My grandson will be celebrating a half-birthday in April. Yes. Half-birthdays are for real. He loves to hear and dance to the ABC song played on his musical toys. He also likes to have the ABC books read to him.
For his 1 1/2 birthday, I made a personalized fabric alphabet book. My sister, Emma, helped me by making the book dummy. This dummy was so handy in getting my pages in the correct order. Emma is always such a great resource of ideas and helpful hints.
Some of the pages are appliques that I made, or fabric that I fussy cut. Some of the blocks are photos printed on fabric. B had to be for Batman, since my grandson’s room is decorated in this theme. He also loves his Ironman pillow character, so the letter “I” had to be for Ironman. I added pictures of him in his car, holding a quilt I made, and one of he and his sister. The letter “S” had to be for silly, because I had a photo of him wearing a disguise of glasses and a mustache. His dog also had to be included in this book. Personalizing this book was so much fun.
I did have problems with binding the book. My first plan did not work. I had used fusible batting for each signature. I thought I had left enough space for the book spine, but the signatures were too thick. The book was so bulky, that I could not sew it down the middle. I had to let this project sit for a few days, until I was hit with a solution for making the book spine. I ended up cutting the signatures in half. Then I attached two signatures with a muslin strip for the binding. This gave the extra space needed. For his privacy, I have covered the face of my grandson in the video. The book will be sent in the mail to arrive in time for his half-birthday celebration.
A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order. Jean-Luc Godard
The fat quarters I ordered for four of the blocks in the Meemaw quilt arrived this week. I was able to make the remaining blocks. Of course, I also had to make a Dairy Queen and Whataburger block. A blizzard is a must have for a quick pick-me-up on our trips. And Whataburger is the best place for a pit stop and a burger. The top and bottom of the quilt were easy to piece without any problem, because the size of the blocks and sashing fit perfectly. The length of the quilt top was a different matter. I knew I would have to add/subtract/squeeze the blocks and some sashing or extra pieces to the sides in order to have a perfect fit. Last night. instead of counting sheep to go to sleep, I was thinking of 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 inches of fabric to fit the blocks along the sides. I woke up this morning with a plan…sort of… fingers crossed. After my coffee this morning, I went directly to my sewing room and started piecing. It worked out just right! The Meemaw story is not over. Our story may have been put on hold for a bit because of Covid, but we are ready to go as soon as we can. This quilt reflects the beginning and middle of our story, totally out of order, busy, and in disarray, sort of like we are. I cannot wait until it is quilted and I can show it to the Meemaws.
The hawk is aerial brother of the wave which he sails over and surveys, those his perfect air-inflated wings answering to the elemental unfledged pinions of the sea.Henry David Thoreau
After a few grey days, the skies cleared and sunshine returned. Birds are everywhere! I awake each morning to the beautiful sound of birds perched on my neighbors backyard trees beside my bedroom window. Yesterday, I witnessed a bird nerd’s dream. As I stepped out my front door, I could hear birds all around the neighborhood. It was louder than usual. I got my binoculars and was spotting mockingbirds, doves. and sparrows. Then, it went silent. They were gone. Suddenly, a hawk was diving through the sky high above our street, as if the street was an airport runway. It started to glide back up and circle above the houses. It was a beautiful sight to see this creature maneuver the winds as it flew around the area. Then it landed on the tree located on the front lawn of my neighbor across the street. As soon as it perched, the hawk began to call out. There is a berm and a railroad track behind the line of houses in front of mine. From over the berm, I could hear a hawk responding to the hawk on the tree branch. This second hawk soon appeared and circled around a few times before landing on the same tree branch as the hawk that had called him. By this time, I could barely contain my excitement. The second hawk scooted right next to the other and they remained together for about five minutes, before it took off again towards the berm. The original hawk stayed perched for another few minutes then it also headed toward the berm. I was able to get a photo of the first hawk by itself, and one with the two hawks together. I didn’t think of taking a video of them flying because I was just too excited watching them. I sort of had an idea as to what type of hawks these were, but I referred to my Birds of Texas Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela. I also sent photos to my friend, who is a master naturalist and who has taken courses on identifying birds. She also thinks these were red tailed hawks. I just wanted to share this experience in hopes that it could make you smile.
The Meemaw story quilt is still in progress, and it is very much an experimental process. The 5″x 5″ blocks were splattered on the design wall, around the center which measured 28.5″ x 32.5″. The center design was not balanced, so I added appliques of flowers and rocks. One of our hobbies is to paint rocks and leave them at places where we visit. Each time I passed the design wall, I just scratched my head and kept on walking. Finally, after talking with Joy, my friend at the Mesquite Bean, we came up with different possibilities. I added some unifying blocks such as friendship stars, one for each side of the center. Then I added four corner hearts. I tried different colors for sashing, but ended up choosing blue. It took some finagling, but I finally got the center framed with sashing and a border of 5″x5″ blocks. Finally, there was some cohesiveness to the quilt. The next challenge was deciding what to do with some of the 10″x10″ quilt blocks. Should I make two separate wall hangings , one with the center piece and small blocks; the other with the bigger blocks? Or should I try to figure out how to make this into one quilt. I really think I need to make one, in order to include everything that my friends had listed as their special memories, along with what I had listed. In order to visualize the larger quilt, I made some 10.5″ paper blocks and placed them around the sashed piece along with the big blocks that I had already made. I think (and hope) I found a way to do this. So far, I have only used scraps and fabric from my stash. I did order some blue fabric for the sashing, because the black I had was too somber. I also ordered some fat quarters for 5 of the larger blocks. Two of those fabrics have come in, so I was able to add to the larger blocks. I only need three more large blocks and then I can see if my plan to make a larger quilt will work. I have used a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch for the appliqueing on some of the blocks. I have some concern about the fraying, but I will just have to see what happens. To unify the quilt, I have made four larger corner blocks with birds. Each bird represents my friends and myself. Let me just say that I am not the Bossy Boots Bird. I am considered the person with the ideas. The Wise One in the group is our navigator and advisor. She also is great at packing the car with all of our junk. The third bird is for the Peacemaker, who keeps us calm and settled down. I have only shown the Bossy Boots block to two of the Meemaws, and they think I captured our friend perfectly. My plan is to show them the quilt only when it is totally done. While I wait for the fat quarters to arrive, I will continue experimenting and playing around with the remaining blocks. This is the fun part.
Thank you, Mariss, for listing me among the nominations for the Outstanding Blogger Award. Your Fabrication blog is one of my main resources for inspiration, information, and entertainment. I follow many of the bloggers that are on your nomination list. Now, to answer your questions:
For how long have you been writing a blog?
What made you start? I can address both of these questions at one time. After 42 years of teaching, I retired in 2014. It took me over three years to actually stop questioning if I had made the right decision to retire. I missed the students and could not find anything to take the place of doing what I loved the most, teaching. In my last years of teaching, I started a classroom blog. With parent permission and approval, I posted videos of students at work. Each student had their own blog linked to my blog, and they posted their own work, products, and opinions. The children and I enjoyed the experience of blogging. After a year of rambling in retirement, I decided to start my own blog. So, I have completed my 5th year of blogging and am onto my 6th.
Why do you continue to blog? Through blogging, I have “met” and connected with so many creative and fun people. I enjoy the support, and the resources that I receive from the blogging community. I get to communicate with people outside of my inner circle. I plan to continue blogging, in hopes that I can provide as much positivity and fun for others, as I receive from them.
Have you ever met any of your fellow bloggers face to face? If so, how did it feel? It would be lovely to one day meet with fellow bloggers. I have had some personal contact through emails. During the recent man-made weather disaster we had in Texas, it was the support from my blogging friends that helped to get me through.
Do you write regularly? If so, why? Hmmm…do I write regularly in my blog or do I write in other formats? I do tend to write regularly in my blog. For me, it is a form of journaling my thought process. This helps me to stay on track and be organized…two difficult tasks for me. I am a visual, tactile learner, and writing and showing my process helps to get to completion. As for other formats of writing, I dabble in poetry and just jotting ideas and opinions. I pretty much keep this writing under wraps.
Happy International Women’s Day. Hats off to all the women who are juggling working, family, teaching their children in online school, and caring for others during this pandemic. A special shout out to workers in the food, health, safety, education, and all fields deemed essential, who are exposing themselves to the dangers of this pandemic. I made a small quilt hanging to represent the power of women. Then I made a mini selfie wall hanging just for fun.
Back in my teaching days, March was always a fun month. We would spend the weeks leading up to Spring Break, learning in an integrated curriculum based on the themes of spring and kites. I. LOVE. FLYING. KITES. My students and I would sing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” along with Julie Andrews. The culminating activity for this unit of study would be an afternoon of kite flying on the Friday before spring break began. I also have a special memory of taking my granddaughter to the park to fly a kite. After a bit of trouble getting the kite off the ground, I finally got it to fly. My granddaughter started applauding and singing about how her grammy got the kite in the sky.
I think it’s time to get a kite and have some fun. I love this quote by Lauren Bacall. Let your imagination soar.
“Get in over your head as often and as joyfully as possible.” –Alexander Isley
This past week I have been in way over my head and having so much fun. My family and friends may not feel the same joy since I keep bugging them with questions and asking for their opinion about the Meemaw quilt that is on the design wall. True to form, I began making these storytelling blocks with no firm design in mind. After making the center block, I just started pulling scraps and choosing different types of blocks to make in two sizes…5.5 inch and 10.5 inch blocks. The center block is irregular in size, so I will have to do some mathematics to get the blocks to fit. Three years ago, I made a quilt that told the story of my grandson’s first five years. Each block was totally different in size, but there was no center block. It was easier to make this quilt since I just adjusted the blocks to fit the width of the horizontal rows. This Meemaw quilt is just all over the place. I have to pull it together somehow. It’s been so enjoyable making the blocks and remembering the fun things we used to do before the pandemic. Today, after asking three different people (more than once 😉) for their opinion on design layouts, I am still experiencing a design dilemma. I think the best thing to do at this point, is just let it hang on the wall. Maybe inspiration will strike sometime in the wee hours of the morning. In the meantime, I will celebrate. WordPress notified me that this is the fifth year anniversary of my Colchas y mas blog. I think this calls for a slice of pie. I want to thank all of my blogging friends who have been such a resource of information, inspiration, and encouragement.
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.
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.
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”.
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