Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"Sleigh Bells ring...are you listening?"  plays in the background, causing me to wonder if I am really listening, and if so, what am I hearing? Lately, I find myself running from store to store, shivering in a cold car, grabbing a quick lunch, and re-reading my list of “to do’s”, hoping I can check something off. 
But listening….? I pause to consider what sounds catch my attention during this busy holiday.

We waved goodbye as our daughter, Tina, and her little family boarded the plane in the middle of November to begin a new adventure in South East Asia. We had been together almost a year, and the three little girls had filled many of our hours with laughter and play. Their departure left behind a sad quiet home for Don and me. We no longer hear the giggles of little girls, the call of a mommy for peaceful play, or even the cry of the littlest one trying to be heard in a busy family. I miss those sounds and know hearing one of their little voices would cause me to stop and look around. Wow...right now, I’d love to hear those sounds, but I know God has great things in store for them in their new home.

I’ve noticed my ears are very attuned to little sounds drifting up from my elderly dad’s room.  I hear him moving about, raising or lowering his hospital bed, or rolling over with a few struggling groans. There’s the  hum of his electric recliner being overtaken by sounds of peaceful snoring of contentment.  Sounds of his word processor have silenced now by the overcoming of physical needs. That’s a sound I miss, but it’s been replaced by loud TV voices of news and advertisements to compensate for hearing loss.
There have been some dark nights when Dad sounds an alarm into my deep sleep. That piercing alert awakens my listening, causing me to run through the dimly lit hall and down the stairs as I try to quiet my beating heart, calm my fears, and pray silently for wisdom to face whatever I encounter.

Sounds of morning awaken me as I hear Don beginning his busy days with a few early hours of study. He has a regular routine of consistent noises. There’s the squawk of the microwave door, chime of the timer, then I hear him picking through the ice bucket in hopes for a perfect number in his water glass. These sounds warn of a quickly passing day, and leave a steaming cup of coffee waiting for me.

As Christmas Day approaches, the sounds of baking, cleaning and sewing fill my home as I busily complete the finishing touches. Anticipation has our home waiting for the sounds of a wonderful week with our younger daughter, Caryn, and husband, Mark. They’ll bring a new sound to our home this time when we are introduced to “Rosie” their “Jack-Rustle terrier”.

This past month I heard some new sounds as I filled in for the receptionist on campus. Besides the constant ringing of the phones, I’ve heard cheerful greetings, of in/out schedules, laughter and some good conversations. It’s been so enjoyable to hang out with co-laborers and hear segments for mission outreach.

Through my Bible study, I’m learning that the best sound is whispering “Peace” to a troubled world and giving Hope of the bright future when His children will sing a joyful sound around the throne of God, saying
                                    "Worthy is the LAMB!"

Because of God’s gift of His Son at Christmas, we’re expectantly listening for that wonderful sound of His voice, calling us before His Throne! 
Until then, I enjoy hearing “sleigh bells ringing” celebrating His precious SON and hope all the sounds you hear this season are joyful ones of praise!
Love Because of His Gift,
Don and DebiWeaver

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dear Ole Dad!

The photo on the calendar depicted a church lawn decorated with the nativity scene while snowflakes floated through the quiet darkness and fell silently to the ground. This precious scene had caused many to pause and gaze at the sweet baby's face in wonder, and thankfulness for the God who so loved the world that He sent His Son... 
My Dad with his Mother
Yet, 90 years ago, in a humble bedroom, a young mother's eyes were gazing into the precious face of her newborn son and the fulfillment for the desire of her own heart. Little thought was given to the holiday or the other baby, for that Christmas eve found its own celebration of joy in the heart of this young mother and her husband sitting nearby. The longings of their hearts were all wrapped in the blue flannelled bundle cuddled in her arms, and she felt repair in the beginnings of mending the sorrowful wounds of past miscarriages.
The little boy baby had dark blue eyes with one small quarter of his left eye sparkled in brown hues. His chubby cheeks dimpled in contentment, a small sigh escaped the tiny mouth as he snuggled contentedly in those loving arms.

Catie & Meghan visit Gramps
The years have passed quickly and two new generations have begun their stories, yet beside my overstuffed recliner rests that same face, cuddled deeply in a blue flannelled blanket on a Home-Care hospital bed. I hear a contented sigh escape the sleepy opened mouth of my dear elderly dad, and then, a soft groan as his eyes open, look around and focus on me. I lovingly look into the deep blue eyes of his occasional glance upon my face, and I'm reminded of that night long ago when he held his mother’s heart tightly within that gaze. The scene on the calendar is still the same, marking almost a century, yet still celebrating the oncoming birthday holiday. Again, the snowflakes are softly drifting to the whitened ground outside the darkened window, but there are some vivid changes upon his countenance.

Wrinkles have replaced the dimpled chubby cheeks and worry lines outline his strong features. He no longer innocently looks at the world he entered and the sweet ignorance of infant life has been overshadowed by many experiences. 
Through our many long conversations, he has retold stories of good times, the romping through farmlands, attempted studies and successful times of ministry as a pastor, yet he has always stopped short of retelling shuddering moments of fear and war. Each memory lines his life with innumerable blessings from God, an awesomeness of being loved by his Creator, and so protected until that time when he would come to know his God personally through the Savior.

Dad resting
In these lingering winter days, there are many good moments of sunshine and hope, but often, it is his life's memories that are gently carrying his dreams through his labored breathing, the nudges of pain, and the ticking of my mantle clock.  Names of many life-long friends and disciples from his life of godly commitment are welcomed into his mind and soft spoken prayers are still heard as he raises their names to his Lord, praying especially for those still struggling to know the Truth or experience the life of righteousness through Jesus Christ.
More and more hours are spent in a deep sleep with vivid dreams that do not leave him rested. His old bones creak and crack with movement causing groans to escape where the contented sigh once was. Occasionally he mumbles little memories in his wakeful moments, gentle tears water his aged eyes, or praise for His Savior flow from his pale, dry lips.

We both know in the quietness of the moments, without spoken words, that this life is reaching the end.
His departure will soon come and there is no dread. He knows the King, accepted His blood sacrificed for his sins, and claimed the promise of life eternal. Now, with bright hope for this future, he longs to join his mother, father, and beloved wife who are waiting for him close to his precious Savior.

Just now, as I type this letter at my Dad's bedside, he quietly whispers for me to add praise to his awesome God and Savior for such a blessed life, mention his love for friends and family, and mostly, remember to encourage you to stay strong in your faith in Jesus Christ. His unyielding desire is to join you in the clouds of glory!

PS Open House Birthday Celebration saw about 56 people around his bedside during the intervals of the day. A table spread of Snacks and Finger foods with Mocha Punch or Fruit Punch made a pretty scene across the room from his bed. Thank you for all the cards and visits! It made his day with nice memory reminders of many friends!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A New Chapter..

Table & chairs are empty now...
The creaks and groans of the old house can be heard now as the cold November winds howl from the western prairie and the middle aged couple sit alone in the dusk-basked living room. They glance at each other in the silence, knowing their thoughts run along the same lines as they allow their eyes to meet and then, move to the empty couch and vacant children's chairs placed near the fireplace. Evidence of the girls' play sits in piles around the room emphasizing the good times that mark their loneliness now. Time will pass before they become accustomed again to the absence of childish chatter and busy young parents racing around to get their little ones to bed.
memories hover over the empty couch
As darkness envelops the skies, my post flows from my fingers while my husband and I relax alone in our little home again, knowing the dreaded change has taken place.
You see, one week ago, we took our precious little family to the airport, hugged them tightly, and tearfully waved goodbye as they dragged carry-ons through the gate, through inspection gates on to the first leg of their long flight plans. The beginning of a new adventure excited each of us and wrapped our sadness with little smiles of silver linings.
Realizing they were checked in and settling for the wait to board the plane for their overseas flight, we walked slowly hand-in-hand toward our parked car. A precious gift of 16 months together was over, memories tightly packed away to ponder later, and a new page was being turned toward the next chapter.
As the day progressed, the flight schedule etched on our minds, we waited for possibilities to receive a text message, wanting to know how each one was handling the long flights and jet lag struggle. Each time good connections allowed wired reports to tell us of their times for sleep, and how the little ones were taking the travel, we were relieved and praised our awesome God!
Our biggest comfort actually came from a Bible verse I read the morning of their departure. Early in the morning, I had sleepily pulled my Bible from the bedside table and asked God for just a simple word of encouragement as we all faced the departure. I love to meditate on the Psalms, and since a Bible study led me to Psalm 104, I looked it up to read this verse:
now winter winds rock the empty swings 
"He makes the clouds his chariot, and rides the wings of the wind".
I cannot tell you why or how that verse comforted me, but throughout the departure day, it sure made me smile. My God is so relevant when we seek Him for strength for each day! He knew my head would be in the clouds that took the kids away, and comforted me with His greatness with a small verse announcing His greatness that reaches even into those clouds and our winter winds!

On the way to the airport, our two older grand daughters rode with my husband and me. In our conversation, I shared the verse with them, and our 4 year old remarked, "Well, it is a very cloudy day, so maybe He can pick a good one!"
looking forward
to a new adventure
Suddenly, the oldest, deep thinking grand daughter surprised a deep burst of laughter from both my husband and me! She gently leaned over to her little sister and quietly mumbled, "M..., you have to remember that our grandmother often reads old fashioned words from that KJV version. The word 'chariot' really means 'airplane' in our version!"

Our home may hold only quiet moments now, but the adventure hovering over their lives fills our thoughts and we excitedly wait to hear the details of this big international move. We anticipate and know our prayerful hearts long to hear how the Light brightens another dark corner for His majestic glory!
As we look forward with our kids, I don't think I'll ever look up at the clouds again without a smile of memory and wonder in awe how my Majestic God chooses the clouds for his "chariot"!
"this same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven..." Acts 1:11        "...we will meet in the clouds to be with the Lord forever..." 1 Thess 4 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Not spoiling a surprise...

I am pulling a hidden post from my Draft pile because the quilted gift has been given to the dear sweet friend at a Senior LUNCHEON and I now will not spoil any surprise.

ANTICIPATION OF A LOVING SURPRISE! (Time in a bottle) "Stitch in Time" of April 12, 2011 shows our surprise in progress.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Teach us to number our days...

My Dad enjoying some sunshine...
Easter Sunday night, well, actually early Monday morning around 12:40, my medical alert rang! I dashed down the hall, stumbled down our stairs, and ran to my dad's bedside. He was suffering an heart attack. After several nitro-glycerin pills, a call to 911, and a house full of paramedics, we rushed to the VA hospital.

The rest of the night was spent waiting on the hard ER chairs!
Dad was calmed with nitro-glycerin IV's and Oxygen. As normal, I went into the ER to stand by his bedside, full of concern and watching each gasping breath from his frail old body. Each moment that passed made it evident that my Dad was really struggling to hold on to life.
Napping in the sunshine...
Yet, in the struggle, he still had some humor for the concerned doctors when he quoted what his deaf ears thought they said. He even took time to tell them of his faith in Jesus Christ and how ready is he to go to his eternal home when his Savior calls for him!

But a couple weeks before, while resting in his wheelchair, my Dad suggested we buy a patio set for his entry porch (below my deck). He thought it would extend his place to the outside, and be a wonderful place to watch my grandchildren play this summer. Hopes of many visitors sitting around with him also prompted this wish.
Neglecting the hinted urgency that elderly years give, I allowed busyness to prevent a shopping excursion. In the ER, while I totally focused on monitors and his wheezing breath,  he opened his eyes to look at me between pains of angina, and said tearfully, "Sorry, girl! We forgot to buy the furniture!"
I couldn't believe his thoughts were on furniture at such a time!

Standing at his ER bedside, I regretted that busyness! I had forgotten how quickly life vaporizes, and I pushed his little desire to buy this gift for me out of my mind. I realized as I watched his breathing, chances to meet his request were distant, and even possibilities of seeing his enjoyment seemed dim.
What Dad sees from his recliner...

My dear sweet husband heard Dad's regret. So, four days later, when Dad was discharged from the hospital and brought home, his entry was fully furnished! He was welcomed home with an inviting outside living space!
It was so awesome!
Now, as he regains his strength, I know I can't just hang over him. I am finding sweet peace in puttering around his living space. Just outside his bedroom, his outside living space has added color with placed pots of flowers. The lattice walls and the flowers give a pleasant sense of homeyness.
Yesterday, we enjoyed a sunny bright day, warm enough for Dad to slowly make his way out his door. This time, he hobbled out of his wheelchair and enjoyed one of the stuffed chairs with his feet on the ottoman, quite content. A cursory glance at the flowers and furniture caused him to comment with pleasure. Around noon, friends brought his favorite Culver's hamburger snack pack and joined us for our first picnic. Then Dad enjoyed a couple of hours of conversation, full of childhood memories and antics!

I'm quite pleased as I journal this wonderful day for my Dad. As I tucked my dear Dad in bed, he patted my hand with a "This was a good day!" He loves his new patio, his health is edging its way to "good" again, and I'm so glad his life was extended long enough to enjoy his furniture gift.

Thank you for all your prayers for my Dad's lingering days here on earth with us. His 89+ adventurous years of life have been full and he will leave a legacy of how to "walk by faith"  when he is called home to his beloved Savior. Until then, let this little story encourage you to make the most of every day with dear loved ones, and squelch that interrupting busyness when it threatens to rob you of precious time spent with them!

Next Steps for me in Making this Dresden Quilt

I bet you all forgot about my Dresden quilt! But, I haven't even put it aside. After much deliberation, I've decided to take all the little scraps of beautiful fabric I chose for the Dresden and make 5" blocks of designs I really like as I browse some of my quilting magazines. I found one design that called for long strips of 2 fabrics, so I gathered pieces that were long enough and made a pile of strips.
pile of strips

preparing the strips
This took several days to cut, stitch, press and find pieces that would match for alternate patterns. When I finished as many strips as I could, I began the next step of making the blocks.
I hope to make these, but also put together smaller amounts of fabrics to make a variety of block designs.
Once I have a stash of little blocks, I hope my next step will be to connect all the blocks into one long strip and make a border for the Dresden blocks. As I learn new block designs and patterns, I hope I can add these to my 5" pile of blocks, as scraps allow. Because I am using scraps, it will be interesting to see how many I can pile together, in a variety of designs to create an intriguing border.

In the meantime, I'm hunting for a delectable fabric which jumps off its bolt, begging to be the backing for my very first quilt. I'm considering a navy or deep garnet shade with barely any design to keep it from being a plain boring piece. I'm sure I'll know when I see it waiting for me on some shelf.

For any "quilter police", please give this newbie a little space. I know I'm taking such a long time to accomplish this one quilt, but it is because I often lay it aside to work on what I've learned before I add it to this project. I'm reading quilt books, browsing online sites, and flipping through quilt magazines like crazy. Wow! There is so much to learn and so many blocks to try!
In case, you forgot what it looks like...
I've already put 2 fronts together with the Dresden ruler and other colors! But oh! That's a secret until the recipients hold their gifts!  I find it so fun to experiment with color and fabrics, and then take what I learned to make another part for this border.
This may be my first quilt, yet I'm also creating a journal for 2010-2011's hours spent learning a new hobby. What better way to record what I am learning as I wander down the path into the wonderful world of creating quilts and designs!
So, patience will prevail, and some Dresden quilt will not only keep me warm, but will remind me of all it took to make each square!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Anticipation of a loving surprise! (Time in a bottle) "Stitch n Time"

My girlfriends and I meet once a month now at our church with sewing machines in tow and spend the day together creating the most awesome designs with our scraps. Wind of our get-together times has blown our excitement out to others and they've begun joining us with their quilting, sewing, crocheting, and whatever else is in their project bags. We call our times together "Sew & Share" and welcome anyone who is free on the first Friday of each month to spend their day catching "our bug". We have so many project dreams, stashes of fabric, and projects started and being finished.
Well, just recently, an elderly lady friend heard of our love for quilting and gave us her stash. She sadly admits her days for much sewing has past and told us to have fun with all her scraps! Excitedly, we browsed through her bins, and awed over all the different fabrics, commenting and wondering what projects were made and who received the treasures. As we admired the fabrics, they were falling into piles we thought would look good together. Once in awhile, one of us held up a piece and suggested a project. Then, someone suggested that we make a pot holder or two in thanks for the stash.
The potholder idea sounded small to us in comparison to the piles, especially considering the hours we would enjoy creating with the piles of color. So, after some discussion, we began to put pieces in pairs as possibilities of triangle squares. We envisioned a big colorful "Memory THANK YOU Quilt" for our dear friend and bantered back and forth on how we could keep it a surprise.
We began immediately. Measuring and cutting, starting with squares, a few straight seams, diagonal cutting, pressing seams, and twisting cut triangles resulting in 64 hourglass squares.
One beautiful piece with a garden theme was chosen to be our center focus. We added borders to make it measure a 24" square. Oh! Of course, we held up our growing project for all to admire as we progressed in our work, and each time, we became more and more pleased with our choices of her scraps. As the squares took shape, the colors became outstandingly bright and going together nicely. In our choice of a perfect center, we added a white muslin top margin where we could embroider our group's name and the year. Then I bordered both the center and white embroidered part with red fabric used in the little squares and then a narrow piece of very navy blue to frame the center and make it jump.
Once we had the center done, we began to lay out our 5.5 hourglass squares to make a rainbow of color. As the rows were placed and pleasing to the eyes, three of us took the squares, trying to remember how they were placed, and sewed them together in long strips, making our rows of delectable design. Piece by piece the quilt front took form.
Oh! Of course, we held up our growing project for all to admire as we progressed in our work, and each time, we became more and more pleased with our choices of her scraps. As the rows were added, the colors became outstandingly bright and fit together nicely.
At the end of our Friday "Sew & Share" time, we had the quilt front completed and ready to quilt. How excited we were as we held it up and admired our finished product!
The front was done and ready to be made into a warm, comfy quilt.
We anticipate the best part is still to come. We can hardly wait to watch our dear sweet elderly friend open her gift, and place it over her lap. We want the joy of remembering all her past projects to fill her mind and bring back the beautiful times of loving memories.
The batting and backing is being added this month. We hope to finish our loving project and have it ready to surprise our dear friend. Maybe it will work into a tea party with our guest of honor unwrapping our hearts of love, and we'll cry
"We love you, Maxine! Happy Surprise! Here is your stash of fabrics!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Wow...the month flew by as the snowflakes frequently dropped from the sky, and yet, the grass is green and the forsythia are in full bloom. The daffodils outline many homes, and the sound of joyful children can be heard again, and birds awaken me in the early hours! is Spring!
I haven't blogged in quite some time because every free moment found me in front of my new sewing machine. I've had so much fun! I found the pillowcase tut on MSQC very helpful for quick birthday gifts and have quite a variety ready to give for special times of demonstrating love.              

Knowing Spring is a good time to spruce up the little apartment we include under our roof,  I made 2 pillowcases for my elderly Dad. Spring means to celebrate, these new pillowcases remind him that Spring promises
warmer weather. He loves baseball, so I was very happy to find this fabric full of baseballs and the other with baseball players on white with navy stripes. Adding a few stars and stripes for the trim and cuff made these cases patriotic.
With a "Where's the apple pie?" Dad chuckled!
He was so pleased at his new decor.

My elderly sister is a victim of a brain tumor,
which after several severe battles, left her needing assisted living quarters. She was released from the hospital and now resides in a cute little apartment. Through the winter months, we've been adding little touches of love to decorate her home. A gift of a patriotic quilt inspired me to find red, white and blue towels for her bathroom. A friend monogrammed these for a more personal touch. Then I quilted these place mats for her little table. She likes them better on the arms of her brand new red couch.

This week, I finished these pillowcases to lie on top of the quilt. I know she will be thrilled to get another package and I think she will like the stars and stripes! How I hope having a cheerful home hopefully encourages her to feel beautiful this Spring and remember to thank our God for each day.
March ends with birthdays in my family. On Sunday, we celebrated two local ones. Pillowcases allowed me to show my love in a cute way. My hubby and I shopped and guessed at fabric that we thought would please them. For my nephew, I decided an adult often longs for the peacefulness of childhood, and his love for dogs made me choose this fabric. I couldn't believe the color brown matched their bed covers perfectly. I was so happy!
Then it was time for a niece to open her gift.                                                                                     For her, I chose the beautiful hue of aqua with chocolate brown. The blue matches her eyes and I knew she loved chocolate. Everyone was shocked that I chose her college room colors. So, it was a great choice! How was I to know? 
I am also making white ones for wedding gifts with some beautiful fabrics needing a purpose. But that is another whole story!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Newbie's first steps and moving on...

Original 4-sq blocks connected
I am so excited and pleased with my accomplishment. Although it may seem small to some, I cannot believe I was able to create these beautiful blocks! Last time I showed off my work, I placed the blades down and laid the center circle on top to show what I hoped would be my final design for my Dresden blades.
Happily now, I announce...I completed all 36 blocks! With the fabrics and the design that started me down the path of quilting with high hopes, determination, but also trepidation, I have nine 18" Dresden designed blocks in my favorite color combination. 
I began with the 'stack-n-whack' process of cutting with a Dresden ruler. One by one, I stitched all the blades by hand, making center points and then connecting them together in blocks of five on a 9.5 block of white. I made 36 of these blocks. I found I needed to square them before connecting 4 blocks together, making a complete bloom of blades in a circle. I breathed a sigh of relief when the blades made a smooth circle of points, evenly spaced, especially where I had to connect them.
border planned to outline blocks
I finished that task by basting a 1/4" seam around each center circle and hand-stitched them to the Dresden bloom. While watching the snow fall outside, I knotted the last stitch tightly in place!  

Then, I decided to border the squares in the garnet red fabric in order to connect all 9 into one large front.  I cut strips of 1 1/2 inches for this border, and last night, connected the blocks with my new Janome.

my seams match!
the borders crossed exactly square!
Probably it only matters to me, but real delight came as I examined every seam and crossing of border. Everything lined up perfectly and the entire front is square. Here's a couple of photos showing the white block seams matching and the matched crossing borders!

connecting all nine with border
Moving on to the sashing, I'm planning to be very creative and use all the remaining blade fabrics. I've been browsing magazine ideas and patterns, and been having fun imagining some different designs. That will just have to be another post. At least for a couple of days, I want to just enjoy these beautiful blossoms vividly popping off those white blocks outlined in such a dark border. I love the contrast!

So there's future baby steps involved to challenge this newbie to keep piecing and stitching , but the process is just that..."step by step"!
I do admit that I am finding this new path in textiles to be quite fun.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Come "hum"'s FNSI time!

Cracklin fires...snow packed skylights...cinnamon whiffs...a cup of hot tea...comfy jammies and the soft hum of my new sewing machine! Could you imagine anything making an evening even more wonderful?
Well...if you join me, that would be the best! So, here's your invitation! Put it in your planner (January 21)'s time, girls, for another FNSI! I can hardly wait to hear the quiet hum of my machine stitching along on all the projects I long to complete.
You see, I started keeping a journal of all the projects I want to try while I browse through old magazines, purchase fabrics, and even sort through my stash in hopes of organizing!  This journal is getting full of "dreams" and I need this once per month quiet evening just to accomplish something beautiful to the hum of my sewing machine.

So, for our special January Friday night sew-in, I've browsed and think I have what I want to work on that evening. I think I have enough free moments to plan out a design I've seen in a magazine, get the pieces cut and stacked, ready to make some of these popular MUG RUGS with my humming sewing machine. Have you seen these little rugs? Have you tried putting some together? Here's some sites that have energized me:

I absolutely love the MUG RUG project idea on Heidi's blog:
and on Lana's site:

Aren't these things cute for little gifts? What a great project for a cold January evening. So, I've planned my humming tune for my FNSI! Notes of happiness just fill my heart at the thought of hearing the hum of my new sewing machine.
So, this is what I hope to do: as I direct the fabrics at a 1/4 seam, I want to think and pray for the special ladies in my life. There are several who encourage my walk with God, wish me a wonderful week, and genuinely care for my well-being. I want these ladies to know how much I thank God for putting them in my life. With a little care, color, and creativity, I hope my Friday Night Sew-In finds great delight in making these little rugs for my dear friends.

So...what are you planning to do? Please consider joining the group for a warm evening of quilting, sewing, or any needle work you've wanted to work on! I'd love to know what you accomplish!

Please click on the link (FNSI) in my right column and sign up....and may you have a blessed and happy day humming a beautiful song in your heart!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Avatar!

I don't know much about computer technology, and what does happen while I click often is a result of someone's kindness in helping me, directing me, or pointing me to the better path. That's what happened this morning! My new online friend, Blondie, always has such awesome graphics to welcome people on a forum, or greet friends in messages, and so on. I commented on how much I love these, and she helped me make an avatar for my own identity. It is so awesome! It so fits me!
I just know that she took the time to get to know me and probably read something about what I like on this blog! She saw in her search something about how I enjoy a cup of tea with a friend, and how I absolutely love to decorate anything I can with lace, and then, she picked the soft hues of pink that catches the softness of life I enjoy so much. Finally, she chose the rose, a flower I definitely enjoy in gardens and place on a decorated table while readying for tea time!
Well, here is what she chose for me!
Isn't it gorgeous?
And to add a wonderful finishing touch, she added my name!
Oh! Thank you, so much, Blondie! I absolutely love it!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Kaleidoscope "splash" of lessons...

CUT: 10" BLOCKS of white on white, 7.5 BLADES of black & white designs, and 3.5 QUARTER CIRCLE with a splash of color. 
The Block Swap is about to begin with a deadline in February...and I've already started my part of the project. As a newbie at this quilting thing, I am learning so much by participating in a "community" set up by Missouri Star Quilt Shop website. Not only do I watch and follow all their tutorials, but the friendships online have helped me become better and better with this quilting thing.
ironing basket of blades
This Block Swap is no exception. I've learned vocabulary, just by conversations on the forum and by observing photos posted. I decided to put some up for others who might be a visual learner like me.
clip your corners causes seam to lie flat
Cutting the fabric takes precision, so I looked carefully at the members' cutting board photos. Pressing the fabric may be vital for precise cutting and no wrinkles, but also it helps the fabric stick together and not slip in cutting with a rotary blade. When I started out, I didn't know that the block, blade and 1/4 circle sizes were actual cutting directions, including 1/4" seams. Following these measurements and directions makes it possible to even have a block swap. The forum hostess stayed with me on each step, correcting my perceptions when needed and repeating the measurements often in threads of conversation. Even putting photos up for viewing really helped me, too!
I've always hated fat, clumpy corners which I think shows the seamstress was a little sloppy. Clipping also helps the seam lie flat, and to press the point squarely, it helps to give a crease down the center of the folded blade before turning. This gives you a line to center the point and keeps the measurement the same of each side of the blade and they all  match side by side! Nicely pressed seams make the fabric be the size it should be when completed also.
Then I learned to notice the blades cut at 7.5 inches will be 7.25 inches when sewn. I was confused on this point, but Sewbee and Patticakes corrected my first attempt and by answering questions in the forum, helped me see my mistakes.  I learned that it is important that everyone in the group do them all the exactly same way! Is that redundant? "exactly & same"? O well, emphasis is important, I guess.
quarter of a circle @ 3.5"
Then, when they say quarter circle cut, you are cutting a quarter of a complete circle. So, a 3.5" really means that had you cut a whole circle, it would be 7 inches! I found that if I basted a 1/4 seam around the arc of the circle, it is so easy to press it under along an accurate stitched line. This made a smooth arc lying flat with a constant curve.
Then there is the block - the back of the design you are making.  A 10" block of white on white makes it so pretty! We send raw edged block to the swap to be finished later by those who receive them! See,
measure the diagonal - blade centered
I'm learning because everyone keeps asking GOOD questions on the forum! I keep reading entries on the community thread and all the questions made me constantly check my work. Finally, one of the members took a photo of her sample block taken on a cutting board and I saw her actual measurements. I began to measure all my cuts according to her photo, and was so appreciative of that photo! I began taking my own photos for future references. I think it is fun to take photos for journaling later and keeping a record of my projects!
Here are some of the other photos I took. I noticed that the middle blade point should run along the diagonal of the entire block, and be centered. I could check it on every block, squarely placing the fan. This re-assured me I completed my blocks!
It was easy to sew the blades together and press them on the block, knowing how to center it and the quarter circle fit so well over it, also dividing exactly in half.
So, whew...finally, I can proudly say that my 5 blades fit my block and blocks are ready to send off when the block swap closes membership. Thank you so much to those who patiently worked with us via the forum and helped this newbie immensely!
1st finished block

So, finally, here is my "splash of color" block. When I found this fabric piece of bursts of color, as in fireworks, I just fell in love with the "popping of many colors. Most of the ladies chose a solid color, but the word "splash" of color made this vivid in my imagination.  I hope it works ok with everyone's block. Actually, I hope my blocks are enjoyed as much as my pleasure in putting them together. I have to admit that I am relieved that my pile is ready to label and pack up to send to the hostess. I know that my blocks are ready to join others in making a story of its own as it gives comfort and warmth.

If you've read this, and been encouraged to stretch out of your comfort box to do something new, I would love to know what you did and how did it turn out. Even as I eagerly await the blocks from this swap, I know that I will hold fond memories of all the lessons learned in the "Black & White with a 'Splash of Color' Block Swap". Thank you to those who suggested this project and for allowing me to be a part of your group. I really enjoyed making such a beautiful project and look forward to receiving ones from others for a project of my own.
Happy sewing and quilting...and oh, yes, don't forget the pressing and cutting!

Goodbye dear old friend

My old friend

The pages of my calendar turned a couple of times since I first began this post, but wow! I've been so busy reading the manual unpackaged with my new "tool for sewing"! Actually, it's my new "toy" to enhance hours of crafting joys!
In November, it became necessary to spend my own Christmas gift money because the mending pile was climbing so high, causing me to get lost just entering my craft room. It seemed like each family member needed this little hole mended, or this item hemmed, or a few tucks and darts here or there...and my old friend just couldn't revive enough to help me out.
I made several excursions to the closest sewing machine shop, overwhelmed with all the new possibilities. In a few shops, the prices were staggering, comparing themselves to the ticket on a used car! Decades had passed since I even considered replacing my childhood sewing machine and it was obvious a prosperous economy has influenced even this market! I spent shopping hours in awe over the new possibilities, listening to salesmen expound on the necessities of accessories and buttons, and watched as needles created awesome stitches. I read every brochure I could find, and researched the web for information. After many days of deliberation, I wearily set a price tag in my mind for what I actually needed and wanted, determined not to be swayed or overwhelmed by "bigger and better". Armed with 3 girlfriends and their advice, I marched into the Sewing Machine shop.
My new toy...oops, I mean "tool"! 
It was difficult not to be drawn to a higher price tags, but I knew what I needed and stood firm. I purchased a 3160QDC Janome to replace my aged New Home machine. Oh, yes...a couple of weeks later, 2 of the girlfriends purchased the same model, but I think they found an even better deal!  I hope we can spend time together, learning all the possibilities this little machine can create for us!
She's a beautiful machine & cabinet
Nostalgia still draws my heart to the dear old friend for simplicity and familiarity, but the parts are old and need to retire before I spend too much for repairs. Doesn't she sit in such a beautiful cabinet?
We've spent many hours together while making most of the clothes for my girls. But the time has come to stretch with electronic abilities and join new technology in a reasonable fashion and without too much debt inflicted. My SIL has offered to place her on Craig's list for me so, I'm hoping she finds a wonderful home.
Visions of quilting projects now invade my dreams as I read the manual on my Janome. This little machine has so many beautiful stitches that will be useful and fun. So far, I love the new stretch stitch with double needles for many of the knit tee-shirts that needed mending. Matter of fact, I found mending a breeze with just a touch of a button!
As soon as the mending pile disappeared, I tackled some new pre-washed fabrics on my cutting table and created Christmas gifts for my sisters! It was so much fun to sew on my new Janome!
So, Happy New Year, dear blog friends.
May all your dreams be stitched in time and pleasure be found with your "friend" this year!