Sunday, June 27, 2010

Best of Class!

My crazy quilt won Best of Class in the Traditional Other category at Wichita's Prairie Quilt Guild's quilt show, Common Threads, this past weekend! There weren't many quilts in that category but the judge will only award ribbons if she feels the quilts are worthy of the prize so I was excited to win the ribbon!

Seeing my quilt hang in the show was great but I was surprised to see how dark it looked. When I tried to take a photo of it, the fabric appeared grayish blue. In the photo above, the colors are more true but a little brighter than in the quilt. Click on the photo for a closer look.

This past weekend, I finished hand-piecing the three piece tumbling blocks for the tumbling block quilt from the book, "Remembering Adelia". Tomorrow, I'd like to piece the blocks which just have two pieces and start arranging and rearranging the tumbling blocks to get the colors balanced. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those quilters who can randomly stitch blocks together. I like a controlled scrappiness.

The next step after I'm satisfied with the layout is stitching the blocks together into rows and then the rows together. Perhaps that will be something for me to do on Wednesday, the day I'm having dental work done. Its work that needs to be done so I'm trying to prepare myself for the worst part of it for me - the needle sticks (cringe!) and the numbness. Difficult to talk, drink or eat, that leaves me with napping and, as the numbness goes away, I'll plan to do some stitching as a reward for making it through another session at the dentist!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life's Bouquet

Remember the embroidery on the back of my crazy quilt that reminded me of weeds? I decided I wanted to add something a little more to the quilt backing, something that summarized my feelings beginning with last year.

I'm sorry I didn't get a closer shot of this but look at the base of the "weed shrub" to see some of the emotions I felt last year. It started with Fear. Fear of the unknown and what could happen. It was really hard seeing our son go through his health crisis and easy to let fear take hold. There were many sleepless nights and tears.

Next comes Faith - my own and other's. My faith grew because life became stripped down to the important things. I am so thankful for the many prayers that were offered for us by people we didn't even know.

There was Hope for the future even though it wasn't the kind of future any of us had planned. After months of health backsets, there was hope that things would improve and that life could be full.

And finally, Love. Our family grew closer together. There were many acts of love shown to us but the surprising thing was by whom. We learned who would stand by us and who would fall away. I especially learned that sometimes its best to show your love by being still and just being there when someone needs you. I continually need to remind myself of this.

It was a year of following a different path than what I'd expected but a path of maturing and learning. I don't want to forget even though its so easy to do just that. I've already embroidered in the year 2010 and hope to add something for every year until I fill up Life's Bouquet!


Totally different subject - Look what came in the mail for me from Barbara! More selvages for my next selvage quilt project which I hope to start in July. Thank you very much!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Crazy but sane, I think

In my last post, I told you I would share with you what was happening in my life while I was making my crazy quilt.

Early last year, my son was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and between January and July, he had numerous medical appointments, needed almost weekly blood transfusions and was hospitalized four times. Since I took him to the appointments, I needed something to do while I sat and waited. I needed something that would keep my mind off of what might happen and what did eventually happen.

This is my version of Wichita's Prairie Quilt Guild's 2008-09 block of the month Crazy Quilt. I began the quilt in February of 2009, about three or four months late. Every month, we received instructions for the next step but were encouraged to be creative and personalize the quilt. Since I began working on it so late, I had a little catching up to do but plenty of opportunity to work on it!

While I waited at my son's appointments and through his hospitalizations, I hand-embroidered the quilt blocks. It often helped me strike up a conversation with other anxious people in the waiting rooms. There's just something calming about watching someone create a design with needle and thread.

Some of the embroidery motifs have great symbolism for me - the bottle of tears, the Bible, the bluebird of happiness, the wheat, our pets at the time and much more. I also embroidered all of my family's initials on the quilt. There are velvet leaf and flower appliques plus vintage black button embellishments. I chose not to use lace or ribbon on this quilt. The fabrics are all 100% cotton except for the green velvet outer border.

Its kind of like an "I Spy" quilt because the more you look, the more you see! I hope you can click on the photos to see the detail. If you like, check my previous posts for more photos. One of my favorite parts of the quilt are the fan edges. It looks a little like lace but is actually an embroidered design.

I "finished" the quilt just a week before the Kansas State Fair's entry cut off date in September of 2009. It won a blue ribbon in the crazy quilt amateur division. Tomorrow, I'm dropping it off to be entered in the Common Threads quilt show in Wichita. It will be judged and I'm a little nervous to see how it fares with all the other crazy quilts there.

Making this Crazy Quilt was an incredible stress reliever for me! Our experience with a serious illness and major surgery brought me into contact with people undergoing far worse things than we were. I hope I never forget the things I saw and experienced during this time even though they were often painful and emotional to me and sometimes still are.

This quilt can look quite dark when you stand back from it. In fact, its hard to get a good photo of it. As you come closer though, you see the bright colors and handwork. To me it says there's beauty all around us even though life can often seem dark and dreary.

I don't know if I'll ever make another crazy quilt because right now, I simply don't have the time. This one is and will always be so very special and personal to me.
If you're interested in crazy quilt stitches, I'd like to recommend this book to you, "Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches" by Carole Samples. There are no instructions, just page after page of illustrations of stitches that she has collected over the years. I used many of her ideas and highly recommend this book. It is normally bound but I had the spiral binding put on so it would lay flat.

Next time I'll share how the embroidered weeds on the back turned out!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tomatoes and my Crazy

I picked the first tomatoes from my garden a few days ago. I've decided that this is not really the tomato plant I thought I was buying because its only 6 inches tall! It is bearing tomatoes but as you can see in the photo, they aren't very big.

That's a quarter laying next to the tomatoes just to give you an idea of their size. I'm not complaining though because my other three tomato plants are only just starting to bloom and set on baby tomatoes!

I wish I were a better gardener and that weeds didn't exist. I've been pulling grass and bindweed out of my new flower bed every morning this week and there's still enough growing to keep me busy for a long time.

What do you think this is? I'm not sure either but its what I'm embroidering on the back of my crazy quilt. I hate to say it but parts of it remind me of bindweed!

I started the design several months ago and then set it aside when life got busy but now I've got to finish it because the Prairie Quilt Guild's quilt show is just around the corner. There'll be 900 quilted items in the show and two of those items will be mine.

I'm entering my Little Red Zinger and my Crazy Quilt and have to drop them off on Monday. I still have to finish the embroidery and sew a label on the Crazy Quilt. The Little Red Zinger needs a label and a sleeve.

Here's a sneak peak at part of my Crazy Quilt. The next time I post, I will tell you about what was happening in my life while making it. Probably the hardest thing I've gone through so far.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What is it?

I've been having a little guessing game at the quilt show about my doll quilt shown below. I found it in a half price tub of vintage linens at an antique mall in Wichita and since it was so unique, it became the first doll quilt I purchased.

I've been asking our quilt show viewers what they "see" in the doll quilt. So far, some of the guesses have been:

1. This is in the style of Gee's Bend.
2. A house (the blue triangle is the roof).
3. Sunbonnet Sue gone bad!

Tell me what you "see"! What do you think it is? I think I will go along with guess #2 about the house unless someone sees something even better!

Tomorrow afternoon is the last day of the quilt show so if you're in driving distance of Goessel, Kansas ( population 450-ish), be sure to be there!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just checking in after some long exhausting days getting ready for the "Covered With Love" doll quilt and crib quilt show at the Mennonite Heritage & Agricultural Museum in Goessel, Kansas. The show runs through this weekend and we're hoping for a good turnout. Here are two photos of our doll quilt displays. There are 109 vintage to new doll quilts on display. Hope you enjoy the photos!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Covered With Love

Just after Memorial Day, the real work started for the Mennonite Heritage & Agricultural Museum's doll quilt and crib quilt show, "Covered With Love", began. Of course, the preparation began months ago but the quilts and props were pouring in before our deadline. This week, I've spent much of my time helping catalogue quilts, photographing quilts, looking at props and planning displays.

If you'll be in south-central Kansas on the weekend of June 11-13, come join us at the quilt show! There will be over 100 doll quilts and almost 50 crib quilts on display in the Prep School. Some antique and vintage cradles, dolls and toys will be there too.

On Sunday afternoon, there will also be a car show for the guys while the ladies enjoy the quilts. Should be a great weekend to spend at the museum!

This is the doll quilt that my grandmother made for my younger sister and I to play with. That was about 50 years ago and during that time, my cousins, my daughter, nieces and basically any little girl who visited our house played with this doll quilt! It now belongs to my daughter but she lets me display it.

I was able to hand piece 16 tumbling blocks before I absolutely had to put them away and concentrate on the quilt show. Surprisingly to me, I'm enjoying the process and I think I might say its a little addicting! I hope to get back to them soon.

I'll be posting pictures of some of our displays of quilts from the show next time!

Thank you very much to Michele who sent me an envelope of selvages! Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to resist playing with them?!? July is only a few short weeks away and I plan to start the spiderweb selvage quilt then but its oh, so tempting to sit down at my sewing machine now!