Thursday, January 28, 2010

Have- to-do's

I have two lists tacked up on the wall in my "studio". (it's also the guest room) One of them is projects I have seen and have decided I would love to make. That list is titled "for me". The other list has the projects I am more or less obligated to do. Things like the Scrap Therapy samples for the quilt shop, a baby quilt for my niece who is due in two weeks, and even some of the projects I started for fun, which have now become odious chores.
This week is filled with obligations, and next week isn't going to be much better. Warning: Be careful of volunteering lest they change the rules on you midstream. (just ask Elaine!) For the next two days I'll be doing demos at the quilt shop during the winter thaw sale. Ironically, the thaw ended Monday and today is rather blizzard-like. Monday we are setting up the display of Challenge quilts at the library, then Wednesday is the judging. So Superbowl Sunday might just be my next free day. (I'll be wearing black and gold)

So, when I finished the "In the Pocket" bag- made with the fabric I stenciled a couple of weeks ago- I decided to reward myself by allowing myself to play a bit. I took the piece I started in the class with Jane Sassaman last spring off the design wall and have been working on that. Another couple good days and I'll have it finished! So hopefully a photo soon. It was a pure delight being able to work on a project purely for the joy of doing it for a change. When I am stuck, I refer to Jane's book for inspiration. For me WWJD means something else entirely!

I did enjoy working with my beads last week as well- in spite of the fact that I dumped some of them and will be cleaning them out of the nooks and crannies for the next six months! The pin I always wear on my hat broke, so I had to make a new one. While I was at it, I made a couple of extras. Never make one of something, you know.

I am grateful for:
The gift of time when I can find it
A job, even is getting here this week hasn't been easy
The silly emails my friends share with me
A good night's sleep

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nothing to show for it

I've been busy this week, but as I mentioned, I have nothing to show for it. So this post shall be a collection of random thoughts from the past week or so.

First and foremost, I need to say this:
Chan Gailey??? REALLY??? Is anyone impressed? Does anyone expect the Bills to be worth watching next year?? He's going to have to work very hard to get me in his corner.

So, here's where the time went, I think. Last Saturday was the monthly meeting of the Museum Quilt Guild. I always enjoy the meetings, even though there are times I'd rather just stay home. This month was no exception. After two years on the board, this was my first meeting as a "civilian". I even voted no on something just to make sure everyone was awake. We presented our challenge quilts. This year's theme was "Initially Yours", where the colors had to be named with your initials, like molokai blue and melange green ( two of my colors). It was so fun to see how people dealt with limited palettes and if anyone made up names for their colors. One member used a color she found on a nail polish!
After the meeting, I over saw a project we borrowed from the Tompkins County Quilt Guild; project Iron Quilter. Participants had two hours to create a project with supplies they did not bring. It was fun for most and frustrating for a couple, but they still made nice things! ( photos after the unveiling next month.) For me, the best part was sitting with my "almost sister" mary while the other sewed. ( I was there in an advisory/ cheerleading capacity)
Of course I spent the weekend watching football games. Well, I watched them until they got boring. I can only hope the championship games this weekend are more competitive than 34 - 3!!!
I went on an adventure with some friends on Monday. We had a plan that fell through so we made a new plan up as we went and had a ball!!!
I think time with friends is always worthwhile, no matter what you are doing, or who tries to spoil your day!
I was going to layer a couple of lap sized quilts to machine quilt. This is a major step for me, as I do not enjoy the machine quilting process. But I have been inspired by Leah Day, to try it. Unfortunately, I was out of batting. I have been using the Quilters Dream "Green" batting for a year or so now whenever I can. The fact that it keeps pop bottles out of the landfill makes up for the fact that it's polyester. It has a nice soft feel in quilts, doesn't beard and is even easy to hand quilt! If you haven't tried it, please do. Every little bit helps!

Lastly, I am somewhat inspired by my friend Kathi's "I have learned" section of her blog. I try to remember to be grateful for something in each day. So, today:
I am grateful that I slept well last night.
I am grateful that I don't have to cook this evening.
And I am grateful that I have friends who understand me and support me during the times I want to go hide in the closet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Try it, you might like it

Last weekend was filled with things that are different from what I usually do. Not necessarily new but things I more or less had to do in a different way than I am accustomed to.
First, my son discovered some time ago that his suit pants had moth holes in them. He hadn't worn the suit in a while, and I didn't know it wasn't in the closet with the rest of the woolens. So it had two tiny holes in the back of one leg. Just big enough that you could see there were holes. Poor kid. So, it's Mom can you fix these? I have patched many pairs of blue jeans and elbows of flannel shirts. Those are easy! But you can't zigzag a patch on suit pants. My Grandmother knew how to do reweaving. How is it she never taught me this ancient lost technique???? I did find a guy who does it, but a new pair of pants would be cheaper! So, not one to give up easily, I decided to give it a shot. Having never seen it done, I could only guess, and sat there staring at the patch and the hole for a very long time before deciding I had no idea how to accomplish it. So I decided to try the next best thing; something in my quilting skill set: reverse applique. It had to be done with the raw edges, though as a turn under would show, right? So I found thread that matched pretty well, basted the patch inside the pant leg and went about weaving the new thread into the good fabric and sort of over the hole. It will pass most inspections, I think.

The next thing was stenciling on fabric. I did this once, and didn't particularly care for it, to be honest. It was not my idea to do it now, either. I am a "Scrap Therapist"- I teach classes in the Scrap Therapy series at Mt Pleasant Quilting Company The next project in the series is one that allows you to make a custom background fabric before you start using Shiva paintstiks!
At first I thought why do I need to do this when there are so many wonderful fabrics in the world? But once I got the fabric painted, I really liked it and can't wait to see how the project looks when I am finished- hopefully this weekend.
This depends on me being able to find the tool to apply grommets. That guy got it completely backwards when he said "don't sweat the small stuff" It's the small stuff that gets to me!!!

The online quilting community has a goal this year to finish things and use up our stashes. Toward that end, I have unearthed an old BOM I purchased in kit form several years ago. I don't know why I did it. I never buy kits because I like to choose my own fabrics. But there they are- a year's worth of wall hangings for every occasion, just waiting for me to open the bags and put them together. I opened the first one and found these fabrics. Not me at all, but some aren't bad. Pull out the yucky ones, and add some of the stuff in my scrap bins....
Ahh, much better! Now maybe I can find the enthusiasm to make this one! (if only I can find the time!)
OK, somebody needs to explain to me how to get the damned pictures where I want them. ( This is why it used to take me so long to update the Guild's blog)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Taking the plunge, I guess

I have thought of doing this before and then I asked myself "who wants to read your mental meanderings???" Well, I suppose I'll find out now if anyone reads them, right?
A note about the title of my blog: I attended college briefly and about the only thing I kept from the experience was a wonderful nickname. During orientation I introduced myself to another girl, who misunderstood and thought I had said my name was Mertha. Only later when we were introducing ourselves to other new friends, did she realize her mistake. She burst out laughing and explained what she'd thought earlier- and admitted she wasn't sure she wanted to be friends with a girl named Mertha. We all had a good laugh over it, and the name stuck, only they shortened it to Merth. Since the word "mirth" connotes happiness and merriment, I decided I liked it and have used it to sign my craft works ever since.

I suppose this blog will be mostly about quilting, which is sort of the focus of my life now. I wasn't always a quilter, but I have always done things to keep my hands busy. This, I suppose, is a result of having spent so much time in the company of my grandmother who sewed and knitted (wonderful irish knits, in fact!) and was a fabulous cook. She taught ,me to sew when I was 11 and I loved it from the very beginning. I made a lot of my own clothes in high school, which set me apart as you may guess. The teachers who admired my ability gave me the self confidence to keep wearing my clothes when the "cool kids" sneered. I found a great group of friends, who also allowed me to be me. We called ourselves the misfits- like Rodolph and Hermy. These are only a few of the people who I owe huge debts for the gifts they gave me during my "formative years".
Anyway, I have done some painting, woodworking, embroidery and cross stitch. I've crocheted sweaters and toys and doilies, lots of doilies. I knitted for quite a while, but back then, there weren't many yarn shops around and I wasn't happy with the "home made" (rather than hand made- there's a huge difference) look of sweaters made with the yarns that were readily available to me. During my years as a stay-at-home mom to my two boys, I made friends with a woman who was a quilter. I had always thought I might try that sometime. My great grandmother was a quilter, so the seed had been planted, I guess. Anyway, I finally gave it a try and was instantly hooked. It is the only creative endeavor I have not gotten tired of after a time.
I did start knitting again several years ago. It was an accident actually. My son's girlfriend wanted to learn. He asked if I would show her. I took her to a yarn shop I had seen but never entered before. the array of fabulous yarns was amazing. (where were they 20 years earlier??) So after buying simple yarn to make hats, I went back again and again for yarn to make scarves and sweaters and socks and.....
In the summer you'll see pictures of my gardens. They aren't great gardens, but working them allows me to be outside during the warmer months. I love to listen to the birds and watch the chipmunks and occasionally I find spots of beauty in my weedy flower beds, so I'll share them.
I guess that'll do it for the first post. If I ramble on too long, who will ever come here more than once?