"Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing"
~Author Unknown

Friday, October 30, 2009

They followed the star...

Do you have any favorite Christmas stories, books, films, cards, etc. that influence how you look upon the Christmas holiday? I loved watching the child's animated film of The Little Drummer Boy when I was very young. It has now influenced a second quilt in my life. I love the look of Christmas cards showing images like those of this painting by Giotto di Bondone called the Adoration of the Magi. So a few years ago, I created a quilt top using a paper pieced Bethlehem Star. I used fabrics which to me gave the same glow as these beautiful old paintings that many send out each year on their Christmas cards.

This quilt was one of two that I choose to complete before the end of the year. The top was waiting to be sandwiched and quilted for a number of holidays now. I am so happy to say that I just sewed the binding and label on the quilt this afternoon and it is now finished in time to enjoy with the upcoming holidays in December. I am really pleased with the results. I used some vintage trim I purchased in the Cotswolds in a haberdashery on the green border. By sewing this into the mitered corners, I was able to create a look of a frame around the patchwork stars.

I hand quilted this with gold metallic thread using larger quilt stitches so the thread is nicely visible. It is a 31 inch square quilt which will work well either on a table top or hanging on the wall.

Does anyone remember the story by O. Henry called Gift of the Magi? I want to leave you with a final quote from this beautiful story...

"The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hopping along.....

I have stitched a little more on my Quaker Row. This is such a sweet design to do. Perhaps it helps that I also love all these brown tones I am using and isn't the rabbit cute. I keep switching back and forth from this, another stitching project and my quilt. Although I have not had as much time to stitch or quilt as I would have liked as other things have been getting in the way. What things you wonder?

It has been a long time since I have mentioned my health but have had many emails inquiring so thought I would place an entry about how things are. Some who read both of my blogs will have already read this information and you can just skip unless you want to read about today in which case you can skip to the next to last paragraph.

I have been to the hospital three times last week for various appointments. I had to see a neurologist as my endocrinologist wanted me to see him since she thought I have carpal tunnel in both hands. After an hour and half of examinations, he told me that it was not carpal tunnel. I had expected that as I have pain in both my hands and my feet. I also have major itching all over my body. I have generally not been feeling like I have control again which was how I felt back in April before my thyroid stopped working. He told me that I have a rare side effect from Hashimoto's disease. Pain is common but the itching is from the antibodies my body is producing attacking the small nerves around my entire body. The neurologist asked me what I am doing for the pain and itching. My answer? Stitching and quilting. Perhaps you can imagine the look he gave me to that answer. Keeping your mind on things you love to do is good medicine. *grins*

I then saw the endocrinologist again and she told me that I do have Hashimoto's disease but that my thyroid levels are rising once again. I need to increase my dosage of medicine again. That explains why I have felt like my body was out of control again and also becoming very cold. Poor Jos has had to put up with me turning the heat up. He keeps wrapping me up in blankets so he can turn it back down.

Good news for two things. My neck has reduced by one full centimeter since I had the radioactive therapy. Woohoo! I also have two asthma medications I take now as I have a chronic airways infection that are really working well. I can even take walks again without coughing and gasping for air.

Today, I had yet another visit to the hospital to go to the dental surgeon. We had this planned for last January but I had to put it off because of the breathing problems and coughing. It now can no longer be avoided. I am not looking forward to it. He has to remove a molar that a very bad dentist damaged. It has been infected for four years. Well, I sit here tonight with that molar still in my mouth. The dentist send a referral letter for a different tooth. He wanted me to have another tooth done and I thought he gave me a referral for the molar which another specialist said needs to be removed. The oral surgeon said it will give me problems in the end and does need to come out but said he was not going to do anything today. He felt I needed some preparation work done first. We stopped in at the dentist and he looked. He still wants me to do the other one but I told him I would rather do this one now since it is infected. I now have to try and get an appointment for the surgeon again who is extremely busy. I have my fingers crossed (when I am not stitching that is...lol) that I can get this arranged tomorrow morning. What a mess!

Sorry for the long post. Are you still with me or did I put you to sleep? Well, since I am posting this at bedtime here in Holland, that is perhaps not a bad thing. Happy Monday to you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I caught the startitis bug!

The flu is going around but leave it to me! I caught the startitis bug. Now I had just emailed a friend yesterday explaining to her that it is a fellow blogging friend of ours fault. Oh yes! It is very much her fault. She is so contagious that you can catch it just by reading her blog. Who, you ask? Well, this little devil sitting on my shoulder looks remarkably like Annemarie in red tights. She keeps jabbing me with that awful pitchfork saying "Just start it Heidi!" no matter how often I try to say I have to finish all my WIPs first.

Now I have not neglected my plans for a few finishes by the end of the year. I am really close to finishing my Bethlehem Star quilt but have been slowed down by the quilting of this beautiful vintage heavy gold trim. I am quilting it onto the border by hand and have to keep putting it aside as it is hard on my hands. So when I need to give my hands a rest, I now will be stitching this.....

I received this chart some time ago from a very dear and long time online friend, Joanne. She and I both share a passion for autumn and Christmas. Then when I received a surprise gift in the mail this past spring from Linda, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. She sent me the beautiful shades of DMC thread and I decided right away that I wanted to make something with these threads to think of Linda by. She also sent me the adorable mother of pearl acorn thread keeper. Isn't it just beautiful?

This cute squirrel is the center of the design. He is holding an acorn. I am enjoying making this and it should not be a project that takes long. I will have this to add to my Quaker sampler wall I will be creating. It is a perfect design to use all those brown tints with.

Now I have not gone crazy (well maybe just a little) but wanted to show you how this fabric looks so I took a photo without the flash. It was not showing the pretty tea dye effect on the previous photos. It is not totally in focus so don't adjust your computer screens. *grins*

A special thanks again to Joanne and Linda for their gifts which are giving me autumn enjoyment.

The winner of my fabric giveaway was chosen by a random generator otherwise known as my mother. She called out a number and the winner is.....

.....Rhonda in OK. Congratulations to you Rhonda. Can you email me with your address so I can get this into the mail for you?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy giving dance!

Yep! That's me dancing around the living room. And here my mother just said 'Hey, you did that fast.' My answer? 'Yeah, it only took about 7 years!' But I am seriously happy to say my pillow is really finished. I am doing the happy giving dance so stay tuned to hear about that...

I sewed piping for around the pillow's edge. I like the simple look to this since the stitching has a primitive look to it.

I thought it would be nice to use some of my ribbon for the backing closures. This needs a little bigger pillow in it but I was too excited to worry about it right now. Of course, after going to see the Christmas displays in a nearby garden center today, I would love to start my Christmas decorations but will put this away until the decorations come out later in the year.

This fabric is a cinnamon color with burnt orange. It has a star anise motif. Remember that happy giving dance? I want to giveaway the remainder of the fabric so someone else can enjoy using it for a finish. There is more than a fat quarter left and I would love to send it on its way to you to help me celebrate. So leave me a comment on this post to be entered into the giveaway. If you do not blog, be sure you leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win. Best of luck to you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pillow talk.....

While sorting a stack of things thrown on the floor of my quilt studio, look what I came across in its unironed glory. *grins* I stitched this more years ago than I care to admit. It has been sitting folded up with the fabric and cord ready to put a pillow together for the holidays. I stitched it up the minute I got home from a visit to my mother back in the US. I fell in love with this chart the minute I saw it and stitched it up in no time.

And that is the stage in which it stayed all these years. Why? I decided that piping would look really cute around the edge of this pillow but I wanted to use a quilt fabric from my stash. First I had to buy a cotton cord that worked easily for the piping. Okay, done. Still it sat and sat for years.....until today! I made the piping in about 15 minutes which makes me feel very silly for letting it sit unfinished for so long. It is now basted to the pillow front and I am going to start on the pieces for the back of the pillow. Stayed tuned for a very old and very deserving UFO finish this week as this should be a pillow cover in no time now...

Do you have any really old pieces that are sitting around that you stitched and just need to do the finishing? How about joining me this week by digging it out and doing the finishing, no matter what you choose to do with it? Come on, I know we all have these projects sitting around somewhere...right? It really feels good to know I will have one thing done again and also have a cute pillow to decorate with this coming holiday. And on top of all that...it takes surprisingly little time to finish it off too.

So what is your oldest UFO that just needs finishing??? Will you take a challenge and finish yours along with me???

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Primitive ornaments SAL - Oh, bring us a figgy pudding

It is the 15th of the month once again. Can you believe that Christmas is so close now? If you have not started the ornaments, there is still plenty of time. These ornaments only take a day each to make.

Since I was young, I always had one foot in England and the other in America. I was even told once by my English mum that I was a Yorkshire lass which is why I could make Yorkshire pudding. *grins* My English mum is my mother's best friend from her childhood. She is a sweet little Yorkshire lass herself. I thought I needed to put a little English tradition among the ornaments and what better way to do that than with figgy pudding?

To print the chart, simply click to enlarge and either copy to an email or Word.

Hetty has sent me a couple of photos. She does not blog but we keep in touch via emails. She found my blog and started contacting me about a year ago. I am learning more and more that we have things in common like a love of all things Christmas! Here is her Elf's Work ornament...

...and here a basket filled with all her ornaments completed waiting for the Christmas tree.

Letty also finished her Elf's Work ornament. She has stitched up a good number of ornaments this year so I am sure her tree will be a sight to behold.

Is anyone else getting itchy fingers to start decorating for Christmas or is it just this little elf feeling like I need a little Christmas???

Monday, October 12, 2009

Setting goals.....

Do you ever have moments around this time of the year that you already start to reflect on what you have accomplished? I know most of us do that in December as New Year's Eve approaches but it is too late then to add to that list of 'items finished'. Perhaps I am experiencing this more potently this year since 2009 has not been an easy year for me. I literally lost a month's time of being able to do my handwork and even more time for quilting. I also think the next logical step in a well tuned stash diet (mine has lasted almost two years now) is to really want to see so many UFOs become finished products.

So last week, without really thinking too much about it, I picked up a couple of older projects and decided to set a goal of having them finished by the end of the year. I started the sweet stitchery BOM along with everyone else out there in blogland when Lynette Anderson started it on her blog. I was enjoying these little blocks immensely! But this, along with other things, got put aside much to my dismay. So I am working on the next block which is where I stopped and am loving it all over again. See my unfinished Noah? He really needs his beard. And I changed the black cat at his feet to Dagi. I figured Dagi would enjoy waving goodbye as Noah and his friends take off on their cruise. *grins*

I am also going to work harder on a project just started in the summer which is a hexagon stocking for Christmas. It is being done with charms of fabric from my our closet and some given to me by my quilt group. I borrowed the perfect colors from my tumblers charm quilt to use for this project.

Last but not least, here is one of my quilt tops that has hung for years on a hanger waiting to be quilted. I used to teach patchwork and had to move on to keep ahead of the ladies I taught. I also had to come up with samples in various stages to show during classes or for my quilt group. The result is a huge stack on unfinished quilt tops. This quilt was one I made for myself and was deciding whether to use it for a workshop. I decided to stop teaching. It still meant many tops hung unloved. *sigh* I thought it would be nice to pick up one of the tops which was holiday themed as Christmas is just around the corner. This is going rather quickly as I am hand quilting it with gold metallic quilt thread. In order to see the effect of this thread, you must quilt in large stitches. After removing stitching because I kept making them too small, I am now in a nice rhythm and have started the quilting of the sixth star on a quilt of nine stars total. I now see how much I have missed sitting down to hand quilt! It is such wonderful therapy.

I should get a good deal of quilting achieved today. My lemon cake has been baked and glazed, awaiting the arrival this afternoon of my friend Elly. She is coming to sit and quilt after which she will join me for dinner. These kinds of afternoons are always very inspiring.

I hope you can make time today for something creative! Have you set any end of the year goals for your handwork?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The key to my heart.....

.....is a handmade gift.....

I got this beatiful stitched piece from my online friend Donna in Tennessee back in the spring. I have it out now with my autumn decorations as I normally keep it on display in my hutch. I think the colors work so well with the other decorations. It also goes really well with some of my vintage keys. I used to look for these keys at markets. And if you look closely, a couple of the keys are the same as on the stitching.

Donna is one of my blessings received in blogging. She does not blog herself but we email on and off and she stops in to my blogs. I think she is one of the blessings (postage stamps) on this quilt.

Are you using many homemade items to decorate for the season???

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My sampler wall.....

I decided to go look at a frame I had seen in the catalog from IKEA for my 10 Virgins sampler. With all the work we have been doing around the house, it would otherwise be a while before we could arrange to have a frame made. This frame is plain but I think it works well. I did have to remove a couple of berries in the design to make it work with the length of this frame but I don't think it takes away from this pretty design at all.

In my bedroom, I have a reading corner with a rocking chair. It is there that I have created a sampler wall. It is now carrying over to the second wall. As you see, I have one waiting to be hung. These samplers have really given our bedroom a warm atmosphere. I love adding to them when I complete a new sampler. I have a goal to have yet one more finished by the end of this year. Since this is one of my WIPs, it should not be a problem to complete it in time. I really do love to sit here in the afternoons and read a little.

I am now using samplers in the living room as well. We have hung picture ledges where I can place any samplers and change things easily with various holidays. You can it here on my other blog.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pumpkin fun...

What happens when one is kicked out of their living room and banished to upstairs in her sewing room??? Well, one has fun with pumpkins! Fabric ones that is. Jos is working from home today and has had conference calls one after another. So Dagi and I had to go upstairs for most of the day.

I decided just before lunch to grab my scrap box and make a small table top quilt with them. I have lots of scrumptious autumn homespuns left from a large quilt I made. They are just small scraps but worked just perfectly to make this little quilt.

It measures 9 inches by 11 inches. I cut out the pieces for the green pumpkin freehand with a green tweed fabric and appliqued them onto a piece of light beige brushed cotten. I then frayed the sides and sewed it with a large stitch to the patchwork.

The seams were zigzagged to quilt them. I had fun putting this together and it only took a couple of hours. I am pleased with it.

Of course, Dagi has been helping me all afternoon so he had to make sure I had it layed out well for the photos too. *grins*

Two quilt finishes in one week...woohoo!

Have a creatively inspired weekend!