11 June, 2021

Continuing On...

I am still plugging away on the Chrismon path, I've hit a few potholes and endured some detours along the way but I'm persevering, holding steady and not veering off. After returning to the supply store a few weeks back to purchase some more kits to try, I've been dedicating whatever free time that I can carve out in the afternoons to work on these. The written directions take some getting used to. The Star Cross (far right, above) gave me fits, my first attempt was pitiful!  I took it completely apart, got new wire, and tried it again yesterday. This is how it is supposed to look. Hooray! A friend and I are going back to Rufty's,  "Chrismon Central", in a couple of weeks to take another (intermediate level this time! Yikes!!) class. She's been much more prolific in her efforts than I have, see below: 
She's become a Chrismon-making machine! Aren't they all beautiful, each and every one?
The two of us got to together the other afternoon at church just to see how many we're going to need to fill one of the trees that we'll use for this purpose during Advent. We carefully laid our completed Chrismons on a tree, just where it stood in the storage room, as an audition of sorts. Not bad. We're still going to need many more, but this gives us an idea; we've got time. Hopefully we'll be recruiting eager "makers" this fall within our own church family; and we have years and years to build our collection. In the meantime, I'll be continuing on... one bead at a time, learning all that I can along the way.
To God be the Glory!
Life is Good!

10 June, 2021

Lessons Learned

This is what school looked like this year, not only for Gregory, but for all four of our grandchildren; they all participated in what's known as Virtual Academy for this '20-'21 school year. They're lucky, both our daughter and our daughter-in-law have been present and committed to overseeing their online school days and helping them to develop skills in focus, independence and self-sufficiency. Taking children successfully from an in-person classroom to one on-screen has been challenging and not without many speed bumps along the way. I've heard this transition and all the planning and organizing that it took to make remote learning "a thing" referred to as building the airplane in flight. Certainly it was a Herculean task, one that was unprecedented. Slowly, this year, as schools began returning students to the classrooms in person there was a percentage who, like those in our family, kept on doing what they've been doing all year. Getting up in the morning and signing on through their laptops. 
Here's what the school day looked like in our son and daughter-in-law's kitchen. 
Their family was profiled in a piece about Virtual Academy for our local newspaper back in August when they began the year, and with a second, front page, "wrap-up" piece this week on the last day. Mr. G and I were on hand Tuesday for their final day of this school year. I was impressed, seeing first-hand, their abilities to stay on task, keep track of their breaks by setting their own timers and being so responsible. This hasn't been easy, not by any means, and so much of the credit goes to those at home supervising this method of schooling; but, I'm proud of these young students who've hung in there and rolled with the punches every step of the way.  The lessons learned along the way will serve them for a lifetime. 
Well done!
Life is Good! 

07 June, 2021

New Beginnings...

At this time of year, with graduations and end-of-school-year excitement,  my mind always travels back to those "last" days when I was young. There was so much anticipation of what was to come, what great things awaited, those things that were always just out of grasp and view. I ran across this photograph the other day. This was my graduation day from Vermont College in 1973. Mr. G and were just engaged to be married the night before (such young faces!!) we were both on the brink of a whole new beginning and had no idea whatsoever of what was in store for us in the months and years to come!  I wonder what we were both thinking at this moment in time. Fast forward to today, we've only just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary; and what a blessed life we've led. Each day has held its own surprises and adventures. We think we know how our lives will unfold, we plan and chart our courses; but, as we all know, life can toss us some curve balls. If we're not prepared to run out of our way and remain flexible in what we hope to achieve and when we might get there, we may just end up disappointed, disillusioned and giving up on those dreams all together.  Life isn't a sprint and there's not always a straight line from A to B. My advice to anyone on the brink of a new beginning is to stay firm, hold on to your dreams and not let go. You have no idea what's to come but your loving God does; a God who will never abandon you, one who only wants the very best for you and your life. Be of good faith!
How's this for a portrait of love and commitment? This happy couple celebrated seventy years of marriage yesterday! As a church family we were privileged to celebrate with them yesterday after worship, with cake and heaps of congratulatory wishes we all had the opportunity to hear the story of their wedding day in 1951; the moment that these two, embarking on a new beginning of their own, stepped out in love and faith! Would we live our lives differently if we knew what was ahead? Of course we would. But, that would be living a life without faith, and I can't imagine anything sadder. Believing in God's goodness is the key, for what is the definition of faith but the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There's where our hope for all new beginnings lies! Greet each day full of hope and expectation, it's not just those big milestone moments like graduations, engagements and weddings but it's each little faith-filled step along the way that gets us to our goals!

Celebrate life every day...
Life is good!

31 May, 2021

One Scoop, Please!

I decided that I would like to add a new hopping foot option to Snowbird a few weeks ago, I really wanted a Scoop Foot. Since my longarm is not one of the newer machines that has the quick change option, that addition that I craved was going to necessitate installing an upgrade kit to make this happen. Mr. Goodneedle agreed to do the installation and I placed the order. The job was a labor intensive one, but it's been accomplished and I couldn't be happier now to have the option of changing out my hopping feet depending on the project. "Why?", you may ask. Let me explain. Up until recently I had been perfectly happy quilting everything with my standard-issue 1/4" hopping foot. Here's that foot. It gets the job done, is a true 1/4" and works beautifully for both pantographs and ruler work. You might remember those T-shirt quilts that I did earlier this spring. This was the first time that I encountered differences in thicknesses while quilting on the pantograph (or back) side of the machine. Those stabilized T-shirts were slightly thicker than the sashing fabric and whenever this hopping foot would encounter a slightly raised seam it needed coaxing up and over. The stitching was still perfect, it was just part of the rhythm of quilting those two quilts. I knew about the scoop foot and it was these small "challenges" that led me to do the research and, ultimately, to place the order.
And here's the Scoop! As you can see, those cupped edges will smoothly travel up and over any differences in thickness, I love it!  I am so glad that I have opened myself up to a new option and have moved forward and made the change. How many times do we miss out on the very best when we're content to simply leave things the way they are because it requires less effort? I know that I can be guilty of that.
Speaking of the very best: here's another antique quilt top that was rescued to now live its BEST life! I was privileged to be able to quilt this one. Think about living your best life, what little changes are within your control to help make this happen? You never know, you might just be joyfully surprised!
I wish you all a happy Memorial Day today. 
This quilt isn't mine, (but I wish it was!!) it is from Quilted Threads
one of my favorite quilt shops, located in Henniker, NH.

Life is Good!  

26 May, 2021

A Stellar Day!

Yesterday I did something that I have wanted to do for DECADES- I grabbed a few like minded friends and we set off for an adventure down the road; to learn Chrismon making! The results of three hours of tedious work are shown here. This is the "New Gold Star" (the five pointed star announces the birth of Christ), a prophecy from the Old Testament told that "there shall come a star  out of Jacob, a scepter shall rise out of Israel"  -Numbers 24:17
Now that we have a church building of our own, and will have a Chrismon tree to decorate, my mind is already racing forward to Chrismons and how to make them, so off we went. I went with much unbridled zeal for this task and was completely and totally overwhelmed once I entered the space where the class was to be held. The sheer number of Chrismons displayed, along with the varying degrees of difficulty for construction, boggled my mind. Even my over-the-top level of enthusiasm for was no match for the skill required to twist and pull the beading wires into a recognizable shape while reading a pattern that may have even confused me more!  There was time to browse and shop after the class concluded but my brain was too tired at that point to concentrate. I couldn't imagine what I might want to do next and knew that I needed time to rest and think. If you know me, you understand that I don't easily admit defeat; it's going to take much more than a misshapen, less than perfect star to discourage me from sticking with this, I'll keep at it for as long as it takes to build confidence and get it right. It really was truly satisfying to hold that New Gold Star, wonky or not, in my hand and imagine it shining brightly on a Chrismon tree in our sanctuary.
This snapshot reveals a stressed look that was 100% authentic!

Since I've been home I've developed a plan. I've dedicated a box with compartments to a someday bead collection, started a notebook and drawn up a shopping list and a plan of attack. This experience clearly reminds me of the very first time that I ever shopped at Mary Jo's Cloth Store in the late 80's. I went with a neighbor and was so overwhelmed being in a fabric store the size of a large discount department store that I couldn't decide what to buy and came home empty-handed!
Mary Jo's, back in the day.

Suffice it to say that I never came away from this fabric lover's mecca without anything ever again, the next time, and every. single. time. after that, too many to count (think: semi-annual pilgrimages), I always returned home fully stocked and knew what I needed ahead of time before I ventured out. I always had an attack plan! Sadly, after Mary Jo passed away in 2017, the doors closed for good; two years later.

With that experience as a guide, I knew exactly what to do after I returned home yesterday; develop a plan!
 I'm definitely going back.
I'm in big trouble. 

24 May, 2021

Going On, Growing On...

You may remember that I began this perennial garden, located just outside of my sewing room, two years ago. I've had some good luck, some bad luck and have learned a TON along the way! So, two years later, I have a lovely and peaceful space that is filling in and providing much enjoyment. I have moved, dug up and transplanted many things, all part of the learning curve. I'm rewarded with the reemergence of old "friends" and have added a few new ones this spring. 
This area has become a haven for birds, "hummers" and butterflies too. Those handmade stepping stones are weathering in nicely and have developed a nice patina. 
On the subject of growing on... our two youngest grandchildren spent the weekend with us. Gregory is now ten years old and Lynnleigh, eight; they're finishing up the fourth and second grades, resectively. We had a great time going to Cracker Barrel for dinner, playing games, helping with church responsibilities, practicing piano and exploring the wonders of sparkling maple syrup on waffles! 
We delighted in every minute that they were with us, the house is very quiet this morning. Today is our forty-sixth wedding anniversary, as far as how we're celebrating: Mr. Goodneedle is outside splitting wood and I am quilting at the longarm today. We'll thoroughly enjoy a dinner out tonight, as we did these roses recycled from yesterday's worship service on our breakfast table today. Time marches on and so do we.
May 24, 1975

Going on and growing on... together.
Life is Good!

21 May, 2021

Hand Pieced~ But By Whom?

I had the privilege of quilting a hand-pieced beauty this past week. Oh, how I'd love to know the history of this one. How old is it? From where did it come?
If you study closely, you can see the hand stitches that were lovingly placed, joining together this lively array of feedsacks and vintage fabrics. The top was purchased by a friend of a friend. She machine washed it (!!) before I received it for quilting. The stitches were strong and the top sturdy enough for a trip through the washer. I carefully pressed it with Magic sizing and squared it up the best that I could. 
Once loaded onto the rails I gently quilted an open, modified clamshell design. The result speaks for itself, I thought that the overall effect was just perfect. The quilt's owner plans to use it for display.
Oh, if this quilt could only talk!