Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Quilt in the Frame

While I sat stitching at my quilt frame last night, I looked at the quilt pattern and thought how funny it was that the quilt I had put back into the quilting frame to work on last week, after having spent more than a year and a half in storage, is the same quilt block that I used in the quilt that I learned this week will be featured in an upcoming magazine. I pieced the blue and black Shoo Fly quilt shortly after we moved from Colorado. When we put our house on the market to move to the farm, our realtor at the time asked me to put the quilt frame in storage, as most buyers couldn't picture their furniture in the space. Right! Didn't work...because now there's no furniture in the house and it still hasn't wonder why with all that empty room buyers still can't picture their furniture in it?

So I wonder if the Shoo Fly block brings me good luck? Because this week my husband was offered a job at a young and upcoming company that I absolutely adore! But maybe the Shoo Fly block isn't so lucky after all because the job is in New York City, which would mean selling the farm we call home and leaving the simple life we have created for our family in exchange for higher housing costs, a commute that would take my husband over 90 minutes to reach the area that we would call home and the selling of most of our animals that we love and care so deeply about.Just way too much for the grey matter in my head to deal with right now. What I do need is a major distraction. House cleaning worked for yesterday, but there has to be something that I can better spend my time on.

So while stitching on the quilt in the frame, I couldn't help but think back to the last time we were faced with a decision to move. It was four years ago and we were living in Colorado and our family had just begun attending a Mennonite church in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Neither my husband or I were raised Mennonite, but we were quickly welcomed into the family of this loving church. Friendships quickly bloomed with many of the men and women in the short time that we were members of the church and our hearts truly broke when we said good-bye.

I began thinking of the too few times that I had the chance to sit around the quilt frame with the women of the church. They shared stories of their lives and those that were near and dear to them. They talked about recipes for pies and what they were growing in their gardens. And they talked about quilting and the quilt that they we were working on. It was a fairly large yellow quilt and I remember that there were printed blocks with scenes of cabins and moose. The blocks were surrounded with the sweetest yellow fabrics with purple and red wildflowers. When the quilting was completed and the last stitch put into the binding the quilt would be donated to the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale.

What is a relief sale...?

Each year in Canada and the United States, thousands of volunteers come together to raise money for Mennnonite Central Committee for the relief of suffering in the world. Over $5.5million was raised in 2007 with an average of 85 percent sent to the field. These festivals/auctions offer a little bit of everything - quilts, artwork, crafted woodwork, homemade foods, antiques and crafts. Click here for a list of sales in North America.

Thinking about the comfort I found in working on the quilt for the relief sale while in Colorado, it occurred to me that I could use the quilt in my frame for the same emotional relief and release that I had experienced in our last move. I decided that like the last quilt I worked on when contemplating a move, I would donate mine to one of the Mennonite Relief Sales.

Most of the sales are held outdoors in the summer time, so it doesn't leave me too many sales left in the year to prepare a quilt for. But choosing which relief sale was an easy decision. Each year in October the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale holds their auction in Rocky Ford, Colorado. Right away I sent an email to the sale coordinator to see if I still had time to make a quilt donation and if there were any special requirements for the quilt. "Plenty of time....the quilt needs to be in Colorado by the end of September or first part of October.... and we'll take any quilt that you would like to donate."

Many of the quilts that are auctioned at the relief sales are donated by church quilting groups that have spent many hours working on the quilt together. Other quilts are quilted by a single quilter. Some quilts are purchased and then donated to be auctioned off. Quilts come from near and far and find their way to the auction stand. Depending on the quilt and the relief sale, it is not unheard of for a quilt to be auctioned for thousands of dollars! I know that can happen at the larger sales in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Kidron, Ohio. I can't guess what price my crib quilt will go for when it hits the auction stand and I wish I could be in the crowd to watch the bidding, but I know in the end it will provide comfort and relief for all those involved, especially the quilter.

While having a quilt to work on doesn't make the decision to take a job in New York City any easier, but it will certainly give me a way to put my energies to a good cause. I've hung a journal off the end of my quilt frame as a way for me to keep track of my thoughts and ideas while I am sifting through the pros and cons of moving back to the East Coast. I'm sure that some of my thoughts will never make it to the paper but will instead find themselves woven into the stitches of the quilt where they will live on somewhere very far from New York City or the farm that we call home.

I caught this photo of girlie yesterday who has been making frequent trips out to check on Tinkerbell, who seems to still be a bit dazed from the whole ordeal. If only we had some real fairy dust to make everything better!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When your best friend is a chicken...

Yesterday was a sad day on our farm. This little girl's best friend, who happens to be a bantam white chicken was attacked by our 16 year old hunting dog who rarely moves from the couch. We're not sure what has gotten into the old dog as she hasn't hunted since she was 2 years old and didn't prove to be a very good bird dog back then!

But sometime yesterday afternoon the old dog and chicken crossed paths and we found Tinkerbell, the chicken being carried around in the mouth of the dog. "We need to take her to the vet, Mom, hurry get a box!"

While I love both my children and animals dearly and want the best for all of them, I had to say that the $2.00 chicken was NOT going to the vet. She had no open wounds and was able to stand on her own two legs after being comforted a bit by girlie. I announced that the chicken would die of fright if it was put into a car and driven into town. The children forget that the chickens came to the farm by way of car a year ago when they were day old babies and cute little balls of fluff.

I am crossing my fingers that Tinkerbell pulls through and goes on to live a full life in the rabbit hutch, where she is safe from dogs, that she now calls home. Because you can't order just one bird from the chicken hatchery you have to order 25 and I just don't need 24 extra chickens!

The photos of Tinkerbell and girlie were taking a few weeks ago. This morning Tinkerbell's feathers are a bit ruffled and a few of the feathers are matted with dog slobber, but she has survived the first 24 hours. I've promised girlie that I would ask that you think good thoughts for Tinkerbell and her speedy recovery.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What I heard from a little bird....

Last summer while at a quilt show in Ohio I took a scrap quilt class from Jeana Kimball. Wanting to capture a bit of the inspiration that had blossomed while in her class, I went home and began pulling browns, double pinks and muslins from my stash. I wanted a quilt that looked like it may have been made many years ago, so I aged the muslin and double pink to soften the look
of the quilt. What I walked away from the sewing machine with three days later was a set of 42 smallish blocks each of a different brown and aged muslin. With a deadline to enter the quilt for judging looming over me I had to hire a machine quilter and skip the hand quilting that I had planned to do.

Today I received word that my quilt is now making it's way back
home from the Fons & Porter office in Iowa. The best part of the news is
that along with the quilt will be a contract for me to sign and return for their
use of my quilt in an upcoming special issue that will hit the stores on December 1.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In search of the RIGHT purple

After a lengthy search, I have finally found the right combination of purples for this quilt. The darker purple was the fabric that I had trouble choosing. I found it patiently waiting for me in a small Amish quilt shop in Holmes County, Ohio. After making it up in a small version, I have decided to go forward with plans to make a queen size quilt in the same colors. The smaller one will be hand quilted and set aside for a baby quilt in hopes of grandchildren someday.

Earlier this year my mother asked if I would make two quilts for a friend's grandchildren. The first one went together fairly quickly and was quilted and bound in a few days. The second quilt needs to be for a little boy and I couldn't decide which block or pattern to use. After visiting the Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum in June, I decided that this was exactly the quilt and colors I needed for a little boy.

My version of the quilt measures about 50" x50" This quilt will be marked with cross hatching and machine quilted and bound in dark green. I've chosen a dark charcoal colored thread for the quilting and a Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon batting. The backing of the quilt will be a cream muslin.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back home from Michigan, where I spent four days at a quilting retreat. I was inspired to come home and stitch up a Cherrywood Farbrics Amish Bars quilt. The quilt is 50" x 50" and will be marked and put into the quilt frame this winter. I can picture cross hatching in the bars, with pumpkin seed flowers in the lavender border and a feathered vine wrapping itself around the navy and red corners. In order to get this one into the frame, I need to finish quilting the ShooFly quilt that has patiently been waiting for me in the frame this summer. The days are threatening to be hot over the next week and at little hand quilting in a cool basement is a great way to escape the heat. I have to decide what color to do the quilting in. I'm thinking about a medium shade of grey. Any suggestions?

We do not run the air conditioning and on the hottest days it is not unusual for the house to heat up to 86 degrees. This is our second summer living without the air on, and by doing so my children play outside and I am able to work outside longer into the heat of the day if we are not spoiled by the cooled air. When we head into town, we are always surprised that there are no children outside playing in the yards or parks. As a child I can always remember being outside riding on bikes or making forts in the woods, but I never remember sitting inside on a summer day. Have we conditioned the children that it can be too hot to play?

The beets were ready and waiting to be pulled when I went out to the garden. Some were even a bit too large and when I placed them in the jars for pickling I had to fold them in half to get them through the jar opening. I was able to get a quart and a half of pickled beets out of this bunch. I am the only on in the house who likes them and I am still trying to find the perfect recipe...not too sweet and not too sour. I hope to put away at least 12 quarts, but I'm not sure that I have planted enough seed this year and will likely do a repeat planting this week. I am still learning a lot about second plantings and think that I still have enough time to get a few more rows in.

Love, Joy and Piece!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What was her inspiration?

While shopping at a quilt shop in Lancaster County, I came across this book and feel in love with many of the quilts. But one quilt in particular has me opening and reopening the book
for another look.

I remember seeing the quilt for the first time and wondering,
"What made her put those colors together?"

The more I've looked at the quilt the more it has grown on me, to the point that I have begun setting aside bits and pieces of similar colors.
Not to copy, but to reproduce in my time, with my hands.

But the one question that still haunts me is the first one I had," What made her put those colors together?" And then I started to think about the quilt maker and what her life would have been like in the mid to late 1800's when the quilt was made. What was her inspiration....? It didn't come from a quilting magazine, a color photograph, or a fabric line where all the fabrics coordinated. More simply, she would have been inspired by the world around her. Most likely her garden. And so I went to my garden to see if I could find her quilt in my garden.

Rows of holly hocks against a wall...

A flash of yellow and red...

A bright pink and spalsh of yellow...

or maybe her little girl

stood near the flowers one day and she was able to capture the moment in a quilt.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A few quilter's blogs and what they're up to...

Enjoy visiting quilt related blogs? Then be sure to stop by Just Us Quilters to see what a few hundred other quilter's are up to on their blogs...maybe you'll join too!