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Rolling Out A New Year of Quilting

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People often seem to review the past 12 months as a new year opens ahead for each of us.  What do you make of 2014 in your personal life?  I know there are many shocking news stories that caught our attention but what really turned your head in your personal life in the past 12 months?

My husband and I each had unexpected health issues and surgery in the last quater of the year.  So my head is turned to appreciate in some small special way every day that arrives on my doorstep.  I appreciate so much the support that poured in from other ex-pats.  It is wonderful to feel that from a small community.  Numerous Ecuadorians also offered support and help.  It is a great “neighborhood” in which we live.

I began making some chicken wall hangings to sell late in 2015.

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I enjoyed making a single bed size quilt I call “Mud Slide” because of the combination of brown, cream, gray, tan and blue colors. The quilt is nearly done, needing only to be bound and signed.

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The project that took the most concentration in 2014 to create a quilt top is a pattern I would not do again.  I am very happy with how it looks NOW but I had to tear out and re-sew so many of the squares to get pieces right.  And still many are not perfect but quilting is life – rarely perfect.  This is one quilt I will keep to remind me that I have great patience and strong perseverance at times.

perseverance = noun, steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a stateespecially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

New quilt pattern available online

New quilt pattern available online

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Here is the quilt top ready to be completed in 2015:

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More new projects will emerge:

NewProjectFlower

 

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Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet)

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A really helpful tutorial!

Catbird Quilt Studio

There’s a new craze out there promoted by Red Pepper Quilts, crazy mom quilts, and others, and it’s called the economy block. That’s a new term to me, as I know this block as “square-in-a-square” or “diamond-in-a-square.” Maybe the economy comes just in its name!

[See my post of seventeen free designs using this great block.]

This is the square-in-a-square made with TWO squares in the interior.

If you’d like to make the version with only ONE square inside, it’s the same as setting a block on point. You might do a large one for a medallion quilt center, or a small one as part of a block quilt or pieced border. See my tutorial here.

I’ve looked at a number of tutorials for the economy block. And none of them explain how to make it any size. That’s okay if you…

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If you are a long arm quilter about retirement age?

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the hippie bus

the hippie bus

One challenge in Cuenca, Ecuador is that there are no long arm quilters.  If you make a quilt, you will need to quilt it by hand or machine.  There are no wonderful long-arm experts around.

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So I thought I’d note that if you are a long arm quilter around retirement age, thinking of moving to another country for your retirement dollars to stretch much farther, then please consider moving to Cuenca, EC.  You can read tons of information by searching blogs about Ecuador and specifically Cuenca.

Cuenca, in a nutshell, is high in the Andes mountains, 8300 ft alt, but people here have never seen snow or walked on ice.  It does not get too cold or too hot.  But it is NOT tropical = humid and hot.  It rarely gets over 75 degrees.  It ALWAYS cools off at night.  The months of July-Aug are the coolest. We often get a little rain each day.  Sometimes we get a few days of rain.  But the climate is wonderful unless you are expecting white sand and hot breezes.  Cuenca is a world heritage city with many very old churches and neighborhoods.  The water in Cuenca specifically is safe to drink for most people.  A few people drink bottled water just to be safe – its all up to you.

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There is petty crime here – pick pockets, people who grab your phone if you have it out on the street, but remember there is petty crime wherever you are in the world.  The greater the poverty, the greater the liklihood that someone will grab your expensive phone or tablet.  And yet, I was more frightened of being harmed when I was in the Beaverton, OREGON social security office, waiting my turn.  Ironic, huh?

The US has a level of irritation, road rage, shootings that are not seen here.  People here ask me “How can your children be in a school and someone could shoot them?”   What do I answer?  It baffles me every time there is another shooting.  Remember when airliners were being highjacked often – probably in the early 1970’s I’m guessing.  Well, the US figured out how to manage that problem.  Come on, USA, you can find a way to resolve this excessive gun problem.  Pandora’s worries are out of the box but citizens must find a way to contain these huge problems.

Back to the long-arm quilter, there would be some work here for you.  It is not a large quilting community but you also could pull from Guayaquil (3 million people – some of them must quilt) and Quito (1.5 million people).

Please think about it.  It is an opportunity to live in another culture, learn another language or brush up on your Spanish, serve the ex-pat community which is mostly US and Canadians who quilt, and explore the most species-diverse country on the planet.

Machine Quilting on an Unfamiliar Machine – My Heart is With My Pfaff!

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I’m starting a new addition to this blog: a photo of the week on Fridays.

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This Friday’s photo is from last evening.  I asked my husband to take a photo of me with the quilt rolled and wrapped over my shoulder to allow me to work directly on the actual machine quilting.  As you can see, I was working HARD on the machine quilting. Honestly, there are so many steps to create and complete a quilt!

This is a gift quilt about the size of a twin bed.  This purple and teal quilt is a” slightly late” birthday gift for my daughter Tenley. She is a wonderful 35 year old now with two darling little boys. a job, a home to care for  and a cool husband. Tenley is brave and strong and funny and loving.  She and her husband Todd work hard with their little family in a small community east of Portland, Oregon.

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Recently my beloved Pfaff sewing machine developed a problem that is going to be repaired in about a month when I see my Pfaff technician.  In the meantime, a quilting friend loaned me her back-up machine.  A very kind thing to do.  Thank you Lorraine.

In the photo above, the comical owls you can see on the far left – well, that is really soft flannel backing which the grandchildren will love.  The front is more elegant and structured.  All of my love being poured into this quilt will be on Tenley’s lap through future winters, wrapped around her with the boys on her lap.  How better could a grandmother show that her love is constant from Ecuador, just as it was in Oregon?

 I am taking this quilt on an airplane when I go to visit in a few weeks.  

 

 

 

My Heart Lives in Many Places

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“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. ”   Washington Irving

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I often think about what impact it has when people move away from family and community, especially because I have done so many times. I now live permanently in Cuenca, Ecuador after living in the United States for 62 years.  The reasons are not important today. That is to ponder another time. But the impact continues to unfold.

A huge effect is that my grandchildren are growing up a half a world away.  That, for me, is the hardest thing about living in another country, roughly 4500 miles from my children’s families.  If I am brutally honest, we saw the two precious children who live in San Diego about two times a year before leaving the US.  The grandson who lived 90 minutes from us – well we saw him more often but not every month.  People have busy lives, other committments and priorities of their own. 

 

I grew up with parents who had left Nebraska with two babies, a new tractor and two cows, to farm in Idaho, leaving their mid-West family and friends for the adventure of their lives.  Two of my uncles and one aunt left Nebraska as young adults to perform as muscians on Broadway in New York.  They continued to live there for some years, swinging from “nearly starving” to great joyous times when they had work.  These people were among my role models. Staying within 30 miles of my childhood home was not ever on my menu.

I always wanted to live in a Latin culture, to learn Spanish from native speakers, to be a minority after being part of the privileged baby boomers in the US coming of age in the 1960’s. So here I am with a wonderful, huge retirement adventure I share with my husband, Lenny.  Learning Spanish is much more difficult than I had imagined but I keep plugging along slowly.  Eventually…I will do better if I keep working at it.  I am proud of how well I do at markets and in taxis and restaurants but have so much to learn.

It can be challenging to keep a friendship vibrant from a long distance. But today contact is accessorized by Skype calls and e-cards and frequent emails, making connection much easier than earlier times.  Imagine for a moment the US pioneers who bravely travelled West in covered wagons.  If a letter was ever sent back by the pioneer woman, she would not know if it reached her loved ones.  She could not see the computer pixel version of her father’s face or chat with a girlhood pal. We have it easy, comparatively.

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So what does all of that have to do with Cuenca or quilting?  Cuenca is a popular retirement destination for many people in the US seeking a way to stretch their retirement dollar and experience a charming new culture.  BUT, it is not for everyone.  It is important to do a lot of research and come with the right mind set – there is an array of other blogs that detail that. Please read those if you are thinking of coming here because about 30% of the people who come, leave for various reasons.

 Here are the top 3 reasons people leave Cuenca, in my unofficial, observant opinion:

1) it is not as cheap to live here as some publications would have you believe;

2) People miss their grandchildren, family, friends or Starbucks – ok the last one is kidding.

 

3)if a couple is moving here, they must be in agreement about this adventure or the relationship will fail – or they will be moving back with a new rift the experience has opened;  

4) health care is easier when you speak the language and understand the procedures that pop up as one ages.  The healthcare here is good but it is not always what people in the US are accustomed to.  In some ways, it is better, more accessible, cheaper.  In other ways, it is an unknown and that can be frightening – just like none of us knows how we will age or what care we will need.

 

So quilting…it does not interest many people in the slightest but for me it is an active meditation.  It is a stable, rewarding task whether I am in Oregon or Ecuador.  That continuity helped me transition in our move to Ecuador.  So much was different.  So much was confusing. And a lot in the move was breath-takingly exciting too!  

Quilting helped me feel productive in early retirement. It makes me feel the excitement of creating a new pattern and the hunt for fabric that would look fabulous in that design. Most people experience some surprises in adjusting to retirement.  It is easier if you have new hobbies or old ones to continue.

My sewing machine broke last week. Yikes! I described this in the last post. Today, I sew with a machine a good friend brought over when my Pfaff decided it needed a serious consult with a professional.  That will not happen until June when I visit the US because it appears there are no Pfaff repair people in Cuenca or Guayaquil. Another of Life’s Lessons on Patience. But for today,  I have time to think about friendship, family and the ways in which we communicate.

Have a terrific week, whatever you choose to do. Notice how you connect with people.  Thank the people who connect with you.  Appreciating other humans is a great place to live.

 

A New Dreaded Wrinkle

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I signed up for my first quilting class in 2009, just after buying a Pfaff sewing machine.  I had not sewed for 30 years but I got the BUG!  I took every class I could from Victoria Jones in the Portland, Oregon area.  She is a great teacher – patient, resourceful and always kind.

When I moved to Cuenca, Ecuador 3 years ago, an important part of my retirement plan was that I would have time to quilt all I want.  I brought my relative new Pfaff sewing machine, all tuned up and ready to go.  Extra needles, extra cutting tools, lots of rotary blades, rulers – you know, TOOLS!  I was all set.  And for about 3 years, I have happily quilted, sewed, cut fabric and generally had a great time.  

So great, in fact, that in 2012, I sold 7 quilts to Cuencanas who were interested.  But then I had nothing to hang on my walls – and this house has LOTS of great walls for quilts.  So in 2013, I vowed to keep everything I make for awhile to get quilts warming not only the beds but bare walls too.  This month, I decided to have an open house for close friends to show my newly hung quilts.  But a wrinkle popped up in this plan in the past few days.  My sewing machine is not behaving correctly. I’ve talked with the tech in Portland, OR where I bought the machine. Yes, I love Magic Jack!  He helped me trouble-shoot but the outcome was that it needs a repair shop visit.  

He tried to locate a Pfaff “agent” in Ecuador but when I called the guy, he reported he had never seen a Pfaff in 15 years.  So I’m stranded.

Well, not quite.  A good friend offered to lend me her older machine.  All I need to complete the last 3 quilts I want to hang before the open house is a straight stitch so I may make it.  If not, I will have just a few new quilts to show but several nearly done laid out.  It will all turn out fine.  

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And when I return to visit the US, I will take my Pfaff with me for its overhaul and bring it back happy to sew again.  In the mean time, a shout out to Teresa who loaned me her machine.  And another big one to Lenny, my loving esposo, who is amazingly supportive of my craft.

I’m here just livin’ the dream, high in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador.

The title of this blog is guilT, as in feeling guilty

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Layered and ready to quilt!

Layered and ready to quilt!

Hello quilters and those interested in quilters, fabric and creativity:

Hey, I want to correct a  misconception about my blog.  Apparently there is some confusion.  The name of my blog is Cuenca Quilt GuilT.  Not guilD.  I know nothing about a quilt guild… but I know a lot about guilT.  Specifically the guilt one feels after over-spending on fabric for a new project or the guilt one feels after seeking out  a fabric store to create a new project, even though one has many MANY quilt projects already needing attention.  Or, another example, the guilt one feels when one enjoys quilting more than 70% of the social obligations that pop up.

I have a few blocks completed but many still to do.

I have a few blocks completed but many still to do.

A new resident of Cuenca, Lorraine A., may want to start a guilD.  She has experience and interest in this type of thing. She worked in a fabric shop, she found a guilD to be a very helpful, supportive group. Lorraine recently gave away/sold tons of fabric in order to move to Cuenca with 7 suitcases.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

This short post is simply to point out that this is a personal blog, not a quilt GuilD.  As far as I know, there is no guilD in Cuenca.  Also, interesting fact: there is not a single person with a long arm machine  in Cuenca to my knowledge – so if you are planning to move to Cuenca and you are an experienced long arm quilter with a machine you plan to bring, please hurry up!

People here either do their quilting by hand or on a regular sewing machine.  And a few ex-pats who say they quilt , seem not to be actively working on a quilt.  But, its all good.  The beauty of retirement is doing what you want.

So to those of you readers who are interested, a Cuenca Quilt GuilD may form in 2014 …but I will not be sponsoring it because that is not my thing.

Actually, quilting is what delights me.

Living in Cuenca delights me.

Skyping with my kids delights me, as well as talking with the grandchildren.

Skyping is, of course, not as much as seeing them in person but this “Retirement in Ecuador” life adventure makes that very complicated. More about visiting grandchildren another time.

Have a terrific week.  Enjoy quilting!