Thursday, March 28, 2019

Blocks 3 & 4

Well, Block #9 of the Hand -pieced Quilt Along was released this past Monday, and I just finished blocks 3 and  4. No matter, I'll finish the rest in my own time. I had to make block 3 three times to get something I was satisfied with. Block 4 was a bit easier, but still a little tricky. I had never done QSTs before. So, since it's after midnight, and a new link-up starts in the morning, I'm going to post this with no further ado.

Block 3:

Block 4:

Here's the link to Patty's blog: Elm Street Quilts  and here's the one to Kristin's: Simple, Handmade, Everyday

Maybe I can get another block or two done this weekend, before Hazel comes to spend a few days with us.

Monday, March 11, 2019


I really thought I would be farther along in the Hand-Pieced Quilt Along I posted about, but I have cut and sewn, and recut and resewn this block, and now I realize I reversed my colors, so I need to re-recut and re-resew! AGGHHH!

I didn't do well on making the flying geese block using triangles--they just didn't line up right, so I must have stretched those bias edges or something.

 Went back to doing them my favorite way--with rectangles and squares and stitch and flipping. They all turned out well, but as I got ready to join my last seam, I realized I had reversed my background fabric with the colors.

Not to mention I lost a few points there. So, it's back to the cutting mat. Meanwhile, back at the QAL, block 8 was released today. I'm still on block 3.  Sigh.

It's been a tough fall and winter. The weather has been so wet for so many months--I think there has only been one week since July that it hasn't rained or snowed. The ark jokes are getting old. Usually, rainy weather doesn't bother me, but both the dog and the husband have had multiple health issues, requiring multiple vet and doctor visits, and more time and care from me. Add this to the many responsibilities I already have because of Jack's disability, and the hits to the bank account, and I found myself floundering, struggling to be the support my family needs.

So for the first time, I sought out the assistance of a counselor.  It almost made me feel like a failure, not being able to cope, not being able to pull myself up by the bootstraps and forge on. Oh, I wasn't having suicidal thoughts. To me, that's a clear cut sign of needing help. I just walked around on the verge of tears all the time. Simple tasks became monumental.  I got up, got dressed, and got us to all the appointments on time. Kept the grandbaby when my daughter came down with pneumonia and bronchitis. Got the laundry done, and the house reasonably clean. But it just felt as if I was slogging through waist-deep water all the time. I gave up going to the Y because of all the scheduling conflicts, and I didn't substitute with home exercises or walking. (Raining, right?) Meal planning and cooking became too hard, so Jack ate frozen meals (which he prefers, because I'm vegan and he's not) and too often I'd just make a pb&j, because it didn't require any thought. Bought too much junk processed food. Gained back the 35 pounds I had lost. Couldn't sleep through the night, yet wanted to sleep all day. Something had to change.

Now, thanks to Kelley, I am coping again. I am back on track. Not that the problems have gone away; they never do, do they? Tandi still has health problems, and if she makes it to May 27, she will be 15 years old--that's really old for a cocker spaniel. Jack's health issues fluctuate, but we are staying positive and we are supporting each other. It's still a little one-sided, but that's the nature of marriage, the whole "in sickness and in health" clause. Finances have dictated that I put aside counseling for now, but I have promised my husband and my counselor not to let myself get into crisis mode again. If I start feeling overwhelmed, help is only a phone call away.

I tell you all this to say that if you find yourself feeling some of those same things--unrelenting sadness, inability to make decisions or take care of yourself properly, sleep disruptions, lack of interest in things that used to bring you joy, misplaced anger or irritability-- please, seek counseling. There are professionals who are able to help, and who can help you find your way back. Check your workplace's EAP program. See what your health insurance covers. Talk to you doctor.  Mine added acute stress disorder, with an explanation, to my online chart. Unfortunately, my medicare advantage plan didn't cover it, but I found a counselor who has a sliding scale payment plan. Check out Psychology Today's website. There you can find licensed therapists in your area who specialize in all different areas. Read their bios, lists of what they cover, their philosophies, and their financial requirements. Most will let you email or phone them for a free initial contact, to determine if they can help you and if they are a good fit for you. I started with a list of 22 possibilities, and narrowed it down to two. Kelley answered my email, and not only was that free, but so was my first visit. It was a good match.

Recognizing I needed help, and asking for it, did not make me a failure. It was a sign of my strength. So please, if you're struggling, do this for yourself. You deserve it.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Hand Piecing

Two bloggers started a Hand Pieced Quilt Along together--Patty of  Elm Street Quilts, and Kristin of Simple, Homemade, Everyday. Each of them used different colorways and each has posted a different setting. There's a facebook page, too--Hand Pieced Quilt Along.  Every week (on Monday) a different block is posted, beginning with the basics and building on those skills. Each block finishes at 6", so those are some small pieces there.

This is not my first time hand piecing, but it has been fun to get back to it. The first quilting class I ever took was a sampler quilt of 12" blocks, all by hand. I made a throw for my daughter after graduating high school (late 90s) and hand quilted it as well. It's still in use, though very worn and ragged, which is why I am making her the string quilt.

I'm running a little behind, but I did finish up blocks 1 and 2 this week. (Block 5 will be posted on Monday, so I'm trying to catch up!)  There are sponsors with prizes every week, so this will be my first week to link up and be eligible for a prize. I decided to use batik scraps for my blocks, and I think I will set them on point, something I've never done before. Here are my first 2 blocks:

 It has been such a dreary, rainy fall and winter, that I felt the need for something more cheerful, now that the lights and colors of Christmas are just a memory. I'm thinking this little quiltlet should be called "Confetti".  It reminds me of the birthday cake Dawn made for my granddaughter's 4th birthday last week.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Revving it up again

I'm finally getting back into sewing and quilting again. It's been too long coming, but you know, life....! I've really missed it, and just decided I needed to get my daughter's quilt finished, no matter what. I started this before she finished law school--and she graduated in 2007!. She deserves to have it.
It's a string quilt, and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out how to do the batting. I sewed the strings to muslin strips, then decided to add a border, then another couple of borders, to make it a generously sized sofa quilt. But the borders weren't backed by muslin, so I just couldn't figure out how to make it all a consistent thickness with the batting. I asked at a couple of quilt shops, but no one seemed to know what to do. It was so frustrating, I put the flimsy aside for years.

I pulled it out again the end of last summer, and thought I could just use batting on the borders, to make it more even, but that didn't seem to play out well once I started trying to put it into practice. So the latest plan was to just use a thin batting for all of it, and get this thing finished!
Sandwiching a quilt has been such a challenge, with a bad knee. Getting up off the floor is next to impossible. I had managed to get the quilt sandwiched using spray adhesive, but still came out with lots of wrinkles on the back. So for Christmas, Jack bought me a 6 ft long folding table. Having the table made it so much easier to smooth it all out and repin, and now I have my machine set up on the table and am finally quilting it. It's a domestic machine, and I am so rusty, but it's coming along. The table is really too high for sewing on, and I can only do it for about an hour before my shoulders get fatigued, but my goal is to finish it this month.

I'm quilting it from the back, because the myriad of patterns and sizes of the strings makes me a little cross-eyed when trying to free-motion quilt it from the front. I keep mentally chanting "finished is better than perfect" when I get frustrated.
There's a quilt-along on Facebook that I'm participating in, too. I'll post more about it later. It's hand-piecing, and perfect for winter nights!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Halloween 2017

Well, here they are, the pictures from this year!  I put out a lot more this year, since I was able to get into the shed and go through the boxes and bins. It was almost like Christmas, rediscovering some of the things I had.  The wind tried to play havoc with my tombstones and props, but I figured out how to work with the wind instead of against it, and it wasn't too shabby. Got lots of compliments from kids and adults alike, so that made it worth while.

First, a picture of Hazel. She's 2 1/2, and her mom made her a Witch Hazel costume. She figures it's the last time she'll get to choose Hazel's costume, since next year Hazel will be almost 4, and she's already a very decisive little girl.
She's usually restricted to a pacifier at bedtime only, but the poor tyke had just come down from a 101.8 fever, and wasn't feeling well, but wanted to come see Popsy and Mango, so a little comfort measure was in order.  She did go trick or treating in my neighborhood, and she finally made the connection. "Popsy!" she said when she got back. "I said 'trick or treat' and people gave me CANDY!"  First candy she's ever had.  She said she wanted to go again the next night, but when she encountered 2 dinosaurs, that was it. I don't know what it was about the dinosaurs costumes, but Hazel screamed in absolute terror and had to be taken inside.

Here are some pics of the night:

Started the thankless job of taking it all down and packing it away. But it was fun, and the kids seemed to like it, and I'm already toying with a theme for next year....