Another Year has Come and Gone

Time flies. Such a profound statement that. Be it whether you’re having fun or whether you’re not, time does indeed fly by. It seems like just a week or so ago that I was telling you about Victoria turning 18. Well, today she has turned 19. Where this past year has gone I haven’t a clue. I think the culprit is college. When your life is on a semester schedule it seems to go by quicker than on a plain old month to month schedule. If that’s not the reason why it seems like a whole year couldn’t have already come and gone, I don’t know what other reason there is.

So, what’s been going on in our little girl’s life—our little girl, who isn’t such a little girl any more? Mainly, much theChargerette same as last year. She’s still in college, a junior this year, still majoring in music, still coaching gymnastics, still a Chargerette, and still ballroom dancing. The new thing she’s added to her list of things to do is teaching harp lessons. She now has two students and is enjoying working with them and sharing her love of the instrument. I wish I could say she still helps out in the shop, but that doesn’t happen very often because she’s too busy doing all those other things. She has found a little time this past year to do some embroidery work on samples, but the majority of the time she’s studying if she’s at home.

She was invited to play with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Ensemble back in March because they needed a second harpist. That was a great learning experience for her, and she even got paid as a professional. Mileage and all! She’s played at more weddings this year than last, one of which was on the beach in Gulf Shores. That one was a bit tricky because of rain. We were told that rain on your wedding day was a sign of good luck, but rain on a harp is anything but good luck. She managed to get the guests seated and the bride down the isle before the rain came but wasn’t able to do the sand ceremony or the recessional. One of the young men who’d gone to help, held an umbrella over her and the harp the whole time so neither she nor the harp got wet. We managed to get the harp off the beach and under shelter without a drop of rain getting on the wood. Whew!

While she enjoyed having the opportunity to play at the beach, just going to the beach was her main objective. It turned out this summer that she went three times in all: once with Bonner, who you met in the post on her 18th birthday; once with our neighbor who needed someone to look after her grandson while she was in training; and then again for the beach wedding. She’s decided that after she graduates year after next she wants to spend that whole summer at the beach playing just enough gigs to pay her expenses but not so many that she can’t spend all day on the beach. We’ve discussed the problems with getting too much sun of course. After her first trip to the beach this summer where she returned fried, and I do mean fried to a crisp, she’s more cautious about what she puts on her skin. Normally she doesn’t really burn so she doesn’t put anything on, but after putting on suntan oil at the suggestion of a friend she learned what it meant to become burnt. No kidding. She was as dark as a piece of very burnt toast. Very burnt! When she peeled it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Is it hard to believe that she got that dark? Well, she was so dark this summer (how dark was she? Are you old enough to Dark legs - 2013remember that joke?), she was so dark that she was mistaken for an African American. Yes, I’m serious. One of our ladies asked Miss Martha if Victoria was still playing at Bridge Street. Miss Martha told her she was. Our quilter said she’d seen a young lady playing the harp there, but she was so dark that she thought it was someone else. No, it was Victoria. She’s the only dark skinned harpist there. Her friend who plays with her from time to time has a fair complexion and is blond. Of course, now that it’s October she’s lamenting the fact that she’s soooo pale and can’t wait until next summer so she can get out and mow the yard in order to get her tan back. Going to the beach again as many times as she can manage in order to deepen that tan will be on her to-do list as well I’m sure.

Back to her music… In the spring she’ll have her junior recital which she will share with another musician. If you live close by and want to come to the recital you’re more than welcome to do so. Just watch the calendar on this blog, and I’ll be sure to post it as soon as a date is set. She’s working up music for the recital at present and has some pretty impressive pieces under her belt already. Every now and then she’ll play those impressive pieces at Bridge Street, but for the most part when she’s playing there she plays things in the popular genre that everyone has heard.
Playing at Bridge Street

Her harp is back at the house now thanks to the generous donation of enough money by a local patron for the music department to buy a harp that can stay on campus. We’re back to getting to hear her practice a little every now and then. We just finished our first-ever fall Stitchin’ Camp this past weekend and some of our campers were able to hear her play for the first time in a long time when they visited the shop to take advantage of the discount given during camp. We’re mulling over the idea of having an open house at the end of the year and having her play. Early in our marriage we went to a B&B for music and light refreshments during the holidays. It was a lovely event and kind of what I have in mind. I just have to figure out how to hold the event without folks thinking the shop is open for business as well. An idea is forming in my tiny mind though. We’ll see if it works out like I want it to. Again, you’ll have to watch the calendar for the date, assuming that we pull the event together of course.

All in all we’re very proud of our lovely young lady who has enough wisdom about her to know that at present she’s far too busy to include a serious, or even not so serious, relationship with a young man amongst all that she has on her plate. She’s met several very suitable young men this past year, most of whom wouldn’t mind having her to call their own, but so far she’s kept them at arm’s length and stayed focused on getting through school. Of course, it helps that none of these young men quite measure up to Robert Conrad, John Wayne, Clint Walker, and other rugged and/or athletic he-men of days gone by which is what she’s looking for. On top of that, he must be a Christian first and foremost as well as have excellent manners and be a proper gentleman. Given the complexity of her list of criteria that a young man must meet, I really don’t think we have to worry about wedding bells for her any time soon. That’s a good thing because I’m not ready.

Her goal right now is to make it into an honor society where you have to have a 3.9 your junior year to be accepted. She’s close with a 3.82, but time will tell as to whether or not she’ll make it. She did make it onto the Dean’s List this past year and was able to get a couple of scholarships because of her academic standing. Needless to say, her dad’s quite glad of that. It’s not a full ride, but as he says, every little bit helps.
Belle in desk drawer
While it is on some levels intriguing to watch her grow into an independent young woman, it is also not something that I really look forward to. I’ve enjoyed having my children home with me, and given that she’s the last one in the nest I’m not at all anxious to see her sprout wings and fly. The saying that we give out children wings to fly on doesn’t work in my book. I’d rather clip those wings so flying isn’t an option any time soon. Thankfully, she seems to be content to live at home with her cats (her dear friends have dubbed her the old maid cat lady) and her fuddy duddy old parents. What this next year holds for her is anyone’s guess. Only the good Lord knows for certain, and I pray that He is gracious to her and that He keeps her safe, healthy, and focused on all the right things while removing from her life those things, or persons, that might cause her to stumble and veer from the path on which she’s currently traveling. If prayer is a part of your daily life, I humbly ask that you include her in them each day asking God to give her wisdom as well as sufficient strength to do what’s right. I don’t think it takes a village to raise a child, but I do believe it takes much prayer on the part of many who care.

A Word to the Wise…

It’s no secret that the current economic climate is taking its toll on quilter’s purses as well as on independent quilt shops. Seasoned quilters are pulling from their stashes as well as from those of friends rather than visiting the shops for new fabric as they have in the past. The trend seems to be that of using what has already been purchased and has been sitting on the shelf for heaven only knows how long. Fair enough. Shop owners totally understand that if you already have a great stash of fabrics there’s no need for you to buy more. We too are starting to follow suit and rather than buy new fabrics that are going to sit on our shelves forever and a day we choose to buy very little, if any, to replace what’s already been sold. Granted, there are times when we need to buy replacement fabrics, but buying whole new groups is less likely to happen in small quilt shops these days. At least it won’t be happening here for a while I’m sure.

Scrap quilts have always been a favorite of quilters, but they seem to be even more popular now. Using up lots of bits and pieces allows a quilter to make a beautiful quilt while getting rid of lots of fabric scraps. Unfortunately, as with all things, there’s a good side and a bad side to this method. The good side for quilters who use up their stash, or who have a group of friends with whom they can share fabric, is that they aren’t spending any more money out of pocket while still being able to create beautiful items with their hands. Maybe by doing so they are able to use that savings to get someone else to quilt their quilt making it a useable or giftable product as opposed to another UFO.

The bad side comes into play when a quilter finds a pattern of interest, starts pulling from their stash, starts making the quilt, and gets down to the end of their project only to realize that they do not have enough fabric, usually a background fabric but equally as possible a border or binding fabric. After having three calls/visits last week alone caused by this dilemma, it dawned on me that this may become a much more prevalent problem. In their enthusiasm to be creating, these quilters neglected to do what their carpenter counterparts do, measure twice cut once.

What’s a quilter to do?! Take background fabrics for instance. Rather than pulling a fabric from your stash and having at it, take the little bit of time needed to measure how much is actually in that cut of fabric and refer back to the materials list and cutting directions of your chosen pattern. Don’t just think to yourself that there should be enough there to get “X” number of blocks and start cutting into it, measure it first. If you have what is required, great! If you’re close then you need to do some calculating per the instructions and see if what is called for is more than you actually need or if it’s exactly what you need. Some patterns tell you to buy a little more than you’ll actually need to allow for cutting errors. Other patterns are exact in their measurements so you’d better really pay attention to the instructions or you won’t have enough fabric to finish the quilt. I’ve even seen a very few patterns that didn’t allow for enough fabric in the materials list. It really does pay to take that extra time and make sure you have what you need. You’d check your pantry to make sure you had everything you needed before you started cooking supper, so why not do the same before you start a new project.

We rarely go through a pattern with a fine toothed comb and do all the calculations before cutting, but I do recommend that you do a little bit of math before jumping into a new quilt project. Or any project come to think of it. That little bit of extra time up front will save you a lot of grief latter on. I also recommend that if you have even the slightest glimmer of a thought that you’d like the project to end up being larger than the directions call for, that you look before you leap. Maybe you have an idea for a change that you think would make the quilt even better. Unless you’re just a glutton for punishment, don’t start that project until you know for a fact that you have enough fabric to make it the size given as well as enough fabric to make it larger or change it up should you decide to do so along the way. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had someone looking for more fabric because they decided to make the quilt larger once they were about halfway through. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. I hate telling them we’re out of what they’re looking for, but it does happen more than you’d think.

OK, you’re a smart quilter and you’ve measured your background fabric only to discover that, alas, you do not have enough. You may want to try this option. Make your quilt using multiple background pieces. By doing this, if you run out it won’t matter because you can substitute something else and no one will be the wiser. Using various background fabrics also lends a touch of uniqueness to a quilt and makes it that much more interesting visually.

Another solution, should you find that you do not have enough of a background fabric and you want it all to match, is to go buy what you need before you start that new project and set the too small cut that’s on hand aside for a smaller project. That way you are not frustrated by trying to locate more fabric which, more often than not, is out of print and no longer available because what you started with had been sitting on your shelf for several years.

While basics, i.e. tone-on-tone or blenders, tend to be reprinted for an undetermined amount of time, fabrics that are released in a group have about a six month timeframe for reordering, if that long. Fabric vendors are also cutting down on the amount of inventory they have on hand and are not over-printing or reprinting as they once did. Two of the last full groups we bought had some skus that were sold out even before we got our order. This meant I couldn’t get more so once it was gone, it was gone.

I know you’ve heard the advice given by many seasoned quilters. If you find something you like, buy it when you have the chance because it might not be there when you go back. While fabric isn’t walking out the doors as it did when we first bought the shop, it does eventually get sold, so I do strongly recommend that if you see something you like when you visit a shop, buy it. Better to have to skip a dessert down the road because you bought an extra half yard of fabric than to never be able to find again that fabric which would have been absolutely perfect in your new project. A word to the wise is sufficient.

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