Catch-Up Time!

All we can do it the best we can do! Whoever said this was absolutely correct! I was feeling pretty pleased at the time of my last post (July 23), that I had been keeping up with at least one post per month. I know that isn’t much, compared to many bloggers, but it is all a process, right? I am not going to beat myself up, but just try to catch up a bit today.

Having not been blogging, you might guess that I was not keeping up with my monthly planner either. You would be right! That doesn’t mean I have not been busy in my sewing room…or other places!

Since my last post, I have completed all my stash bee blocks and another round of wonky stars swap. These are the wonky star blocks I sent out…img_20180811_161010_0427480597515168081610.jpgI just love these crazy things and am getting quite a collection! I think a few more will be arriving, as the swap deadline is this month, so I won’t post the collection I have yet.

In August, I was Queen Bee of the Stash Bee Hive 5. I selected a simple 9-patch block so it would be easy for everyone during the busy summer month. I was so lucky to receive 17 blocks! Some folks made multiples, so it almost fills my wall. Originally, I had planned to cut the big blocks up into smaller squares and make a unique arrangement something like this…

 

At this point, after putting them all up on my design wall, I am not sure. I love the simplicity of these blocks, just as they are, and the pops of color!

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I am going to have to look at this for a while and play with the blocks!

In August, we also went on a cruise to Alaska. It was a time spent with my son-in-law and his family. We had been before, but it was a different kind of trip for them, as they would usually choose to travel to a tropical climate. The highlight for me, since I had not seen it on our previous trip, was the glacier. They got very close for such a big ship! This was the Dawes Glacier and they take you up the arm of the fjord slowly because of the icebergs. Once they get as close as possible, they rotate the ship 360 degrees, so everyone can see, even if they want to stay inside. This time of year, it was quite cold! We stood on the bow of the ship for about 3 hours!

 

The boys were more interested in playing basketball, actually! I guess that is to be understood, but their parents did make sure they stopped to be part of swinging the ship around and they made it a game to get to all sides of the ship, as it turned! I do believe they thought it was pretty cool, after all!

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A few other pics from the trip…

Since the cruise, I have been trying to use my time to clear out some works-in-progress … that ever-growing UFO pile can be daunting!

In no particular order, here are the finishes, so far…

 

I am not sure how many months ago, I asked photographer, Ric Ergenbirght, if I could try quilting the picture on the right above. He kindly allowed me to give it a go. Something I had been wanting to try and have had no lessons on. I guess it came out okay for a first try. I think I need some training!

 

I call this lap quilt Caribbean Courthouse Steps. I am thinking of donating it to a good cause. Perhaps a hospital, cancer center, or senior living home.

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This little piece has been a thorn in my side, as they say. It started out to be part of the Sienna Sunburst QAL, with Then Came June. I really just couldn’t get into it, so I asked my hubby to pick some fabric. He only asked for something very plain and simple. Well, he got that in the fabric. I got the bright idea to make it bigger and that was another thing I had never done. It was not perfect, but HE liked/s it. I guess that is a good thing. He also want no batting, no quilting, and he even said no binding! He just wanted that unfinished flimsy hanging on a wall. That was not possible for me, so I compromised on what you see…no batting, but it is backed in a simple fabric and slightly quilted with a variegated thread. Phew…another one out of the stack!

Fall always seems to bring many projects and I now have two projects in the works. I expect more to come.

 

My friend and sewmate, Jude, and I have started a charity quilt using these beautiful Marcia Derse fabrics above.

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Above is a peek at a “special request” quilt that is in the works.

More to come as these and other projects unfold this fall.

Today is September 1. I am so happy to have fall in the air. It is a favorite time of year for me! I got a good start on the month by completing the September Stash Bee Hive Five blocks. Cute little kitties aren’t they?

 

This year is the first time I have been in a Bee and it has been great! I hope I am invited to play again next year!

Well, friends, this is a long post, but I needed to hang in there with my blogging and catch up! Thanks for reading. What are you up to?

I hope you enjoy a beautiful month of September. I hope the fires stop burning and that people are not suffering! Thank you to the firefighters!

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I will wrap up with this…an IG post from @blissfulheart (by Ram Dass) that spoke to me…screenshot_2018-09-01-15-22-37~23191375327874516317..png

Peace and happy quilting!

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1Q 2018 Finish-A-Long

Alright already! No one has truly challenged me to this, but I FEEL challenged to post and work on my 1Q Finish-A-Long list. Thanks to many of my IG quilty friends and bloggers I follow who inspire me!

So, here goes! 1Q 2018 FAL goals:

1. I have a flimsy made up of courthouse steps blocks in pretty blues, greens, and aquas. I am calling it “Caribbean Courthouse Steps” for now… original, I know!

Caribbean Courthouse Steps

2. Improv triangles…these were a test, but “waste not, want not”. Plus, I like them. I just need to make more and decide what they might become!

1Q 2018 Finish-A-Long

3. Ditto the improve triangles for the selvedge blocks…I love making them and they could end up being so many things!

Selvedges
Selvedges

That is it…keeping it a little short, just to see if I can actually get to this much! Of course, there will be the regular bees, swaps, etc., in addition! AND I am going to my first QuiltCon in February!!!!

Happy quilting!

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Safe With Me

This post is from November 19, 2016…

I have wondered about Paper Piecing for a while now, but frankly, could not get my mind around it. When I saw the pattern for the safety pin, Safe With Me, I knew this was the one I wanted to try and so I delved in.

safetyImage © Valorie Webster

First, let me thank Craftsy and The Night Quilter for providing the free pattern.

I consider myself to be pretty crafty and a good sewist, since I have been sewing for about 50 years! That said, paper piecing took me some serious thought and this pattern is not exactly the easiest one to start with. After watching a couple of tutorial videos, I decided to just go for it. I am happy with the result. I love the white pin, signifying purity of heart and thought to me, and the bright Kaffe Fassett print, the colors representing the wide variety of people that the new (to the USA) symbol represents.

I do not choose to make this a political post! So, here are a couple of tips from a newbie at paper piecing:

  1. Choose a simple pattern to start with.
  2. Print your pattern on light-weight paper, if you can.
  3. Do use a smaller stitch length, but also DO remember that if you have to rip out a seam, those tiny stitches are a challenge. (The voice of experience!)
  4. As with all new things, give yourself permission to learn. Rome was not built in a day!
  5. Take it slow and steady. Think about the process. #3 above only came about because I got in a hurry and thought I had it all figured out! Slow and steady wins the race!

So here’s to trying a new project! Stretch yourself in different ways. It will expand your horizon!

 

 

Feeling Frugal…Starch your $$$$

Ha! Gotcha’ didn’t I? I could call it STRETCH your dollars, but this was more fun!

Well, if you are a quilter…or love to iron things to a nice crisp finish…I am blogging about something I have been wanting to try for a long time.

Everyone…I mean EVERYONE knows how nice Mary Ellen’s Best Press is! I love it too!

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We all also know there is a plethora of info on Pinterest. Some time ago I saved this post about “Quilter’s Moonshine”  and finally tried it this morning. Maybe because I used my last spritz of Best Press and didn’t have a backup!! Woe is me!

The recipe calls for starting with a gallon of distilled water, but I wanted to test it out first so cut the recipe down, using only 1/4 of the ingredients.

Quilters Moonshine Ingreds The very expensive ingredients…NOT…use the cheapest vodka you can find.

Quilters Moonshine recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used 4 cups distilled water (I actually used filtered water), 1/8 cup (2T) starch, and 1/4 cup vodka.

 

 

The result is a little on the cloudy looking side…

 

 

So, I put it to the test. No sticky residue on fabric or iron. The finish is a bit softer than Best Press, but that would only mean adding a bit more starch to your recipe for your personal preference.

Quilters Moonshine 2

Just look how much it makes. If you are frugal and want to give this a try, I am thinking you will not be unhappy with the result. I pay $9.95 (if not on sale) for one bottle of the great Best Press. I am NOT knocking it AT ALL! This concoction, which I do not plan to drink, by the way, was just a few cents for this batch!

Happy Quilting…Happy Pressing!

I will post if I have any further results to share.

Home Feels Welcome!

Flowers from IsraelFlowers from Israel…© Valorie Webster

We have just returned (very exhausted from the travel) after spending nearly a month in Israel and Greece. I looked through over 1000 images to find one to depict my feelings this morning. I decided on these flowers.

It takes me a while to sort through all the feelings I have after these trips, but today I want to say that I am grateful. We have so much in our country…some more than others, as in every country. Our worst days pale in comparison, however, to people who have lived their entire lives with religious wars, homes lost, all retirement funds stripped away and more. Yet, they continue…most with relative happiness.

If I write more blogs regarding this trip, there will be mixed emotions and differing opinions than you may have. That is okay. What I know, for myself, is that world travel points out all our differences…AND all our similarities.

Flowers seem to find a way to bloom everywhere! May we be at peace!

Birthdays and Holes

Valorie and Daddy                                                           My daddy and me…1953.

Ninety-three is a ripe old age, but he didn’t make it. He died in 2003 at age seventy-nine, but I think he would say he lived life his way and as well as he could. Can one wish for more?

My father would be celebrating ninety-three years of life today. I miss him. He was many things, but always “daddy” to me. It seems that people either loved him or hated him. It also seems that he felt the same about most people. Does that make him any different than most of us?

I really want to tell his story, but it is like Swiss cheese, or a bucket full of holes, or a cake that I didn’t remember to burst the air out of before baking (this was his favorite kind of cake, heavy, and he taught me to drop the pans flat on the counter so the air bubbles would rise and burst!)…his story all falls to pieces, or just doesn’t fit together in the first place. As it turns out, those holes existed in his heart, and he died with them.

It would be his story to tell, but for the most part, he never did. Yes, we heard some stories…good, bad, and ugly…from his childhood on through his life, but it seems he kept some things secret and it actually has created some holes in my heart now! Those places in my heart are not so much about what he told or didn’t tell, what he did or didn’t do, but about the pain he held inside and how much freer he might have been. If he had shared more, how much would he have been judged? I doubt more than he was judged by some anyway. I know that what I have learned has only made me understand him better. It confirms my feeling that secrets only hurt, sooner or later.

When Harold Watson Smith was born on April 4, 1924 (or so says his birth certificate, though that is another story), he began a life in the hills of West Virginia, outside Charleston. He was the 10th child I have been able to document, with two more brothers to come along after him. He said there were more. I began work on a family tree in 2002 and he was very clear that he didn’t want me to search his line. Being so much like him, he had to have known that to say those words was like throwing a bone for a dog. I would be off on the search. Yes, being stubborn is genetic.

I lived across the country and would continue to call and talk and ask questions. He began to open up, bit by bit, and told me some things. One big item being that he never knew who his father was and that had left a “huge hole in his heart”. I will always remember him telling me that. At any rate, he finally agreed to tell me all he knew when we could sit down together, face to face, and talk. Unfortunately, not too long thereafter, he had a massive heart attack and died. I did get to his bedside before he passed, but was certainly not going to talk genealogy then. He was not able to say much at that point anyway.

So began my journey into his history. I was going to fill that gap that existed for him. I was on a mission, indeed. My mom’s line would have to wait, as I knew those folks already and had some sources for searching. Daddy’s story needed to be discovered. After years of research, and two trips to West Virginia with my sister and brother, I can say I have learned more. And yes, I have found some darkness. It exists in all families, by the way. Now what I wonder is if it is right for me to tell his story. I have shared my suspicions with many. I have had some confirmations and been left with more holes in other places. Personally, as mentioned, I find the information revealing and interesting. But, is it my story to tell? I am ruminating on that. It is part of my heritage, but he didn’t want some things told. He just didn’t tell me what those things were.

So, today, I will say Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you, I always did, and I miss you.

More of this story to come…sometime…perhaps.