End of February

Good-bye February! So glad you are over.
What a month!
I spent the last day of February working on two small projects, and planning on a few ongoing quilt projects.
The theme for Week 8 of the #52tagshannemade challenge was bits and pieces. I just love working with bits and pieces.
There was also a suggestion of using something that was a gift. I recently received a lovely mini-wall hanging from a special friend, (Thank you, Abbie!); and it was wrapped with a blue ribbon. I used the ribbon to embellish the tag. I also made the refrigerator quilt block for March. I had shamrocks on my mind, so I made a sparrow named O’Malley. He’s holding a shamrock in his beak.

The Sister Sampler is coming along. For this coming week, my friend and I decided we will make the Hattie’s Trick block. This sampler is filled with blocks that have HST, flying geese, and bajillion points to match. It is challenging for me, but I’m seeing improvement. Even though we are working on our quilts remotely, it feels good to be working with my quilting buddy again.
Continuing the temperature quilt was up in the air for me, but I decided to complete the February strip and add it to January. I liked the way it looked, so I think I will continue with it.

When I purchased the Alison Glass fabric for the sampler, I also purchased a fat quarter bundle of Moda Quotations. I started making other blocks from books I have in my library. There is no real plan as of yet. Just choosing different blocks that I like.

The other day, my Meemaw friends and I were talking about how much we miss the things we used to do pre-Covid. Right now, we have even stopped our outdoor visits because the numbers were so high, and now the variants are here. We had always talked about how I should make a Meemaw quilt, but I never really sat down to plan or design one. I have thread sketched some people/face quilt blocks. I also used photographs to make a couple of quilt blocks. I wanted to try something different, so the next step was to research some people quilts. I knew I had to stay away from a realistic style and stick to more caricature or cartoon. There were a few sites that I found interesting and helpful, but the one I really liked was by Amy Bradley Designs. Her people designs are playful and more like caricatures. Her quilts have a Freddy Moran feel to it, so much color and texture. It was time to get started, so I asked my friends to list their favorite memories of things we used to do and places we visited. It was interesting to see that all three ranked the same memories high on their list. The lists were very inspirational and I started visualizing blocks that could represent different events. First, I had to see if I could create images of the four of us. I pulled out some butcher paper and started sketching in a 24″ x 24″ square. I questioned the results of my sketching, so I set it aside for a day. Then I thought I could make a paper doll chain. There was a site that gave written directions with pictures, but I just could not understand the folding. Luckily, I found a YouTube tutorial where a young girl demonstrated how to fold and cut. You can learn a lot from kids! 😉
When I placed the paper doll chain next to the sketching, I decided to try to applique the sketching. I used a process similar to the applique dragon quilt I made for my granddaughter. I had enough of the stabilizer and the fusible web left over from that project. It was so much fun seeing the sketching come to life. Of course, I made us all look younger, but that’s okay. We are young at heart.
So far, I am delving into my stash and scrap bins. I had enough cloud fabric for the sky and green checkered for the landscape. I cut out a large tree to represent the Meemaw tree where we visited on our school campus. The grassy area of the centerpiece looks bare at this point, but I have plans to maybe add yo-yo flowers after it is quilted. I saw a quilt on display in a museum that had yo-yos and I have always wanted to try that. There was a roll of 2.5″ pieced strips in my bins that I used as a border for the center piece. So far, I have made only four blocks. I am keeping them at 10.5″ and also 5.5″. I made one to represent our Wabi-Sabi days, and a block for the Shulenburg. Texas Painted Church tour we took in the height of bluebonnet season. I had some triangles left over from a bluebonnet quilt I made for my niece, so I pieced them together to form some sort of a block. Of course there are going to be bird blocks in this quilt, since we are all bird nerds. Then there is one that represents the story of how I got my nickname, Larry Grace. This was high on all three lists, so I had to put it in there. We were in Arkansas to see the Chihuly Art exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum. Long story short, we were out on the museum grounds at night and it was pitch dark and I got separated from my friends because I was gawking at the beautiful art pieces. I got lost. Enough said.
In their lists, I also asked them to write one or two words that described them. The words they chose were spot on. I plan to create a bird that reflects their personality , so I have a Bossy Boots Bird in mind for a certain person.
This Meemaw quilt may or may not come together, but it is sure fun making the blocks and bringing back memories.

Here’s hoping that March is a positive, pleasant, and happy month for everyone.

The Lost Week

It has been a terrible week in Texas, and it could have been prevented. All I want to say is:

Contact your legislators continuously until they make the changes that are needed.
The politicians and energy officials who ignored the advice of scientists and experts for the past ten years
need to be held accountable.
Continue to help your neighbor.
Do not take a vacation to Cancun while people are still suffering.


I want to move on and try to get back to some positivity and normalcy, even though we are still in a pandemic. My power is on, but the water still needs to be boiled. I always thought of myself as someone who did my part in conserving energy. Now, I am even more aware and I hesitate to spend time using computers, sewing machines, etc….
A few weeks ago, I had prepared 25 squares based on a tutorial by Handy Mum. The tutorial is for making a purse with 25 embroidered squares. It wasn’t until this past Friday, with our power restored and mostly steady, that I was able to embroider. Stitching was my stress release. Instead of making a purse, I turned these blocks into a basket. Hopefully soon, I will get back to some quilting projects.
Thank you to all my blogging friends who reached out and expressed concern during this crisis. One of the things I missed the most, besides a toilet that didn’t need a bucket of snow to flush, was having contact with my blogging friends. Thank you.

Happy Brrrrrr-lentine !

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Groundhog’s predictions usually mean nothing to me, since we never really have a winter in my part of Texas. I should have listened to the Groundhog this year, though. Our first touch of winter was a snow day on January 10. But that is nothing to what we are going through this weekend. We have had some below freezing days and nights. Tonight and tomorrow night, we are expected to go down to single digits. Power outages and broken pipes all around…yikes! I have been texting my sons to see how they are holding out. My youngest son tried to help me put it all in perspective and stay positive. He said that I have made them all enough quilts to get them through this polar vortex. 😉
I have been trying to keep my mind on things that are in my control, so I have spent most of the day in my sewing room. My friend, Marti, and I, have started working on our sampler quilt. We chose the Sister’s 10 Sampler from the book, Sister Sampler Quilts. I chose to use a fat quarter bundle, Art Theory. I love the colors and design, but I think I chose the wrong color for the backing. I wanted something different, but this may be too different for me. My granddaughter gave the seal of approval for the color, so it must be okay. She has such an artistic eye. I miss going fabric shopping with her. Marti and I chose to make the first two Grandmother’s Frame blocks. I purchased a Tailor HST and QST ruler. The first block took a couple of rips and redo in order to get the points aligned. It was a bit easier when it came time to making the second one.
My temperature quilt now has a solid six days of blue fabric. I had thought of not completing this quilt, but I reconsidered. I like to journal, and this quilt is a form of journaling for me. It also provides me with a touch of a routine and ritual I need to start my week.
The theme for the week 7 #52taghannemade challenge is hexagons. I used some mini hexagon templates to make flowers. I used a hexagon button as a vase for the flowers on a kitchen table. These tags are so much fun to make.
Last week, I saw a tutorial on crocheting a pet basket. I wanted to try making something using jumbo yarn and a T 30 mm hook. The Red Heart Irresistible yarn is so soft and easy to crochet. The basket was a fun and quick project, that kept my mind off the weather.
I hope our one or two weeks of spring come soon. If we can get through these next two single digit weather days, I promise not to ever complain about our Texas summer again…well, maybe at least not until the second week we have days of over 100.
I will quote my sister and say, “Happy Brrrrrr-lentine”.



Red

I would like to send a big “Thank you!” to Mariss, for reminding me about the #areyoubookenough challenge. Mariss’ post about her first book, Shelter from the Storm, got me interested in maybe trying this challenge once again. Then, when I saw her Instagram post about her “red” book in progress, I just knew I wanted to make a book. I have spent the day, reading poems and reliving special memories, during the process of making this book.

The challenge theme of “red”, made me think of two special poems. One is the poem, A Lady red-amid the Hill, by Emily Dickinson. The image of red tulips came to mind, and I found the perfect scrap for the hills. Crumb scraps and beads were used to dot the hills with tulips. The other poem is The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos William. This short poem is one of my favorites. As part of my instruction in both fourth and fifth grade classrooms, I included the study of an excellent novel, Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech. This novel is the perfect way to teach students about self-expression and poetry. The novel is written in a diary format and the first line is quite the conversation starter for students:



“I don’t want to
Because boys
Don’t write poetry.

Girls do.”

The Red Wheelbarrow is one of the poems in the novel. I so enjoyed the class discussion of this poem, which resulted in inspiring and creative poems written by my students. And yes, the boys in my room ended up enjoying writing poetry. 😉

Red, of course, made me think of the cardinal. This bird was one of mom’s favorite birds. She embroidered a cardinal that I had framed for her to give to her great-granddaughter. It hangs in my granddaughter’s room.

Red also made me think of my childhood. There was a red wagon with origins unknown, that my cousins (who lived next door) and I used for playing, hauling, and transportation. My sons also had red wagons. I have a very special memory of decorating the wagons for a 4th of July parade in our neighborhood.

Another childhood memory inspired by this color, is that of a popsicle. My cousins and neighbors would drop everything as soon as we heard the cheerful melody of the Ice Cream Truck. We would line up on the street curb, with the coins my Tia Chicha would give us. The big decision was which flavor to choose…cherry red, banana, or root beer. Most times, the problem was solved by each of us ordering one of each and then breaking them in half to share.

Roses come to mind when thinking of red things. My Tia Chicha had a large rose bush by her porch. Mom also had beautiful rose bushes in her yards. My dad used to give mom red roses on their anniversary, and he would sign the card, Love, Chester. His name was Pepe, so this was a personal joke between them.

Red also reminded me of summer fun. My cousins and neighborhood friends and I would play outside all day. There was nothing more fun than to end the day with a cold slice of sandía. My dad would spread newspapers out on the backyard table and cut up huge, delicious watermelons. Dad was an expert when it came to picking sweet, just-right, watermelons. Of course, there were seed spitting contests to add to the fun.

You can’t think of red without including a red heart. The heart reminds me of a favorite Beatle tune, All You Need is Love.

Originally, I was thinking of hand-stitching the fabric book. Instead, I took the opportunity to finally use the extra stitches on my sewing machine to make fancy borders. The cardinal is machine thread-sketched. Fabric scraps were used to make the wagon, and other things. Beads and buttons were added as embellishments.

I have enjoyed this walk down memory lane with the color, red. Thank you, Mariss!

First Week of February 2021

Stitch your stress away.  ~Author Unknown

My wish this February 2 was that this Ground Hog Day movie existence we are living ends soon. In the meantime, I continue to try to find ways to keep busy.
The bird I chose for my February refrigerator quilt is the sparrow. One of my favorite poems is The Sparrow, by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The sparrow’s song will help “ease our load of earthly ills”, if we take the time to listen.

While emptying a bin, I found some mini fabric charms by Moda. I had purchased them years ago, with the plan to make a quilted purse. These charms have been stored away for long enough, so I started thinking of possible projects. To help in this process, I threw out the charms and started placing them in different patterns. Since I was in a February frame of mind, I started making a heart shape pattern. To help with this process, I charted a heart pattern on some graphing paper. I had enough charms, backing, and background fabric to make a 24″ X24″ heart wall hanging. It is a borderless wall hanging, since I did not have enough coordinating fabric to make a binding. What I liked about this project, was the opportunity to practice quilting. I just quilted with the basic stitch-in-the ditch method, but the experience of making the quilt sandwich and making it square is something I need to practice. The piece is hanging on my bedroom wall and it helps to start my day with a smile.

I found a free pattern for crocheting a basket using Bernat Blanket yarn. When the yarn arrived, I thought it was too soft and pretty for a basket. Instead of a basket, I started to crochet an afghan using the V-stitch pattern. I knew three skeins would not be enough, but I thought that I could order more of the same yarn…WRONG! Apparently, North Sea is a very popular color. I looked at all the online stores and they were all out of this color. Luckily, I could find one of the blue-gray colors that is included in the North Sea yarn. I was able to finish the afghan, with a lesson learned about planning ahead and ordering all the supplies needed for a project. The afghan is so soft and comfy. I prefer working with this large-sized, soft yarn.
The theme for Week 6 in the #52tagshannemade challenge was “Bevy of Buttons”. I just love buttons so this was a fun tag to make. I am looking forward to once again being able to visit thrift stores in search of buttons.

A few years ago, I ran across some tutorials by Liz Kettle. I enjoyed the process of stitch meditation. The 52 Tag challenge is a bit like stitch meditation, but I have not really done any regular stitch meditation as I had in the past. The other day, I was having one of those days that just called out for some stitch meditation. Stitching the stress away resulted in a mini-book of stitches. Stitching certainly turned what started out to be stressful day into a very pleasant and comforting day.
The last time I was visiting with one of my sons, we talked about how the honeybee is becoming endangered. This perked my interest and I have been trying to read more general information about the honeybee. The honeybee was the inspiration for my needle felt project today. With a little more practice, I think I will soon have firmer and better shaped felt animals.

The lovely flowers embarrass me,
They make me regret I am not a bee.

-Emily Dickinson

Tomorrow, I will be picking up the background fabric for the quilt-along that my friend and I will be starting soon. I will be spending time studying the block patterns and planning. We hope to start in March.

Stay safe.
Enjoy the day.