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Posts tagged ‘quilting’

Seeing

It’s been too long but I see the light! Winter is a favorite time of year…usually. This year was long, dark and exceedingly wet. I’ve plodded along trying to summon up the energy to do things. My friend and fellow blogger at incahootswithmuddyboots.com came by to cheer me with signs of spring from her yard.

First signs of spring from my friend

The struggle with my vision has really slowed things down. I finally wised up and went back to the optometrist. My glasses that are eight months old were not working and I was scared. “Well no wonder” he says. “You’ve lost a whole diopter of vision since this last prescription.” Now I have no idea what a diopter really is even after my son explained it to me. “What caused it” I asked? He seemed to think it was because of excessive dry eye. That eye doesn’t blink as well as the other and leaks tears since the onset of Bells Palsy 7 years ago. Why am I losing so much vision now?

I bought 5 of these for my sewing group as a Christmas gift. This is mine finally finished.

The back is pink, not my favorite color but it’s cheerful.

It’s possible the C-pap machine that blows wind in my face all night might be drying out the eye if I’m not keeping it well closed in my sleep. I didn’t think that could be the answer so I made another appointment with an ophthalmologist and she verified that the eye was indeed quite healthy and quite dry.

So onto finding solutions. I put in a gel at night for better lubrication and have an eye mask to cover the eyes. My son’s ex-wife saw something online that she thought would help and I checked it out. This morning on my trip to town for lunch with friends, I stopped at the sleep study center and asked if they had it or could they get it for me. In 15 minutes, they saved me the more than $100 and handed one over after a fitting. I practically danced out of the office. No more wind in my face all night. Granted, it’s not terribly attractive but I’m hoping it fills the bill.

The wind is at the top of the head with this one.

So the second pair of glasses that were made a few weeks ago works quite well for distances but I can’t read the computer with them. Back to the old pair when I’m on the laptop. The optometrist will try to come up with another prescription that works better for both. It’s frustrating but there’s still so much I want to do, read and write. Vision seems essential to those desires.

I’ve been working on this forever it seems. Now comes the quilt around it.

In the meantime, the clutter has continued to be cleared. All of the industrial shelving from my son’s storage unit were sold and are gone from the yard. I am continuing to pare down but have found it’s a good idea to go through the boxes carefully before donation. I found a whole bundle of embroidery patterns that I bought almost 10 years ago for over $60. Everything else in the box went, the patterns are now being lined up to work.

I’ve managed to get a few other things done.

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So how are you seeing this time of year? Signs of spring or signs of autumn becoming more clear? Are you starting to perk up or wind down?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Best Valentine’s Day Ever

I know, I know, it’s over and old news. Something kept gnawing at me that I should write about it anyway. There is a lot of flak about this supposed amorous day that has turned so horribly commercial. I would grouse about its commercialism as well since I didn’t have a Valentine.

These hearts are new after Valentines day for next year. I needed more bookmarks for friends

These machine embroidered hearts were made after Valentines day for next year. A positive experiment. I needed more bookmarks for friends

I’ve been alone for many years now and I like it. When I was married, Valentine’s Day was not high on our list. We were practical people and the price of a card could go a long way to filling the gas tank or buying a few groceries. Valentine’s Day just wasn’t in the cards.

This year was different. Not because I met someone special but because my friends and I did something special. Our hand sewing group of six became five last spring when one of our members was moved to a retirement home by her daughter. She is in her late 80’s and her daughter had to move so it seemed time. The Retirement home is in downtown Portland and access for most us is difficult.

I gave Dolly a bookmark for the book she is reading. She reads, knits, and quilts.

I gave Dolly a bookmark for the book she is reading. She reads, knits, and quilts.

I got a text the night before from Emily that we were going to see Dolly the next morning for Valentine’s Day and have lunch with her. We couldn’t get there at Christmas because of the snow. Several of us carpooled with Emily to Pattie’s. Pattie drove us all downtown to see Dolly. The light in Dolly’s eyes was so bright and she was so happy to see us all that it lifted all our spirits. I can’t say that I have ever had a better Valentine’s Day in my life.

She even made little paper heart decorations that morning when she found out we were going to come.

Dolly made one for each of us. What a surprise.We wore then down to the dining room for lunch.

Dolly made one for each of us. What a surprise.We wore then down to the dining room for lunch.

We brought our hand work, enjoyed the cheerful company and had a show and tell. Making someone who doesn’t get out often so happy was the best way to spend that day and hopefully we can do it again soon.

I think this will change how I look at that date on the calendar from now on. How about you? Did you do Valentine’s Day in an unusual way? Any ideas for next year?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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What’s New?

I’m trying to figure out this New Year thing. Saturday turns into Sunday and everything is supposed to be different? My house looks like the same mess it was in yesterday. In other words, same stuff (putting it nicely), different day. My mind is as chaotic as my home is right now so forgive the fragmented writing, please.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

I was awakened at midnight by the fireworks that sounded like gunshots going off in my neighborhood and it took a while to go back to sleep. I’m a very early riser. Why do we humans like to celebrate things? Maybe  to keep life from being mundane. Animals don’t do celebrations. Every day is good to them. I know there is a lesson in there.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

Christmas is over. I love/hate Christmas, though this year was unlike any of them. I had a lot to do this year that just didn’t get done. I spent most of my time working on a quilt for my son. He is moving all his stuff to snow country. After expressing a fondness for a soft plain quilt he saw in a craft show, I made it my mission to get one made before Christmas so he would have it with him. I had no idea what I was doing and no pattern or measurements. He wanted “soft” so that’s what I made. Flannel on one side, Minky® on the other. Other than an embroidered fleece blanket for my niece to take to college next fall, the quilt is the only thing I finished this year.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Isabel Rose is her name.

Isabel Rose is her name.

When the truck pulls out with everything from his room and the storage unit, I will start my new year. Sorting and selling. We have already sold many things through a neighborhood website that just popped up. Yay!!! I still have a village to sell and all its inhabitants. There is nowhere to store them year to year anymore and nowhere to display them. Anyone need a collection of dust catchers?

Alpine Bakery

Alpine Bakery

New for me this year will be just one thing. Find ways to move more. Just my body, not my house.  None of what I do involves a lot of movement. I’m also planning to try new things this year. Maybe connecting with more blogs that ask us to write something specific, and possibly take some classes to meet new people. I tend to be a hermit. One of those extroverted introverts. People scare the dickens out of me but we need each other.

People sharing ideas and good fun

People sharing ideas and good fun

Also new this year, we’ve had an unusual amount of snow already and extra cold temps. Looks like more is on the way. I won’t mind once the kid has his rental truck safely where it’s going. I don’t wish driving in this crazy weather on anyone.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

It already feels like a very different year. In my bones different. Let’s hope it brings more good than not. So are you really expecting anything NEW about this New Year?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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Creeping

I thought I had loads of time to get it all done. Every year the same thing happens. I hear everyone commenting about the stores getting ready for Christmas in September, not even waiting till Halloween is done. Well let me be very clear here, three and a half months is not enough time for me.

All are welcome here

All are welcome here

Somehow, and I can’t imagine how it happens, Christmas is creeping up on me with less than four days to go. Where the heck did all the time go? It was there just a minute ago.

Could it have gone here?

Snow barely covered the ground but kids were enjoying every drop.

Snow barely covered the ground but kids were enjoying every drop.

The first snow this year. I spent too much time watching the children play in it from the sewing room window where I should have been working.

Oh, to be a kid again.

Oh, to be a kid again.

Could it have gone here?

It all froze. First time in the last 4 years we have had this much snow and freezing rain.

It all froze. First time in the last 4 years we have had this much snow and freezing rain.

Our second snow this season brought the city of Portland to its knees. The aftermath is beautiful but the 3 hour ride to cover the 22 miles from the airport after picking up my son complete wore us both out. Cars were littered over all the roads and interstate. No one was prepared for the amount of ice on the roads. My son, the expert driver, got us home without bending anything.

Nothing but gray skies as far as the eye can see.

back-porch-12-14-16-cropped

It sure is pretty if you don’t have to leave the house.

 

I’ve been busy working on things, some of which I can’t show you right now. Shh, they are presents. Here is one I made for my son’s birthday last month at his request.

My son has a great sense of humor

My son has a great sense of humor

I had a tiny photo of my tree skirt on a previous blog and a better photo was requested. I have more started but the details I add take a great deal of time. I think I’ll start on them next month.

The whole tree skirt

The whole tree skirt

Lots of added detail like the gold bows sewn on before it's assembled

Lots of added detail like the gold bows sewn on before it’s assembled

There is a spot to hide a gift under the heart.

There is a spot to hide a gift under the heart.

My son flew home for Christmas and collecting all his belongings to move them into a shipping container on a friends piece of property. The shipping container was less expensive than a year’s storage fees and when it’s no longer storage for his things, it can be used as a shop and work space. So along with the Christmas decorations and preparations, we are getting ready for another shuffling of stuff and moving it. Not the best time of year for it but storage unit fees are getting astronomical. Is anyone starting to question our sanity?

Someone has to make use of these things.

Someone has to make use of these things.

I also made time to walk my daughter through a project she wanted to do and we were flying by the seat of our pants with no real pattern. We made it up as we went and it turned out pretty good for her first time. She likes using my machine so I can hover and calm when fear arises. It’s a gift for a hard to gift friend of hers. We are both proud of her.

I still have a dozen projects to finish in the next three days. What are the odds? Will the baking get done? How about you?

Is Christmas creeping up on you like a cat stalking a bird or are you ready to smack it down?

 

Since I most likely won’t get another chance, I’m wishing you all the joy this Christmas season can bring and hope that the New Year will bring a new start and peace in your heart.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Creative Endeavors

There are lessons to be learned about oneself even in the autumn of one’s life. I’m hoping it’s the autumn and not the winter so I have lots of time left for discovery. I’ve discovered I’m a procrastinator, big time.

As I set out to complete my daily tasks, I find that procrastination can be a perpetual companion and a teacher. It tells me there is fear somewhere in the task or maybe something even as strong as dislike.

I’ve had a lot of projects on the back burner lately. As all of the outside projects came to completion, I could finally focus on the inside projects. I realized that when I would rather mop the floor, do the dishes, laundry, vacuuming or make the bed rather than sit at the sewing machine, something was going on.

The workhorse

The workhorse

It started with my newest Viking Diamond Royale sewing machine behaving badly with almost every project. We’ve had many trips back to Montavilla’s where it was purchased and it always seems to work for the doctor. It must be something I’m doing they say. I have an old Viking SE that threads and operates the same but will sew circles around the new one. The new one has a larger embroidery field that I have not yet been able to enjoy. The whole unit is packed away. I don’t need more frustration.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

My old machine works well, my eyes, eh. They could be better so when working on precision quilts, I have a hard time getting them exact. I’m thinking it’s time to let that go. I’ve done the squares required for the quilt group and am turning my attention to more fun things to make. It has to be fun or why bother.

Making a shirt for someone is very much like making a quilt. It has to fit just right. So it goes to the top of the procrastination list. Gifts for birthdays and Christmas are moving to the top of the to-do list and can’t even look at the procrastination list. Ten weeks, people, ten weeks is all I have left.

In the meantime, I found a fun project. Microwave bowl cozies. If you still use a microwave and the bowl is too hot to pull out, then set it in the cozy first, heat and just leave it there to keep your food warm while you eat. You don’t burn your fingers that way. My son thought they were great. I had to make some a bit more masculine looking. They are made of 100% cotton so they don’t melt or catch fire in the microwave. Also handy with a freezing dish of ice cream or frozen fruit. Your hands don’t freeze holding the bowl. I started with fabric that I was going to pass on and worked my way up to fabrics that were chosen by the recipients.

I found some kits for making pillowcases in fun fabrics. U-tube has some wonderful instructions and shortcuts. I’m also a sucker for cute prints and panels. I have one for Halloween on the table waiting for borders, backing and binding to be cut and attached. They should be easy but quilting on the machine is not something I’ve mastered yet. I’ll keep at it though. I still have puckers.

So as you can see, I’ve done a little with my down time and need to do so much more. The procrastination list needs to be shredded and everything moved to the do right now list. I have company coming in two weeks and then only eight weeks to get it all finished and mailed or wrapped. Sorry for the reminder. I don’t shop for the holidays, I craft for them.

What’s on your procrastination list? Are any of them creative endeavors?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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That Spring Forward

Is it a spring and does it really go forward? Last Saturday evening, I turned the time on my watch forward an hour. It’s just one measly hour for goodness sake. I saw no spring anywhere. Not in the darn cold, wet weather, not in my body the next morning crawling out of bed at 5 a.m. which was actually 6 a.m. My son had a plane to catch so we had to move fast, like it or not.

I had just come home from a busy week in Phoenix. Trust me, I could find no forward spring here. Just one behind after another.


I took enough pictures while I was in Phoenix to make at least two posts. Too many for one, certainly. The first place I was taken after getting my luggage and joining my friend was my favorite independent bookstore.

 

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Looking for books and other good stuff

Looking for books and other good stuff

Changing Hands bookstore is a new and used bookstore with a little bit of everything. Next door with no wall between the two businesses was the Wildflower Bread Company. In the early years of living in the Arizona Mountains, coming to Phoenix took almost four hours on winding mountain roads. You made those trips count. Along with a major grocery shopping, I checked into a cheap motel for four nights and spent three days in the bookstore going to workshops on writing, and meeting authors for book signings. Dan Millman and Allison DuBois were there that week. Ms. DuBois had dinner at a restaurant in our small town during ski season so I was delighted to hear her speak and have them both sign my books. I’m nerdy that way. I ate 3 meals a day at the Wildfire Bread Company, it was that good and not at all expensive.

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

This trip to Phoenix was to see the friend who insisted I learn to quilt and join her mountain quilt group. She has been doing it for more years than I know and in spite of her major osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, she just keeps cranking those works of art out.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

My first visit back to the area was to check on this sweet friend who just turned her life upside down. It’s her story to tell so let me just say that after 56 years of marriage at the age of 74, she had to make major changes to save her own life. I needed to see firsthand how she really was doing. She always has a smile and a brave face.

Always a smile for everyone

Always a smile for everyone

The body often tells a different story. I trust the words of the body more than the words of the mouth. She was exhausted. I wanted to inspire, help in some way and not drain her more. We took care of some business that she needed to attend to and I walked with her and Charlie twice each day. Charlie keeps her moving in this difficult time. He’s a hugger. Literally! He puts his head on your shoulder and front paws on either side.


We went to three different quilt stores just to see what might move us or what we could learn. She had just downsized as I had in my many moves over the last 6 years. Fortunately, there is always something around to inspire and delight. Her work alone did that for me.

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Once I left and she had a little time, her sewing room was properly organized in her new rented condo to start creating beautiful treasures again, keeping her mind in a happy place. Making art in any form is good for the soul. She said she has a new spring in her step now. I need that spring! Where the heck is it?

Arizona style condo

Arizona style condo

Are you springing forward or still lagging behind? Or are you lucky enough not to be victim of the obnoxious daylight saving time? Arizona is one lucky state.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

That sense of Accomplishment

Procrastination is an art form born of fear. I tend to put things off knowing that somehow everything will be harder than it appears in the directions. Every report card I had in grade school had a small notation at the side saying “Marlene does not follow directions well.” I just never read them through properly resulting in my own unique version of the completed assignment. Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. Most of us are not direction junkies or follow written directions as a last resort. And I can tell you from a great deal of experience, most directions are not well written to start with so why bother with them only to be totally confused.

christmas braid done 2016

Christmas braid bought 7 years ago. Finally, finally finished. Not perfect but done.

christmas braid back

Happened to have the perfect match to back it and bind it. Lucky me.

Sewing is about following directions. It never goes well for me. Especially if the directions “ASSUME” I understand what they want me to do. I had a friend bring a “pattern for dummies” to me on making a shopping cart cover for her grandchild. We read the directions a dozen times each and I finally just said, “screw the directions” and showed her how to put it together. I think I’ve spent more time taking apart things than putting them together or had one square going one way and the next one a different direction.

MG done

After a year and a half, it’s completed with borders, binding and quilting

MG done Back

I even learned how to put a sleeve at the top for hanging. Had to do it twice to get it right.

But in the end, something winds up completed. There is always a learning curve for me as most things I tackle are brand new to my scope of experience. I’ve made many shirts. Every pattern puts them together in a different way. Quilts are like that too. Getting one to completion is a big deal. Machine embroidery is probably easier for me. I enjoy it because there are fewer directions to follow. I have a very simple brain and pleads with me not to keep pushing so hard but I’m relentless in my pursuit of knowledge. Who needs a crossword or box puzzle when I have quilts and sewing patterns? There is also a deep seated desire to be creative and make pretty things. It drives me beyond my limits daily.

MG tshirt

My quilt group is called Material Girls so I made this to wear to the retreat and to meetings.

MG shirt center

Some thread color choices worked better than others. It’s a learning process

The very best part is that I have something tangible when I’m done. I can see it, touch it, wear it, cover up under it or gift it which is my favorite part. Even putting up a post on my  blog gives me that sense of accomplishment. I can see where my hours and hours went. I can listen to a book while I do some of these creative activities or even with handwork, watch something on television and not feel like I’ve totally wasted my hours.

The quilt I started on retreat is going to be ready to go in the mail before I leave to visit the friend in Phoenix who started me on the long road of quilting. I have not hugged this sweet lady in almost 6 years. I think the art of quilting has saved the sanity of us both.

 

almost done sams

Just finishing the binding then mail for Sam’s 75th birthday. Son’s former father-in-law and good friend

back of sams

Fleece backing for the man who loves wolves.

With the built in friendships we make of any quilter either real or virtual, we can get through anything life hands us. Many bloggers fall into this same category. They reach out a hand to one another across the internet and lift each other with encouraging words, even sometimes a bit more as is the case here. I received this book yesterday from my friend, at Living in Denim.

farmers wife book big

There is a CD inside to help create new and interesting quilts. A thoughtful gift from Lois whose friendship I cherish.

 

The perfect ending to a perfect day spent with blogging friend Sabine who lives close by. It just doesn’t get any better. Life is just all good.

What gives you that sense of accomplishment or is it even important to you?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself