Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arranging the pieces

Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours gabbing and sewing in a most visually stimulating places, my local yarn/quilting shop, Stitch Your Art Out.  Gathered with fellow stitchers, I arranged the blocks of my Nana quilt. Benefiting from their collected sage advice, we tweaked the serendipitously arranged patches to balance colors.

I still have much to learn but it certainly is fun learning!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A little of this and a little of that

My calendar today is clear. I love days like this.

I just finished my quiet time, powering appropriately down to enter the day with a certain sense of peace that devoting time to praying and listening always gives me (why do I allow myself to make excuses not to do it?).  I have some bread to mix and knead for a bake sale this weekend (to support a Relay for Life team) and I want to stir up a batch of birthday cookies to deliver to a friend.

I need to work on finishing the blocks of a strip piecing quilt in preparation for class on Saturday.

My daughter introduced me to the women of Gee's Bend, a group of artist quilters who in the midst of nothing created an absolutely arresting body of fabric beauty.  Last night, I watched a documentary on these quilters, listening to the women speak and sing for themselves about their lives, their art, and the crafting of it.  It is humbling to hear women speak of how they took what they had, the "good part" of cast offs and then in their mind created designs for their fingers to implement.  After long days in the the cotton fields, they gathered together to quilt and sing, frequently well into the night.  Their quilts were needed as mattress and covering, often seven to a bed, to keep their family warm.  Amazing...all of it.

My quilting experience is so far removed from theirs...we have such a plethora of fabrics to choose from, pristine cloth, offering designs and patterns galore.  We have fancy machines (although they spoke of sewing on treadle sewing machine and had footage of stitching pieces on a contemporary Singer), and a vast assortment of rulers and rotary cutters.

 These woman cut and pieced on their laps in rooms wall-papered with magazine pages and quilted by hand sitting on their front porches or gathered together around grayed, wooden frames.  Art can be produced so simply by hand if it is coupled with the genius of mind and the passion of heart.

As I putter and quilt today in the relative ease that is my life, I know I will ponder all of this and think on them.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Going South

We just returned from spending time in the South, being quickly transported from this Northern Spring to an almost summer.  There, the azaleas are nearly past blooming, the trees stand green and lush, spring onions tower above the grown, and lawns have been cut more than once (we have yet to start up our mower).  Nine hours away, life hums along, singing a different tune.

It is good to get away and step to another cadence.  Separated from daily chores and weekly agendas, life slows down.

There is time for leisurely walking along a country road...

Time for talking over a family lunch in a charming and friendly diner.

Time for building...

And wrestling.

Time for vegging...

And sitting.

Going South for us is a thing of wonder, because going South means being with our grandsons. Grandparenting is decidedly easier than parenting. There is, after all, simply more time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Oh my.  Almost two weeks have passed since I put words to this space, my designated attempt to chronicle creativity.  Time is getting away from me a bit. Almost three quarters of the way through my first year of retirement, I find that retired life has its own busyness, less stressful than employed due diligence but quietly demanding in its own fashion.  My days tend to be full, and while I assemble the variety of pieces of this new life, a pattern is emerging.  It feels good.

This morning I am off to a new quilting class, called "Summer in the Park" Taught by Deb, my favorite quilting teacher, where we are learning to  piece using a "strip set," or a "jelly roll" of precut strips of fabric.  I love the way these fabric cakes look with all their pieces rolled and tied up so beautifully.   They have been sitting on my desk in the living room since they arrived in the mail.  I just like looking at them.  The top layer is swirled together with pieces of Fairy Tale Friends by Moda.  This quilt will be my "Nana Quilt,"  intended to be used on picnics (both inside and out), at the beach, or outside in the yard to make memories with my grandchildren.

Even as I begin a new quilt, I have one yet to be finished..the "Garden Party" applique quilt I worked on this past winter with my favorite cadre of quilting friends.  After finally finishing piecing it this week, I must say as the third quilt I have made in my fledgling quilting life, I am quite pleased with how it is looking so far.

It still needs to be stitched together and quilted, but I will get to that.

I never really intended to become a quilter; it just happened after I impulsively signed up for a quilting class to make Jamie a baby quilt.  Cutting pieces of fabric and sewing them together has helped me stitch together my retirement, forming images I never imagined.  And for that..I am grateful