Friday, December 25, 2020

Abiding in Christmas past, present and future

      I want to wish anyone who reads this a Christmas that will be real, deep, and grounded in a joy that can't be taken away. When you look at the first Christmas, it was a hard time. Mary was pregnant, dogged by scandal, away from family, the government had forced them to comply with a census decree which meant leaving home, no one would give them shelter (no inns in Bethlehem- the original Greek means guest room), and the Son of God had to push aside animals and waste to be born. We do rejoice because of the overall plan of salvation, redemption, and promise although it was painfully difficult.

    It is how I think of this year. I am weary of virtual everything. I am an artist, so I spend a lot of time working alone. Consequently, I need people- breathing, living people. To be forced to be solitary as if I am doing time for a crime I did not commit is ruinous. I comply with all the health guidelines, yet part of me is dying. I have not seen most friends or family since March. They seem ok with that because we have to be "safe".  I mourn and grieve for lost time, lost friends, those who are shut and starving emotionally in nursing homes away from family although they get Covid by the droves from employees (don't understand- they all wear masks, PPE), lost incomes, financial disasters for all but Walmart and Target. Church is a ghost town even with masks, distancing, constant cleaning yet the parking lots for Walmart, Target, Aldis are filled to the max. I don't think I will ever recover. Sometimes, I just cry over the loss. Christmas Eve was particularly hard- my husband and I alone eating dinner with Pandora. I think people will like the way it is, just fine, and loneliness will be looked at as a weakness. 

     I rejoice for what God has done and will do for me. I rejoice for the few that stick with me. I rejoice because I have been given a gift of art to share with those who need its comfort and humaness. But I grieve for the lostness, the vacuous Zoom gatherings, and media bingeing that substitutes for relationships. 

    Today, Buffalo received a blanket of heavy, wet snow which is how I feel. It has beauty, but is burdensome, fleeting, and icy. The light is leaden and dull. I tried to show my hometown beauty to you.

Our tree this year is a blue spruce from our yard. It started out as a small live balled tree for our Christmas over 15 years ago.
It grew too big for our small yard, so the tip top is our Christmas tree one more time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

O Christmas trees, O Christmas trees...

      I finished piecing the Christmas Tree top (Tree Farm from Moda, free pattern) but added some changes I think worked for the better. I thought the trees were too close with no air between them, so I added white sashing strips and I added the trunks. I did not like the way the quilt just ended at the white edges. I was able to use scrap strips from the trees for an inner border, but the only the dark ones looked good. They were sewn in hunks, whatever was left, randomly. For the outside border, I wanted cheery but calmer than a Christmas print. I found a beautiful red bubble batik in the stash. I only had 1" WOF left over after cutting  5" strips.

There was an oops wrong value strip at the top I saw after sewn,
so I had to rip and change out for the green above it.

     I have absolutely no idea when I will be able to quilt it. I do have the backing and need to sew that together to show. I feel guilty, but I am keeping this one. I have always wanted a Christmas quilt. It is about 69" x 81".

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Zig zag Comfort

      Somehow someone found my blog and asked for a comfort quilt as they were a cancer patient. I did have a top, but it wasn't quilted. I had just finished two other comfort quilts and gifted them recently, so I was not on top of it. I put holiday stuff aside, finished my cards and got the quilt quilted, made the bag, card and pocket quilt and it went out in the mail yesterday. Whew. Exhausted. I am hopeful the package will reach her before Christmas and give some much needed comfort. The quilt was one I finished at a quilt retreat in November. 

     I used Masterquilt blue thread on the top, gray DecoBob in the bobbin. The backing fabric is another present from Gwen, and is the smoothest, nicest fabric ever- from Art Gallery. Broken polka dot binding. Almost had it done and the tension went south with two rows to go. I am pretty worn out trying to figure out the longarm thing. I don't know why this happens, I am scrupulous with cleaning, oiling, checking, etc and this happens repeatedly so I approach quilting with a pit in my stomach. I have made a list of all I do to keep it consistent and can't figure it out. I don't know whether to sell the machine or really what to do. I did finish the quilt, but there were tears, not of joy.


Back, the nicest fabric ever, from Art Gallery, seamed pretty good for me


The tote bag, made the pocket from scraps, cards and stuff in pocket

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Cards to the finish

      Since I was 19 I have been making my own Christmas cards. I have used many different methods and somehow the list grows longer every year. I did silk screening for a while. When I retired, I dusted off my watercolors and renewed my love of working with them.

     What looks good in one or two, once you have to make over 100 of them, things get difficult. One year I made color copies of my watercolor for the cards. No one was happy. Every year I vow I won't do it again and I start to hear the "can't wait for your card" remarks and cave. This year, I painted and made over 100 and mailed them out. This is why there are no decorations up at my house. They were all mailed out this week and others hand delivered. It was a marathon.

     I paint mostly with Winsor Newton paints, some Holbeins. I use Arches 140 Cold Press Bright White paper. It is the best for painting as it is all rag and can be wiped out and repainted. I painted the trees after the backgrounds were dry and then spattered white acrylic with a kid toothbrush for snow. Then I cut the trees in between. Then I glued them all on premade cards that I buy at Joanns with coupons. I used printed labels and Christmas stamps. Then I had a big glass of wine...or two.

First, I painted the background. I was going for a Northern Lights look. Someday, I hope to actually experience them. I love them.
Individual Cards, some different sizes, ideas

Pile of completed cards

Friday, December 4, 2020

Vintage Churndashes Done

      A while back, someone from my painting class gave me a slew of different blocks. There was enough churndashes plus two I made to make a quilt. I posted about the blocks being part of a exchange. I finally was able to quilt it. My quilting is far from perfect. I used circle rulers in the border and I had a terrible time quilting near the leader grips with them. I had some scrap of green vintage looking print that I used for the binding.

     This was going to be a comfort quilt, but the person who gave me the blocks wants the quilt, so that is what happens.

Vintage postmarks fabric seemed just right

Still yellow chalk dust marking the quilting lines

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Looking to frame it all

      The Christmas trees are all sewn together with their trunks. I will sew a 3" finished white border around the whole thing. Then I need some kind of color border. Narrow or wide? Colors? How much print? Scrappy? Blocks? I bought backing- an angel panel and pine needle branches packed tight.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Tree farm grows

      The Christmas Tree farm quilt continues. After making some trial blocks, I went all out and finished nine of them. 

      Then I laid out all three red trees, each on its own cardboard tray, and sewed them. I cut the corners before sewing with the Mini Simple Folded Corners template- I can't sew on those diagonal drawn lines straight and I can't draw the lines on the fabric with the fabric moving all around on me. Using that template has revolutionized my sewing of flipped corners.

     Finally, I could lay out all the trees as per the free pattern from Moda.


     However, I did not like the way the bottom points of the trees had no breathing room between trees. I did not like no breathing room between rows. So, I sewed a 2" white strip between the trees on the top row to see if I like it better. Yes. Then I tried some trunks for the trees thinking it would look too phoney, but, hey, I like it. I have laid out different brown scraps for the trunks and need to figure out the length of the 2" white strips to see between the tree rows. I will put a wider white border around them all, but I am also thinking of a print border, not sure if I have enough quantity of Christmas fabric to do that, but I will have to figure it out.