Quilt Abecedary

QA Signature

Starting in January, I will be participating in a one-year term group where we will make words for each other, with the end goal to make a quilt of letters and phrases and words.  Since gathering the group together, though, I realized that although I loved quilty words, I hadn’t the faintest idea about making them.

I bought two books (one recently and one a few whiles back) and read them both cover to cover.  Then I decided I wanted to have the best of both worlds: the fun wonkiness of Tonya Ricucci’s Word Play Quilts and the shapes and precision of Sam Hunter’s Quilt Talk.  I bought the Kindle version of Quilt Talk, which included a digital printout of the letters, but I just couldn’t face doing foundation paper piecing for an entire alphabet, so instead I printed out the pages with her drawings of the letters’ shapes and used that as a guideline.Quilt Abecedary titleAll of this is to say that I started a new blog: Quilt Abecedary.

I, like many of you, are fascinated by font and words and graphic design.  I always say in another life, I would have gotten a graphic design degree, but alas, that life is in the past.  So maybe this is a way for me to have fun with type and typography in a quilty way.

What is an abecedary?  Or an abecedarian?  I wrote about it on my introductory post, but both are known as types of ABC primers, or a record of the alphabet in some fashion.  More info about an early stone abecedary can be found on the post for the Letter B.

I have included a tab above, Quilt Abecedary, where I will link over to individual letters as I get them made.  My goal is to do one a day in the month of October and with tomorrow’s posting, I’ll have finished from A to E.

It’s not really meant to have followers, as it will be a completed reference work, with a finite finish date and serves as a documented journey of my working my way through the alphabet.  If you are going to try your hand at making quilt words, you may want to check it out.  I also have a Pinterest Board dedicated to word quilts, just to inspire you.

My apologies to those of you who received my unfinished post, Rolling Rainbow.  Sometimes things just get the better of me.

tiny nine patchesSometimes my blog software places ads here so I can blog for free.  I do not control the content of these.

Circles Block #16-EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles 16_OPQuilt_markedRadiating Compass Rose
Final Block of Shine: The Circles Quilt

This is the Sixteenth and Final Block for my Shine: The Circles Quilt.  It’s kind of a bittersweet moment, as I spent more than a year designing and sewing these blocks, and have sent them out into the world with a wish and a hope that others may enjoy them, too.  And I hope you have!

As I did for the fifteenth circle block, I based my design on the fancy compass/North designator of old maps, throwing my ideas into EQ7, and having fun.  There are elements of other blocks in this one, with the undulating narrow blades and the small points.

EQ7 Circle 16

For this final block, I liked that this design had echoes of Circles Block Four, and that you can see a dimensionality to it.  I have the final four patterns as a group up for sale on Craftsy  [and Payhip, if you are purchasing from an EU country that collects VAT] and the tutorials for each block can be found on this blog (an index in is the tab above).  The finishing instructions pattern for Shine: The Circles Quilt is also listed on Craftsy and Payhip.

Printing Circle 16

Set your printer to scale at 100% and print out four copies.  Count your pieces (I have too many outer points and outer arcs by accident–you only need sixteen, not thirty-two), and gather your fabrics (below) and jump in.

Circle 16_1A circle leftover from another center circle for another block.  It worked great here!

Circle 16_2

To get the blades going the same way as shown in the illustration, lay the printed side DOWN.  I include lots of tips and tricks for these circles in each pattern, so if you found this one first, head to the tab up above marked Shine: The Circles Quilt EPP to find the others.   Circle 16_3 Circle 16_4The outer points have no direction, so you can place them printing up. . . or down.

Circle 16_5 Circle 16_6All the pieces are glued down to the papers.

Circle 16_6aI print out a smaller version of the illustrated circle and carry it around with my pieces as I’m working on the project.

Circle 16_7 oopsPay attention to which way you sew on that first blade wedge.  This is an OOPS! on the right.  Un-sew and do it again.

Circle 16_7a

First round all sewn.

Circle 16_8

Second round all sewn.

Circle 16_9

Join the blades of the rays together.  Because I have such strong color shifts in these pieces, I opted to use different colored threads in each section. Here I’m sewing the teal pieces together, then I’ll switch to other thread and join the next band. . . and the next.

Circle 16_10

Start joining the units into pairs.

Circle 16_11

I just thought this was a fun photo of the project tucked into my Sew Together Bag.  There’s a free mini version tutorial of this on my blog, but you do have to have the original pattern to figure it out.

Circle 16_12

Okay, back to the sewing.  To place the points on accurately, pinch to find the center of the curved edge.

Circle 16_12a

Align that as shown. I use one pin to keep it in place, but start sewing from the point’s outer corner, as shown in the next photo.

Circle 16_12b Circle 16_12c

Repeat the pinch-to-find-center action and sew that on.  I always take a stitch at the point corners to join them to each other.

Circle 16_13

Here’s how they look when finished.  Keep going until you’ve gotten the points on all your ray-pairs.

Circle 16_13a Circle 16_14

Join a ray pair together.

Circle 16_14a

Then stitch down the flopping-loose yellow point. Repeat with the other two pairs.

Circle 16_15

Now you are getting somewhere!  This looks great, doesn’t it?  Don’t sew the two half-circle parts together.  Keep going.

Circle 16_16

Time to add in the dark blue outer arcs in between the points. Again, I take one stitch at the outer points to join the arcs together too.

Circle 16_17

This is what you have so far.

Circle 16_18

Join the two units, sew down the yellow points, then fill in with the arcs.

Circle 16_19

Nice work!  Here it is from the back with all the papers still in.

Circle 16_19a

Remove all but the outer arc papers.  You’ll need those to appliqué the circle onto the background.

Circle 16_20

Don’t put it on the background just yet.  First appliqué the center circle, as in Circle Block #1.

Circle 16_21

Lay your center circle over the center hole, measuring to get it on evenly, then appliqué with tiny stitches (above).

Circle 16_21a

I trim out the excess.

Circle 16_21b

And then trim more excess–this time the appliqué center, leaving about 1/4″ seam allowance.

Circle 16_22

Cut a background square 14 1/2″, and as in the other circles, decide the placement of your circle and pin it down.  When you come to a place with the seam allowances. . .

Circle 16_22a

. . . first fold in one side. . .

Circle 16_22b

. . . then the other, and keep stitching it to the background.

Circle 16_trimming away background

When finished, cut away the background.

Circle 16_trimming sa

I also trim off some of the more wild ends of seam allowances, as you don’t need all that bulk.

Circles 16_OPQuilt_markedAnd you are done with all your circles!!  Congratulations!!

Shine_Quilt Top Final800

Now you can finish your quilt.  I wrote the finishing instructions in a pattern and put it up on Craftsy and PayHip (for EU readers) so you can finish yours too.  I am in the middle of quilting this, and will put it up on the blog when I’m finished.

I hope you have enjoyed this series.  It all started when I wanted something to sew by hand at night to relax, but was tired of all the straight edges of hexagons and such.  Just after I started, we visited an ornately painted church in Slovenia, which inspired many of the circle blocks.  If you are sewing them, please send me a note by way of comment, or share a photo with me by way of email.  I can’t wait to see your creations!

Rosette #4–New Hexagon Millefiori Hot Mess Patchwork Quiltalong

Rosette #4_1

This is where I got stalled on Rosette #4 for The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt, or as I call it, The Hot Mess.  It may not turn out to be that, but we’ll see.  I had rotated six of the blocks and it left chunky dark hard edges.  Hmmmm, I told myself.  Hmmmm.

Rosette #4_2I tried out the outer rosettes one night on the kitchen table.  Shaking of head.

Rosette #4_3 Rosette #4_4

The solution was to subdivide the offending piece.  The clunky outer bits are transformed, making what had looked like a snarling traffic circle into a lovely ring of batik-y writing.

Rosette #4_5a

Here’s the magic piece.

Rosette #4_5Rosette #4The finished rosette.  This is number four, and the tenth month of the year starts in a couple of days, so that makes me only. . . eight months behind.  This one was hard, not only because I was doing a lot of it during my recovery, but also because I got stuck at the traffic circle dilemma, and it took me a while to find a solution.  But I feel pretty good about it now.


Breaking the Summer Stranglehold

DianaVanHise Kaffe Mini_1

The good news is that the first mini from my series of four mini-swaps arrived: a delectible circle of houses from Diana in Virginia for the Kaffe Fasset Mini Quilt Swap. [I’m sending out *this* one.] I immediately placed it on my kitchen table where I can see it every day, crowned by my new Zulu-inspired woven basket I picked up at Visions Quilt Museum.

DianaVanHise Kaffe Mini_display

Zulu Bowl

I think they are a perfect fit.

So why the post’s title?  “Summer Stranglehold” sounds so ominous, like spooky stuff is happening and it’s not even Halloween.  The spooky stuff is the ongoing I-Don’t-Feel-Like-Myself sort of body that I live in these days–it’s sort of mine and sort of not mine: maybe “not mine” because I want my old energy level back–a working brain would be helpful too.  I realize that at a certain age (or sometimes certain stages, like pregancy, or nursing a baby) the body is dragging you around and you are in service to it, rather than the other way around, which is not how I think it should be, in my perfect world.

But I also was struck by how tired I was of the quilty stuff I’d been doing when I made the bee block for my bee-mate and I how I needed to break out a bit to freshen things up.  The idea of Get The Stuff Done had taken priority over Enjoy Making the Stuff.  So it was time for a break. . . a Mental Health and Creative Brain Break  (which I even doubted I could do in my somewhat diminished condition).

So we drove to San Francisco to visit my brother.


I gave myself an assignment:  Notice.


Notice new flavors, new shapes, new landscapes.  Dig into the moment, and not let it go whizzing by, like the cool series of inverted triangles in the curved head of the oil pump, two pictures earlier, which can remind a quilter of this:

pickle dish beginnings

(from here)


It was time to break out a bit (thank you, National Park Service, for this apt metaphor).  So the second assignment I gave myself was to Notice Pattern.

SFO_7 SFO_7a SFO_7b

The three above photos are snaps taken at my brother’s house.  My sister-in-law is an amazing decorator.SFO_8 SFO_9b SFO_9SFO_9a

The above is a star and currents map from an exhibit about the Southern Sea inhabitants; all of the above other photos are from the Oakland Museum. (The quilt is from a collection gathered by Eli Leon.)  Then of course, I had to Notice Color, Notice Taste.

SFO_10 SFO_10a

Celebrating our 26th Anniversary at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley, California.  A peak experience.


And to Notice Something Unusual.  Like street art.  Because we used to live there and have done everything on the Tourist Top Twenty lists, my sixteen-year-old niece suggested finding murals around San Francisco.  Above is Clarion Alley.  SFO_13Then we wandered down through the Mission Area of town, finding single murals, before happening onto “Meeting of Styles” where multiple street artists were in the process of painting their art on Lilac and Osage Streets, between 22nd and 24th Avenues.  The link takes you to an interesting video with prominent artists in the area.  I loved watching them hold their rough-drawn sketch with one hand and executing it with a spray can of paint in the other.  Maybe like cutting without a ruler in the improv quilting world?

improv by lucie summers

(from here)SFO_14SFO-14b SFO_14aSFO_LilacAlleySept2015

(The last two are the same painting–just a couple of days apart.  The second is from *here.*)

SFO_Fabric Stores

And the last assignment was to carry something home with me that would force me encourage me to keep noticing, such as fabrics from two fabric stores we visited.CarefulDangerous

My father has a saying, oft repeated: “The place that seems most dangerous is exactly where safety lies.”  It took me a minute, but I finally figured out what this piece of street art said.  In a creative world, perhaps breaking out of the summer stranglehold means being a bit dangerous, leaving careful behind.

Sewing, Tasking, Listening, Remembering


Sewing This: Sometimes you just need a new direction when you are sick of your own sewing.   The free tutorial for this block, from Sew Kylie, is found *here.*  My bee-mate chose it for her month, and it was a lovely change.

SewKylie StarrySky

Here are four blocks together.  The photo is from her blog and try as I might to try and leave a comment to ask permission, the little she-bang wouldn’t work.  So Kylie, can I post this here?

Early Sept Projects

Tasking This: Mostly I just sit around and stare at my Get To Work Book calendar (realizing that most pages have one entry on each: “nap”), but occasionally I can produce.  Above are a few recent successes (a label from my Mini House Swap that my partner received–made in June–and yes, she loved it!), two Dumpling Pouches (which take all of 45 minutes each) and a re-working of a quilt square (made in 2006–I simply backed it, quilted it simply and bound it)  into a flat pillow to cushion the pulling of the seat belt when I drive.  Doesn’t that all look so productive?

long way home

Listening to This:  Louise Penny’s tenth Inspector Gamache book.  Number 11 (The Nature of the Beast) was released this fall, so I still have another to savor. Here’s the order of the books (better to read them in order):

Inspector Gamache

Remembering This:

Ground Zero Mem13

Rainbow Gardens

Stauffer SewJo(from here)

Sometimes I feel like this lady here, moving at snail’s pace, trying to make my entrance, but know I’ll miss it somewhere.  Slow-jo, or Missing the Sew-Jo seems to be a topic of conversation on Instagram and on blogs.  It’s the end of summer for the northern hemisphere, and we’re all a little out of sorts with the hot weather and all.  Frankly, I’m just happy to be on the snail these days, as for a long time I wasn’t doing anything but Recovery (it gets a capital letter around here).  So here’s some of my snail-sewing for the last while.Rainbow Gardens

Rainbow Gardens
Quilt #148
18″ square

This started when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish the block I had planned for the Kaffe Fasset Mini Quilt Exchange. My friend Lisa and I had been talking about patterns that were from the 1960s era, and this morphed off of that, as I wanted to subdivide the center to allow for greater color gradation.  I have the pattern and templates for sale in my Craftsy shop (European customers will find it in my PayHip shop), so if you can’t figure it out, you can head over there to grab it.

IMG_6003 IMG_6009

I had fun customizing the quilting, using floral motifs in the floating center square, and geometric designs in the outer corner backgrounds.  Someone on Facebook said it looked like the glowing camera lens from Hal in Space Odyssey, which is a completely creepy thought, if you’ve ever watched the movie.  I prefer to think of it as walking through a large botanic garden, the rows of plants giving way in color as the varieties change, hence the name, Rainbow Gardens.


This was the original block, “Unnamed” from Woman’s Circle in 1963.  This is from Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, which has been out of print for ages.  However, the other day I noticed on her blog that she now has an e-book version of this amazing publication (scroll down on the left of HER blog for the link).

Mini Quilt hanging

Here’s I how hang the minis: cut a large square and fold diagonally in half (this one is 6 1/2″ for an 18″ quilt) and sew it into the two seams top and side.  Cut a dowel to fit across–it works great.Rainbow Gardens_back obscured

And the back of the quilt.  I love this cheery print. Yes, I’ve obscured the name of who gets this, as we don’t send it out for a couple of weeks, and it’s forbidden to tell who our partner is.  I hope she likes it, though.

Spectrum blades finished

I had intended this one to be made for  the swap, but when I got to here, realized I just didn’t want to push forward on this, so went with the Rainbow Gardens design.

Back of Spectrum

Love the back, with all the papers.  This is an enlarged version of one of my circle blocks, and as soon as I get the mini quilt finished, I’ll put the PDF up on Craftsy.

Kaffe Circle Mini

Of course, once the pressure is off, the sewing can proceed apace, so then I was able to put the outer arcs on the design.


Then I got this far: center circle on and the background chosen and just didn’t like it.  But since I’m not under a deadline, I had time to un-pin, re-think.  I had put up this photo on social media with its twin (but with a different center circle), asking which center circle people liked.  It was so evenly split, it told me that I hadn’t hit the home run on center circle choices.  Back to the drawing board. . . and the quilt shop.  (Can you tell I’m still riding a snail?)

Rosette #4 partway done

I did get this far on Rosette #4 of The New Hexagon Millefiore block, then stalled.  Later, ‘Mater.

Bibimbap bowls

Bibimibap serving

The one day had a craving for Bibimbap (recipe *here*) and no energy to drive the hour to Orange County to get it, so had to make our own.  While it sounds complicated, dicing and slicing and blanching all those vegetables, it took way less time than driving to my favorite restaurant and back, and now I have another recipe conquered.

Mini House_frontlabeled

Earlier I’d written about my mini-quilt for the Houses swap, posted a pattern and a brief tutorial, keying off another popular tutorial online.  I’m sending off the quilt today (one day early–I just can’t stand waiting any more!), so here is the label for my quilt, a clone of the mini I’m mailing off to Indiana:

Houses Label

It was finished in that anxious week before surgery, and boy, was I weepy and sentimental, not knowing if I’d survive the surgery, or be diagnosed with cancer, or if they’d carve something up they shouldn’t.  I just wanted to hide in my lovely home with my beautiful quilts and out-of-control vegetable garden.  Yes, my mind can ruminate and imagine Worst-Case-Scenarios like no one else.  So this is how I felt, and six weeks post-op, I still like the message.  I’ll tell you what I put on my partner’s label. . . later.

Barbie dolls

And when really, it all is just too much, there’s always a spin through your Instagram pictures. . . or someone else’s.  This is from a new follower of mine.  I love all her knitted clothes for Barbie, plus all the cool poses in which she places Barbie.  I say, let the fashion doll come up with the moves.  I’m headed back to the snail while we get through the last hot month of summer.  Yes, here in SoCal our summer always lasts until the middle of October.  Can’t wait for fall, y’all!

Circles Block #15–EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block 15_OPQuilt

Compass Rose
Number 15 of the circles blocks in Shine: The Circles Quilt

About this time, I was running out of ideas for another two circle blocks, so of course I turned to the internet, but didn’t type in “quilt circle blocks.”

Collections Bibliotheque Municipale de Rouen. Photo : Th. Ascencio-Parvy

Collections Bibliotheque Municipale de Rouen. Photo : Th. Ascencio-Parvy

 Instead I typed in “compass rose” as every map from the ancient days had an elaborate compass design in the corner, orientation the sea-faring ships to North, keeping them on track.  I found several I liked from those old maps, and modified them to be suitable for my quilt, and drew them up in Electric Quilt 7:

EQ7 Circle 15 w:o split rays EQ7 Circle 15 with split rays

The difference between the two is the subdivision of the spikes around the inner circle into two rays.  I liked that, but I also knew a short cut so I wouldn’t lose my mind piecing them.  If you like the solid rays in the inner circle, just don’t cut them apart (but don’t cut them apart anyway. . . keep reading).

I have the final four patterns as a group up for sale on Craftsy  [and Payhip, if you are purchasing from an EU country that collects VAT].  I will post the tutorials each month until the set is complete.  The finishing instructions pattern for Shine: The Circles Quilt is also listed on Craftsy and Payhip.

Printing Circle 15

Print four of these out at 100% scale.  Cut them out, but count as you do this, because on one of these last patterns, I may have missed a beat or two and added an extra ray.  BUT FIRST!  To cut down on your EPP efforts, you can leave the rays and the diamond pieces together, cutting them out as a unit. I’ll show you what I mean, so please read down further before you snip snip snip.



Pull your fabrics, using a good range of colors and value (light to dark).


Okay, here’s what I mean about some time-saving.  I didn’t cut the diamond apart.  You can seam two strips together, then lay out your diamonds to cut.  Here I am measuring for the diamond strip width (above, which will be 2″), and below for the rays (which will be 1 1/4″ inches wide).  I use a lighter version and a medium version of the fabric color I chose so the difference will stand out.  Above you can see the two colors, layered.



Seam the long strips together, then lay out your pieces, making sure that the center line of the ray is exactly on your seam, as shown.  Trim away the excess like I did in the upper ray example.


Ditto for the diamonds.  However, the layout of the pattern has you cutting some apart.  No worries.  Just tuck them up under the seam allowances (as shown in lower right diamond above) and proceed cutting around them and gluing them as normal.  The seam allowances are a wee bit smaller on these two pieces, as I didn’t need a full 1/4″ inch.  The seam allowances are at about 3/16″ of an inch, just a bit narrower than usual.

After gluing them, I put them in a baggie and I print out the drawing (way above) of the block, and slip that into the bag, so I can keep things straight.


Since the outer diamonds are all sewn together (or if you constructed them more traditionally, stitch them together first, then come to this step), you can start sewing them to the outer points, making sure that the curved edge is pointed towards the eventual circle.


Sew all your groups; I did a grouping of three.

While I don’t have a photo for it (where was my mind?), stitch the rays to the inner circle points (the green points in my block interspersed with the blue double-rays).  Do those in groups as well.  Now to get them sewn together.


Find the lower center of the outer point, and pinch it, leaving a mark.


Match it up with the outer edge of a green inner circle point, and take a stitch, as shown.


Find the center of the next outer point, and put in a crease, as shown.  Line up the ray with this crease. I sometimes like to put a single pin to keep me on track.


Stitch carefully, neither adding — nor subtracting — any ease, moving one stitch at a time around the arc.


Keep pinching in the centers, and matching up the rays until you’ve got this set together.  Yours may look different than mine, in terms of how many rays you sewed together, or outer diamonds and points you sewed together.  But the principle is the same for matching.


Stitch the next set of inner rays and points to the existing set.


Join the next outer set of diamonds and outer points to the existing, as shown.


Using the “pinch the center method,” join those two arcs together.


Here we go again.  This time I sewed on the outer diamonds/points unit to the existing.


Then I stitched the inner points/rays together on one side only.  The circle is not completed!!  Leave it as a giant arc on both sets.


Continue the process of pinching to find the center, and matching it up with the rays.  It will serpentine in your hands as you work.  Perfectly normal and easier to do than if you had joined them both into circles.  (Don’t do that!)


That outer arc seam is almost done.  I left the last orangey-red bit unsewn.  Now I’ll stitch the blue ray to the green inner point.  Then stitch the orangey outer point to that inner circle.  And last, I’ll close the outer yellow-diamond-orangey-point circle.


Don’t you feel like you’ve crossed the oceans, charting by a compass and the stars only?  But look how beautifully it came together–no puckers anywhere.  Just move slow and steady.


You knew I’d work that constellation fabric in here somewhere, didn’t you.  Yes, it’s my outer arcs, and I now stitch them into place.  Take a stitch at that outer edge, just over the yellow points, to hook the two blue arcs together.  Just a single stitch, to keep them together around the circle.


I love seeing all the papers lined up in a row.



Remove all but the outermost blue arc papers, flip it over and give your circle a press.


In thinking about what size center circle you’ll want, lay your templates out on the block.  You’ll want a circle that covers the open area, but doesn’t hide the points, like the one above.  The one below obscures the rays’ inner points and makes it look like something is missing.

Circle15_26a Circle15_26b

This was the dimension of circle I used.  I’m using Kaye Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates.  Trace your circle on your chosen fabric, then cut 3/8″ around it for the seam allowance.  Stitch a running stitch around the outer edge, then slip the plastic template inside and draw up the thread to enclose the circle.  Give it a shot of spray starch, press it, then let it cool and slip out the circle.  I show how do do this on *this post.*

Cut a square 14 1/2″ and find the centers, as you’ve done for the other blocks.  At this point, at block number 15, you are used to doing some of the steps, so if you are joining me just for this block, I’d suggest browsing back through other Circles blocks (see tab Shine: The Circles Quilt EPP above) to learn the tips and pointers.  Appliqué the circle to the block.


I always pin around, then when I get to a join area, I first fold in one side, then the other, before continuing on (see below).


Circles Block 15_OPQuilt

That’s it for this block!  The tutorial for the last circle block, Block #16, will post October 1st, then our series is complete.  While you work on your blocks, I hope to work on the quilting of this quilt and have it ready to show at the beginning of October.  Have fun stitching!

Popsicles in My Way

All Popsicles in My Way

This morning, I drove the car down to our local park, walked one mile with my husband by my side, and drove home.  Not a big deal for most people, but it was the first time I’d driven a round trip and walked that far in one swoop since the surgery nearly five weeks ago.  Maybe all the post-surgery obstacles are now, after five weeks, becoming more like popsicles: little humps of fun to celebrate with song and a leap into the old swimming hole.

Mary's Blocks for August 2015

So even though this feels like a lost summer, this past week I had another first: I operated my sewing machine, sewing up the Bee blocks for Mary’s turn at bat.  And the world didn’t end. Tutorial is *here* or you can find it on the tab above under Tutorials, where I keep links to all of the tutorials on this blog.

Granite Flats

We’ve watched nearly all three seasons of Granite Flats (only 2 more episodes to go) and I’m continually amazed at how much freedom children in the sixties were given to roam around on their bikes and get into scrapes and generally explore.  While it can be at times cheesy, it’s a fun show that has allowed me to sit and stitch, fully entertained.

Rainbow Kaffe laid out

Earlier I was able, over the course of several days, to put this together on my pin wall, then went to bed for nearly two days to recover, paying for my creative burst of energy.  During recovery I was confining my sewing to handwork, and was hoping to get this stitched up for the Kaffe Mini Swap I’m in, but I saw the writing on the wall, and switched to a different project that involved the sewing machine.

Kaffe, Two

I was able to put this one on the wall (only took two days this time), and will now tweak it and stitch it together and quilt it–all tasks that will probably take me oodles longer than usual.   (Working title: Kaffe’s Rainbow Block.)  But that is the good news!  That I am actually quilting, working with the cloth, however slowly, and participating once again.

The Road Not Taken Book

And to further prove that I’m into Popsicle Territory, I have started reading a book, a task unthinkable two weeks ago with my fuzzed-out brain cells.  David Orr’s book is a fascinating look at Robert Frost’s well-known poem, and while I find myself arguing with Orr’s analysis every once in a while, he wins me over as he progresses, teaching me about Frost, perception, decision making and the “deciders.”

Little steps, but definitely progress.

Summer’s Hot and the Recuperating is Easy

Hot Summer 104Let’s start with the first item: summer’s hot, and yessiree it is.  Tomorrow is supposed to be 108.  This is a good time to stay inside and keep getting better, which leads us to the second item: recovery.

Recovering Activities

Here are some of my recovery activities, omitting the one I do most: lay on the bed.  I finished up my Rosette #3 in periwinkles, blue and purples (below) and started putting Rosette #4 together.  The photo in the upper left took about a week to do, in twenty minute intervals off the pillow.  I continued sewing up little felt creations from kits I’d picked up at quilt shows (why do I buy these?) and thought I’d finished them all.  However, I found another batch in the closet yesterday.  My husband took me for a Big Day Out to Cinnabon, and I could only eat half of a mini, a side-effect of surgery.  Nightly I would I arrange my applesauce and spoon for the 3 a.m. pain meds routine, which I am happy to say, as of today, has been phased out.  However, I am still in my nightgown, so be sure to call first before showing up on my doorstep.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time stitching while watching movies, because I am always tired and because apparently I had a serious case of Bonzo-Brain (from the effects of the anesthesia and pain killers).  I found this out because my son told me I was “a lot more coherent than last time we talked.”  And my husband says “you’re more alert now.”  And my mother says “you are sounding so much better today.”  Good to know that I have people who love me and will humor me when I am functioning at toddler level.

Rosette #3 photo

Rosette 4 center sewn

Here’s the center of Rosette #4, all sewn up.  It may take me another week to get the next round, at the rate I’m going.

Chuck Nohara examples

Because I now also apparently function at teenager level with my phone in my hand while I lie in bed (tablets are too big and a laptop is way out of the question), I discovered the Chuck Nohara Instagram group and fell in love with these amazing little six-inch appliqué blocks.

Chuck Nohara book

Which led to the QuiltMania website and the purchase of this book, which may or may not have had the most expensive postage I’ve ever encountered in my life.  Even accounting for the lack of critical thinking during the Bonzo-Brain state, I was pretty freaked out.

Chuck Nohara book in transitWhich has led to my obsessive compulsion with tracking the dumb thing.  That book is going way more interesting places than the Cinnabon shop at the mall.  (Attention FED EX: For the record,  I live in California.  Why is it stopping in Memphis?)

pajama party retro

But there are two things that have gotten me through these past few weeks. The first and foremost has been my amazing husband, always asking me if he can do something for me, putting lotion on my toes and pulling up the covers for me in the middle of the night (because I can’t reach either of them).  He has cooked for me, done the wash, brought in the mail, fixed me fresh orange juice every morning and taken me to the doctor appointments.  He listens to me when I cry, reminding me that I will be in recovery for 6-8 weeks and it’s only nearing the end of week three and would I like to get out and take a drive?  And we do and I stop crying and take a deep breath at how beautiful the world is, even if the temperatures are soaring.

Then I go and lay on the bed, my phone in my hand and read about you all on blogs and IG, distracting me in a lovely way from this work I am doing at getting better.  This is the other thing that has gotten me through: my family, friends, and the sweet messages of hope and encouragement and inspiration from you, just like we were all girlfriends hanging out together in our jammies, drinking root beer and playing records and the ukulele.  I am always amazed at how much we have come to know each other through correspondence and sharing activities, as well as quilting together.

Thank you all, so very much.  You kind attentions have made my tough summer a bit more easy.


Disruption in the Quilting Force

NursesAll the nice nurses lined up to greet me

Last week I walked into our local hospital and two days later, was wheeled out in one of my new nightgowns, a vase of flowers on my lap while the two volunteer interns pushing my wheelchair commented to each other about the weather, the construction at the hospital, and about another volunteer that was not a favorite.  It was the first time I’d been outside since the surgery to rearrange my clockworks and I was thinking about the sunlight, the slight breeze and whether or not my husband would back into the construction truck which had parked so strangely in his path.  It was surreal.  When I walked in, the possibility of the Big C was dangling over my head and I’m happy to say that the initial reports are that this diagnosis was carried away in the sunny breezes of that hot morning.

Aside from a brief mention of the process in this post, I’ve kept this pretty quiet as I lurched all summer from doctor’s appointment to scan to oncologist to OB-GYN’s office, not trusting the emotion, not knowing where the path would lead.

I had intended to keep it quiet still, as we here in QuiltLand tend to prefer our blog posts to be bursting with sunshine, little blue birds, some snippets of song, and fabric fabric fabric.  However, when I realized that the recovery was going to be loooong, I might need to explain my absence.

I’ve recovered enough to now sit at the computer for whole stretches of minutes, but do most of my reading in bed with my tablet.  I thought I’d share one or two interesting bits from QuiltLand that I thought you might enjoy.  Stephanie Ruyle’s latest blog post, where she shows her magnificent quilt, Ember, is a great description of using up scraps, making them into art (no photos of this one–go over to see it).

knotted cotton_detail

We also had our recent Four-in-Art Reveal and while I loved all of the offerings this time, Catherine’s choice of poem, Mrs. Midas, and her resultant art quilt are a magnificent pairing. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling a bit imprisoned by convalescence that I related to what Mrs. Midas was saying.  I also liked the speech on quilting, given by a sitting criminal court judge in Canada.  He writes amusingly about his wife’s passion of quilting; although long, it’s worth a read.

My minutes are up, so it’s time to go.  On the positive side, my husband says I’m more alert now than when I walked in last week, woozy from anesthesia and painkillers.  I am hoping for incremental progress every day, knowing that the average recovery for this type of surgery is 6-8 weeks.  On the negative side, I’ll cry (more) if I can’t get back to the quilting, but never fear!  I’ve been able to pick up the hand sewing, so at least the hexies are coming together bit by bit.  I hope that whatever summer fun you are doing, you’ll let me know–I can live vicariously though you all at this time.  I may not have the stamina to write back immediately, but I will certainly read everything, and appreciate whatever you share.