Back in the saddle….when??

For the past 18 months my sewing and quilting enthusiasm has continued to eluded me. Given the fact I used to sew 1-2 hours a day and now nothing, that can surely cause a person to be concerned.  Yes, I’ve had to make some major changes these last few months, as I’ve mentioned in my earlier posts, but by now one would think my enthusiasm would have returned.  I’ve even visited a few quilt shops from time to time, looking and feeling the fabrics, thinking surely that would invigorate me.  It did get me to thinking about working on some UFO’s (unfinished projects) but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t find that jump start. Then in September I went on a shop hop and found my inspiration; for the first time in many months I actually wanted to sew. Before the feeling disappeared, I quickly purchased the pattern and accompanying fabric!  In my mind I thought yes, I’m back …. !

Now to the present – it’s the end of the year and I have yet to sew. Every day I walk by my studio door, look in and say “soon, real soon I’ll start sewing”. Sometimes I’ll take a few minutes to go in and straighten things up a bit, but then quickly leave. So … somehow between now and the end of year it’s going to happen, as I plan to bite the “needle” and sew! Yes, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it! Wish me luck and I’d better get going as there’s only three days left in the year!!

Happy New Years to all and may you and yours be blessed with the best in the new year!

“There is nothing in your life that God and you cannot handle together – If you get out of the way and let Him be in control, He can turn your troubles Into blessings, and then He can use those blessings to add depth to your Spirit so that your praise for him is even more fervent and joyous and Your life is an inspiration to others”. (author unknown)

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Well, I’m working my way back…

When I composed my last post on April 7, 2016, little did I know what lie ahead…hubby had just had surgery and was mending well, and together we hoped the remainder of the year would be smooth sailing.  For a couple of months it was…

On June 24th that all changed; walking out of a business my foot slipped and as my friend reached out to stabilize me, my right upper arm broke.  The next two weeks were somewhat a blur;  as soon as I’d see one doctor, I would be referred to another.  Each saying the same; the x-rays were showing something in the bone where the break occurred. Finally, I was referred to a bone & joint oncologist who said a biopsy was necessary.  The results were far from what hubby and I anticipated; a tumor and a rare type of cancer at that.   In an effort to save the arm, chemo was recommended as radiation was not an option.

The first type of chemo was so strong that it had to be given in hospital under close supervision.  Of course, I had a reaction and the chemo was stopped about 3/4 of the way through.  I went home and before I knew it, I was back in the hospital with more side effects that required another weeks stay.  The next chemo was much easier; however, the results were disappointing.  Before I was told, I knew from the pain and swelling that the tumor had started to grow again.  So back to the surgeon I went.  After a review of the tests, he gave me my one and only option…amputation of the right arm.  That was the only way to hopefully stop the spread of the cancer.  For several weeks I had agonized over making the decision; this time was different as I had peace in my heart and mind and knew whatever happened, God was with me.

On October 4, 2016, the surgery took place.  Since then I’ve been recuperating and thinking of getting that sewing machine going again.   With a heavy heart I made the decision to sell my mid-arm quilt machine.  Quilting larger quilts was a thing of the past.  After that sold, my Baby Lock Sewing/Embroidery machine was next.  Working one-handed with the embroidery frames was not my cup of tea!  In their place, I purchased a new sewing machine, one with the longer arm.  That way hopefully I could quilt some smaller quilt projects.  As you can tell, I am determined to quilt again!

 

A Must Share Quilt Pattern

Today I want to share a a great pattern featured at Angela Pingel’s blog called “Cut to Pieces”. When I saw this pattern awhile back, I immediately thought what a great idea; knowing that we all have many scraps in our bins to choose from, thought this was well worth passing along. So enjoy, and to Angela we say thanks for the great tutorial called ” Cracker Scraps”.

An Amazing Idea

September 2015 found both hubby and I eagerly wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  While we knew we were taking a long RV trip later in the fall, we decided to hop in the motorhome and head for Kerrville, Tx, one of our favorite go-to spots in the Texas Hill country.

Once in Kerrville, we took a couple side trips; one day we went to Comfort, Tx,.  Tucked away in this small town is the neatest knitting and needlepoint shop called  the “Tinsmith’s Wife Shop”.   You can read more about this quaint shop here.  If you love to needlepoint, cross stitch or knit, then may I suggest you plan a trip to Comfort, Texas.

On our last day in Kerrville, we stumbled upon an amazing new “sculpture park”, just on the north side of Kerrville, at the junction of I10 and Hwy 16.  It’s called “The Coming King Sculpture Park”.  As we started to drive into the park, our eyes gazed upward.  There on the side of the hill stood this enormous cross.  Investigating further, we learned the cross was created by The Coming King Foundation (TCKF) founder, artist and evangelist, Max Greiner, Jr.  This seven story cross called “The Empty Cross”, was erected on July 27, 2010, it is 77’7” tall; the cross arm is 40’ across and the center space is 7’ wide.  The carbon and cor-ten steel cross weight approximately 70 tons and is anchored in solid rock. 

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Below the cross, inside the concrete foundation, is a Bible which was anointed with water, soil, and oil from Israel.  The cross is located at the same latitude as Israel, and is approximately halfway between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on IH-10.  This cross symbolizes the Door, the Way, the Narrow Gate, the Strong Tower and Mighty Fortress that allows the Light of the World, Jesus Christ , to shine from Heaven to earth.

In the above picture, looking at the bottom left corner of the picture, you’ll see an individual sitting in the chair.  Comparing the man’s size to the cross, one can fully understand the enormous size of the “Empty Cross”.   As we stood in awe of this enormous cross, one just felt a bit closer to God, as you could feel his presence everywhere.  It was an awesome experience.

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At the base inside the cross, there are many plaques and posters, describing the vision for the park and many testimonies from individuals who have been touched by visiting the cross/park. 

Shown below is Christ the Fisherman, one of the many bronze sculptures, that have been created and donated to the park by a sculptor….

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The returning Christ…riding on a white horse with the ram’s horn and sword.

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Near each sculpture is a brass plaque, providing scripture of the event…

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If you’ll look closely behind the sculpture, in between Christ’s legs, you’ll see some dark squares.  These are scriptures that are placed on bronze plaque/squares and then cemented into the rock path.  In each walkway scripture stones are placed approximately 10-12’ apart. 

There’s also a prayer garden where visitors have penned their prayer requests penned onto the rocks and stones.  This trail of rocks continues for approximately 600’, winding around the hillside.  Every rock represented someone’s prayer request; the feelings of hope and faith could be felt as we walked around this 600’ trail of rocks.   

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The nails…

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Worldwide attention will soon be focused on Kerrville when Dr. Pat Robertson’s “700 CLUB” broadcasts a special feature on the spiritual art park, via the CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK.  The program is scheduled to air around the world during EASTER 2016.

This free art park is located in Kerrville, TX just one hour northwest of San Antonio.  If you’d like to know more about this amazing place, please visit www.thecomingkingfoundation.org

The journey of Quilting–Part II

This is part II to a discussion I’m having on the the Journey of Quilting.  So sit a spell and join in…now for the conclusion…

We left off last time on “Piecing” …. Ok, so we’ve discussed cutting our fabric and next comes  the piecing…or just in case you’re not familiar with that term, it’s the sewing of the blocks, squares, etc., together.   Aww to me just the hum of the sewing machine I find can be so relaxing.  With a bit of soft music going in the background and the hum of the machine, I’m lost for hours on end in my work.  Guess that’s why I love to piece. 

Wherever you sew, be it in a spare bedroom, at the dinning room table, etc., make sure your machine is at the appropriate height on a table or cabinet, so you aren’t straining you arms or back in any way.  Also you’ll want a comfortable chair or your “tush” can get quite sore.   You can also purchase  a memory foam pillow/cushion that I found makes your chair all plush and comfy.  Be sure your sewing machine has a 1/4” foot as this will ensure your seams are all 1/4” as you sew.  Don’t forget the lighting…most important element I believe for sewing.  Proper lighting takes the guessing game out of coordinating colors, plus reduces eye strain.  I have ceiling lights and several different portable LED lights all over my sewing area.  While I do have one large window, I find I need more light these days, so if you’re like me, add those lights!    

Finally, the “quilting” process….to me this is the step that breathes life into the quilt!    Maybe you’re one who prefers to hand quilt…kudos to you.  I’ve seen many beautiful hand quilted quilts; the stitching on these quilts will simply take your breath away.  I’ve always admired anyone who could make those beautiful stitches.  I too started out hand quilting, then I tried free motion quilting (FMQ) and was instantly hooked.  FMQ came easy for me, as when I was younger, I loved to doodle.  However, it does take practice, practice, and more practice to get those stitches like you want them.  FMQ can be done on a domestic machine or one of the new mid-arm machines.  Just remember, when you FMQ on one of these machines, the fabric is moved under the machine needle, instead of moving the machine over the fabric.   Again, there are many different types of domestic machines that have a wider harp, and if you’re wanting to use one to quilt with, you’ll love the wider harp.  Finally there’s the long-arm machines; this is where the machine and quilt are on a frame and the machine quilts as it moves over the fabric.  There are many good long-arm quilters and a good long-arm quilter is worth their weight in gold.  So while their prices may vary, the quality of quilting may too.  Be sure and check with friends or your local quilt shop for a reliable long-arm quilter.  Again, if you’re wanting to quilt your own quilts, most quilting machine companies sell both long-arm and mid-arm machines, so take you time, try as many as possible before you make that decision to buy.

Well, our journey is complete; we started out looking for fabric and have come full circle to quilting the pieced top.  There’s something to be said for the gratification we personally receive from making a product from start to finish.  It always gives me a warm feeling when I give a quilt away; the recipient’s face says it all…happiness! 

Yep, it’s a journey from start to finish and I must say…what a trip!  Thanks for coming along…if you have a moment, leave me your thoughts as I’d love to hear from you. 

Till next time, ….keep your eye on the needle and your foot on the pedal.  Happy Quilting!     

The Journey of Quilting…..Part I

Considering my quilting is on temporary hold these days, I thought now would be a good time to talk about  “the journey of quilting”.  As a child, I grew up loving to sew, thanks in part to a loving Grandmother and Aunt, who shared with me their love of sewing.  Later in life I discovered quilting; yes, that’s when the quilt bug bit me!  So grab a cup and get ready to go on a journey with me!  

Most of us have that desire deep inside to be bargain shoppers and many go crazy at the thought of a sale.  For us quilters it’s the same excitement – there’s nothing better than going to a fabric sale, or getting together with quilt buddies and going on a shop hop!  Just the anticipation of discovering gorgeous new fabrics, patterns and new ideas, it can sure get your blood to pumping.  Plus, the food, oh gosh yes, let’s not forget finding those perfect cafés in those out of the way places that will leave us talking for days about the great food!  Yes, a shop hop can do wonders for our creative spirits. 

Visiting a quilt shop (SHOP), is so much fun to just stand there and take it all in; all new fabrics, samples, etc., plus meeting and talking with individuals who share the same love, is such a treat.  I personally find my imagination begins to run wild as I gaze upon the fabrics, bringing ideas into mind that I have to resist least I go broke!!   Yet the “feel of the fabric” is so relaxing, dissolving the stresses and cares of the day away with each stroke!   Oh my gosh, I’m sure many of you are saying…”she’s weird”.   Not really, think of the times you’ve stopped by a SHOP and your mind is bogged down with the cares of the day, but once you leave you find your spirits are lifted and you feel much better than before.  To me, that’s the best pick-me-up!   From my days of working at the SHOP, I still remember the feel of excitement as the delivery man arrives with new boxes of fabrics; why the anticipation of what’s inside the box was similar to that of opening presents on Christmas morning!

So let’s talk for a moment on purchasing fabrics at SHOPS.  For the most part, fabrics at SHOPS are “1st run” from the fabric mills.   Manufacturers like Moda, Benartex, Wilmington, Marcus, Blank, Robert Kaufman, Hoffman, Michael Miller, RJR, Windham, Henry Glass, to name just a few, produce quality fabrics.  You may have a favorite manufacturer, as I do, but I’m always open to new ones as long as they produce quality fabrics.  Most of the larger stores that have fabric, have good fabric, but many times it’s not the “1st” run.  Some vendors are large enough that they order large commercial size rolls, then subdivide into smaller bolts and ship those to their stores.  Again, don’t get me wrong, most of these are good quality fabrics, but many are “blends” and not 100% cotton,  which is the best for making quilts.  I remember one specific instance when I ran out of a certain fabric and someone told me they’d seen the same fabric at one of the big fabric stores.  Upon inspection, I held the fabric up and what do you know… I could see right through it – I said “no thanks, that’s not going in my quilt”!    I’m not quite sure which “run” that fabric was from, but I do believe it could have been better used as a sieve!   So just remember, you get what you pay for! 

Ok, back on our journey…we’ve purchased our fabric and pattern and once home,  the cutting begins.  Ugh, I must admit that cutting is not my favorite part, but it needs to be done.  Now I can just hear a few of you saying “wait, she didn’t talk about pre-washing her fabric before cutting”.  No, most of the time I don’t pre-wash the fabric.  From my experience at the SHOP, fabric reps were always saying the dyes now being used are better and for the most part, do not bleed and run, thus reducing the need to pre-wash.  So I decided one day to give it a try and as the saying goes, haven’t looked back since!  When it comes to “reds”, I still feel the need to rinse the fabric under cold water, dry and press.  Please remember that pre-washing/rinsing the fabrics rinses out the fabric stabilizers and finishers that have been applied to the fabric. So if you do pre-wash, you’ll want to use a good quality fabric starch on fabric before cutting.  Then once the quilt is finished, it should be washed in cold water, then dried.  Now here’s a tip you may want to try – I always use a “SHOUT Color Catcher” with my quilt; simply toss one in with the wash.  The color is then collected on the sheet rather than bleed on your quilt.  Believe me they work….I even use these when I’m washing new garments…

Back to cutting; being anxious to start piecing, I find the quickest cutting method is to use a rotary cutter and ruler.   There are many different “cutting machines” on the market that are advertised to make the process easier and quicker; the Accuquilt, the Go Cutter, and Brother, plus many more.   Most of these machines use dies to cut the fabric, which to me results in a lot of “waste”.   Hmm, what generation did I come from….I’ve watched as many quilters at the SHOP, use the cutting machine and then simply toss the scraps into the trash or a recycle basket at the shop.  Ok, so we don’t need all those bits and scraps of fabric, but just saying, some do come in handy for another project.  Now for me, I can usually cut it quicker and smarter than a machine, and still have fabric left over for another project!  HA, imagine that, me smarter than a machine.   Again, I’m not saying these machines are not great – I’m just saying at this point in my quilting experience, I’d rather use a rotary cutter and a ruler.  Now if you do appliqué, then one of these machines may just be what you need.

One additional thought on cutting….If you are new to quilting, there are various types of rotary cutters; Fiskers, Olpha’s, Clover, Ergo, Gingher and many more.  So if you have a quilter friend, ask them to try theirs first, as our hands are all different and what feels good to me may not be the same for you.  It’s heck to purchase a cutter, get home and not like the feel of it, so when possible, always try it out first.

Next up, piecing….however, since I’ve held you captive long enough, let’s stop here and we’ll pick up on our journey next time.  Please leave me your thoughts and ideas and do come back and finish the “journey” with me.

Till next time –

Off to a new home…

In September-October 2015, I decided to make some quilts for both family and friends that were experiencing some health issues.  You can read about them in this post.  Then in late December, I finally got the last quilt quilted, so thought I’d share with you.

It started like this…

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This is what it looked like after quilting….(since my “quilt holder” has been out of commission, I had to improvise and take picture in segments…so sorry).

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When I started thinking of quilting this one, I thought I would do an overall pattern ; then I “listened” to the quilt and so glad I did!  Each section/border is quilted differently and it just seemed to bring the quilt to life.

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So that’s it for the deer quilts; this was #5 and I really don’t care to do another one any time soon.  Even though Hubby is keeping me busy these days, my mind is planning…so stay tuned….