Tag Archives: Quilting

I’m Back–No More Silence!

I realized I was quiet the month of September.  It is unusual for me to be quiet.  No thoughts, no words, no memories.  It was a hard month.  I was so desperately tired of politics, and it seemed to be in my face.  I was still at our Missouri home with a sales contract that was about to expire.  I was not going places like the past because of Covid-19.  It was just a hard month.  

Life, as we knew it, has not been the same since early March of this year.  We sheltered in place in Arizona.  We washed all our packages from the grocery store.  We were washing or hands every other minute.  All I could think about was getting back to Missouri to see our children and hope they were healthy.  

We weren’t sure how to get there in the midst of a pandemic, and having a three day trip where we didn’t want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants (if any were even open).  Then Dennis got a stroke of genius.  He decided what would work is to purchase a travel trailer that was small enough that his car could pull it.  The only stops we had to make were for gas, and RV parks along the way.  If the RV parks were full, we could boondock in a Walmart parking lot.  

We found a trailer in April, and asked the dealership if they could hold it for a month so we could just pick it up when we were ready to leave for Missouri.  It was quite an adventure.  Our trailer was small, but had a love seat that fold down to a queen size bed, table with two reclining chairs, and a full bathroom, although a small one!  It had a ton of storage, so we were good to go.  We did find that the 2 recliners were pretty useless—first the bolts fell out of them on our first few hundred miles of driving, and the seats were too low for the table.  We have since replaced them with 2 regular chairs, and it was a perfect solution.

We made our way to Missouri, and parked the trailer in front of our home—our home is in the country, so there are no rules about parking a travel trailer.  We made a couple trips into the St. Louis area, and stayed several days at an RV park.  We could visit family without having to stay anywhere but our own place.

Things weren’t much different in Missouri than Arizona.  While Covid-19 was raging through the state of Arizona, it had not yet hit hard the middle of the state of Missouri.  Because it hit hard in the city of St. Louis, visiting our kids was limited.  They were wearing masks 24/7 outside their homes.  They were wary of us coming from the hot spot of Arizona.  

My grandkids ended their school year doing online classes.  My grandson who was a freshman at the University of Missouri, moved back home to finish his classes.  The university was refunding a good portion of their housing money if they moved out.  By June, Jack and his cousin, Niki, were tired of being confined in their parents’ homes, and they ventured their way to mid-Missouri where they stayed with us for almost three weeks.  It was so much fun to have them there.

But, that was not even easy.  A week after we arrived in Missouri, Dennis got sick.  I mean he got, “I cannot breathe sick.”  It was scary.  The really odd thing is that for three doctors’ visits no one suggested he get a Covid test.  Finally, we asked for one and was approved to get it to day the grandkids were to arrive.  I quickly called them and told them to not come until we got the results of the test.  Fortunately, Dennis got the results in 4 hours, and he was negative.  So, I called the kids, and they didn’t want to wait for the next day—they drove out that evening.  I think they really needed a change of scenery.

Their visit was not like previous visits where we went places and out to eat.  We were confined at our home.  The pool was used a lot, they took walks in our wooded neighborhood, an we played a lot of games.  It was a good break for all of us.  Then they went back home, and I needed things to keep me busy.  I started making quilt tops.  I became a sewing fool, but it kept me optimistic, and productive.  I am a project person, and I always need something to keep me going.  

As the summer moved on, the political world heated up.  There were demonstrations, okay, the most of them turned out to be riots.  Cities were burned, people were being nasty to their loved ones for not agreeing on things.  It was ugly.  It made me buy more fabric and limit my use of social media.

I was fortunate to make a couple trips. In July, I flew to the east coast to visit my sister. To my surprise, the airport in Washington D.C. was a ghost town. I had a great time visiting with her and her east coast kids and grandkids. Early September Dennis I drove to northern Georgia to visit dear friends/family. Their mountain home was a great retreat for us. The rest of  September was the low point.  I realized we didn’t see our kids as much as we wanted.  We didn’t see friends and extended family hardly at all.  Our contract on the house was about to expire, and I just wanted to go “home” to Arizona.  We planned our escape back for the first week in October.  It was time to go.  

Our house is back on the market, and we are getting really excellent showings and interest.  It is looking positive.  We packed up the whole house.  There is nothing left but furniture and a few cleaning products.  We traveled back with our trailer and stayed at the same RV parks we used going east.  When we pulled up to our Arizona home, I felt like I was truly home.  That was a good feeling.  We unpacked our trailer and took a couple days to unpack boxes and find new homes for the last of our Missouri belongings.  It feels good to be here.  We haven’t seen any Arizona family yet.  We are still finding our new normal.

The other day Dennis took the trailer back to the place we purchased it for a minor repair.  He said the lot was empty.  We bought our trailer before the everyone decided that was how to travel this year.  The lot was loaded with trailers of all sizes.   A friend of ours was thinking about purchasing a trailer, and when she priced them, they have doubled in price from when we bought ours!  Everyone is on the road with their RV!

So, here we are in Arizona.  Yesterday I took four of my quilt tops to a long arm quilting lady.  No, her arm isn’t super long—but her machine is!  I will continue sewing to keep me sane, and hopefully soon I will get to visit with my Arizona relatives.

Until then—I am back.  We are good.  We are happy to be back home.  Because we are still officially permanent Missouri residents, we voted at the city hall before we left.  Now I can ignore all the hoopla of the elections, and watch for the results on November 3.

This Week In My Life

Yay!  We have gotten through the two major political conventions.  It is such a shame that we don’t get to see the conventions for the Libertarians and other political parties who feel they would do the best job in Washington.  I don’t do politics on social media.  Most of my friends and family know where I stand, but I don’t want to get into arguments with anyone.  I don’t want them to call me all the mean nasty names, or say they cannot figure out why on earth I think like I do.  If I recall, this country set up a system of secret ballots so that no one would be intimidated from voting the way they believed.  What happened to the idea that I don’t want to tell how I am voting, and you shouldn’t ask.  Yep.  We need “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it comes to elections.  How much nicer the election year would be!

So . . .  I continue to purchase fabric, and find designs that grab my attention, and dive into piecing quilts for my pure enjoyment.  I just completed a quilt top.  I was so pleased with it. I loved the design and I loved the fabric.  I laid it out across our king size bed.  I am standing on a two-step stool to take its photo to share with my quilting Facebook groups.  Dennis kept pointing at one of the squares.  Why was he putting his finger in my photo?  Then I saw what he saw—I put a square together upside down two rows into my finished top!  I have carefully, with my handy seam-ripper, taken out the square to put in properly so the design will all go the right way.  My new challenge—how to pull a square out that has all ready been surrounded by completed rows to make a change!  I will do the fix this week.  I think it will be easier than it sounds (I hope).

In the meantime, I have put up all my sewing materials because I am using my dining room in Missouri as my sewing room.  This weekend I was hosting a family at our home whom I have never met.  

How does that happen?  I don’t run an Airb&b.  But I do what I can do when I find out someone needs help.  A few weeks ago, I learned that a relative of my sister’s husband was sick.  She was diagnosed with cancer.  She is young, married and has three little children.  He husband is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood here in Missouri.  She is having her surgery in Columbia, Missouri, near our home.  I connected with her on Facebook.  I invited her family to come to our home for the weekend to have a quiet vacation-like weekend before she has major surgery.  

I don’t want a pat on the back for doing this.  We have a large home in Missouri, and are able to offer this.  If the tables were turned, and one of my children were going through something like this away from all their family and friends, I would hope someone would do the same for them.  The two school-aged boys spent their whole time here in the swimming pool.  They came out of the water for meals, and to sleep at night.  I have never seen two little boys have so much fun in a pool.  We ended their weekend with a wiener roast at the fire pit, and S’mores for dessert.  They have gone back home to be in school this week.  We will host her husband and baby while mom is in the hospital, and he will be close by.

I ask that all of you who read this blog will pray for Anita.  This will be the first surgery, and probably not the only one.  Pray for all the doctors and healthcare workers who will be tending to her.  Pray for a successful surgery and healing.  Pray for little boys who don’t understand what a cancer diagnosis means, and pray for a husband who has a lot on his plate, working full time in the military and tending to this family he loves dearly.

She is only expected to be in the hospital for two or three days.  Having her family here was a gift to me.  I loved watching those little boys play and love on their mom and dad.  The only thing I had to do was make sure food was on the table—and I usually do that daily anyway.  

Later this week, I will attempt to fix my “broken” square and complete the quilt top.  I have more fabric and a plan to start the next quilt.  I’m super stoked to keep sewing to keep my mind on things that are not stressful or controversial.  I get to make quilts with love.  I know to whom they are going, so as I stitch them, I think of these people who I love, and hope they will love wrapping themselves in my little bit of my artwork.

Thank you for reading this.  Prayers for my new friend and her family are most appreciated.  

Quarantine quilting

I have been on hold for a while.  I felt a bit like an airplane that was put in a holding pattern because of bad weather and told not to land yet.  So around and around the city I fly wondering when I can touch down.  I think I let social media and the news get to me.  People can be so quick to judge, and they can only judge from where they stand.  I don’t stand where anyone else does, nor does anyone stand in my place.  I was feeling low.  I was feeling like I was not allowed to have the feelings I have.  So, I switched off.

When Covid-19 first hit, I was in a minor panic stage.  I didn’t know what this virus was, how one gets it, and how dangerous it might be to go anywhere, especially since I am considered that “old” person who might die from it.  When we were told we were going to have to shelter in place, I decided I needed a project to keep me busy—to keep my mind off the scary stuff, and to keep me productive.  I chose making a quilt.

I was in Arizona at the time, and I diligently worked on the quilt top.  The week we were ready to leave for Missouri, I shipped the quilt top off to the long arm quilting lady who was from my Missouri town, but had since moved to Florida.  (For those of you who don’t quilt—she doesn’t have one arm that is super long—her quilting machine has a long arm. (Just wanted to clear that up from the image of a “long-armed quilting lady”).  Rather than finding a new person locally, I sent it to her, and told her to return it to my Missouri address.  The quilt will be a gift, and will be delivered to the recipient in just a few weeks.

Now I am in Missouri and things have not changed a lot.  In fact, the first month in Missouri Dennis got terribly sick.  He couldn’t breathe.  No, he didn’t have Covid, but he couldn’t breathe.  He is almost completely better, and we still do not know the exact reason for his respiratory distress, but we are taking the most caution in our lives.  We go the store, masked properly and properly spaced.  We avoid crowds.  We do our hiking in our neighborhood, and we pretty much stay home.  It was time to do another quilt.  I purchased some charm packs I saw online, so I found a pattern that I really loved and decided to make a lap quilt. For non-quilters a charm pack is a pack of fabric cut into five inch squares.  I ordered the fabric for the background color, and lo and behold, the same place that only took three days to deliver my order, took almost two weeks.  My project was on hold.  

While the project was on hold, I decided to visit my sister who lives in West Virginia, near the Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia border.  I was a bit wary of flying, but was assured that all precautions were being taken by the airlines.  The airport in St. Louis was busy but nothing like it was in previous flights I have taken.  The Dulles Washington D.C. airport was like being in Twilight Zone.  It was, for all intents and purposes, empty.  Changing planes in Atlanta found the busiest of all three airports.  I spent my week with my sister, and her granddaughters.  It was a great week to just kick back and relax.

Coming back home I had all my materials ready to start my quilt top, when I realized I was out of thread.  Dennis and I drove in to Columbia to one of their quilting stores to pick up a spool of thread.  This was going to be a quick visit.  When I got out of the car to run into the store, Dennis told me to take a look at their sewing machines because I have been talking about upgrading.  I laugh that I just bought the most expensive spool of thread on the planet—it came with a sewing machine!  I went from a Volkswagen of a sewing machine to a Lamborghini.  Didn’t even go with the mid size car—jumped immediately to the fancy sports car with all the bells and whistles.  Part of the reason was that I found a used machine that had only 80 hours sewing time (yes, it has an internal clock), it has wifi, and it does everything except make my lunch.  This Lamborghini of a sewing machine was one half the price of buying it new.  The store offers four three-hour classes to learn how to do all the things this machine can do.  I haven’t finished the classes yet, so maybe I will find the button where it makes my lunch!

I came home with thread and a new sewing machine.  As I was putting the top together, I realized I didn’t quite cut the pieces properly.  It was going together, but not as well as it should have.  I was thinking of scrapping the whole project when Dennis came in the room to look at the work.  He said he loved it, and would really like me to make it for him.  I asked why he liked it so much, and he said, “because it is really you.”  So my perfectly imperfect quilt is going to my husband when complete.  

The top is completed, I have bought the fabric for the back which I think will be perfect for it.  I am now moving on to my other quilt top.  I still love the pattern I used, and now that I am very familiar with its construction, this is the pattern I will be using.  When I was in St. Louis coming back from my West Virginia trip, I stopped at a quilt store and bought the most fabulous fabric.  It was not in charm pack, but I am perfectly capable of cutting a lot of 5” squares.  I have more control of my fabric choices this way.  When you buy a charm pack, you get what they give you.  This way I purchased 1/2 yards of many different fabrics that I thought would go great together.

Lesson learned–using directional fabric made putting this quilt together like working a crossword puzzle!

I have come to realize that I don’t make quilts just to make quilts.  The pattern has to speak to me, and the fabrics also have to speak to me.  For me a quilt is a work of art.  It’s a step above paint by number.  If I bought a quilt kit with the pattern and the fabric selected for me, I would feel like I was doing a paint by number.  Other people in the world have also made this identical quilt with the identical fabric.  That is not me.  I want some input into my projects that are part of me and no one else.

My fabrics for my next 2 lap quilts. One will have the dark purple background, and the other the light purple.

I’m revving up my Lamborghini, and I’m getting ready for another run around the track.  I’m still cutting 5” squares.  I need a total of 144 squares before I can start sewing.  This will take a little bit of time.  It’s the part I like least about quilting—all the cutting.  I could buy charm packs, but for me it takes aways my creativity.  Maybe sometime later, after I am ready to let go of my choosing everything to the time saver of precut fabric.  I’m just not there yet.

This has kept me in a positive mood.  I think about each project and who potentially I want to gift it to.  I hope they will cherish it knowing I made it especially with them in mind.  I cannot give names, but I have several people who will be receiving them.  

What are you doing during this stressful time to keep yourself going?  How do you fill your time when things feel tough?  Please share your thoughts.  I want to learn from you also.

 I will try to be more consistent with my posting.  I just couldn’t find words I felt worthy to share for a few weeks.  I love and appreciate each one of you who stop for a few minutes to read what I write.  I hope I can encourage you to find something to give you joy.

Quilting — Piece by Piece

I realized the other day I was hitting a low.  Here I am sitting I sunny Arizona, while back in Missouri it is snowing and super cold.  I have a beautiful home here, and a mountain nothingto view right off my back yard.  Why am I feeling listless?  The project lady has no project!  Oh my!  I am not planning a holiday gathering or party of any kind, no one has called me for a get-together,  I’m not redecorating, I’m just sitting here with nothing to plan. 

I know, you are thinking, “how lovely, nothing to do.”  Yeah, that’s nice for me for a short while, and then I need something.  I decided it would be quilting.  It is something I can do, and put away if a social event comes up, because I am even more myself with social events.  A couple weeks ago I was invited to go with a cousin to a local quilt show.  That served two purposes for me—1) an event, a connection with people outside my home; and 2) trying to find some inspiration to make a quilt.

IMG_8838 2My biggest problem is that I am not a fan of traditional quilts.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to look at them.  I love seeing the beautiful work done, but they are not me.  I like different, and I like bold.  I am very tempted to make a “Labyrinth Walk” quilt.  It’s an optical illusion, and really interesting.  My cousin had the pattern in one of her quilt magazines, and I borrowed it, but the inspiration was still not there.  I think I need a bit more piecing practice before I tackle it.  I kept watching quilt videos.  One of my favorite places to watch on YouTube is the videos from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Don’t ask me why, having come from Missouri, I have not made a trip to Hamilton, MO to visit this “Disneyland” of quilt stores.  It is on my list for this summer.

I want to make quilt gifts for my family.  The problem is, my family is like me.  They like unique more modern styles, and should I make a quilt for their beds, or a lap quilt to cuddle under while watching TV or reading a good book?  What colors would they like?  I just kept watching videos.  Then one just popped up that caught my attention.  It was a IMG_1435simple straightforward quilt design, but bold colors, and one I think a particular person in my family may love.  It’s an odd size, so it doesn’t seem to be a bed quilt, but it also seems to be too large for a lap quilt.  I think it’s a size fits all—do anything you want with this quilt.

I started looking at fabric on line, but I like touching a looking at the colors in person.  This quilt will take a jellyroll, which is 2-1/2 strips of fabric (about 40 strips) rolled into a round circle like a jellyroll.  I went back and forth over what to do, and finally told Dennis I wanted to go to the local fabric store and see what they had.  Lo and behold, the jellyroll I was looking at online was sitting in this store.  Before I chickened out, and backed away from this project, I grabbed the jellyroll, and fabric for the background, and made my way to the checkout.  

It is a bold and brave step.  I have a very short resumes of quilts,  Back in the early 1970’s my sister and I took a quilting course at a local high school night class.  I made two quilts —  one for a twin bed, and one for a baby bed.  The twin quilt was for my son who was just two years old.  I was pregnant with my second child at the time.  I told myself I would make all my future children quilts.  Well, babies two, then three, then four showed up.  A few years after the last, I became a single mom.  I was way too busy to do anything extracurricular after working all day, and dealing with little ones all evening and on weekends. Quilting disappeared from my life completely, although I think my sister continued her quilting.

In 2013, I married Dennis, and we combined our households in mid-Missouri where he lived.  His wife, who had passed away, was a quilter.  There were quilts, fabric, and supplies, everywhere.  I knew these items were not mine, and we gave them to family members who would use them and enjoy them, but it made me start thinking about quilts again.  IMG_8449Two years later I was going to have a new grandson.  I wanted to make something special for him, but I did not have a lot of confidence of what to make.  I found a pattern for a transportation quilt that had crossed-stitch squares.  Nothing is easier than cross-stitching.  I decided to purchase this kit.  One of the things I loved about it was that I could do the hand sewing anywhere.  I even did the embroidery in the car on a trip to and from Spring Training of the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida.  I completed the squares, and realized that they weren’t all the same size.  That is no news to the quilting world, but was to me.  I found a local person who had a long arm IMG_0355quilting machine to complete my quilt, and she met with me and walked me through what I needed to do with these non-matching squares.  Thus, the quilt, was a success, and with the leftover fabric, Luke received a matching pillowcase, some bibs, and a “quiet” book.  I loved the project.

Then I was done.  Quilting was out of my mind, or so I thought.  A few months later, as I was reorganizing some storage shelves in our basement, I ran across a couple plastic bins of tee shirts.  I asked my husband what these were.  He said his previous wife was going to make their son a tee shirt quilt, but it never happened before she passed away.  I don’t know where it came from, but I told him, if I could learn how to do this, I would make his son the tee shirt quilt.  At that, Dennis told me to find where I could take a class to do that, and he would pay for the class and buy the materials necessary.  Off I went to find this class.  I did not realize that the class I found was not to make an ordinary tee shirt quilt, but would make one quite distinguished from those I had later seen.  That Christmas Blake received the quilt made with the tee shirts from his childhood, and through high school and college.  His life history was now part of a quilt.  And, now I had the bug.

I found a pattern online for a “Stained Glass” quilt, and bought the pattern and fabric.  I made the squares, and then they were put away, because I had other projects, like planning a 50th class reunion, having guests to our home in the country, and traveling.  In December of 2017, we decided to write a contract to have a 2nd home built in Arizona.  We would be closing on the home in June of 2018, and have it furnished to move in for the coming winter.  I came back to Missouri and realized I had this quilt I started, and it would work well as the quilt for our guest room.  I pulled everything out, and once again got working on another quilt.  This would be quilt #5 in my life.  It was completed and quilted in time for us to bring it with us last winter, and is sitting beautifully on our guest bed.

Now I need a project, and the next quilt materials are purchased.  I will work on it between any guests arriving, and any events we find to do here in Arizona.  During that time, I will try to learn what kind of quilts my family would like—I never made those quilts for my kids that I thought I was going to do back in the 70’s.  Who knows, I may  become a quilting queen, or maybe I may just do a couple and find a new project.  Time will tell.

My Current Project