Friday, October 28, 2011

Here's Grandma

My previous post was all about my grandmother, but (duh!) I didn't even think to include a picture of her!! Ridiculous!

Here's my pretty Grandma earlier this month at the big celebration we had for my mother's 75th birthday. Grandma stayed all afternoon and had such a good time. She enjoyed so much getting the chance to visit with relatives and friends.

She and Grandpa had six children -- my mother is the second. Their 4th child died in infancy and the remaining 5 have given her 15 grandchildren, of whom I am the oldest.  We 15 grandchildren have grown the family with (I think) 26 great-grandchildren, and we can add 5 great-great grandchildren. What a clan!

Grandma made clothes for the children and herself, and also made household necessities like curtains and pillows and aprons. Of course, what she enjoyed most of all, though, was making quilts. She began quilting in the 1930s and continued into the 2000s - I would say it's just been in the last 4 or 5 years that she's lost interest in it. So that's 70 years of quiltmaking - the old-fashioned way. She could crank them out pretty darn fast, too. And she was a stickler for small stitches and accurate cutting on the grain. She would not use pieces that were cut off-grain, and I've known her to remove stitches if they weren't up her standard.

And, so there. You have now met my grandma, one of the most special ladies in all the world. She is a treasure and a blessing to me!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Under Grandma's Bed

That's a provocative title, isn't it now? *grin*

Let me tell you a little story. Who knows, by the time I finish, it might be a rather long story. We shall see...

On Sunday afternoon, I drove over to Hillsboro to visit my 94-year-old grandma. It is my custom to go about once a week; usually DH goes along with me, and occasionally one of the kids, if any of them happen to be around. This time, however, I was all by myself. Grandma still lives on her own, in her own house, and is in such great shape for all of her years. My mother, and an aunt and uncle check on her daily, and another aunt and uncle visit her every couple of weeks. Right now an aunt from Kansas is visiting, so there's lots of family around and she gets regular attention.

Grandma is the one I credit for fostering my love of quilting. For as long as I can remember, a quilting frame was set up in her house, with a quilt stretched across it. I don't remember having a particular interest, though, until I was in college. At that time, I came to have a couple of miscellaneous boxes from my mother, one of which contained quilt squares that she (Mom) had appliqued. I conspired with Grandma to finish a quilt of those squares -- I sewed the top together, and Grandma quilted it, and I gave it to Mom as a gift. There were at least 2 sets of squares -- the other set was embroidered.

So with that, my interest in quilting began, and Grandma and I have become so close as a result. I always had someone I could consult with questions and she always had someone who would "oooh and ahhh" over her many creations. We went fabric shopping together; she always shook her head in a "tsk-tsk" sort of way when I would buy more (and more and more) fabric. We perused books together. Whenever I got a new book or fabric, I always brought it with me to show her. I frequently bought 2 or 3 fat quarters - usually blue - to give her as little surprises. She went through a couple of rough patches with her health and the fabric seemed to bring her some cheer.

All the quilts Grandma ever made were handmade, from cutting out with scissors and templates to piecing to quilting. Nothing was done by machine with the possible exception of attaching a binding. (Generally, though, she cut her backs large enough to be folded around to the front and tacked down for binding.)

But, I digress! While visiting on Sunday, I asked Grandma if I could look in her box of quilting templates for some that I might borrow to use on the handquilting projects I currently have in progress. She keeps her templates in a large 'under-the-bed' storage box in her spare bedroom. This room also houses what remains of her quilting material in the closet, under the bed and in a few drawers of a desk. The templates were in a box under the bed along with 3 other boxes.

I suppose you can't guess what I brought home with me, can you?? Yes, Grandma had me pull out all four boxes from under the bed with instructions to just take them with me. First, though, we went through them to see what all was stored there.

Now, I will share with you the contents. It's mostly uninteresting, but a couple of things make it extraordinary.

First, the small square-ish box contained all embroidery-related materials, including a variety of DMC thread, quite a lot of stamped fabrics, and a few patterns.

Some of the pieces had been started on. This is a really long piece of fabric that looks like it might be meant for going on a bed.

A goodly sum of DMC - by the box even. The original owner of this stash was planning on making a bedspread with that pretty blue and teal. I found the pattern and the fabric, so someone could pick right up on this and finish it off, if they were so inclined. (At present, I am not.)

Here is a sampling of the patterns. They look in pretty decent shape for being stored away for so long. I did not get a clear date off of anything in this box, but I did find a rather telling price sticker on one item.

The funny thing about all of this? Grandma had no idea where that stuff had come from, who gave it to her or when she got it. As we were putting it all away, I noticed a mailing label on the box. I showed it to her. Ah-ha! Suddenly, a light bulb flickered on and she completely remembered its origin. Back when she volunteered at the local hospital, a woman who worked with her there had given it to her. The name on the mailing label was all she needed to recall the details. See? I told you she was in good shape!

Okay, the other boxes... one was full of batting pieces; ends that get cut off when they are too big for the quilt and so forth.

Grandma has always been meticulously organized. She has a spot for everything, and everything is always in its spot. This next picture will very definitely prove my point.

This box contains all solid fabrics. I'm thinking what a cool 9-patch quilt I could make with this stuff!! Look there in the corner of the box - a box within a box. That's how Grandma worked on projects. She'd get her pieces set up in a sturdy little box, and work out of it - it was portable this way.

The cut-out pieces on the right are for Sunbonnet Sue blocks; Grandma made lots of these over the years.

There are over 50 dresses cut out here. Look at the wonderful variety. All cut out one at a time by Grandma.

Finally, the box I was originally interested in - the one with the quilting templates.

Jackpot!! Most are the plastic templates readily available today. However, buried down in this box is an antique.
This template is a homemade one out of stiff cardboard, made by my great-grandmother, Grandma's mother.

Grandma estimated for me that this was made in the mid-to-late 1930s. She based this on the births of her first 3 children, and recalling times when they were babies and she would quilt with her mother. Can you see how worn the edges of the cardboard are? I know Grandma used this template on many a border; I suspect I even have a few quilts on which this border template was used.

Well, there you have it, my "little story." I knew it would turn out to be a lot longer than I thought it would.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yummy Treat

Quilting friends from Frankfort came over last Friday morning for our bi-weekly get together. JoAnn was missing in action - can you believe she preferred Ireland to my humble abode? Well, I guess just this once that's an excusable absence. *grin*

Our stitching was rather ordinary stuff. Sheryll and Terry both worked on embroidery. Sharon worked on her patriotic wall hanging, and I quilted on my brown and pink quilt. And guess what?? I have no pictures of any of that.

What I can share, however are the sticky rolls I served. This delicious concoction is the easiest, most inexpensive recipe I have ever seen, and the results do not disappoint. I found it on Pinterest, a really incredible website I've recently discovered. If you aren't pinning, you are missing out on some great fun!

Okay, back to the sticky rolls. The ingredients are simple: 2 tubes of buttermilk biscuits - I buy the cheaper store brands, and not the name brands.

Also, you need 1/2 cup of corn syrup, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and nuts. The recipe calls for pecans and almonds, but I have used walnuts. I believe the amount totals 1/2 cup, but you know I added more. Or none, for that matter.

So, mix the corn syrup and the butter together in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Drizzle about half of the syrup mix into the bottom of a ring pan and then about half of the nut mixture. Next, arrange the 20 biscuits on edge around the ring. Then sprinkle the remaining nut mixture and syrup mixture. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Let sit for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a serving platter. Then dive in!!

Here's my helping, along with a cup of coffee in my favorite souvenir mug. Ahh, what an easy delicacy.

Like I said, I found this recipe on Pinterest. There are dozens of recipes there, along with countless other ideas: DIYs, home decorating, gift-giving, gardening, travel, books, you name it, Pinterest has it!

Hope you will look me up on Pinterest! Over there at the top of my sidebar, you'll find a link.  I warn you, though--it's addicting!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Calloused Fingers

While I have officially become an absentee blogger, I have still managed to eke out a few minutes here and there to stitch. I expect there are cobwebs forming in my sewing room, as I've barely darkened the door up there. Downstairs,  however, I have my quilting frame set up and have used evenings for quilting.

Back at the beginning of October, I brought out the brown and pink lap quilt (which had been on the frame - untouched - for a year). I needed it for the history day demonstration. Instead of putting it away again (what I did last year!), I've just kept it out and bit by bit, I am getting very close to a finish on this! Yippee! I have calloused fingers to show for it, too.

So, with grading essays taking up so much of my time, I have just a thread (pun intended) of quilting to hang onto. There's really not much to blog about! I will likely remain infrequent in my blogging until fall quarter is over. Aaahhhh, I do look forward to a day in about a month when Sharon and I have scheduled to meet for sewing, like we did all spring and summer. Also, another friend usually does an "event" on or near Veterans' Day, and I even know what I will work on for that, if she has it again this year.

I did get a squishy envelop in the mail a week or so back. It was from one of my blog commenters who sent a package of scraps for Amie's postage stamp quilt. How nice. This is the 2nd reader/follower who has done this! (Here's the first.) Amie will certainly have a diverse group of donors when she finishes up this long-term project. (Read about it here.)

A mish-mash of colors and styles! Perfect for the scrappy look Amie is going for with her endeavor. I must get these in the mail to her ASAP.

An odd occurrence appeared in the sky to our south about a week ago. It looked like a rainbow, but it was neither sunny nor rainy where we were. I was driving home, but managed to grab my camera and shoot a couple of pictures of it when I slowed down for curves. (Tsk, tsk! Taking pics while driving! I would admonish my children for doing this!)

It looked like fire on the horizon. Very cool, and I'm glad at least one of my pictures shows it in a half-decent way.

This Friday, I am hosting the Frankfort girls for quilting. I already know the dish I am preparing for them. I've experimented twice with it for my family and it's getting big thumbs up. I will share with you bloggers, I promise.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Every Other Friday

That's how often the Frankfort girls get together for stitching, coffee and conversation. I always have such a great time with these girls, and look forward to our little events. This past Friday we were at JoAnn's who had to play hostess on her birthday! It was the first time since Sharon's toe surgery that she's been mobile enough to get out, so we celebrated not only a birthday, but mobility as well.

JoAnn was hand-embroidering some of the elements on this fall wall-hanging. Doesn't it look fun? Very playful. I wish I would think to do projects like this. I make quilts and table-toppers. Period. I really think this will be adorable when finished.

Sheryll has another neat embroidery project under way. I tend to shy away from so much handwork, but Sheryll doesn't let the time-consuming nature of handwork intimidate her at all. She does so much and does it so beautifully.

This is one panel of three that will go on a primarily black and beige quilt with a wintery look to it. I really like it, but oh! do I really have the stamina for embroidery?? I just don't know!

And dear Sharon of toe surgery fame continues to work on her patriotic wall hanging.

For most of us, we keep the projects for Friday just for Friday! If we aren't prone to having handwork readily available, we save the one for our get togethers only. So, don't be fooled - Sharon gets lots of other stuff done and works on this only when we girls are together.

Terry brought pictures of her son's wedding, and instead of sewing, she sorted and organized the pictures for scrapbooking and sharing. The pictures were plentiful, so the sorting job was involved. The wedding was on the bride's family farm, with cornfields in the background, straw bales for seating and cowboy hats on the groomsmen. Except for the heat, the day looked like it went well.

I worked on my Schnibbles wall hanging. It is completely quilted in the center; I am now deciding how to quilt the borders.

Next post, I will share the fun we had celebrating my mother's 75th birthday. We had a huge surprise party for her. Such a fun day...stay tuned!!

Happy quilting, friends!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Last night I traveled to Hillsboro, my hometown, to celebrate with my 4 siblings and various in-laws, nieces and nephews. What were we celebrating??

My mother's 75th birthday!!

Doesn't she look great? We had such a fun evening. We met at LaCascada, a really yummy Mexican restaurant in Hillsboro. Mom had a couple of margaritas (several of us did!), and she was quite happy as the event drew to a close. *wink* She really had a good time! Well, we all did! It is such great fun to have us all together.

I haven't sewn a stitch since Saturday's event at History Day. No, I take that back...I did sit down at the machine and began constructing the star blocks on the French General Stars I've started. Did about 20 minutes of chain piecing...Minimal sewing, then...

 I do have quilting with the Frankfort girls this week - Friday morning. I plan to hand quilt on one of my Schnibbles.

Happy quilting, Friends!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hello October!

A few days ago, we had some really strange weather here. A very pronounced cold front moved through, dipping temps well below normal, bringing rain and wind and clouds with it.

Conditions just perfect for a rainbow. This was the best picture of the dozen I took. Chasing rainbows is not all I've been up to lately however. I've been bitten by a new bug - Pinterest. Have you discovered it? Let me just say I now know what addiction is.

But I digress .  .  .  just looking over there at the tally of posts month by month, it's plain to see that I really have backed off on blogging. And I really don't want to, but it's just this crazy time of year - fall quarter, grading essays, outside obligations that force blogging way down on the to-do list.

Today, that outside obligation was Greenfield's History Day, sponsored by the Historical Society - that same historical society that I worked with this summer on the pictorial book. History Day is an annual event which opens all or most of the buildings owned by the historical society. Folks come in to see the society's holdings and special displays. Artisans and crafters also demonstrate their expertise. Yours truly was on hand to demonstrate hand quilting.

It was a wonderful day; I visited with so many people who shared stories and memories about the quilters in their families. A few folks came by who themselves were quilters. And the bonus? I got a whole lot of quilting done on this year-plus-old quilt.

I have some extremely sore fingers as a result of quilting all day. I began at 9am and finished up around 3:30. Fingers look like mince meat. *owie*

It's hard to make time for blogging, but I am still trying to get as much quilting done as I can in what time I have available.

Happy quilting, Friends!