Magazine Monday – The Farmhouse Movement

At the end of March, Rick and I went to Gatlinburg for a long weekend. We used to do this for “spring break” when the kids were given a week off from their dance and gymnastics classes. They’d go visit their grandparents while Rick and I would spend three or four days alone in a chalet. This go around our trip had nothing to do with anyone’s schedule but was made more out of habit. It seems we’d gotten used to being in Gatlinburg in March and something didn’t seem quite right without our annual trip there. While we’re pretty much couch potatoes once we get settled in, we do make at least one, and this trip two, visits to Books a Million (BAM) while there. BAM used to be one of our places to visit daily when the kids were in classes, so it’s just a natural place for us to go. Of course, I always have to have an Oreo Candy Blast and love the double chocolate chip cookies that they now offer even though they’re definitely not per diet. But I digress…
Mag-Farmhouse-Vol 1 Issue 2
At our first visit to the bookstore during this trip, I ran across a new-to-me magazine. It may be new to you as well since the March/April 2018 issue is only the second one. It’s The Farmhouse Movement magazine, and I hate that I missed the premiere issue. I was actually looking for the latest issue of The Magnolia Journal, which I found and bought, when one of the articles listed on the cover of this new-to-me magazine caught my eye. It’s been recommended that I change my eating habits and follow a ketogenic diet. To do this I have to change the type of flour that I use to bake with from our standard variety to coconut, and/or almond flour. Not an easy concept for someone my age to grasp (and we won’t even discuss the implementation thereof). So, when I saw a review of six different flours inside this issue, I knew I needed to check out that information as well as whatever else was hiding between the front and back covers.

I took a moment to look at the table of contents and saw that it included an article on starting a garden, basic sewing, and making some simple products to use in the home. Of course, there were a few other articles that caught my eye, but the ones that hit me first were enough to intrigue me into giving this new publication a whirl. Once we were back at our sweet little cabin, I sat down and started at the beginning since I needed to get a feel for the mind behind the magazine. That mind appears to belong to Jordan Schrandt. You may have heard of her, but as a quilty person, who tends to have blinders on where new names and faces outside the quilt world are concerned, I had not. You can learn more about her on her website though, as have I. She seems like a lovely young woman with a vision who has taken on the challenge to enable others to live a better quality of life.

Now, for my thoughts on the magazine… The magazine is very well done in terms of photos and layout. It has a nice matte finish and contains 99 pages. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that there wasn’t a single advertisement included in the page count. That means you’re truly getting your $8 worth out of this publication. I know advertisements are what help to keep the cost of publication down, but I have stopped subscribing to some magazines for this very reason.

The review of the six different types of flour was very helpful. I’m still a bit confused but figure if I read the page 100 times, like the TA in one of my computer classes recommended we do with new information (this was in 1992 by the way), I might be able to retain the nuances of the different flours and how to use them long enough to actually bake with them. Still, I’ll probably take a picture of the page with my phone (Victoria taught me this trick) so that I can use it as my “cheat sheet” when the time comes to start experimenting. Actually, we did bake a loaf of keto bread using both almond and coconut flour a few weeks ago. Can’t say as I was impressed with the result, but it was better than having no bread at all for making sandwiches. Hopefully, with this new information, on these new-to-me flour types, we’ll have a better outcome in future baking adventures.

The information shared on basic sewing was indeed very basic. It is definitely meant for a beginner who has very little to no experience using a needle and thread. Instructions on equipping a sewing box, threading a needle, hemming, sewing on buttons, and mending holes were given. It should get newbies started but some good tips were left out. For example, when hemming, be sure to take a back stitch every two to three inches so that the whole hem does not come out. That way you’ll only have to repair a few inches instead of re-hemming the whole section. Plus, tie off your thread when you’ve finished a seam before you cut the thread. I do a backstitch and run the needle through the resulting loop before pulling the thread tight to secure. Only then do I clip my threads. I wouldn’t recommend having stitches that were 1/2″ apart either. We’d call those toe-catchers. The mentioned 1/4″ apart would be better and even a bit smaller distance between stitches better still. I can hear my grandmother now telling me to always take small stitches.

While I enjoyed reading the information on gardening, making natural cleaning items, kitchen economics, and making a house look more farmhouse-like, I didn’t read the article on chickens, though I may go ahead and do that, eventually. No offense to anyone, but I greatly dislike chickens. I grew up having to tend to them and they’re just not my favorite critters. I learned at a very young age never to turn my back on roosters. Needless to say, I got very good at walking backwards.

There was a good article on forgiveness as well as articles on intentional parenting. It was nice to read about another family that homeschooled their children and to be reminded that no one is a perfect parent (something I guess I struggle with accepting if I were to be honest). I could totally relate to the article on foster parenting and adoption as Rick and I have done both. The articles were well written and brought back a lot of memories.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed the magazine and could relate to it well, even though much of it seemed to be geared to a younger audience than myself. The next issue is said to be coming out in May, so I will definitely keep an eye out for it. At the beginning of the magazine there is a page that explains the farmhouse movement. You can read that for yourself here. Given the direction our country seems to have been taken in, and its people have allowed themselves to go over the past several decades, I hope that the movement takes hold of young parents and enables them to nurture and train up the children who will become our future leaders. Our pastor in Albuquerque gave a sermon many years ago entitled “Give Me the Old Paths.” I couldn’t help but be reminded of that sermon, possibly from Jeremiah 6:16, and the need for families, for our country, to return to the values and morals that were once so common and expected. Under the name of the magazine are the words, “Timeless Truths of Healthy Homes.” Never before have we needed more truth and healthier homes than is needed now. Good work Miss Jordan! I look forward to enjoying your next issue.

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Wednesday’s Wisdom

CA-Wisdom ScrollWords of Wisdom – It’s something I’ve wanted to introduce to the blog for a long time now. Something I’ve intended to do but have held back on following through. Why? Because it just seems like an unrelated and somewhat random topic for a blog that’s mainly about quilting. Not that quilters aren’t wise, it’s just not what you expect to read when you visit a quilter’s blog. But, there’s a reason why I’ve wanted to share some things with you, and I’ll try to explain without going into great detail.

Wisdom…it’s something that I’ve always sought after and tried to apply to problems, but fear I have not always managed to do so. The concept of obtaining wisdom seems easy enough, but the actual obtaining thereof, not so easy. That’s probably why this verse has always intrigued me, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7)

The past six years have been a struggle for me. A constant struggle with very few breaks for taking a breather and regrouping. Just when I’d think that I was about to get a handle on my world another bit of it would break off and come crashing down around my ears. While I’m thankful my struggle hasn’t been health related, well, not seriously anyhow, I’ve had to acknowledge that it’s been just as insidious as some of the worse ailments known to mankind. Mine has been a struggle with my mind and emotions. There are no pills that can cure this type of ailment, only mask it. Because of that you can bank on the fact that I’ve taken no medication but have consumed enough hot tea over the past six years to float a battleship. Needless to say I’ve also had to include the consumption of cookies and a lot of sugar/honey to go along with the tea. You see, tea and cookies go hand in hand in my world. Of course, that’s created another problem, but I’m working on that one too.

I can’t honestly say that I’ve overcome anything or that my struggle has finally ended. Since I don’t currently see a light at the end of this tunnel, I’m not sure it ever will end completely. In the absence of a happy ending, I’ve had to find coping mechanisms to get through each day. I’ve had to cling to my faith, which at times I must admit became very weak to the point of almost no longer existing. Thankfully, I have been blessed with support from my husband and a handful of faithful friends who were always there to encourage me and to help keep me going. Along with certain Bible scriptures, I found that reading quotes or statements made throughout the centuries by others, who have no doubt endured struggles of their own, helped as well. It is this that I wish to share with you, maybe two or three on future Wednesdays, in hopes that they will help you too or maybe someone you know who is going through their own struggles and needs some meaningful words on which to focus. I found that memorizing anything during this time was out of the question, so writing down these bits of wisdom on 3×5 cards and taping them to my steering wheel, bathroom mirror, on my computer screen, or sewing machine, etc. worked best.

When my trials began, I felt like I’d wasted 19 years of my life (now 25). I ran across this: Talk not of wasted affection; affection never was wasted. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Hopefully not.)

After being told I worry too much about fairness: The happiest people don’t worry too much about whether life is fair or not, they just get on with it. ~Andrew Matthews (Getting on with it has been easier said than done for me.)

When I was told I was chasing shadows: Be kind to your shadow. ~Rebecca Lawless (I’m afraid I’ve been quite ruthless on my shadow.)

When I was told to move on: There is great power in letting go, and there is great freedom in moving on. ~Author Unknown (Boy, do I need the power to move on!)

Because I’ve been told I dwell on the unchangeable past too much. One neglect makes ten regrets. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897 (Guilty…I’ve beat myself black and blue with, “I should have…”)

OK, maybe these aren’t what you’d consider “words of wisdom.” Maybe we should instead label them “words of encouragement to get us through times of discouragement.” Words that will make us stop and think in a bit more positive way than what we may have been thinking beforehand. Regardless of what you call them, this is my attempt to share something that has helped me in hopes that it will also help you, or someone you know and care about.

As I said at the beginning, every week when Wednesday rolled around I’d think, “OK, this is the week I post some words of wisdom on my blog. Surely I can’t be the only one in this great big world of ours who has struggles that seem never ending.” I know for a fact that I am not. I also acknowledge that mine are trivial compared to those of others. We all have struggles of one degree or another. They’re just different for each of us while at the same time being somewhat similar. Their difference is in their makeup, their similarity is in the pain that they all too often cause. Sometimes though, words fail us when we try to share our struggles with others who care or may be able to help. When that happens, the best thing, actually I’d say the only thing, to do is take it to the Lord in prayer. After all, as I’ve been reminded over and over again, He’s in charge of everything anyhow. There’s none better to have working behind the scenes for us than the One who already knows the outcome.

Because I’ve been told to look more for silver linings than at the dark clouds that I seem to be sitting under, I’m making this effort to, hopefully, help someone else who is struggling. Otherwise, my journey will have been for naught, which would take me back to my original thought, that I’ve wasted 19+ years of my life. Since that’s not a pleasant thought, I’d like to just move on. Please pray with me that I can, because it’s time that I did.
CA-Prov-Wisdom over Gold

Magazine Monday

Mag Cover-Primtv Qlts-Wntr 2017While I was busy hosting Stitchin’ Camp this weekend, the winter edition of Primitive Quilts landed in our mailbox. Anxious to look through it, but at the same time wishing to be able to give it my full attention, I decided to wait until Sunday afternoon, after my nap of course, to look through its pages.

Sometimes, magazines will offer several projects within their pages, but only one or two that will tickle my fancy. In this case, my wait was welcomed with a magazine brimming with projects that I wanted to do. Mag Cover- Primtv Qlts-TabsI use sticky flags to mark the projects that interest me, so my copy now sprouts nine colourful flags, each marking a must-do project, out of the 16 projects included within its covers. Not bad! In addition to the projects, there are many other useful tidbits included in each issue. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the books reviewed in the Book Nook section as the shop has, or has had, all but one of the ones listed, and I have a special order request for that one book which I’ve not yet had in the shop. Needless to say, I’ve already sold out of a couple of the books that were reviewed, yes, they are that good, but I can always “buy more” as Nathanael used to say when we’d tell him that we’d run out of something, including money.

Now, you might say that “primitive” is not your style. Well, it’s not really mine either. I’m a Victorian kinda girl. But, thankfully, I had a grandmother who was a seamstress by profession. She taught me at an early age to ignore the fabrics used on a pattern, usually dress patterns, and to look at the bare bones drawing at the bottom of the catalog page instead. From her I learned that while I might not like the fabric shown on the cover of a pattern, all I had to do was change the fabric in order to have something that better suited me. She taught me how to visualize the dress made in my choice of fabric(s) instead of the fabric used in the cover photo. At the time, I didn’t realize just how valuable that lesson was. Now, as a shop owner, and creative person in general, I would say learning to look beyond the visible and being able to visualize the possible is a lesson we all need to learn as it can help in so many areas of our lives with one of the most important areas being personal relationships, where looking beyond the outside covering of a person into the depths within can mean the difference between being saved from a bad relationship or making a forever friend.

As one might guess, the colours used in the projects of this issue are mainly warm, cozy colours. While I might make one or two of the projects using similar colours, I will most likely brighten them up just a tad. Instead of using dark greens, browns, and navy, for example, I will probably use bright reds, turquoise, and lime greens. Who knows, I might even throw in some purple along the way because I do have purple ornaments for the small tree that sits on the library table in our hallway. In my book, purple is a valid colour for any time of the year. Of course, there are all those variations-on-a-theme possibilities as well. I can see extracting parts of projects to make a smaller version, especially for gift giving, or mixing and matching bits and pieces to my heart’s content. Oh, dear…here we go…

If you’ve never looked through a copy of Primitive Quilts you can visit their website and see the projects included in the winter issue. You can either order a copy online or visit your nearest bookstore for immediate satisfaction. I really think you’ll be hard pressed to ignore this issue once you’ve taken time to look through it and imagine the projects in your own favorite colours. As always, feel free to share what you’ve made with us. I’ll do that myself, once I decide on just which project to do first. Those who know me well know that decision making is not my strong suit, so it might be next Christmas season, or winter, before I actually have anything to show. Remember though, patience is a virtue. Knowing me will no doubt help make you a very virtuous person indeed.

I’m a Bit Concerned…

Last year we lost Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine. A publication that was the prototype for all those that have followed. Sadly, it wasn’t the first quilting/sewing related publication to fall off the newsstands in the past few years. AQS has stopped publishing new books, and although they’ve added a fall show in Paducah, they’ve cut others out of their lineup. In the past few years smaller publishers have been bought out by larger ones. Several well-established quilt shops across the nation have closed their doors. Now, we’re losing some of our fabric options as fabric vendors cease operation or are phased out, namely Kona Bay and Red Rooster (see their posting of March 16). Why?

After being told last year by a new-to-me batik vendor that they have to pay for their orders up front, I better understood how challenging, not to mention expensive, it must be to produce fabric. While I rarely cancel an order once I’ve placed it, there have been a couple of times in the past that I felt I had no choice. I have no doubt that other shops may find the need to do so as well from time to time causing the fabric vendor(s) to be “stuck” with excess fabric that they thought was sold. Thankfully, quilt shops are usually given 30 to 60 days to try and sell some of their new fabrics before having to pay for them, but apparently not so for our beloved fabric vendors. It could be that more established vendors might not have to pay the full amount of an order up front, but still. I don’t even want to think of what the bills are for some of the well-established fabric vendors we know and love. Then there are the book vendors, the pattern vendors, the thread vendors, the batting vendors, etc. How are we to help sustain all of these folks in the current economic climate?! Not to mention the current mindset of many quilters (a topic for a future post) based on personal conversations coupled with social media discussions and comments.

“What on earth is going on?” you might be asking. Well, it’s simple really. Ye olde trickle-down effect has gone, or rather has been going, into effect. Quilters aren’t buying as much fabric as they once did, so obviously, quilt shops aren’t buying as much fabric as they once did, at least this shop isn’t. Surely I can’t be the only one out there who has cut back. While I know I’m stating the obvious here, fewer sales to shops, be they online or brick-and-mortar, means less fabric needs to be produced. Fabric groups used to have upwards of 40+ SKUs. One Benartex group several years ago had 72 SKUs! That was a lot of fabric of one type for a shop to add to their inventory for the express purpose of making all the projects for which that line was designed. More recently, some vendors have scaled their offerings back to somewhere between 12 to 20 skus in many cases. This makes it much more feasible for a shop owner to purchase a whole group rather than pick a few pieces from a group hoping all the while that they’ve picked the right few pieces, i.e. those that the customers won’t be able to live without. Vendors ha
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New Monthly Offering!

Whoooo are we foolin’? We know starting new projects is always more fun than putting the finishing touches on an old project, especially when the new project is small and can be done in just a few days. Better still when the project can be done by hand making it portable in addition to being cute. Such is the case with our new monthly offering, Little Quilts Squared. Each month we will kit a new project that will result in a 12” square that can be hung on a table top stand or from a freestanding hanger. Each option allows you to use your space to its best advantage.

“What if I don’t like small projects?” you ask. “Can I stitch the squares together into a quilt or seasonal wallhangings?” Absolutely! This is your project so you can do with it as you please. While you’re stitching the monthly blocks just be thinking about how you want to put them together at the end of the year. There are several options I can think of and will be happy to share my ideas with you when you ask.

The kits will be ready on the first Saturday of the month, even after the brick and mortar portion of the shop closes on October 1. We will be one month ahead of Pic-September-Owlschedule so that you can get your project done in time to hang it for the appropriate month. For example, this past Saturday was the first day of this program, so the first kit we put together was for the September project which has a little owl sitting on a branch in the light of the moon. In September, we’ll have the kit ready for the October project and so on. The kits will come complete with everything you need to finish the project with the exception of threads, batting (great time to use up scraps), and fusible webbing.

One complaint I’ve heard over the years with regards to kitted BOMs is from folks who don’t want their project to look like everyone else’s. Granted, unless the only folks you know are ones who do the same project and visit your house on a regular basis, how many others are even going to know that your project looks like that of someone else? But, because of that complaint, I usually try to figure out ahead of time whether or not a project is adaptable, and these definitely will be. With a little thought, there are always lots of ways to make your project uniquely your own. Here are some ideas for you to ponder if you’re one of those people.

Around here, we’re oftentimes bad about using the pattern as a guide and then doing our own thing. Do you ever do that? I must confess that we did just that with this little owl. Each of the patterns in this year-long BOM were designed with a pieced background. BUT, I had this great night sky fabric stashed away that we thought would work equally well and save the time of cutting and piecing the background. Since the moon covers up so much of the pieced background, I didn’t think it would make too much of a difference in the overall look. Ptrn-TWBL09-Sept-CrpdHere’s a photo of the pattern the way the designer meant it to be. What do you think? As always, if you’d prefer to have a pieced background you can pull from your stash, piece the background, and save the kit fabric for use in something else later. If you do decide you’d rather have a pieced background, you might want to consider piecing the top and bottom rows while leaving the middle row as one strip since the block in the middle isn’t even seen. I really do like the look of the pieced background, but if I’m going to do the work I want y’all to be able to see it.

Something else you might want to consider doing to change your owl up a bit is using a large white button, a yo-yo, or a fuzzy pom-pom on the top of his hat. Same goes with his eyes. We used buttons because that’s what the designer did and we already had them on hand. You could use regular black fabric if you’d rather or again, make small yo-yos. Victoria stitched the eyes on but didn’t want her owl to be cross-eyed like the one in the pattern. By moving the black portion of his eyes around, you can give your owl lots of different expressions.

When Miss Martha drew off the pattern pieces onto Heat ‘n Bond, she missed one of the three leaves. Victoria was doing the stitching because Miss Martha wasn’t able to and decided to leave our branch with just two leaves instead of three. I don’t think the missing leaf detracts from the finished project one bit. The leaves have a lot of little “fingers” on them so stitching them does take a while which was another reason Victoria was fine with only having two leaves. I didn’t go back and check the kits, but I’m thinking there may be only enough fabric for two leaves. If you want to include the third leaf you’ll probably need to find a green scrap from your stash.

We had pine cone fabric on hand and used that instead of embroidering all the little scallops like the designer did to make her pine cones. If we can find a way to cut down on the amount of work required to finish a project, you can bank on us doing it every time.

So see! There are four things we did differently on our sample to make our owl uniquely ours. We changed the number of leaves, the orientation of the eyes, the pine cones, and eliminated the pieced background. I think our owl still looks just as cute too.

Beginner friendly – If you have a young person, or even someone older, who would like to start creating with their hands, this is a good project on which to start them. The appliqué pieces are large, the fabrics are already put together, and since they can stitch by hand they won’t even need to invest in a machine if they don’t already have one. Of course, it is easier to attach the binding by machine so they may want you to do that for them, or they could skip the binding and use the envelope turn technique instead to finish their project. You might still need to stitch it all together for them to turn, but they’ll be able to save learning about binding for another time. Then again, there’s no time like the present.

If you’re a newbie who wants to learn, we give a free lesson with the purchase of the kit and commitment to the year long program. Each kit is $17.95 and can be picked up at the shop or purchased in our shop on Etsy. I’ve not yet figured out how to set up recurring monthly charges through PayPal. If you’d like to have me ship your kit at the beginning of each month you’ll need to call the shop and we can discuss payment and shipping options. At present, the number of kits is limited so do let me know if you wish to participate.

I’m probably dating myself here, but from the first time I saw this little owl I thought about Woodsy. Are you old enough to remember him? He used to come on TV and say, “Give a hoot! Don’t pollute!” Funny the things you remember when working on your quilting projects…

Mind Boggling!

From time to time I am sent books to review by various publishers. Sometimes they’re quilt related, but most of the time they are not. Such is the case with the book I recently read and will review for you now. I’m not going to give the Flash Point, by Thomas Lockeplot away and hope that I have written this in such a manner that it entices you to read the book as well. It will definitely give you something to think about the next time you find yourself sewing those looonnnggg strip sets together.

If you find yourself intrigued, you will want to enter the book giveaway on the author’s Facebook page that will start at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time, Tuesday, August 2. You could win both books in the Fault Lines techno-thriller series.  Once there just leave a comment on this question:  If a voice from beyond…your OWN voice…prompted you to walk away from everything so you could change the world, how would you respond? #flashpoint

Now for my thoughts on Flash Point

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, flash point is “a point, place, or situation in which sudden anger or violence could happen; a point at which someone or something bursts suddenly into action or being.  That being the case, Flash Point, the latest offering in the Fault Lines series by Thomas Locke, has been well named.

There are essentially three story lines being told that you can sense will eventually converge into a final eruption, and boy, do they.  In addition to returning characters that were introduced in the first book, Trial Run, which I highly recommend you read in order to understand exactly what’s going on, there are several new characters that come on the scene whose lives will intersect with a select few of the original characters.  In some cases new friendships will be forged, in others, old rivalries will be revisited and revenge will be the order of the day.

What one man creates to better the lives of others, another man will exploit and use for his own personal gain, usually to the detriment of others.  Herein lies the main plot of the Fault Lines series.  Two groups of scientists/researchers have the same technology, or elements thereof, at their disposal.  This technology was used in Trial Run by the original developer, Dr. Speciale, and her group with good intentions.  It was also studied by another group to be used for the opposite reason, i.e. spying for personal gain.  The technology is expanded upon in Flash Point and we are given insight into how it can be used to better the lives of various people, those in pain for example, or as a weapon used with the intent to kill by those who are on the wrong side of law and order.  The former reason for using the technology is heartening, the latter reason is extremely scary.

While the whole concept of moving through time without being seen by those around us is both intriguing as well as mind boggling, I hope it is just a figment of the author’s wonderful imagination and never actually comes to pass.  Although, given the opportunity to go back and fix some mistakes or make different and better choices, without permanent physical damage mind, I can safely say I would do it in a heartbeat, or less.

For those who homeschool high school students, I could easily see this series used as a unit study to stimulate interest and studies in various areas of math and science. These studies would create some very deep discussions regarding quantum theory, the ethics behind aiding others in dying, philosophy, etc.  As always, I recommend that you read this book first in case there is something that you are uncomfortable sharing with your child(ren) as there is a little romance included but to the best of my memory nothing explicit.

While I did receive a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review, I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this second book in the Fault Lines series and anxiously await the next addition.

 

A Needle Pulling Thread – Review

I think one of the best words in the English language, or in any language for that matter, is the word FREE. In the past, I have shared freebies on Friday that I’ve run across on the internet. As Gomer Pyle would say, “What a dumb thang. What a dumb thang to do.” Here I am trying to sell patterns, you can’t believe how many are here until you actually see for yourself, and I turn around and give you information on freebies. Then I wonder why patterns aren’t selling all that well. Duh…

It seems to be a problem for shops who are trying to sell patterns by great designers while having to compete with all the freebies that are out there online. While I totally understand the giving personality of crafty/creative people, those who consistently give away freebies aren’t doing themselves or their fellow creative person any favors.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion on a couple of occasions and all of her Quilt Academy events, of which I believe there were five. Loved those Quilt Academy events by the way. They were absolutely awesome!!! Talk about brain overload that very first event! The only person I knew about on the program was Nancy Zieman, and seeing her in person was the only reason I went. Had someone told me then that later on I would own a quilt shop and get to better know some of those big names in quilting that I met at the academies, I would have told them they needed to be committed because that was never going to happen. This is why I told my children when they were growing up to never say never. Yes, some things I have had to learn the hard way.

Anyhow, in one of Miss Martha’s talks on turning your hobby into a business she said something that has stuck with me. It went something like this, “If you don’t charge anything for what you’re giving folks, they won’t place any value on it. If it’s only $5, charge them so they will feel like they’ve gotten something worthwhile.” Over the years since I’ve had the shop I’ve determined that she was right. While we tend to like to get things for free, we don’t always value them as much as we do something that we’ve had to work for or save up in order to purchase. There’s a whole other sermon that could go along with this thought, but I won’t go there right now. That’s not the purpose of this writing.

Mag-Needle Plg Thread-Sprg 2016The purpose of this writing is to share with you something that was sent to me, quite unexpectedly, free of charge. Now, I give lots of “stuff” away at our camps, to guilds for their special events, and during special events that we hold throughout the year here in the shop. Although I greatly enjoy giving, I also like getting just as much as the next person, especially when what I’ve been given comes as a complete surprise. Such is the case with the most recent copy, Spring 2016, of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine. It came one day in a brown envelope with the word SAMPLE on the outside. Surprise!

I have bought this magazine a few times, mainly the holiday issues, at Books-a-Million. The thing I enjoy most about this Canadian publication is that it’s chocked full of all kinds of creativity. Instead of being a one-sided publication, as are the quilting magazines that I tend to peruse, this publication has a little bit of everything, because after all, aren’t most of us who are creative multi-faceted and creative in more than just one arena? I know I am. Of course, there comes a point when we have to choose which creative areas we desire to excel in because there’s just not enough lifetime to do them all, much less do them all well.

So, what’s in this issue I have you wondering? It might be easier to tell you what’s not in this issue. For example, there’s no woodworking or macramé. But I was delighted to see that there are six quilting projects including a table runner, lap quilt, placemats, chair back covers, a bed scarf (we tend to call them bed runners), and a quilt made using denim. Can you say “recycle!”?

One project that really caught my attention and made me giddy was the pattern for making a teapot cozy. Those who know me well know I enjoy having and collecting tea things. Trust me; I have enough tea in the house to float a battle ship! But after all these years of enjoying tea on pretty much a daily basis, I have yet to buy, let alone make, a tea cozy. I’ve bought the patterns for making one but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll give the pattern in the magazine a whirl. If/when I do, you’ll be the first to know. The plus with the cozy pattern here is that the handle is not covered. I’ve learned that covering the handle of a good teapot is not a good idea. Not only does the tea stay hot when covered, but the handle gets hot as well. When I say hot, I mean really hot, as in too hot to handle. No pun intended. Since the pattern can be adjusted, I can make a cozy for my large teapot that holds several cups as well as my two-cup teapot that I won from teadog.com. I love that little teapot!

Ok…moving right along…Remember I mentioned how we creative types like to give to others? Well, there’s a pillowcase pattern in this issue that you could make and donate to Junior’s House. Just bring your finished pillowcase to the shop and I’ll pass it along to them. As always, if you have another charity in mind then go for it.

Not into quilting or sewing? How about knitting, cross-stitch, punchneedle, rug hooking, crochet, embroidery – either hand or machine, purse making, or beading? If you enjoy any of these needlearts then you need to give this magazine some serious consideration. Of course, there are more than just projects to do amidst the pages. There are book reviews for new books in each of these disciplines, an article on a great looking quilt shop in Oshawa, Ontario you can visit next time you’re in the area, and an informative article on the history of knitting tools in Canada.

I am so grateful to whoever it was that so kindly sent me this copy of A Needle Pulling Thread. It’s a great publication and one that I hope will continue enticing us with multiple needlearts to enjoy in each issue for many years to come.  Be sure to visit their website where they have photos of all the projects contained in this issue. You can also enjoy looking through a free issue there as well.  While I do not have copies of the magazine for sell at the shop, you can order online if you’re unable to visit or find a copy at your local Books-a-Million store.

Enjoy!

There’s Still Time!

Proj-2015-RudyNeed a really quick and cute project to make before Christmas Day? We have just the thing for you then. This little stuffed reindeer can be made in just a few hours, and you probably already have everything you need on hand.  Is he not the cutest thing?!  And at about 6-1/2″ tall he’s small enough to fit into a little a little basket or on the branches of your tree.

As with most projects I do using someone’s pattern, I don’t follow it to the letter. In this case, rather than using freezer paper to make my template I just made a copy of the pattern and cut the reindeer out on the outside edge of the black line. I placed my fabric with right sides together (or print sides together for those who know there is no wrong side to any piece of fabric as both can be used equally well by those who are willing to do so) and pinned the pattern to my fabric. I then sewed along the edge of the paper pattern, cut away the excess fabric ¼” from the stitching, and snipped the curves so it would lay well once turned inside out. There were a couple of places where I stitched through the pattern, but I was able to pull the edge of the pattern out from under those stitches and can use it again to make more reindeer if I so desire.

I gave my little reindeer button eyes and a ribbon that was a bit narrower than the one specified by the designer. The designer by the way is none other than Miss Anne of Bunny Hill Designs. The little snowman in the mitten that I shared in a previous post is also from Bunny Hill Designs. Yes, you might say we like her designs quite well and have lots of her patterns in the shop. Not all have been made into samples mind, but we do love her work.

Proj-Snowman Candle MatWhile I was stitching my little reindeer by machine, Miss Martha was stitching a candle mat in wool felt by hand. It turned out quite nicely, but I’m not sure I want to hide the snowman’s face in the Proj-Snowman Candle Mat CUmiddle by actually putting a candle on it. It might just have to lie around and decorate instead of making itself useful being what it’s supposed to be.  I mean, look at him, would you want to cover up that cute, cute, cute smiling face?   This mat is a nice size, around 11″ give or take.  It still needs three little buttons going down the front of the center snowman according to the pattern by Penny Lane Primitives… or does it?  Our wool felt is the good kind and comes from National Nonwovens.  We love this product so well that we have close to 50 different colors on the bolt.

We will be making kits for the snowman candle mat and could easily put one together for the reindeer as well if you need it.  Patterns at present are limited, so let me know if you want one, or both.  Since you’re coming down to the wire where making handmade gifts is concerned, a kit will make it much quicker to accomplish your goal of giving nothing store boughten, as the old folks around here use to say.

 

 

New Projects and Giveaway Winner!

First, I’d like to announce the winner of the sweet sixteens set I used to make the first block of Moda’s Sampler Block Shuffle. Now the winner can make one just like mine, or some variation thereof. The winner is…Janet! Congratulations Janet! While I didn’t say you had to use your new fabrics to make this first block, I do hope to see something that you’ve used them in…eventually.

Now, on to our projects. Miss Martha has been keeping herself busy making new samples for the shop. The latest two are both geared to winter which is fast approaching. The first project I’d like to share with you is actually the last of 12 in the With Thy Needle series that we’ve been doing this year. These are made from wool felt, and we do have kits for each month available if you didn’t participate but would like to. Just give me a call and I’ll put a set aside for you.
Pic-December
This last installment showcases a boot which has been filled with holly, greenery, and candy canes. It can hang from a background designed to be changed out each month, made into a wall hanging, or framed. It could also be turned into a small pillow or hung from a wire hanger. At only 8″ square you won’t need much room to display your handiwork once finished.

The second little project is just too cute! Made from wool felt, and measuring around 4″x7″, you can whip this up in no time. Not only is it quick, but it is a very versatile project as well. So, just how versatile is it? Well, let me clue you in.
Pic-BHill-Snowman in Mitten
The original intent is of course as a tree ornament. However, you don’t have to just hang it on a tree because you could just as easily hang it on the door knob of a kitchen or bathroom cabinet, or the knob on a dresser in a child’s bedroom. Anywhere you’d like to put a little color and cute into your décor would work.

Maybe you’re not one to buy lots of presents and have gotten into the habit of buying gift cards instead. Let’s face it, when you have teenagers on your list it’s usually the best way to go these days. If that’s the case, you could make just the mitten and put the gift card inside. That way they get two gifts in one. They can still hang the mitten on the tree to enjoy long after the gift card has been used up. You could even include the date on the back of the cuff or stitch the recipients name to the front of the cuff in the event you make multiple mittens for the same family. You could also include the snowman if you’d like depending on how much time you have to work with and whether or not you think the recipient would appreciate your efforts. A gift card could easily slid in behind him.

The snowman isn’t attached to the mitten. This means that he can be made as a stand alone ornament by attaching a small loop to the back of his head. Better yet, why not make him into a pin that can be worn all winter long on a coat, toboggan, or purse. Snowmen can be displayed and enjoyed for several months you know.

Maybe you have smaller folks for which to make gifts. This little snowman would make a great finger puppet by leaving the bottom open. With a little imagination you could make a whole snowman family. Make two snowmen the size given in the pattern for a mom and a dad and then shrink the pattern just a bit and make a brother and sister, or maybe one for each member of the family that you gift the puppets to depending on the family’s configuration. What better way to foster a child’s imagination than with finger puppets?

We have a couple of kits ready to go with plans on making more as soon as we get more patterns. If you think you need help making this project, we can set up a time for you to work one-on-one with Miss Martha at no extra charge. While this project is something you could do in an evening or two, especially with all the fabrics on hand, you don’t want to wait too long to get started. I mean, who’d of thought it would be November already!? That means December is fast approaching and will be here before we’re ready. I know that for a fact because it always does. Agreed?

Sampler Block Shuffle – Block 1

Those who have hung around me for a while know that I rarely make a block/pattern like the pattern says to make it. Don’t ask me why because I’m not sure I have an answer. It just seems to me that when I look at a quilt block for example I sometimes see it put together differently than the directions say to put it together. Such was the case with the first block in Moda’s Sampler Block Shuffle. What the directions said to do and what I did to come up with my block are two different things. How so? Well, I’ll show you. WARNING: This turned into somewhat of a tutorial so be prepared to be reading for a while. Here’s a bit of music by one of Victoria’s favorite fellers to enjoy while reading since it seems to go quite well with me doing this block my way.

First, I want to make it perfectly clear that the directions given for the first block, designed by Sandy Gervais, are correct as written, and my sharing here of how I went about making this block is in no way a criticism of the block’s design or designer. I guess you could say I’m just following through on what my mom taught me long ago. She always said that there was more than one way to skin a cat (not that we’d ever actually do that in reality of course), which is probably why my brain saw a totally different way of putting this block together.

If you’ve not already found the patterns they are under the “Free Patterns” tab at the top of the page. The first three patterns are only going to be available for a short time and then they will be replaced by new block patterns. Meaning…go find the patterns, save them, and don’t procrastinate about doing it!

Again, if you’ve known me for a while you know that I hate drawing on fabric. I have no definite answer for why that is, but I just do. For me it’s akin to someone raking their nails across a chalkboard (~shudder!). I will go to great lengths to keep from having to draw on my fabric. That being said, my first change to this design was to use Thangles and make half-square triangles (HST) instead of marking squares to sew on either end of a rectangle. That meant that the strips that I used to make the HST units could also be used to cut solid squares from the background fabric, a white tone-on-tone dot, as well as the dark fabric, which was the red fabric in my block.

Some folks who have never used Thangles think that they’re difficult to use Pic-Blk 1-Thangles Cvrbecause they don’t know which size to work with. Actually, it’s very simple because the finished size of your HST unit is in dark black print on the front of the package and the width of the strip you need to cut is given right underneath it. In this case, I knew the finished block was to be 6” square. Since there are four sections across the block each section had to finish at 1-1/2” square doing it my way. So, I pulled out my 1.5 Thangles and set to work. Another clue in this case as to what size Thangles to use was the size given for the solid squares for the background and Print 2, i.e. 2” squares.
Pic-Blk 1-Components
Once I figured out how many of each HST I needed, I took my Thangles paper, measured it and found that I would need a 2”x6” strip set to make four HST that were red and yellow. I would need a second 2″x6″ strip set to make four HST that were yellow and white. I also needed to allow for the solid squares so I cut a 2”x15” strip from the background fabric, a 2”x15” strip from the red fabric, and a 2”x13” strip of yellow fabric. From those three strips I ended up with all the components for the square.

I’ve used Thangles for a while now because to me it’s like paper-piecing and I Pic-Blk 1-Thangles 1can sew on a line, more or less. Here are a few things that I have learned work best for me. I always use a 50 wt. silk finish thread when piecing. I put the fabric strips right sides together with the lightest colored fabric on top. I pin the Thangles paper in the open triangular spaces to the strip set so that it doesn’t shift while sewing. Instead of sewing right on the broken line I sew just to one side towards the solid line. That means I’m sewing into my seam allowance just a thread orPic-Blk 1-Thangles-Seam Line two in the fabric and allowing for the thickness of my sewing thread. When I fold the HST open, it won’t be too small because I’ve allowed for the thickness of the thread I’m sewing with and for the threads caught up in the seam line. I sew down one broken line, lift my presser foot and pull the unit out a little so that I can flip it and sew down the other broken line without cutting the thread. Hopefully, you can see the thread loops at the sides of the photo to the left. This saves both thread and time. Depending on what size Thangles I’m using I may or may not do the same when moving from one HST section to the next. In this case I repeated this practice so that I didn’t have to cut my thread until I had essentially chain pieced all the sections for one unit and moved on to the next unit.

Now it’s time to cut the HSTs apart. Obviously you’re going to cut on the vertical solid line. What’s not always so obvious, meaning you might need your reading spectacles here, is a very thin white line that is between the other thin solid black lines going across the paper from side to side. You want to cut across that thin white line to separate the sections. The more accurately you do this the more accurate your HST units will turn out.
Pic-Blk 1-Dog Ear B4 Trim
One of the other pluses in my mind when using Thangles is that there’s already one dog ear cut off for you. Yes, that’s another thing I don’t like doing because I’m always afraid I’ll cut it crooked or cut into my seam allowance and compromise accuracy. I’ve found that if you fold back the paper on the seam Pic-Blk 1-Thangles-Dog Ear Trimline, you have a nice guide for cutting of the second dog ear neatly and without cutting into your seam allowance. I place my blade up against the edge of the paper and push down firmly in order cut off the little triangle that’s sticking out to one side. Voila! No more dog ears.

Pic-Blk 1-Squarg UpBefore I tear the paper off I press the triangles, fabric side up. Thangles are printed with a special kind of ink so there’s no need to worry about the ink being transferred to your fabric when heated. The darker fabric will be facing up which means you’ll be pressing to the darker fabric as we most often do. I then take my HST unit to the cutting mat and make sure it’s the size it needs to be, in this case 2” square. I prefer to use a 4-1/2” square ruler for this step. That way I can see all around the edges easily.

Now comes the even funner (yes, that’s a word in my vocabulary) part, laying outPic-Blk 1-Layout all the components of the square. I use a block keeper which has a fuzzy texture to do this as it will keep each piece in place until I’m ready to sew it. If I have to leave for some reason, I can fold the attached clear sheet of plastic over it to protect my layout from intruders in my sewing space be they two legged critters or four legged critters. It has also saved me from sewing the wrong side of the seam or a HST in the wrong direction more than once.

Pic-Blk 1-Pin HSTThe pattern directions have you sewing two squares and a rectangle together to form a unit and doing this four times. Then you sew the four units together as you would a four-patch. I, on the other hand, sewed my components in a row and I did this for four rows. I guess you could equate that to a sixteen-patch. To make sure the points for HSTs turned out all right, I pinned them either side of the seam line. Since the seams are pressed to the dark side they line up without any trouble at all.

Pic-Blk 1-PinningWhen sewing the two rowsPic-Blk 1-Alignment together I wanted to make sure the seams in the first row were pressed in one direction and the seams in the second row were pressed in the opposite direction. To help keep things lined up I pinned on either side of the seam within the 1/4” seam allowance space. If you can do this so that the fold on top is going away from you when you’re sewing then the seams should line up and look great once sewn. I learned this trick by watching Alex Anderson on The Quilt Show. If you’ve not already signed up for this extravaganza of learning you need to do that right after you finish reading this post. Pic-Blk 1-Rows 1 n 2

Another trick I used I also learned on The Quilt Show from a lesson with Jo Morton. Instead of pressing whole seams to the dark, she sometimes snips a seamPic-Blk 1-Cut Seam so that those who want to face towards the right can and those that want to face toward the left can. It makes for a flatter seam and reduces bulk. You just have to be careful and not snip through the seam. It’s an interesting idea and does make things nice and flat as a result. Once I had all four rows sewn together I pressed the joining seams open.

Pic-Blk 1-Finished BlockMy preferred block size is 6″. I like how my block turned out and am pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever done a block in red and yellow. I just picked up two strips that I had close at hand, you know, those strips I tear off the ends of new bolts to straighten them up. Now I have to decide if I want the rest of my blocks to follow this bright color path or not. What do you think?

GIVEAWAY! If you’d like to make a block just like this one, leave me a comment by Sunday, November 8. I’ll give one person, drawn at random, a sweet sixteen (approx. 9”x11”) of each of the fabrics I used. That way we can match or you can reverse the colors if you like and make your block look totally different. I’d love to see your blocks and Moda would too. You can post them at #modasamplershuffle. I’m guessing that’s an Instagram site. I don’t have one set up for the shop yet but am working on it. I’ll let you know once I’ve got it up and running.

So, start pulling out some scraps and lets have some fun!

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