My grandmother, my dad’s mom, died before I was born. I’ve seen photos and heard many stories about her, but the only connection I have to her is a quilt my grandfather gave to me a few years before he passed away.
By the way, those stories about grandma? The one told most often was about how she was such a kind woman. But one day, one of the chickens in their backyard flock pecked her one too many times, and that kind woman wrung his neck! You can guess what they had for dinner that night.
I’m fairly certain–judging by the fact that many of the fabrics are florals–that not all of the quilt squares were cut from my dad’s clothes, but I know for certain that at least one of the fabrics came from a pair of his childhood pajamas. If I recall correctly, his pajamas were made of red and white stripe fabric.
Though my dad is still living and I don’t need a tangible item to bring memories of him to mind, it’s nice to have this quilt nearby as a connection to the grandmother I never got to know and to the child my father once was. And I’m glad my grandfather trusted me with this heirloom and knew I would appreciate the effort put into each hand-stitched stitch.
I also appreciate all of the fabulous patterns on the old fabrics.
Many years ago a childhood friend got married. I was her Matron of Honor. She had been my Maid of Honor a few years earlier.
I chose the pattern “Treasured Hearts” from the book Hearts are Forever by Four Corners, picked out the fabrics, and got started. I worked diligently but, as I was an exhausted new mother, quickly realized I would never finish the quilt in time for the wedding.
Besides, I had fallen a bit in love with the quilt and really didn’t want to part with it. Horrible, I know. What kind of friend am I?
So a new gift was chosen for the wedding, and I put the quilt away to finish when I had more time.
I wouldn’t find that time for several more years, not until long after we’d built a house, moved, and had two more children. I can’t remember exactly what year that was (I should probably label my quilts), but I have a very clear memory of being cold and working on the quilting at the kitchen table while our across-the-pond neighbor at the time was in the basement fixing our broken furnace.
Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of white fabric. I find it tends to show every single wrinkle. But I liked the white on this quilt. I chose to quilt in the ditch around each colored piece of fabric. I used a soft, green flannel, that my parents purchased an entire bolt of at a very reasonable price in Ohio’s Amish Country, for the backing. The pattern made a twin/double size quilt measuring 73″ by 87.” For now, this quilt is draped over a chair in our living room. I thought that one day, should we ever turn our kids’ bedrooms into guest rooms, I might use it on a bed. After laying it out today to take photos, I realized how much it has aged just while draped on the back of a chair. The white is less white; the colors are a bit faded. It was a reminder that everything…and not just me…is aging.
Last weekend I wrote of the two tiny tyrants who share our house, or as our daughter calls them, the Guinea pigs. This week, let me introduce you to the other tiny terror in our lives:
Her name is Rosie. She’s 17 and spoiled absolutely rotten. (She would disagree on the spoiled rotten bit for two reasons. #1 – She has to live with 2 dogs and #2 – She occasionally has to wait to get her bedtime treat longer than she would like.)
Rosie, and her sister Belle (who died in early 2020), came to live with us when they were one day old. We then became a, gasp, four cat family at the time, having adopted two males from the shelter four years previously. (Sadly, the boys died several years ago.) Rosie and Belle had to be fed with bottles (even in the middle of the night), burped like babies, and taught how to do cat stuff (like use a litter box) by the humans in the family.
I was the only mama Rosie ever knew. And I didn’t shove her out of the “nest” as a normal mama cat would. Thus, a monster was created.
She’s clingy, insisting on sharing my chair when I sit down to sew. If she’s not on the chair behind me, forcing me to teeter on the very edge, she’s sitting on whatever project I’m attempting to work on. If I’m lucky she might lay in her bed nearby. Chances of that improve if I’ve got a space heater running nearby so she can toast her little whiskers.
At night she insists on sleeping as close to my face as possible, occasionally treating me to a neck stomping as she settles into position. As a person with allergies, let me just say that it’s a real treat having a cat sleep right under my nose every night. We tried evicting her from the bedroom, but her meowing skills are top notch. She can meow for hours at a time and often does so if her nightly treat is running late.
Her most recent transgression had nothing to do with neck stomping or lengthy bouts of meowing and put her firmly in top place on the naughty list for the week. Displeased with the state of 1 of her 4 (!!) litter boxes, she left me a stinky “present” right on top of the Lemon Pepper Quilt I was quilting.
I disposed of the “present” and spot cleaned the area, mentally cussing the entire time because I knew a spot clean would not suffice. There was no way I would put that quilt on the back of the couch or snuggle underneath it until it was washed.
I ordered some Shout color-catchers, knowing I did not want a repeat performance of what happened when I washed the bed quilt that took me 19 years to complete. (Blue backing that had been previously washed bled onto the front cream stars, which might not have been stopped even with a color-catcher.) As this quilt was a mix of whites and blacks and pale greens, I worried it could all be ruined with one washing.
After finishing the quilting (straight line meandering and a lot of it!) and binding AND taking photos just in case something bad happened, I said a prayer and tossed it in the wash. Thankfully, it came out looking perfect.
So, here it is, the Lemon Pepper Quilt that was on my UFO (unfinished objects) list and the third project knocked off the list this year:
*Update on the Guinea pig hay bags from last week: Apparently I made the holes in the hay bags slightly too large. The boys are able to yank the hay out a bit too easily, thus creating mounds of hay on the floor of their enclosure which they might or might not eat. They will, for sure, act as if they have nothing to eat when the hay bags are empty despite these mounds of perfectly good hay.
Last year I created a list of my unfinished projects. Some call them UFOs (Unfinished Objects) or WIPs (Works in Progress). I came up with nine projects that were in various states of completion–7 quilts, 1 knitting project, and 1 cross-stitch project. The goal for this year is to knock at least three of those projects off my list. I will, no doubt, end up starting several new projects thus causing my list to grow rather than shrink! But at least I’m trying to keep the pile of projects to a minimum.
The first project I completed off my list was the Pieceful Waters quilt which featured Crossed Canoe blocks. I absolutely love how this quilt turned out. I love the colors and the design. I especially love that I was able to use some carefully hoarded Wizard of Oz fabric scraps left from a quilt I made one of our daughters when she was a toddler. (That quilt was in last week’s post.)
This quilt pattern was from the October 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. I believe I started working on the quilt in 2020. Because it involved paper-piecing which I’m not a huge fan of (I don’t like tearing all the paper off.), I worked on it rather sporadically over the past 2 years.
I made a couple changes to the pattern. As I’m not a fan of huge borders, I did not add the outer 5″ border that was in the original pattern. I also made 16 blocks instead of the 20 in the pattern. (That was mainly because I was running low on green and pink fabric and didn’t want to purchase anything new for the project.) I did very simple quilting, choosing to quilt approximately 1/8″ from the edge of the pieces. I used green thread on the pink fabric and pink thread on the green fabric.
Once Hubby makes a compression hanger, this quilt will hang in our bedroom. I can’t wait to see it on the wall!
My next project won’t be one from the Unfinished Project list. Our middle daughter’s guinea pigs need new hay bags. It’s not an exciting project, but I’ll try to choose a fun fabric.
Hubby, our middle daughter, and I enjoyed a trip to Texas during the last two weeks of December. We visited Enchanted Rock State Park, Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe National Park, and El Paso. We hiked miles and miles every day, summited Guadalupe Peak, and enjoyed a visit with my brother and his family.
It was a great trip.
Then we got home.
Where one after another we succumbed to what we think was the Big C. The Great Contagion. The thing for which we were all vaxxed to the max. I wouldn’t say it was horrible, but it definitely wasn’t a good time. Now, a solid month and a couple days from the first symptom, I think I’ve finally fully recovered. (Tests were very difficult to find, so we simply stayed home.)
For most of January, I didn’t feel like doing much. I read. I slept. I watched television. I cooked “interesting” meals from what we had on hand in the freezer since we were pretty much stuck at home for three weeks straight. (We might not have still been contagious after a week or so, but no one wants to be the person having an uncontrollable coughing fit in the middle of the grocery store right now! It was just easier to stay home. And, as an added benefit, we were forced to use up some older food in the freezer.)
This past week I finally felt like doing some sewing. I picked up where I left off prior to vacation on the quilting of my Crossed Canoes quilt. I had hoped to have the quilt finished by this weekend, but didn’t quite make it. I also spent an evening working on some knitted socks.
Since I have nothing new to share, I thought I’d pull a couple older quilts out of the cedar chest to share. Please excuse the wrinkles. They were well-used and have also been stored for some time.
These quilts were made from the “Friends” pattern found in Quick Rotary Cutter Quilts by Pam Bono Designs.
Quick they were not!
Each large doll block was constructed of 45 different pieces, and that didn’t include the buttons and frills and hair! (It was fun choosing the ribbons, lace, and buttons to dress up each doll.) This quilt pattern could be a great use for scraps.
I made these twin-size quilts, one in blue and pink for our oldest daughter and one in green and pink for our younger daughter, when they were around 4 and 2. They are both in their 20s now.
As I look back now as a mostly empty nester who doesn’t seem to complete projects quite as quickly as I used to, I am amazed at how much sewing I got done when the kids were younger. At the time I made these quilts, I was pregnant with their younger brother and had two very active toddlers running around the house.
(The book also contains a pattern for a doll that matches the quilts.)
Shortly after we moved into our house I decorated the kids’ bathroom with an underwater theme. I painted the walls light blue, then sponged a darker blue on top.
(Sponging paint on or off was quite the rage there for a while in the early 2000s. I must have sponged, ragged, and even plastic-wrapped paint on over half the walls in the house. Looking back, while I liked it at the time, it was a pretty weird fad. The plastic-wrap technique involved painting the walls with a base color, then adding a darker color. While the darker paint was still wet, you put a layer of plastic wrap on top then pulled it off. This removed part of the dark paint, leaving behind interesting lines in the remaining paint.)
Anyway, I digress.
Where were we?
Ah, yes. Underwater bathroom.
After painting, I added an undersea-themed wallpaper border up near the ceiling. (Borders were “in” at the time also. Had I known how difficult this one would be to remove years later, I never would have put it up there.) We then hung a fishing net and blue tulle from corner to corner over the bathtub and put a couple starfish inside. That, I think, did look pretty neat.
As a final touch, I added this small dolphin wall hanging:
The dolphin block, a paper-piecing pattern, was from A Quilter’s Ark by Margaret Rolfe. Each dolphin block finishes at just 4″ x 4.” This little wall hanging was just the right size to fit between two medicine cabinets.
Several years after painting the bathroom, we decided to give it a bit of a freshening up. The netting and tulle were dusty, the kids had outgrown the underwater theme, and I just like to have painting projects. We didn’t put a lot of thought into the paint color, instead choosing to be frugal by using leftover paint from when I painted our oldest daughter’s room. She’d chosen a pale blue for her walls and a strange pinkish-purple for a tiny angled wall where her bedroom door is located. We had nearly a gallon of that strange pinkish-purple color left, and so that’s what ended up in the bathroom.
I hated that color.
And the dolphin wall hanging didn’t quite match the room anymore. But we left it there anyway.
We tolerated the paint color for several years until it came time to paint our son’s bedroom. He chose a lovely grey paint for his walls, and, since there was leftover paint, I was able to redo the bathroom. Now, the dolphins once again look like they belong.
I know, I know. Christmas has come and gone. The New Year is upon us. I’m going to share another Christmas wall-hanging anyway because this Christmas quilt hangs in our basement all year long. (It’s lap-quilt size, but I didn’t want this one to get the amount of wear that a lap-quilt gets laying on the back of the couch, so we hung it up.)
I chose to use Christmas fabric for this quilt as I had a ton of Christmas fabric in my stash that we had planned to use to make stuffed wreaths.
Many, many years ago (like over 30!) when I was in fifth grade, my teacher used to do craft projects with interested students after school. One time we painted bird-shaped suet holders (which I still hang outside every summer minus the suet). We made gingerbread houses. And we made stuffed wreaths. All these years later, and I still have the pattern pieces. What I didn’t have was a good memory as to how it was all put together. Sadly, we flubbed up and ended up with something completely unusable!
But I wasn’t about to let that fabric just languish in the closet. (I have plenty of fabric that has languished in the closet. Christmas fabric is too special for that fate.)
I wish I could remember where I found the pattern for this quilt. I think it must have been in a book I checked out from the library because I know it isn’t in any of the books I own. If I had to guess, I’d say it was in a book where all the patterns used jelly roll strips.
(Check out the really awesome hanger my husband made for this quilt. He’s made many of these for my quilts.)
The giant plain squares and triangles of bluish fabric needed a lot of quilting to make them interesting.
Here’s to hoping 2022 is uneventful and boring. Who thought that might ever be a wish for the new year?
I don’t often put dates on many of my projects anymore, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. While it’s interesting to know how long ago I completed a project, sometimes it’s a bit of a shock to see that a decade or more has passed since I made the final stitch. It makes me feel like my life is just flying by. Such is the case with this little snowman cross-stitch wall-hanging which I completed 12 years ago.
13 years ago.
It’s not that I lack math skills for calculating how many years have passed, but rather it’s the fact that for a moment I thought it was still 2020. Some days it feels like 2020 came and never went.
This snowman cross-stitch pattern came from a booklet titled Snowmen Thru the Year. It has patterns for Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and a large pattern of 4 snowmen representing each season. I’ve completed all of the holiday-themed snowmen and hope to do the season snowmen project sometime in the future.
These projects are easily turned into small wall-hangings with the addition of fabric borders, some hanging tabs, batting, and a tiny bit of quilting. I also like to add a strip of ribbon around the edge of the cross-stitch.
Thanksgiving and Christmas collided at our home this year. I was tempted to greet our guests with a Merry Thankmas or a Happy Christgiving. Actual Turkey day was spent prepping for our guests who would be arriving throughout the day on Friday and dealing with the after-effects of jab #3. (While they weren’t as severe as what I experienced post-Pfizer #2, the muscle aches, small bit of chills, and swollen lymph nodes were still unpleasant.) I pushed through the aches and prepped everything except for the traditional green bean casserole and the turkey. When our guests arrived on Friday, the turkey was already in the oven and everything else was ready to go save for a quick mix-up of the casserole and a bit of a heat-up of all the sides while the turkey was “resting.” Prepping pretty much everything in advance meant I was able to sit down, put my feet up, and actually visit with our family.
We chose to dole out Christmas presents at our gathering, knowing it would be sometime after Christmas before we would be able to have everyone all in one place again. Thus is life now that our oldest lives and works downstate and our other two kids are in college.
As the holiday season is upon us, I’ve changed out all of our Thanksgiving wall hangings for Christmas ones and thought I’d take the next few posts to share them.
This whimsical wall-hanging is a personal favorite. The pattern, which was originally intended to be used in a table runner, came from the September/October 2013 issue of Quiltmaker magazine. I enjoy doing these simple embroidery projects. Minus a pattern, one could, as I have mentioned before, use a cute, basic coloring page as a pattern.
Our extended family is about to gain a new member. My brother will welcome his third child with his girlfriend/partner/not-sure-what-to-call-her this month. This will be his 8th child and her 5th. They range in age from almost 30 down to almost born. (My brother is 7 years older than me. His partner is a year younger than me. I can’t imagine having a baby at my age. The idea is exhausting. Our 3 are all 18 and older now. I am thrilled they no longer need my help to get buckled into car seats and that they can dress themselves and wash their own clothes. Though sometimes the 18-year-old brings laundry home from college.)
As is tradition, I made an I Spy quilt for the newest little one. Many years ago I started making I Spy quilts for baby gifts. They are super simple, quick to make, and will live on longer than a tiny newborn onesie.
Generally, I use a solid color as the “background” fabric. I’ve been trying to use up a lot of my stash and I don’t have a fabric store nearby, so this time I used a cute star print instead. The I Spy pieces are 4 1/2″ fussy cut squares. The sashing pieces are cut 2 1/2″ by required width and 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2.” I do simple in-the-ditch quilting. The backing was a piece of purple flannel from my stash.
As I already had a huge stack of I Spy squares cut, I was able to complete this quilt in around 10-12 hours spread out over about 4 days. That includes the time to hand sew on the binding.
I also took some time last week to make a cute tied fleece blanket for our eldest daughter’s boyfriend’s son for Christmas. He’s a fan of dinosaurs. So he got different dinosaur fleece on both sides.