Monday, June 26, 2017

Proud Mom


I have two sons, the eldest of which had to take a social sciences "filler" course in college where he was studying architecture over 20 years ago.  He chose  a course in criminology, during which he had to do a "ride along" with the local police department.  The next thing we all knew was that he abandoned his original interest in architecture and decided to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.  And when that was accomplished, he then entered the police academy for another year of study.



Fast forward about 25 years, and lo and behold!  he has worked his conscientious way through the ranks to Deputy Chief!  Our family has attended his promotions with pride, but this one was especially prestigious, and proud just didn't quite describe the exquisite exhilaration of seeing him achieve this remarkable goal. This man has put his life on the line time and time again for others and yet has remained the kind of guy who continues to be in love with his wife, Sheri, and who adores his family and cuddles his dogs and patiently paints the bathroom yet again when she changes the theme.  He has taken time off to go to school concerts and football games and dance recitals and family reunions because she keeps him in touch with the things that really matter. 

Here is a picture of him with Sheri, without whom he could not have had the peace of mind to work such long hours to make it happen.  She was the glue that held the family together, got the kids to their extracurricular activities, took pictures so Dad didn't miss too much, fostered respect and pride in their father's service to the community, ran them to the doctor's appointments, taught them to take care of their rooms and to participate in small ways in the maintenance of their home, opened the house to dozens of classmates who gathered there after school and before proms, made it possible for two exchange students from Germany to live there and go to school with the kids for six months or so, and even took on several dogs who may as well have been more kids.  My son, Chris, benefitted from this fine woman's unceasing energy and direction.  When he finally was able to have duty during daylight hours, after about 20 years, he still had a home, a family, a life and friends outside the police department.  And she, like me, lived every day not knowing if he would come home from his work or would be lost in his service to others.

My deepest gratitude goes out to Sheri for giving Chris that gift all these years.

My youngest son, Jon, started out as a teacher in Maryland, inspiring his students a la Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society.  He taught them high school English, how to prepare a resume and survive an interview, and how to think for themselves.  He chose high schools whose students were challenged -- by economics, by environment, by the English language, by lassitude, by poor study habits and years of substandard performance, and he poured himself into showing them how to learn, to think, to participate.  They began to realize that their opinions and knowledge were also valuable.  They started recognizing that education was the key to possibilities.  They learned that their contributions counted because they mattered to him first.  And now he's in administration in his county's education system, teaching struggling teachers how to be effective, diminishing the attrition rate of new teachers and helping to develop methods that generate involvement of the students in the learning process beyond the regurgitation of what's in their books.



Here are the two most enduring loves of my life.  They have given me purpose, taught me patience, brought me joy and terror, and inspired more love than I ever knew was possible. They have truly been a gift to me, and I am grateful for them every day.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

TIME OUT FOR ONE OF MINE

From time to time I give myself a reward after a quilt has been finished and handed back to its maker. Even though I have oodles of UFO's hiding in my lurkim, when I came across this charming pattern, I just had to make it.  I used yardage from my enormous stash (and felt very virtuous for doing so, thank you!).

But first, I must tidy up my work space.


And my pressing space.





Now that I could actually see the top of my cutting table AND find the ironing board, I set about  creating these initial building blocks:


I used maybe 16 fabrics all told, in various combinations.  Next was to add sashing:


First corner finished.  Now to add everything else:


Isn't this a pretty block?  I can't wait to have another "free" day to work on this quilt.









Saturday, June 24, 2017

Best Laid Plans...



First, a brief visit with us on our honeymoon in NYC.  We love New York!  Arthur, being from the Midwest, had never seen the Statue of Liberty, so we spent a beautiful, sunny, perfect temperature day taking the ferry over to see Her.  I have seen Her several times, but every time I do, the experience is impressive, awesome, emotional.  This time was the first time I had actually entered the structure and gone to the top of the base to look out over the island to NYC (sans Towers.)  The next time we go to New York, we're going to visit Ground Zero.  We only had two days this time around, so we didn't have much time for anything but this tour and a Broadway play, School of Rock, which was fabulous!!!


This is a view of the workings for the original light.  The scale of this great lady is amazing! And to the right is a view of just a bit of the statue's underpinnings.


I love this picture of the south end of the city.  I just happened to catch a gull in flight -- that's the white blob left of center.



And then it was time to go back home and get back into normal life.  I auditioned some thread for my newest customer quilt.  She chose the teal one.

Next to work on a customer quilt already on the frame.  The fabric was luscious, and I loved looking at it every day!

Below is the quilt map I used to make the pattern for this quilt.  It really turned out lovely, but, darn!  I forgot to take a picture of the finished product!


So I'll stop here and add some more tomorrow.  Have a nice day!







Monday, June 5, 2017

Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa!

It's been 4 years since I last posted!  During that time I moved to Maryland, met someone special, established a connection with a wonderful quilt guild, the Village Quilters Quilt Guild in Catonsville, MD, started my Maryland business, Ladycat Quilting, said goodbye to two dear friends who moved away (Mary to Florida and Peggy to California), celebrated eldest grandson's graduation from VA Tech as a Naval Architect, escaped most pitfalls in my relationship with Special One and dealt with others, introduced My Guy to the Caribbean and scuba diving, made lots of quilts, attended second grandson's high school graduation (which he tried hard to skip), quilted several quilts for my guild members, for new customers, and for charity, bought one of those marvelous adjustable beds (!!!), took up in depth Bible studies and discovered a real enthusiasm for that research, made a whole bunch of zippered and windowed project bags and cloth bowls and a tuffet, donated 17 bags of clothes and shoes and housewares to Goodwill, kept a diary, learned what forgiveness really means, fell in love with great grandson Benjamin, repainted the family room and kitchen, replaced a toilet with a taller version, welcomed Peggy back to Maryland - permanently!,  and on May 19, 2017 I did something most 72 year olds don't do:  I married My Guy, Arthur, in a civil ceremony at the local court house with a lady officiant who was upbeat and funny and made it all that much more memorable.



So now it's time to get back to sharing some pictures of the quilts and projects that have been waiting to be memorialized in the blog.


This quilt was made for my third grandson's graduation, which I will attend June 17.  He will be going to George Mason U in Virginia to study dance.  This is a talented kid who played football for a few years, was in all county chorus for a year, and began doing this disjointed, robotic sort of dancing about three years ago, and it snowballed into taking lessons and performing in competitions -- and winning!  So when it came to fabric for the quilt, I kept thinking:  how do I tie in singing and football and dancing?  What do they have in common?

TIMING!  Everything depends on timing -- rhythm in song, running up the field to catch the ball, matching your steps to those of your dance partner.  So I found this perfect fabric:


Isn't that fabulous?!!!  Clocks!  All of them with sayings from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  Or, if the Bible isn't your thing, maybe you can remember "Turn, turn, turn" sung by The Byrds in the late 50's and "written" by Pete Seeger (who, except for the first line, took it word for word from Ecclesiastes). If you look closely (click the picture above and it will enlarge), you can see the clock that has "A time to dance" written across it.  That's the one that clinched the deal for me, and the whole rest of the quilt was build around the central issue of time, particularly as it pertains to dance!

I think I'll stop here and show you more tomorrow.  Lots to come!







Sunday, July 21, 2013

SERENITY

 
I'm catching up on showing some of my quilts.  This variation on the Tree of Life was one of the most pleasing quilts I have made, mostly because of the colors I used.

 
But there's something about putting on those final touches, standing at the long arm frame, deciding on the stitching designs, and then watching it all come to life.  I turn on my music, and the alpha waves roll. 
 
By the way, the bit of batting at the bottom of the tree trunk is not a design element.  We quilters use snippets of batting to collect the shards of thread when we cut them at the end of each row or after using each color if there is more than one color of thread used.
 
I'm working on an art quilt for my VERY patient sister.  She gave it to me to do years ago, and initially I was intimidated by the intricacy of the hand appliqued designs.  Then I finally got started on it, but was interrupted by other projects, and then the mayhem and disorganization of my divorce.  I put it back on the frame when I moved to Maryland, but took it off  -- again! -- when she asked me to do some charity quilts she had made.  But I'll put it back on when I come back from Quilt Odyssey and try to get it finished for her before her birthday in December.  December?!  Yes, it will probably take me that long.  It's an art quilt and requires long hours to finish small bits at a time.  But I'll post now and then so you can see the work in progress.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

OPUS


This quilt's name is Lucinda Brodie.  The original pattern is from a 2009 McCall's Quilting Magazine, and it was all done by hand -- the piecing included. 

When I saw this pattern, I got in touch with quilting buddy and BFF Mary.  We decided to each do this quilt as personal challenges, since it was far more complicated than anything either of us had ever produced before.

However, neither of us wanted to hand piece anything, much less an intricate quilt like this one, so I divided the compasses into quarters and made paper piecing patterns out of them.  This solved two problems instantly:  how to get those perfect points consistently, and how to make the compasses "user friendly" by sewing them on a machine.

Mary showed me how to take the pieced compasses and sew them into the backgrounds, which were squares with the center circles already cut out.  The tall flying geese in the sashing were created with another paper piecing pattern I made from the original hand piecing patterns.

We used repro fabrics for everything, including the lovely appliques on the edges.  Actually, this quilt should be hung with the appliqued edges at the top and bottom, but my display area is not tall enough to do this over the couch, so I just turned mine on its side.

It sets off the newly redecorated medium gray/brown walls of the family room just perfectly!

Oh -- and the quilting is very detailed.  I don't like to use a bobbin thread that contrasts a lot with the backing, but in this case, if your backing is dark, as mine is, you need to use the same color thread as the background to the applique so that no snippets of color come through should your bobbin tension not be correct.

So, this is my opus for 2012.  It took several months to make, once the perfect fabrics were found.  But it took about 9 months to get up the nerve to tackle it in the first place.  The moral to the story: don't be daunted by any project you love from first sight.  It's so worth plodding through to the end!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

GIVING BACK

 
My sister, Missy, owns and operates a marvelous quilt show in Hershey, PA called Quilt Odyssey (www.quiltodyssey.com).  Part of the activities during the four days the show runs is a large sewing area with many new sewing machines and one indefatigable staff member, Sue, who assists and directs the varied efforts of visiting quilters who want to leave something behind to pass on to others in the form of donation quilts for sick children.
 
In her free time (hah!), Missy also makes quilts to give to others in need, and this year she asked me to do the quilting on two of them that she had finished in time to be included with the Quilt Odyssey group.

 
I wish I could figure out how to turn this picture, but you get the idea.  I liked the bold dark stripe across this quilt.  Most of the time I have so much fun quilting for others, even if the quilting requested is a simple pantograph.  No matter what you put on your quilt, the stitches bring to life the beauty and design of your quilt, and for me, it's almost magic to see the gradual metamorphosis.
 
Both of these quilts were quilted with pantographs.  If you would like to see the stitching a little better, click on either picture for a magnified view.