28 July, 2016

What Is Ministry?

I am blessed to be a part of two ministries that have nothing to do, necessarily, with a church in particular. I always believed that the word itself, ministry, implied the church. My understanding of the word is broader today: I think of it now as service to others; of meeting a specific need. Webster defines ministry this way: "a person or thing through which something is accomplished". So, what ministries am I referring to? Nap Blankets, for one. Our local quilt guild supplies nap blankets to the schools that offer a pre-K program. There is a criteria for the schools that offer this program: 75% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, these are children in need. The Bee (small quilt group) to which I belong has adopted a school, we have committed to providing three classes their nap blankets (45 students) for each school year. The little ones choose their blanket on day one and they nap under it all year and take it home forever on their last day. Suffice it to say they LOVE their nap blankets-- and our Bee loves making them.
The second ministry I am blessed to participate in makes pillowcases for children with cancer. I couldn't be more grateful to have a LQS which supplies the classroom space and the fabrics! We gather once a month to make cute, colorful pillowcases to lift the spirits of hospitalized children and to brighten their otherwise grim and clinical surroundings. 
This pillowcase maker has just begun sewing again after a thirty nine year hiatus from her machine; she did a fantastic job! What ministry have your sewing skills brought you to-- right here and right now? Even if you might not think of a local project as a ministry, it just may be that. We ARE the church, no matter our background, our denomination or where we sit on Sunday mornings. Know that God is calling all of His children to take care of each other today-- right where we are.
Luke 12:48 -- "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required..."
Life is Good!

27 July, 2016

Twinkling Bug Jar

I would like to introduce you to M.J. (Mason Jar); he's the latest addition to the natural area just off the side porch outside the studio.  He guards the birdfeeders and the birdbath by day with his whimsical good looks and bug-eyed, rustic charm; but it's after dark that M.J. really goes to work!  Equipped with a solar collector inside his lid, which powers a rechargeable battery, the tiny string of LED lights twinkle for hours on end after the sun goes down. M.J. was a gift from Mr. Goodneedle's cousin and her husband, who visited with us earlier this month. I was hopeful that he would prove a deterrent to the ravenous deer who patrol at night to partake of our Hosta, Day Lilies and Black-Eyed Susan (you can clearly see a few of these nibbled off flowers directly behind M.J.), but so far I don't think that the deer have been fazed. Oh, well, no matter; I just love the night magic that's happening in the garden currently.  You can enjoy it too!  
Life is Good!

26 July, 2016

Inside The Strawberry Patch

It might be HOT outside but there are cool things going on inside The Strawberry Patch. Our DIL (and Gregory and Lynnleigh) came over bright and early this morning with a lovely baby quilt top that she made for a friend last month; today was quilting day! Snowbird was ready. She attached a pretty sheet music print for the outer borders (the recipient's daddy is a musician) and used the same fabric for the back. She quilted a simple Loopdeloop pantograph with white thread, it was perfect! The crowning touch is the pieced, rainbow-hued scrappy binding. 
While Mama quilted Gregory stitched squares together into a tiny quilt with Nana's antique hand-crank machine. It performed beautifully. 
Lynnleigh chose to create a collage with fabric squares, paper and a glue stick. At noon Mr. Goodneedle grilled hamburgers outside for our lunch; a treat for everyone. By 3:00 PM the quilt was done and the young ones were packed up and on their way back home: "a good time was had by all"!
Life is Good!

25 July, 2016

A Barn Is Born

"Harvest Barn" ~ 21" X 34"

Welcome to the barn! At long last, the Harvest Barn is a reality. Hatched from my imagination, and sketched on paper back in 1993, this barn of my dreams exists today thanks to no-pattern construction outlined and followed, step by step, straight from Julie Sefton's Build-A-Barn book. Click here for the back-story, a previous post. You can have your own barn too: if you can dream it, you can build it! Let me share my progress, through photos, to give you a glimpse of the process. At the end of today's post you will have the opportunity to win a copy of Julie's fantastic Build-A-Barn book.
Working from my sketch, the first thing that I did was go to the stash and pull fabrics that I thought might work for the various elements: sky, ground, barn, windows, doors. I labeled my selections.
Following the directions in the book I made a section of scrappy ground strata; I wanted lots of oranges to depict an overall image of fall leaves strewn among an abundant pumpkin patch. From the ground a barn structure began to emerge. 
My original plan was to applique the "X" door braces but I changed my mind. Using Julie's method I inserted strips for the cross-timbering, I love the results; I also decided to add a spit-rail fence to the left using an easy step-by-step approach as outlined within the pages. 
From that point on it was all details. The originally selected sky fabric proved too vibrant, at least it did to my eye, (lower left in the photo above) but the reverse side of that same fabric worked perfectly (lower right). And so, the sky fabric was used on the WRONG SIDE; which seemed just right to me! I found a very old piece of fabric in the closet which contained enough pumpkins of exactly the correct size and scale (or so I thought) to pull the piece together. 
Using fusible web and sharp, tiny scissors I loaded the barn scene up with pumpkins galore; pinning the elements in place on the design wall before pressing them into place. I left it there a while to ponder and change things around as I saw fit. Mr. Goodneedle walked by and after only a quick glance suggested removing the three gargantuan pumpkins as well as taking everything away from the front of the barn doors. "No self-respecting farmer would ever pile things in front of a door that's being used." Right.
I shifted a few things around just so. Then, the machine applique began-- the tree, the sign, the weather vane and the bumper crop of pumpkins! Oh, I almost forgot-- a few bushels of apples too.
Harvest Barn: quilted and ready for binding. Can't you just hear the excited squeals of every preschooler who's ever visited a pumpkin patch in October?

As the binding was applied I was able to sit quietly with my barn and reflect. I am SEW excited to report that I couldn't have been one bit happier with the results of this project. Working from my own mind with the benefit of tried and true techniques from the book I was able to complete my very own twenty three year old dream barn in a way that far exceeded my wildest dream. Are you ready to Build-A Barn of your own?

Leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to be entered in a giveaway to win an autographed copy of Julie Sefton's book.  Be sure that as a commenter you're able to be reached via e-mail. If we can't contact you we won't know where to send the book. That would be sad. A winner will be selected on Saturday, July 30. If you're not the lucky recipient, fear not: Julie's book is available via the link above as well as bookstores and through your local quilt shop. If you can't find it, ask; they can get it for you!
Life is Good!

24 July, 2016

EIGHT Already!

How did this happen? EIGHT years old-- already!?! 
Where else to celebrate Mason's birthday on a 100 degree day in the Capital City than at the pool?
Time waits for no one; Lucy Ann, our second oldest grandchild, will begin Kindergarten in a few short weeks. But, for now, fun in the sun is her favorite daily activity. As it should be.
After cupcakes and candles it was back to the pool to cool off. Happy Birthday, Mason!
 Eight is great!
Life is Good!

23 July, 2016

Red Stars and Painted Rocks

 Red is my favorite color. When given the choice between red, blue or gold this year as the the primary selection in my LQS' Lemoyne Star block-of-the-month program there was no second thought on my part. Red it is. This month we were to construct four six inch blocks to combine as one. I decided not to join mine together as the overall layout of mine will include many other red and white blocks that I have accumulated over the years; they're not all twelve inch blocks either. I am eager, one day, to combine those orphan quilt blocks with these, plus more, into one grand red and white pièce de résistance.  

We had our youngest grandchildren for an overnight stay this week; rock painting was a popular, impromptu, activity. Lynnleigh chose to decorate many rocks.
Gregory chose to concentrate on, and embellish, only a few; he was much more exacting in his technique. 
 He explained what he was doing, and why, as he worked. His rocks were special "police car" rocks. 
Gregory carefully rinsed off his brushes between colors too. Lynnleigh preferred color blending on hers.
When his sister took a nap Gregory quietly worked in workbooks. He explained that he needs to be prepared for Kindergarten. Sigh. It won't be long... only a few weeks before that happens for real. He wants to be ready. Nana never will be.
Life is Good!

18 July, 2016

Forecast: Extended Summer Breeze

"Summer Breeze" 52" X 68"
What could be more welcome than a summer breeze?  Soft, light and sweet; providing relief from days of endless heat, a summer breeze can provide a refreshing respite. This small quilt is a combination of all the above, it lives up to its name. Seals and Crofts knew what they were talking  singing about in 1972.

"Summer breeze, makes me feel fine.  Blowing through the jasmine in my mind."  

The six inch pinwheel blocks are composed of leftover background pieces from "Out of the Blue", I had a box full.  Truth be told, I likely still have enough for yet another similar-sized project!
The top was sashed with an "audition" fabric that I had purchased for another quilt. It's an Essex Yarn-dyed Linen, the color is "Leather". It didn't work in the trial quilt I had in mind, but I love it here! I had just the right amount. While rummaging through the stash closet I came across a piece just perfect for the backing (folded on the sofa's arm); it came from my mother's stash as a result of a clean-out last fall, I was the lucky recipient. And yes, you guessed it, there was exactly enough! That summer breeze is a serendipitous one! The color in this photo reads a little "gold-er" than real life.
"Dewdrops in the Garden", a pantograph by Urban Elementz, added the perfect swirls and circles to soften the edges of all those angles and square corners. I love the way the thread appears against the linen weave of the sashing and borders.
Ready for binding, "Summer Breeze", front and back.
"Summer breeze, makes me feel fine.  Blowing through the jasmine in my mind."  
You're going to be humming along with me for the rest of the day!
Life is Good!