Sunday, July 4, 2021

Love, love, love, this completed quilt

This morning I woke up feeling proud, accomplished, and satisfied. Last night at 9 p.m., I knotted my thread, cut it, and let out a sign. I finished hand sewing the binding to the back. After 18 months, I finished my quilt.

This one was my favorite—no really. I know I say that each time I work on a quilt, but this one is special. This one challenged me. This one honed skills I didn’t have when I began more than 18 months ago. This one has certainly beefed up my quilting resume.

My only disappointment, and that may be too strong a word since I’m elated with this quilt, is that it wasn’t my own design. I’m not sure why I’m stuck on that element, because I only choose to make quilts from patterns I love and want to complete, but creating my own design is the one thing I want to master. I want to sit down with graph paper and colored pencils, or at the computer keyboard and let my imagination run wild.

I’m not sure this will ever happen. After all, every quilt I make since my first quilt was complete in 2003, is uniquely my own, always one of a kind; it is similar to others, but always different. Despite all the people who have sewn this quilt commonly known as Afternoon Delight, no one has this one. The pattern, designed by the late Sue Garman, will have been made by hundreds, and perhaps even tens of thousands of people. Mine is but one of those, but still, this one is all mine. Though it was Garman’s pattern, I collected all the fabrics. I picked the the colors. I decided on the quilting designs. And, of course, I did all the cutting, piecing, hand applique, and quilting.

I have no way of knowing if I will ever achieve this element of my quilting journey—designing my own quilt. I’ve modified existing designs, which could qualify as making them my own, but in my mind, it isn’t quite the same. I hope I can someday achieve designing, but who knows. If I never do, that is OK too because I love quilting. I love every quilt I’ve ever made.

And the list is long for those I still want to make—traditional patterns—like Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Double Wedding Ring, and so many more. I plan to stay busy as long as my fingers still function and my eyes still see, despite a growing difficulty.

I’d have to go pretty far though to love a quilt as much as this one. I loved making this one. I’m enamored with this quilt. It turned out so much better than I imagined.

Finishing a quilt is always joyful, but this one has taken my breath away. I’ve loved every stitch.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Memories sparked by photographs

CHMusings:Andy Williams
I can barely remember a time when I wasn't enamored with the late Andy Williams. His music has soothed my soul for almost 50 years. 

I was recently reminded of just how long ago that was while cleaning out some cupboards in the garage. I found some old photo albums. I thumbed through them and was reminded about the time I saw Andy live in concert. Of course I had forgotten about these.

The pictures are poor, taken with a small film-fed camera from a seat fairly far from the stage. But even though details of his features are fuzzy, that stance is so familiar and recognizable. And, I will always believe that in this shot, he was singing just to me.

CHMusings:Andy Williams concert ticket
I still have the ticket stub from that concert. Andy performed with Michel Legrand on the piano. They were two superstars as far as I was concerned.

The concert was on a Friday night, Nov. 26, 1976 at Airie Crown Theater in Chicago's McCormick Place. It was a very cold, frigid night in the city with temperatures below zero with a cold, blustery wind whipping off the lake. It assaulted us as we crossed the parking lot to our car. Despite memories of the cold, that night burns in my memory.

This turned out to be a memorable night in my life. I was on a date with the man I would marry a few months later, the same man with whom I/ve shared my life ever since. 

I always say I married John because he took me to see Andy--that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I was even able to convey that to Andy when I had the opportunity to meet him in person at his book signing of "Moon River and Me," a few years ago. Meeting Andy was to fulfill the dream of a lifetime.

I was so anxious to read his book, so I started it on the drive home. I wrote about that too as I savored the reading of Andy's memoir

Though Andy has been gone for several years, I will never forget him and what he's meant to me. Despite the indelible mark he's made on me, I know the beautiful music he created will endure even longer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

This just makes my day!

This morning, I glanced out the window and saw a doe with her newborn fawn. I stopped to watch for a while before grabbing my camera for some not-so-great pictures.

I suspect this fawn isn't very old, just by the way it walked, unsure of its steps and with a tentative posture. It made its way to Mom and began to suckle. Mom licked its little face. Could there be anything cuter than a nursing fawn?


Mama was aware of my presence, even though I was inside looking through the window. She definitely was keeping a watchful eye.

While I watched, another doe appeared in the woods. Mama was very clearly not happy about that. The second deer approached just a little too close to the baby, causing Mama to react. She chased the intruder into the woods, and then returned to the baby. The doe approached again. This time Mama was serious. She led her baby to a grassy area at the base of a tree. The baby laid down in the tall grass and was barely visible from my vantage point. Mama went after the doe again, this time on the attack, kicking with her front legs. She meant business and the doe knew it. She ran into the woods and didn't look back. 

 It is this kind of a just-another-day-in-the-woods encounter that makes my day. 



Sunday, May 2, 2021

Today is all about flaws, both physical and mechanical

I’ve been nursing a bad knee for about a month. I’m not sure what I did, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It is very painful to walk, even with a knee brace, so it appears a doctor visit may be in my future. That is not something I look forward to because I’m a real wimp about such things. However, I may not have a choice if I ever want to walk normally again.

mini frameI recently noted in CH Musings, that I am trying out a new quilt hoop on a stand that I recently purchased. 

I have some good news and some bad news on that front. In the meantime though, I’ve been spending time icing, elevating, and resting my left knee which requires lots of sitting. No worries; that has allowed me time to enjoy my quilting. I’ve always known that quilting provided mental therapy, but now it is also my physical therapy. I am so enjoying working on this quilt. I am making great progress too.

The good news is that I’ve really been enjoying hand-quilting on what I call my mini frame.

The frame itself has three knobs, visible in the photo, which holds the hoop assembly onto the stand. These are adjustable and allow the hoop that holds the quilt to rotate up to 360º. Combined with the other tilt mechanisms on the stand, the adjustability makes for a very comfortable quilting experience.

But the bad news is that apparently, and I’m not sure how or why, but the center knob no longer holds the hoop assembly in place. It is stripped and can no longer be tightened. The hoop is now unstable on the frame and can even fall off if I don’t hold it. That isn’t comfortable.

I’ve written to the company, which seems anxious to help. I hope they can send me a new piece so I can continue using this product. I tried in the interim to quilt on my lap using just a frame as I used to. But now that just feels awkward. I suppose I could get used to it again, but I want to try to make this work.

It is time to hobble into the kitchen for ice for my knee, and settle into an afternoon of quilting.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Hand-quilting; I just can't stop

I first decided to hand quilt my latest quilt – “Afternoon Delight,” a 2020 Block of the Month project designed by the late Sue Garman for The Quilt Show. I finished the quilt top in February, more than a year after I started it. I was pretty iffy on my choice of hand quilting or machine quilting because I really love free-motion quilting on my domestic sewing machine. And, machine quilting is so much quicker. I realized I could have a finished quilt in a much shorter time if I do it by machine. I have never even considered sending a quilt out to be quilted by someone else even though the result of professional quilting is spectacular. So for me, the question was simply one way or the other.

As I’ve stated in a prior post Quilting challenges, my last hand-quilting endeavor was a bit of a disaster. While I loved hand-quilting in the past, a few years ago, I am older now. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be and I have tendonitis in my arms, some carpal tunnel in my hands, and I’ve never really found a way to be completely comfortable. I never learned how to quilt on a frame. I’ve only quilted on my lap with a hoop.

When I’ve hand-quilted in the past, I used a 16” round hoop once used by my husband’s grandmother. You might say I inherited it. Granny made lots of beautiful quilts, one of which I wrote about: Remembering Granny and her quilts

The last time I hand-quilted I tried using no hoop at all, which was definitely easier, but that method had other problems for me. I spray-basted the layers together and they easily shifted without the tension a hoop provides.

My brain went back and forth on my whether to hand quilt or machine quilt this lovely piece of work, one of the most complex quilts I’ve ever made. But, as so many quilters will attest, this quilt spoke to me. It wanted to be hand-quilted, largely because so much of it was done by hand. Once I made the decision, I reasoned that this was my best and really, only option.

I decided to try my hand, no pun intended, on a small quilt hoop on a stand. I had no idea if I would like this thing, but it did have many advantages, such as its complete customization. The quilt can be turned 360º and the frame can be moved from its upright position to a different height and rake to make using it more comfortable. The biggest advantage for me though, is that it would provide a place to keep my quilt while in progress. I could easily scoot the entire thing out of the way when I’m not using it, and scoot it back to my chair when I want to quilt.

I guess I’m happy with what I call ‘my baby quilt frame, because all I want to do now is quilt. Thankfully the weather has been cool and rainy, so quilting for hours at a time, while I listen to audio books is just about a perfect way to spend a few happy hours. I am using wool batting for the first time. Although I would never consider myself a great quilter, that is the beauty of this – I don’t have to be great to create something beautiful.

I am very pleased at the simple design I have come up with and how it looks on the finished blocks. I am about halfway done at this point. When I wake up, I just can’t wait to get a few things done around the house so I can sit back down and quilt. I quilt in front of the television; I quilt while I listen to the readings of my audible books. I quilt to music.

Could there any better therapy for the pandemic year from hell? I don’t think so.

Here is a sneak peek at how things are going. 

I guess Kasey thinks this one will be hers. I always have the greatest quilt critics, although they never seem to have found a quilt they didn’t like. This one will be no different.