On the frame

My Outback Wife hexies are on the quilting frame!  This began back in March as a demo and I loved it so much I just kept going.  This fabric; love, love.  I’m so glad I’ll have it with me always. 

If you haven’t heard before, it’s barkcloth, lovingly researched and reproduced by Cathi Bessel-Browne, a farmer’s wife in Australia who also happens to be a dressmaker and now world-traveling teacher.  Stories of their life in the Outback are woven into the designs and names of the fabrics.  Sadly, the company she was working with has ceased operations, but for the moment many of the fabrics are still available. (I stock them here in my Etsy shop. )

I enjoyed cutting up the designs- with some hexies containing a flower and some almost all solid background, each cut was a surprise.  I gave myself 9″ strips and used whatever section I got.  

Here’s a little roundup of progress photos so far.  

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Vendor Shopping

Last week I had a stall at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza outside Philadelphia.  That has been my favorite show to shop for years, because I tend to see stuff there that I don’t find other places.  So, with Lucy Boston on my mind, here’s what I came home with:

img_1758.jpgFrom the French Connection, yardage of a sweet little print that will make an understated backing, and two hand-stamped Batiks from Handloom Batik.

img_1759.jpgAn Indian hand woven ikat, Philip Jacobs, more hand stamped batik, and more Philip Jacobs.  I so love these vibrant colors…img_1760.jpgBut I also love little traditional prints, especially shirting-types.  They just go so nicely with so many other things.  I bought the claret one from two different vendors on two different days, so the universe must be trying to tell me something about it…img_1761.jpgOh, French Connection, you slay me year after year with these sweet little prints…img_1763.jpgKathy Doughty on the left (I have a weakness for odd colors) another hand-loom that will be fun to fussy cut, a delicate Kaffe ikat, and the wheat, just because.  I also picked up (another) one of Kathy Doughty’s books, and I’ve loved looking through it.  She has a fabulous way with color!img_1764.jpgOh, these squirrels.  Who knows if I ever will use this, but I love squirrels and if you love squirrels, you have to buy this print.  img_1765.jpgThe French Connection again- they also have these gorgeous African fabrics.  The geometric designs just call to me and mallard blue is my color of the year, so it seems!img_1767More Tula.  If you’re familiar with Tula, you know that this print has big frog faces hidden in it.  Well I don’t want the froggies looking at me, but this part of the print is super sweet.  img_1769Ahhh, the vintage button lady.  Who also had some hankies.  Look at these!  I am so pleased to have them in my repertoire and I will have no qualms about cutting them up!  img_1770.jpgAnd, this little card of darning thread in the prettiest palate, from Brooklyn Haberdashery.  If I actually had stockings in all these colors to darn, I would be one fashionable lady, indeed!

Lancaster American Quilter’s Society Show

Yes!  I’m freshly back from vending at my first big show, and I wanted to share how it went!

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Firstly, props to my family who subsisted on popcorn and dried beef and carrot sticks for the week before the show.  SO MANY last minute details and you maybe know that I’m not the best at getting things done in advance 😀

Second, ultimate props to my hubs who did so many last minute errands for me, always with a cheery attitude.

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So, with that out of the way, how was it?  So fun.  Just a week before, I received a huge shipment of Outback Wife barkcloth by Gertrude Made.  The American distributor of that fabric has been absolutely lovely to work with and I hope there are any more collections to come!  I have MANY ideas for samples to make up with this lovely fabric.  I noticed a lot of people were buying it for handbags and a LOT of people were saying, “oh, that reminds me of my grandmother…”  It made me super happy to bring that to the show.

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Also, the rainbow tables of perle cotton… (All arranged by my lovely friend Johanna who came to help!) I loved watching people choose their own color palettes from those.  I brought mostly Finca/Presencia, with a little Valdani just as a test.  Plenty of people were interested in the Valdani so I’ll be expanding that offering for next time.

EPP Demo!

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I demonstrated my Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes for a good part of each day.  Which means I was working on a fun project the whole time and actually made really good progress.  I was making 2″ hexies out of the barkcloth and I do have an exciting idea for putting them together once I get more solids in stock.  I glue basted these because they’re such big shapes and I just want this to come together quickly.

People!

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Seriously.  I met so many interesting people.  Friendly customers, guild members, the people working the show.  One person who I believe is my long lost twin, we are so similar in so many ways.  (Hi Andrea!)  My booth neighbors on both sides were super friendly and helpful.  And I had time to reconnect with two more friends who came to help, Heather and Mike, and I was so grateful for both their help and the time to get together!

So, I loved this.  I think it’s the perfect fit for me.  I can work from home, homeschool my kids, have my little web shop, and then dart out and get a few days of total quilt immersion to recharge my quilty soul.  I’ll be announcing more show dates soon as I get them confirmed!

I AM sewing!

Guys, I may have lost my sew-jo last year for various reasons, but it is back big time now.  I have so much to say, but I’m gonna ease myself back into blogging with a few snapshots of what I’ve been doing.

Working on this and that:

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I instagrammed a couple of videos while I was working on the above clamshells, so go look for those if you’re wondering how these go together.  20180212_164845.jpg

IMG_20180214_113020_747 - CopySent Diabolical Jane to Stitched in Color to be longarmed.  Thrilled with the results!

IMG_20180218_212812_256 - CopyThese are Paleo! 

What? your caveman ancestors didn’t have chocolate cupcakes?  well someone’s did.  The cookbook said so.  Anyway, they’re delicious and if you are eating healthy but getting desperate for a treat, check out My Paleo Patisserie.  Everything I’ve made from it has been good.

20171114_135938-copy.jpgI washed dried and folded like a million yards of fabric.  I had decided to freshen up my stash and there was no going back.  Then I donated half of it to my local crafty thrift shop because I have too much.  OK maybe a quarter donated.  But there’s more to wash.

Parenting!  Oh the parenting.  Everyone’s back to homeschooling now and I am so glad.  The school schedules were just not good for me.

20171121_162712 - CopyLooking for a farm.  Yes, I want to farm.  really bad.  But we have to come to terms with what we can afford and figure out where that’s going to be and it’s a really huge decision, so for now the talk is still all hypothetical.

IMG_20180102_141930_481 - Copy20180111_162613.jpgChicken farming:  I may not have land yet, but you don’t need much space for chickens.  We have been eating exclusively our own chicken for a couple of years, and added egg birds last fall. We love our chickens but they are definitely not pets; the kids are understanding where our food comes from and the animals that will become our food live a good life, and that means a lot to me.

So there’s a little snapshot of where I’ve been!  Back soon!

Not Sewing

20171026_175008I have been Not Sewing, Like for months now.  I have been reading, lots and lots, and thinking.  Reading new cookbooks, health books, history books, farming books.  Sociology and education.  My Amazon order history is astounding and there’s still 215 items “saved for later.” I started to wonder if I was having a mid-life crisis, but those seem to be more superficial; revolving around stuff like missing your youth and buying expensive cars.  Which is nowhere on my radar.  Plus, my grandma just turned 98 and is in good health so I don’t really feel like I’m at mid-life yet.  a 2/5 life crisis?  Then one day the term came to me; it’s an existential crisis.  As in, I was really not satisfied with how a lot of things were going and I had to learn and figure out how to change all this.  How I eat and how I feed my family.  The sad realization that every food company, even those making “healthy” products, is looking to make a profit, not to make people healthy.  I’ve been not satisfied with how we manage our money and how we’re educating our kids.  Family relationships and how I spend my days, all reevaluated.  And then there’s the fact that we moved to rural Appalachian Pennsylvania and though we love so many things about living here, there are a few things about the community that make us feel like we’re swimming in the wrong pond.  But we keep moving and moving and never really find the right pond.  It’s time to “Be the Change,” I think.  Should be no problem, right?

But back to the sewing..

We’ve been slowly progressing through the renovation of what was meant to be my studio space, which meant that the small temporary sewing room is packed with all the weird stuff we had been storing in the studio space since we moved in.  So much stuff that it’s now more of a storage closet.  With no place to sew and supplies lost in a sea of boxes (and my mind caught up in my books), there was no sewing going on.

But (finally!) the studio is finished, pretty much.  Maybe a few more minor things will get done if our carpenter/distant relative has a chance this winter.  But I’ve started using it.  And even if the space is not quite at 100% (what ever is, really) it feels really really good to have a place to create (to think) and a place for my business again!  And I’m sure having the space set up will draw me out there to get to work.  And I’ll keep thinking.

Anyone else challenging the status quo in areas like nutrition, education, kid raising, finances?  I’d love to hear more.  Shoot me an email if you don’t want to comment here!

With Love,

Jessie

 

Retreat!

It’s the beginning of retreat season!  Yes somehow, I have managed to sign myself up for three quilt retreats in two months!  I’m not feeling bad about that.  I’m feeling awesome.  And yes, my co-parent is booking himself a getaway, hopefully as we speak.  Everyone needs some time for themselves.

( I guess this will do for natural lighting..)

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So this weekend is my first of three.  Here’s what I brought to work on:

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A dolly quilt for my littlest.  I forgot the backing, so I’ll have to be happy with getting the edge pieces set in and I’ll finish it at home.

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An improv quilt in weird colors. I first had the idea to put these colors together a few years ago- scarlet and lavender and marine blue and black and cream and off-shades of rust- I cut hundreds of strips in the fabrics I could find at the time, but it just wasn’t right.  The fabrics sat segregated in their special bin for a very long time, as I slowly added to and edited the collection.  Now I’m feeling pretty good that I have what I need to enact the vision.  The intent is to put it to bed this weekend and let it be whatever size I get it to by Sunday, but I’m willing to be flexible.

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A basket full of old shirts for some EPP.  So excited about this one.  But I’m excited about them all…

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A binding that’s ready for hand stitching.  I think I’ll work on this during show and tell.  Big stitches will get it done 🙂

I also packed a little cooler with lots of greens, beef stew, poached salmon, and kombucha.  And lots of tea and some super dark chocolate.  Meals are provided and so far they’ve been awesome, but it feels good to be prepared.  And to eat beef stew in bed at 10:00 pm.  🙂

I Feel Lucky

I Feel Lucky!

Guys, I have been needing to get this out in the open for a while now because I have so much to say!  I have mentioned here and there on Instagram that I had some kind of mystery illness.  Well a few weeks ago, I finally received word that I definitely have multiple sclerosis. Let me tell you, it’s felt like a long and rather crummy road to get to The Diagnosis.

I have been to something like 20 doctor’s appointments in the past 4 months, each one requiring me to drive 50 miles, figure out who is going to get the kids on or off the bus, who will keep the toddler, does hubs need to take time off work for this one, what will people eat if I am late.  Will I have to wait around there for testing? Can I drive myself home?  Thrilled to be DONE with all that.

 

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(Yes, asking your 13 year old son to take a quick photo IS awkward )

 

Let me tell you my story.

Very suddenly, at the beginning of November, I started feeling really, really tired.  I thought it was a bug, and took a few days to get some extra sleep.  I went into a minute clinic to get tested for anemia and thyroid function. But then I started experiencing tingling and numbness, which moved around and got worse over a period of several weeks.  I started to feel a little light headed, off balance, and then more severe vertigo set in.  My short-term memory (lack thereof) had been bothering me for the months leading up, and I realize now that that should have been a warning.  But I blamed it on living in a state of constant interruption as parents usually are.

The first several medical visits were so disheartening; I felt instinctively that something was wrong, and yet the practitioners were all dismissive of my vague list of symptoms.  I went to the ER, a couple general practitioners, OB/GYN, chiropractor, anything I could think of.  One particularly low visit, I was handed a prescription for non-drowsy Dramamine.  Thanks.  A month into visiting my general practitioner at least weekly to complain of worsening symptoms, he finally ordered an MRI, and six weeks in, I first heard someone utter “possible MS.”

I immediately got to researching, and was excited to find that many people are keeping MS in a state of permanent remission using super healthy dietary choices.  I was thrilled!  I LOVE super healthy food!  Because MS is an autoimmune condition, the first thing I could do was drop all the common allergens that make the immune system go crazy; gluten, dairy, and eggs.  After reading the story of Terry Wahls, a physician who reversed the progression of her MS, I started eating piles and piles of green leafy vegetables every day, the best quality veggies I could find.  I eat wild-caught fish and grassfed meat, and healthy fats.  Cup after cup of tea keep my spirits high, as does the occasional bit of super-dark chocolate 🙂

I started eating this way in the middle of December and after one week, my energy began to return.  After two weeks, the tingling had receded and disappeared.  Vertigo took longer, it was almost three weeks before I felt like it might be receding, and about 5 weeks before I felt like it was pretty much gone.  I still need more sleep than normal but as long as I get my sleep, I feel great!  Really great.  Healthy and light on my feet.

In the midst of all that self-care and feeling better, I continued with my testing because I wanted to know.  By the time I got the final word; yes, it’s MS, I was like “great, I can handle that.”

At the risk of being that annoyingly positive person, I feel lucky that this is the diagnosis.  have always been interested in healthy food, really interested.  I try to feed myself and my family the best way I know how and over the years that has variously meant sourcing raw milk, going gluten free, cutting out empty starches and packaged foods, buying direct from the farmers, and this past year it extended to raising our own chickens for the freezer and buying a pig from friends.

But sometimes, I got worn down, discouraged by the cost or the extra effort, or the petulant cries from this child or that who wants their comfort foods.  So we have, over the years, swung back and forth between a few super healthy months and then a few months where we’d go to the store and actually decide to buy two packages of Oreos because one would get eaten too fast.

So I feel lucky now that I have a NEED, an actual need, to buy the expensive wild salmon.  There’s a local guy who travels to Alaska to fish and brings it back here to sell.  Perfect.  I NEED to spend the extra time to get a giant salad on the table at every meal, and I NEED to banish packaged crap forever.  Or I’m going to become disabled and won’t be there for my family.  It’s good motivation.

I am working on adding the right supplements to my routine as well.  I feel so strongly that our agricultural soils are depleted by decades of chemical farming and much of our food no longer contains the nutrients we need to sustain a healthy life.  It’s a big job, though, finding the right balance, so that is a work in progress.  I’ve found a functional medicine doctor to help me with this and I’m feeling really good about the process.

I also have a need to make time to keep learning about our food so I can make better and better choices for myself and everyone around me.  I love that.

Thank you, if you are still reading this manifesto!  I feel so grateful for my community and I wanted to get this big story off my chest so I can get back to sharing the everyday 🙂

 

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(Random pretty fabric, thanks for reading!)