Saturday, January 26, 2013

LWR Quilting

 In less than a week, I made this quilt…

When I took my first quilting class well over a year ago, I learned how to quilt in the contemporary way—choosing from a bounty of beautiful fabrics, cutting with a rotary blade, sewing together many, many pieces, using store- bought batting and yards of fabric for backing, and then machine quilting...and quilting... and quilting.  It took me about a month of fairly focused effort to produce most of the quilts I have finished thus far (I have three still remaining in stages of pieces).

I decided that in my retirement spare time, I ought to join the ladies sewing circle at our church.  I like ladies. I like sewing. I love my church so the combo made sense .  

 I went to my first meeting on Tuesday and I learned a lot.  I went prepared, because that is how I have learned to appear for my quilting classes/gatherings. I brought my mother's Singer Featherweight, 48 patches I had precut from my stash (plus few extra yards I picked up) and a copy of the Lutheran World Relief quilt pattern because I knew our sewing group made mission quilts and I did my reading!

When I arrived, Judy, the head of the circle, was setting up the room, arranging long tables for hooking up sewing machines and for unfurling quilts to be pinned or tied.  These ladies quilt old school, piecing together the remnants of  donated fabric, using long spools of batting and backing quilts with donated sheets. They pin backing, batting, and front of quilt, stitch and turn.  No binding.   I am learning other ways.  Good!

So I pieced while others pinned, sewed batting on, and tied quilts together.  I took my pieces home, finished the top, tied it together and made my binding by turning the backing onto the front (I read about that from the LWR website).

Simple. Easy. Quick.  And most all durable, functional, and lovely.  This time, I made one all by myself, because I wanted to go through the process completely on my own.  Next time, I will be a better team player, assuming whatever position is needed to contribute to the whole effort.

The 2013 Lutheran World Relief  Quilt Campaign  has set a goal of making and donating 500, 000 quilts this year to send around the world to people in need. Half a million quilts is an ambitious goal.   On the LWR Quilt Campaign website, it says:

"When you make and send a Quilt, you are not only comforting someone you have never met, but providing an object that is useful in ways you probably never imagined. In addition to being a cozy, clean new bed cover, it can be:
   a baby carrier, tied around a mother’s back;
   a market display, spread on the ground and piled with vegetables;
   a sack for transporting those goods to market;
   a sunshade;
   a shawl; and most importantly
   a constant reminder that someone, far away, cares a lot."

When I was tying my quilt the other night, I began imagining where this quilt might end up and I said a prayer for the woman whose hands will hold it, this quilt traveling from my hearth to hers. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Winter's Quilt

It's finished, just in time to cover up during these single-digit days.  Winter is blasting its full force into Central Pennsylvania, blowing in snow, icy roads, and frigid temperatures.  Even with the best intentions to get out and get moving, we hibernate, catching up on TiVo and inching the thermostat up a few degrees. My sewing machine, however, has been getting a rather significant workout lately.  After giving away all the quilts made so far,  I finally finished one for us..a midwinter present for these cold winter's nights. 

(A Key to My Heart pattern using Holly Taylor Christmas Spirit fabric.) 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hand Me Downs

One of the perks of being the second-born is hand-me-downs.  Recently, my daughter sent me a photo of our Jamie stacking paint in her studio (pretty amazing tower, you must admit!), and in addition to reveling in the utter cuteness of it all, I noticed he was wearing a sweater I knit years ago for his now much bigger brother. My knitting heart delighted in seeing this obviously much loved sweater back in use again. 

When my children were growing up and out growing their clothes, I would announce I needed to take a trip to the "magic attic" where hand-me-downs awaited, packed in neatly marked boxes, gifts from the Dinsmore family who conveniently had children a boy and a girl just enough older than ours to make us the beneficiaries of their outgrown clothes.  Between the magic attic and my mother, we rarely purchased clothing for our kids during those younger years.  And we passed them along as well.  I think every Campbell child on our branch and Jim's brother's branch of the family tree wore these unisex OshKosh overalls.

Hand me downs affirm that we are part of something--a family, a tribe, a circle of friends, the proverbial village it takes to raise a child.  When our son and his wife gave birth to their daughter, his sister, the mother of two sons, packed up toys and clothes to ship to her niece.  Rosemary now wears the same striped socks that once covered her cousins' feet.  

 When Alex was just about Jamie's age, my daughter saw a sweater I was knitting for Knit for Kids, a charity that sends sweaters to children in need all over the globe.  Barbara liked the straight simple lines of this easy-to-knit pattern and she asked me to make one for Alex, so I did.  Because it is an easy on and easy off sweater, he wore it a lot and it shows.  I am tickled Jamie is wearing this sweater, but I thought perhaps he needed his own.  Last week, I knit one up just for him; maybe someday, his little cousin will wear it too!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Self Care


Even though it is almost mid January and our  Christmas tree still stands (we enjoy its soft light amidst the darkness of long January days), the holidays really are gone.   Gone too are those feelings of urgency complicit in the preparation and anticipation.  This post holiday lull presents time for regrouping and refocusing.

After devoting much attention to making things for holiday gift giving, January allows me the leisure to make a few things just for me or for our home.  Last week, I stitched together some blocks for a lap quilt destined for our television room. Yesterday morning, I began pinning it to its batting and backing.

This turning inward, this cocooning or hibernating, must be part of a collective exhale, because multiple columns and articles about the topic have appeared lately my reading.  It seems concurrent with the new year comes self-work and self-care.  Self work occurs with all those resolutions we all make, but self-care is a bit different, according to Anne Ard, a local writer and women's activist.   In her column in yesterday's paper, Ard wrote,  "Self-care is about creating time for the self; spending  time doing things that are nourishing, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually."  Knitting, sewing, reading, praying, and walking are all part of my self-care regime, and I know for me they help restore balance, perspective, equilibrium, and peace.

Another article suggests some interesting ways to care for self by listing practices of self-care that make one healthier--staying social, savoring a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, listening to music, taking a nap, spending time outdoors, or raising a glass of wine or beer.  Gosh, I do all of these things, and sometimes several at the same time...

I guess it is natural to turn a bit inward this time of year, and it is important to refill the well when depleted, but the world still needs our tender care and such inward gazing too must be measured carefully. Ancient wisdom agrees. While the oracle at Delphi says to "know thyself" it also advises, "nothing in excess."  It still is all about balance, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Color and Texture

I am a great one for making lists.  They keep me organized, on track, and in an odd way honest with myself.  When I hang up the calendar for a New Year, I usually write a rather ambitiously detailed list of resolutions, which always includes get fitter, leaner, smarter, kinder, more giving, etc. etc. etc.  This year my list was lighter and decidedly simpler, not even half a page in my journal.  One key element is my resolve to add more color and more texture to my life.  And I mean that in more ways than my wardrobe.  While I desire to visit some new places and to try a few new things, what I really want is to deepen the daily by vividly experiencing what is the routine.  I simply want to be more intentionally present, seeing and being more fully.

Embarking on this year of color, I knit a Hitchhiker, using this yarn, a panoply of bright hues.  A homage to Douglas Adams book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, this scarf is both literary and colorful--the perfect texture for kicking off 2013!