Thursday, March 19, 2020

Weave Me the Sunshine ~ Project Quilting 11.6

Music makes pictures and often tells stories
All of it magic and all of it true
And all of the pictures and all of the stories
All of the magic, the music is you...
John Denver 

Sunday our last Project Quilting challenge was announced. I was in North Dakota spending time with 3 of our grandchildren and didn't look at the challenge post until the next morning before I packed my car and headed back to South Dakota. After  five days of lollygagging around and ignoring the unfolding drama of reality, reading the news on Monday and facing the 400 mile drive I can honestly say I was just a bit depressed. I was thankful for something creative to think about as I meandered my way back home. 

The challenge for the week was to create something Vibrant and Vivacious, something bright and colorful to brighten the dreary days ahead. 

The first thing I do anytime I get in the car to go anywhere is find something good to listen to on the radio or my phone. Sometimes it's NPR and the news, other times a book, but on Monday I just wanted music. Music to help me forget all the crazy going on in the world that morning. 

Growing up music was everywhere in our lives, our Mom always had something playing on the record player and usually she was busy doing whatever moms do and singing along. Operas, movie soundtracks, musicals, folk music, religious music, you name it, we listened to it all. 

Sometimes when I am stressed or worried about something the lyrics to a song will get stuck in my head and play on repeat, it can be annoying when the song repeats for days,  or even months, but I honestly think sometimes it's maybe a hidden message to keep me moving in a positive direction. 

Northeastern North Dakota is still blanketed in a deep crust of snow, Sunday night it snowed some more. The first 100 miles of my trip home were on snow packed roads, and the sun was shining bright. The folk song "Weave Me the Sunshine" by Peter, Paul and Mary popped into my head and it has been playing on repeat ever since. I had my inspiration for my challenge quilt! 

"Weave Me the Sunshine" is a song of hope and solidarity, something we all need during the days ahead. 

 I was tired on Tuesday after my day of driving so I didn't do much except read the news, take a nap and try to get laundry done. I knew what I wanted to do for my project but I wasn't sure how I was going to create it. 

After supper I decided the week wasn't going to go by any faster and I probably should start making a plan. I dug through my batiks because they are dyed fabric not printed so I knew their bright, vibrant colors go all the way through the fabric. 

My plan was to WEAVE a sunshine :) I wanted the sun to be woven in a circular weave and not straight lines, it took a couple of attempts to figure out the best way to achieve this. I finally settled on wrapping my thread around a coffee can lid. Since I am not a weaver I probably didn't do it correctly, but it worked!

I took my fabrics and cut them into skinny strips and then realized I would need something to actually weave with. I didn't want to use a large needle because even though my strips were fairly thin, they would still be a headache to thread into the eye of the needle. While digging around trying to find something to use, I found a bar straw/pipe cleaner machine lint cleaner, perfect! I cut the straw down, the pipe cleaner was large enough to slip the fabric into and then manipulate so the fabric was locked in while I was weaving. 

After weaving my little sunshine, I tied off the ends of the thread and left some along the bottom to represent the rain. I had a dotted piece of blue batik I wanted to use for my background fabric, and I quilted swirls and lines on it before attaching my sun. I wasn't going to sew the sun down because I wanted it to hang free, but it wanted to curl so I did tack it down in a couple of places. 

Since I didn't know what I was doing in the weaving department, imagine that, my center was a bit crazy looking, so I added some strips of bright yellow and trimmed them to hide the blue threads and give it some depth.

The top photo is the front of my weaving, the bottom is the back. Good thing this isn't a weaving challenge! LOL

 I used a multi colored checkered piece of batik to bind it. When I started it was 8 x 10 but finished it is about 7 x 9 after trimming and binding.

 The threads representing the rain didn't want to hang straight so I found some larger beads and attached them to the ends to give them some weight,

As the entire world journeys now together into the unknown, may we find hope and solidarity,  and may each of you find a song in your hearts and sunshine to brighten your days~ Peace 

~ Weave Me The Sunshine ~ 
Peter, Paul and Mary  

They say that the tree of loving
Shine on me again
They say it grows on the bank of the river of suffering
Shine on me again, and

Weave, weave, weave, me the sunshine out of the falling rain
Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow, fill my cup again

If only I could heal your sorrow
Shine on me again
I'd help you find your new tomorrow
Shine on me again

I've seen the steel and the concrete crumble
Shine on me again
The proud and the mighty all have stumbles
Shine on me again

Only you can climb that mountain
Shine on me again
If you want a drink from the golden fountain
Shine on me again 

Weave, weave, weave me the sunshine out of the falling rain
Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow, fill my cup again 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

11.5 Give it Away

March blew in like a lion & I almost forgot this week was the next Project Quilting Challenge. Warmer days & melting snow have given me spring fever, its been hard to concentrate on work when I just want to be outside picking up the yard and planning my garden.

We still have enough snow, blustery days, plenty of ice, mud & water to keep me indoors & working on quilts, but it's always good to know spring is just around the corner.

The challenge this week is "Give it Away", we have been challenged to open our hearts and hands and create something quilted and give it to someone. It doesn't matter who we give it to, or when we give it, we just need to complete the quilt by the deadline, with the intention of giving it to someone else. Sounds simple enough, unless you overthink it. Which if you know me, I tend to overthink.

I was in a panic, how could I make a quilt in a week, quilt it and give it away? Even though I had just finished a baby quilt the week before, made, quilted and bound in 5 days. All ready to be mailed off and gifted away. Somehow my brain wasn't thinking about how easy the challenge was, but instead was trying for whatever reason to make it hard.

I pulled out some kits, I dug through fabric, I looked at quilting patterns and still had nothing. I just knew this was going to be the week I wasn't going to get anything done. But then Kim the creator of Project Quilting had a live video she posted on Facebook about how probably every one of us was overthinking this challenge and basically told us to be calm, we didn't have to make a king sized bedspread, LOL we could make anything, just like all the other challenges, anything as long as it fit within the rules, which are that is has to be quilted and finished in the time frame of the week.

Years ago I purchased a scrap book at a rummage sale, inside the book was a piece of paper someone had hand written the quote from the poem The Vision of Sir Launfal by James Russell Lowell ~ "Not what we have, but what we share, For the gift without the giver is bare; Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, ~ Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me." ~

Calming down & remembering what this challenge is really about, giving of ourselves to others, I suddenly had a plan.

I pulled out a scrap bag of flannel fabric I had purchased last year in a "grab bag" sale, called my friend Dawn & made plans to go spend a day with her. We enjoyed an entire day of catching up, and quilting. She worked on her own scrap pile and made nine patch blocks, and I took my scrap bag and sewed it all together with no rhyme or reason and made a little lap quilt.

 I have a large star quilt on my long arm machine which I will be working on all week, so I knew I wasn't going to get the lap quilt quilted before the deadline, but I still needed the day of sewing & a day away to catch up with friends & take a break from overthinking.

After I finished the lap quilt, I took the scraps of the scraps and put together a little mug rug to give away. It is so cute! The fabric in the grab bag was all camping themed flannels, I now wish I had more of, because my life was not complete until I saw those plaid thermos'. LOL

 I knew Dawn's daughter Krissy would love those little raccoons, bears and thermos jugs as much as I did. So when she came out to her folks house after work, she is who I gifted my "Give it Away" project to.

Doesn't that fabric make you want to go camping!


I have to share pictures of the Christmas cactus my mom gave me this summer. It was my Grandma Smith's Christmas cactus.  I think it is either confused about the seasons or just happy warmer weather is on it's way too, it has been blooming like crazy all month!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

11.4 Birds In the Air

How can it already almost be the end of February? How could we be already be on the 4th Project Quilting Challenge? Only two challenges left to this season.

For some reason this year time seems to be flying birds in the air!

Which is what our challenge this week is, creating a quilt project incorporating the quilt block "Birds in the Air", I honestly had no idea what a Birds in the Air quilt block was, so I had to use the good old Google and look it up. When I saw it, I fell in love, there is definitely a large Birds In the Air quilt somewhere in my quilting future.

Something I thought was interesting about the block is that there are many different variations and also different names for it, Flying Birds, Flock of Geese and Flight of Swallows.

You can also set the block in a number of different patterns to make a variety of designs. The block was used in quilts dating back to the civil war and one article I read talked about how it represented the abolitionists, but I wasn't able to find anything more than the one article so I don't really know how accurate that information is. 

I read an article online in the New York Times this past fall about the decline in bird numbers across the United States and Canada, a scary 29 percent since 1970. The article was fascinating and frightening at the same time. While 29 percent seems like a small amount, but it means in bird numbers there are 2.9 billion fewer birds today than there were 50 years ago. Sometimes I think we take birds for granted, they can be dirty pests when they get into our gardens, build nests in the garage, leave droppings everywhere. But can you imagine a world without them? Robins, Bluejays, Cardinals, even the common Sparrow are all threatened to be lost.

Since reading the article I have become an avid bird watcher, observing the flocks of birds that move through our area every year. Once you start looking you realize how true the article is. One of the main reasons for the loss of so many birds is the loss of habitat and use of chemicals. As our cities grow larger and spread out, something has to give and unfortunately we lose all those precious pieces of nature we can't afford to loose.

I decided I would make my birds to represent my favorite birds, the Partridge, Red Winged Black Bird, and the Western Meadowlark. 

During the winter months we will often see a small flock of partridge in our yard eating corn that has spilled from the feed pickup, I love watching them scurry about the yard and then at the slightest sound off they go!

 Last summer I saw something odd in the hayfield and upon closer inspection it was a little bunch of partridge who would pop their heads up, look around, then slither through the grass in a group, pop their little heads up again, and slither on. It was hilarious to watch, and one of those times you wish you had a video camera on hand!  I love their soft blended colors and so I chose a gray and brown batik and a light rose color to represent my partridge block.

There is something so joyful about any bird with a splash of bright red in its feathers. We have a stock dam which was built in low slough ground and when you walk along the road in the summer months there are blackbirds sitting on the fence and in the cattails calling out too each other. Their call sounds almost like they are saying "chit chit what weeee chit chit". When you hear it you definitely know its the red winged black bird making sure you know who is boss. It could be a very annoying sound if you had to listen to it for hours! I chose a dark blue black patterned batik and a bright red for my blackbird.

Everyone in western South Dakota  knows the Meadowlark and not the Robin is the official sign of spring, the day you hear it's unmistakable song and see that bright flash of yellow you know warmer days are just around the corner. I love sitting on the top of the ridge just north of our house where there is nothing but grass and sky and listening to the meadowlarks. I chose a grey/brown watercolor fabric and a bright yellow to represent my meadow lark.

I've never added a video to my blog, but I found this on my phone while searching for photos, it's a short little video of the "sea of grass" behind our house last June. The wind and the bugs drown out the birds, but  if you listen close you can hear a meadowlark.  I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of summer with you.

I found a blue batik that had silvery blue swirls in it which reminded me of a windy sky, I decided that would be the fabric I set my blocks on and use as the background in each block. 

 I wasn't really sure what I was going to make but thought maybe a small wall hanging or table runner. The 3 finished blocks are 8 x 8 inches square. I had some small triangle pieces left when I was done so I thought it would be fun to add some Flying Geese blocks, I love Flying Geese in the borders of quilts, and thought a border of Flying Geese would be neat, after making seventeen 1 x 1 1/2 inch flying geese, I decided there wasn't anything fun about that idea and just put what I had on the ends instead of all the way around. I ended up with a table runner!

This project I quilted on my longarm machine. I knew I wanted to quilt it with feathers and try to replicate the swirls in the blue background and there was no way I was going to try to do that on my regular sewing machine. I love quilting feathers but I need to be able to move the machine like a pencil if I want them to look like feathers and not some crazy birds nest! 

I used a gray and white feather print fabric I bought last year from Spoonflower as my backing fabric, then bound it with some of the blackbird batik.  Now I need to start digging through my stash and plotting my next Birds in the Air project.

When I was taking close up pictures of my feathers I had to laugh because the block turned a certain way reminded me of a fish.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

11.3- Put A Heart on It

This week is the 3rd challenge of Project Quilting Season 11, this one was actually pretty easy, the rules stated you just had to have a heart somewhere on your finished quilt. It didn't have to be prominent or the main focus of your quilt, you could hide one somewhere, use heart pattern fabric, it didn't matter, as long as there was a heart. This is the last challenge before Valentine's Day so a heart is a fitting way to acknowledge that holiday.

My long arm machine has had some minor major issues and needed some parts replaced and some  adjustments. I spent most of the month of January learning to be a machine repair person on YouTube, replacing, re-timing, and adjusting, then ordering more parts as needed and repeating! LOL

This past weekend I finally felt like I had it working again. Monday I was supposed to be in the hills for medical appointments, but they decided to have a little snow storm and nasty roads, so I cancelled and stayed home. I  decided my window of opportunity to get a project done this week was going to be Monday.  There is a pile of customer quilts crying "finish me" I knew I needed to devote the rest of my week working on.

On Sunday when the challenge was announced I saw the word heart and I knew what I wanted to do. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it, but at least I had a mental plan.

A number of years ago my daughters and a friend of mine and her daughters attended the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado. It was a random decision to go and was solely based on the fact that Emmy Lou Harris AND Nanci Griffith were both performing. It was the start of a whole new adventure and one we have repeated a number of times over the years, adding more friends and family to the list of people who have joined us. It also has introduced us to a whole world of musicians we may never have discovered if we hadn't attended that year. One of them is Peter Mayer a Minnesota Folk Musician who writes the most beautiful songs, they are magical. If you haven't heard his music or had a chance to see him perform, FIND HIM, take the time to listen and I guarantee you will be hooked. Even if you don't agree with his theology you will find something he has written that will touch your heart, and his guitar playing alone is worth the listen.

So anyhow...there is a song of his titled  'The String' which I just love. I won't type out all the lyrics because its rather long & I don't know how all the copywrite laws work, but I will include a couple of verses so you get the idea of what I was trying to create  :) The full lyrics can be found on his webpage.

"I have found a hole in the center of the heart
Through which a thread goes, enters and departs
It's fastened in the middle to inside of me
From where it then continues through the heart of everything"

"When pain is not just mine alone, that's when I know
Somebody's tugging on the string"

"Everything's connected like peas are in a pod
Or beads upon a necklace, decorating God
Going around the rosy, we're are all in the ring
Hand in Hand, like a strand through the heart of everything"

So that is what I created- a little quilt using batik fabric I thought looked like a little universe. I painted just a shadow of a God, added a heart using water color fabric I thought looked like a real heart and then connected it all together with a piece of real sinew (from a deer not a person! LOL)

Pretty basic but when you know the back story it makes sense. I added extra batting to the heart to make it stand out, quilted the background with spirals so I could sew the sinew into the center of the spirals, then I added some silver beads to a necklace on the god shadow, and at the ends of my "String". The sinew is knotted in the back but you can tug it and move it between the different spirals.
My finished quilt is 4 x 8.

I do encourage you to look up Peter Mayer, Minnesota Folk Artist, there is another Peter Mayer who plays with Jimmy Buffet so you want to make sure you add the Minnesota to your search. Listen to his music and read his lyrics, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

11.2- Team Colors

It doesn't seems possible but here we are, 22 days into the new year and on our second Project Quilting Challenge.

This week the challenge is Team Colors. I don't know why color challenges are always hard for me, but they seem to be the ones I have the most trouble with. Which makes absolutely no sense considering there are millions of teams in the world so how hard is it to pick your favorite and make something in those colors?

I sat down on Sunday, well actually I curled up on the couch in front of the TV while the football games were on and napped in front of the warm cozy fire, dreaming about what team colors I could create a quilt project with.

I have never been much of a football fan, maybe because I spent too many years as an EMT at Football games hoping no one got hurt, especially when my own son was out on the field. I love watching basketball, but I can't really say I have a favorite team. My own kids are grown up, and although I will always be a Dupree Tiger Fan, I wasn't too excited about making anything in purple & gold.  Once again a color challenge had me stumped.

To top it off, it was freezing cold all weekend, I was still putting the Christmas mess away, and on Sunday we had a water line break so we were without water, and no way to get it fixed before the day was over. By 7:00 that evening the only team I was a member of was TEAM CRABBY and I really didn't think it would be much fun to make a cold black heart quilt. LOL

Monday marked the 110th anniversary of my Grandma Amy's Birthday. She was a pivotal part of our family for just over 100 years. Every January we would brave the crazy cold of the Minnesota winters & as many family members who could get there would gather in Marshall to celebrate her birthday. I'm not sure if the birthdays themselves were the memories we remember or the COLD weather adventures we had getting to the party & getting home again!

We have a photo of her when she was a teenager, taken the winter of 26-27. She is the goalie on a team of girls hockey players in Virginia, MN. Varies family stories about the picture sort of blend into themselves and of course she is not here to tell the whole story. But I know the picture was taken after an exhibition hockey game & they played for the city park girls hockey team.

A family history book has an interview with her and she talks about also playing hockey for the High School in Virginia. But we all know her real love was speed skating, and she loved to race. She skated for the Duluth Girl Scouts throughout high school. A quote from her in the history book, "I think of all the times I raced and came in first. Nellie and I always raced together as a tandem team. I was always the leader, and wonder if some of the other troops in the city must have hated us because we always won."

She could skate and she skated well, she skated until she was in her 80's and it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized how amazing it was that she was still ice skating at that age. I grew up thinking all grandmas skated!

 I thought it would be fun to make a little quilt with HER team colors...until I found out that the uniforms they were wearing in the photo were borrowed from a boys team, and possibly were black and cream colored. Not very exciting colors, and technically not really her team colors. So I was stuck at square one and really did not have a plan.

While I was contemplating my project for the week, grumbling about the water situation, and unable to quilt next door because I was waiting for parts, I figured I better dig through the fabric pile and at least come up with a game plan.

I found some fun purple and gold fabric (after I said I wasn't going to make anything purple & gold!) I decided since I was thinking about Minnesota and family, I would throw together some little Vikings coasters. I drew a little viking helmet & the word SKÖL and appliquéd them to the background. Adding a V to the helmet.  I know a few Minnesota Vikings fans I could share them with & it would give me something to do since I was refusing to cook until there was running water in my house! LOL

While working on my coasters I starting thinking about girls sports, about how they have evolved over the years and how the early girls teams really played a huge part in paving the way for girls sports today. From borrowed boys uniforms to owning the ice.  I decided to color all the uniforms a different color representing different Minnesota girls hockey teams of today.

I wanted to have the exact photo on my project, so I downloaded an app that would allow me to create a coloring book sheet from the photo. Of course I am cheap and didn't want to spend any money, so I had to go with the free picture and couldn't get the fine detail I wanted.

 I tried two different apps and printed them onto 8 x 10 pieces of cotton fabric. This was something I had never done before using my own fabric ironed onto a piece of freezer paper,  I wasn't sure how it would turn out and I was really happy with the results and plan to use this process again.

I picked the better of the two prints & used my tsukineko inks to color in the picture. Any family member will know why Grandma Amy is wearing the light blue and silver  uniform :)

The printing was really thick and it was hard to get good detail with their faces, I kept messing with them until I had to tell myself to stop because they were starting to look like zombies.

I quilted the finished project using dark blue thread and only outlining the shapes and adding texture to their hair. I used the print with the larger pixels on the back of the quilt, just because I was too lazy to cut out another piece of fabric. I used a silvery blue batik on my binding. The finished quilt is 8 x 10.

The finished coasters are various sizes and I just edged them with different stitches and my pinking shears.

Today is Wednesday and someone is here (fingers crossed) to fix the water line break. I didn't get any dishes washed this week, but I did get two little Team Color projects done!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Project Quilting Season 11.1- Notably Numeric-Number 3

Project Quilting started this week with it's 11th Season! This will be my 3rd year participating and I have been waiting patiently for this week since it ended last spring.

The first challenge of the season was released on Sunday at noon and we have until noon on Saturday to have our quilt created, quilted, bound, and posted to the Project Quilting Link.

In past years there has been viewers choice voting, this year there will be no voting. At first I was a little disappointed by that, until it was explained that a change in the link up program prevented the voting option.

The more I thought about it I realized that maybe this will free me up to not create something I think is going to WOW people and get votes, but maybe help me break out of my self-created box and  do things that I really don't care if people like and do them strictly because I like them :)

Of course I hope people will like what I do, but now I can just be weird and do whatever my heart really desires! LOL

The first challenge of season 11 is Notably Numeric-this weeks challenge has to somehow notably salute numbers. The project must feature numbers, counting, or mathematics in its theme or implementation.

Thinking about numbers, I decided I wanted to do something to represent my favorite number which is 3. I am not sure why this is my favorite number, but I do know that the number 3 represents balance to me. I like things in 3's and I really like triangles.

So to start I looked up notable things about the number 3. What caught my eye was the fact that the number 3 is a  significant number in Norse Mythology and paganism.

In Norse Mythology there were 3 original beings: the primordial cow Audhumla, Ymir the first giant, and Búri the first god, the father of all gods and the grandfather of Odin.

This was perfect, I didn't have to look any further, I knew what I wanted to make and it was still Sunday afternoon. Of course being the procrastinator I am instead of getting to work, I sat on the idea until late Tuesday afternoon, and then decided maybe instead of being last minute this year, I could challenge myself to do something and get it done before the week was half over. So Tuesday evening I got busy and actually finished it.

The story of these 3 beings in Norse Mythology is this:

Ymir was created by the drops of water which formed when the ice of Niflheim met the heat of Muspelheim. Ymir (or Aurgelmir) was the father of all the giants.

A cow, Audumla, nourished him with her milk. Audumla was fed by licking the brine of the salty stones, the story says that for 3 days she licked the stones and slowly uncovered Búri and so from the salt Búri was born.

The story continues with the birth of more giants, the death of Ymir from whose body the earth was created, and all sorts of things that incorporate the number 3 but I just wanted to show the story of the first 3 beings.

I sketched out a design and dug through my stash to find fabrics I thought would work. I had a couple of pieces of some icy blue batik with wheat designs on it, when I purchased it years ago I thought they were pinecones, I never like the fabric after I realized it wasn't pine needles but wheat! LOL
It was perfect for making my ice beard on Ymir. One little piece of the fabric had some yellow in it so I incorporated that piece to make the crown.

 I used a swirly red/orange batik to create the flames from the pit of Muspelheim, and found a fun cloud fabric I used to make the fog of Niflheim. While digging through my fabric mess, I found a wavy looking green fabric that really didn't fit my icy winter scene but made me think of something mythological so I added along the side just for fun.

Since the cow was a milk cow I used a brown fabric for her and then quilted her with a turquoise blue thread since I was trying to create a cold scene.

After quilting my little quilt I first bound it with a scrap of turquoise binding, but didn't like the way it looked so cut a new binding and sewed it on. Don't look to closely at the quilting on the back. It always takes about 3 challenges before I remember how to use my sewing machine to freehand quilt!

I will admit I was a little lazy with Búri, I knew he was supposed to be in a block of ice, so I used a batik that had some icy blue and some tan in it to represent skin, but I really didn't want to make him look like a real person, or have a hand sticking out of the ice, so I added some hair and quilted the illusion of a face. He just is not as fun or creative as my ice giant Ymir! LOL

I added some ink to the eyes, and maybe someday when I locate them I will add some black beady eyes. There are things I would do differently if I spent the entire week working on this, but my goal this week was to finish & be happy with my project before Wednesday, I did and I am.  My finished quilt it 8 X 17.