Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year's End

This is the year that my patience was tested.  I had to constantly quiet the ants in my pants and learn to be quiet and peaceful while sitting with my parents.  This quilt that John and I slept under last night is one that I pieced and then quilted, all while sitting with both or one of my parents.  It's warm and lovely and I smile when I look at it.  And now that Mom has died, all I want to do is hand-quilt this elliptical Drunkard's Path.  Continuing to sit and be quiet and be thankful.  Mom was the one who taught me to sew - I even took her sewing machine to college with me in 1967.  Because that's what we did - take our sewing machines to college.  It is ironic that I always found a way to get out of handwork, usually by giving it to Mom.  And now in her last years and in her death, it is handwork that is such an important solace.

This is the year that I recognized how much I am gravitating toward minimalism in design.  I study the two books I have by Yoshiko Jinzenji - Quilting:  Line and Color and Quilt Artistry:  Inspired Designs from the East.   In February I am taking two classes with her at QuiltCon in Austin. 

This year I feel good about trying new things, like hand applique and curved piecing.  I am glad to have these techniques in my bag of tricks.  This curved pieced bit - my homage to the Badminton Shuttlecock - still needs some handpiecing on the background.  But I don't love this piece and don't know whether I want to spend more time on it.  And it's ok.  What I did learn from this piece is that an unexpected color, like the grellow, can really perk up a palette.

 As we ushered my parents out of this world, my family prepares to welcome another into this world.  My NYC niece Jen is having her second baby, a little girl, next month.  My favorite quilts to make are baby quilts.  I made three just after my dad died.  And now to make this special baby quilt helps balances the loss and focus on the Circle of Life (cue music from Lion King).  We had all the kids and grandkids with us Christmas Eve.  One of the many joys of that evening is that our youngest grandson Ben is now 12 - we played Christmas Charades and Christmas Trivia and Ben competed along with the rest of us.  But one of the sadnesses is that the grandkids are all too old for toys.  I'm thankful for my great nieces, my niece Laura's little girls, who are not too old for toys.  I had great fun watching them open what John and I got for them.  And I'm thankful for my friend Eileen's little boy Henry who came over and played with John and his train.  There is nothing like a 5-year old who can't keep his eyes off the train.  Or a 75-year-old.

This year was one of peace for my family as my parents lived their final chapter. 

P.S.  And this year was one of deepening friendships with my circle of quilt besties - an amazing group of women whom I love.

Friday, December 26, 2014

In the Bleak Midwinter...

Do you know this hymn? It's a Christina Rossetti Poem - lovely, simple, and not at all sad.  My mom died earlier this week from pneumonia after over four years of dementia/Alzheimer's.  She went through a lengthy period of asking for and wondering about her mother.  Once, over two years ago, my mom, dad, and I were walking down stairs and heading to an appointment.  Mom asked where Dad was, and I said, "He's right behind us."  She replied, "Not your father.  Where is my father?"   Sister-in-law Kim was brilliant with her responses to these questions - she would say that Mom's mom was with her sisters.  And that seemed to satisfy my mom. 

So in this bleak midwinter (Mom died on the 22nd and was 86 and a half on December 21st), I rejoice that my mom is at peace and with my dad and the rest of her family.  I have been writing my mother's obituary and celebrating her life and altruistic spirit.  I will use these next few days to work on the business end of things as my brothers and sister work on the memorial service in January.  I will soothe my soul with my hand quilting and then begin the quilt for the next great niece who will be born in mid-January.  And I am at peace. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Me.  The studio.  Projects.  The studio carpet was cleaned while we were gone, which meant packing everything away.  So I am still finding where I put things, like my walking foot (found it - phew...).  The elliptical Drunkard's Path is off the design wall and pin-basted.  While I wasn't quite ready to do this, I wanted the leftover wool batting to use in Infinity Scarves. (While I do love the feel of the wool inside cottons, I must remember that I tend to run hot and should be making these without any batting at all.)  Thanks to Charity S for putting these scarves on my radar and for the tutorial from Pink Castle! 
Fabrics and the germ of an idea for niece Jen's baby girl quilt
While on the cruise I did finish appliqueing the circle for my Yoshiko Jinzenji panel. But now I need to figure out how I want to combine these two elements. A few days on the design wall might help.
An Iron Cozy

People who don't travel and sew won't understand how difficult it is to carry a hot iron. Seriously. So using some old batik fabrics, leftover binding bits, and some thermal batting, I made one using this tutorial. It may not be attractive, but it gets the job done!

 My mom has pneumonia. My sibs and I are wondering how serious this is. An odd time for all of us. Scattered...