Author Archives: Bernie

A Sweet Finish

Today I found myself getting frustrated because I have so much I should be doing and no energy.  After a two day migraine it usually takes me two or three days to get back on track.  This weekend is a big one because my son is getting married on Saturday.  My kids all come home on Thursday which is so great.  Anyway, I felt like I should be cleaning house or doing yard work, etc and really my body is rebelling and saying I should take it easy.  So I went in the sewing room.  Time in the sewing room is often a cure-all, right??

New Look Pattern 6578 and Radiant Menagerie Fabric by BariJ

I had most of this cute little dress made already.  I started it at the beginning of August and when it came time to put the buttonholes on it (a task I dislike) I hung it up in the closet and pretended it wasn’t there. But it is so cute and it called to me this morning so I pulled it out. I wanted to make it for my grand daughter but it is late in the season so I made a size 3T in the hopes she will wear it next summer.

The fabric is called Radiant Menagerie (from Indigo & Aster) and was designed by the talented BariJ.  I LOVE her aesthetic and carry a lot of her fabric in my shop (Wild Bloom, Indigo and Aster and now Virtuosa.)  If you aren’t familiar with BariJ, she is a talented artist whose work is often quite feminine and usually features large floral designs.  Her paintings are very pretty and some are quite whimsical.  Take a look at her work here.

She has a lot of animals sporting floral crowns and I was thrilled to see her include them in the Indigo & Aster line (produced by Art Gallery Fabric).

Probably my favorite of the animals, no surprise there, right?

The fabric that features the animals is called Radiant Menagerie and is a border fabric of sorts.   Each selvage edge is lined with the various animals.

In between the selvages are stripes in coordinating colors or pink, orange, green and blue.  The stripes are actually dotted lines. So when using this piece in a quilt, it is simple to fussy cut the animals and then use the stripes as a coordinate.

I wanted to use this as a dress so I was careful to choose a simple pattern with a straight hemline (as opposed to curved.)  This enabled me to use the striped portion as the bodice of the dress and the animals as the bottom.  The back side of the dress mirrors the front with animals parading across the bottom and the colorful stripe at the top.

Front ruffle detailing.

As if it wasn’t colorful enough already, I decided to take it a step further.  Using a four inch wide strip of La Floraison Lit (another piece in the line) I sewed a tube with the fabric and turned it right side out.  Then I ran two lines of stitching down the center (with a long, loose stitch) so I could gather that tube into a ruffle.  A quick hunt through my buttons resulted in these cute, colorful buttons to add to the ruffle.  I really like the extra detail this adds to the dress..

Finished French Seams

My serger is (still!) not cooperating with me so I finished the seams with French seams.  This will prevent any fraying.  I do love French seams.  They are easy and give a really nice finished look to the garment.

Lavender facing on the inside.

Because the fabric in a nice lightweight cotton, I didn’t want to use the dress fabric for the interior facings around the neckline and armholes.  It showed through and didn’t look very polished.  Instead, I used a scrap of a lavender solid (I think a Moda Bella piece)). It looks pretty to see that lavender bit popping through.

The dress is adorable and while I am certain it will be too big for now, I can look forward to seeing it on her next spring or summer.  These little projects are so much fun.  They don’t take a whole lot of fabric and I love seeing her in something I made.

It felt good to sit and sew the bits needed to finish this little dress up.  Tomorrow I should have a lot more energy to be able to get things done for our big weekend.  I am over the moon about this wedding as I really think these two are perfect for each other. We are so happy to welcome Shar into the family! I will share more about the wedding once everything quiets down again.

 

Sharing with my favorites, including a new linky party hosted by Michelle at From Bolt to Beauty.  It is called Brag About Your Beauties and happens on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Fridays of the month.  Be sure to check it out!

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

 

September Blogger Bundle with Mari Heidt

Hi Everyone!  As promised during my last post, today I am releasing the September Blogger Bundle.  Everyone seems to be so happy to see a bit of cooler weather as summer winds down and autumn begins.  I was very happy when Mari Heidt of The Academic Quilter agreed to curate the collection for September.  Mari and I have communicated on-line since I first began blogging.  (I think she started her blog just before I started mine). We worked together on different projects ever since and even got to meet in person during a vacation I had in Maine a couple of years ago.  Mari generously traveled to Maine (she has a daughter thereabouts) and we spent a really fun afternoon together.  Nothing better than finally meeting in person!  Anyway, besides being a fantastic quilter, Mari is a college professor, wife, mom and grandma.  If you are not familiar with her work, Mari does a lot of traditional blocks, loves scrappy quilting, and she designs great quilt alongs (block of the month) each year.  Be sure to check out her blog!

Let’s take a look at the bundle for this month!  A combination of florals, tone on tones, and a geometric print complete the bundle.

September Blogger Bundle, Curated by Mari Heidt

 

Included in the collection are fabrics from Art Gallery Fabric (the yellow daisies, the green floral and the pink geometric print) as well as from Windham Fabric (the orange tone on tone and the multi-color floral. with hidden kitties) and finally a vivid purple blender from P&B Textiles.  They look so great together (though if you would like yardage of any one of them, they are all available in the shop).  I think Mari knocked this one out of the park. She has a project started with the bundle and the blocks look great.  Click here to take a look.

When I look at this bundle, I think of the flowers that bloom in the fall.  By the end of summer, my garden is always very dry and looks stressed.  But when the nights finally cool off, I have a large bed of chrysanthemums that bloom.  It always makes me so happy to have these flowers blooming – they are the last blooms we have until the daffodils pop up at the end of February. The colors of the bundle are quite saturated and that depth of color reminds me of the mums that will soon be blooming in the yard.  I can’t wait!

As with prior Blogger Bundles, this collection is on sale beginning today and running through Friday.  Save 20% off of either the fat quarter bundle or the 1/2 yard bundle!  Also, Mari is hosting a giveaway on her blog.  Be sure to enter to win!  If you purchase a bundle and happen to win the bundle (which happened earlier this year!) I will refund your purchase or you can have credit for another purchase.

Thank you Mari for curating this month’s bundle. It has been a lot of fun working with you!

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

 

 

Good to Be Home

I thought I would post a quick check in now that I am home from Vermont! If you are on Instagram, you might have seen the photos I posted from the trip. It was such a treat to spend so much time with my son and his family.

The first day there, my grand daughter woke with a fever.  While I certainly don’t want to ever wish her ill, I have to admit, I enjoyed holding her a bit extra while she wasn’t feeling well.  This girl is usually on the go and doesn’t have time for very many grammy cuddles.  That Monday when she was under the weather, she was running around a bit less and happy to sit on my lap and look at books a bit more so that was a treat.

The rest of the week, she was a bundle of energy.  We took lots of walks, ran a few errands and played in the back yard.  Remember I posted about the projects I intended to complete during nap time? I was mostly successful. I started a blouse for myself.  All that is left is to finish the neckline and the armholes.  I brought the wrong type of bias tape so that was set aside and I will finish it up this week.  

I did get a pillow case made for the baby’s bed.  The pillow case with the kitties was made just before I left home.  The baby got a kick out of it and pointed to the kitties as we meowed. 

While in Vermont, I made one with a soft flannel from Michael Miller. (I love the flannels I have in stock – They are really soft and thick.) She loved the fish and we had fun pointing to those too.  I kept telling her the colors of each one which would make her smile as we went along, though she really hadn’t a clue what I was saying.  Haha – Grammy’s have to try, right?

When I cut the fabric, it was a bit shorter than I wanted.  To remedy this, I left the selvages on and then bound the edge with a bright orange print from my stash (maybe a Dear Stella print??) This worked well and the pillowcase was generously sized.

Unfinished leggings for the Halloween season.

Also I made the leggings I had planned.  I love the way they look on her though I didn’t remember to take a picture so you will have to trust me on that one.  I used the same pattern from Toddah as I used for her reindeer leggings last Christmas.

Other than that, no other sewing took place.  I am not afraid to admit she wore me out by the end of the day.  The plans I had to sew after she went to bed each night didn’t materialize (no pun intended!) By then, I was wiped out and usually watched a bit of tv and went to bed.  I did manage to finish a book, The Housegirl, by Tara Conklin.  It was a good read and I would recommend it.  The story is about a current day young lawyer who is working on a reparations case to recognize the descendants of African American slaves and it ties to a young girl who was a slave in the 1800’s.  I thought it was really interesting and of course, a bit sad –  still a good story though.

I am happy to be back home – I was gone nine days which is a long time to be away.  While I was away, I didn’t have one single migraine.  I have talked before about dealing with chronic migraine. It is really incredible to go such a long stretch without a headache.  I have been home since Tuesday night and still haven’t had one.  So it has been since August 25th.  I was texting my sisters about this and one of them asked me how much time I spent on the computer while in Vermont.  I thought about it and realized I hardly turned my laptop on at all.  I haven’t been doing much blog reading at all and didn’t write any posts (I had written the Meet & Greet post earlier and scheduled it to post). I often bring a book on my iPad to read on the plane but I was in the middle of The Housegirl so I brought it to finish up, meaning I read a paper book, not electronic.  This was really interesting and made me wonder if the lesser migraine frequency was at all related to the dramatic decrease in screen time. So, I am going to test it out.  For the majority of September, I am signing off the blog and won’t really be reading blogs either.  I do have the September Blogger Bundle coming up on the 12th of September so I want to do a post then. But I am very curious to see if this relief from the migraines continues. I cannot give up computers completely because I need to continue to work my shop.  But I know I can lessen the time spent quite a bit.

So, I will be back on September 12th with a gorgeous bundle curated by my friend Mari who blogs at  The Academic Quilter.  Be sure to pop over to check it out.  I love the colors Mari selected!!  Until then, take care and happy sewing!

 

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

Quilters Meet & Greet, Hosted by Benita Skinner

Today is the beginning of a Quilt Blogger Meet & Greet event hosted by Benita Skinner of Benita Skinner’s Creative Place.  After designing quilt patterns for a number of years, Benita decided to begin a blog.  She has been posting for a couple of months now and wanted to host an event for quilt bloggers to meet each other and for readers to find new blogs to enjoy.

For those of you who are new to Needle & Foot, welcome! It is always fun to meet new readers as well as new bloggers.  I definitely plan to grab a cup of coffee and head over to Benita’s and check out the other blogger’s posts!  But first here is a little bit about me and my blog.

I started this blog in June of 2014 and it is crazy to think I have enjoyed over four years of blogging, writing and interacting with our on-line quilting community.  This post is number 458 which is a whole lot of writing!  The first post I wrote explains why I chose to call my blog Needle and Foot.  If you have a minute, you can read it by clicking here.

Five of us, circa 1965 (one more sister came along the following year.)

I grew up in the Bay Area, Northern California, with my five sisters.  My father owned a fabric store and as a teenager, I spent many Saturdays working there with him. Growing up with five sisters and one sewing machine in the house meant someone was always sewing.  With a lot of guidance from my mother, I made my first project in seventh grade, a baby doll nightgown and matching panties.

My first quilt was a queen size log cabin.

The first quilt I made was started in 1978, during my senior year of high school.  It was a log cabin and I really had no idea what I was doing.  Read the details on that project here.

My first quilt needs some careful restoration. It has been well loved over the years!

We used that quilt for many years and it is in desperate need of repairs.  I look at it all the time, thinking I should work on it, but other projects always seem more fun!

The first bed size quilt I quilted on my domestic machine. So much pebbling!

Jumping ahead by about 40 years, I am still sewing and quilting. There was a long period of time where sewing happened infrequently as I raised four children and worked outside the home for a number of years.  When I retired from my work as a manager of a Human Resources department, I started quilting again.  Above is a quilt I made for my daughter’s bed.  She chose the pattern.  It was the first large quilt I ever free motion quilted.  It took FOREVER to do all the pebbling.  But it turned out nicely and I love looking back at this, my first attempt, to see how far I have come.

For me, sewing is very cyclical.  Sometimes I am more focused on quilts and other times on smaller projects such as clothing.  But one way or another, I spend a lot of time in the sewing room. I tend to like basic patterns that don’t require tons of piecing.  I am not a patient quilter and fussy patterns are not my thing.  I love lots of color, would not define myself as either strictly traditional or modern in style, and my projects seem to develop based on what sounds interesting at the time.

As with most of you, I have such a love of fabric. So much so that I started an on-line fabric shop in January 2017.  This adventure has been nothing but rewarding.  I love every facet of my job from researching new fabric lines, figuring out what my customers enjoy creating and what fabrics they want to use as well as planning events, promotions and sales to keep everyone entertained!

In addition to selling fabric on-line, I also have a booth at several of quilt shows for guilds in my area. I hope you will take a minute and browse the shop just a bit.  If you would like to receive an occasional newsletter about new fabrics, sales or events at the shop, sign up here.

I am really looking forward to meeting more readers as well as new bloggers!  Please leave a comment to tell me a bit about yourself so I can get to know you too.  If you’d like to follow me, there are links at the top of the page on the right for Instagram, Facebook, and Bloglovin.  Or, you can provide your email address and sign up to receive posts via email.  It’s all up to you.

Lastly, I want to be sure and let you know there is a wonderful giveaway happening over at Benita’s site.  Be sure to click over and take a look.  Good luck with the giveaway!!

Have a great day and be sure to take a few minutes to sew.

 

Summery Tablecloth

I have a finish to share!  Remember the tablecloth I started?  I was using this sweet cheddar yellow widleback from the shop (down to only one more yard in the shop). My plan was to make a floral collage (inspired by Laura Heine’s patterns) around the border of the tablecloth.  I posted this back in late June.

The day I posted it, there was a comment from my friend Preeti (of Sew Preeti Quilts).  Part of her comment was this:

“I am impressed that you put so much effort into the table cloth. It will be a piece of art and everyone will be overly careful not to spill the tomato ketchup on it 🙂”

This really made me think for a bit.  My family is not overly careful.  This tablecloth was intended for use on the deck – for eating outdoors.  That means summer food.  It means burgers, bbq chicken and ribs.  We are not a dainty family.  I wash my outdoor tablecloths all the time!  I changed my mind entirely and took the flowers off the table cloth.  I saved them for use in a different collage project!

So there I was – no fancy border. Just the hemmed wide back – it seemed too plain.  I dug around and came up with some wide red bias tape.  The bright red with the cheddar yellow appealed to me so I trimmed the edges with two strips of bias tape, one wider than the other.

It is simple but very washable!!  I like the red – it gives the tablecloth a little pop.  What do you think?  It was very easy to do.  I didn’t mark anything.  The two strips may not be perfectly placed but really, who can tell??
I am grateful to Preeti for making me reconsider the idea.  That floral collage would have been so pretty but also very time consuming.  I don’t think the border would have held up very well to constant laundering.  Plus it would fade on the deck as that table gets the afternoon sun all summer long.  It would be better to spend the energy on a project where it will last.  So, now I know that about 1.5 yards of wide back fabric and some bias tape equals a cute tablecloth!  Talking about wide back fabrics, I want to let you know I have an incredibly pretty new wide back in stock to share with you.  It was designed by Amy Butler and is called Night Music – I love it. Click here to check it out.
Reminder:  Today is the last day for the 25% OFF sale on all Alison Glass fabrics.  No coupon code needed.  Click here to shop!

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

Plans for This Week

I am trying to get organized before my trip to Vermont next weekend!  I am so excited at the prospect of spending over a week with my son and his family.  My grand daughter’s daycare provider is on vacation for the week leading up to Labor Day.  This is my lucky break!!!  She and I will get to spend a whole week together.  Her parents are even going to take a quick mini vacation while I am there.  This will be the first time they have been away over night without their girl.  I am sure they will have a great time as will she and I!

Grammy’s girl – watching the sail boats.

The decision I am faced with is which projects to bring to work on while in Vermont.  My daughter in law has a sewing machine and I plan to set it up for the week.  My grand daughter is (fortunately) a very good sleeper with usually a 2 hour nap in the afternoon and an early bedtime at 7pm or so.  This will leave some sewing time for Grammy.

So far I have some fabrics cut to make a few new pillow cases for my grand daughter.  I made two for her at the beginning of summer and I thought she would like another one or two.

Also, I cut out this simple shirt. I prefer View B which has only the front and back pieces so it will be a fun, quick project. I will finish the neck line and armholes with bias tape in a contrasting color (which reminds me – I still need to get the bias tape!) I chose this voile by Katarina Roccella (which is listed in the shop) – I love the dark gray background with colorful little flowers.  There will be plenty of time to wear this as our weather doesn’t usually cool down very much until October or so.

Julia and I were in Jo-Ann Fabrics last week and we saw this Halloween knit fabric.  Doesn’t it look perfect for leggings for a toddler with the chubbiest thighs ever? I totally agree!  So, that is project number three. I just need to collect the thread and notions I want to bring and put it all together.  I think this should keep me busy during nap times.  But just in case I need more, I am going to take a big stack of charm squares.  Those are easy to pack and I can always just do a patchwork quilt.  It is good to have choices! Hopefully I will have a good bit of sewing time, but who knows? Life with this toddler could be totally different when she figures out her parents are away.

Alison Glass Prints from Handcrafted and 76 – on sale this week!!

One more thing before I close the post.  If you are an Alison Glass fan, you are in luck.  All of the Alison Glass fabrics are on sale this week for 25% off!  Sale begins today and runs through the end of the day on Thursday, August 23rd.  Take advantage!!

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

 

Special Pattern Sale, From My Carolina Home

This week I have enjoyed promoting the August Blogger Bundle curated by Carole Carter of From My Carolina Home.  It has been such a successful bundle.  Maybe with all the  kids going back to school, we have that feeling of summer winding down, knowing the cooler weather of autumn is just around the corner and these colors were extra appealing to us?  I am not sure but this bundle is by far the most popular of the blogger bundles this year.  It might also be that Carole captured everyone’s attention with her gorgeous placemats and the related tutorial she kindly shared with everyone. Maybe it is the improv table topper she has promised to share with us. (She is sharing it over on her blog today – the photo above shows a scrappy binding which leaves me wanting to see more).  Or is it the teaser she left about a tablescape with the placemats she intends to share on Monday. She has done her magic with this bundle of fat quarters!

It turns out that one of Carole’s readers mentioned she was buying the bundle to make a quilt with.  Of course, this got Carole’s wheels turning.  (She is always up to something creative!).

Placemats made by Carole of From My Carolina Home

After hearing this plan from her reader, Carole thought of the patterns she has designed and which of them were most suited to this bundle.  She would like to offer them at 30% off today and tomorrow only!  You might remember when Carole first published Scrap Dance and then Scrap Dance Tango.  They are both really pretty quilts which one could make entirely with scraps and a background fabric.  Or….  you might just choose to make them with this wonderful bundle of autumnal fabrics Carole curated. I think this is a great opportunity to pick up one (or two?) of Carole’s patterns.  Summer is nearly done and with the cooler weather we will all be in the sewing room a bit more.

Scrap Dance, Designed by Carole Carter, From My Carolina Home

Take a look at the quilt made with her pattern called Scrap Dance.  It is just gorgeous and with the fabrics in this blogger bundle it would be perfect for the fall season. Made entirely with HST’s and squares, the piecing does not seem terribly complicated. You know me, I don’t do complicated.  🙂

Scrap Dance Tango, Designed by Carole Carter, From My Carolina Home

This is Scrap Dance Tango.  The version shown in the pictures is quite scrappy but again, with the bundle you would have a very pretty, autumn inspired quilt. With this quilt, she shows a scrappy low volume background which is lovely.

Here is the thing – the blogger bundles were quite popular so there are only a few left.  They are on sale through the end of the day, while supplies last.  If you decide to give this a go, hop over and grab a bundle.  I do have a limited amount of the golden textured solid which would be a pretty background fabric.  It is the floral that will be the limiting factor for the bundles.

Maybe you already bought a bundle over the past several days?  If you didn’t know exactly how you planned to use it, I would encourage you to take a closer look at both of these patterns.  One thing I appreciate about Carole’s patterns is that she includes so many options for the size of the project.  Maybe you just want to make a table topper or wall hanging?  There is also the choice of baby quilt, lap quilt or twin size bed quilt.  It is totally up to the maker!  As I said above, these two patterns are 30% off through tomorrow morning, making them a steal at $6.30 each.  No coupon code is needed, the prices reflect the discount. For more information, please check out Carole’s post this morning.

So which one appeals to you most?  I have to say, I am leaning heavily toward the Scrap Dance pattern.  I just love the look of the secondary patterns created with this pattern. Ok, thank you again for your loyal support of my shop. I hope you realize how much I appreciate all of you!!  Hope you have all had a lovely weekend.

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

 

 

Finishing Someone Else’s Work

Last November I found a treasure in a thrift store.  It was stuffed into a basket and was marked 50 cents.  You know me, I couldn’t just leave it there.  I posted a picture of it on Instagram asking what I should do with it.  The most popular response was to ‘finish it up as it was’. Then the holidays rolled around and it was pushed aside.

Instagram posting from last fall.

 

On Monday, after a very busy week with the fair, I decided to just play in the sewing room for a bit.  I was too tired to do much of anything and certainly didn’t feel like cleaning house (and truth be told, I still don’t feel like doing that!). I was poking through the piles of stuff in the sewing room and found this.  I had pin basted it and it was ready to quilt.

I took a second look at it and changed my plan. I decided to finish it without batting (like I did with the purple pansies runner I recently made). I really like the soft drape that last runner had without batting.  I thought it would work for this as well.  The piece was not terribly big, measuring just 14″ x 25″. So I removed the batting and pinned the pieced top right sides together with a piece of pink batik from my stash.  After I stitched the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam, I turned it right side out and pressed it.  I top-stitched 1/8″ in around the perimeter which closed that opening nicely.

I used a gold thread and did more top-stitching here and there. I ran a seam around the three little two inch squares in the center of each block as well as along the edges of a few of the borders.  This will keep things together should I ever need to wash it.  (Though, I would likely hand wash this because I suspect the colors will bleed – these reds are really red!)

I think this is so pretty and very different from what I usually would make.  I wonder how it ended up in a thrift store?  Maybe the maker decided she didn’t like the colors? Who knows?  But I really like it and love how it looks on this old sewing machine cabinet I have in my entry way.

This backing was perfect for this bright little project.  The colors are gorgeous and have a Moroccan look to them.

I was very happy to finish this up and it was the perfect project to allow me to continue to avoid any mundane housework! I wonder how long I can keep procrastinating???

Reminders:  There is a giveaway open over at From My Carolina Home – you should hop over there and enter to win the August Blogger Bundle!!  Also, the sale on this bundle will continue through the weekend with 20% off of both the fat quarter and the 1/2 yard bundle.  Click here to shop!

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

Linking to lots of fun places.  Be sure to check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

August Blogger Bundle with Carole Carter

The fair is over, school started today, and I am going to sew!!!  How about you?  Before I head into the sewing room, I want to share the August Blogger Bundle with you.  It is a lovely collection of colors and prints that say goodbye summer and hello fall!

august blogger bundle

This bundle was curated by Carole Carter of From My Carolina Home. I am trying to remember how I came across Carole’s blog.  I would have to guess it was through one of the many link up parties that happen each week.  Regardless of how, I have been reading this blog for quite a long time. Carole is such a devoted blogger and one of the things I enjoy most about her blog is the variety of topics she includes.  There are always seasonal posts about her projects, quilt alongs, tutorials, home decorations, her garden and, one of my personal favorites, her tablescapes.  I don’t know if I have mentioned it before now, but I LOVE having lots of different dishes to use on the table.  I have Spode Christmas dishes, my Franciscan Rose dishes from my mother-in-law, a set of different white dishes that I have purchased at thrift stores, china from years ago and more.  The only reason I don’t have more than I do is because I ran out of cabinet space (plus my husband would think I was absolutely nuts – he doesn’t understand my love of dishes!!J) But Carole does!  To catch a glimpse of some of her pretty table settings click here.

august blogger bundle

The August Blogger Bundle is just gorgeous!

Ok, back to this fun bundle. Carole and I went back and forth quite a bit as she picked her fabrics. It was great fun to work with her and see her thought process as she selected fabrics.  She ended up with this great bundle that includes Perennial Optimism as the focal fabric.  This floral is from Sharon Holland’s Bountiful line and is a favorite of mine! She also added two different textured solids.  I am a big fan of textured solids as they add interest and feel like ‘more than a solid and less than a print’.  There is a large selection of them in my shop. Carole has taken this bundle and made a lovely set of placemats. Today she will be posting about the construction of her placemats so be sure to go take a peek. Going forward this week she also plans to post about a project where she used the ‘leftovers’ from making the placemats and than finally a tablescape she set with them – I am looking forward to that post!! Also, Carole is hosting a giveaway for one lucky winner (US only) to receive a fat quarter bundle of her collection.  Be sure to enter on her blog!

From now until Sunday, August 19th,  this bundle is 20% off in my shop.  Take advantage and grab one now – I know you will love making something with it.  Thank you Carole for working with me on this and creating such a nicely curated collection of fabrics!

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!

Linking to lots of fun places.  Be sure to check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

On Raising Show Pigs

As you know by now, my daughter raises show pigs, trains them, loves them and then shows them at the fair.  After showing them at the fair, she spends time in the swine exhibit letting children ask questions and pet her pig.  On the last day of the fair, she shows her pig one more time during a huge auction and people from the community bid on her pig.  The highest bidder then works directly with a butcher and ultimately ends up with a lot of pork in his or her freezer to eat all year long. Lots of people ask why she does this?  How can she take care of this animal and love it and then ‘let it be killed’.

Julia and I talked a lot about this a few days ago.  Actually, we have talked about it many times.  But coming toward the end of her time with Olive has been hard.  There were lots of tears a few days ago as she grieved and experienced tremendous sadness that Olive would be gone.

I thought it might be good to explain, as her parents, why my husband and I are ok with this process.  First of all, I should say it is really difficult.  My husband and I got really attached to Julia’s pigs last year and after all was said and done, we thought – ‘nope, we aren’t doing this again – it was too hard on us and on Julia’.  After cleaning up the pen and putting away the supplies, we assumed that was one for the books – over and done.  But then around November (8 weeks later) Julia was talking about getting another piglet in the spring.  We asked her if she was sure she wanted to go through the whole process again.  She said yes – it had been such a good experience and she wanted to have another go at it.  Her logical mind explained – Now that I know how to do it, and the pen is built and we have all the gear, I want to do it again.  Ok – we agreed, you can buy another piglet.

Bringing Olive home.

Let’s look at some of the reasons we support this desire of  Julia’s.  First of all, our family eats meat.  As meat eaters, we have to acknowledge the source of our protein.  Animals are raised and then slaughtered on a mass scale for people to purchase and feed to their families.

As a teen, raising a show pig, Julia works very, very hard to balance the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats when feeding her pig.  She understands how to build muscle (the meat from the animal) and fat (where the flavor comes from – think bacon!) She knows how much to feed her pig each day (basically giving a pig three pounds of food a day equates to roughly one pound of weight gain each day).  She balances that all out and decides how much she wants her pig to weigh by the end of the summer and feeds accordingly.   She adjusts this as she sees if the pig is gaining too much or too little so that she is a good size by fair time. Toward the end of summer, she adds in oats and/or corn to “finish” her feeding of the pig. This adds a layer of fat to the meat which is needed or the pork will be too lean and dry. Julia’s goal is to provide a quality meat to whomever buys her pig. There is a lot of science involved in all of this and she really likes this process.

Even more important than the science of raising an animal, is the huge amount of responsibility it requires. Raising a show pig is much more than taking care of a family pet.  After investing a lot of her own money in a show pig,  we want Julia to be fully responsible for taking care of this animal; it is her project and her financial investment. We are supportive and we will help but she does 99% of the work.  If she is gone for a day, I am happy to feed her pig.  But on a daily basis she is up by 7am, no sleeping in for this girl. She feeds her pig twice each day and takes her out of the pen to exercise.

Daily walks with Olive to train her to remain at Julia’s side.

She trains her pig to respond to her show stick and walk in a certain fashion so she can eventually be ready to show in a ring.  If there are issues, Julia is the one to notice them and take care of them.  Pigs are really sensitive to their environment and change is stressful. For instance, when bringing a new pig home Julia is careful to feed it the same food the breeder has been giving it.  She knows that a change in water or feed will probably give the pig intestinal problems.  To avoid this she uses a lot of probiotics to help her animal’s gut flora until it adjusts to the new feed and/or water.

Showing Olive in the ring before the judge.

As time goes on, Julia needs to exercise and train her pig at length to build muscle.  She has learned to look at her animal’s structure and decide if the muscle is developing appropriately. Toward the end of summer, Julia adds additional training time to build stamina so her animal can be in a show ring for a long period without feeling stressed.

A second place ribbon for Showmanship and my very hot, sweaty, tired daughter.

It is a good feeling when all of your hard work shows up in the ring and the livestock judge sees the results of all of the time spent training.

When problems arise, and they always do, we watch Julia and let her try to find the solution.  Examples of this might be running out of feed because she didn’t keep track of how much was left.  If something like this happens, I don’t rescue her – she needs to take time and make a trip to the feed store – even if it isn’t convenient for her.  When Olive developed a huge rash early in the spring, Julia was the one to call her breeder, have him come out and take a look and then go out and spend $50 on creams and sprays to soothe the rash.  She was the one to go out multiple times daily to apply the ointments all over her itchy pig.  I didn’t do any of this for her, not because I didn’t want to but because she wanted to.  She takes care of her animal.

Bath time for Olive.

As parents, my husband and I feel the responsibility for this project is invaluable for our teenager. It is truly her summer job and it provides income for her (more on that in a minute). Julia is basically an only child as her brothers are quite a bit older than her and don’t live at home.  Not having a younger sibling to help care for, this provides similar tasks of caring for another being. It is important when raising children to be sure they have the opportunity to care for something other than themselves.  Raising a pig teaches our daughter to care for and respond to the needs of this animal.

Bittersweet goodbyes.

Here is the hard part though.  Caring for and loving on this animal for five months means attachment.  It means it will be really difficult to give her up at the end of summer.  When our family talks about this we acknowledge that piglets are raised for meat.  We talk about how the majority of pigs live six to seven months at most, unless they have been raised as breeders and live on a farm to provide more piglets.  We talk about the life provided to piglets on commercial farms where they have to raise hundreds and hundreds of pigs to provide meat for a meat-eating society.

One more belly rub.

Those pigs are not loved, petted and  played with on a daily basis. No one goes out and talks to them (pigs are incredibly social and vocal with their owners). No one discovers the piglet loves fresh peaches and cuts them up and feeds bits to them for a treat. No one finds out that the piglet loves to be scratched on the belly and thus gives that pig the best belly rubs ever each day. But when Julia raises a piglet all of this happens.  The pig lives such a sweet life while on our property being cared for by a person. We feel it is a great benefit for a pig to live this sort of life as compared to life in a commercial operation.

Showing Olive to prospective buyers at the Livestock Auction

Financially a pig is expensive to raise.  It is like a small version of a commercial farm.  Julia pays $350 for the pig.  We keep track of all of the expenses so she knows what it really costs to do this.  This is one lesson many families fail to teach.  So many parents buy the pig and the feed, pay for the vet expenses and the equipment needed.  Then when auction time comes, the child receives this huge check after the animal is sold and says wow, I just earned $1200.00!  But is this real life?  Nope, not in our parental opinion.  Julia pays for her pig and we help her with the food expense.  But she knows exactly how much all of this costs and she knows when she gets that check, she will pay us for a large portion of the expense.  That way she learns what her “net income” is from her business.

Finally, and some might argue with this,  we feel the sadness Julia experiences at the loss of her pig is also valuable. There is a quote by Carl Jung (see above) that illustrates the value of Julia loving her pig so much that she experiences grief or sadness when losing the animal. Protecting our children from negative experiences does them no favors. It is by experiencing difficult emotions, such as sadness, anger, or frustration and then working through it that humans learn to deal with problems.  It is also how a person develops confidence that they can handle the difficult parts of life. Experiencing sadness and grief makes a person hugely appreciative of happiness and joy. When parents don’t allow a child to do something that might cause distress or tears because they want to protect her, they are doing a disservice.

I had mentioned that Julia had a really tough day on Friday afternoon.  She cried and was terribly sad.  We talked and I rubbed her back.  She cried a bit more.  Then we went to play with Olive.  After a while, Julia’s tears were done.  She looked at me and said, “I feel better, this is how it is supposed to be. Olive isn’t my pet.” On the last day with Olive (yesterday) Julia gave her so many belly rubs.  She gave her a huge dinner (since eating is Olive’s very favorite activity!).  We went and had a cinnamon roll out on the fairgrounds and then came back for one more good bye with Olive.

Spoon feeding Olive vanilla ice cream. She LOVED it.

Julia brought her vanilla ice cream and spoon fed it to her.  Olive went wild for this.  A few more belly rubs and then Julia told Olive thank you for being such a good buddy. (She called Olive ‘buddy’ quite a lot.). She told Olive she loved her and then we left.  It was a good summer, for Olive and Julia both.

Newsletter!

Have you signed up for my newsletter?  It is published every month or so and is full of information about my shop, new arrivals, sales, and events.  Click here to sign up!