Saturday, August 27, 2011


This has not been a week for productive quilting and I have to say I miss it and I know it will return when the time and place is right.

Instead, it has been a week of

  • Good-byes
  • Cleaning out desks
  • Special times with special friends
  • Starting to think about packing
  • Reflecting on the future and the unknown
  • Transitioning work
  • Eating too much!
It is with a grateful heart that I am going to be able to retire at the end of the month.  We spend so much of our work lives dreaming about this and I'm about to realize it -- along with my husband.  While we still don't have a "house" to go to, I am confident that will work out in due time.

We will be leaving our tiny little cramped efficiency (that has my little sewing machine and six totes of fabric in various sizes -- always Be Prepared!) and moving back to Kentucky.  No more Chicago winters!  Woo-hoo!  Alas, that puts us in the opposite direction of our son and his family and there is sadness in that part of this transition.  But we are choosing this for a variety of reasons and I'm excited that when we do go see them, it will be for a few days at a time and we'll actually have more "face time" than ever before.

I am so grateful to be able to retire with reasonably good health and the blank canvas of days ahead to re-shape my life over time.  There are so many options ahead:

  • Quilting!
  • Learning to sleep through the night and past 5:30am
  • Auditing college courses
  • More time with family
  • Reconnecting with friends
  • Holidays that are not  two day trips down and back
  • Volunteering
  • Bible study
  • Perhaps a part time job or a personal business
  • And the dreaded -- Exercise.  How can you retire in pretty good health and not do something about getting more fit.  I will be out of excuses and I know it.
  • And then...there are so many things we haven't even considered
So -- I'm grateful for my friends I made when we came to Chicago and acutely aware of how deeply my heart aches to leave them .... and for the company that has provided for my family for 30 years in exchange for hard work where I learned a ton .... and for the opportunities I've had to travel as well as enjoy all that the wonderful city of Chicago has to offer .... for the church we found which was a perfect fit at every level .... for the exposure to different quilters which has allowed me to grow in appreciation and skill .... and the list goes on.

I do have to say that besides stress eating -- I think I've been doing a fair amount of fabric therapy in the last month especially and was a little surprised at how much fabric I've bought once I started pulling it together.  I do remember reading on a blog, however, that in preparation for retirement, quilters should buy as much fabric beforehand so they have a big stash as they start to live on a fixed income.  I have five more days to heed that!

Keep piecing and in gratitude - Jan

Friday, August 19, 2011

Do you keep your quilts?

What do you do when someone gifts you fabrics that you love?  Stash them for a future project for someone else or do you know they are just for you?  I have real trouble using fabrics for someone else's quilt when they were selected for me.  I'm not sure how many quilts I need just for me...little old me.....but it's more than one - that much I know.  I've posted my Birthday Confetti quilt and 60th birthday quilt as they are both made with fabrics that were given to me and I love.  And they are mine.  All mine....

Many of the fabrics in the quilt on the left were sent to me by my daughter-in-law's mother after a visit to Chicago to see us.  There are special fabrics in here that have meaning to her/us:  butterflies which she loves and water-like fabrics to represent their cottage we visited outside Kingston, Ontario. I added some fabrics to blend with them, including the reddish fabric you see to represent the feldspar mines (quarries?) near their cottage.

Back with knock-off Minkee -- yummy!

Turtle Crossing.  Don't you love it?
I've named this quilt "Road to Verona" as their cottage is near Verona, Ontario and the pattern is "County Lines" I think.  I love it for what it represents and don't think I could ever give it to anyone other than them or our son/daughter-in-law.  It has been a favorite watching TV quilt over the last two winters.

Do you have quilts that are special in some way and they can only stay with you or a select few?  Who could appreciate a quilt more than the lucky person who was gifted the fabrics?

The sign below is for laughs.  This is a legitmate sign on a side road near their cottage reminding drivers to watch for turtles during the summer months.  Gotta keep that camera -- this is one of those pix that makes me smile everytime I see it!

Keep piecing!  Jan

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another challenge finished

This is yet another challenge quilt among some friends.  We all started out to make the cover quilt from Cozy Modern Quilts by Kim Schaeffer.  Link to Amazon: The last challenge was solids (which is yet to be quilted); the original challenge is this quilt where fabric was supplied and we all did our own thing.

As you can see, mine doesn't exactly match the cover quilt.  When I put the squares together, they were too mushy for me and not enough definition -- so I added sashing and setting squares.  Others from the group were much more "true" to the original pattern although I'm not sure everyone got around to the border blocks.  I didn't.  I was ready to stop and move on to something else.

The "reveal" was so much fun.  There were two from batiks that didn't come close to looking the same; one from Cherrywoods that was wonderful (not seen here), another from blue and white (with a bit of orange) shirts from Goodwill (also MIA), and one from homespuns.  They were all incredible.  And then there was the red herring which was presented by a quilting friend:  a piece of fabric that matched the pattern perfectly.  It was her "whole cloth" quilt and not a stitch was sewn.  All she had to do was cut it off 1/4" from a row of blocks all the way around in case she decided to put a binding on.  The beauty of quilting friends is that was okay with everyone.  "Friends" is the operative word and "quilting" is the adjective.

Because I was trying to use up my 30's fabrics, I chose to piece the back and cut squares 12.5" x 12.5" or 6.5" x 12.5".  I also added three extra blocks and called the deal done!  For the most part, my 30's fabrics are gone, the back is sort of fun, and I don't have orphan blocks looking for a home in the future. 

The next challenge is with fabrics that were supplied by one of the group and we're to supplement with a certain number from our stash if we want.  It's due in October and the way house hunting is looking, I won't be able to get to my fabric by then so I'll definitely be late in my "assignment".  That will be fine with everyone and we'll "reveal" mine at a later date.

I hope you're having lots of quilting fun and are lucky enough to have quilting friends who challenge you in all the best ways!  Jan

Sunday, August 7, 2011


 Aren't these just grand?  Kaffe shot cottons and plaids -- all nicely rolled up into one neat little package.  There are some indulgences that you just can't ignore when you have a craving.  Just like chocolate or strawberries or a diet coke.  You have to heed your inner voice and acquiesce or forever feel deprived.  Or that's what I'm telling myself anyway.

I had been on the lookout for a jelly roll of Kaffe shot cottons in the solids but it's a little hard to find and I'm not sure if anyone other than Grubers carries them (great shop if you've never been -- generally one of my favorites at any big quilt show as well!).  I know they cut these little strips and about 60% are in the plaids and stripes -- many of which I had never seen before.

So, what does one do with such bounty?  Handle carefully for starters.  When you see this much fraying (even with wovens), you can be sure they are not cut completely on grain.  Therefore, you do what any reasonable quilter would do -- you starch them within an inch of their lives so you are in control. Works like a charm! 

And then - because there is so much in one's life that is out of their control (retirement in less than a month and no place to go), you decide to just sew and sew and sew for a while.  40 strips of fabric will end up as 2.5" squares that are sashed on two sides with 1" brown Kona cotton (love it!).  A simple quilt that will let the fabric be the stars and not the pattern.  And, I can sew whenever I need a fix without a lot of thought. This will take long enough that design is not likely to be an issue for a while.  I'll eventually make them into 4 patches in order to keep up with them (a 4 patch will finish at 5").

Here's a little Grubers story that is the reason I always keep my camera with me as I mentioned in this post:   On a visit to the shop, I was turning down a side street and looked that street sign -- 2 1/2 Street!  All I had was a crummy phone with an even worse camera and I had no way of sharing that with the world.  I absolutely loved it and vowed not to be without a camera on my travels again. 

Keep piecing, Jan