Friday, 17 May 2013

May Update (And Some Sewing Too)

I haven't been posting as often as I'd like. But I've been doing a lot of traveling... Sadly, my father is not well, and lives in the UK, and, well... I don't. So I've been getting to know the ins and outs of international travel, and more importantly have been spending some quality time with my parents.

During my most recent visit, I carried with me a small sandwich of natural muslin and batting, and a bag of embroidery threads, just in case I had some moments of peaceful sitting, when I could work on a quiet project.

It came to me, one morning, what my project would be.

See, I made this quilt a few years ago, to celebrate my parents' 40th anniversary. At the root of the trunk are my parents' names embroidered in gold thread; each branch has the names of a sister and her husband; each hand-leaf is the actual outline of a grandchild's hand, embroidered with their name, and sewn on the "correct" branch! It was an epic project, took me 5 years from idea to completion (in my defense: I did give birth several times during those 5 years...)

This quilt hangs in my parents home, so I saw it daily during my visit, and one morning, sitting in the sunlight by my father's bed, I realised that we don't have my father's hand-print on it. I quickly traced around each of my parents' hands, and cut out their handprints to use as a pattern. I traced around the paper patterns using a regular pencil onto my muslin and got stitching.

Here's what I've got so far:

Close Up

Whole Piece
My parents asked what I was going to do with it. I admitted I didn't know - a wallhanging, perhaps? A pillow cover? My mother said, It should be the centre of a quilt. I think she wants one of her own :) since I just made one for Daddy who won't let it off his lap long enough to be washed! I enjoy the hand-stitching very, very much, and see this as the beginning of a long, treasured, slow-stitched process.

True story: on my flight back home, I sat next to 2 little kids who were pretty adorable (not mine :) and when I whipped out my hand-stitching, they demanded to be taught how I was doing it. On the scrappy edges of my sandwich, I taught a 10 year old girl and a 9 year old boy how to back-stitch. I explained how I traced hands onto muslin, and they are so excited to go home and make their own! Yay, passing sewing on to the next generation!

And, a finish! This will be a birthday gift for a colleague (shhh, don't tell).

The floral is from a piece of fabric I bought in Liberty's about, errm... 25 years ago! (Oh lordy! I ain't getting any younger!) I didn't photograph all the ways in which I messed this one up, but let's just say that I unstitched as much as I stitched... But she's finished now, and quite lovely.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Book Tuesday!

Historical fiction? Check.
Strong female protagonist? Check.
Coming of age story? Check.
Got quilting in it? Check.

I was jumping up and down with excitement when I discovered this in my local library (O Bala Cynwyd Library! How do I love thee?) and later again, when I bought my very own copy for numerous re-reads.
"These is My Words" (by Nancy E. Turner) tells the tale of a family heading out to Arizona territory in the late 1800's as narrated by Sarah Prine, a teenager when our story begins. This has a bit of a Little-House-All-Grown-Up feel to it, though "These is My Words" is grittier, scarier and more realistic than the Little House books, with descriptions of terrifying events, great despair and lots of gun slinging. But like "Little House," it maintains the same kind of wonder at the possibilities of new opportunity, and the hope of building a community together. We also get some romance, though to my great relief, the book doesn't end with church bells; we get to follow the couple through thick and thin, as two strong-willed characters forge a life together.
Why do I keep coming back to this book to curl up with? To start with, it's pretty easy to read: this is a diary of an ordinary woman made extraordinary by circumstance, and she is both full of great spirit and a wonderful story-teller. Secondly, I like the main characters! Sarah is fiesty and smart, her sister-in-law is kind and deeply religious, the men are sometimes strong, sometimes sweet. Laziness or shiftiness in anyone is not tolerated, an attitude I definitely appreciate! Thirdly, I really did enjoy learning about this time and place in history, and how the area developed and changed over the span of the book.
On a scale of 1 - 5 yards*, I give this book a 4 YARD RATING.

Awesome reading if you like this genre. Very satisfying.
If you try it, leave a comment and tell me what you thought!

*Of course yards. I'm a quilter. How else would I measure anything?

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Wordless Log Cabins

Oh come on. Wordless? Me?

I have been thinking about the recipient of this quilt, and what they might think is interesting, and if the blocks are too dull, and wondering what fabric I could use for the negative space to make the blocks shine, until finally I had the most free-ing thought: I want this quilt! I would love to snuggle up with this, and feel fabrics silky and jeansy, flannely and velvety.

I reckon if I want it, someone else might like it too. I have to stop double-guessing every strip I place, and just get on with making something I'm proud of.

Linking up with Live a Colorful Life and Confessions of a Fabric Addict - go check them out!