18 August 2017

Friday Funny

17 August 2017

Scrappy Block a Day

13th finish of the year! Not all those finishes are for grandkids and their siblings for Christmas, but this one is going to one of those little ones!

Scrappy Block-a-Day

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts.

15 August 2017

What the World Needs Now

It has taken many years for my adopted kids to realize life in my family was not so bad after all and that I am worthy of their trust. It has taken many, many years of patience for all three of us to begin the journey toward healing.

Even though we each have very different lives and backgrounds, there is one thing in common we share, and it has enabled us to work toward unity again. That precious attribute is love. Without love, we never could have mended any of our fences. Without love, there would have been no reason to reconnect.

I love my kids, even though they still have the power to absolutely drive me nuts. Even though they still can hurt me more deeply than anything else, even the aches and pains of old age!

Before I adopted my kids, I had fasted and prayed for children who needed love, and that's exactly what God gave me. There are two morals to this story. Be very careful what you pray for, and never give up hope. Ever.

For the last couple of years, an old, old song from my childhood has been heavy on my mind because of the excruciating polarization of our country, our society and our world. Do you remember this one?

What the world needs now is love sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of,
What the world needs now is love sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

The world has changed so much since I was 5 years old. And yet, what the world needs now isn't any different than what we needed back then.

Several years ago, I made socks for all the women in my family and for all my closest female friends.

28 pairs in one year! (Plus two extras.) My sock project left me with literally a pound of sock yarn leftovers...

...too small to make anything of much worth.

The leftovers are many different brands. They've come from many different breeds of sheep from many different places in the world. Some are a little thicker than others, even though they are supposed to be the same size. Some have a different twist. Some of them contain different types of fiber, such as silk or nylon. Some even have lumps. Some of them will turn to felt if I put them in hot water and wring them recklessly. Some will shrink with that treatment. Most of the colors clash when I bundle them all together. And none of them have enough substance to become more than a little ball of fluff.

Yet just look what happens when you put them all together with something they can all bond with in common.

Suddenly, their differences make them strong and powerful. They have become something of great worth, and they can provide warmth, security and comfort. Each color can do so much more than it could do alone, but each color still has its own unique beauty and personality. Unified, their differences are even more beautiful.

To me, love is just like that black yarn. It could be white yarn. It could be red yarn. The color doesn't matter. Love pulls us all together, regardless of where we come from, what type of families we came from or are raising, regardless of our education or lack thereof, regardless of what language we speak, regardless of our political beliefs, regardless of whether we can hold a tune or hit a high note. Or crochet a vest...

While researching the topic of unity recently, I came upon a Ted Talk by an American who had served many years in the Peace Corps in Africa. His primary responsibility was to build a community in an impoverished area where there were many people but no unity. He said the word community means common unity, everyone working together for the same goals.

When he first arrived in Ghana, the parents, many of them single parents due to a high mortality rate thanks to unsanitary conditions in which the people lived, could not afford to send their children to school, and the children often were sick with sometimes fatal gastrointestinal disease. The first thing Jason Rosenfeld taught the people was to wash their hands before eating. Other volunteers taught the people how to make soap. Some of the people began selling or trading soap, which enabled them to send their children to school. The children were healthier because of better hygiene. The circle of life within the community grew stronger and stronger because of very simple and basic education.

Jason Rosenfeld says community or common unity is when a neighbor sees another struggling and offers a helping hand. Community is when a problem needs to be solved and everyone comes together to find a solution. Community is the glue that binds us to one another, giving us a common sense of purpose and belonging. Without these things, the community ceases to be. It's just a bunch of people living in the same place.

Just like a bunch of forgotten yarn balls taking up storage space in the same dark closet.

When you bring the yarn balls together with a common thread or yarn, the yarn balls become something beautiful.

We, as fellow citizens of the earth, need to come together, just like that big collection of diversified yarn. We need to heal and help heal. I wanted to plug in Aerosmith's "Come Together" to wind this up because that was the phrase pounding in my heart. But the song below does an even better job of getting this message across.

Let's not just dream of a better world. Let's MAKE a better world. Together.

14 August 2017

Snowflake Monday

Welcome to Week 4 of the Snowcatcher Snowflake Quiltalong!

Today I'm going to piece the back for my quilt. I have to piece the back because I ended up making the quilt top bigger than initially planned, and I didn't buy enough backing fabric.

I had planned all along to add 2.5-inch strips I cut from my blue snowflake stash to the backing if it wasn't big enough. So I didn't worry when there was an even bigger shortage than I'd expected.

The final flimsy measures 52 inches square, and I'd purchased 2 yards (or 72 inches) of 45-inch wide Wilmington Prints Quiet Bunny & Noisy Puppy for the back. After cutting off the selvedges, I had nearly 20 extra lengthwise inches of backing fabric that was roughly 9 inches short on the fabric's width.

I used to cut my backing (and batting) almost exactly the same size as the top because that's how my grandmother did it back in the '60s, and she and her quilting bee ladies would polish off a quilt by hand every Saturday morning in the basement of the church with the layers stretched out on a sawhorse quilt frame one of the husbands built for them.

One of the women would then bind the quilt with purchased wide (about 2 inches!) Wright's Double-Faced Quilt Binding by machine using a zigzag stitch, like store-bought single-layer blankets. I'm not sure that type of binding is even available anymore! But I certainly saw my share of it while I was growing up.

The women never had a problem with the layers ending up different sizes at the end of their quilting, probably thanks to those handy sawhorse quilt frames. Before I met my husband and before he built such a frame for me after we married, I didn't have that problem either because I hand-basted all my quilts on either the splintery old frame I inherited from my grandmother or the gorgeous and smooth frame Lizard crafted. Once I began trying to learn to free-motion quilt, however, I stopped hand-basting to further speed up the process. The layers inevitably would shift as I worked, or even stretch unequally, and I often had to cut off an inch or more of a quilt to square it up again after I finished quilting. I once added a two-inch triangle to the corner of a nearly finished quilt so the backing would be the same size as the top.

Now I cut my backing and my batting a couple inches bigger than the quilt top. I HATE the waste this creates, but I use the discarded cuttings to stuff my amigurumi. And I never have the problem of the sizes being unequal at the end anymore. It's a trade-off, but it also is a bit faster and easier than trying to get the layers lined up on my quilt frame by myself so I can hand-baste before attempting to machine quilt.

(The Lizard always helps me line up layers when he's home, if I wait for him when I get to that step. Sometimes I'm too anxious to get going on the quilting, and so I'm doing the layering by myself.)

This means my final backing size for Charmed by Snowflakes would need to be approximately 56 inches square. I used five-inch strips leftover from the extra charm squares I made to enlarge the quilt top as backing fill-in. I also threw in a five-inch leftover of some peacock feather fabric I'd used for a winter dress because it has faint snowflakes tossed in with the metallic peacock feathers. In retrospect, I wish I'd thrown in a charm square of this fabric on the front, but having it just on the back makes it sort of a fun I Spy activity, in my opinion.

I forgot to take photos of how I lined up these layers to pin baste, so I'll try to get another quilt sandwich made so I can snap a few photos to share the process of making a quilt sandwich by the time this post is published. If no pictures appear yet, it's because I didn't get another sandwich made. I will add photos as soon as I can if I don't finish on time.

Very excited there's enough wide mottled black backing for a second quilt!

wide backing cut to fit

Pun of the day... batting lineup. Ha ha ha!

batting cut to fit

backing taped face-down to the floor

Doesn't matter which side of the batting faces up or down.

Quilt Sandwich, pin-basted and ready to quilt!

Using packing tape, I taped the backing to our hardwood dining room floor face down, pulling tight in all directions without pulling the tape up. I then centered the batting over the backing and taped the corners and side centers into place. Then I centered the quilt top over the batting, face up, taping down the corners one more time and pulling tight as I could without pulling the tape up. (I've used wide masking tape in the past, and although it's easier to clean up when I'm done, it also doesn't tend to hold the fabric to the floor tight enough. Yet another trade-off.)

For the last couple of years or so, I've been putting my layers together outside on the driveway, and using an adhesive fabric spray to hold the layers together. This process, of course, does not work in windy weather, which we frequently have, and it doesn't work at all when the driveway's covered in snow or melted snow. Or mud...

Lizard does NOT like when we spray the adhesive in the house because the fumes are not pleasant. He also wouldn't be too happy if I got the spray on the hardwood floors and left it there. (Yes, I did get some on there twice, and I did my best to clean it up. But he could tell, and not just because of the smell. How about that?!? I rhymed!)

My quilting friend Ruthie in New Mexico has been putting her layers together with curved safety pins for many years, and I had been curious about how well that would work for me, even though I don't own any curved safety pins. (Ruthie learned the process from Eleanor Burns and uses Burns' curved pins. Curved safety pins are available on the internet and at craft stores, as well as Target and Walmart.) I have a huge package of not-cheap large, but fine, safety pins, so I tried the pin-basting method for the first time on Purple Haze, and I'm comfortable enough with the process now that I'll probably use it most of the time. Saves money, too, because that quilting spray is darned expensive.

I started at the center and pinned each charm square through all three layers, working around and around until the outer edge. I then lifted the tape up as gently as I could so Lizard wouldn't be frustrated with me for leaving small pieces of torn tape on the hardwood floor. Good fingernails helps with this step.

Next week, I'll be quilting by domestic machine, a process I expect will take up to four nights. So now it's time to share your eye candy and show me and all the other readers how your project is coming along!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts.

11 August 2017

Friday Funny

This happened in Denver last week, too, and I totally missed it. (DARN!!!) Even though it was happening in the building where I work! Participants unfortunately were shut down by building management, citing "violation of lease" just a few short hours before I found out about the fun and games. Party poopers. Guess I should look up a bit more while waiting in line for the train each day, huh?

Here's a cool sample from last year's event I would have (obviously) tried to recreate if I'd known about this fun project!!!

Summer is ending #postitwars #canalnotes @marivimotrico #goodbyesummer

A post shared by CanalNotes (@canalnotes) on

10 August 2017

Looking Back

I didn't get to ride, but this is an awesome recount of the most difficult day of this year's tour.

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