Spelling Bee Begins • January 2016

Making Words_4

Sometime ago, I hatched an idea of making letters and words and ideas up in cloth.  Not a new idea, but just one that emerged from the morass to capture my attention, I’d say.  Getting a few friends to join me in this endeavor was the easy part.  I set up a blog, Quilt Abecedary, where I experimented with making letters free-form, teaching myself as I went, failing and succeeding, jumping off my comfortable quilty cliff.  That done, I wondered what to choose for a theme.

woman cooking_2

My first thought, and the one that lingered the longest was to do a series of words around the theme of “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Elizabeth” — verbs like bake, roast, chop, sauté and so forth.  I have a recipe blog, Elizabeth Cooks, so thought to add that blog address to the mix.  But somehow it just didn’t seem satisfying, as I couldn’t just settle into it.

Saying w:o names

I made my parents an embroidered sampler some years ago with a lovely saying celebrating their marriage:

When the one man loves the one woman and the one woman loves the one man,
the very angels leave heaven and come and sit in the house and sing for joy
The interesting thing about deadlines is that they force you to a decision, whether or not it’s the “perfect” one. And this idea–of making a Valentine’s quilt — resonated with me.  For better or for worse, my marriage is the key to my happy life, and I wanted to celebrate that idea with a Valentine’s quilt.
Spelling Bee Fabrics
I chose a range of reds to dark pinks in all shades, with minimal patterning, with creamy whites to light pinks to serve as the background.  I’ll mark our progress as we move through this one-year commitment (the bee will disband at the end of the year).  My beemates will choose their words and I’ll make the rest.  We’ll pop up now and again on Instagram at #spellingbeequilt.  We have no blog or Flickr site as it is only a year-long project. If this idea piques your interest, drop me an email with a photo and I’ll share your words on here, too.
Happy New Year
Since tonight is New Year’s Eve, I thought it was a good way to celebrate the New Year by trying something I hadn’t tried before.  I was quite struck by something my nephew’s wife posted today on Instagram.  She wrote that she’d seen babies born, a friend’s wedding, job losses, and sadly, buried a brother; she summed it up by saying “So much great that I want to remember forever and so much heartache I hope I never know again.  Goodbye 2015, you have made your mark.  And now on to 2016, I have so much to tell you.”
She echoed my feelings exactly.  I’ve learned a lot this year, working through my Lost Summer of surgery, continuing health problems and had to come to grips that every time I look in the mirror I think of more of my grandmother than I do those pictures of me as a young woman. But I’ve had the sweetness of my husband’s company during this time, good friends who rallied round, lovely readers of this blog (many of who have become good friends) and lots of new quilting opportunities to enjoy.  So, to echo Casey’s words: Goodbye 2015, you have made your mark.  And now on to 2016, a clean slate, full of hope and plans and big challenges.
Happy New Year, everyone!

Merry Christmas 2015

Christmas Treat final

Christmas Treat Wallhanging (from here)

Merry Christmas 2015!

ChristmasRunners

Largely because of traveling and family obligations, this season has felt like a mad dash, reminding me of the runners I met in the Metro in DC one December morning.  But here we are and now it’s time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a thought-provoking New Year.

It’s time to celebrate the birth of the Christ child, with the thoughts of Mary gazing at her newborn son in wonder, perhaps hoping she could keep him a wee babe forever and ever, but of course, all children grow up and so did He.  I celebrate her and him and the sweet feelings that arise at this time of good cheer.

Christmas Canadian Tree

Please do eat some fudge and toffee and savor some good food, whether or not you made it, or your mother made it, or you picked it up in the freezer section at the grocery store. (Time enough for dieting after the new year.)  Please also play some Christmas carols and if you’ve got half a voice, sing along. What happens here after the holidays? I’ve got some posts coming up (after the company all leaves) about some quilt-a-longs for 2016, and I’m developing some new patterns for you to try.  And of course, I’ll write about some quilty topics (haven’t blogged about QuiltCon Rejects yet, have I?), and some musings here and there.  We’ll just see where the new year takes us.

I hope for you all a season of joy and of remembering the good, letting the rest slide into the background, knowing that all that we go through makes us who we are–perfect and imperfect and very human. . . and very much in need of each other.  I wish you all time for reflection on family, friends (both near and wide in our quilty universe) and for all that we are grateful.  I’ll see you after we traverse through the darkest and longest days of the year, moving always towards the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ and the light and warmth of Christmas.

nativity

Final Finishes for 2015

Thank you for all your kind comments on IG and on the last post.  A lot of this post was mostly written before the San Bernardino tragedy, so it may seem lighthearted. But it still is Christmas and I still delight in making, in fact it is a great leveler in crazy times.  Enjoy the quilting.

Rosette #5

Rosette #5 is finished, so now I can start to plan #6.  I loved the fabrics that fell into place on this one.Chuck Nohara11_15 blocks

Here’s November’s Chuck Nohara blocks.  These all measure 6″ finished, so they are like eating small bites of chocolate.  I even got the “hollow” on the cherries embroidered since last time.  The blocks on the second row on either end, are using fabrics from A Quilting Life’s Bright Sun line of fabrics, and the center one uses fabrics from their Valley collection.

Bright Sun FabricsBright Sun is above. I like how different they are, yet they all coordinate.  (Yes, Sherri is a friend, and yes, I bought these from Fat Quarter Shop.)

Here are some of the steps I took for two of the blocks:

CN904_3

I started here, tracing the outline of the handle with a chalk pencil.  I then clipped the edges, and finger pressed it, rolling the chalked line to the underneath as I went (a trick from Becky Goldsmith of Piece O Cake).  I centered it on the upper piece, but just pinned it.  As I stitched (later on) I also ended up trimming down the seam allowance to a scant 1/4″–here it is a fat 1/4.”

CN904_2

I figured out where I wanted the flowers on the upper basket rim, then ironed down my freezer paper (I traced it from the book’s enlarged picture) and traced around it.CN904_6 CN904_6a

I traced the lower basket and side edges, labeled them, then clipped them apart so I could fussy cut the arrows from the fabric.  I stitched it all together, and added the lower edge.
CN904_3a

I gauged where the handle would fall in relation to the basket using a ruler, then appliquéd it down. CN904_4

I double-checked it again.  At six inches, there’s not a lot of leeway for mistakes, yet the blocks do sew up quickly.

CN904_5

I pinned the basket bottom to the top piece and hand-appliqued it down.

CN904_5ajpgI trimmed the upper piece after sewing it.

CN904

CN432_2

Next.  Start here.  Seam together the flowery petal pieces, then lay them over the corner wedge. CN432_3

I began appliquéing from the center, out to each side.  Trust me on this.

CN43_4 CN432_5

Seam together two, then four.  Then sew together each side.

CN432

The dots save you from agonizing over that center join, and are kind of fun.

ChuckNoharaChoices12_15

Here’s what we have put up for December.  Even though we have listed four blocks, you only have to do two to feel good about yourself, especially in the month of December.

2015 December Chuck Nohara

2015 December MCM_ERichards

Lastly, my last bee blocks for Mid-Century Modern are finished. More info can be found on our blog.

Holly

Keep sewing, my friends.  Stay safe.  Celebrate regular days and regular life, and really celebrate Christmas this year, both in word and in deed.

Two Finishes: Baskets and a Halloween Quilt for 2016

NOTE: Please forgive the blog gremlins who used to work here.  To quote Monty Python, they have been sacked.Halloween QuiltQuilt Number 154
Spooky Action at a Distance

Construction began October 2015 • Finished November 2015

I began saving Polaroid blocks for this quilt two years ago, and purchased the fabric about the same time.  I thought it was time to push it over to the “done” side of the ledger, given my last post.  Label’s not yet finished–coming soon.  The title is taken from one of Einstein’s scoffing statements over the idea that  that one particle can have an effect on another particle which might be some distance away.  He thought is was not possible.  Modern physics has proved him wrong, and scads of poems have been written about this, so I thought, why not a quilt title for a spooky quilt?

Spooky Quilt_front

Howard Levy’s poem, of the same name, notes that those who snuggle under quilts can experience this effect:

It is this way: men and women
spin. Hundreds of miles apart, thousands
of miles, the speed of light, it will make no difference….

And Einstein, could he admit
that love would be fast enough,
that this “spooky action at a distance”
is not necessarily paradox,
that these two influence simply in their being,
taken in to each other and separate,
separate and taken in.

Spooky Quilt_detail Spooky Quilt_back

Baskets QuiltQuilt Number 155
I carried quilt and basket through whispering grass

Made the first basket in May 2015 • Finished November 2015

This was a fun quilt to make, a really great one to do with large scraps.  I have a tutorial •here• for cutting up the baskets quickly, and the how-to for the handle is *here.*  Just go go go, trying not to think about it too much, and have fun while you cut and sew.  The title is taken from “The Picnic,” a poem by Maylee Bossy, about an outing after her husband has passed away.  My husband is still very much here, but the poem involved a quilt and a basket — how could I pass it up?

Basket Quilt_frontBasket Quilt_back

So I guess that deadline thing is working for me, right?  A Halloween quilt finished in November?  A Spring quilt finished in autumn?  Let’s just say we’re EARLY, and leave it at that.