Category Archives: Kindness & Community

Back to the Real World

I don’t know if it is the same for you, but it is always with mixed feelings that I end a trip or vacation. Julia and I had such a wonderful time in Vermont. The week seemed to fly by and it was difficult to leave. Having my kids living so far from California isn’t the ideal situation but it is what it is, right? While I was a bit sad to leave them, and especially my sweet grand baby, I was happy to come home. I love my home and was more than happy to see my husband after ten days apart.

As for my grand baby, since I know you are all dying to hear, she is just adorable. I loved having the opportunity to spend a long stretch of time with her. She is full of all that newborn wonder that just melts a person’s heart. Her little cooing sounds when she is nursing, the happy smile she does when she is dreaming (what do newborn babies dream about anyway?) and the adorable cat-like stretches she does when she is waking up – the stuff newborn babies are made of. Ahh, I do love babies. She does have a touch of colick and can be quite fussy during the late afternoon and into the evening. Her parents handle these episodes with such patience. I am really proud of both of them.

When I got home, this was the first thing I saw as I drove up to the house. Isn’t it great? I ordered this banner a few weeks ago from Vistaprint. I will be a fabric vendor at our local quilt show in May and wanted to have something hanging at the back of the booth so shoppers would know the name of my shop. I am thrilled with how well it turned out. These pictures don’t do it justice. Ray hung this for me as a surprise but it was very gray and cloudy out and we took it down right away so it wouldn’t be rained on.

The size is 2 1/2 feet by 6 feet.  It seems big to me but I am a poor judge of these things. Ray thought it was perfect so I am going with his opinion. We will see when I get the booth set up.

I also came home to a lot of happy mail. There was a lovely thank you note from a reader that won some fabric. How sweet of her to send a real note.  It is a treat to receive a real card when email is usually the way we communicate these days. The card featured a very pretty crazy quilt picture.

After opening the card from Gloria, I opened a package sent to me by Jayne of Twiggy and Opal.  I cannot even describe my surprise to see this gorgeous mini quilt. Jayne enclosed a note saying this was just a little gift for me. Really? For me? Just because???  I am beyond happy to have this quilt. I watched Jayne’s progress on this project on her Instagram feed.  (Side note: do you follow Twiggy & Opal on IG?  If not, hop over there and follow her. She is just a constant source of inspiration. I love her feed.)  Anyway, I loved this project from the beginning.

I love the quilts Jayne designs. It seems like (and I may be totally wrong) she starts with an idea and it just organically evolves while she is sewing.  From what I saw on her IG feed,  Jayne made the bias strips she used to create the heart in the center. Then she started creating little (teeny, tiny) pieces to use in the border.  The nine patch block on the left side of the photo above measures just under one inch. I have no words. It is adorable.  The little HST’s to the right are also just under an inch. Yikes. My fingers are too clumsy for such miniature piecing.

She must have done some strip piecing for the nine patch and then also used it for the checkered border.  That isn’t a striped piece, it is pieced! I just love her straight line quilting and also the quilting she did over the bias strips to emphasize the heart shape.

It is already hanging in my sewing room. I love having this treasure from Jayne and will think of her when I see it. It is such a special gift.

I have so many blog posts to catch up on this week. I didn’t read too many while I was away last week. There is so much going on right now. The New Quilt blogger Blog Hop is on going and there are lots of new bloggers to befriend. Check out the links at Quilting Jetgirl, Cooking Up Quilts and She Can Quilt.  I will have a new Meet the Designer post up in a few days. This one will feature Kim Schaefer, a designer of cute, whimsical fabric lines for Andover. Hope you will come back Wednesday to get to know Kim. Until then, happy sewing to you!!

 Gift and a T-Shirt

It has been a busy week and I am happy to see Friday roll around. I really enjoyed working with Maureen and writing the posts about her work. It was a lovely bonus to see the sale on her Garden Dreamer fabric created a good number of sales which kept me busy cutting and shipping (it will be on sale through Sunday, March 19th if you are interested.) By the way, I truly appreciate all of the readers who are supporting my shop – thank you!

Thanks also to Mari of Academic Quilter. Mari and I became friends a couple of years ago (which is hard to believe actually) via our new blogs. We have struck up a great friendship and even got to have lunch and do a little fabric shopping together last summer when I was in Maine. That was so much fun. Yesterday I found a package in the mail. Usually getting the mail is so boring unless I have recently ordered fabric. Nothing much comes in the mail anymore with the exception of a few catalogues and the occasional advertisement addressed to ‘Occupant’. Sigh.

Not yesterday however! Look at this adorable lovie she made for my sweet grand baby! She even used the colors of the nursery (gray, lavender and pink). The backing is a soft gray and white flannel. Being the generous quilter Mari is, she even enclosed the leftover fabric for me to use. Thank you Mari. <3
These tiny blankets are so cool – the tags around the perimeter are made with ribbons and twill tape, and other trims which provide sensory stimulation when baby fidgets with them.


I have also seen mom’s hook toys to the loops and lay baby near it to grab the toys. It can be used in the car seat with toys attached or not. It was so kind of Mari to think of me and this little girl. I will hand deliver this when I go to Vermont – which is in only THREE weeks!! I can’t wait!

Moving on now (because I talk and think about this little girl too often and don’t want to become annoying!) I did get a fair amount of sewing done last week. I made this cute t-shirt with Butterick pattern, number B5954. Remember I posted about not having enough fabric? I decided to make the sleeveless version which took every bit of the fabric.


This version takes about 1/2 hour to sew because it is just the front and back pieces, sewn together at the shoulder and side seams. I finished the seams with a bright blue bias tape because I like that little surprise of color. I am only 5′ 4″ so I did have to alter the length and when I make it again, I would make it even a bit shorter. It is so comfortable and I am pleased with the result! Looking at these photos, I realize I should have pressed it before my modeling stint. Sorry about that!!

Cute Top But in Need of an Iron!

 

For the month of March, my challenge from Island Batik is to make something that is paper pieced. You already know how frustrated I become with paper piecing. I called my friend, Sophia, and invited her for a sew day. I knew I would need her help to get started! Sophia has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has that logical sort of brain that I so envy. She spent the afternoon with me and it was so helpful.  Plus I got to spend the afternoon sewing with her which we don’t often do. It was a very nice to spend the time together.

Choosing Colors for the Sashing

 

Before she arrived, I picked a few easy paper piecing patterns and printed the sheets. She and I looked and decided this star pattern would be a good one to learn on. (I took a class last fall to learn to paper piece but you know what happens if you don’t practice….  I couldn’t remember how to get started on the blocks!) This pattern is a free download on Craftsy.com. It is slated as a beginner pattern, which is mostly true.  The problem is there are no real instructions – reminding the quilter to cut strips a certain width or to trim each section, adding in that crucial 1/4″.  But never fear, I had Sophia coaching me! While my precision isn’t as close as I would like, overall I think it looks nice.

Perfectly Imperfect Points!

I finished the top and have begun quilting it a bit. I love the colors and it will be nice to hang this mini in my sewing room. I need a new one on the wall.

The Top is Finished!

OK – that is my week in a nutshell. Gifts, Etsy orders, and a fair amount of creative time in the sewing room. This girl doesn’t need more than that!  Happy Weekend everyone!
Linking to my favorites. I am including the end of quarter FAL link up at She Can Quilt because I had listed garment sewing on my goals for this quarter! Please check out the tab at the top of the page titled Link Ups.

The Kindness of Friends

Yesterday I received a package in the mail. It was completely unexpected and absolutely made my day. I looked at the return address on the package, trying to figure out what it was and saw it was from Janine. Janine blogs at Quilts From the Little House and we became friends a couple of years back, when both of us were quite new to the quilt blogger community. When I saw her name I smiled to myself, wondering what the heck she had sent to me!

Take a look at this sweet gift – all wrapped up in a pretty floral fabric.

As if the fabric wasn’t enough of a surprise, the gift inside was even more so. I got a bit choked up when I opened this. She made this adorable frame for me and tucked a picture of my new grandbaby inside.

I love the little saying in the bottom right corner, Life is Grand. Isn’t that perfect for a first time grandmother? She did a fantastic job with the frame. I think she decoupaged the plaid background on to a wooden frame and trimmed it out with a deep burgundy braid around the outer edge. It is lovely and I smile at Janine and Baby Girl each time I walk by it!

I want to talk about several more very kind quilt bloggers! I have been supported by this community so much during the new year as I expanded my Etsy shop to include quilter’s cotton fabrics. People within this community have cheered me on, shopped my little shop, and shared what I have been doing. I am so appreciative of each act of kindness.

There are six bloggers who are, as I write this, making some really great projects using fabrics from Needle and Foot. They are participating in a Grand Opening Blog Hop to celebrate my shop and all of the gorgeousness it now offers. This event begins on Monday, March 20th and you won’t want to miss it! There will be projects and fabric shared as well as giveaways at each stop along the hop. Mark your calendars and join in on the fun! I think I will leave it a surprise as to which bloggers are involved. A little anticipation is a good thing. Just know I am truly grateful to each of the six for helping to celebrate my expansion!

Finally, I had the good fortune to meet and talk with fabric designer, Maureen Cracknell, by phone this week. We had such a great conversation and I will share this with you on Tuesday next week as the second installment of my “Meet the Designer” series. Maureen is a talented and incredibly kind individual and I feel grateful to have had this opportunity. I hope you will come back and check out the interview and get to know her better too. As with the first Meet the Designer post, all of the fabric in my shop, designed by the featured designer (Maureen Cracknell this time!) will be on sale for the week. This will be a great opportunity to pick up some gorgeous Garden Dreamer cuts at a reduced prices.

So much is going on right now! I am loving every bit of it. I will leave you with this sweet photo of Baby Girl. I love these tiny hands and feet and suspect this picture will make you smile.

 

Kennel Quilts with Island Batik

Island Batiks offered two challenges to the group of Ambassadors for the month of February. One was to create a fun project for Galentine’s Day. I posted about that one a couple of weeks ago. The other was to make and donate at least one kennel quilt. This was new to me. I had not heard of kennel quilts until now.  These little quilts (about 12″ x 18″) are made and used by shelters when they are supporting animals in need who may have been separated from their owners due to emergencies, weather crises or other unfortunate circumstances.

Here is the explanation from Island Batik.

In 2016, Island Batik joined forces with an existing group of  industry partners and supporters of the Petfinder Foundation to create the Piece for Shelter Pets (PFSP) initiative. The initiative supports the Petfinder Foundation, a “public charity that works to end the euthanasia of adoptable pets by assisting animal shelters and rescue groups across North America”, through financial contributions made possible by the sale of fabric, thread, and other quilting related products. PFSP sponsors include The Quilt Pattern Magazine, Island Batik, Aurifil Threads, QuiltyBox, Benartex, and Hancock’s of Paducah.

The TQPM Small Kennel Quilt Team is a volunteer organization sponsored by The Quilt Pattern Magazine (TQPM) that springs into action (or should we say “stitches” into action?) when disasters strike, sewing small kennel quilts for animals in need while they are separated from their humans and possibly injured.  Creating kennel quilts is a way for quilters to help our animal friends in times of need by doing what we love. TQPM Small Kennel Quilt Team supplies kennel quilts to shelters across the United States. Learn more here.

Making one or two kennel quilts is a very easy way to support these little critters who are in need. Because they are tiny, it is a perfect scrap busting project. When I made mine, I was able to stitch batting strips together, using up some of those long strips that are left when we square and bind a quilt. I would encourage you to click through the link above and make a few.

I used a set of 5″ wide strips that came in the box of treasure supplied to me by Island Batik. They are so pretty – the lime green adds a nice, bright touch, don’t you think? I took some of the strips and made six rail fence blocks for this little quilt. No binding is needed. Just stitch right sides together, turn right side out and finish by sewing up the opening.  I quilted a series of diagonal lined to keep the quilt together.

With the second quilt, I just sewed the strips together length-wise.  Really, the project is very easy and probably took an hour or so to do. If you decide to make a few, I would love to see them. Post a picture on Instagram and tag me @needleandfoot. Also use #kennelquilts – it is lost of fun to see what the other quilters are creating!

Thank you Island Batik for partnering up with the Petfinder Foundation to support animals in need.

Linking to a few favorites, including Sew Some Love a link up for projects being made for charities at Kat & Cat Quilts. Check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Sunday Update

Good morning! Looks like we are in for another rainy day. This is fine with me as I have lots of projects to work on. Yesterday I spent the day at a seminar that one of the local agriculture colleges hosted for the 4-H kids that have swine projects. Lots of information was provided and Julia is one step closer to bringing home her piglets. But it did mean we were away for most of the day. It will be nice to be home today.

I wanted to finish my story about my trip to Toronto earlier this month. Remember I mentioned I was able to have coffee with another quilt blogger?  It was a pleasure to meet Lisa of Sunlight in Winter Quilts. Lisa also began blogging in 2014, right around when I started. We met through the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. (If you haven’t participated in this event, and you are fairly new to quilt blogging, you might want to check it out. It is a great way to learn about blogging and to meet others. The link I provided will take you to the 2016 event for a general idea of what it entails.) Anyway, I digress.  Back to my coffee date. Earlier in the fall, I mentioned in a post that we would be traveling to Toronto for the wedding. Lisa emailed me and said she would love to meet if I had time. There is always time, right??

Lisa lives about 1.5 hours outside of the city proper. She graciously made the trip in, even though I told her I wouldn’t have too long to hang out. She made a weekend out of it. Her post about her weekend explorations is here. Both of us forgot to take a picture, which I regret. It was a lovely visit though – it is so fun to catch up in person, isn’t it? We had coffee, talked about our blogs, quilting projects, and of course, our families. She is just as sweet in person as she is in her blog posts. In fact, because she knew I wouldn’t have time to explore any shops in Toronto she brought me a little bundle of fat quarters. She wanted me to take something home from this trip. She is really a thoughtful person.

I have a love for Ankara wax prints. I have used them in several projects, including this tablecloth, and think they have a wonderful character to them. These fat quarters are also wax prints. Love the guinea fowl and the elephants! It will be fun to think of a project for these. Thank you Lisa for the gift of the fabric, and more so, of your time. Hopefully the next trip to Toronto will allow for some fabric shopping.

When I got home I there was a package that had arrived in the mail. When I mentioned the baby quilt I am making for my new grand baby, Mari, of Academic Quilter,  asked if I would like some light gray Kona to use in it as the background. She had also sent me a lavender print earlier to contribute to the baby’s quilt. She is such a thoughtful person! The print works well with the others I had selected and the pale gray is perfect for the background. Now I need to start cutting.

In the same Q1- FAL post where I talked about the baby quilt, I also mentioned I wanted to try making a baby quilt by enlarging one block to about 36-40 inches. For inspiration and reference, Mari added her copy of the book, Sew One and You’re Done. It basically does just what I was saying. I have hardly had time to take more than a quick peek at it but I think it will be helpful. Thank you Mari!!

My stash has grown just a bit and I now have all the fabric for the baby’s quilt. Time to get busy!

Linking to Sunday Stash.

Pillowcases for Kids

I found myself with a bit of time to sew over the weekend. One of the people I follow on Instagram, Caroline or @stitchesbrew, is involved with foster children who are aging out of the system.  She has been collecting handmade items (mainly quilts and pillowcases) to give to these 18 year olds who are trying to make a go of it on their own. I think this is a very worthwhile effort and I am happy to support it. Eighteen years old is so young to be completely on your own and while pillowcases and quilts won’t make it easy, it will let the kids know that someone cares about them.

In an afternoon, I was able to put together three pillowcases for the kids. I used some sweet fabric that my sister gave me a few months ago. (You might remember reading about this but if not, here is the post.) Making these three cases hardly made a dent in the yardage she gave to me. I know she is happy that some of the fabric was used for such a good cause.

The large scale of the fabrics lends well to something like these pillowcases. I added a tiny stripe of Daysail by Bonnie and Camille to add a pop of color.

These pillowcases go together so quickly. I used the ‘burrito tutorial’ that was posted by Leslie of The Seasoned Homemaker. If you haven’t tried this method before, give it a try. It is foolproof and the results are very polished.

These are packaged up and ready to be mailed to Michigan. Hopefully they will bring a smile to the recipients.

Linking to my usuals. Please take a look at the top of the page under Link Ups.

A Weekly Update

This week I have continued to work on the challenges set forth in Amanda Jean Nyberg’s lesson for the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club.  She suggested a few ideas for creating fabric pulls; not so much to create an actual project, rather just to go through the exercise of gathering fabrics for a certain element. This has been a lot of fun, not as easy as one would think, and a total mess making experience in the sewing room!

For one pull, I selected two pieces of fabric and pulled a selection that would work with them. This is the fabric I selected as the basis.

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Both of these fat quarters are Dear Stella prints. I bought them a long while back and they sit, along with so many others, waiting to be used. For the initial pull, I just quickly selected pieces of yardage or larger scraps  in grays, blues and greens that might work with them.

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Next, I pulled some pinks and reds that complemented the fabric and added different scale and density to the mix.

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I also took a quick minute to put a grayscale filter on the pictures to check for value differences.

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Finally I just put them all together and took out those that were misfits. The Allison Glass text print was a red that leaned to orange. I wanted reds that leaned to pink.  The green floral print looked weird and the Henry Glass light blue print (with the keys on it) was the wrong shade. Ultimately, I kept these in the group.

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This would be a fun pull for a project, right?

Another idea from Amanda was to take a pretty photograph and develop a pull around it. I chose this picture from our peach tree last summer because there are a limited number of colors in it.

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I thought it would be a good challenge to work out a grouping with greens and orange to peachy tones. Here is the first pull.

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Working quickly, so as not to overthink it, I removed both the brightest green and the green/yellow check – both shades were wrong. That left this set of five greens.

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Next I pulled the from the orange, yellow and peach grouping, leaving these.

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All three of the brown fabrics were kept, making this the final pull.

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This is a good pull of cohesive color, different values and large to small scale fabrics. It was very easy to sort through, leaving me convinced that it just takes practice. I doubt myself when I am putting colors together but these little exercises have really been helpful. I think the second pull is more interesting than the first. What could be added to the first one to make it more exciting??

Playtime is over and I forced myself to put all of these pieces back where they belong and get back to the sewing machine. It was fun though and an easy task to do while I endured a wicked cold that Julia so lovingly shared with her mama.

the-gratitude-sale

A few more quick things… I want to share what I think is a really cool event that is coming up next week. Mari, of Academic Quilter is holding a Gratitude Sale. She has decided to do a huge destash (after recently moving, she unpacked her quilting stash and realized there are lots of pieces of fabric that she doesn’t want or need, as well as quilting books and notions). Rather than do a destash sale on IG, she wants to hold a “sale” where the buyer selects the items they are interested in, contributes to a charity and once Mari sees the receipt, she will ship off the fabric. I think this is hugely generous on Mari’s part. She has a list of three very deserving charities for you to choose from. She asks that the buyer pay for the shipping which won’t be terribly expensive with the use of the flat rate envelopes that the post office offers. If you think about it, purchasing fabric in this fashion has now made it a tax deductible event. It’s absolutely a win-win. Mari’s sewing room will be less chaotic, your stash will grow, charities will be supported, and you have another tax deduction come April 15th. I can’t find a problem in any of it! Check out Mari’s sale, running for the duration of next week! See you there. 🙂

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If you want an idea for any book lover on your Christmas list, I just read the sweetest book.

Provided to me for review by Blogging for Books, I read through this book in an enjoyable afternoon. Light and interesting, this book takes approximately 50 sayings from various cultures and explains them to the reader. Ella Sanders, the author of the book, does an excellent job of tying the phrases to a similar phrasing used in the English language. It was entertaining to get this small glimpse into other culture’s idioms and colloquialisms and gave me a bit of insight into what that culture values as important. She chose a collection of phrases and proverbs that are sometimes humorous and always very descriptive. Where possible,Sanders gives a bit of history around how the saying came to be. I think this is an excellent book to gift to a lover of language and vernacular. The illustrations are adorable and the brevity of each page (there is a different colloquialism on each page) makes it a fun book for the coffee table.

Another book I just finished is The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.  I picked up a copy at the thrift store and it grabbed me from the very beginning. Have you read this? It was a thriller that is along the lines of Gone Girl. Crazy good and on the dark side, this was a gripping read. Just a suggestion if you are in need of a suspenseful, somewhat twisted, read. It has been made into a movie which was just released. I haven’t seen it yet though.

Linking to Lorna at Let’s Bee Social today as well as a few others. Find the URL’s at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

All Kinds of Stash Updates

Who wants to see all of the fabric that I acquired through one means or another over the past week or so?? Of course you do. Here we go!

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These two fat quarters arrived all the way from Fabric Please in Ontario. They are part of a line called With Glowing Hearts. I plan to participate in the Sew Fresh Quilt Bee, hosted by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. She is heading up a bee where we will contribute blocks (or quilt tops if one is so inspired) as a way to participate in Canada’s Big Quilt Bee.  I’m not Canadian but wanted to contribute to Lorna’s bee because the quilts from the event will be donated to Ronald McDonald Houses. I am a big fan of Ronald McDonald Houses and want to help. Everyone participating in this will be making slab blocks and each block must contain at least a bit of one of the fabrics from With Glowing Hearts.  So, I ordered two fat quarters and will get to work making slab blocks. Also, because Kate from Smiles With Kate wanted to participate, I just sliced off a 5″ strip from each of my fat quarters and sent them to Kate in the UK.  Isn’t it awesome? We can all participate in these events from whevever we are. Order fabric from Canada, ship to California, make blocks and return them to Ontario. Then send off a bit to the UK where she will make a few blocks and return them to Ontario. All of these blocks will be combined and lovely quilts created for people that are in need of a quilty hug. That makes me happy.

Know what else makes me happy? Winning a giveaway! Even better is when you receive an email on the morning of your birthday telling you that you won. Yep, that is all kinds of happy. I entered the giveaway at Val’s Quilting Studio. Val is the wonderful host of Tuesday Archives – a fun place to link up our older blog posts, depending on the weekly theme.  Anyway, she held a giveaway of some Mary Englebreit fat quarters and other fun Mary Englebreit items. On my birthday a few weeks back, I sat down with my coffee and checked email. There was a note from Val for lucky me. I won and all of these treasures arrived in the mail. 🙂

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Wait though, there’s more! Also for my birthday, my middle son, Kyle gave me a three month subscription to the Pink Castle Color Inspirations Club. This means that each month I will receive a curated collection of RJR Cotton Supreme solids. I am not embarrased to say that I was a bit giddy when I received this gift. My solids are lacking and this will certainly help with the situation. My boys have been such great fabric enablers over the past few years. I have received lots of fabric surprises from them. If you want to read more about these guys, click here and here.

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This month, the folks at Pink Castle outdid themselves. The colors they put together are gorgeous.

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I cannot separate them and put them with the other solids. No, they are the elite of the bunch and will be shamelessly put in a place of honor on the shelf – off on their own.

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Don’t you think I should make something with just this bundle? They work so amazingly well together. How could I not?

img_8019Certainly I can come up with something that would be deserving of this assortment of sumptuous color. If you have any ideas, I am open to them. Leave me a comment. I am already excited to see what the colors will be next month!!

Just as an aside, while I am thinking about Pink Castle.  I listened to a great interview with Brenda Ratliff, owner of Pink Castle on Crafty Planner the other day. If you aren’t familiar with Crafty Planner podcasts, they are wonderful. Sandi Hazlewood, the host of Crafty Planner, does excellent work selecting artists in our crafting community to interview. I believe she publishes a podcast each week. Listen to a few and you will be hooked… just warning you now.

Linking up with Sunday Stash and Main Crush Monday. Links to both are at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Quilty Bloggers are the Best

All summer there have been posts from bloggers who have nominated some of their favorite bloggers for the One Lovely Blog award. It is another symbol of the friendly, kind community that quilters enjoy. This is a sweet way to recognize some of the bloggers that inspire us and sort of introduce them to other readers. In the beginning of August I was nominated by Kate of Smiles From Kate. I had not had time to write a post in response to Kate and then today I was nominated by Jayne of Twiggy and Opal. So I am taking a minute to respond and play along.

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I don’t honestly know where this started or who started it but it is a lot of fun. There are a couple of parameters and they are :

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and give a link to his/her blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Display the image of the award on your post.
  • List seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award, and notify them to let them know you have nominated them.

Ok – Here we go.   As I mentioned above, Jayne (from Twiggy and Opal) and Kate (from Smiles from Kate) both nominated me. These two bloggers are so much fun. I follow both of them closely and enjoy our friendships – via blogging and Instagram both. So much talent and inspiration is available via their blogs. If you are not familiar with them, I highly recommend you take a quick peek at their work and their words. You will not be disappointed.

Seven facts about myself…. Hm, I write about family and life as the subject fits when I am blogging but in case you are a new reader or haven’t been a follower for too long, here are a few things about me.

First, I live in a rural area in Northern California. We have three acres and along with that, comes a large vegetable garden and a chicken coop with six hens. I love our lifestyle. It is quiet and secluded which I really enjoy. We grow lots of veggies and have peaches, blueberries, boysenberries and blackberries each summer.  There are drawbacks – such as it is a 70 mile round trip to get to Jo-Ann’s and a 40 mile round trip to find a Target. So it is not terribly convenient living here but one gets used to it.

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Second, my five sisters are my dearest friends. As a mom I have come to hugely appreciate the sacrifices my parents made so they could have a large family of six girls. We see each other as often as possible and text in a group string all day, every day. My phone is constantly beeping and when this happens during dinner it takes all of my self-control to not check my phone (that is the rule – no devices during dinner.)

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Number 3 – I LOVE my family – My husband and kids are my priority. I feel so blessed and grateful for all of them. I have four kids – three boys and one girl – but Julia is our only child at home at this point. Each of the boys has a wonderful partner (wife, fiance, girlfriend) and they have richly expanded our family. I grew up in a large family and it is wonderful to have a large family. (Justs for grins – you might find it interesting that my parents have six kids, 21 grandkids and so far, nine great grandkids with three more due to be born in 2017! One crazy, big family!) The photo above shows my kids plus my daughter-in-law and almost daughter-in-law!

Fourth -I have only ever quilted my own quilts on my Janome sewing machine. But I have been wanting to learn how to use a long arm machine. I am finally taking a class at a shop about an hour away. Once I take the class I will be able to rent time on their long arm machines. So – I am giving this a try. I have made two queen size quilts; one I stitched in the ditch and the other I tied. It is difficult to fit a big project through the throat of my machine (and it is a rather large throat.)  I am hoping this enables me to make larger projects. I’ll let you know how it goes!iced coffeeNumber 5 – My very favorite snack is popcorn. I eat it often and never tire of it. Iced coffee with almond milk is my go-to drink. All decaf, all the time. Once when I was ordering an iced decaf with non-fat milk, the barrista said “I call that a ‘why bother'” (as in no caffeine, no fat, no sugar)  I thought that was so funny. I don’t like caffeine but I love the flavor of coffee.

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I love vintage everything. Cookbooks, fabrics, linens, kitchen ware – all of it. So I regularly spend time checking out our local thrift stores and usually come away with something fun. I list vintage sheets (fat quarters) in my Etsy shop. I have numerous vintage cookbooks which I love to look through. The other day I scored this little vintage Pyrex bowl, circa 1970. Isn’t it adorable? I have posted fairly often about my vintage finds – if you want to read more, check out this post, or this one. Or just put vintage in the search box above and it will show even more posts.

Finally, I love that I have found a community where sewing, quilting and working with fabric is considered to be an art. Growing up, I could not draw.  Actually, I still cannot draw beyond a stick figure. I always equated my inability to draw to my being unartistic. However there are so many ways to be artistic that do not involve paper and pen or paints and paintbrush. I learned to sew when I was 11 years old and have been sewing consistently since then. But it was ‘just a hobby’ and I wouldn’t have described myself as artistic. Having spent so much time and energy quilting and blogging, making friends, learning from other blogs has taught me that sewing and quilting are very artistic. Oh my gosh – there is endless inspiration – so many gorgeous quilts, patterns and fabrics with each combination thereof creating something new and unique. Creative and artistic indeed.

Now for my nominations. There are just over 200 blogs in my feed on Bloglovin. I would say all of them are absolutely Lovely Blogs. But there are a few that especially speak to me. Here you go. You are probably familiar with most of these, if not all. But if by chance, you are not, be sure to go take a look at these Lovely blogs!

Mari at the Academic Quilter – I love Mari’s precision. She makes such intricate blocks and quilts. Really amazing stuff! Last year I sewed along with her Classic Stitches BOM. This year she is hosting Intricate Stitches and I look at these blocks with my jaw hanging open. So pretty!

Janine at Quilts from the Little House.  Janine has many years of quilting experience. She is a wealth of knowledge. But you know what? I love the fact that she either hand quilts or machine quilts – on a treadle machine!! Honestly.  I can’t even imagine.

Deb at Frugal Little Bungalow.  Deb is a quilter who shares my love of gardening, vintage collections, and sewing. Her blog is a delight to read. She is a talented photographer who generously shares her photos of the critters and nature that surround her in Pennsylvania.

Rachel @ Stitched in Color.  Rachel has been blogging in this community for quite a long while. Her blog is a great source of information and she has posted many excellent tutorials. Above all, Rachel writes from her heart and has a beautiful ability to express herself with the written word. I don’t have a lot of connection with Rachel but have followed her blog for a long time now and it is one of my favorites.

 

Social Media Thoughts

Social media is such a big part of life these days. It was such a short time ago that people didn’t spend so much of their time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Periscope, and of course, blogs.  To some extent, I enjoy all of these. Well, not really. I don’t use Snapchat or Periscope and only rarely look at Twitter.  As a blogger and Etsy Shop owner, it is pretty much mandatory that I maintain a presence on Instagram, Facebook and my blog. But wow, it can be such a time suck. Trying to balance how much time to spend on social media vs time spent actually creating isn’t easy. I try to minimize time on media or I lose out and don’t have enough time to create which is what this is really all about for me.

Blogging was substantially more popular before the advent of Instagram and Snapchat. I can see that it has declined over the past couple of years. My conclusion is that blogging takes longer. Instagram gives the user immediate gratification. Post a picture and followers start liking it. Learn the right hashtags and more people notice.  And so it goes. However, that is the crux of the issue.

Because of smart phones and the many outlets of social media, people are relying on instant gratification. This immediate response, constant exchange of information, colorful screens, videos etc have been shown to reduce the overall attention span of users. I actually had an interesting conversation with Julia yesterday. She has always been an avid reader. Since she was very young, she has loved books. This summer, when she has so much free time to indulge her love of books, she hasn’t been reading. She received a stack of books for Christmas and her birthday but hasn’t touched them. When I asked her why, she said that she kept trying different books and none of them held. her. attention. Right away, we sat and had a chat about the use of her phone and iPad and how it is such a distraction. I explained what I have been reading about shortened attention spans. She went in and picked up another book and started reading. I was thrilled to see her on the couch with a book and, soon after, to hear her talking about the plot, the author and how much she liked the book.

Back to my original point though, I am a tiny bit disheartened to see some decline in the blog world. For me, I think of Instagram as a quick conversation. Meeting someone on Instagram is akin to those days when you stop somewhere to grab a cup of coffee and as you walk out on to the sidewalk paper cup in hand, you see an acquaintance. Hellos are exchanged and a quick, enjoyable visit occurs. Along these lines, meeting someone by reading their blog and conversing back and forth over time is like walking into the coffee shop, seeing a dear friend and sitting down together with your mugs (not the paper cups) and chatting for an hour. The relationship is deeper and, for me, much more gratifying.  I will continue to use Instagram, as I do enjoy seeing photos of work that others are involved in. But it is certainly a different experience. I much prefer blogging. So I continue to write and take photos and publish blog posts because I really enjoy and appreciate the relationship I have with my online community of friends.