Thursday, May 12, 2016

Spring Showers, May Flowers

Yes, it's finally spring. My favorite flowers are always the wild ones. 

Wild geranium

While some gardeners consider them weeds, in my little woodland garden the lowly May violet and its heart-shaped leaves are welcome guests.

"Violets spring in the soft May showers."  -Bryant

"I know where the young May violet grows, in its lone and lowly nook." -Bryant

Bleeding heart

The back of the yard has been flooded for almost 2 weeks from all the rain we've had. 

After a very slow start, the lilacs are blooming again. That's three years in a row now. 

Makes me feel like doing some applique . . . 

Maybe I will.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, difficulty, or annoyance without getting angry, anxious or upset.

I've come far in my Dear Jane quilt journey and when I stop to think about it I'm always amazed at how much patience I've gained in regard to my sewing. Life too, perhaps. Nineteen more blocks to go and then I will be finished with the center part of the quilt. Then, 56 triangles and "kites." Plus sashing, scalloped border, quilting.  Oh my goodness, when I think about all I still have left to do I fear I will never finish.  Then it's time to draw on the patience that I've learned throughout this journey.  

Some blocks require more patience than I used to think I had. Others take much longer to complete than I expected. But I'm not in a race to get my quilt finished just yet and reminding myself of this makes it all seem okay.  At times I don't really care if it takes me all day to make one silly (but beautiful) block. The movement is still forward. I've definitely developed patience and I think it's carried over into other areas of life. 

Learning to paper piece has taught me patience. 

Curved piecing has taught me patience.

Patience, patience and more patience with each and every block.

I've learned recently that being patient with myself is a way of treating myself with compassion. Compassion means reaching out to others when they are suffering but how often do we extend this to include ourselves? Sometimes it's hard to remember to treat ourselves with caring and kindness. Whenever I'm sick I find myself becoming impatient with myself because I simply cannot do all the things I want to do or am used to doing. I have to slow down. It's very frustrating for me to see things that need to get done and not being able to do it all or ask for help. I cannot push push push myself  or I become irritable, exhausted and stressed.  Why is it so much easier to be patient with others than it is to be patient with ourselves? I'm learning that practicing patience with myself is a way of taking care of myself and is truly an act of self-compassion. Working on my Dear Jane blocks has helped me with this. 

Looking at Jane's actual blocks always gives me a boost. There's a wealth of patience in this quilt.

(Photos I took of the Jane Stickle Quilt at the Bennington Museum)

Often, I hear people say that they don't have patience for sewing or quilting. I don't believe we are born with the patience gene. It's definitely learned. You learn it by being patient, practicing patience, over and over. Living in the present. And, as far as quilting goes, when you find something that you truly enjoy making, that makes your heart full of joy, then sometimes patience comes right along. Above all, be kind to yourself. 

The Difference Between Pain and Suffering  Centering Down |  #mindfulness:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Still Alive

Surprised? Yes, I am still alive. Thank you for all the kind e-mails. I'm still trying to slow down and take care of myself and recover from a bad case of bronchitis after that nasty virus that's been going around here. Can't believe I've been sick all winter. I haven't taken care of myself, been feeling run down for months but kept pushing through. Being a mom, I always put everyone else first and have a hard time slowing down so I'm feeling wiped out most days. The crazy weather does not help. One day it's 78 and sunny and the next it's 40 and raining. Lately, I've been avoiding going out too much and breathing the cold, damp air because it stresses my lungs and only makes everything worse. When that happens I turn on the vaporizer and take to my bed with a cup of tea and a good book. 

Coughing keeps me up at night and I know I should probably try to nap during the day but I can't. I'm allergic to codeine so I cannot take that cough med everyone says I should take that will help me sleep better. I've been to the doctor twice and had several reactions to meds this month and so we'll see if the latest round of antibiotics will help at all. Antibiotics often make me feel sick.

The doctor says what I've got is probably viral so I doubt they will work but he suggested them just in case I've got an underlying sinus infection. I had a chest X-ray last week and it was clear so he said I just need to rest more and give myself time to heal. What a novel idea . . . So, okay, now I've got permission to ignore everything that needs to get done and focus on just taking care of myself and getting better. Doctor's orders. Why is it that we do this to ourselves, thinking we're indispensable? The world does not stop if I slow down, take a nap, don't write a blog post, delay sending out orders a bit, skip vacuuming or get carry out for dinner, LOL. 

In between feeling poorly I managed to get another publisher deadline under my belt. A few weeks ago they sent me the first edit of pages for my next book so I could go over them and make any changes. I was relieved to get that finished and sent in on time. It's moving along nicely. Martingale is very thorough. Right now it's still all just my words on paper. The quilts I sent them in Feb have not been photographed yet. There will be one more edit and then they say I should see page proofs in May, which will be very exciting, seeing everything beautifully laid out with photos. It's all coming together and hopefully will be ready for a December release. The reason it takes so long is that  -  ha ha, guess what? - my book is not the only book they're working on. Everyone at Martingale works hard to see all their books-in-progress through all the different stages (they publish something like 40-50 books a year). Things have to fit nicely on a tight schedule in order to get several books released each month. Sounds difficult to coordinate all of this. 

I didn't want to miss the International Quilt Fest in Chicago this year so I dragged myself over to see it a few weeks ago. Sorry, but they would not let me take photos of most of the quilts in the show. Primitive Quilts magazine had a very nice exhibit so that was fun - 

I noticed there were not as many good vendor booths as in years past - very disappointing.

Red Button Pattern Company - love these little quilts.

antique quilt booths

A specially painted John Deere featherweight from 1950

A few doll quilts scattered here and there

Lots and lots of booths with nice fat quarters. Trust me, I stocked up.

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I have to tell you that I am not really interested in keeping up with Facebook or other social media right now. Facebook is starting to seem really pointless. Also, forgive me for not leading the small quilt groups or being active in them. I will pop in here and there when I am feeling better and have something to say. The fact is, I'm just not doing much quilting. That always happens when I finish working on quilts for a book. The intensity of meeting a deadline for making so many quilts in a short period of time exhausts me. I just need a break from it for a little while. Being sick is a good excuse to stay quiet, put my feet up and read some books on my list and I'm having more fun doing that right now.

You all take care and I will see you back here soon, when I have something fun to write about.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Blogging Break

Keeping up with blogging and other social media can be exhausting at times, even when you're healthy. Right now I'm down with a nasty flu bug and have no energy so who needs the extra stress?  I've been writing posts almost non-stop since 2009 so I figure I deserve a break. Hope to be back soon. Maybe I'll even have some fresh ideas.  There's a place on the sidebar where you can sign up for e-mail updates. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Celebrate National Quilting Day

Come celebrate with me. On Saturday, March 19, 2016, I'll be teaching a workshop at the Kenosha Public Museum in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as part of a National Quilting Day event. We'll be making one of my favorite simple and scrappy quilts - the Orange Peel quilt from my book Remembering Adelia. This happens to be one of the most popular classes I teach and I never get tired of seeing all of the different variations quilters come up with for their quilts. It's a very relaxing workshop and a lot of fun.

You're welcome to join me and the Southport Quilters of Kenosha, Wisconsin, who are sponsoring the class in conjunction with the museum for a National Quilting Day event. The theme is "Scrappy Days are Here Again."  For details, click here.  (Scroll down the page to see the National Quilting Day events.)

It'll be a full day of quilting fun. In addition to the morning class, I'll be giving a presentation in the afternoon. In between, you can browse the quilt show with  beautiful quilts on display and lots of quilting demonstrations by guild members. Sound like fun? Then come on over. Wisconsin's beautiful in March. (More info about the workshop here. Contact the Southport Quilters Guild to sign up.)

It's one of my favorite classes - 

The orange peel (melon, pumpkin seed) pattern has been around a long time but when I made my quilt they weren't really very popular at all. If you did see any they were almost always two-color quilts. It's nice to see sooo many quilters making orange peels now and incorporating them into their different designs.

Back when I was writing Remembering Adelia and a few years before I began my Dear Jane quilt, I noticed that Jane Stickle had used a lot of peels in her famous quilt. Since Adelia also lived and sewed during the Civil War, I decided to include orange peels in the book and weave this quilt into Adelia's story. It was fun poking through my reproduction scraps, making the peels and then hand appliqueing them over that summer. I made them a few at a time in between working on the other quilts and when I had made enough blocks I put them together into my quilt.

We'll talk about Adelia's Civil War diary as you make your peels and sew them together by hand or machine -  your choice. I'll give you some tips on making the peels using a simple starch and template method. Or, you can use your own favorite method of applique to construct the quilt. Some make their quilt with reproduction prints from the Civil War and others use their favorite bright prints. They all end up looking great. 

Don't be afraid of the applique part. I'll hold your hand, I promise. It won't be that bad. You'll do great. 

Here's a pretty blue and white orange peel quilt runner I made. 

Have I convinced you yet?

MARCH 19 -  ORANGE PEELS - Let's do this. (Bring scraps . . . )

Hope to see some of you  there.


*   *   *
[It's always an awful lot of fun to make a quilt like this in a group with like-minded quilters. If you can't make it this time but belong to a guild and would like me to come and talk a little bit about my quilts and teach this one (or any other) in a workshop to your group, contact me for details. I'm always up for making Orange Peels!]



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