Sunday, December 27, 2020

Don't Run . . .

 . . . Nay, don't race . . . to the end of 2020. The week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day presents a unique opportunity if one allows it, something akin to when as kids we were home on school holiday with no commitments or homework. And I was reminded of it when I ran across the following:

I realized I'd already started on that list. Christmas Day was an especially peaceful one for me. No interruptions, no frenetic rushing about, perfect easy to fix meals, listening to one Christmas cd after another until capping off the evening watching an old black and white movie like my late husband and I were often wont to do and noting that the promised late night snow had started to fall. And I especially enjoyed starting a knitting project with the yarn my cousin picked up for me on her New Zealand visit. Every year I think I am going to do this on Christmas Day or at least the week following because this is one of my favorite memories from my teens - mom, dad and I sitting by the fire with candles and Christmas lights and Christmas music playing, they reading and me knitting. But every year I "run out of time" as I fulfill other activities I deem important to my day and the week following. Not this year. This year I settled in to start a  mobius scarf for myself and will knit a little on it each day.

I also hope to carve out time for some journalling I've been putting off (that's the "sit quietly in front of your life" part). The current journal is nearly full so I may need to pause to make another one if I have lots to say. The fabric is picked out and it would be a nice end of the year, get the new year off to a good start project. I have a new mug to try out, more suited to tea than hot chocolate, but no doubt the hot chocolate will get made too (with a dash of brandy). The weatherman thinks we'll have a few cloudless nights this week so I'll have to step outside to check out the stars (missed the great conjunction because the skies were overcast, but have seen the planets close on either side of it). And of course, I'll read as I am in the middle of a tale of circumventing Ireland with a donkey!

Won't you join me in keeping these remaining days of a year most would rather forget, really quiet, thoughtful, enjoyable, and magical? Time enough for plunging into another year - see you there!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Wishing You a Peaceful Holiday

The few decorations have been put up . . .

A small representation of my collection of Reed and Barton silver crosses twinkle in a row . . .

And the Christmas cards, well most of them, are written on and in the mail. I'm ready to hunker down with Christmas music, a cup (or two) of cheer, and warm memories of Christmases past as we prepare to kick old 2020 to the curb!

I found this on artist Bobbi Baugh's blog a few days ago, thoughts and feelings about peace and working in the in-between times that so mirror my own that I'm compelled to share it with you. She writes, "We are not always Merry. We are not always Happy. But all of us have deep within, spoken or unspoken, the yearning for peace." But she begins with the thought below which I am also feeling and want to extend to you, my readers, but do click through to read the whole thing:

"There seems to be only one Christmas greeting inside me.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

One More Thing

Isn't there always one more thing when you think you're done with a quilt? For my Peace quilt, as I finished up stitching down the binding, it was, of course, to add something to the back so I could hang it up. It shouldn't surprise you that I found myself not keen on that something being a traditional sleeve. This won't be in any exhibit requiring the obligatory 4" sleeve, I didn't want to use up any more of this particular hand-dye in a place where it would seldom be seen, and perhaps most of all, I didn't want to put my hands through all that hand sewing. So after thinking about it for a few days, I decided I would be just fine with this simple solution.

This works really well on small quilts and I hoped it would work equally well on this larger one (finished 23-1/2 x 36). I had felt left over, handily a piece wide enough to quickly cut triangles and a couple of strips from. I quickly hand-stitched all in place, cut a piece of doweling and was ready to go. 

This might not have worked as well if I'd used a traditional batting, but the stiffness of the felt is keeping it from buckling between the triangles and tabs. Not a perfect quilt, not perfect corners, but all in all, I'm pretty please, and so glad to have it done. Remember, I started this back in July, thinking it would be done in a week of persistent work, but one thing after another stretched the time frame out and kept me putting it aside while I tended other things.

I'm glad I chose the thread colors that I did . . .

. . . and I'm glad I sent the quilting lines in the directions that I did.

I ran across an article today, "Five Ways to Persuade Yourself to Be More Productive" and nearly didn't read it because I've read articles like this before and pretty much KNOW what I should do to keep from being that petulant child; I just don't do it. But I scanned through it anyway and could see that I actually did use some of these tips as I worked on this quilt, especially toward the end. One is setting interim goals (big goals with a deadline can be too daunting), and in my case, that meant breaking down some of the steps to complete over several days rather than trying to do them all at once. And then there was #4 - Take breaks: the brain and the body are not meant to work non-stop.

“For whatever weird reason, we have the idea that powering through is the best way to get stuff done and a sign of our own virtue,” he says. “We’ve got it upside down and believe amateurs take breaks and pros don’t. Athletes know that taking breaks is not a deviation from performance but is part of performance.”

Boy, is that me . . . or was me . .  thinking I have to power through multiple parts under a general heading all on the same day and without stopping. I still catch myself thinking that way but my auto-immune syndrome has shown me I just can't do that anymore without paying for it. And here's another gem that I know is true but eludes me when in the throws of working; it concerns setting deadlines, which can be a good motivator, but if too severe and "you’re engaged in divergent thinking that requires greater creativity. . .can inhibit your performance instead of enhancing it. In addition, if a deadline is too severe, it can deaden your intrinsic motivation." Been there, done that with show and exhibit deadlines and know that it seldom produces my best work yet I continued to find myself backed into these deadline corners. At any rate, I hope you'll give it a quick read, so you'll be ready when your own petulant child appears.


Friday, December 11, 2020

Hoping This Works

So here was my thought. Fuse on the backing and leave enough extra beyond the edge of the quilt to turn that over the raw edge in a back to front faux binding. I don't think I've done this before, but I keep looking for quick ways to get this quilt done, and the thought of sewing on a separate binding was more than I could face. This quilt has GOT to get done before years end! The fusing went flawlessly, and the use of pressing cloth as per the instructions actually worked really well to also give the quilt a good last steaming. I left about 1-1/2 inches extra all round planning to trim it down to one inch.


This trimming was fast and easy as I butted my one inch ruler against the edge of the quilt and made my way around with a rotary cutter.

Then I turned the raw edge of the backing to meet the edge of the quilt, taking the extra time to iron in the crease.

No, not mitering the corners. I did think about it but it was more fiddling and work than I was up for. I've bound small wall quilts before with a single fold binding overlapping the corners this way so it's good enough for this one. I swear, I never pick up this quilt to work on it without it presenting another decision to make, and this time it is how to sew that turned edge in place. No, definitely not hand sewing it. Did consider a sort of machine blind hem stitch with monofilament thread, but I think it best to just top stitch along that nicely creased fold. Not with monofilament thread, I don't think, but with either the dark green thread used in the quilting or the dark brown thread used in the satin stitching. Now that it's pinned into place, the brown thread makes the most sense so that's what I'll be doing next. And I'm pretty relieved that my idea for finishing the edges is working.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Where Solutions Come From


The Petulant Child has continued to procrastinate, but in a late night search through my fusibles drawer, I went one by one from most preferred to least preferred to see if I had enough of any of them to fuse a backing over the felt with all those exposed thread tails. I really thought what was left of this Wonder Under, part of what I inherited from my late friend Judi, was going to be the ticket, i.e. big enough to cover the entire back. I'm not that fond of Wonder Under anymore, having found Steam-a-Seam that has properties I prefer, so this would be a great place to use it up. To my surprise, the big piece left was not only too short but not wide enough, no additional pieces big enough to fill in the gaps. Boy, I did not want to use up the large piece of Steam-a-Seam I'd bought off the roll at the quilt shop, but if I must, I must. However, I had pretty much the same issue with it. Well, you already know my love/hate relationship with Misty Fuse and I was fairly sure what was in the multiple packages would require the laying out of many possibly long but undoubtedly narrow pieces of it across the back. Plus, in spite of a glowing recommendation about how well Misty Fuse worked fusing backing to felt, I'd already had disappointing results with it; because felt is made up of little fibers, I found that Misty Fuse just pulled away from the felt surface, bringing those little fibers with it. But since this is just for me, if I have to use Misty Fuse, I guess I will.

Yeah, that didn't exactly make me excited to continue right away, so I left it for a few days until I could get used to the idea, and did the occasional stare-down as if looking at it long enough would change things. Staring at a problem rarely leads to a solution, but taking a walk and letting the brain cogitate, often subconsciously, often does. So there I was on said walk, mostly considering if I should stop in at the quilt shop for more fusible, when the lightbulb went on. Geez Louise, I do NOT have to completely cover the back with fusible, just like quilting doesn't cover every bit of a quilt. If I cut that Wonder Under in thirds, it should cover enough. And I think it does.