrities” are just as down-to-earth and nice in real life. I’ll add my voice to that truth right here. They really, really are.

Want to see some quilts from the Road to California Quilt Show? Here we go.

These mandala quilts almost looked like the same pattern, different fabrics.

I bought a raffle ticket for this Dear Jane made by the guild near me.

I walked right by this one. My friend asked if I had seen the quilt with all the flying geese, so I had to go back for a second look:

From about nine inches away – there they are!

Fascinating.

Angela Petrocelli, I’d love to have a natter with you.