Monday 23 May 2022

High Tea


You may recognize this quilt setting. It's the Trellis Setting by Sharyn Craig  that I also used for Where the Charming Roses Bloom, only in that case it was a square version and this is a rectangle version.  I bought this one as a quilt kit from my local quilt shop. While the fabric is beautiful, I likely would have switched a couple of things up a bit. First of all, I'm not entirely sure that I like that cream coloured fabric for the setting triangles. I think it's too great a contrast with the mostly black background fabrics in the rest of the quilt. Even if it had the little rosebuds on it like the black sashing and the blue framing fabrics, it likely would have been more satisfactory. But this is just a tonal, with a print so indistinct that I had to be very careful to make sure I wasn't sewing it with the wrong side out. The next thing is the same focus fabric is used for both the large and small squares and this is a really large print, with the result that the smaller squares have bits and pieces of teapots. It really doesn't suit the smaller squares. I did use the same focus fabric for both large and small squares in the Charming Roses quilt, but it was a smaller scale print, so it worked much better. Finally, there's the matter of the framing and sashing fabrics. 

In the charming roses quilt, both the sashing and framing fabrics have a totally different background colour from the focus fabric. This worked well when putting the framing around the small squares, where it was only put on two sides of the square. 
And it's supposed to go on the outsides of the small squares. But in High Tea, because the background colour of both the focus fabric and the sashing is black, there wouldn't be a strong enough demarcation between the two fabrics. 
And so I put the framing fabric on the inside. It doesn't give it the same finished look, and, if I had enough of the blue framing fabric, I might have considered framing the small squares all the way around. 
I googled this fabric line. It's several years old, so not much can be found online. However, I did find this fabric, which is the same print as the fabric used in the wider border, only with an ivory background. 
Perhaps I could have used this for the sashing, changed the focus fabric for the smaller squares to the black rosebud fabric that is used in my quilt for the sashing, and changed the setting triangles to the same fabric as that used in the wider border. I think that would have been more aesthetically pleasing, though I still think it's a beautiful quilt. 
I used the Coffee Break pantograph from Urban Elementz. It's coffee (or tea) cups with swirls of steam rising from the cups. And this is the backing fabric I used. 
It's a totally different fabric line, but I felt it suited this quilt. I did have a hard time parting with it, however, as it's so beautiful 
Originally, I purchased this quilt kit for my oldest sister, who collects vintage tea pots. However, when my youngest sister wanted a bed-sized quilt, I knew that I would have to make all of my sisters bed-sized quilts. And this one is defintely not bed-sized. However, I was hoping to make a quilt for a friend who is a ceramicist (potter) and I felt that teapots and cups would be appropriate for her. 

Sunday 15 May 2022

Double Star Quilt

 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:21

This is the Double Star pattern from the book, Strip Tubing, which uses the Strip Tube ruler. It's not too hard to see the red pinwheel stars (there are 4), but the black ones are less noticeable (there are 2). And the quilt is actually more vibrant than the picture shows. 

As you likely know, I like to share my quilts with people that I feel need comfort, encouragement and support. And I was making this one with a particular recipient in mind. But I just wasn't getting it done in as timely a manner as I would like. There was a certain day when I knew I would likely see the individual for whom I was making this quilt and I tried to get it finished before then in order to gift it to her, but I just didn't manage somehow (now realizing that my mental health challenges have certainly contributed). 

I believe that God speaks to us, if we're willing to listen. Not generally audibly, but He speaks to us through His word, the Bible, through nature, through other people (and not just preachers) and sometimes He speaks to our hearts, our minds through what the Bible calls the "still, small voice" (I Kings 19:12). As I mentioned, not usually an audible voice, but more an impression, an idea that comes strongly to our minds, as mentioned in the opening Bible verse. Of course, we have to be careful that any "impression" is consistent with the word of God. Otherwise, it's not His voice we're hearing! So, as I was laying in bed on the morning of the day that I would likely see this person, the idea came to me that I could give her Sunrise in the Serengeti instead. 

I had originally made this one to sell, but my selling efforts had fallen flat (though I hadn't gone farther than displayng it at a place that sold the works of local artisans). And this quilt was just hanging around on a quilt rack, waiting for me to decide what to do with it. So I listened to that "Voice" and I packed it up and took it with me. 
When I saw my friend and asked her how she was doing, it was not a good day. And I believe that our omniscient God knew that this was a day she needed the encouragement of a quilt given in love from a friend. So that's why He told me to give her Sunrise in the Serengeti, instead of waiting until I completed Double Star. And I pray that it will continue to be a blessing to her, a tangible reminder of God's love. 
But I still wanted to finish Double Star, even though I now had no recipient in mind. I didn't want to add to the pile of UFOs I have. I finished the quilt top and then, because there is so much red in this quilt, I chose Spiced Apples as the quilting design.
Ugh! Mystery's hair is everywhere!

While I normally do a star pantograph - and I have a few of them - for a star-themed quilt, on this one, the stars are not so distinct and I wanted something different. And I'm pleased with my choice. 
This quilt only took 20 strips from a jellly roll, so I still have the remaing 20 to do something with. However, between this one and Finish the Race, I think I've had enough of red, white and black quilts for awhile, and I need to work with some different colours. 

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Finish the Race


Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
1 Corinthians 9:24,25

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Hebrews 12:1

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8

The pattern for this quilt is actually called Alberta. When I first purchased it, I assumed it was named after our beautiful province. But that puzzled me when I realized that the pattern came from the United States, and I really doubted an American designer would name a quilt pattern after a Canadian province. Alberta is also a woman's name, though not a common one, and I wondered if that was what this pattern was named after. It wasn't until I was actually working on this quilt that I determined to find out. When I went to the company's page, I found that were several quilt designs that were named uncommon women's names. That puzzle solved. 
However, I had no desire to name a quilt for a man an uncommon woman's name. If I was doing the quilt in the colours of the province of Alberta's flag or other Alberta theme, then I might consider keeping the name Alberta. But the quilt was made for my male cousin in Ontario in red, white and black. A cousin who spent his career as an auto mechanic, loved cars and car racing. So I chose the Speedway pantograph and named the quilt Finish the Race. 

But more importantly, I wanted him to also recognize the spiritual implications of the phrase, "finish the race," as indicated in the scriptures I shared at the beginning of this post. We are all running a race. The prize is eternal life and, unlike secular competitions where only one person can win, we can all win as long as we are faithful to Jesus Christ. 
Now, about the pattern itself. It's a layer cake pattern (layer cakes in the quilting world are packages of 40 or 42 10" squares of fabric), requiring one layer cake of print and one of solid/background. The frustrating thing I find about precut patterns, as I've mentioned previously, is that you don't end up using the full amount of fabric. Why bother with a precut if you end up cutting it up smaller again. In the case of this pattern, the quilter is to put a piece of the print fabric and a piece of the background together and make 2 HST units. One is then to trim the HST units down to 9" square. Personally, I rarely trim anything down. It wastes both time and fabric. However, once I had started trimming them, I had to do it with all of them. If I had to do it over again, I would just make the quilt without trimming the HSTs. The other thing about this pattern is that it recommends the use of the Stripology ruler. Now, the Stripology ruler has its place, but it's big and cumbersome. And I really didn't need it for this project. I found it more difficult to line the blocks up and trim them, and ended up cutting some incorrectly. I put the Stripology ruler away and switched to my 9½" square ruler and used that instead. Much less cumbersome. 
The quilt is now on its way to my cousin. 
As I write this, there is a quilt backing hanging over the bars on my longarm, waiting to be loaded, the batting cut and the quilt to be pressed so that I can quilt it. And another finished quilt top waiting in the queue... So, off to work I go.

Tuesday 10 May 2022

A Few Small Projects

Water Bottle Carrier

I got a last minute invitation to a birthday party for one of my great nephews. With no time to shop and little time to spare, I wanted to give him a gift that he would enjoy. I had some homemade soap from my soap making friend at Purple Peony Emporium, so made a crocheted soap bag to go with it, but I didn't feel that was enough. I then googled to find quick crochet projects for men (he was turning 19), and found a crocheted water bottle holder pattern
It has a cross-body strap, which is perfect for keeping your hands free while hiking. Or shopping. I added a small book that I had at home and his gift was complete. 

Soap Bag

I dropped my bar of soap in the bathtub and it broke into pieces. So I figured that it was time to make myself a soap bag. 
It's the same pattern that I've used previously, but I didn't want the open areas like in the square one because the pieces of soap would fall out. So, rather than single crochet for round 3, I did double and finished it off with that. I think I like it better than the square one. 

Wrapped in Sunshine

In my search for shawl patterns, I came across this website: Crochet Shawl 10 Diagrams. I thought the page was in Ukrainian, but Google offered to translate it for me from Greek. However, when I downloaded an individual diagram and isolated the text from the diagram to have it translated, I was then told that it was Russian. Whatever. Fortunately, I do not need a knowledge of any of those languages to interpret a crochet diagram. This is the first one I decided to try. 
I called it "Wrapped in Sunshine" because the individual motifs look like suns to me. They also look sort of like spiders, but I didn't think "Wrapped in Spiders" had the same appeal. I made this one for my daughter as an Easter gift.  I used 314 g/11.1 oz of Red Heart Comfort in papaya and a 5.5 mm hook. It measures approximately 65" across by 30.5" down. 

Buckwheat and Birds

This quilt started from a panel and some fabrics that I felt would work with the panel that I purchased at Marshall's in Edmonton. At that time, I was giving consideration to possibly seeing if I could sell some quilts and thought this project might work. Or just adding another baby quilt to my stash. Otherwise, I really had no recipient in miind.
When I made the quilt top up, I had to decide what kind of setting to use for the panel. Because the panel has a place for the baby's name and vital statistics, 
I decided to see if I could sort of centre that part and therefore the panel would be off-centre. I then selected a new block to try from one of my many quilt books, Buckwheat. Lots of math involved in calculating how wide to make the sashing, how many blocks and what size, etc. in order to make this project the right size for a baby quilt. Once completed, I then set the quilt top aside, figuring I would wait until I knew who the recipient would be so that I could add the information before quilting. 
And then I found out that one of my great nieces was pregnant. Aha, a perfect recipient for this quilt, especially since the quilt was gender neutral. Then my very first great, great niece (that's correct - two greats, this is my middle sister's great granddaughter, and the first of the next generation in my family). I got the name and vital statistics from my niece (the baby's grandmother) and used the alphabet function on my sewing machine to add them to the quilt. Then it was quilted using the Blackbird Pie pantograph from Meadow Lyon. 
Unfortunately, once I finished the quilting, I couldn't find the leftover fabric to use to make the binding. It took me over a month to find it. It was hiding under my two quilt along projects, which have yet to be finished. 
It's finally done and on its way to the newest baby in my family. I really like it. It's a unique setting for a panel, not typical baby colours and a new block tried in two sizes.

Mug Rugs

Administrative Professionals week was upon us, and I didn't want to neglect to honour our administrative assistants. I made each of them a quilted mug rug. 
Those are 3" quilt blocks. I was planning on using this book 

 for the blocks, but I couldn't find it when I needed it (I really need to get my craft studio more neat and tidy), so I took some inspiration from BlockBase+.

Crazy Cats

I have been working on some larger quilts, but when I was searching for the fabric to use to bind Buckwheat and Birds, I came across a fat quarter bundle that I bought at Walmart a few years ago. It consists of one fat quarter of cats playing musical instruments, one of cats dancing between lines of music, one of scattered musical notations and a couple of blenders. Then I was inspired by a quilting video using the Creative Grids Crazy Quilt set. I think in the video, it was the 8" set, whereas I have the 6" set. No matter, I decided to make a wallhanging for some empty wall space in my office at work. 
However, my doctor has since placed me on stress leave, so I guess I will be hanging it up in my hallway. 
Choosing a quilting design, I had a choice of cats or music, and I went with Funky Music

Royal Fan

My next shawl from the Crochet Shawl 10 Diagrams page is this one. 
I called it Royal Fan because the motif looks sort of like a fan with a crown above it. I used a 5.00 mm hook, 6 oz/170 g of Red Heart Roll with It Sparkle.
It measures about 75" across and 38½" down. And it will just go into my stash for a quick gift when I need one. 

That's it for now. I still have a table runner set that I need to quilt, but I've set it aside for more pressing projects. 

The Elephant on My Chest

Most people don't understand mental health. And I have to admit, I'm certainly no expert either. After all, it's not like you can diagnose schizophrenia with an x-ray, or depression with a blood test. Broken bones and heart attacks we can more readily identify and sympathize with. But, even with modern efforts to de-stigmatize mental health issues, there are still people who think the sufferers should just "snap out of it", or "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" or, in the Christian environment, "you just need to pray more" or "you need more faith". I know. Because I sometimes give myself those pep talks. You see I'm currently at home on "stress leave". And I actually find it easier to say that I'm on stress leave than to explain that I'm suffering from severe depression and anxiety. Semantics. It's more socially acceptable to be "stressed" than to have depression/anxiety. 

And for people who have never experienced depression and anxiety to the extent that I am experiencing it, it's really difficult to comprehend just how debilitating it is. And when they see that I can still smile and laugh or even work on my hobbies, they must wonder if I really am that depressed. And I do it to myself as well, feeling guilty because I'm not at work when it seems I can function fine. But then I have to fight back the tears as I'm climbing the steps to the post office or some other mundane, every day event. Why do I feel like crying? And I realize that I really am not functioning fine. 

And the physical symptoms. Do you know how many physical symptoms that can manifest themselves as a result of mental illness? I have a headache almost every day. I have had abdominal discomfort and nausea since late last year. Initially, the doctor thought it was diverticulitis and prescribed 2 different antibiotics. But even after the antibiotics, the nausea and abdominal discomfort continued - sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always there. And it's variable in type as well as intensity - sometimes feeling like bowel, sometimes like bladder and sometimes even like menstrual cramping. I finally had a CT scan of my abdomen and nothing was wrong. I was actually disappointed. I was hoping that there was something physically wrong with me, that would explain the symptoms, that could be treated, rather than having to say, "It's just anxiety." But it isn't just anxiety. It's a horrendous, debilitating illness. I feel short of breath and my chest feels tight. It's difficult to draw a deep breath. That's where I got the title for this post - like an elephant on my chest. I don't sleep well, and feel exhausted most of the time. And I spend a lot of time just sitting around doing nothing because I have so little motivation, so little energy.  

And I've struggled with feelings of failing God. I have prayed and prayed for healing, but the healing has not come. I've emotionally beat myself up for not having enough faith, not trusting God enough to gain the victory over this. I persisted at work much longer than I likely should have because I didn't want to be a failure, I felt that I should overcome this somehow, if I could just turn the corner... But it hasn't happened. And I finally had to admit that I just couldn't continue trying to force myself to function.

And then I thought of the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, he reports how he was given a "thorn in the flesh" to keep him from becoming proud of all he had accomplished for the Lord, and all the favours God had bestowed on him.  

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.Verse 7

He never explains what this "thorn" was, but obviously it was distressing to him because he asked the Lord to deliver him from it three times. 

 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. Verse 8

But the Lord said, "No." And Paul accepted that answer, knowing that God loved Him enough that He would always act in Paul's best interests.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. Verses 9,10

So I realized that sometimes God does deliver from physical infirmity. Sometimes immediately and sometimes more gradually. But sometimes, He says, "No", as He did to the apostle Paul. And He always has a reason, though we may not understand why until we get to heaven. 

And so, perhaps, there are some of us that have "thorns" in the mind, and not necessarily in the body. And perhaps God, for reasons which we do not always understand, chooses not to heal us of those "thorns" - not immediately, maybe not even gradually, maybe not until we get to heaven. But suffering from those "thorns in the mind" is not necessarily any indication that we have failed God or that we lack faith, any more than the apostle Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was. 

I honestly do not believe that it is God's will for me to continue in the state that I am currently in. And I believe, given time, that I will eventually improve. But it may be that it will always be a weakness that I need to be aware of and take precautions against.  And I know that God's grace is sufficient.