Monday, November 29, 2010

I Quit!

Today I made a decision, and it feels good. It is something that I won't be able to accomplish for a few years. But.. I decided that I am going to quit making quilts!

Here is what I mean by that. For over ten years now I have been making loads of quilts. Most of them I give away. Most are for kids at two or three places that are my pet projects. I don't plan to quit making those 100%, but I'm going to cut way back and will stop trying to warm every kid on the globe.

In recent years I have tried really hard to start doing more of my own machine quilting. Sometimes it goes well, and I like it. Most of the time it goes badly, and it makes me grumpy. I just can't do it very well, and I hate the whole hassle!

From now on I will NOT, unless absolutely necessary, do my own quilting on the larger size quilts. It is way too stressful. And really, I don't even enjoy making the large tops very much. It is way more fun to make blocks (small, and varied) and small tops (done quickly).

I think that I won't really "quit" -- but when I can, I am going to start focusing on small projects that I do only when I want to. And I am going to stop being a full time quilter.

Before I can do that, here is what needs to happen. I have several quilts that I have either promised or that I want to finish. I can't officially quit until those are done. Let's see what that means:
1) a big one I am working on today to give to a program that I signed up for.. and the due date is looming (it's the picture, above)
2) a wedding quilt that I promised but haven't started
3) a couple of queen-size quilts I want to make for hubby and me
4) I have been trying to make quilts for every family member and everyone in a certain group of friends. Of those I still have about 6 left.

Just doing the above list, along with small things that satisfy my need to just create something, will keep me busy for a couple years at least. After that, I quit, sort of.

I have been feeling burned out for a while, and this decision feels really good. I will continue to do very small things such as make blocks for Tammy (if she keeps the Sunshine Lotto going). But I will no longer be churning out quilts like there is no tomorrow. It's too much and has stopped being fun!

Whew! It feels so good to have decided this. I can hardly wait to finish my "obligations" (self-imposed) and to get rid of most of my quilt mess and just pull it out once in a while. It'll be fun again at that point.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let's See...

What have I been doing lately? When I ask that question it's hard to answer, yet I feel like I've been super busy.

I've been working about 1-2 days per week, on average. I work for two different school districts. I love being a sub. I love being able to say yes or no to a job. Although, to be honest, I feel bad when I have to say no. But no one has ever been upset with me -- I just feel like I'm doing something wrong, because I know when they call it's because they need someone. I guess I'm not used to the life of a substitute yet. So far I like it, overall.

I've been both sewing and knitting. Now that I see all these photos, I guess it tells the story of how busy I've been. I have plenty of sewing and knitting projects "on deck," along with more sub work to do, so I guess I'll continue to be busy.

I made blocks for Sunshine's lotto for December. I'm early!

more blocks for December

more December blocks

and yet more for December

these are Sunshine lotto blocks for November

these hats are for a program called Hats for the Homeless. They'll be distributed in early December

this is a challenge I'm doing at 15 Minutes of Play.. stay tuned for what this will turn into.. I don't know yet, either!

these are for an online lotto (separate from Sunshine) see the I Heart Block Lotto button to the side and join us if you are interested

Throw in Thanksgiving, regular life busy-ness, thinking about and preparing for Christmas.. and I guess that's what I've been up to!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! If you are a reader who does not celebrate this American tradition, I hope you have a very happy Thursday.

Husband and I will have dinner with his parents and one of his brothers. Hubby made his usual rolls. He's famous for these wonderful rolls every Thanksgiving Day. Let me tell you, the rolls are yummy. I have a hard time not eating a bunch of them when they're fresh out of the oven. I'll confess, I ate one when Hubby was upstairs so he couldn't see me and chastise me. Well, someone had to do Quality Control, don't you think??

I probably shouldn't even claim this pie, but this is what I made. I have NEVER had such a struggle with the crust as I had yesterday. I have no idea what I did wrong. I couldn't get it to cooperate for anything. Finally I gave up and plunked my feeble mess into the pie tin.. it's just barely enough to hold the pie ingredients inside, with nothing leftover to make the pretty flutes along the edge. Weirdest looking pie I ever made. It's pecan. I hope it will taste better than it looks.

I plan to knit while others watch football, take naps, and whatever else they find to do on a full tummy after dinner. Have a wonderful day, all!

I'm thankful for:
1. Thanksgiving celebration with family (I love this holiday)
2. beautiful snowfall yesterday
3. knitting hats
4. warm toes (it's the season when this is not a given)
5. a long, quiet weekend at home

Monday, November 22, 2010

God's Money, God's Work

A couple weeks ago at church we were all given an envelope which contained $5. We were told it was "God's money." Our assignment was to pray about it, think about how to multiply or add to it, and to use it in some way that would help do some good in whatever way we felt directed.

After pondering for a while, I was drawn to a program I heard about. It's called Hats for the Homeless and is a program in Minneapolis. They collect knitted and crocheted hats and distribute the hats to homeless people in the Twin Cities area. I decided I had just enough time to make a couple of hats in time for their 2010 due date.

At about that same time a former co-worker asked me if I could make a couple of pillows for her. I envisioned a quick, easy task sewing a few seams for a couple square pillows: zip zip zip... done! Sure, I told her. I asked if she would pay me $5 per pillow, and she agreed. I decided I would add that $10 sewing fee to the $5 God's money I already had, and would buy some yarn to make hats for homeless people.

It gets COLD in Minnesota, and I felt it was a worthwhile undertaking, to help keep someone's ears and head warm in our frigid winters. Appropriate for God's money, I felt.

After a couple of days I opened the bag containing the pillow-making materials, and I gasped. One pillow form was round (I'd never made a round pillow before), and both pillows had ropey-braid stuff to add (another thing I'd never done). I was instantly nervous and worried about how these pillows were going to turn out.

I was kicking myself for taking on the project. But.... I had planned ahead and already purchased the yarn and started knitting hats. So I knew I had to attempt these pillows no matter what.

This is a picture of the finished pillows. They're not perfect, but they turned out better than I anticipated. I won't tell you how many h.o.u.r.s. I spent on these pillows. Way more than $5 worth on each, but that was what I quoted, and I was the one who failed to ask any questions. So it goes.

I figure the pillows were part of my service to humanity, along with the hats that I'm in the process of making.

No one said that doing God's work or spending God's money was supposed to be easy. These pillows were not easy. And truthfully, neither are the hats (although they are much more enjoyable to me than fussing with these pillows). I think it's appropriate that I'm getting a brain and hand and patience work-out while working on God's projects. It gives me time to think more carefully about who will use these items and what thoughts I am pouring into them.

May these items keep ears and heads warm, heads and bodies rested, and bring a modicum of warmth and peace to the recipients.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another Top, Another Hat

Finished another quilt top!

Finished another knitted hat!

Creating quilts and hats is fun! Think I'll get back at it....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lots of Quilting To Do

Lately I have been making tops like crazy, especially on the retreat I went to last weekend. I've been focusing on UFOs and trying to get stuff done and OUT of my cupboards. I also have other tops that I finished earlier, waiting patiently for my attention. I have the daunting task of getting all of them machine quilted. Some I will pay someone to do, but others will be up to me. I also have two already quilted that are waiting for binding, and one that is partially quilted.. my machine broke in the middle of that one and I haven't gotten back to it for the finishing steps. *sigh* And there are still only 24 hours in a day. Sadly, I found out that retirement didn't change that fact.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quilts and Books

Below you will find a very short video of the falling snow we enjoyed on Saturday during the retreat. I was in the lunch hall, so there is a lot of noise and chatter going on... but the visual is pretty so I thought I'd share.

I also posted some pictures (other than just the beds) from our quilt retreat at the guild blog. If you want to see, here is the link.

As for books, I have failed to post any book reports for a while. I will try to remember what I have read in recent weeks.

Let's see...

1. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (Kindle edition). I thought for sure I had mentioned this, but it's not on my reading challenge list. We read it in our book group at church; our consensus was that it was a good book, but difficult to discuss.

2. How We are Hungry by Dave Eggers (Kindle edition). I read his book, Zeitoun, last summer and loved it! I was excited to read another one by Eggers, but this one was not as great. To be honest, I can't even remember much about it.

3. Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Kindle edition). A lot of people are reading this book these days. Some love it and find it a can't-put-down book. I didn't find that to be true for me. It was an interesting story, and I'm glad I read it, but I don't consider it one of the greats that I strongly recommend. I wanted it to be a fave, but it wasn't.

4. The Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (hard cover). We read this in my book group. I really enjoyed it. It's about a wealthy, white couple who begin volunteering at a homeless shelter in Fort Worth, TX. They befriend an African American man who is illiterate, homeless, and has always been poor. Their lives couldn't be more different. Their mutual friendship is profound; they learn from each other; it made me ponder volunteerism in terms of how much time it may take to really make a difference, and what am I accomplishing with the volunteering I have done and am doing. I recommend reading this book if you are interested in these issues.

5. Raising Jake by Charlie Carillo (Kindle edition). Don't bother. It's a dumb book. I'm just trying to get through it so I can count it as my "J" book for the challenge list. Once I got far enough into it, I just decided to plow through and finish, but I don't recommend anyone else wasting their time on this one.

That's it for my book reports for now! Do you have any must-reads you have run across that you think should be on my (ever-growing) list?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Giving in Minnesota

I love the quilts you guessed for me! But you are all wrong. #15 is beautiful... I watched the owner make that one at the first retreat I attended and loved it! The other one, on the unmade bed, is a quilt made of blocks we donated to a president when her term ended. She likes wild and bright, like I do. Both were good guesses on your part!

Mine is #10. It is fabric with a marching band printed on it. I just added some borders and got it quilted by Diane who does fabulous work. It was in honor of my son and his years of hard work on the drum line in his high school marching band. I thought it might be something he would like, but he didn't seem to, so I kept it.

Now on to my real topic: Nov 16 in Minnesota is Give to the Max day. Non-profits in Minnesota are asking for a one-day donation blitz. It worked really well last year. I am trying to raise money for a group called Ampersand Families, and I made my own fund-raising page. If anyone feels like making a donation, I would love you forever. (Well, I already do, but this would just be icing on the cake.)

Ampersand Families is a fabulous agency whose goal is to find permanent homes for older kids (10 and up) who are in foster care. They are the most caring, smart, hard-working, wise group you could ask for. Your money will make a big difference and will help some kids and their adoptive families. Ampersand is GREAT!!

Here's my link to my page. Thank you for at least reading about this. Even learning a little more about the topic will help our world be a better place!

Carol's Ampersand Families fund-raising page

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Qwilt We-tweet

For four beautiful days members of my guild and I relaxed and sewed at a lovely retreat center. As part of our fun, we always do a bed tour. I'll post the bed pictures (guess which one is mine), and in another day or two I'll post more pictures of the activities and the projects. There was some beautiful work going on there! [Some people had so many beautiful quilts that they brought several to hang or display in addition to having more than one on the bed. And this doesn't count the beautiful ones they were busy creating in the work room.]
























Which number is mine??

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Working Together

A woman in NY had an idea. She asked how she could help a program that works to combat homelessness. She asked if quilts would be helpful. They said, "Yes! We need 800 quilts!"

Yikes.. how does one woman produce 800 quilts? She asks for help from fellow quilters, of course. We came through, and are still coming through! This week the first batch was disbursed to people for their first homes. These two quilts were made by me.

It's pretty rare that I get to see who receives my quilts. I send quilts all over the world and usually never see them again. It's a thrill to see the recipients with smiles on their faces! I hope it means that they love the quilts and will enjoy the warm cuddles that I sent.

And thanks to Victoria whose brain-child this was, to take on quilt production of 800... trusting that others would help and that the dream could be realized. Isn't it fabulous when people work together to accomplish big things?? It warms me down to my toes.

If you are a quilter, you can still help. They need lots more quilts! Check Victoria's blog to see how your quilts can make a difference, too. Here's a link to her blog:

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Stripey Socks

A while ago my friend over at Goodnight Gram posted a pic of her stripey socks (I was slow to jump on the bandwagon. This was quite a while ago.) She did this because another blog friend also did so. I decided to post mine, too, just for fun. Stripey and wild socks are so much fun, don't you think?!

I purchased these socks at my sister's bookstore

These were a souvenir I bought for myself on a family trip. They are intentionally made in random style so that the stripes don't necessarily line up. I love the wild, randomness of them.

By the way, Goodnight Gram is a great blog, full of wisdom and love... you should read her blog! Gram is my friend, and Goodnight is her granddaughter, who she is raising. Angel is Gram's daughter and Goodnight's mom. Angel lives in heaven. Read this blog, and you will learn and grow! You will also be amazed at Gram's outstanding knitting skills.

Coincidentally, I am attempting to learn how to knit socks. Maybe some day I can photograph some stripey socks that I made myself! Until then, here's a photo of a hat I just finished. It is supposed to fit a kid aged about 6 years.