What A Quilt Can Do

Most people think a quilt is made as a utility item, usually to keep people warm. And that would be correct. in many cases. A quilt is very good at keeping people warm and cozy in bed. It has been doing that job well for centuries.

But I have seen quilts perform many other functions over the years as well. They are very versatile and multi-functional things.

For instance, a quilt can give a great big hug to a grandchild from a grandmother. Watch the child wrap the quilt around himself, close his eyes and spin around in the magic of grandma’s bear hug. It is mystical!

A quilt can say “thank you” to a veteran for his/her years of loyal service. I have seen grown men cry while humbly surrounded in the red, white and blue colors of their Quilt of Valor.

A small quilt given from a Police Officer can comfort a little child in a time of trauma. Nothing is more soothing than a soft cuddly quilt that can be squeezed and held tight while taken with the child on a tough journey.

A quilt, any quilt, can decorate a space. It can add color or design or a statement or whimsy to any room. Big or little, traditional or modern. two color or scrappy, every quilt has something to add to every domain in which it exists. It has a life – a reason to be.

A quilt can be an inspiration to others. It can encourage someone to try a color combination or a design or a new skill. Hanging in a Quilt Show, every quilt is a little beacon of light, begging to be copied or followed in some small way. Every quilt has something to give.

A quilt can teach – in fact, every quilt does. I learn something new from every quilt quilt I make, which makes me a better quilter. It may be something small or something really significant, but there’s always a lesson. A lot like life, right?

Every quilt is good practice for my skills. It keeps me honed and sharp. It’s like going to the gym or working out everyday – keeping the muscles in shape. Working on quilts keeps me in tip-top sewing shape.

Quilts bring joy. I would rather sew and quilt than almost anything else. Making them brings me joy. Seeing them brings me joy. Seeing other people’s quilts brings me joy. Knowing about brings me joy. Using them brings me joy.

Quilts make great gifts. They say “Happy Birthday”, “Happy Anniversary”, “Congratulations”, “Good Job” better than anything I know. Quilts practically jump out of the box on their own, they are so happy! They make people smile, laugh, cry and squeal.

For some, their quilt is their home, They live on it, sleep on it and eat on it. Their quilts are sturdy, well made, hard working items, meant to stand hardship and tough use. We make them at our church and send them mostly to India with lots of hope and prayers.

But the best thing EVERY quilt can do – convey love!!! All quilts are made with large doses of love sewn right into them, so they carry that love wherever they go. You can feel it the instant you touch it.

Whether you are a newborn baby or an elder on Hospice Care, the love is there for you. Whether the occasion is funny, intense, happy, sad or proud, the quilt brings just what is needed and just the right touch of care. Whether the recipient is a stranger or the closest loved one, the quilt is always appropriate and always gathered up in loving arms.

Quilts are meant to used and loved.

I know I love mine – and I believe they love me back.

The Joy Of Large And Small

Usually our Quilt Retreat in January is enjoyed by 30 or more women. But in this year of restrictions, we had only 11 ladies attending. Small number but with large enthusiasm.

We arrived at the Retreat Center to find the work tables arranged in such a way that we each had a very large U shaped area to sew in. What a joy this was going to be!!!. We could spread out all our “stuff” and not bump into each other, yet still be close enough to talk and share. The perfect large/small space!

And we could each have a bedroom to ourselves. Talk about living large! No worrying about disturbing others when you went to bed or got up, no needing to wear earplugs or fighting over the fan off/fan on issue.

We were not allowed to use the dining area, again due to COVID restrictions, so we ate at our work areas in small groups of 2-4. What great conversations we had – and laughter?!!

I think we learned more things about each other because we talked more in small groups, something we don’t always get a chance to do in the large group. It seemed like a much more intimate retreat this time. Quite a blessing actually.

The food is always large!!! There’s nothing small about it – ever! I can never say enough about retreat food – especially that I don’t have to prepare it or clean up after it! That’s one of the greatest joys of retreat, besides the sewing, of course.

Now let’s get down to the reason for the whole retreat – the sewing. It was strangely large. ….and small. Here, I’ll show you.

This beauty is definitely large and was made from a million small squares. Yes, a million, by actual count. (I don’t really know. I’m just guessing!) But don’t you love all the blues?

This one is also large. It is very traditional in color and style. I would say it is practically perfect.

Now this one is very small – 5″ square to be exact. It is one block of a Dear Jane quilt. Isn’t it adorable and very precise.

Here we have large again. This going to be a quilt for a fallen police officer in the State of Texas. Isn’t it magnificent?

More small blocks for the Dear Jane quilt. The entire quilt will be pink and red. I can’t wait to see the whole thing. It will be very large!!!

Do you love these small embroidered blocks? Threadwork on black is always so striking.

This beauty is only half it’s final size, which is gigantic! The fabrics are what make this so stunning. Imagine a row of fabric between each of these rows and on the outsides. Now can you see it’s true magnificence?

And then we have this adorable little table runner. By the last day it had orange prairie points around the outside. Could it be any cuter?

And this is the epitome of large and small. It is made from little baby clothes into a big girl’s quilt. It’s very colorful and tactile. That special granddaughter is going to love it.

What a grand time I had at my small retreat! I’m bursting with big memories, a full stomach, a peaceful mind, little sewing projects, an overflowing heart and no regrets.

Family

The one thing I always wanted was family.  I loved the thought of having many cousins, aunts and uncles.  I always wanted a sister.  I thrived on large family gatherings.

Having said all that, family is the one thing I was never blessed with.  I don’t relate to either of my brothers.  One just doesn’t respond in any way.  The other was in the prison system most of his adult life and died early.

My mother died at age fifty and none of her family has spoken to us since then.  My dad’s family has never related to us in all these years.  I have cousins I have never met, seen or talked to.

Because Gramps is a genealogist, I know more about my distant relatives than I do about relatives my own age.  It broke my heart as a child.  Wanting what I couldn’t have and having no way to fix it.  I had no power to get the family I wanted, when I was young.

When I got married and had children, I thought now I had the family I was looking for.  I had a devoted husband and two children.

Except now our son is not speaking to us.  Our daughter and her family live nearby but we only see them about once a month.  But lucky me, I have our niece who has become our daughter and her five children, who have become our grandchildren.  We see them a couple times a year and those times are so special.

Still there are no large family gatherings.  No extended family to relate to.

So I have devised my own way to have a family.  I have friends that care about me the way a relation would.  Some of these friends have been in my life for many years and some are recent acquaintances.  But all of them fill a hole in my heart and my life.

My friends share my love of sewing and quilting.  We love to sit together with fabric, needle and thread in our hands, sharing our thoughts about everything.  We care for each other in good times and difficult times.

My friends call me.  They check-up on me.  They ask me if I’m okay.  I do the same for them.

My friends invite me for dinner and holidays.  We have lunch together.  We share potlucks and buffets.

My friends share my good news and are happy for me.  They hold my hand and cry with me if the news is bad.  My friends do not abandon me – ever.

My friends are my family.   My lifetime wish has been fulfilled.  I have many sisters now.  I have gatherings large and small.  I have the equivalent of dozens of cousins.

The one thing I always wanted, I now have to my heart’s content.  I couldn’t be happier.

Lunch In The Car

With the current situation in play and all the cancellations of activities, I have come to realize how often I went out to lunch.  Quilters, I now know, are a noshing group.

Every meeting I went to was followed by lunch.  Every sewing group involved a meal or some snacks.  Every gathering of our Bee included breakfast AND lunch.

And then there was the occasional social event which was always centered around food. Eating was a big part of all my activities.  How did I not know this before?

I guess I knew it but just took it for granted.  It was always there, available, easy, reliable, comforting.  Adding a bit of spice and good taste to every occasion.  Giving every event a time for us to bond and be relaxed.

But two weeks ago everything changed.  Eating establishments began to close or sort of close.  Gathering places weren’t available.

Then my friend Lynn called.  She already had cabin fever and wanted out of the house. “Let’s go to lunch!” I suggested.  She was excited to go.

We met at a Mexican food place.  As soon as we entered, it was obvious no one was eating inside.  We could do take out.  But go where?

“Let’s eat in my car,” Lynn said.  So we did.  We sat in the front seat of her car eating tacos and quesadillas.  We talked.   We laughed.  We cried. (Lynn had lost a relative recently).  We made plans.  We shared sewing projects.  We spilled salsa on ourselves.

All the things we would normally have done at any lunch, we did in the front seat of her car.  It was wonderful.  Magical even.

I think when this virus quarantine is all over, Lynn and I will go out to lunch again.  And we’ll eat in the car, for old time’s sake.

For The Love Of Selvedges

So what the heck is a selvedge anyway?  Well, for those who really don’t know, it’s the edge of either side of a woven fabric, so finished as to prevent raveling.  That’s according to Merriam-Webster, that is.

To me, it’s the fun narrow border of a fabric that usually has written words and color dots, and more recently, colorful designs.  Selvedges have become so charming, I am absolutely enamored with them.

Sometimes selvedges will have more than just the name of the company and/or the name of the fabric.  Nowadays they will have words of wisdom, like these.

How can you go wrong, when your fabric tells you how the world should be!

And the selvedges with those cute characters!  I mean, who doesn’t love colorful, charming, little animals or objects just marching across the edge?  Usually the objects pertain to the pattern of the fabric and sometimes . . . who knows where the idea came from?

But I save all selvedges – the smooth edged and the ruffly edged.  I cut the selvedge plus at least one inch of fabric.  That way, when I overlap the selvedges to make fabric, I will get some of the color.

Which is why I save the selvedges – to make more fabric out of the strips.  Sounds insane, I know, but it is so great-looking.  I have covered my sewing room chair with that fabric. Here’s a photo:

Also made a tote.

Basically, once you make a piece of fabric from the strips, you can do anything with that fabric.  Use it like any other fabric and sew into any shape you want.  The possibilities are endless.

I’m not sure why selvedges speak to me the way they do but I sure am hooked.  I confess that once I bought some fabric only because the selvedge was so outstanding.  My love of selvedges is so well known, that many people now save them for me.

It’s kind of like being a drug addict and having dealers who give me the drug for free.  I mean, really?  I once even talked a lady at my Quilt Guild Meeting, who had won a bag of selvedges as a door prize, into giving me the whole bag.  I think I need an intervention.

So next time you see a piece of fabric, look at the selvedges.  Careful!  You might become addicted, just like me!

Oh, I see some now!  Gotta go!

My House, My Home

I’m a real homebody, a nester, so my home is especially important to me.  I love everything about it.  From the front door to the back door to the garage to the yard, it’s my special haven.

We bought the house in foreclosure, which meant it required an immense amount of work. Every surface needed some sort of work, replacement or refinishing. The labor nearly broke us physically and emotionally.

It was much better when we decided to hire out the jobs.  And the nice part was we got to make the house ours.  We added our own touch to every corner of every room.

Now the house is a real home – it’s ours.  Gramps and mine.  The original black front door (really? black?!) is now a welcoming cream with a seasonal wreath hanging on it.  Come on in!

The front foyer greets everyone with horizontal blue and white stripes with blue and white plates scattered all around.  The large chandelier is named Elizabeth.

I know that’s strange but grandson Mac and I where very into naming things when he was younger.  Several things in my house have names.  Don’t judge!

The rest of the house is also very blue.  Blue is my favorite color.  I can’t get enough of it – in all shades and hues.

We have a dining room because we had to have one.  I love having meals with loved ones all around me at the table.  Most of my memories involve meals, so this is important to me. And, of course, all the blue and white dishes.  Enough said.

The family room is, steady now, blue with a fireplace.  It’s very cozy and has two blue recliners for Gramps and me.  We are like a pair of bookends on either side of the table with the lamp.  Gramps does a lot of reading in his chair and I do a lot of sewing in mine.

We are surrounded by several collections of family antiques.  They mean a lot to us and give us comfort.

The kitchen is white with a blue backsplash.  It’s very country in style.  I have a large cast iron sink and an island with a marble top.  The old chopping block from Aunt Gladys is there too.

The kitchen eating area is surrounded in beadboard paneling with, you guessed it, blue walls.  It’s a lovely sunny corner with windows on two sides.

The master bedroom is, careful now, yellow with blue accents.  Our bed is over one hundred years old.  My grandmother was born in that bed.  The room has many antiques, which I love.

There’s a guest room and an office.  The guest room holds many of my quilts. The office is mostly Gramps’ space.

Then there’s my sewing room.  The HQ of all fabric-related jobs. It is my favorite room. Lots of lighting.   Lots of storage. Lots of fabric.

One whole wall has shelves of fabric.  And yet that is never enough.  Somehow every project I start requires some fabric that I do not have.  I hate when I have to go to a fabric store.  NOT!

There’s a wonderful cutting table in the middle with an ironing surface.  My sewing machine sits in the corner facing out so I can see everything.  Sewing projects are stacked everywhere.

On the outside, Gramps has singlehandedly made our yard a green haven.  He has added grass, trees, bushes and walkways.  There is now a wonderful patio and a colorful yard beyond in the back.

The front has a welcoming walkway with lights, trees and shrubs.  Our sunset walk always starts with an inspection of the front yard grass for weeds and other stray growing things.

I love my little bungalow of a house.  It is my shelter, my haven.  It is sweet and welcomes me home every time.

It has become like an old friend.  Always there.  Always comfortable.  Always reliable.

It’s getting dark out now.  I need to go turn on the front lights.  Yes, even Elizabeth!

The Best Of Retirement

I started working at age sixteen and retired at age fifty nine. My retirement came suddenly and unexpectedly. I had no plans or expectations. I was completely blindsided and unprepared.

The first year was difficult. I didn’t know how to feel about myself with no job and no income. There were feelings of worthlessness, confusion and anxiety. It wasn’t a good transition. I don’t recommend it to anyone.

Slowly I started to fill my time with some worthwhile activities. They certainly helped but I was still floundering.

At the same time, my first grandson was born. Now that was super! I had plenty of time to spend with the baby and I did. What great memories I have now.

That started the formation of my philosophy of being a Granny. I knew then I wanted to be intentional about my actions and positive about my attitude.

I started sewing for my grandson and found some likeminded women to sew with. Life was getting better and I was more active.

It seemed the more I sewed and the more I joined other women who sewed, the happier I became. So, of course, I did more . . . . and more . . . . and more.

Now I am a quilter who belongs to six sewing groups – from a quilting bee to a wool embroidery group to an applique group. And my grandson, now 14, is one of six grandchildren that I have sewn many items for.

Retirement is such a blessing to me and I am busier now than when I was working. My life is also much more joyful. I don’t have to rush or be in a hurry. I have no deadlines, unless they are self-imposed. I can take my time now.

Retirement gives me time to do what I want, when I want. That includes more activities at church, lunch with the girls, sewing and maybe a good nap now and then.

Gramps and I have more time together. We talk more, share more, laugh more and hold hands more. We have time to go out for dinner, see movies, visit with friends and sing in the church choir.

Combining grandchildren with retirement is absolutely heaven sent! I can’t think of a better reason to keep working to retirement age.

In a word, retirement gives me time. Over the years I have learned the best ways to spend that precious commodity to enrich my life and my family’s life.

In the beginning, I wasted my time and I regret that very much. But no more. Every moment is a gift and it only comes once.

I have plans now. I have expectations of myself. I’m looking forward to every day. I’m excited. Know why?

I’m retired!!!!

 

Best Weather

Most people love a nice warm sunny day.   Then there are those that can’t wait for a great snow day to stay home and build a snowman.  Of course, there may be the the odd person that likes a windy Fall day when all the leaves flutter around.

Me?  I really appreciate a good rain.  The sound of pitter-pat on the roof and water dripping off the eaves is music to my ears.  Like the sound of a rushing river or a waterfall, it is very soothing and calming to me.

I even love the look of a rainy day.  Kind of misty and smudgy – watery, even.  It looks like a painting to me.  Dare I say, a “watercolor?”  The colors all blend and there are no hard edges.

The air is cooler and damp, of course.  What fun to even go out in the rain and get soaked.  It feels sort of like swimming with your clothes on but freer.  There’s something absolutely daring about dancing in the rain.

For those who like to stay dry, rainy days are perfect for huddling indoors.  Maybe enjoying a fire, a blanket and a nap.  With or without a pet on your lap.  Your choice.

For the more industrious, there’s always reading a good book (mysteries are perfect!), baking (brownies, of course!), or sewing.  Do not clean the house on a rainy day.  You will be miserable.

My preference is always sewing – especially hand-work.  You just can’t beat sitting in the big chair and binding a quilt while hearing the soft sound of rain on the patio.  I could do that all day.  And I have.

Now a big loud rainstorm is something else.  That requires a storm buddy, candles (because the electricity will probably go out), popcorn and a board game.  No electronics allowed here.  And no fear either – just fun.

All rainy days are fun for me.  In fact, having a rainy “season” makes me delirious.

Did I just hear there’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow?

Yippee!!!!!!!

A Look At A Book 13

The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken.

This charming colorful book tells a fable for our times and celebrates the joy of giving and sharing.

A generous quilt maker, with magic in her fingers, sews the most beautiful quilts in the world. But she does not sell them. She only gives them to the poor and those who need them.

A greedy king, with every treasure he can stuff into his storehouse, remains sad and lonely. He yearns for the one gift that will make him happy.

Could that gift be a quilt?

Will the quiltmaker sew a quilt for the king?

Can the quilt maker teach the king to be happy?

What will the king do with all his splendid treasures?

QM 2

Look for clues to the story in the quilts–all 250 of them!!!