Friday, November 26, 2010

The "Black Friday" Grinch

I admit it, when I was very little, Christmas was my favorite holiday, because you get presents. As I grew, I came to see how much better Thanksgiving is. It's a "no pressure" holiday. A simple day to gather with those you love and think of all you have to be thankful for.
I had a nice quiet Thanksgiving. We are a small family, so I always feel a bit lonely, in fact, at how quiet my Thanksgiving is.
When I was a little girl, Thanksgiving was so wonderful- the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday. We'd go to my Grandmother's house and maybe be the first to arrive, but more often than not, my uncle and his family would already be there. That meant a happy reunion with my "first boyfriend", my cousin Craig! By the end of the day, my aunt and great aunt would arrive and the house would be full. We ate and played games around the big dining room table I now have in my own home. Sometimes other family would come for the day. Others we went to my great grandmother's house to meet up with more uncles and distant cousins. It's a time for families to gather, for connections to be made, for old arguments to resurface and then be forgotten again. And the food, Thanksgiving is all about the food!
But no more. Now Thanksgiving is just "the buffet in between" (as Loudon Wainright III said) Halloween and Christmas. A day to plan your attack for the "Black Friday" shopping. I imagine there are even those who don't do the big meal until the weekend so they have Thursday free to shop the very early sales, or to get much needed rest before heading out to be first inline at 4 AM. I hate Black Friday. If I were a Grinch who could steal a day, it would be this one.
The retail industry has made greed and avarice acceptable, even- for some people- fun! I don't hold it against anyone who is really in need of something and wants to get the best deal. We all do that. But they have preyed on the fact that we are all "obligated" to spend this time of year. They all want to be the first to get their numbers in the black. (I blame Walmart, of course, since all the other retailers follow them now) It makes me sad and not a little bit angry.
I have felt for several years like Christmas is a bomb that gets dropped on us every year. I don't want to be a part of this madness. The funny part is when I say something like this, many people agree with me. So why not opt out of it? If a few do it, it doesn't make a difference. If a LOT of us do it, maybe we can reclaim Thanksgiving AND Christmas- which is after all a season of giving; a season of joy for all who believe the world was changed for the better on this day 2000 years ago.
I'll be giving my usual gift of a plate of home made cookies to most of the people around me. It's a simple gesture to show I have thought of them this season. Sadly, most people who I give a few cookies to feel obliged to go buy me something.

I am grateful for:
Hot turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving!
My new computer
I live in a place where I can rant all I want to
The men and women who cannot be with their families at this time of year to protect my freedoms
My favorite men- Al, Guy and Lucas

Apologies to any who feel personally attacked. It was not my intent to single anyone out, and my ire is directed at the stores, not you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just because!

I haven't had much time to sew this week. So I thought I'd stick a pretty picture at the top just to inspire. This was taken in October on the day we set up the quilt show.

Last weekend, we had an early Thanksgiving with my stepson and his family. We have missed out on holidays with them over the years because they have too many families to try and squeeze in. But we managed to find a day we could work with this year. It was a really GREAT day- and well worth all the work I had to do! (and all the sewing I couldn't do :-) I was a dunderhead, though, and didn't take any pictures to share. Must be old age!
Monday I had another Dr appt. Just a check up and another look at my hip ( bursitis) and wrist ( not sure yet- more testing to come) When I got back home, it was nice enough outside to get the lights on the tree out front. We won't light them until the first of December, but it's nice to get them up when it's 60 instead of 30!

Back inside I decided I didn't want to get involved in anything big in the sewing room, so I pulled an old project off the wall. I took a class with Betty Alderman a few years ago, because I wanted to make this project. ( I'd had the pattern for a while!) Betty used to have her own website, but it's not there anymore. I think you can still find small pictures of her patterns, though. This one is called "Butterfly Bright."

I stopped at the point where the pattern said outline all the applique shapes with buttonhole stitch or a zigzag, since that takes time and I wanted to get something else done. But for right now I am happy to have a project where I can focus on that needle and the shape in front of me and think of nothing for a while. That's the therapeutic part of sewing for me!

I have been pondering how to quilt the "Candy Kisses" quilt, and found this design in a book I was leafing through. A GREAT way to audition quilting designs is with a sheet of clear acetate or vinyl and dry erase markers. Just be very careful, since the ink doesn't erase from fabric!

I think it needs something else, so I doodled some fillers in the open spaces.

I'm leaning toward this one (the lower one)
Kay thinks it needs swirly black quilting in the border, so we'll see what it looks like when I get to that. ( I never plan that far ahead)

I am grateful for:
Family gatherings!
Glazed ham, candied sweet potatoes and dutch apple pie!
The warm days we just had, and reading on the porch one more time.
A day to let myself not feel so good (and feeling better today!)
The new Harry Potter movie comes out tomorrow!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Time to Play!

Last week, I decided to push all the "have to dos" off the sewing table and play! I had been wanting to try out the techniques in Kathy Schmidt's book, _Rule Breaking Quilts_. It's a bit like the "liberated" method I tried last spring, which was a lot of fun. So, using the first pattern in the book, which I believe was called "Jaywalking", I pieced this collection of stuff to play with.

After "weegeeing"(Jane Sassaman's word) it around a bit, I decided to make a couple of changes, and add some other stuff.

I had sort of decided what shape I wanted it to be and this looked like enough to get me started. Using only the same fabrics I had cut up for my pieced sections, I started filling in the blanks. I have learned that I stink at figuring out how big things need to be to fit other things. You'd thing it was basic quiltmaking. But for some reason, I kept coming up short! From now on I plan to make them big and just cut them down if at all possible!

Anyway, this process is a blast and I am pleased with the top. Now "all I need to do" is figure out how to quilt it!

The fabric with the circular pattern, which was almost too hard to cut, and the blue were gifts from a friend. She said I should make something fun with it.

I also put the scrap sack I had partially assembled as a teaching sample together. I had fun with the quilting as well as laying out the blocks on this one.
The pocket is on the front of the bag.

All this needs is a proper home. ( I bet you wish you were on my Christmas list!)

I am grateful for:
The great luxury of being able to work part time.
The friends who challenge me to try new things.
Cream of Broccoli soup.
Family dinners.
Cozy cold weather clothes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

Well, SHOOT! I had planned a nice long post full of pictures, telling the evolution in my quilting life during the three years it has taken me to get this piece to a point I can call "finished". ( I may be adding some borders to it, so I'm not sure it really is finished) However, I cannot locate the pictures I took during the design phase of the project. So that will be a story for another day, I guess.
I call this piece "Princess Argiope". It was inspired by Jane Sassaman, a real spider called argiope aurentia, and a book, called "Exotic Alphabets and Ornament," by William Rowe. (One of those wonderful Dover publications!!!)
I apologize to those of you who get the willies from spiders. That is part of the story I can tell without the pictures. I was the little girl who ran from a room yelling spider and then refused to return until I knew the thing was dead. My Grampa probably tried to get me to realize they were actually "Nice", but I wasn't having it until I became a mom. I was not going to teach my boys to be afraid of "spiders and snakes" so together we read about and watched spiders and I learned to appreciate them. The spider who inspired this piece lived in one of my flower beds in the summer of 2006.
I have let this project sit for great lengths of time while I debated how to do things and learned new skills to be able to do what I wanted to with it. It has pushed me to become a better quilter and hopefully a better artist! I am happy to have something to show for my time, even if I do feel that I'd like to start all over and do it right now that I know how!
The other project I'm showing this week is called the Posey Tote, by This and That designs. I used Scrap Therapy squares to make the bag, and fabric from my stash for the handles and lining! (A fellow Guild member calls that free project!)
Scrap Therapy itself is undergoing some changes, so I have been finally doing some of the other things I had found that work with all those squares I have cut up.

We're supposed to have snow tomorrow, so I'm guessing I'll be able to sew this weekend, too!

I am grateful for:
The mockingbirds still singing in my back yard.
Cookies fresh from the oven.
An extra hour of sleep this weekend.
A sunrise that is so fabulous you have to stop for a minute to appreciate it!