Friday, December 30, 2016

Dear Jane Progress

Dear Diary - It's been awhile since I've worked on my Dear Jane blocks. There have always been times when I couldn't seem to get a handle on making blocks for months or even a year. For the past few years though I've had a simple goal of making at least one block per month. If I get busy, then I don't feel too bad about neglecting it. I'm still making progress (albeit small progress) and it's easier to pick it up again if it's not shoved in a drawer or box somewhere for years at a time. Every now and then, just to get motivated, I take out my blocks, look at how much work I've already put into this project and ask myself  - how important is the goal of finishing this quilt? The answer is always: Yes, it's still important and I commit to finishing more blocks by a certain time frame. If I keep the blocks, tools and book accessible I am more likely to work on them. 

Bear with me here - I like to write about this again and again not only to keep a record for myself ( no, I am not keeping a Dear Jane journal. This is it.) but because I know that some of you who are reading this and may have started your own quilt but perhaps put it aside or hit a bump in the road and feel discouraged will take heart. It does not happen overnight for most of us. What motivates me is to look at my blocks, take out the book and play around with some fabric. Then, make a plan to just sit down and make another block. Making one of the simpler blocks can really get me going again. If it's a more difficult block it can take me hours. There's often a rush when I complete one of those. But, usually, what happens is that I get interrupted in the middle and because it's never easy to get back to it, it takes me several days to finish, so I do a little at a time. I would love to spend days and weeks sewing the blocks all day long but that's not practical for me and it never happens. At times this journey is not easy. For any of us. Yet, for some reason we still persist. It makes me feel good to know that I have not given up and I pat myself on the back every time I finish one, even if it's not perfectly stitched.

Here's my story - I began my Dear Jane journey in 2010 with one block. An easy one. Then a few more simple ones after that. I was on a roll! I printed out all of the tips from Brenda's Dear Jane website and put them into a binder for reference. 

That year, 2010,  life happened. It was not a good year for me but somehow I still managed to complete 25 blocks by the end of it. There were times I didn't work on my blocks for months. A few more blocks were finished in 2011 and a few more during the next couple of years as well. It wasn't completely forgotten but there were plenty of other things going on pulling me in different directions for awhile. This happens and you have to "manually" pull yourself back into it eventually.

2014 was a turning point. At the end of 2013, I challenged my Yahoo small quilt group to pick up an unfinished project and complete it. Not sure what I should work on myself, I finally decided to jump back in and tackle the Mother of my unfinished projects and discovered that were others in the group who felt the same about finishing or beginning their own Dear Jane quilts. I started a Dear Jane Yahoo group to motivate myself and others to keep going and  - get this - went on to complete 30 blocks (with a little help and motivation from my friends). Great move. Watching Marian, Jeanne and others take off like race horses was exactly the encouragement I needed. That year, I traveled to Vermont to see the original quilt up close. My motivation stayed strong after that.

Progress! By the beginning of 2015 I had made 85 blocks (out of 169). Not a huge amount considering I'd been working on it for five years, but, hey, at least I was still going. I mastered paper piecing and went on to make another 58 blocks during 2015. Only 12 blocks were finished this year but I made quilts for and wrote a new book so that's my excuse. Can't do everything. I still managed to get one in there every now and then.

*  *  *
Well, I'd like to say I'm back and raring to go but who knows what will come between me and my quilt next year? I'm still stuck at 155 blocks - 14 left for the center and then the triangles. My goal was to finish the center blocks this year. That did not happen, LOL. Here's what I wrote about my progress in October. There's a little motivation there if you're thinking about jumping in and beginning your own DJ quilt. I hope it encourages some of you. I need motivation right now and sometimes I get it from my Dear Jane friends online. You know who you are!

Our holiday celebrations are now over, the house is relatively clean (and quiet), the laundry is done, my husband and daughter are going to the movies today and I have a few hours to myself to gather my resources and implement a strategic DJ plan! Wish me luck. Hopefully more progress coming soon. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

I can't believe it's Christmas already. Looking back, I also can't believe this is my eighth year blogging about Christmas. So many of you have followed me for such a long time. Thanks for all of your support and for coming along for the ride!

It wouldn't seem like Christmas to me without a little snow.

Puppy loves snow as much as I do . . .

Every Christmas my cross stitch calls. Usually too late . . . But there's always hope. We'll be doing a Christmas in July challenge next year to help some of us get a head start on our Christmas projects for 2017. 

I miss this guy at Christmas . . .

Who says a Christmas quilt can't have a little blue in it??

Driving around looking at lights in 2009 (not my house) . . .

Not my reindeer!

Our house. God bless the man who, despite the weather, has never missed a year putting up Christmas lights for me . . .

Merry Christmas! Have a lovely time with your families and friends and a wonderful holiday season after. 'Tis the season of Joy. My Christmas Words of Wisdom this year: Remember that peace begins at home, among family. Tell someone you love him or her, even if they're being disagreeable or Grinchy. Refuse to get pulled into their negativity. Sit down and listen more. Create peace through your interactions with others close to you. Then, send it out into the world. Be a light.

*   *   *
I'll be back with a brand new small quilt challenge on January 1. I hope you'll enjoy doing lots of other fun projects with me in 2017. Dear Jane group members - I'll be back there too, working on my blocks and hoping we can inspire each other to keep going on our quilts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another Giveaway Winner

Thanks for participating in my latest Christmas book giveaway. So many great comments, again. The winner of the Martingale Season's Greetings book is - Michelle T 

Congratulations, Michelle.  Please send me your mailing address and I will forward it to Martingale so they can send you your free book. (My e-mail is in my profile near the top of this blog on the right side.)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Another Christmas Patchwork Giveaway

I love Christmas project books. And now you have another chance to win a book from Martingale filled with all sorts of cute holiday projects. This one is Season's Greetings by Anni Downs of Hatched and Patched. It's a sweet little book filled with cozy patchwork, applique and embroidery with a delightful whimsical style.

Aren't these projects cute? I really love the colors and scrappy fabrics Anni uses in her projects. 

I have a lot of fun making things for Christmas presents and I know some of you do too. Many of the projects in this book are simple and quick so they're perfect for gift giving. Too late for this year perhaps but there's always next. Projects include an Advent calendar, table top tree skirt, gift bags and a 12 days of Christmas stitchery. 

To enter your name for a chance to win this book, just leave me a comment telling me about an unusual Christmas gift you received. Include your name and a way for me to reach you by e-mail. Good luck! The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Dec 21.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Giveaway Winner

Thank you all for leaving such lovely comments!  As I read through them I got a little teary at times.  Christmas memories can do that - they bring out the sentimental in me even more than usual. I'm sure some of you felt the same while you were writing them. I read some of the comments out loud to my husband and his remark was how lucky I am to have such sweet followers. I know I say this every time I hold a giveaway but, honestly, I wish I could give a book to each and every one of you. 

The winner of Gail Pan's Christmas Patchwork Loves Embroidery book is -  Candee Abraham 

Candee, please send me your mailing address. I will let Martingale know and they'll send you your book. Merry Christmas!

Thanks again to all of you for entering. If you didn't win, remember - you can still buy the book and make some cute little embroidered items for next Christmas. Gail has so many cute patterns.

Good news: Martingale is being very generous and letting me hold ANOTHER Christmas book giveaway. Come back to the blog on Sunday and I'll announce which book you can win next week.

*   *   *

I thought you'd enjoy seeing my little embroidered birdie from the book. I finished it yesterday while I was on the couch - resting, icing and elevating my sprained knee. Oh no!

I'll put some cute, scrappy borders on my little birdie soon but machine sewing is not going to be easy for awhile. It drives me crazy to have to sit on the couch and sew when I still have soooo much to get done to prepare for Christmas. But perhaps it's a blessing in disguise and just what I need to remind myself to slow down and not get too stressed out. I'm hoping it's just a sprain from shoveling snow, then walking the feisty-little-excited-dog-who-pulls-me-like-a-reindeer-pulling-Santa's-sled-on-Christmas-Eve and also too much shopping last week and that it will clear up soon. It's always something, isn't it? 

If you buy the e-book here from Martingale, all you do is download it to your computer, then select and print out the pages as you want to work on them. Very easy. This little tree is going to be next.

If you're looking for something else that's quick to make there's also my little Redwork Christmas pattern booklet from a few years ago that includes some cute mini embroidery patterns - 

Have a good rest of the weekend!  Don't forget to visit tomorrow when I'll show you another cute Christmas book for yet another giveaway.