I so enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts about unexpected benefits quilting has brought to their lives. I normally respond to every comment I receive, but with the volume of responses from the giveaway, that was just impossible! But please know I read each and every one of them, and marveled at both the diversity and common thread (come on, that pun was just begging to be used) that quilting has brought to our lives. Welcome, new followers, glad to have you here.
*****This Giveaway is now closed. I'll be back soon to announce the winner!******
We're half way through the twice-a-year giveaway extravaganza that is the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day/Week. OK, so I'm late to the party, but it's never to late to give something away, right?! If you're like me, you've been spending waaaay too much time doing some blog hopping checking out all the goodies up for grabs out there. And if you by some chance don't know about this, get thee quickly over to the Sew Mama Sew site and check it out for yourself!
As for my giveaway, I'm sharing some (mostly) new faves - A fat quarter of each of these:
Included are these two Little Kukla prints. I love those dolls and those birds!
And also this Notting Hill (Dewberry) and a Kaufman print titled Sei.
These little pretties will make a happy addition to someone's stash.
To win, please leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What has been an unexpected benefit that quilting/crafting has brought to your life?? You know, aside from having a beautiful quilt/other finished object. For me, I have been so thankful for all the connections with other people who love to make things too. Friendships that started out as having a similar hobby have grown into true friendships. I'm so thankful to be part of such a creative community! Y'all inspire me to keep trying new things, so thanks for that. I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
The details: Giveaway open until Friday May 10 @ 5 PM PST. A winner will be randomly chosen and I will contact them by Sunday May 12. Please make sure there is a way for me to contact you so I don't have to choose another winner! As always, followers new and old get a second entry - just leave a comment saying so!
Where does the time go?! I've got lots of irons in the fire around here and barely a minute leftover to blog about any of it. Isn't that just how life is sometimes?? Well, that, and the reality that is my lap top - so desperately needing to be replaced but the best way to make a blog post (why isn't the iPad more convenient?!). But seriously, our laptop has been dropped one too many times, and has the extra awesome need to be tethered into the wall outlet, but the connector is so shaky if you cough it jiggles out and bam! Got to reboot. Ugh! Anyway...enough with my technological issues - let's get on to some eye candy!
My workspace has looked like this a lot lately
All in the efforts to make this:
FINALLY - My x and + quilt top is done!! Yeesh - this one took me forever. But I adore these blocks, and over the past year they quickly became my "sewing dessert" - you know, what you work on for fun during stolen moments between bigger projects. I started out just making 4 at a time, and sloooowly, there was quite a pile. I meant for it to be a lap quilt size, but since I couldn't stop with all the cheery brightness, it grew to a sizeable 64" x 80".
And I made this fun little pincushion!
I so enjoy how happy this little apple is, and full of ground walnut shells, it makes a solid place to park my pins. It was time to replace my teeny tiny tomato one that I got with a beginner sewing kit about 10 years ago. My kids would jam the pins all the way in, and make little faces on the sides out of pins - like this:
Here's a side by side comparison, so you can see the size difference. Ahh, much better!
So, what's your sewing dessert - the project you are always excited to get back to??
Oh boy - how to capture what happened last weekend?? A group of 50 women coming together from all over to sew and create - exactly what this girl was needing. Sew South was the perfect combination of retreat and making - beautiful things and beautiful friendships. What a visionary Jennifer is - her hard work to bring this kind of event to life was incredible! What a joy it was to walk into the reception Thursday night and be hugged by friends I haven't seen in a while, as well as make new friends, matching faces with blogs. The whole weekend was all about the people and connecting- the belly laughing that went on long into the night as we huddled around our machines. So it's weird that I don't have pictures of my friends to share with you today - I know! I didn't take that many and the few I have are not downloaded yet. I was so in the moment! A nice place to be, for sure.
I'll have to share more later, but I just wanted to pop in and share a few things. Here is what we made:
This clutch pattern was created by Diane (and available for free on Craftsy!), who also taught the class. I love how they turned out! It was so easy to do and looks so polished - I see lots of these in my future. Great gift idea!
Oh, The Duffle. This deserves it's own post! Lindsey was a calm, encouraging, fearless leader in helping us all make this. 50 duffle bags!! This thing was a beast that I never would have tried to tackle on my own. But together, as each person finished, a wild, LOUD cheer would erupt from the room. Oh, the community! And yes, that's a pleated zippered pocket you see there. Major props to all the people who helped me - you know who you are! I'm in your debt. I don't know what the official tally was, but many of us broke many needles on this one.
Jennifer taught our paper pieced star pattern. Never mind my points don't match up! I still love it, and have plans to put it in a special quilt.
And there was the pajama pants - in the first picture, it's the turquoise print with the pink circle cuffs. I've been wearing them every night to bed, feeling a small beam of pride that I made something I can actually. wear. I didn't think I had it in me.
Not to rub it in, but there was some serious swag. A giant thank you to the super generous Sew South sponsors!
And this is a shot of everything I came home with that I did not have before the retreat. Some was swag, some were gifts, some I made, some I bought, and some were swaps. All is appreciated!
And lastly, this was on the design wall when I came home. Don't you know my hubby was just waiting for me to clear out of here so he could have his time with the design wall?!
I have to be honest. It's been difficult to return to this blog stuff after Michael's death. It's been difficult to return to anything "normal." How can we just pick back up and go after such an unspeakable loss?? There is a giant, massive hole - always present. There is a blanket of grief on everything. I happened to be at Quilt Con when he passed. Talk about going from high to low. I really struggled with whether or not to go to TX with everything going on with Michael. The truth is, they were told at the end of November that he likely had very little time left. The family scrambled to celebrate one last Christmas together in early December. We passed December minute by minute in constant fear. Every morning I would try to check in with my friend, not sure what the night before had brought. In answer to the prayers of many, he survived through Christmas - and actually seemed to get better. Then things went downhill again. Hard. Fast. Then up again. Oh, my dear friends. How they endured those horrible moments. What was to be days of enduring turned to months. Highs and lows. It was like seeing a tsunami hovering above you and not being able to move - just knowing it was coming and was going to bring unavoidable life altering destruction. Sweet Michael seemed to have all the medical professionals baffled. Hospice said their longest case for care had been a few weeks - what was happening with Michael was unprecedented - 3 months! We had no idea what to expect next! After much processing, we decided I should keep my trip to TX as scheduled. I had a great time at Quilt Con, truly, I enjoyed every single minute. Until my phone rang. And I knew before I answered. Oh, my heart! My heart. My dear friends. Surreal moments.
Side note: If you are ever going to do the ugly cry (you know the one I'm talking about - heaving, wracking sobs, snotty, red puffy face - the whole thing) in a really public place...well, the best place for that to happen is probably around a bunch of quilters.
I got on the next plane home I could. I was in PA with my friend and her family for five days, honored to stand by them in the darkest of hours. What courage they have. What strength. We cried rivers of tears, but I'll admit that I was surprised at how much we laughed too. Really, what else is there to do?? Life is the strangest of things. The tenacity of the human spirit is remarkable. I find such strength and hope in being able to be honest about the depths of the darkness, and then find joy in the little moments that are like gifts. To think there is joy left to be had after this loss is a relief -so encouraging, and I thank God for it. I know we are just at the beginning of the many waves of grief, and I just hope and pray I am the friend my friends need in all this.
Another side note: My sweet hubby has been raising money for St. Baldricks for the past few years (since Michael was diagnosed) and this year we were so thankful for everyone who contributed to make his total over $8000 for research for childhood cancers! Here he is sporting his new look: (although, the initials are no longer on the side of his head!)
Whew. Lots of words here tonight. Now, even though the grief remains, I will resume my sporadic blog posts about "normal" stuff - because time has a way of marching on whether we want it to or not. My heart is, and will always be, with my friends.
To read more about Michael's journey, you can visit his Caring Bridge page here.
OK, OK, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Just real life going on here people. What can I say?? I am still sewing whenever I can sneak it in, and getting a few things done which I will show soon. But first - Quilt Con!! It's almost here! There's a linky party going on over here to help people get to know each other a bit by sharing five things people may not know about us.
First, a picture of me. I know, it's an old photo, but I'm feeling lazy about taking another picture, and besides, I kinda still look like this. My hair ranges at any given time in shades of blondish/brownish/reddish, with varying degrees of straight/curly. But you get the general idea :).
OK, here we go:
1) I never wanted a sewing machine. GASP! Can you imagine?! But it's true - I never set out to do this. When my husband and I moved into our first home, I asked my mom to make curtains for our bedroom. Apparently, it was a giant ordeal for her (sorry, Mom!), and all I know is, for Christmas that year I got a check with specific instructions to use it for a sewing machine. Subtle, right?! The thing is, I didn't want a sewing machine - there was a thousand other things I wanted to use that money for to decorate the house. Of course, they said to use it for what I wanted, but in one of the conversations, my dad said these words, "Every home needs a sewing machine," and after thinking about it, I figured that kind of made sense. Time to grow up. Who knew that meant getting a sewing machine?? I ended up finding a good deal on a used Elna which, as the fates declared, was named Quilter's Dream. I barely knew what a quilt was! But the lady selling me the machine mentioned a quilt fabric shop around the corner, and with some extra time on my hands, I wandered in. Boom. Life changed. My eyes could barely take in all the beautiful fabrics! I was instantly hooked. And those curtains my Mom made for my bedroom?? Long since taken down, you know, since tastes change over time. I'll never live it down...
2) My introduction to motherhood was as a single parent in a foreign country. In the process of adopting our oldest son, we made the decision for me to move to Guatemala to be with him while the paperwork process completed. My sweet husband held down the fort (aka - worked) while I had an adventure of a lifetime. I will always be in his debt (for this, and many, many reasons). Those days of touring a historical city rich with culture and tradition (and my stars, the food!) with a baby strapped to me 24/7 are some of my favorite memories. So much so, that when I became pregnant later, I thought several times, "But I won't get to live in Antigua with this baby!"
3) Which leads me to my next point. My husband and I went from 0 - 3 children in 14 months. Talk about life change!! Turns out that baby we were expecting was actually two babies! Our oldest turned 2 a week after the twins were born. I don't think we left the house for months there in the beginning. Or showered. Or slept. But how thankful we are! I remember when I started to venture out of the house by myself with them, I'd pull up to a spot in the parking lot and think, "...well, now what do I do??" I always had to stop and think how to best get everyone in the building safely. Grocery shopping was usually with a toddler in the cart back buried in groceries, an infant in the car seat in the front of the cart, and one infant strapped to me. And only ONCE did a jar of pasta sauce get dropped and splatter all over all of us. Seriously. Only once. I think that's pretty good.
4) I'm a City/Country, Northern/Southern girl. I grew up in Chicago but both my parents are from the south and I spent many summers on horseback on my grandparents farm in the south. I love an urban setting, but also love my green spaces.
5) My favorite bad movie is Tremors. Sorry Bacon, it's not your best work. But I love it. I haven't seen it in years, but if it's one of those lazy days when you get to just flip through the channels (who can do that anymore??) and that movie is playing, I have to watch a few minutes of it. It's just so bad it makes me smile!
If you're going to Quilt Con and see me there, please come say hello - I'd love to meet you!
So, what's your favorite bad movie?? You know the one I mean - do tell!