Tuesday, September 29, 2015

quilting with the littles

 my family's annual girls weekend has come and gone again. like last year, i was in charge of the humanitarian project. and like last year, i brought along a quilt for everyone to piece together for project linus. in fact, it was the same quilt. we didn't get very far last year. but that's okay. this year the girls made enough blocks for two small quilt tops.

the first little quilters to join me in making were the youngest girls, aged 3 to 5. they all loved picking out the four fabrics for their four patch blocks.

 zipping them up on the machine was super easy, too. i either held the tiny quilter in my lap and let her put her hands on mine as we guided the fabric through, or i had her stand next to me and run the foot pedal. "drive! go!," i'd say when it was time to stitch. they were each so thrilled with their simple blocks when they came together.

 this baby thought she should wear her blocks.

 the middle group of girls, aged 7 to 11, were just as game as the younger crowd to get sewing. however, some of them were more hesitant with the sewing. one little blondie turtled her way through her block, then let out a huge sigh of relief. "that was the first time i ever sewed anything. it was scary!!!" i asked what she was afraid of and she said she was worried about "messing it up."  it reminded me of sitting in my first quilt class, sweating profusely, nearly shaking, wanting so badly to make a quilt but being terrified i wouldn't be able to do it. and i was a grown woman.

 the girls waited very patiently for each other to finish and some even came back for seconds, making more than two blocks each.

 this baby loved nothing more than selecting fabrics and sewing them together. she made about 6 blocks. her unique sewing stance totally worked, too.

quilt number one got laid out and mostly sewn together. i accidentally flipped some blocks and then had to rearrange nearly the whole rest of the layout. unpicking would have been easier!

i didn't pressure any of the older girls or moms to help us. they had other things to do. i thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with the girls who wanted to participate and sharing in their enthusiasm. i proposed that we do this each year and that in the future we work on a quilt for a different family member each time so that eventually we will all have our own girls weekend quilt. they were all for the idea. me, too!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

living deliberately and not quilting

i have this awesome new room in my house. once apon a time it was a formal dining room. then it was a combination sewing/dining room. but then i removed the dining table to fully convert it to a sewing room. however, it is now this wonderfully convenient space, just feet from our front door, where we dump all kinds of stuff, and which also stores my untouched-for-months sewing things.

holy cow, friends! i have been gone a long time. and i haven't sewn more than a few epp stitches all summer long. see, my darling husband bought me a cabin in the woods for our 20th anniversary this year. yes, a whole entire cabin in the woods! on 3 acres! no more summers in the blistering desert heat for me. that's where i've been. and i even took a bare minimum of about 3 bins of sewing supplies and my machine up to the cabin with me. i set up a really cute sewing space in the guest quarters, where i planned on finishing three simple projects this summer. however, i didn't even photograph the space much less even bind the "dreaming easy" quilt that was hours away from completion. there was just too much else to do.

 we took the dining table out of the dining/sewing space in our desert house and moved it up to the cabin, which needed a table big enough for all 9 of us. it's a bit crammed in there, but it works. and now i have no sewing table. but we're good.

 the former sewing/dining table gets lots of good use as a great play-do station and, of course, for meals. every single meal of the day, unless we eat outside. and this is what i did all summer rather than sew - i cooked. like, spent an hour or two in the kitchen each morning, while the rest of the family dozed, and made all kinds of yummy, wholesome things to eat. mostly from the smitten kitchen cookbook or blog, my new favorite.

 and then i (and sometimes the kids) would clean the whole cabin every day because it was small enough to clean every day unlike our real house, which i have decided is way too big. laundry follows us everywhere and that had to be dealt with. but the washer is currently in the basement and the drier is in the garage, so it required a lot more travel than i'm used to. not to mention that our cabin is older than i am and most recently updated in the late 80's, so it is slowly being redone and reimagined. there was a whole lot of taking-out and bringing-in happening. but in between all the domestic stuff, i went outside.

i went outside and walked all over the woods, marveling over wildflowers and breathing fresh mountain air. i let the cool temperatures caress my skin and the brilliant blue of the sky startle my eyes. most every day there was rain, too. usually just enough to keep things green and fresh, but sometimes all day long. a desert-dweller dreams of days like that.

as my life got simplified down to just taking care of my family and enjoying the outdoors, i kept thinking of thoreau's opening words to walden,
 "i went to the woods because i wished to live deliberately." 
every now and then when i passed the quilt space, i would think i must be pretty pathetic to not even be able to get a quilt bound in one summer. but, really, i was living much more simply and deliberately even than that. instead of quilts, i enjoyed things like this:

 my little girls and i got really good at spotting mushrooms of all sorts everywhere. we didn't pick or eat any but just got really excited whenever we saw one pop up somewhere. maybe next year we'll get into foraging and identification.

 my oldest son mastered the grill this summer, which relieved me of cooking dinner several times a week. after all the mornings in the kitchen, this was quite welcome. and did you know: everything tastes better outdoors? truth.

 we let the dogs run wild and they didn't get eaten by any predators or run over by any dirt-road neighbors. they just generally loved life as much as we did. a few times we wore sombreros left by the previous owners. well, at least some of us did. most days those someones were just dressed in overall and boots. because it was the mountains. but sombreros were fair game, too.

several weeks in a row my husband and a few of the children picked wild raspberries and then my oldest girls learned to make pies. from scratch. that's some pretty deliberate living.

another thing we did a whole lot was watch hummingbirds, which gathered by the dozens at our feeders. instead of swarms of bees, we had swarms of hummingbirds, which was quite amazing.

all of this kept me pretty occupied and busy. so busy i never touched the quilts and eventually just packed everything away so no little visitors, which we had aplenty, messed with my stuff.

another summer i think maybe i'll get a chance to quilt more because this cabin really needs a lot of quilts. this was not that year. and it was all wonderful just as it was even though i thought it would be nice to finish those quilts and photograph them somewhere green and pretty.

all this is what i did and where i've been.
no sewing, no quilting.
no trending new fabric purchases to gush about.
just living in the woods.
then we had to come home and get back into our real life, especially homeschool.
and i have no sewing table anymore.

i'm sorely tempted to just set up on a folding table and get crackin', but girls weekend is around the corner so i might as well leave everything packed so i can take it with. maybe this year we'll get further on that charity quilt we started last year.

and then i will come home and make room and a room for sewing in my life again.
see you then!

Friday, September 4, 2015

becky's disappearing four patch

well, it's friday and i've neither a finish to share nor did i have a friday sewing social with becky. i haven't settled in from summer enough just yet to start those up again. of course, becky's also pretty pregnant with her 6th son, so if we don't have one soon, we might not have any for a while. however, the other day i was organizing my sewing photos and came across these photos of a disappearing 4 patch block that becky was working on for her cousin's baby and thought i'd share them as a sentimental moment of nostalgia for those bygone sewing socials.

becky, who has only boys so far, had a few girly charm squares laying around that she'd had no occasion to use just yet. they were leftover from several charm packs that she'd already taken the "boy" squares out of for other projects. she paired them with some white charm square to make four patches, then cut 1" on either side of each seam.

 then she flipped the center pieced portions around and sewed them back together.

voila! simple, clean, and cute. and nearly as fantastic as becky's amazing smile.

here's a photo i stole off her instagram page of the finished baby quilt. just darling. nice work, becky!