Category Archives: happiness

So little relative time….

While I know all things happen in their own time, occasionally I feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day, weeks in a year, decades in….  I’m heading to see my youngest daughter tomorrow, spending a week with her and The Burrito.  Yet, I’ve been adding to The Hawk as if a veil has been lifted, bottled-up prose liberated.  Plus there’s a big blue quilt binding to complete as well as placemats to sew, coasters to finish….

My grandson, wrapped in a scarf I made his mum years ago….

What I have to remind myself is that these tasks will be waiting for my return, along with vacuuming and mopping, ahem.  Sometimes I have the patience of Job, but not always.

I do have some fun machine quilting to share, coasters for my eldest girl.  I will blend these differing methods of sewing in a table runner that will eventually accompany the Southwest mats, waves as the horizon, straight lines as skyscrapers.

Of course, I need to design that table runner, lol.  Right now I feel like I have as many sewing projects as novel plots, which brings me back to this entry’s title.  But instead of getting my knickers in a twist, I will embrace the plethora of crafty ideas, both in cotton fabrics and fictional mischief.

My grandgirls; what blessings are all these nietos!

There truly is time for all these treasures.  And if the hoovering occurs, double bonus, hehehe!

Shake, Write, Repeat

A completed wall hanging finally having been hung!

A completed wall hanging finally having been hung!

Two days into the return to writing; it’s a different sort of task.  The biggest change was yesterday, when I was nearly finished, then my youngest Skyped; The Burrito was especially charming, but I wasn’t quite done!  My husband took over the conversation, yet I could hear them, even with the door closed.

Nothing like trying to concentrate on plot when the most adorable little chap is babbling.  When I felt the scene was complete, I rushed to where that trio was chatting, catching a bright smile, that could and did take me away from the words.

A coaster in which I decided to quilt like there was no tomorrow.  However, halfway through, I thought to capture the process....

A coaster in which I decided to quilt like there was no tomorrow. However, halfway through, I thought to capture the process….

That’s going to be a new concept within my life as an author.  Grandkids seem to take precedence.

The finished quilting, with which I am very pleased....

The finished quilting, with which I am very pleased….

They certainly do with the quilting, but that’s easy to pick up, then set aside.  But now as I’m back to the early 1960s, within a realm filled with hawks, art, and grace, I’ll have to learn to balance paragraphs with descendants.  But some sort of tightrope walking will be achieved, because two days of writing have felt like coming home.  Yet a new element has been introduced, that of how this novel has broken itself into manageable chunks.  And in beginning yet another, I have to wonder if the next 60,000 (or so) words will handily mete themselves into yet another part.  Part Six, as yes, I’m counting, but maybe Part Six will be shorter, or lengthier, than the previous parts.

This is the extra block from another wall hanging; I'm going to hang it in the loo at my youngest daughter's house.

This is the extra block from another wall hanging; I’m going to display it in the loo at my youngest daughter’s house.

That of course remains to be seen.  For now, I’m ever so pleased to be back in the authorial saddle, as it were.  In fact, I wish I could excerpt a little of yesterday’s work, but to do so would present a spoiler, and that wouldn’t be fair to those who await Part Three.  But I will say that the flow seems unhindered, if not a wee bit truncated; chapters are averaging around 2500 words.  But that’s fine, no need to rush into some 5K behemoths right off the bat.  It’s enough to juggle grandkids within the work.

Another decoration for the loo; I quilted this one in straight vertical lines, leaving about two-thirds inch between the rows.

Another decoration for the loo; I quilted this one in straight vertical lines, leaving about two-thirds inch of space between the rows.

But the work has commenced, and thanks be to God for that!  Plus the Giants swept the Diamondbacks, hehehe.  Now if we can just take the series with San Diego, and maybe those Dodgers lose a couple, this writer would be over the moon.  In the meantime, there is a wall hanging to bind, laundry on the line, and more plot over which to ruminate.  Ah plot; just shake, write, repeat.  There’s truly not much more to it than that, when the timing is appropriate.  Again thank the lord it’s finally time….

A Tale of a Mid-Summer’s Quilt Top (or two….)

Actually, this is the story of one completed wall hanging and another wall hanging quilt top nearly finished.  But it is the fifteenth of July, mid-summer in full swing.  And I’ve been a busy sewing bee the last few days, finally feeling to have taken control of one unwieldy project while putting the final touches on a piece that has captivated me since the beginning.

Funny how something with innocuous beginnings can pluck the heartstrings.  This white, tone on tone yellow and teal project will rest on the wall in our computer/Janome area of the house, where I can divert my attention to how well this all came together.

Quilted in white on the diagonal, I’m not sure if it’s the hues with which I’m most pleased or the overall aesthetic appearance, but something calls to me in this little project.  Maybe it’s the size, or how summer will always be reflected, although summer in California already feels like a never-ending season.

But summer hearkens to honeysuckle, a vine of my childhood which now grows in my backyard.  Honeysuckle reminds me of my father, who a year ago was looking forward to his big party.  I will cherish the memories of that day as long as I live.

However, sometimes life takes left turns in Albuquerque.  The piece, or shall I say pieces, affixed to the quilt wall have been more of a headache than I dreamed.  I’d wanted to turn these colours into floating squares, but the more I worked with them, the less I liked them.

Fortunately I took a Burrito time-out.  Returning to the grotto, I played around with some scraps, my youngest daughter in need of coasters.  I decided to use a few red, yellow, and blue pieces, but they were too small.  So I hacked off some from the squares on the quilt wall, because by then a drastic step was necessary.

It was the best thing I could have done, although I have no clue as to how this block will be employed.  Far too big for a coaster or even a rug-mug, too small for a place mat, and I’m basically out of scraps to enlarge it.  I’ll stare at it for a bit, and see what evolves.

Next is sewing the new wall hanging-in-process together, then going through the whole quilting rigmarole.  Other fabrics are piling, not to mention chapters in need of attention.  Ten remain for The Hawk, then I can begin writing, oh dear lord!  I’ve been pining for that day, but in the meantime two wall hangings had to be sorted.  And now, basically, they have been, with a bonus square thrown in for good measure.  Measure by measure is how this life is lived.  “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6.38 is the above verse in entirety.  Quilts tops and books, all in their own good time….

Quilting here and there….

So I can finally share these new creations, as I gave them to my daughter and son-in-law over the weekend.  It’s been hard keeping mum about these quilts, but a zipped lip provides for surprises.  And the recipients were ever so pleased…

The baby quilt is half batiks, which my daughter loves, coupled with some tone on tone pieces, plus a few random extras.  I found the cream flowery print at Eddie’s Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale, which acted as the anchor.  Then I chose the red/coral shade, which brightens up the whole teal/purple scheme.  I want to get back to Eddie’s, picking up another half yard or so of that flower print; I just love it!

It’s backed with a lively tye-dye sort of flannel, stitched in the ditch for maximum softness.  I used a gray/brown flowery piece for the binding, wanting to incorporate as much femininity as possible for the granddaughter-in-question.  I chose to make a more modern-looking quilt over nursery fabrics mostly because it was hard finding teal baby fabric.  But for the nursery quilt, I had more leeway….

Making a quilt just for the nursery is merely an excuse to make another quilt, hee hee.  I did this for the burrito, who is growing by leaps and bounds and will make his new cousin appear even more dainty when she arrives next month.  This quilt combines some of the Babar fabrics that the burrito’s comforter possesses with extra purple and pink.  And some batiks, for good measure.

It has a pieced backing; purple for my daughter, flowers for me, and coral as it matches and extends the length.  It’s also stitched in the ditch, for extra snuggly goodness, with a scrappy binding.

We visited that family yesterday, and the nursery is coming right along.  I can’t believe how quickly 2015 is passing, not sure what that means in the wider sense, although I clearly recall my dad telling me years ago that time passed fast for him when he was my age, and now it zooms along even more rapidly.

Dad must have shared that at least ten, maybe fifteen years ago.  And he was right, because here I am, about to become an abuela yet again!  And while I wish he was here to cuddle this great-grandchild, I know he’s keeping an eye on all of us.

And in Dad’s place, Buttercup does the watching.  Or rather the napping.  My daughter noted that until the rug arrived, along with the crib, Buttercup could have cared less about hanging out in the nursery.  Now it’s her place, and she looks very happy.

Quilts for the baby, a rug for Buttercup.  All is well in the world….

Quilting By Stealth

So, even though I haven’t said much lately, I have been busy.  My most recent project was a surprise for someone who frequently reads this blog, tying my hands to blurt much about it here.  However, it has been gifted to that recipient, my eldest daughter for her upcoming birthday.  So now I can blab all about it.

On the left is the blue-gray vine print that is shared with the Bestie Far Away quilt. On the upper right is the tree branch fabric that brought all the blues together.

Which is good; I was aching to wax about this quilt, which doesn’t have a formal moniker attached.  It’s my girl’s birthday pressie, tied into the Bestie Far Away comforter by one fabric and those young women’s shared date of birth.  Now both can use their quilts, a few weeks early even.  And I can share that second blanket with you readers.

As I explained last night to my daughter, her husband, my hubby, and of course Buttercup, this quilt was fairly easy to put together, once I had the correct fabrics.  I had purchased some, then changed my mind, requiring a few more.  (My husband was shaking his head as I spoke those words.)  The key for this quilt was the dark brown tree branches against cream, with small blue leaves dangling from the branches.  Once I saw that blue, the rest fell into place.

My girl is partial to browns, of which there are a few within this scheme.  The creams were easier, and as for the blues….  I love blue, so it was only a matter of winnowing down the best shades.  I had considered brown for the binding, but I liked the dotted tan fabric.  It’s backed with marbled blue flannel, stitched in the ditch, and at sixty by seventy-two inches, it fits their bed, or can be stretched over the sofa.  She said it kept her cozy on their drive home last night, then sent shots of it on their bed.

And of course, Buttercup gave her ultimate approval, although she was slightly peeved.  Her bone wasn’t permitted on the quilt, which I’m sure Buttercup thinks was made solely for her.  Sorry puppy; no icky bones on this pretty quilt.


It’s for the birthday girl.  She might be nearly twenty-six, but she’ll always be my baby.

For a Bestie Far Away

This quilt has already reached its owner, but I finished it a week ago.  I didn’t want to post about it until it was where it belonged, but now I can share it up close on the blog.

And when I say up close, I mean up close.

I don’t take a lot of post-quilting photographs, or at least not anywhere but on the laundry line.  I’m not good at getting those terrifically artsy shots, in part that I’m not an artsy snapper, nor does my house have loads of natural light conducive to highlighting one’s handiwork.  But I wanted to showcase this quilt, in that it’s one of my faves, as is the person to whom it now belongs.  It was also one of my more adventurous designs, which isn’t saying much; I’m not into complicated patterns.  But I like how the sashes frame the vibrant hues, and how the binding doesn’t detract, yet is a little fancy itself.

I included this shot, mostly because it's sort of pretty, not that it displays the quilt in any particular manner.

I included this shot, mostly because it’s sort of pretty, not that it displays the quilt in any particular manner.

I didn’t quilt through the sashes, as I didn’t want to muss them up.  Instead I stitched in the ditch, leaving a four-inch gap around the edges of the quilting, which I then reinforced with some hand-sewing, just to give myself peace of mind that the backstitching wouldn’t come out.

After all that hard work, the last thing I wanted to hear was the stitches had come loose…

I sent it off last Monday, to the Midwest, for that young woman’s birthday, although her special day isn’t for a few weeks.  Still, in the Midwest it’s getting chilly, why I wanted it to arrive sooner rather than later.  Also because I just couldn’t wait anymore; I wanted her to have this comforter.  There are few things in this world better than sharing love, maybe there’s nothing better.  In this quilt was sewn many good feelings, and lots and lots of love.  Why wait to send it?

The particulars are thus; fifteen by seventeen four-inch squares, with a four-inch Kona ash border all around.  It’s backed with soft lilac flannel, bound with a gray print decorated with white vines.  Made up mostly of batiks, with some tone on tone and another viney-looking fabric, it’s all about staving off the winter chill.  And now it’s resting on the owner’s bed, pleasing her immensely.

This is why I quilt.  And now that baseball’s over, there’s more time than before.  Best I get to it, if you know what I mean…

Baby Quilts

When I began this quilting journey, I had no plans other than to make a blanket for myself, which immediately became a comforter for my dad.  (I didn’t want to burden anyone with my initial efforts, but Dad needed a quilt more than I did, and parents ignore a multitude of sewing sins.)  One quilt quickly morphed into several, most of which were standard lap-size, some a great deal larger.  When my youngest daughter’s best friend learned she was expecting, I added that de facto grandchild onto the queue, not far behind his mum, actually.  Right now I’m in the middle of binding that mother-to-be’s quilt, but in the meantime, here are some smaller projects made with just as much love.

When I was little, my great aunts addressed all our cards to Miss This and Master That, a tradition that now might sound antiquated, but certainly falls right into place when describing a baby quilt.  Master Z’s mum requested royal and light blues and white, which were a pleasure to work with.  I picked Kona snow for the white, giving the quilt a softer look, then chose Kona royal blue and another Kona hue that now I can’t recall the name of, but it worked well as the light blue.  For the prints, I chose a collection ranging from bears on trains to monkeys in rocket ships, with some octopi and submarines added for good measure.

I also included some light and dark blues in tone on tone, then backed it in light blue flannel decorated with dark blue and white stars.  Stitched in the ditch, it’s approximately thirty-five by thirty-five inches; my usual patchwork squares are four inches after sewing; these are just a bit smaller, at three and half inches.  Which meant that compared to all my other quilts, even Scrappy and her Big Sister, Master Z’s was a breeze to finish.

While that little gem was taking shape, a very good friend mentioned her sister-in-law was expecting a second baby.  I offered to make that wee one a quilt, sort of my mood right now.  Little Miss A is due in January, but I went right to work, finding adorable pinks, greens, and purples in both prints and solids.  Then I found the backing fabric, and….  And the whole quilt’n’kaboodle was a done deal.  I chose bright pink for the binding, just in case Mum and Dad thought the dusty blue backing fabric was too strong.  But the whimsical nostalgic theme of that backing fabric works as well for a girl as it would for a boy.  (And I bought a little extra, just in case…)

Like Master Z’s quilt, Miss A’s was easy to assemble, but I did pin the sandwich with care; I wanted no shifting during the quilting, which was stitched in the ditch, right now my favourite method of straight-line quilting.  Flannel better holds the sandwich together, but that antique-looking cotton had to be included.  I’ve been playing around with different walking foots, which could be a post all its own.  Suffice to say, I’m committed to the one that came with my eldest daughter’s Brother machine, not even the actual Janome foot equal to the Brother foot.  Thank goodness my daughter hasn’t had time to work on her Christmas tree skirt quilt; when she does, I’ll be aching to again borrow that superior foot, to continue the work.

But making baby quilts doesn’t feel like work; it feels…  Precious, magical, and yes, abbreviated.  No comparing a lap-sized blanket, or one for a king-sized mattress, with a petite baby blanket.  Plus the fabrics are more dainty, well, not those of emergency vehicles and dump trucks, but the size of those squares is smaller than what I am used to, or perhaps it’s all mental.  Beautiful little babies will be snuggled within these quilts, and I hope they will be in use for ages.  I did avoid obvious references to infants; I want these blankets to last well past the toddler stage.  When my youngest was less than a year old, her paternal grandmother made her a blanket, which became known as the Star Blankie.  Crocheted squares were pieced together, then backed with white flannel decorated with red, yellow, and green stars, moons, and crescents.  My daughter adored that blanket, and all that remains is the crocheted top, the flannel worn away.

From twenty years ago; my two youngest, that girl gripping that Star Blankie for dear life.

From twenty years ago, as my youngest grips her Star Blankie for dear life.

I hope that for my grandson and Miss A, these quilts are similarly loved.  It certainly was my pleasure to create them!