Tag Archives: English paper piecing

So Temporary

While entries have been few, I’ve been sewing up a storm; English paper piecing has become my go-to fave, while hand-quilting remains the evening distraction.  Paper piecing truly lends itself to recent travels, and I find it’s a great way to start the morning, what with no words being written.  Just today I started this block; it might sit on the kitchen table a few more days, then I’ll tuck it away with another made solely from scraps.  I’d like to fashion an entire quilt of these from leftovers, a long-term project with no concrete date of completion.

Mandolin block in progress; thanks to Jodi from Tales of Cloth.

I felt that way about The Hawk, then found The End earlier this year.  But shortly after that novel wrapped up, Mom got sick and….  Suddenly everything felt half-baked, like my life was prematurely tossed in the can alongside my mother’s.  Or more rightly how I saw my life; maybe I had become complacent, not in that I’d finally finished a very long story, or that grandkids had become my focus, or any sort of reason or mantra that now seems trite.  Trite isn’t the correct word, but that’s apropos as well; I feel like a scattered jigsaw missing several key pieces.  And what I’m discovering is that those pieces aren’t magically going to turn up under the sofa or behind a bookcase.  They are gone for good and the puzzle that is my life will eventually adjust to their permanent absence.

When I sent this photo to my eldest, Little Miss wanted to know why the block was broken, lol.

I’ve lost loved ones before; my brother, my dad, a dear friend when I was quite young.  I can’t put my finger on why Mom’s passing has so rattled me, or there are too many notions for one to be outstanding.  We are so temporary, just fleeting blips along a timeline, like single stitches within a quilt or solitary sentences inside a novel.  Or maybe a speck of water, bumping into another, forming raindrops that I would love to see fall from the sky.  It’s autumn, and while a deluge is drenching the East Coast, California would love a little precipitation.  Yet even our endless summers don’t last forever; everything changes, including the most stalwart people and ideas.  We are here for brief moments, some no more lasting than the blink of an eye.

Then I sent this shot, nearly finished; urchin block courtesy of Tales of Cloth.

Then you blink again and the beginning of one season heralds another, and quilt tops go from patchwork to paper piecing and novels sit in hard drives while ideas for others linger in my mind.  And Mom sits there too, that’s where she now dwells.  Photos are reminders, but I can’t speak to her or receive emails or letters.  It’s weird how our brains retain certain facts, but our hearts ache for other manners of reciprocation.  Yet there’s nothing doing; can’t find those puzzle pieces, can’t go backwards.  We can only go forward, even if it’s so damned temporary.

Done! Now to figure out what to do with it….

Losing Mom has been like losing my right leg, and now I’m facing an uphill battle to reclaim my footing.  I’m not sure when I’ll post again, because there’s only so many grieving entries I feel capable of writing.  But good awaits on the horizon; a little brother for The Burrito, more quilts certainly, maybe another novel, ha ha.  Previous sabbaticals always brought me back to blogging, so until then wrap your arms tightly around those you love.  And if one is missing, blow them a kiss and keep on walking.  The smooth plain might appear far away, but is often closer than it seems.

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A rebooting of sorts….

We’re home from holiday; my youngest daughter married her partner whilst on vacation, so I have a new son-in-law.  The wedding was small, a larger affair scheduled for next spring.  This alteration isn’t due to Mom’s death, but better news; The Burrito will get a little brother before the end of this year and his folks decided to adjust their nuptials accordingly.  Which means a wedding quilt is now in the works, which I officially started this morning.

Not exactly hexies, but definitely paper piecing….

Well, I began glue-basting honeycombs a couple of days ago, but now a block’s worth of paper pieces are waiting to be sewn together.  Not sure if that will commence today, but at least I managed to arrange these shapes into something eye-pleasing.

Our vacation was fraught with airline mishaps, but those were set aside amid the wonder of Miss Em learning to pull herself to standing, as well as three-year-olds having a fabulous time on boat rides.  In the flurry of wedding prep I was able to forget what happened in June, enjoying a brief window of life as it ever was.  Coming home, I immediately went north to help pack up Mom’s house.  However my siblings did a bang-up job, so instead I assisted in a new bride going through her closets and The Burrito’s wardrobe.  Not only did I bring home mementos of my mother, but bags of 2 and 3T sized clothes waiting for another little one in which to romp and roam.

Cousins awaiting the big event; my sister-in-law turned these into gorgeous bouquets and boutonnieres with blooms to spare.

Some items left for me didn’t make it to Silicon Valley; I gave my father’s quilt to my youngest, as when I made it she lamented the aged fleece blanket used for the back.  Upon inspection, my hand-sewing has stood the test of the last four and a half years, making me long to again hand-sew a quilt top.  Right now more comforters than I can count await my machine, one of which is for an impending grandson.  Fortunately that blanket won’t be more than some whole cloth quilting that I will probably do on my machine to save time.

I designed this today, adding some hastily cut up batiks to round out the necessary large squares. I’m happy with it, and we’ll see when I get around to sewing it together.

Saving time…. That’s a funny concept as August is already half gone, this summer still feeling like I’m dwelling in an alternate universe.  Glue-basting honeycombs and 1″ squares was also a part of it; what has happened to all my lovely routines?  Everything’s different, and yes I know that’s a part of life but, but, but….  In checking out Dad’s quilt, I was sent back to when both of my parents were alive, no grandkids were present, The Hawk just a shell of itself.  Dad’s quilt remains, my novel turned behemoth is done, a fourth nieto is on the way, and now I paper piece.  My, my, my; that’s a lot of changes.

Up close with my dad’s quilt; no obvious weak seams, yay!

Right after Mom died, I thought about what I was grateful for, because even during a storm taking stock of the blessings matters.  Goodness knows I have heaps of treasures, and I am cognizant of them.  But recently I shared with some of Mom’s sisters that I feel like everything, little and large, looks as though a veil has been removed.  I then expounded upon that with my youngest sister that the accompanying glare is pretty damn bright and boy I’m tired of squinting.  I’m weary of all this newness, wondering for how long will the sensation last, or is this just how the rest of my life will be, constantly staring out finding yet another long-held tenet is askew.  I don’t know, nor will I find that answer immediately.  I suppose if I live to be an old lady, squinting won’t seem odd mostly because my eyesight will be shot.  And if I do live a long time, with most of my wits about me, will I still miss my parents or might this enormous sense of loss remain?

My first quilt, now in a new home. What tales could this comforter tell….

Plenty of queries, maybe as many as the quilts waiting to be fashioned.  I can’t fathom when I might write again, but it’s not like I’m aching for distractions; I’m most grateful for fabrics and thread and my ironing board.  And exceedingly thankful for my family, their patience overflowing.  One more is on the way, due the day before Mom’s birthday, and I’m very appreciative of that too.  Maybe that’s the biggest lesson of all, saying Thank You while I still can.

Easier to unpick a novel than a quilt….

New additions to my crafting collection….

Been working on The Hawk this week, although one step forward has translated to two chapters backwards.  At this stage, without proper justification I can’t blithely say, “Oh yes, Stanford will be attending the Fourth of July activities even if he has dropped the Snyders like a hot potato.”

Rummaging through scrap buckets was exhilarating; I do like me some blues.

That was what I did the last time I got some noveling accomplished.  However, hindsight is 20/20, and laying the groundwork wasn’t more than changing chapter numbers, then writing a couple thousand words which add to more than the word count.  No cheating allowed when so close to the finish line….

My first block, awaiting needle and thread.

Ahem.  But that’s not all I wish to say today, although it has been on my mind, alongside another idea that current resides as no more than a playlist.  Ah, the days of playlists and pounding out rough drafts within thirty days.  Man, that feels like ages ago, long before quilts muscled their cottony ways into my life.  And if my sewing machine wasn’t enough of a distraction, now there’s hexagons and glue sticks and English paper piecing (EPP).  What???

Block #2 awaiting assembly. The center fabric was from my very first quilt.

Over Easter, I chatted with my son-in-law’s mum about how aging has taken its toll on our creative output.  After seven or eight o’clock in the evenings, both of us are toast when it comes to fashioning crafts that take precision.  Hand-sewing doesn’t fall under that header, but there hasn’t been much to tackle since I completed the blue quilt binding, and while plenty of projects line the quilt walls, very little of it is at all close to being bound, much less hand-quilted.  I’m still finding my feet after being away for some of March, then Easter.  Other than inserting necessary backstory into my novel, the rest of my creative flow is in a muddle.

Strips of scraps awaiting the rotary cutter…..

Or maybe the better term is transition; in the evenings while my hubby watches the Warriors, I’ve been perusing blogs that focus on English paper piecing.  Don’t ask me why I’m being drawn in that direction, other than a need for nighttime relaxation.  But yesterday I pulled the trigger, picking up 1.5″ hexagons and glue sticks, and by bedtime I had one hexie block sewn.

Which leads to another designed block!

I feel a wee bit guilty, as placemats are waiting as well as a duvet cover for Little Miss, not to mention a baby quilt on my list, but a dear friend is coming next week and one of our activities will be craft-related.  She cross stitches and I’ll have these hexies and….  And for whatever purpose EPP has in my life, I need to throw caution, but not my sewing machine, to the wind.  I’ve already found that thread basting might be my preferred method, although I have yet to sew together hexies basted in that manner.

This block is a mix of glue and thread basted hexies. I wonder which will prove easier to sew….

(I found myself poking through the papers with glue-basted hexies, so we’ll see if thread basting becomes my way.)

For me, thread-basting is just as fast as using glue. Having wrangled free one glue-basted paper, these will slip much easier from the fabric.

What does this mean for The Hawk?  Not that much, as I don’t sew in the mornings, and can’t write more than grocery lists past noon.  On days when I have time, these pastimes can peacefully coexist, and for that I am truly grateful; I can’t fathom having to pick one over the other, other than to say it is much simpler to insert prose than rip out stitches.  Not that I prefer those chores, but if forced to choose….

My first sewn hexie block, waiting for friends to join it.

The day when it comes to that, I’ll be in big trouble.  For now, words and fabrics are fast friends, and we’ll see how paper piecing blends into the overall quilting scheme.  Maybe once I have a plethora of hexies basted, other cotton projects will resume course.  In the meantime, have a hexagon-ally magnificent day!