27 July, 2015

SEVEN!

The weekend was a busy one! We spent Saturday in the Captial City helping Mason celebrate another birthday, they're coming faster and faster each year it seems. Seven years old already!  SEVEN!! Wow. He has a loving a giving heart; his request, in lieu of gifts, was that his friends bring non perishable food items to be donated to The Food Bank. After bowling and pizza, the family (both sets of grandparents, Mom, Dad, Mason and Lucy Ann) drove to The Food Bank to drop off the donations; we all pitched and volunteered there together, sorting fresh corn for distribution. It was one terrific day we'll all remember.

Oh, and if you're wondering how old the birthday boy's sister is now, here you go. She'll be holding up all the fingers on that hand come October. Sigh.
Life is Good!

24 July, 2015

Changing My Mind

I can't stand to be left out... even when it's been by my own design, I didn't have the time to start the Summer Sampler sew-along from Temecula Quilt Company this time. I had done the Alphabet Sampler last fall and enjoyed it, but I just didn't need to start one more project. Quiltkeemosabe showed me her 4" blocks on Wednesday when I was at her house, hers were wonderful. I was still resistant, but wearing down. On the drive back home I kept thinking about those cute little blocks. My mother had bestowed upon me her leftover black and white scraps from a recently finished quilt. "I wonder"... I thought, "how would those blocks look in all black prints with a controlled background fabric"?  You can see for yourself. I've finished week #1. I'm late to this party (they're already on week #7) but the blocks are small and I am eager, I'll catch up. I believe I'll set mine alternately with the flax linen blend shown behind the blocks, this looks classy to me. Do you ever decide that you're too busy to participate in "this", "that" or "the other thing" and then wish later that you could have joined in the fun? I do it all the time. I've tried to learn to loosen up a little and refocus, I know that if I don't I'll miss out on a lot. Like all this cuteness!

I've been saving all of my own leftover scraps from past projects into a designated laundry-sized basket for a few years. I had intended to take a day each month to press them and cut them into usable sizes. These scraps were (in my estimation) too small to shelve but too large to toss. The appointed "cutting days" never quite made it to my calendar and the days filled up with other activities... however, that basket filled up too. This week I dragged it out and sighed, the idea of spending time and energy on these scraps was daunting and, frankly, a little draining. I wanted to change my mind about ever holding onto them in the first place but somehow I felt committed to seeing the task through. My husband walked through the room while I was deliberating this decision. He asked me why I felt obligated to a basketful of scraps, I really couldn't answer. "Throw them out", he advised, "and don't look back, it's not like you're going to run out of fabric anytime soon".  I took his advice, the scraps went straight to the trash can (he volunteered to do it for me, I didn't have the heart). He was right, I was liberated from something I thought I ought to do and am rejoicing once again after having changed my mind! Lesson learned, I'm not going to beat myself up over altering courses either, I'm blessed that I have that prerogative.

And sew, here I go... 
(quite contentedly using someone else's scraps!)
Life is Good!

22 July, 2015

Charms Of A Different Variety

I've been sharing charms lately, fabric charms; today I'm sharing charms of a different variety: have a look at these treasured silver charms. My sweet mother-in-law has been going through her jewelry and giving pieces away. Our daughter had expressed an interest in this charm bracelet of her grandmother's; she remembered wearing it many years ago when she would stay after Sunday dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house to play dress-up. Grandma would let her wear some of her special jewelry and she'd dress up in layers of Grandma's tops and scarves, she was, maybe three or four years old. Marcia remembered that Grandma told her: "someday, when you're grown up, that bracelet will be yours".  Grandma remembered that too, she gave it us a few weeks ago to deliver to our daughter in the Capital City. The story behind the bracelet is that my mother in law wore it when she was in high school; in the late 1930's to 1940. The heart charms were all gifts from friends and family, most of them are engraved with names or initials. Look carefully at the puffed heart in the center of the close-up, "Daddy" is engraved there. I never knew my husband's grandfather, but this touched my heart. There is also a charm from "Mother" as well as one from my father-in-law when he was but a teen too, so many memories... so much love.
I polished it up as best as I could before giving it to our daughter. Some of the enamel-faced hearts were already worn, I believe that only adds to the value. I know that our daughter will cherish this gift, as she does the precious relationship with her grandmother. The best part of the transfer of ownership of this bracelet is this: Grandma knows that the love goes on... from one generation to the next, to the next... this pretty bracelet full of hearts is only a symbol; someday our daughter can pass it down too, the bracelet is now a family heirloom. 
My heart is smiling.
Life is Good!

21 July, 2015

New Tools = Happy Quilter!

I'm all set for tomorrow's Bible Study at Quiltkeemosabe's home. Ten more blocks done this past month, we're 43.5% done (88 out of 202 blocks).  Working out of Rosemary Young's Quilt Block Bible has been lots of fun as well as challenging when it comes to writing up all of the piecing instructions. I've put some great tools to work this time: Studio 180 Designs Corner Beam and Corner Pop tools have proven invaluable in working out the blocks in chapter two, Pinwheels and Windmills, shown in the photo at left, the bottom four blocks. I'm glad I happened to have them in my tool arsenal, as well as the E-Z Tri Tool. I have added Marsha McCloskey's Feathered Star Ruler to my bag of tricks, Quiltkeemosabe had recommended it to me and boy, am I ever glad that she did! It is a ruler marked for precision cutting 1/8ths and 1/16ths. I now find that I can tackle these impossibly small-seeming cut sizes without fear! I am still loving Creative Grids Itty-Bitty Eights ruler, but this new one (to me) opens up yet another way when it comes to precise 1/16" cuts. YAY!! All of these blocks shown are 6", finished, to give you some perspective.  So here's the deal: I'm certainly not suggesting that you go out and buy all of the rulers that I have referenced here. What I am thinking, though, is that you may have some of these rulers in your sewing room, they may even be collecting dust; get them out. Dust them off. Familiarize yourself with them and their capabilities. These are precision tools; they're designed by really smart people who've already done all of the hard math for you. Use them! The results will show up in your piecing. It's a definite win-win.
Panning out from the tight shot, above, you'll see what's growing from the bottom up on my design wall. It's the tumbler challenge thrown out earlier this month as a Leader-Ender project by Bonnie Hunter. I'm calling mine, a charm quilt, TMX2 (The More The Merrier). It's totally mindless piecing which, sometimes, is oh-sew-necessary after precision sewing for accuracy.  Whatever you're piecing in your sewing room, I hope you're having fun... remember, after all, why we do what we do; this is (or should be) our happy place!
Life is Good!

20 July, 2015

Let's Celebrate!

Nine years and 1800 posts. Yep, you read that right; this is a milestone post for me. It actually began a little over nine years ago, June of 2006 to be exact. My son talked me into starting a blog, I really wasn't interested at the time; I didn't know what I would blog about. Ahem; I guess I figured that out! Over the years this place has become a forum for miscellany from me: commentaries, quilty content, book reviews, product recommendations, grandchildren show and tell, opinion pieces, faith stories, sewing projects, prayers, photo gallery, travelogue, time management tips, quilt shop reviews, household hints, and a place to brag about Hannes the wonder dog. I have sought advice here and asked for your opinions. If you've been a reader from the beginning, are an occasional visitor or even if you're brand new to The Strawberry Patch, I thank you for taking the time to stop by. Through the years I have considered, at several times, giving this up; but I haven't, I've gone on hiatus and returned, something has always drawn me back. I have some friends and family members who keep up with me through this venue, that's been enough to keep me fueled and running even when it's been on barely more than fumes. If you read my previous post, you know that I attended a memorial service for a freind last week. When I was greeting her husband at the reception afterwards he mentioned to me how Marianna read my blog faithfully, I was deeply touched.  One of the greatest side benefits of blogging has been meeting up with some blogger friends in real life... that has been both exciting and affirming, almost like spending time with a pen pal, there has been that instant recognition of previously shared time together (even though it was cyber in nature), omitting all of the awkward small talk and ice-breakers that normally accompany an initial get-together. In sincere appreciation for you being here and in celebration of this milestone I would like to host a little giveaway, it's a small, yet sincere, token of my thanks for your readership and your encouragement over the years. Just leave me a comment; I'd love to know why you've stopped by and for how long you've been coming back to this spot. I'll draw a winning name, at random, sometime next week. Thanks again, now... let's celebrate; 1800 and more to come!

Life is Good!

17 July, 2015

My Magnificent Mentors

Marianna ~ one of my magnificent mentors,
circa 1992.
I started quilting back in 1982; the first class that I took was at a small fabric/quilt shop from a wonderfully kind lady who remains a dear and treasured friend to this day, her name is Ann.  Ann encouraged me to join a local quilt guild, it was there that I first met the magnificent mentors. These ladies may not have even realized how important they became in my life as the years progressed. There was Fannye, I have blogged about her and her legacy here before; then there were the Pfafftown Four. The Pfafftown Four were ladies who demonstrated nothing but pure and honest appreciation and love for quilting; Lib, Zola, Natalie and Marianna were masterful quiltmakers whom I admired, respected and looked to for guidance and direction. They quilted with open hearts, always willing and eager to sit and show me how to accomplish any little trick or technique if I even suggested I might want to learn how to do what they were doing. They were just those kind of ladies, through the years I have remained grateful to each one of them for their kindness and enduring friendship. One by one, they've left their earthly homes for a place in Heaven, taking a small piece of my heart each time. On Monday Marianna joined them, what a glorious reunion the magnificent mentors must be having!  I attended Marianna's memorial service yesterday, it was a loving tribute to a beautiful lady in every sense of that word; several of her quilts were on display at the reception afterwards, I am still in awe of her miniscule hand quilting stitches and flawless hand applique, there is a void now that can't ever be filled.  I am suddenly face to face with the fact that I am one of those older generation quilters now, the responsibility associated with that is a heavy one. I'm not all together sure that the next quilting generation is as sponge-like in their quest to absorb knowledge as I was. With the proliferation of classes, books and you tube videos today's young quiltmakers are equipped with everything they need to be successful from their very first project; there's value in that, but, from my perspective, they're missing out on the very best part... the intergenerational relationships that add incalculable worth.  Think about this: who do look to as a mentor (in any regard, not necessarily in quilting) today? And now, think of the flip side of that question: to whom can you act as a mentor right now? What skills can you offer freely from your own heart and hands? Personally, I know that so much has been handed down to me; others saw fit to preserve and protect what was of greatest value by passing down that torch personally; it's too heavy to hang on to by myself... out of loving respect to my magnificent mentors I want to reach out in kind wherever I can. My heart may be heavy this evening but my gratitude is overflowing, I am deeply thankful to each and every magnificent mentor who has touched my life along the way with love, kindness, friendship and the desire to be the very best that I can be in whatever I set my mind to do.
Life is Good!

16 July, 2015

Summer Snapshots

We took a ride in the 1964 Olds convertible over the 4th of July weekend (Hannes, too!). 
This little church demonstrates national pride in celebration of America's Independence Day.
God Bless America
Swim Meets are a big part of summer for our Capital City grandchildren;
we attended this weeks' meet to help cheer them on to victory. 




Mason and Lucy Ann, the happy fish competitors.
Back to the weekend of the 4th; our son and his family traveled 
to the mountains for time away with friends. Gregory and Lynnleigh
showing off their flag waving American pride!

Ah... summer, how quickly your days slip away.
Hold on tight; enjoy each and every one.

Life is Good!