Happiness on the side of the road

The other day when I went out to get the mail, I noticed in a neighbor’s yard  a little unmowed strip where some lovely roadside weeds had sprung up.  This is chicory, with its delicate starry shape and pretty periwinkle color, and it’s always been one of my favorites. The way the flowers are perched on their stems seems almost sculptural.  Definitely an inspiring subject to photograph.  That tiny section of lawn smelled like summer to me, like long walks along back roads and driving in a hot car with the windows rolled all the way down.

Later in the day, I saw two men with weed-whackers milling about over there, so I’m afraid my little beauties have met their fate.  I’m glad they existed for that brief moment and that I saw them; they reminded me that it’s time to move out of this town and back to the country for good.

 

 

 

 

Star Count #24

Thank goodness for Jessica at Life Under Quilt’s linkups, or I would never post anything!  Here is how my baby quilt is looking:  IMG_0399

And that last chunk is assembled into a few big pieces.

Last night, Vivian fell asleep in my arms on the couch and so I stayed up late, basting some tiny diamonds, triangles, and a few more hexies.  I need these tiny shapes to fill in around my star points, and the quilt actually needs a couple more rows of white on the left side, which didn’t fit on my foamcore “design wall.”

IMG_0411

I’m feeling really optimistic about getting this thing in the quilt frame soon!  And after spending so long piecing it, the quilting will be a piece of cake.  Vivian Pepper is in her bouncy chair beside me right now, her eyes questioning me when we are going to head up to bed.  She is my good helper, anchoring me to the couch during the day so there’s nothing I can do but stitch…

Star Count #22

Well, I missed a few star counts somewhere in there… but I’m back on the wagon now so let me just jump right into it:

A very astute comment from Dolores caused me to remove the almost-solid red diamonds that were surrounding the pink star in the lower left here:

and replace them with some very pale mint and aqua diamonds.

I like it so much better now.  In fact the pink against the aqua is now my favorite part of the quilt.  The white star points kind of fade into the background now, but I don’t mind.  So this piece of the quilt is all one big chunk now.  The rest is mostly in larger chunks, with a few areas of single pieces still remaining.  I had an episode of negative progress when Vivian was just a couple weeks old.  My sweet Evelyn, the almost-3 year old, was helping me by raising all the blinds one morning.  In her excitement to pull the cords, she knocked over the sheets of foamcore on which I had laid out all the pieces for this quilt.  She very sweetly told me that she made a mess and could I help her pick it up…  The pieces, probably a hundred or more at that time, sat in a pretty forlorn little pile for several weeks until I made the time to re-design the quilt and then set the boards somewhere less precarious.

Gus took some pictures today of me sewing.  This is my favorite way to sew these days, bopping and swaying about, always music on the stereo, she stays asleep so well in her little pouch and I am mobile and hands-free.  Vivian is two months old today.  Two months!  I’m doing all I can to keep this little one near.

I’m linking up with Life Under Quilts Monday Morning Star Count.  Jessica asked what goal we would like to set for the beginning of summer.  Boy I would love to see this quilt in the quilt frame on the first day of summer!

Vivian Pepper

Roughly a dozen blog posts have been composed in my mind since April 2nd…  They mostly start off with ” Meet Vivian”

and somewhere in the middle mention how relaxing and peaceful it was to give birth in my own home instead of a cold dreary hospital surrounded by strangers.

Depending on how much time had passed since her birth, the imaginary mind-post would end with me saying how lovely it is to be pampered by my husband and my mom, or that the other kids were being so sweet to their new sister (still are!), or that I was sad my mother had to go home so soon, or that I was panicking because it was time for my husband to go back to work and leave me alone with 4 kids; two who need home schooling and two in diapers.  Maybe I would have gone off on a tangent about how my other children’s hospital births compared to this one.  But these all happened only in my mind because even though this is my fourth time around, I still suck at getting the baby to sleep somewhere other than in my arms, and getting to the computer requires more fortitude than I can conjure most days.  So, almost 6 weeks later; world, meet Vivian Pepper!

Star Count #12

I’ve got half of my quilt all pieced into big sections.  I’m leaving it like that as I work on the other half in case I want to make any changes.  ‘Cause right now, there is a lot that’s irking me about this quilt, and I have to make some decisions about how much I want to go back and excise and how much I just want to press forward.

Luckily I have lots of time to stitch! Every day that Baby declines to make her debut is another day spent relaxing and sewing.  I’m starting to think she is waiting until her quilt is done to come out.  I do love these little “cogs” with the vintage mushroom fabric in the center!  I got the mushrooms at Goodwill a couple of years ago as a little home-made valance.  I was so excited when I realized how well they fit into this project!  I might replace the one that has dark blue petals with apple green or chartreuse, if the right fabric presents itself.  Or maybe not.

I really want a quilt that is all white and pale like these random bits, with just a few tiny colorful stars mixed in.  Trying to resist temptation to start something new before seeing this one to completion!  WHY IS THAT SO HARD?!!!

Thanks Jessica for the continuing motivation over at Life Under Quilts!  It’s definitely helping me to keep my mind from wandering…

 

Still Nesting

All I want to do is cozy up and knit.  And sew receiving blankets.  And work on this most epic of baby quilts, and rearrange bedroom furniture.  And look at my big kids and marvel at how much they have grown.

For more than two weeks now, I’ve been having random contractions starting in the early afternoon and getting more intense as the evening comes, and I’ll think maybe tonight will be the night.  We go to sleep and I wake up the next day like nothing happened.  Then after lunch it starts up again. It just makes me want to stay home, cozy and safe, and get ready.

My original due date has come and gone, my revised due date is this week.  If baby follows the pattern set by her siblings, we still have a couple of weeks to go before we get to meet her.  My speed as I go about my day has slowed to a crawl.  Or more accurately, a shuffle.  I putter around the house, I keep the existing children fed and reasonably clean.  I pick up my knitting and do a row, and put together some hexies.  I don’t feel bad about sleeping late in the morning.  If something is essential, Garrett will probably take care of it for me.  And if he doesn’t, it probably didn’t need to be done. I feel quite liberated, actually.  And really I don’t mind the wait.  I love being pregnant, I love that the baby is all mine and always with me (yet so easy to take care of!)  and I’ll miss this feeling so much when it is gone.  We’re taking our time getting baby’s essentials ready, so the extra time has been useful as well.

A week and a half ago I skipped a DC Modern Quilt Guild event that we’ve been working on for months.  We had invited speakers and pop-up shops to the gallery where our quilts are currently on exhibit for a full afternoon of quilty goodness.  And I had been so excited to go.  The event was practically designed just for me.  When we picked the date, I thought I wouldn’t have a problem attending, because all my babies arrive late. But as the date crept up on me and these “warm-up” contractions became a regular event, I couldn’t bring myself to be so far away all day.  I don’t even really want to be out in public.  Plus Hubs was convinced that I would end up delivering alone in some crowded DC hospital instead of the relaxing home birth we have planned.

So I skipped it; I stayed home and left the other officers to run the event and welcome the speakers.  How lucky I am that they were there for me.  I’m so very grateful.  Also sad for missing it and feeling guilty for reneging on my presidential duties.  And feeling a little silly for feeling guilty, because I’m sure the day went just fine without little old me.  But I suppose I need to let go of all that and keep looking ahead, right?

This is a little nursing blankie I’m working on.  It’s meant to be a tube that will slip over my shoulders, so it will stay around me, rather than using a regular blanket, which you have to pay attention to to keep it from slipping off your shoulder.  I’ll let you know if it works out the way I imagine.  The yarn is hand-spun and hand-dyed merino, and it feels lovely.  I probably would not have gotten into this thick-and-thin yarn had my husband not bought me this book as a little surprise gift early on in the pregnancy.  But once I tried it I find the unique texture to be really pretty.  And shopping for handspun, hand-dyed yarn on Etsy is just really fun.

Star Count #10

This week I’ve been basting neutral, almost white shapes to fill in between my stars.  Mostly 1″ hexagons, but also half-hex and 60 degree diamonds, just to fill in all the little spaces.  I love having a big pile of neutrals ready to go.  It feels like having money in the bank, like I’m ready for anything.  Yup, anything those wild and crazy hexagons manage to throw my way, I’m ready.  :)

Linking up again with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Monday Morning Star Count– and how I’m enjoying watching everyone’s projects evolve over the weeks!

 

Museum Demo Day / Star Count #8

Oh, what fun I had last Sunday at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  The museum had invited the DC Modern Quilt Guild to come and demonstrate hand work in the gallery, amongst their exhibit of gorgeous antique quilts.  We sewed a little, we demonstrated a lot, we chatted with visitors almost constantly for the whole 5 hours.  I even did a little repair on an antique quilt someone brought in.  I couldn’t believe how fast the time went.  If I could make a career of that I surely would!

I brought along my English-paper-pieced baby quilt and made a little progress on the orange star.  Other members brought along hand quilting, binding, more EPP, and embroidery.  The table where we sat was such a joyful conglomeration of projects.

Adding to the excitement of the day, my friend Mary Koval had lent me some examples of antique English paper piecing which were unfinished, and still had the papers inside.  With templates cut by hand from old letters and receipts, the backs of these pieces were so fun to stare at.   And the old fabrics… I could pore over these quilts all day and never tire of them.  All that work, all the time spent by some unknown maker, it stays with the quilt long after the maker has passed.  So lovely to behold.

Sunday at the gallery, and later that night, I added a round of shapes to two of my stars- so I’m still at 3, but they are growing!

Only in February…

Only in the depths of winter, and only under a little duress, would something so rainbow-bright and utterly lacking in neutrals come out from under my needle…

I took a break from my EPP baby quilt last week to enter something in the MQG Riley Blake Challenge.  Everybody who signed up for the challenge received this bundle of fabrics:

Receiving the fabrics didn’t really inspire any creative ideas for me, so I washed them and folded them and they sat on the shelf for 5 months or however long it’s been… until a week before the deadline when I knew I had to make something. Hmmm.   The challenge rules allowed other Riley Blake fabrics to be added, so in my stash I found a few more prints in orange and red.  Together with the challenge fabrics they made an almost-rainbow and since this was a Challenge, I figured I should go ahead and try out a color scheme that I wouldn’t normally use.  Looking at it now I realize that I didn’t really use that much of the challenge fabric at all, but it is all Riley Blake stuff so it fits the criteria…

It was fun to put together another English paper piecing design and applique it to a beautiful cross-woven solid that’s been in my stash for eons.  I made it kind of large so it would go together quickly- the center diamonds are 3 inches on each side.   It is hand quilted it with #12 Valdani perle cotton in a spring green.   I’m really liking #12 for hand quilting rather than the thicker #8 that seems to be more readily available. Maybe just because I’ve been making small-ish things.

I love that the MQG hosts these challenges, because it’s so fun to see what different people are making from the same fabric.  But this one, for me, was just a bit of a bummer because I was so uninspired by the fabric.  I like my final quilt well enough, but it just doesn’t excite me like some things I’ve worked on, y’know?  I’m happy I finished it though, because finishing projects is one of those life skills that I need to work on, and now I have a happy little quilt I can pass off to my kiddos to enjoy.

By the way, there are a ton of entrants out there who obviously were inspired by the fabric and made some fantastic things… here is one by Doris Brunnette that made it to the top 10 that I absolutely love:

I’m linking up again with Jessica’s Monday Morning Star Count!