21 April, 2016

Once Upon A Barn

You may have noticed the Build-A-Barn button on the side bar of my blog, if you don't know what that is I am here to tell you today. The uber-talented quiltmaker extraordinaire, Julie Sefton, has written a book! You may know her better as quiltdivajulie  she has an exceptional blog: "Me and My Quilts-- Exploring the Possibilities". Julie is extremely creative and super organized at the same time; traits one might think are exclusive of each other, they're not in Julie's case! Julie is always sharing her creative process through her blog posts. Step by step, post after post, she shares her inspirations, her thoughts, her notes and her unique quiltmaking successes as well as those things that didn't quite work out as well as she had imagined; she is most generous in every regard. I only know Julie through blogging. Over a year ago she contacted me, as well as a few others, about helping to proof the process notes for this book. From there the SSOBB was born; there's a link for the Secret Society of Barn Builders on my sidebar too; you can read more about this "sorority" there. So, fast forward to now. The book is out and available, it is published by AQS; if you can't find it in your LQS you can order it directly (but tell your LQS that they really should carry it!). My copy arrived a few weeks ago, as soon as I had it in my hands I read through each word of each page, it was exactly like visiting with Julie through her blog, I was immersed in each and every step of her pattern-free, improvisational barn building techniques. Suddenly I had a thought! I had a barn drawing that I could pull out from a long-ago quilt class; I could use Julie's technique and make a 2016 version of my 1993 class sketch!

I had no problem finding my notes and sketches from that class that I taught twenty three years ago! But, where are the sample blocks that I constructed way back then? I have no idea. That's okay-- my mind is racing and I am launching on a new adventure, using a new method, through this inspiration on aging, yellowed paper!
With my sketch in hand and Julie's book opened wide I have begun to pull fabrics to bring the old barn to life!
Join me in this adventure. I will share my progress along the way. I have enlarged my original drawings so that I could envision a central panel in actual size, approximately 24" X 12". Stay tuned for updates, this is going to be fun! Thank you, quiltdivajulie, for inspiring me in oh-so-many ways; let's see what happens along this path!
Life is Good!

20 April, 2016

How Do You See Spring?

Spring is in full swing here in North Carolina, how do you see spring where  you live? I stitched up some spring pillowcases for the grandchildren last week; each one illustrating a different aspect of the season. Mason's is all about soccer while his sister's is loaded with ladybugs. Gregory's pillowcase salutes the opening of baseball season and Lynnleigh's has spring chickens happily dancing all over its surface. I hope they love them. In the meantime I led another workshop at my LQS to teach pillowcase making for Ryan's Cases for Smiles; between the four of us there we contributed eight bright and cheerful pillowcases to this worthwhile cause that brings emotional support to children struggling with devastating illnesses and hospitalization. I use the same method as outlined in the website above (click: Get Involved/ "Sew A Pillowcase") to create the personalized pillowcases that I give as gifts; the "hotdog" method. Instead of serging the edges, or zigzagging them, I construct mine with French seams; ensuring all edges are completely finished and will stand up to many hot water washes and spins through the dryer without fraying or falling apart. If you would like to create some personalized versions, like the ones pictured at left, I have created this step-by-step photo collage outlining the proper positioning for name placement during the construction process. 
That's it! So, now you know how I see spring when it comes to sewing. 
When it comes to nature it might just be the return of the brilliant blue Indigo Buntings to my feeder!
Life is Good!

08 April, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?

I cleaned out a couple of drawers and a cabinet today; that's not what this blog post is about, but I always feel good when I can report that I am winning waging the a war against clutter. Okay, well, indirectly the cleaning spurt leads to the subject matter of this post. These are my own earbuds, discovered amidst a tangle of cords for various electronic devices we no longer own. I am happy for the rediscovery; although, I admit, I hardly ever use these. Anyway... back to the subject. Yesterday I was running  errands in the late afternoon and had the misfortune of being behind a school bus as it stopped at each and every side street and driveway. The students disembarking appeared to be middle school age. Without exception, each student stepped off the bus loaded down with a backpack the size of a Mini Cooper, full of books I would assume, with earbuds in their ears. Not one student was in conversation with another. Some of these bus stops let off six or seven 12-14 year olds at one time, each one was in their own little world. Plugged in, music or phone, straight to individual brains. I wondered, through this observation, when interpersonal skills are learned. I can't help but think that this isn't a good thing; not for them now, not for their futures. Am I wrong? Maybe I am. Perhaps I am way off base. By virtue of the fact that I am blogging about this to readers whom I may never meet, or speak with in person, I am likely guilty of the same false reality. I can't help but think, though, that if the students whom I observed yesterday pulled out those earbuds, lifted their faces from the ground and actually SPOKE with their neighbors and fellow students (let alone listened to the birds singing and happy sounds of children running and playing around them) how much richer their daily lives would be.
Life is Good!

05 April, 2016

Springing Up!

I didn't retouch the colors in this photo... spring has BURST upon the scene in all its vibrant glory!
Remember those 'wintered over' geraniums that I had high hopes for? They're springing up too!
This "Nellie Moser" variety Clematis actually sprinted up the lamp post, seemingly overnight!
 Speaking of things that happen overnight... deer, and their appetites, are springing up too. Groan. 
I wasn't quite fast enough with the Liquid Fence this year to prevent this initial attack. I'm on it now. These Hosta, gifts a few years ago from Quiltkeemosabe, line the edge of the driveway. When all is well, these show-stopping Hosta are huge and impressive. This one, that looks as though it was manicured with a weed eater, will rebound, and spring back up. I hope. Cross your fingers along with me.
Life is Good!

04 April, 2016

Cleaning Up!

I have a stack of fleece scraps, left over from quilt backs and various other projects. Originally these were strips trimmed from the length or width of each piece, I cut them into usable square-ish pieces. I have a stack of similar-sized chunks of cotton/poly blend quilt batting, acquired in the same manner. What do I use these for? They have become my never-depleting supply of dusters! They're perfect for a quick pass under a dresser or around chair legs (those places a vacuum cleaner can't quite reach) on our hardwood floors. They're also great for shelves, sills, baseboards and areas where you don't need a real dustcloth embellished with a squirt of furniture polish. Since they're already recycled I don't even bother washing them... but you could; I simply toss mine in the trash when they're full of dust! Done. You probably already have scraps like these lying around, have at it! If not, you can buy a yard of any fleece (60" wide) on sale for under $5 at one of the fabric chain stores and cut 40 pieces, 6" x 9", creating your own stack. Now, they're available to you when you need them, for pennies; these work every bit as well as the expensive alternatives. Consider these your thrifty picker-uppers. It's spring. Go forth and clean! You're welcome.
Life is Good!

29 March, 2016

Overrun With Rabbits!

It all began innocently enough. Last week I thought it would be a fun idea to decorate some Easter cookies for friends and loved ones. I mixed up some cookie dough and some royal icing and one thing led to another...
I piped. I flooded... and, right before my eyes...
rabbits happened! 
And, they multiplied!  The kitchen was over-run.
Well, naturally, these are rabbits after all~
Life is Good!

28 March, 2016

Time Out With Family

So... where have I been for the past two weeks? Spending time with my family. My Mom and Dad have been here visiting; with us, with the grandchildren and the great grands too. We dyed eggs, ate cookies, took day trips, visited friends, shopped, stitched, laughed, enjoyed meals together and drove into one of the most glorious sunsets ever. But, above all, we made memories and celebrated Easter. 
Isn't that what family is all about?
Life is Good!