Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Making progress

Earlier this month, I wrote about the whirligig quilt blocks I was making and how I was unsure how I would set them together. Well, I've made a decision! I decided that all the bright colors I used in the blocks need to be toned down a bit and I think black is the right choice.

Now before you look at the photos, you need to understand the kind of quilting I do. I prefer to do all my crafting by hand which means that my quilts are all sewn by sewing machine touches them! The thought of hand quilting a huge bed-sized quilt was a daunting idea so my early years of quilting involved making small wall hangings. They were fun to do, but I felt limited. Then I dreamed up an idea that had each block being backed and bound like a big quilt and then the blocks are whipped together. I thought I was being creative, but a search on the Internet turned up information about "pot holder" quilts. From what I can understand, the quilting ladies of old would make a block as a sample to see if they wanted to make a full quilt of that pattern. Sometimes they decided it wasn't what they wanted as a quilt so they bound the block and laid it aside. When they had enough, they whipped them together to make a quilt. Instead of using the block as a pot holder, it was grouped with others for a quilt. My "original" thought wasn't so original at all!

I have now made two pot holder quilts. The first one I kept for myself because that was the one I practiced on. The second one is the anniversary quilt I made for my brother and sister-in-law. That brings me up to what I'm working on now. The whirligig block was a free download from Connecting Threads. I have put my own touch on the pattern, of course, by leaving off the center yo-yo/circle. I'm working on the fifth block, but I thought you might want to see what they look like so far.

These are three of the completed blocks. The blocks are 10" square finished size. The black binding is 1" on each side which leaves 9" of background fabric. And yes, the colors are bright! I do think the black binding helps, though. If you look closely, you can see that I have quilted around each whirligig and then quilted just inside the border of each blade. That makes a pretty pattern on the back, I think.

The background colors include the pink, purple and blue that you see here as well as green, orange and yellow. In all, there are about eight different background colors. I am still not sure if I'm going to put the blocks side by side or if I will alternate the whirligig with a solid block. I'll have to get a few more whirligig blocks finished so I can make that call.

I do think this is going to be a really pretty quilt. So far, I have no plans for it. It may be another that I keep for myself. Or I might give it to my best gal-pal Vicky. Or I might donate it to charity. Lots of options out there!

Several people have asked me how I fill my time now that I am retired (for almost a year!). Well, folks, this is it! My mind whirls about 150 miles an hour thinking up new projects that I want to tackle. So far, I haven't experienced a boring day and I don't anticipate that happening in the near future. I'll be in good shape as long as the fabric and yarn holds out...and I stocked up on both of those while I was working. I doubt I'll live long enough to use all of my stash. And if I do use up everything, well guess I'll just have to go shopping for more. ha!

Til next time,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

SWANs night out

Last fall, my neighbor and good friend, Denise, asked me to go with her to a stitching group. This group is composed of a dozen or so ladies who get together on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. The purpose of the meeting is to stitch, drink coffee (or other non-alcoholic drink) and talk. I'm not much of a joiner, but I decided to give it a try. Boy, am I glad I did! I was welcomed into the group in a way I would never have anticipated. In most situations, my style is to keep my mouth shut and get the lay of the land before I start adding to conversations. These ladies made me feel so welcome that I was jumping in with both feet. What a wonderful experience.

To begin with, I thought it was just a bunch of friends, which they are. However, after a month or so an e-mail to the group referred to them as SWANs. What in the world??? So, of course, I had to ask. Turns out that they agreed that they needed to call themselves something and thus SWAN, which stands for Sophisticated Women Addicted to Needlework. All of the group members -- except me -- are counted cross stitchers. Oh, I think they have other needle crafts that they do from time to time, but their main craft is counted cross stitch. I used to make counted cross stitch projects, but I guess it just isn't the craft for me because the phase didn't last. I appreciate the workmanship that goes into the items, but I'll let others do the work and I'll admire from afar.

I was afraid that I might not fit in with the others because I'm not a cross stitcher, but Denise assured me that any needlework was fine. Sometimes I take knitting and other times I take a quilting project. And each time the group asks what I'm working on, how I'm going to finish other words, showing interest for what I'm doing.

Each week that we meet, I come home fired up to work on my crafts -- not that I need firing up. It just feels good to be out with a bunch of women with whom I have nothing in common other than a love of crafting. Most of the group are public school teachers, some are retired, but we all have the same goal of relaxation through crafting. I can't think of a better way to spend a Thursday evening!

Til next time,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Original thoughts?

A few days ago, I wrote about redefining myself in retirement. I suppose I was arrogant enough to think that this was an original idea. Well, fooled again! The very next morning as I watched the Today Show, Jane Pauley was on to showcase a new segment that she will present once a month. The focus of her segment is how retirees redefine themselves. Guess I'm not so original after all! I'm looking forward to her series because as we Baby Boomers age and retire, there will be more and more redefinition going on and learning how others have gone through the process just might help me.

Pauley's focus this month was on a woman who retired after a long career. Apparently the woman had always enjoyed knitting, but as is the case with most of us she did not have much time to devote to her hobby during her career. In retirement, however, she turned her love of knitting into an opportunity to teach others how to knit. What a wonderful way to reinvent herself! This woman obviously has knitting ability and seems to be blessed with the additional ability to teach. That is a wonderful quality to have and now her hobby is spreading to others.

I have read several articles about the health benefits of hobbies and I wholeheartedly agree that hobbies can help keep one sane. Teaching others how to knit (or any other hobby of choice) is not only helping the teacher, but is spreading good health practices to others.

Switching topics... Yesterday, I joined in the celebration at the Missouri School of Journalism in honor of Kappa Tau Alpha's 100th anniversary. It was a wonderful day. The weather was great and I caught up with several of my former colleagues and students. The best part of the celebration is that Dr. Bill Taft, my first J-School boss and long-time executive director of KTA until his retirement, attended the luncheon. He is 89 years old and doesn't get around as well as he used to, but his sense of humor is as sharp as always. It was a wonderful day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

How do you stop it?

Creativity is a wonderful trait. Well, mostly wonderful until the ideas start tumbling around. When that happens, I feel like I've developed ADD. I always have two or three projects that I'm working on at one time. That helps alleviate boredom from working on only one project. But I find that while I'm working on one thing, my brain is thinking up more projects. It's hard to not drop what I'm working on and start a new project. How do you stop the ideas from coming? Should we even want to stop the ideas? I don't know the answer to those questions and my guess is no one else does either.

I have found that the closer I get to finishing a project, especially a large one, it gets harder to focus on finishing this one before starting something new. Case in point: My brother and sister-in-law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago. I thought I was planning ahead and started a quilt for them about a year before the actual anniversary. I didn't get the quilt finished by the anniversary because my hands started acting up with arthritis symptoms. I did keep plugging away on the quilt and finally finished by their 51st anniversary, but toward the end I really had to force myself to finish it up. It wasn't because I was tired of working on it because each time I set a block together I was awed all over again. The problem was that I would work on blocks or rows or whatever and let my mind run free. Usually my thoughts were of things we did together over their 50+ years together. Once in a while, though, my thoughts would veer off into....Hmmm. Wonder what it would look like if I....(fill in the blank - could be use different color combinations or make this part larger, whatever). Then I'd put down what I was working on -- and needed to be working on -- and start sketching out what might be the next project.

It's fun to be creative and come up with new ideas, but it sure does interfere with completing what is at hand. :-)

Now back to working on those appliqued whirligig squares....

P.S. My brother and sis-in-law liked their quilt, but they can't use it because my brother says it's too warm. You just can't please some people! :-) They do have it on the guest room bed, I think.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What's it all about???

I've been trying to decide what I want this blog to be and I still have not come to a conclusion. I don't have lofty thoughts so that's not the direction I'll take. I have never enjoyed journaling. Tried it back when I was a kid and someone gave me a diary. My compulsive side pushed me to write something in the diary every day. The problem was I didn't have anything to say every day. Writing in the diary went by the wayside quickly. Taking a clue from other bloggers I've read recently, I have decided that it is OK to not publish something every day. Using that as a basis, my posts will be sporadic, I suppose. Whenever I have something I want to say.

OK. Enough of that. For the last couple of days, I have been working on a quilting project. Don't know what I'll do with it if I ever finish it. Applique is relaxing to me, so I am appliqueing "whirligig" shapes onto a background fabric. The kicker is the "blades" of the whirligig are all different bright...and I do mean bright...colors and the background fabric is bright, too. I'm trying to use up fabrics that I got when I belonged to a FQ-of-the-month club from a fabric store. These are colors that I would not normally work with so it will be interesting to see what this becomes. My plan is to set the blocks together with white fabric. As soon as I get a block or two finished, I'll post a photo so maybe somebody can give me feedback.

So, that's it for now. Back to my applique project. I hope everyone enjoys the beautiful spring weather we've had for the past couple of days.

Friday, March 5, 2010


After retiring in the spring of 2009, I find I am searching for who I am. In other words, I guess I need to redefine myself. For 40+ years, I was somebody's employee. They were good years. Crafting has always been part of my life. Now in my retirement years, it has taken center stage in my life, but I still have time on my hands. Friends have asked me for a long time if I have a blog. I never felt I had anything important to say so I never attacked blogging. I'm still not sure if I have anything of import to say, but I've decided to join the blogging world. I hope you will bear with me through my ramblings. Please feel free to add your comments thoughts, ideas, suggestions, brickbats or whatever as we journey down the blog road.

My blogging will most likely focus on crafting, family, friends or getting things off my chest. My favorite crafts are knitting and quilting and I almost always have at least one project of each kind going at any given time. To be honest, I have a host of UFOs (unfinished objects) that I hope this blog will help me get motivated to finish. From time to time, I will post photos of in-progress or finished projects to give you an idea of how I fill my time.

Don't expect posts from me every day. I'll be lucky if I can come up with something to say once a week. I do hope you will check back from time to time to see how my world is going.

Until the next time,