Saturday, July 31, 2010

Celebrate Romance

Some of these lovely fabrics will be used in a quilt I am going to make for the next challenge for my Yahoo Small Quilt  group.

I will call it "Romance Stars."

If you're not a member, join us in the fun and make a small star quilt using some of your own "romantic" floral fabrics.  If you don't have any, why I think it's a perfect excuse to go out and buy some new fabric. You have my permission, LOL.

I've been collecting some of these prints over the past year or two ( in a romantic floral box, of course) and wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with them.  While I was in the hospital, I was hooked up to an IV drip and couldn't go very far without unplugging and dragging the whole d*** machine with me so, while I rested, the only thing I looked at to relax (when the TV wasn't on) were the pretty floral drapes at the window. A very romantic pattern that made me feel like quilting when I got better.

The challenge deadline is October 4 so I think I'll have plenty of time, barring any health relapses, LOL.

Create your own little quilt design from the block directions.

I've always been drawn to the sentimental and the romantic and some of my undergraduate study centered around the British Romantic poets of the late 18th to early 19th centuries - William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats and Lord Byron. As part of an independent study through the English and Art departments, I visited the Lake District in England to see what all the excitement was about.  

"I wandered lonely as a
That floats on high o'er
Vales and Hills,
When at once I saw a
A host of dancing
Along the Lake, beneath
the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in
the breeze." 

-William Wordsworth, 1807

The British Romantic poets believed that nature and emotion were the places in which one found spiritual truth. Most of the poets attributed to children special innate gifts. According to  Wordsworth - they come from heaven “trailing clouds of glory.” Poetry to them was a “spontaneous overflow of feelings,” often inspired by nature.

"'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
        -John Keats

After seeing Wordsworth's cottage garden at Dove Cottage, I knew I wanted to plant my own someday. Took me quite a few years but I'm sort of on my way!

So yes, in addition to being a true sentimentalist, I am also a true romantic too. Make a "Romance Star" quilt to celebrate romance . . .

Time for another romantic garden party dinner?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Little Girls and Quilting

Yippee! I'm excited to let you  know that the second pattern for the American Schoolgirl Club - Martha Washington's Star Quilt -  has been mailed out to many of you! I actually stayed focused and, even though it's late, it's still technically July so I consider that pretty good considering everything I went through this month. I got sick on July 1 and went to the ER that day. What an absolutely exhausting month it was for me.  Hope this doesn't mean I'm getting old and I've lost my ability to bounce back like I used to. I'm still pretty tired.

So keep an eye on your mailboxes in the coming week (maybe "weeks" for those of you in Canada, Europe and Australia, unfortunately). This little quilt is a treasure and will be a lot of fun to make with your red and blue print scraps.

Thinking about and making doll quilts keeps me young, however, I think. If you follow my blog and books at all, most of you know by now that doll quilts were often used as practice for young girls' sewing skills in the past.

Needlework and sewing were an important part of a girl's education in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sometimes these skills were taught before reading and writing.

Doll quilts were learning pieces. It was the practicing of the sewing skills that was important, not so much the design of the quilt.

I like to think that, like early quilters, even young girls making small quilts for their dolls learned a little about color and the whole design process and it helped to give life to their creative expression in a small way.

(From the book Amish Doll Quilts by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman)

(From the book Amish Doll Quilts by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman)

(From the book Amish Doll Quilts by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman)

Some antique doll quilts were made by adults for children - out of love for the child for sure. And those can be exquisite and rare, as well as expensive. But the ones that I'm really drawn to are the ones made by children themselves - simple, unpretentious, with imperfect stitches, where you can see the frustration of trying to master the skill. Often crudely sewn. I bought this quilt fragment a little while ago because I loved that about the unevenly sewn nine-patches. Maybe it was a doll quilt in the making. More likely it was made by an adult learning to stitch by hand, but when I find the right borders I'll probably turn it into a doll quilt someday.

Here are the only 2 antique doll quilts I own and I love them for their simplicity (and the price was right too!)

A few years ago I had my daughter practice some straight stitching on the sewing machine - making little four-patch blocks from some of my reproduction fabric squares. She lost interest quickly--"that's your thing, mom" and we never did anything with them but I often think of turning them into a doll quilt to keep tucked away for her daughter someday.  

For now, I'll keep designing and making scrappy doll quilts for myself (and all of YOU too, of course). Maybe they'll be valuable to someone someday. And if not, that's ok. Like little girls' sewing samples, they were my own little learning projects over the years. It's fun to see how far I've come.
 (Schoolgirl Club quilt # 1- Eliza Jane's Nine Patch)
I love this quilt! 

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Love, I Love, I Love my Calendar Quilt!

Can't get this song out of my head. Apologies to Neil Sedaka. Some of you may remember this old song from 1961. I'm too young myself; I only remember it because I had older sisters who listened to the radio a lot when I was a little kid, LOL . . .

"I love, I love, I love my calender girl
Yeah, sweet calender girl
I love, I love, I love my calender girl
Each and every day of the year."

The 2011 American Patchwork & Quilting Calendar arrived while I was sick. There's a quilt of mine in it and I couldn't wait to get home and take photos to show you.

The calendar contains so many beautiful quilts made by a variety of  wonderful designers and includes a booklet with all of the pattern directions. My quilt is featured for May, titled "Scrap Box." I hope you like it.

One of my favorite things about American Patchwork & Quilting magazine is that they always have quilt tester Laura Boehnke make alternate versions of the quilts using different fabrics. Here's my pattern made with darker plaids and stripes. Very striking, I think.

Here's a couple of photos of the quilt "at home" inside and out so you can get a better look. (Yippee, I'm home - did I tell you I'm home?)

Wish I could have had more time to quilt it a little better but the magazine called for a project last year while I was in the middle of working on my next book (yikes!) and when American Patchwork & Quilting magazine calls, you don't say no, you drop everything, so I definitely made time to squeeze in a quilt for them. Those adorable little scrappy nine-patch blocks measure 3" x 3". I couldn't stop making them - they were so much fun to play around with and I still have a bunch left over.

Calendars should be available at your local quilt shop or you can order one by calling the magazine at 800-826-4707.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home Is Where the Healing Is

I'm home and trying to take good care of myself. Where I belong. Where I can actually sort of  relax and begin to heal. Take my vitamins. Cook my own food. Pet my dogs. Get some sleep. I can't tell you how being in the hospital for over a week and having every test under the sun stressed me out completely, and it's not over yet. I need several follow-up Drs appointments next week and they haven't ruled out the possibility of surgery. Keep a good thought.

The medications I take 6 times a day make me really, really sick as well as tired and dizzy and I need to be on them for another week or 10 days. Plus probiotics. Nothing tastes good or stays down except applesauce, Ritz crackers and mashed potatoes so that's about where my appetite stands. True, I needed to lose a few, but this is ridiculous. All of my bloodwork is normal - I'm healthy they say, HAH!- but I need to get over this infection and the process appears to be slow. I have no energy AT ALL. So it is going to take me awhile to get back to normal. And quilting too. Unless I can do it lying down.

My son visited me in the hospital and once, while I was in the bathroom, he was kind enough to checkmark the box on my patient dry erase board that I was English-speaking impaired, so for a few hours every time a new nurse, tech or nurse's assistant came in they spoke to me very slowly in a LOUD tone - MRS  T-R-A-C-Y? - until I responded back to them in perfect English. I eventually figured it out and got up and erased it. Oh that kid. . . . if it weren't so harmless and funny (and if I had any strength) I would have killed him. But at least I had one good laugh. He's always been able to do that.

If I never see another one of these beeping IV machines, it will be too soon. How do people get any sleep in hospitals?? I'm about 10 days behind.

Please be patient with orders placed in the last 2 weeks. I do it all alone. I'll get to them eventually. I'm mostly trying to get through the day here and withstand the side effects of this medication and see what happens. I promise, the American Schoolgirl Club WILL continue, even if it's not on schedule. Think I'll take a nap now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kathy Update

I am still in the hospital. My husband brought my laptop to me but I haven't felt much like going online. I am feeling better though and walking around. I had a serious intestinal infection that needed IV antibiotics to help clear it up. They are watching it and keeping me here until they are sure it's all better.

I was on a liquid diet for awhile and am now easing back into soft foods so that's progress. They're taking good care of me and drawing blood every 10 minutes it seems. Hopefully this nightmare will be over soon and then I can recover at home. Keep a good thought. Thanks for all of your prayers, best wishes and concerns.