Friday, June 29, 2018

a quilter's journey . . .

Surgery went well; physical therapy starts today.  I admit that I'm a little more anxious about the PT than I was about the surgery!  
The pain is manageable, as long as I stay on top of the meds and keep the ice pack in play.

It's time for the next installment of A Quilter's Journey.  I didn't do an article for the December newsletter; so this is January's contribution.  Our guild year ends in August, so I've only got one more to go! Now to decide where the focus should be . . . any thoughts?!? 

At Christmastime, Santa was the one making a list (and checking it twice).  But as the New Year makes its entrance, ‘most every quilter I know begins their own list . . . of resolutions (or good intentions), that is!  If you’ve been on the quilting journey for any length of time (over two months), no doubt there are some “quilty” resolutions filling up your own list of resolutions—or goals, as I like to refer to them.  Here are a few things you might find on a quilter’s New Year’s Resolutions list—or perhaps on your own list:

-I will buy no more fabric; instead I’ll use only fabric from my stash*

     *exceptions:  there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime at any of the LQSs
                         there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime online
                         I find a new favorite fabric line
                         I fall in love with a quilt kit (that I promise to work on in 2018-fingers crossed)
                         I visit a quilt show or exhibit and need to support the vendors

-I will take a quilting class and learn something new

-I will get rid of anything (fabric, gadgets, patterns, etc.) that I don’t love

-I will document my progress through my quilting projects (either by journaling or photojournaling)

-I will finish up all the UFOs (UnFinished Objects) I’m currently storing*

     *exceptions:  I forget where I am/what I was doing with a particular UFO
                             I quit working on it because I hate it
                             a new and/or better project comes along
                             I ‘lost’ it

-I will spend a little bit of time each day in my quilting room

-I will only make quilts that are fun

-I won’t purchase any more quilting gadgets unless I’m really going to use them*

      *exceptions:  there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime at any of the LQSs
                              there’s a great sale-of-a-lifetime online
                              I visit a quilt show or exhibit and *need* to support the vendors

-I will organize my sewing area which includes organizing my fabric stash

-I will actually do any BOMs that I sign up for or participate in

-I will not point out any mistakes in my finished projects

One or two (or all) of these may be on my own list of goals for 2018.  What about you?  What quilty resolutions are you making for the coming months?!  Happy New Year!

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter.  :)

Monday, June 25, 2018

stitching therapy . . .

Two days in a row . . . please don't pass out!

I wanted to share my finished "Cattitude" piece from Saturday's workshop.  I had a little Nook time yesterday afternoon and managed to get it quilted.
Nothing fancy ... I did a little stitch-in-the-ditch machine quilting and then I tied it with yarn (because Gwenevere loved playing with yarn and string) which felt like the perfect touch.
Really pleased with this finish and have it hanging over my laptop!

I couldn't do the workshops on Friday, but I saw a lot of the finished pieces from the afternoon session.  In fact, I shared a picture of Meg's 'word quilt' in yesterday's post. I got the itch to do a word quilt of my own, and while I was brainstorming for an appropriate word, I realized I needed to stitch while the stitching is good.  Tomorrow is D-Day . . .
I know, right?  If they'd skipped everything between "shoulder" and "procedure" it would have meant the same to me! But what it will mean is limited mobility for at least five weeks, aka, no stitching. As I thought about all that, the perfect word hit me . . .
Heal! And since I had taken the photo workshop, I pulled up a png of a band-aid and printed it off to lend a visual to the project.  That was a fun and easy finish, too, and it's hanging over the space where I'll more than likely do most of my "recovery" for that first week! This was my pre-surgery therapy. Very fulfilling.  :)

It seems like there's always something blooming at the camp . . . but these yellow water lilies were so beautiful, I had to share them:
And in the same area (the turtle sanctuary), the lettuce had gone to seed and produced some beautiful purple flowers:
Yellow and purple are a favorite color combination of mine! That lettuce has never flowered before. Funny how nature works, isn't it?

Not sure when I'll be able to manage a keyboard, so it may be a little dry here for the next week or two. But I'll be reading (if not commenting).  But when I do post next, I'll expound on this pretty little picture . . .
Fits right in with my lilies and lettuce, no?!

Have a GREAT week!


Sunday, June 24, 2018

words and photos . . .

Great news:  I finished my challenge piece! I did work out a solution, but I can't really say what it was until *after* the challenge show (which isn't for another 25 days). I'm dying to share this piece, because I've really loved working on it, from conception to finish (with the exception of that pesky trimming-it-too-short business).  Anyway, it is DONE.  Whew!

Thursday's program with Meg Cox, and yesterday's workshop were fantastic!  She's a fun, quirky speaker and talked about creating 'rituals' to mark special moments or milestones, and how to incorporate quilting into those rituals.  In Friday's workshop, they made word quilts. Here's Meg with hers beautiful piece nearly finished . . .
Joy is her word for the year! I thought that was so awesome, especially since it's a huge part of my life verse (James 1:2-4). I'd have liked to have taken both days, but I could only manage one.  I think, though, if I'd done a word (and I *might* just have time to do one this afternoon), I'd have chosen "HEAL".  Nevertheless, Saturday's group was small but a blast!
We spent the morning pouring through magazines, cutting out pictures and phrases, and then put together vision boards.  
I enjoyed this exercise and am quite pleased with the result!

In the afternoon we made small photo quilts. This was SUCH fun!  I opted to not bring my sewing machine and enjoyed an afternoon of hand piecing my little quilt:
It's my cat Gwenevere, who died in 2009. This girl put the 'cat' in 'cattitude' and she's gone but not forgotten. I've shared this digitized photo of her before; putting in fabric seemed appropriate. It kinda looks like she's peeking through the flowers! I borrowed a friend's machine to put it together, pillowcase style.  Now it just needs to be quilted.  By hand. Today's handwork project, perhaps.

After the workshop was over, a group of us to Meg to dinner (she flew out early this morning) at Greenbrier, a local catfish/bbq establishment that's kinda legendary.  They are known far and wide for their hushpuppies!
It was a lot of fun ... the perfect ending to a great day!

Linking up with Sarah's Feline Friday and Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching. Y'all have a great day!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

quiltiness . . .

So far it's been a quiet week quilt-wise ... still haven't gotten into the Nook to 'fix' my challenge piece.  Hopefully on Friday I will be able to get to that!  We have Meg Cox, quilt journalist and author of The Quilter's Catalog, coming to speak at our guild meeting on Thursday evening (I'm really excited ... I've blogged a bit about Meg here).  Her book was one of the first quilting books I purchased, and I read it cover to cover, it was SO good! If you haven't ever read it, it's definitely worth checking out.  On Saturday I'm taking her Photo Rituals workshop which deals with vision boards and photo quilts.  Yay!  I can't wait to share a bit more about that.
This installment of A Quilter's Journey was featured originally in our November Fanfare. That makes the "thankful" theme make sense!
I have so much for which to be thankful.  One thing I give thanks for is that my grandmother was a quilter.  She started the craft in her later years and I have no childhood recollection of her quilting (actually, I have *no* recollection of her quilting, ever).  As far as I know she belonged to no guilds or quilting/stitching groups.  There was no internet at the time, so access to other quilters and designs (which is where I get so much of my inspiration) was limited.  And unfortunately, my interest in her quilting interest didn’t bloom until I’d started quilting, long after she’d passed away.  Fortunately, for me, my mom kept *everything* of her mom’s, and as my passion for quilting developed, mom handed off my grandmother’s quilting ‘things’ to me. What an education! It gave me a whole handful of *quilty* reasons to be thankful . . .
I’m thankful that rotary cutters were first introduced in 1979 and were quickly adopted by quilters. In my grandmother’s things were a huge pair of heavy, silver shears.  She cut all of her fabric pieces by hand with them.  I’m not sure my traditional grandmother ever even knew that rotary cutters were available, but I sure do love my assortment!
I’m thankful for acrylic rulers and templates.  Another find in my grandmother’s things was a handful of cardboard templates in assorted shapes. Hexagons, pieces for a Sunbonnet Sue, Dresden fan blades . . . among others. I take for granted the ease in which I cut triangles and squares and EPP shapes! Today I can cut multiple layers at a time, with rulers and the rotary cutter, whereas she could only mark and cut one piece at a time. Yikes!
I’m thankful for high-quality, 100% cotton fabrics, in a HUGE array of colors and prints.  My grandmother used scraps from old clothes and bedding — not because she couldn’t afford fabric, but because she had to in order to have the colors and variety she wanted!  Today if you can’t find just the right print, you can go to and create what you want.  How cool is that?
You know what else I’m thankful for?  Technology.  I adore my EQ software and being able to layout a new quilt and change colors/fabrics around with the click of the mouse. Or to resize a block without having to do any math calculations, just by changing numbers. I found this precious drawing of a block butterfly that my grandma had drawn out, along with her thoughts on coloring.  Not sure if the quilt ever got made (or who has it now if it did), but I know a lot of work and thought went into her creative process!
There are many more ‘things’ I’m quilt-thankful for, but in the end, I’m most thankful that this incredible craft has survived through the ages, is an outlet for my creativity, and has a huge community that is friendly, inspiring, encouraging and continues to grow.
My name is Denise and I’m a quilter.  :)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

six-sided stitching . . .

I'd made good progress on my challenge quilt . . . then ran into a snaffu, which has stumped me. Rather, I was trimming it down and trimmed it too much.  The minimum size has to be met, and I unwittingly trimmed 1/2" below that.  Ugh.  My last day to work on it will be Friday/Saturday of next week. I need to quickly figure out how to right my wrong.

I also made progress on my hexie quilt (and didn't then impede said progress with a stooopid mistake).  Our summer pattern for Fridays is to take the boat out; Todd fishes and Denise stitches. 
Well, I also read, swim, float, and dangle my feet in the water. It works well for us!  I got more than halfway through my dark turquoise blue hexies, leaving me 9 more (out of 23) to finish.  Then all I've got left are 30 yellows, 24 dark purples, and 24 hot pinks.
I've used this page (which I printed from EQ) for SO much!  It's helped me figure yardage, I've used it to mark which one were cut, and now which ones are basted.  I'll use it to note what's been whipped together, too.  It's been very handy!  
Much like my "station" has been handy.  I like having a station for hand projects; it makes it easy to pick them up and carry them wherever I'm going to be.  Whether that's work, babysitting, on the boat or in the doctor's waiting room.  Keeps everything tidy and at my fingertips!
This is a quilt I'd like to have finished by October 2019 (for our guild's next show). I know, I know -- it's more than a year away.  Still, that's pretty darn ambitious for me! I've got about 6.5 hours worth of hexie basting still to go before I start whipping them together. 

I got to spend some one-on-one time alone with Miss Edith yesterday afternoon while her big sisters (and folks) went to see a movie.  She's darling and we enjoyed our time together!
She's more interested in pushing buttons on the phone than smiling for a pic.  Ha!

That's it for me for now. Today is HeLP (HeLP for Hexie-aholics) over on Sarah's page, so I'm linking up there, as well as on Kathy's Slow Sunday stitching. Y'all have a great rest of the weekend!


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

midweek mindset . . .

I started this blog in September, 2003 . . . nearly FIFTEEN years ago!  I got to looking at the posts in that first year (late in the year), and realized there were only three; and two of those were in the same day.  LOL!  I was determined to do at least that many posts in 2018 (hence *this* post).  But I really do enjoy blogging.  I enjoy writing.  Early on my blog was a place to journal.  What I was studying for Sunday School or in my quiet time, what was going on in my life, and even diet and exercise.  One of my favorites, though, is my second ever post, on the first day of the blog . . . this one.  I go back and re-read that one frequently, just because I miss my grandpa and I when we moved to the RV, I gifted the particular gadget I refer to, to Jocelyn.  Wish I'd put pics on the blog back then -- but it may have been before we had a digital camera!
Here's a pic from Etsy -- this is exactly what it looked like.  Cool, huh?

Anyway, the blog evolved.  I started using it for quilting and chronicling my quilting journey.  It really stepped up in 2010 . . . especially after the accident. I was non-weight bearing for a lot of the next two years, and blogging was how I spent a good portion of my time (that's when I found other quilting blogs; a whole new community).  My second ankle surgery was in 2012 (which was also the year I set my record number of posts per year).  And then in 2015, I went back to work full-time . . . and it seems it's all gone downhill from there.  :)

Still . . . here I am, tenaciously hanging in there.  Because, like I've already said, I enjoy writing. And I like being able to look back and not have to do so in book (journals) and to be able to use labels and the search function! Ha!  

I've been working on a guild challenge project -- which I can't really share or talk about, because one of the rules is that it has to be SECRET.
Which drives me crazy, because I've had SUCH fun with this project and I can't wait to unveil it!  The theme is "Stitchin' the Blues"  We can only use blue and/or white fabrics, the finished project must be square/rectangular (no odd shapes), with a minimum size of 18" by 18" and a maximum size of 36" by 36". The show isn't until our July 19 guild meeting, but I'm having a bit of shoulder surgery on June 26, so I've got to be finished well ahead of that. I'm nearly there!

In the meantime, I've continued to work on my hexie flower quilt (initially introduced in theory, here).  
I only have 99 more hexies to baste before I can start whipping them together!

I also was gifted a sweet little pattern, and some fun prints, at our last Stitcher's meeting.  
Put 'em together and what have you got?
A fun little happy for a happy little butterfly-loving girl.  :)

And a new book . . .
Loving the sweet designs in these pages and making plans for some late summer stitching!

Still hanging in there?  I appreciate it!  Have a great rest of the week -- I'll post another "A Quilter's Journey" later on this week.


Friday, June 08, 2018

ain't life grand . . .

Liv just celebrated her fourth birthday . . . hard to believe! She had a marvelous time celebrating at the Bippity-Boppity-Boutique at Disneyland. Isn't she a darling Tinkerbell??
She'd just turned one (almost 1-1/2) when they moved to California. She's practically grown!
Gosh I've missed being regular part of this crew's growing up (that's my son tucked in there with them)! They'll be visiting at the end of July, so you know I'm looking forward to that!

And since Edith was the only grand I shared in my last post, let me add her sisters to the mix, too!
Love these precious girls! And I so cannot wait to have them ALL together this summer!

This week's "A Quilter's Journey" was featured in our October edition -- the month of our bi-annual quilt show, The Fanfare, so the theme is . . . well . . . quilt shows!

Mention “quilt show” and people are checking their cash flow, dumping all the pictures off their phones to make sure there’s room for more quilt pictures, and lacing up their walking shoes! Mention “enter your quilt in a quilt show” and reactions are wide and varied. From fright to excitement to hysterical laughter. Why is this? Why does the thought of entering a quilt in a show thrill some and fill others with dread? I chatted with a few of our members to see if I could figure it out . . .

Barbara Black, longtime Heritage Quilter (she’s in her 29th year of membership!), has entered quilts in every show the guild has held since it’s first in 1989. Including this year’s show, that’s FIFTEEN shows. She entered two quilts that first year (that year there were ninety-two quilts in seven categories – three of which were hand quilting) and has entered three to five quilts in every show thereafter. That’s somewhere between fifty and sixty-five quilts! Barbara is an avid supporter of the show and listed five reasons why she believes that members should strive to enter their quilts in the guild’s show:

1) You support the guild effort—if no one entered, we wouldn’t have a show.

2) You show your family that the work of your hands is valuable and worth displaying to the public. It is so good to see a child tell everyone who will listen “That’s MY quilt—my mom made it for me!”

Barbara's quilt, Red & White - By the Numbers, 
won first place in its category *and* 
Best of Show in the 2013 Fanfare Show
3) You learn something from the judge’s comments, even if you disagree with them. Comments are meant to provide praise for the high points and constructive thoughts for areas that need improvement—it’s not personal. (Indeed, the judging is done “blind”, meaning the judge has no idea who the quilter is when she/he examines the quilt.)

4) You share your work with the public, educating them about our art form and/or bringing back good memories for them of those who came before us.

5) Most of us will put just a bit more effort into our work if we know we are entering it in the show. This is the best way to improve; do your best at whatever stage you are in.

Barbara knows about doing her best. She’s won at least one award in each of the guild’s shows that have taken place so far, and has won “Best of Show” three times. She went on to say, “Sometimes I want to do the best I can on a quilt. Sometimes I put the most work into a quilt that it deserves. Not every quilt has to be top-notch—baby quilts, utility quilts, those going off to college—put as much work into those as you want and just be glad if the recipient likes it. As you enjoy the quilts that our members have made and been brave enough to enter, I encourage you to tell at least one person that you really liked their quilt—it will mean so much to them, especially newer members. We want the quilting tradition to thrive and grow, in many directions—there is room for all.”

One of HQH’s newer members is Gail Seemann. She joined the guild in the 2012-13 guild year, after taking a beginning quilter’s class early in 2012. Gail jumped right in, joining the board the very next year and being very involved . . . but one thing she hasn’t done yet is enter a quilt in the show. When I asked her why, here’s what she said:

"I am the turtle of sewing; I couldn't finish what I was trying to get done in time. I've only in the last seven months gotten good enough with my quarter inch seams that I could really rely on things fitting together. Then I ended up needing physical therapy for carpel tunnel, which slowed me down even more, and I want to quilt a king size quilt on my domestic. The only other thing I could have entered was my Challenge entry, and I didn't think it was 'show worthy'. I've only completed three quilts. I had never really sewn (except for one costume for my daughter) when I took that first class, so I really was drinking from a fire hose. I do have three quilts in partial completion stage."

Gail tells me she does plan to enter a quilt in the 2019 show. And evidently, not only is she the self-proclaimed “turtle of sewing,” but it’s a well-known fact in her stitching circles. Check out the sweet little quilted turtle gift from a fellow quilter!

Finally, let me share my own experience with the show. I joined the guild in 2008 after beginning my quilting journey in 2006. In the 2009 Fanfare I entered a quilt of my own design – not because it was all that great (and seriously, it wasn’t great at all – looking back at it, I have to laugh) – but because it was my accomplishment and it had value to *me* and I wanted to share it.

I wish I could say I faithfully entered a quilt in every show thereafter, but I’m wishy-washy at best. I entered one quilt in 2011, but never made it to the show myself (I’d just had surgery on my foot), then two small pieces in 2013, but nothing in 2015. I’ve entered one quilt in the 2017 show, and I’m going to share my dirty little secret. The thing that keeps me from entering more quilts (in addition to the fact that I have Quilter’s ADD and a serious pile of UFOs) is that I’m lazy and hate stitching on a sleeve to the back of my quilts. There, I’ve ‘fessed up and … unless you’re entering multiple quilts into the show, you can’t judge!

Seriously, though, this show is such a wonderful way to encourage and educate the general public about what quilting is and who quilters are. We’re young and old and every age in-between. We’re women and men. Our demographics are all over the place. We’re artsy, we’re traditional, we’re modern – and sometimes we’re a mixture. We’re at all stages of the craft; from novice to master quilter. Our first time quilts are how our visitors know they could quilt. And our “Best of Show” winner gives them something to aspire towards. It’s all about journey.

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter. :)

Saturday, June 02, 2018

been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time . . .

For my blog, that is. And while I'll make no excuses for the absence, I do miss blogging. So I thought perhaps a little 'refreshing' and clean-up might be in order (though I haven't posted in seven months, I *do* use my blog for the links and to reminisce). And then it looked so clean and pretty I thought it maybe needed a new post. Ha.

This past guild year (our guild year runs from September to August) has marked our guild's 30th anniversary. The theme our president selected for the year was "A Quilter's Journey" and we've had a lot of fun tying the theme into all of our activities. My position this year has been to document (in our newsletter, The Fanfare) different aspects of a quilter's journey. It's been fun and I've enjoyed writing the articles . . . and thought it might be fun to share them here. So that's what I'm going to do, starting today, and then (perhaps) once a week until they're all shared.

But first, I feel I need to share the one-year journey of the littlest of my grandchildren littles:
Edith Rose turned ONE on April 20th. Isn't she a dear little dolly??! 

My new blog header is actually the header I developed for my newsletter article (except I've changed the words, of course). What can I say? I liked it! Anyway, without further ado . . .

From the quilter who’s stitched hundreds of quilts over the years, to the quilter who’s just purchased her first fat quarter, there is commonality . . . a bond that stretches unseen, but is definitely felt. Quilters all have a story to tell: Why did you start quilting and what made you continue?

For some it was the desire to create. For some it was a gift from a quilting mother or grandmother, who passed along their love and knowledge from an early age. For some it was the desire to be a part of a group. And for some, what started out as a desire to make a simple baby gift turned into a passion to make ‘quilts for everyone’! 

Some of us get hooked on the gadgetry, some of us have a secret (or not-so-secret) passion for fabric collecting, and some of us have stacks of patterns that would rival the stock of Fons & Porter! (Lord help my husband the families of those quilters who do all three!) We collect quilting magazines, subscribe to quilter’s blogs, we watch Bonnie Hunter on her webcam, join our local quilting guild, spend hours shop hopping the online quilt shops, take classes (and fondle fabrics – one of my favorite pastimes) at our local quilt shops (LQS), and spend hours (and lots of $$$) at quilt shows, near and far. 

We find niches of quilting that appeal to us more than another. Do you applique? Machine or hand? Needle-turned or rough edge? Machine quilting versus hand quilting? If you machine quilt, is it on your sewing machine or a quilting machine? Straight line or free motion? Do you wash your fabric before using it? Do you use precuts? There are miniature quilts—which differ from small quilts—and crazy quilts; embroidered quilts, redwork quilts, and two-color quilts. Do you go strictly by a pattern, or do you embellish upon it? Do you create your own patterns? For some stitching on the binding is their favorite part; for others, it’s a nightmare! 

From beginner to seasoned quilter, one thing is certain: everyone has a quilter’s journey story. And everyone’s story is unique. As we celebrate Heritage Quilters of Huntsville’s 30th anniversary over the next year, we’ll highlight some of these stories, sharing the passion and joys, the highs and the lows, the triumphant finishes and the UFOs. We’ll look back on the changes in quilt-making over the past thirty years, and look forward to expectations for the coming years. We’ll smile and nod in agreement and enjoy the camaraderie that we love to share. We’ll celebrate our craft and get to know one another even better.

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter. :)