Monthly Archives: May 2014

Top 10 Reasons I am Glad I Learned to Quilt

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Top 10 Reasons I am Glad I Learned to Quilt

Quilting can be challenging. It can be a daunting hobby to learn.  It can be expensive to buy tools, fabric, batting.  But for certain people, it can be a joyous hobby, a creative way to earn a living, a resource of personal growth and artistic expression.

 

In the photo below, I am machine quilting with the quilt rolled up and draped over my shoulder to allow me to work on the few inches right at the area near the needle.photo (50)

 

What are my top 10 reasons to quilt?  This list will help you think about your top ten reasons.

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1. The entire process of quilting provides me with an active meditation.

2. To design a new quilt absorbs me. I love the struggle of figuring out which fabrics look good together and what quilt design will be the best to expresses a desired artistic concept.

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3. This news just in from studies concluded in the UK: quilting is better than brain training for holding off memory problems.  Quilting is a way to keep learning new things, techniques, short cuts, new patterns, different blocks, all of this is making new pathways in the brain, which has been found to be an effective proactive way to hedge against Alzheimer’s dementia.

4. I like the math involved in figuring yardage, backing, borders.  It is straight-forward math.  I love doing it myself, only using a calculator to check my work.  (And sometimes I figure wrong)

5. I adore the variety, textures, colors, style found  in all cotton fabrics,  love the feel of a new yard of fabric, the drape and heft in my hand.

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6. I love the incredible sense of accomplishment I feel when I create something. Where there was a blank wall or a bed without character, there is now a new creation.

7. It is a great feeling to have good tools – the correct ruler, the sharp rotary cutting blade, the right height cutting table and mat, a sewing machine that does a great job, munching its way through 3 layers of the quilt “sandwich”  when machine quilting.  Hey ~  Chicas like great tools too!

8. Completing a project.  Unlike personal growth, which goes on and on throughout life, a quilt has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Although I am the first to admit I put off completing binding as long as I can.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah, lets don’t psychoanalyze that to death!)

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9. The weight of a personally made quilt is a comforting feeling to pull over oneself on a chilly night.  Several may be even better for a very cold night!

10. To design a new quilt absorbs me. I love the challenge of figuring out which fabrics look good together and what quilt design will be the best to expresses that concept.

 

AND A SPECIAL BONUS:

11.  At it’s best, quilting feels like artistic expression and I LOVE that! What is not to love?

 

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Saturday photos May 10th

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I love this time of year.  It has been chilly with lots of rain each day all week.  But there are almost always sun breaks.  Similar to Apring in the Northwest.I took time today to enjoy the sunshine both outside and in the sun room.

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I got a large stem of orchids on Wednesday at the organic market.  Today I rearranged them – kind of zen, isn’t it?

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This tiny decorative bird house was made by an 8 yr old friend of mine, Lily.

I started some tomato plants some time ago.  It is time to transfer them to larger pots.  Tomorrow may be a good day for that. what I really need is some sun.  Hot sun to get those tomatoes really growing.  But several have blossoms so it is hopeful.  I move them into my sunroom if it gets too chilly at night.

Hope you are having a terrific Month of May!

 

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Be Who You Are

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch

 

 

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How do we embellish our lives? It is a luxury to think of that question.  The very question means the asker is a person of some means: enough to have food, shelter and basic needs covered.  And time to think of ways to enrich one’s daily existence.

I was once friends with an artist in Oakland, California.  She made a habit of looking at the simple ways in which people add a little richness to their life.  It might be an antique shawl passed down from a favorite great aunt, now hung proudly in a window.  It might be a bold red pillow from Target on sale.  A set of woodworking tools treasured formerly by a man from 1901 but discovered at an estate sale in 2014 could bring the new owner joy over and over.

A bright quilt that is very close to being all completed

A bright quilt that is a happy addition to our home

Today’s economy in the United States is very driven by people buying buying buying far more than they need.  It has become an obsession with many to constantly buy more stuff.  Advertising feeds this obsession. Possessions are king!  Many people are caught in this emotionally unfullfilling cycle. It can be hard to see a way off this mirthless merry-go-round. Many have fallen into a habit of THINKING they NEED more things.  It can get a little crazy.

I know a man  of modest means who owns 38 pair of jeans.  They are all blue.  They are mostly unworn.  He agrees that he can only wear one pair at a time….and yet he told me he would buy more if it looked like a deep sale because “I might NEED them.”  Can there be much emotional fulfillment in this stark approach to life? In the richness of his many purchases, he isolates himself because he does not want anyone to know this about him.  No one is invited to his home because he knows his hoarding might be uncovered.  His life is quite spare regarding social contact and yet he shops more. Where is there space for spiritual connection in this cycle?

Cuenca, Ecuador city bus

There is really very little that we actually need beyond basics like food, water, shelter, and respect. The rest is all frosting.  And, although frosting is a lot of fun, it is not required for daily life. I admit, frosting can make one’s daily life a lot more comfortable. But take a minute to imagine what basics you actually require for your day-to-day existence.

Many people who elect to retire in a different country, such as Ecuador, have gone through every single item they own and made a decision to toss it, give it away, sell it or pack it.  That process is exhausting and repetitive, arriving in layers for most of us – we pare down, saving things, we pare down again, letting more go, we get tougher and leaner as we go through this process. It requires a harsh frugality to do this.  And yet in the end, it is, for many, an incredibly exhilirating achievement  –   that moment when you face the freedom of having few worldly goods weigh you down. For the lightness of being “without” while still having life’s basic needs covered.

Gluten free cheese puffs

Gluten free cheese puffs

Where do quilts fit in with all of these thoughts?  One reason I love making a quilt is that I can dive into a carefully selected pile of fabric and come out with a new quilt. This quilt will have a unique life with its new owner.  An example: I am about to sew a quilt for my grandson Andrew who is 8 years old.  What will a quilt from Gramma do for him?  That remains to be seen… but it could warm him on cool San Diego nights.  It could comfort him when he is sad.  It could accompany him as he goes to a friend’s overnight party.  It could color his room a bit, which is his safe, comfortable retreat zone where he recharges his “energizer-Bunny-like” enthusiasm for life.  It could help his sister get comfy when a grandparent is about to read a story in Andrew’s room and she joins in. Oh…and best of all, it will warm my heart to see Andrew use the quilt in whatever way works for him over the upcoming years as he develops into manhood.

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Buying more stuff may not make you happy.  Try this: pare your life down, right now in your head, to what you feel are most essential to your daily existence. Then embellish with a few things you hold most dear.  Do we really need a constant renewal of “stuff”. Would it work as well to clearly see ways to cherish…and embellish… what we have.  A comfortable chair, a walk along the river with the breeze lifting your hair, an incredibly soft scarf, the rich variety and depth of flavors in a well made Indian dish, a pot holder made by your grand-niece. These are all embellishments.

What small things enrich your life?

Be Who You Are