Tuesday, November 29, 2022

One of Those Days!

It's one of those days!  I'm on fire -- everything is going better than expected.  The arthritis is calm, the bed sheets are hanging outside to dry (perhaps the last time this year),

I baked cranberry bread to share and eat, even froze extra cranberries
 for winter scones and bread,
and started to layer up an antique quilt top that I've owned for over 25 years
. . . . and that was all before noon!?!

Oh, and the sewer backed up in the basement . . . . . . . . . 


well, at least it did it on a "perky" day.  This has become an annual event and I should have called for a clean-out a month ago and I did think about it, but . . . . . . you know how that goes.  Happily, I have My Plumber on speed dial and the receptionist knows my name and the plumbers know where the clean out is and where to plug in the electric?!?
They'll be here late this afternoon and I've already cleaned up the mess inside.
(Should I resent the fact that I know how to use a shop vac?)

But I didn't let it ruin my day -- nope!
I'm going to show you some fun details about this antique quilt top!

I bought it in Texas during Quilt Festival about 30 years ago.  It was the inspiration for my (least successful) pattern -- Farmer's Medallion -- and I've tried to sell the top a few times but it's still here so I'm taking that as a sign to finish it and use it (gently).

Since there has been a real lack of progress on my 2022 goal -- only one small finish of a UFO for the past month -- and George (my APQS quilting machine) has been sitting ideal since late August, it's an easy project to tackle right now.  
This top is on my target list of UFO's to finish and well suited to simple quilting.
Then when I found enough fabric in the stash for the backing and enough batting -- karma!!

The first thing about this quilt top that caught my eye was the fabric -- lots of circa 1900 shirting plaids with a sprinkling of 1880's calicos.  But when I opened it up and started to study it, WOW!  
The woman who pieced this had a strong sense of graphic design.
(I've looked for a published "pattern" but finding none, I give her full design credit.)
Focus on the navy plaid.
If you trace it from one side of the picture to the opposite, you'll begin to see the graphic design and this repeats on all four sides and is echoed in the corners.

Identical blocks are positioned symmetrically around the quilt.  The 4-patches are in the corners,

 the 9-patches are at the center of each side, 
and the simple squares are centered around a large simple center block.
The rest of the blocks are a simple scrappy design rendered in "coordinated" values all the time and colors some of the time. 
I wish I could have watched her planning and piecing process -- it's so organized it seems planned but yet, the scrappy aspect of some of the fabrics implies spontaneity as well.  There are pink prints in specific locations but there is a variety of pink prints.  That black calico at the top edge of this block is likely a mourning print and there are just ten pieces in the quilt -- precious scraps from her mother or grandmother?

There are quite a few "patched" bits which aren't as apparent from the front as from the back.  This is something we rarely do in our work today because we have so much fabric and it's so easy to buy more.  But there's a kinship to be felt when you "patch" bits together to get a big enough triangle or square.  
And it's okay -- so much historic precedence exists in vintage quilts!! 
I wrote the pattern first as a mystery quilt for the regional quilt group here in Northeast Ohio and then went on to publish it.  I found a picture of one of the "mystery" versions made by my friend and student, Mary from Ravenna.  Even without seeing a picture of the quilt, she was able to achieve the strong graphic medallion of the original quilt top using just my guidelines for  value placement (dark, medium, light).
Would any of you be interesting in having a copy of the pattern?
Let me know in the comments.  I might still have a few copies around here?

The holiday lists are upon us and the pandemic is no longer quite so scary but I don't think the holidays will be quite the same as before Covid.  I'm trying to think how to enjoy less harried holidays this year -- easing back into "celebration" mode.
How about you?

Wishing you a peaceful start to December!

P.S.  I'm changing my email address -- the new one will be 
maryhueyquilts47 at gmail dot com
Make a note because the old one will be closed during December.




Monday, November 7, 2022


 Last week a friend/follower got in touch with me to see if I was okay because I had not posted anything here for the past month.  Yes, I'm okay.  The gap is perhaps a combination of not thinking I had anything to say and not realizing an entire month had passed.   Losing track of time seems to be a growing piece of me?!?  How about you?
But I could have been in a bit of slump as well?  I don't always recognize when a bit of apathy slips into my life from time to time -- slippery slope and all that.  But I came across a handout the other day which I shared with a group of quilters I mentored in the early 2000's -- Dealing With The Slumps.  Hmm?  Coincidence?  Probably not according to my belief system!

I organized the handout as a summary of a monthly gathering in which we discussed three aspects of creative slumps.
How to recognize the slumps.
How to diagnose what is happening and why.
How to face and get through them.

(The primary purpose of today's pictures is to give you a break in the text and may not have anything to do with the text -- LOL.)
Three of these migrating hermit thrushes spent five days in my garden thanks to that big pokeberry!!

Reviewing the group's responses gave me some much needed insight and so I thought I'd share them with you as well.

Although we were specifically addressing "creative slumps" as it pertained to our quiltmaking, I think the insights shared apply to any situation.  The group agreed "slumps" manifest themselves as the inability to focus on the things we want to do, not being interested in the things we love doing, a negative or apathetic attitude, fatigue, boredom, and may occur when we are experiencing unusual stress that may not have anything to do with our quiltmaking (or knitting or baking or exploring the world). 

Realizing I'm in a slump is one thing but getting to the root of it's cause(s) is important to help me find a way out and perhaps avoid a future slump.  The group suggested several possible causes of slumps.  Stress, of course.  Interruption to our normal routine (like a pandemic).  Being faced with hard/difficult decisions or tasks we don't enjoy is another trigger.  One of my frequent slump triggers is a bad case of too many "shoulds" coming before all the "funs".  And then there is the bane of our modern society -- too many commitments which can build up to a serious case of resentment towards the world.

It's a finished project -- Part II of the Sharks Dinner BOM from 2019!!

Recognizing what is triggering a slump is only helpful if it is followed by action but it's hard to motivate myself when I'm in a slump.    So here are some ideas from the group!

For those of us who are overwhelmed by too much to do, it might be helpful to write out or list steps necessary to complete a big task -- the old break-it-down into manageable increments. Once I've done that, I can figure out the best order of tasks plus I can "cross off" what's done -- I like measuring my progress! 
Sometimes a "step" might be eliminating tasks.  I've surprised myself this year by eliminating quilt projects/UFO's from my "to-do" list -- my goal was to eliminate 12 for the year but I'm at about 20 with two months to go.  I'm getting ready for a local guild's annual "garage sale" for quilters at the end of this week and there are a couple nice UFO's that might be available to some lucky shopper. . . like this set of 21 hand-pieced (mid-1800's reproduction fabrics) 9-patches with a big stack of more squares??

We concluded the discussion by talking about maintaining routines that enhance a positive attitude.  I've had a hard time admitting that my "messy" work areas (may) affect my attitude.  One of the perks of being retired is that I'm tidying up those work areas more regularly and it's been a great strategy.

  Preplanning what you will do "next time" you sew (knit, crochet, etc.) is another important strategy for me -- for years I've had the habit of laying out what I'll do "tomorrow" at the machine or in my hand stitching corner.  That way I don't have to think when I come back, I just need to sit down and go to work.  The work calms me and engages my brain in such a way that things (usually) go smoothly and I'm productive regardless of my mental state -- cranky, tired, bored.  I give that strategy credit for keeping me caught up on this big year long project -- Homage to Grandmothers Flower Garden from Katja Marek!!

When faced with a task you don't enjoy, lean on friends!  They may have new-to-you ideas and experience that will help. I'm not talking about the "you ought to" advice -- that's not helpful.  But there might be a different way -- job it out, do it with a friend?  Perhaps standards need to be modified.  That is what got me through quilting 21 quilt tops last year -- I "lowered" my standards.  Not really, but I did accept my skill and energy limitations.  Instead of quilting feathers, I fell in love with Baptist fan -- so doable!!!  Had I feel compelled to quilt all of those tops "awesomely", I would never have met my goal!  For me right now, a big part of accomplishing things has become working with my growing limitations as a result of ageing -- bucking nature is exhausting so I'm trying to be content and go with the flow.  Some days just "going" is an accomplishment!?!

Yep, there's a new project!

At the end of the handout, I shared a reminder to think about the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly or moth -- first it has to work hard to find all the food it needs, then it has to sit patiently in a chrysalis or cocoon and then it has to work it's way out of that, inflate its wings and let them dry until finally it's ready to go!?!   Here's a time lapse that will give you a peek at the final stage.
It's a good illustration of how we emerge from a slump -- hard work and patience!

So there you go -- food for thought to start off a new week!!
It feels like it has helped me to write it out for you and I hope it might spark energy for you!


PS -- that Quilters Garage Sale is Saturday, November 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lower level of the Streetsboro United Methodist Church, 8940 State Route 43, Streetsboro, Ohio 44241
I'll be there with "treasures" -- books, quilting stencils, a little fabric, a few finished pieces, patterns, maybe some scrap bags, etc.
Soup and beverages will be available to benefit the Streetsboro Food Pantry

And it would be fun to see you!!