Friday, October 8, 2010

Antique Hexagon Crib Quilt

More about Hexagons! After I wrote the last blog post, I looked and looked and then finally found this photo of  a crib quilt that was made in 1850 in one of my antique quilt books. I was really inspired by it when I made my own little hexagon quilt with the dark background that will be in The Civil War Sewing Circle. Unfortunately, while I was making the 16 quilts/projects for the book, not to mention writing all of the delightful text, I did NOT have time to piece this one all by hand - no, sorry, I do not have a staff to make my quilts or write my books for me - and so took the shortcut and appliqued the "flowers" onto background squares to make it go a little faster and still make my deadline (see my quilt on the cover of the book in the post below). Now I wish I had had the time to make it this way.

Don't you just love the scrappy look of this quilt (taken from the book America's Glorious Quilts) and love love love how they're all put together with the little black hexagon spacers? You and I can do this too - I know we can! Remember, just take it ONE hexagon at a time, LOL. Another future project I'm absolutely dying to try. Hey, at least I have lots of leftover scrappy hexagon flowers so I'm sort of on my way already! Told you, once I started I couldn't stop . . . 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Today I Feel Like Whining

My good friend Ingrid is a nurse and she told me that while recovering from several major surgeries I would have good days and bad days and oh she was so right. I had a string of good days last week because I was finally out of the hospital and so glad to be home, eager to lounge on the couch and be taken care of. But then I noticed that the euphoria started to fade as the week wore on - and then maybe  because I was doing a little too much or thought I was recovering too nicely -WHAM! Suddenly I'm exhausted and feel like I've taken a couple of steps backwards. Simple things like washing a few dishes make me fatigued. All I want to do is sleep.

I'm counting my blessings every day and trying to be patient but there's so much to do around here that hasn't been done yet and all of that still hangs over my head. I'm not supposed to bend or stretch so I am dependent on others for simple things for awhile longer, like cleaning up spills, making a cup of tea or running upstairs for a box of tissue. I feel guilty sitting around reading or watching TV on the couch while everyone else is running around like chickens with you-know-what. My sweet husband has been working so hard to help -  he cooks and cleans and "fetches" for me when he can, and even watches my website for orders. On Saturday he went to the Post Office and mailed out some book and  pattern orders for me because I still can't drive for a couple of weeks. Funny how much time I used to spend out running errands. Don't forget, pattern #4 of  the American Schoolgirl Club will be mailed out later in Oct - probably very late, the way I'm feeling right now.

I am feeling a little depressed over what I CANNOT do for myself, even though I know I get a LITTLE better every day and I've only been home for a week. I become impatient easily and would like a  fast recovery NOW, please. Will I ever get back to feeling the way I did before?

The visiting Physical Therapist told me that spending 2 weeks in the hospital causes you to lose 30% of your muscles so we're slowly working on doing tiny leg lifts and stretches. Ouch, that hurts - in more ways than one. I was trying to get into decent shape and walked a lot before I got sick but now I have to start all over and then some and who knows when I'll get the ok to walk briskly again. 

Didn't guess I could be such a whiner when I was sick, did you? I'm afraid I do not make a very good patient, LOL.

Yesterday, however, I actually finished a novel and cooked a pot of spaghetti and meatballs in two sittings so I didn't have to stand for too long. Little accomplishments, but they matter a lot. Hand piecing the little pink and blue scrappy doll quilt got me through all last week. I pieced the blocks together on the machine and now have to choose a border. 

I have a few blue Jo Morton fat quarters I'm itching to use and for some reason I want to use this one, the busiest one, instead of  the ones that are more subtle. I'm usually more conservative with my borders for scrappy quilts but really love this print. What do you think? Too busy?

Last weekend I bid on and won (!) an antique doll quilt, a coming home present to myself. It arrived on Saturday and is so cute I decided to reproduce it with more pre-cut squares I had lying around.

I just love doll quilts made from squares - the simplicity speaks to me. That's good because simple is best for me right now - I don't think I can handle anything complicated.

This one will keep me busy this week, I think. I'm not a great hand piecer, but I'm getting some good practice. It's coming along nicely and is so much fun really. Maybe I'll even quilt it if I don't fall asleep first.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Keeping Busy

Look what came in the mail last week -

This new book by Tricia Maloney is full of great ideas for using those vintage blocks you see at antique shows and flea markets. I've always been tempted to buy some but wasn't sure what to do with them when I got home. Now I know! What a great idea.

Thanks, Tricia, and good luck!

Ingrid came over to visit on Friday and brought me a birthday present - the new book by Blackbird Designs. I'm not sure how she knew I secretly craved it, but that must be exactly why we call them good friends, you know? 

Don't know if I'm up for making an appliqued bed quilt just yet, but this block looks doable or maybe a cross-stitch sachet or pincushion is something I can work on while resting on the sofa?? In addition to lovely quilts, it's also got some lucious recipes I'm anxious to try when I get back to cooking.

The Dr said I can sit at the sewing machine for 15 minutes a day, no more for now, so this weekend I'm going to take him up on that and use my machine to stitch the doll quilt with the pink and blue blocks I hand pieced from last week. The only trouble is, every time I get up from the couch, someone steals my spot! Sweetie that he is, I'm guessing he's just keeping it warm for me . . . .

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Someone Watching Over Me

I'm feeling a little better every day. Excuse me for being self-indulgent, but it IS a blog after all and I know many of you are curious as to how I'm getting along. It is SO good to be home and in familiar surroundings with my loved ones close at hand. Because I am not supposed to walk up and down stairs for awhile, I'm spending most of my time resting on the sofa and make only one trip upstairs at night to sleep. So I've conveniently made up the couch as Command Central.

Here you can see I've got my breakfast of fortified Special K cereal, my magazines, a couple of decorating books to browse through (my house is a real mess as you can imagine, not having done anything for weeks, but it can't hurt to dream, can it?). The quilted throw on my lap is a store-bought quilt (oh no!) borrowed from my son's room at home. He left for his senior year of college the day I went back into the hospital. Don't want to spill or bleed on one of MY quilts, you see. Plus it reminds me of him while he's away. And it has some nice Fall colors to warm me up.

Angels watch over me as I rest. Or maybe she's just waiting for a crumb to drop, who knows? I like to think it's the angel thing. While I was in the hospital I missed my puppies so much that one day I sat up in a little bit of that half-sleeping, half-waking stage and reached out toward the foot of my bed where I thought I saw her. Nurse came in and rolled her eyes - Whaaaat puppy, where??


By Monday I got bored with magazines and found I couldn't concentrate on a novel yet. I had already gotten caught up with TV shows over the weekend. I knew I'd have a difficult time sitting at a sewing machine.

So I found a stack of  little pink and indigo four-patch blocks I made a few years ago and decided to use them to make a doll quilt, just for me, no pressure to turn it into a pattern or anything. I'm piecing them together by hand nice and slowly with some wonderful 2 1/2" pink and blue pre-cut squares. Did I tell you I love pre-cuts? They really came in handy this time.

I've already finished 9 blocks as of this afternoon. These will be really cute set on point with the blue and tan bird fabric I've been saving for awhile as background. I like to use one of these Ziplock containers with compartments to hold my "stuff" and keep it nearby, next to my lap desk on the sofa, while I sew.

While I was in the hospital I had a birthday and didn't actually celebrate until the weekend I got home. One of my presents from my husband and daughter was the DVD of Sleeping Beauty, my absolute favorite childhood Disney movie made in 1959. It was also Disney's most ambitious film project at the time, costing $6 million, and the very last fairy tale to be produced by Walt Disney himself. The animation from the fifties is wonderful and it has a gorgeous musical score adapted from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty ballet. Didn't know it then, but I appreciate it now.

As a child, it was my first real exposure to Disney advertising mania. I had the Sleeping Beauty book, coloring books, lunch box, game, tiara, light-up magic wand, pencil case, etc. You name it, I had it. My older sisters had jobs and always spoiled me with toys I wanted. I remember one day with a little help from my mom I dressed up in one of my sister's old Prom dresses and met her at the bus stop after work with my tiara and magic wand. I'm sure she was thrilled to see me!

As spoiled as I was, I did feel deprived for years though, LOL, because I never got to go to Disneyland to see Sleeping Beauty's ACTUAL castle and meet her in person. We had a lot in common, I thought; I liked to sleep a lot too. I made a pilgrimage there as an adult, years later, to finally pay homage to my childhood heroine. Not a very acceptable heroine by today's standards, I know, but hey, it was the fifties and that was then.  I later found out that  feminists dismiss Beauty as the epitome of passivity in women; all she does is sleep and wait. Doesn't bother me a bit. You have to admire her perseverance. And you have to admit, true love sure does have the power to transform you sometimes, whenever it comes.

In addition to Beauty, my favorite characters in the movie were her Fairy Godmothers - Flora, Fauna and Meriwether. They were much older than Princess Aurora and always took good care of her and made sure all her needs were met. Can you see where this is going? 

Last week while my husband worked, my sisters were my Fairy Godmothers during the day, watching over me as I slept in the hospital, tied to machines, always there with a tissue or shoulder or ready to flag a nurse if I needed it. 

And now I have my puppy angels watching over me at home. Yessir, I've got just about everything I need right here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hello from Kathy

I know you haven't heard from me in a long time and I just wanted to give you an update on what's been going on with me. I went back into the hospital on Sept 11 and shortly thereafter had surgery. The intestinal infection I suffered from earlier in the summer did not completely respond to the antibiotics and slowly spread to several other organs, necessitating a complicated abdominal surgery to remove two abscesses. The doctors said I was lucky to be alive and, from the way I felt after surgery, I believe them. Good news, NO CANCER, just a very, very nasty infection.

I was finally discharged from the hospital yesterday and now face a long recovery period to get my strength and health back. Thanks to some wonderful nursing care and excellent doctors I can tell I'm on the mend and I thank you all for your patience and well wishes during this difficult time.

I will be getting back to work slowly, I think. The new book will be out soon though! Thank goodness this didn't interrupt that.

So, here's the deal in case you're wondering – YES, the American Schoolgirl Club will definitely continue!

Originally, I intended to run the 6 club patterns through the months of June, July, August, Sept, Oct and November. Because of circumstances, I am going to have to skip the month of September and will resume the patterns in October through December. So those of you in the club will still receive ALL 6 patterns, they will just be interrupted for one month while I recover. If you have a friend in the club, please pass the word.

If some of you are disappointed and do not wish to wait, please e-mail me and I will be more than willing to give you a partial refund for the remaining months. Those of you who are new members and ordered the club in Sept will receive the first 3 patterns that were sent out earlier as soon as I am able to get them out. It might be next week. I can't drive for 3 weeks so getting around is going to be difficult and I am dependent on others for the help.

Again, I am so sorry for all of the inconvenience and hope you know that you can trust that I intend to fulfill my promise of delivering the patterns to you. But my health has to come first. It's been a very stressful time for my family as I am usually the caretaker. I've been blessed with a wonderful, loving husband and great kids, four amazing and caring sisters and a multitude of friends who have surrounded me and my family with love and support. How can I lose?

I will update you as I get stronger and hope to rejoin you soon in the blog world and may even answer e-mails that have come in recently. Please know that I am always aware that I could not do any of this without all of you - my supportive fans who inspire me every day with your steadfast loyalty. It's good to be home! Oh my goodness, my puppies missed their mama . . . .



Monday, September 13, 2010

My All-time Favorite Place

I am back in the hospital again. So sorry to have to say this again so soon, but the American Schoolgirl Club is on hold for now. It may be awhile before e-mails will be answered or orders filled so your patience is appreciated.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Walking in an English Garden, Sort of

My husband and I can't afford a trip to England right now and so I have to compensate by bringing England to us. We had a day here in the Midwest recently that wasn't too hot - perfect for walking through the Botanic Garden, which is just a few minutes' drive from our house. One of my favorite spots there is the English Walled Garden. A serene and peaceful haven - and, best of all, there were not very many people visiting that day. One lady followed me about a bit, watching as I skulked around with my camera and tried to make sure I got pictures of everything. "Did you get this??" "Go over there - it's beautiful!" LOL. People are funny.

I took numerous photos of this lovely blue gate. It matches the shutters on my house . . .

English Meadow

I love this place! Very relaxing. It's like a little piece of England here in the States.

My own garden is looking kind of raggedy now - I wonder if next time they would let me bring my English Rose dishes so I could sit down and have myself a spot of tea!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Never Enough Hours in the Day

Sometimes I shake my head  at  my  kids when they say they're bored. When I was young and said the same thing, my mother used to tell me: "Only boring  people get bored."  So I grew up determined NOT to be bored, lest someone think me boring. When I worked full-time in an office while I was pregnant with my son, an older co-worker looked at me one day and smiled and said, "You'll never be bored again . . . ." Silly, I had no idea she meant I'd never have the time or leisure to be bored again.

If you're like me, you have your fingers in a few too many creative pots--you're not only a quilter, but you also crochet, knit, do needlework or paint, write, etc. There are so many projects I want to make, so many new hobbies I'd like to begin, so many ideas for books to write, so many quilts to finish. Many of us complain about having too many unfinished projects but aren't we all just a little lucky that we're creative enough to have so many projects we want to complete? Finding the time to finish what I start  is challenging for me most days. But since I started quilting I really got in touch with my creative self and I can honestly say I'm never bored. Quilting will do that for you.

After all these years I'm still learning to come to grips with the fact that there are just not enough hours in the day to do all the things I love . . . and still balance family, friends, work and hobbies. And also cook and clean and garden and exercise and just plain take care of myself and those I love. How do so many of you have time to make all the beautiful quilts and crafts you make?

I rarely become bored with quilting but sometimes I become a little too stressed about the "work" and that takes away from the creating, so then I need a break. I've been working hard on the Doll Quilt Club lately, trying to get everything done in time. I hope you all like the new pattern, which should be arriving at your doors soon. After I mailed them out yesterday, instead of jumping right into the next one, I decided I needed a break and pulled out my bead box. I'll start in on # 4 just as soon as I make myself something pretty to wear . . .

Making jewelry is often just as relaxing as quilting I've found. My bead collection is not quite as large as my fabric collection and the beads don't take up as much space, thank goodness. Playing with beads takes me back to my Crayola days. I remember taking the crayons out and drawing with them, one at a time, or sometimes two at a time, over and over, stimulated by the colors. Like playing with fabric, just a great creative outlet. And if you actually get to wear the things you've made, it makes you feel even better!

A good friend taught me to make jewelry after I admired some of her handmade pieces. One day she pulled out her "bead cart" that was hidden away in the closet and showed me all of her various beads and the necklaces and bracelets she'd made from them over the years.  Then she said, "Shhh. My husband has no idea." A closet bead-aholic after my own heart!

I have to buy countless boxes of of these candies just to get the tins so I have someplace to put the beads you know . . . .


If you love quilting and playing with color and haven't tried making jewelry yet, I can tell you it's extremely  relaxing and great creative fun! 

I made a scrappy necklace yesterday, just for myself. Like my quilts, it has all the colors I love!

I spotted someone wearing one like it on TV last week  as I was flipping through the channels and hid it in the back of my head until I had some free time. Can't remember the show, just wanted the simple beaded necklace she was wearing.

Then I decided I needed to display it with some of the others I made so I could see them, instead of keeping them hidden in a drawer. This little birds on a branch decorative hook is perfect. I bought it a few years ago because it was so sweet and haven't been able to find a good place for it until now. I saw this in a decorating book once . . . Wonder if my husband will notice it on the bedroom wall??

Funny, but now both of my kids are taking Drawing in school this semester - one in high school and the other in college. And I didn't even suggest it, I swear. I'm happy they're doing something creative for fun and I hope they find that they never become bored doing creative things. Of course, if it turns out they do, there's always a puppy to play with. You're never really bored when you have a puppy. Trust me.