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Quilts From the American Homefront – A Review

Last month I added another fabric swatch to my “quilt of life.” I’ve joined the Quilts of Valor quilters. For those of you who don’t know about this organization, they provide quilts to veterans, and those currently serving who have been in combat situations. It is a perfect way to show our gratitude to those who served for us.

When I met up with Barbara Nessle, the Oklahoma state coordinator she loaned me the book, QUILTS FROM THE AMERICAN HOMEFRONT, by Rosemary Youngs.

The book is a compilation of letters from or too those serving in World War II. Some of the letters are from loved ones here at home, while others were from, or to, girls they’d met before leaving the US.

Each set of stories and quilt blocks has a short introduction to the letter writers. There are 121 letters, with accompanying original quilt blocks designed by Rosemary.

It is easy to become absorbed in the letters and forget about the quilt blocks. Each letter gives us a glimpse into what life was like during those days. Once all the letters have been read, it’s time to look at the blocks.

The book doesn’t contain any patterns or templates, however the author does give good instructions for making templates. However, using the templates limits the size of the blocks. If you want larger or smaller (why?) blocks you’re on your own.

Except, can be made using traditional patterns. such as the one titled, Simply Beautiful.  This block was designed for a letter that jumps from subject to subject. The block appears to be a variation of the Drunkard’s Path block. Except, instead of using just two fabrics, it’s designed to use four. Of course, the placement of the blocks is also different, giving it a completely new look.

There are a few other blocks that look like they could be constructed using patterns from traditional blocks.

In addition there are over 25 blocks that are simply squares, rectangles, and half-square triangles.

I’m looking forward to making a few of these blocks once I get a few of my back-logged projects finished. And, of course, finish the Christmas sewing. Which means these blocks probably won’t be being made until after the new year. But, it does give me something to look forward to.

How about you? Have you read any quilt related books recently?

Do you prefer books have templates you can use, or do you prefer to make your own?

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Mother’s Day Reading Gift Ideas

Writer? Quilter? What am I? Both, and a few other descriptions also fit. As most of you know, this blog struggles to find its identity. Is it about writing? Is it about quilting? Is it about my faith?

In truth, it’s a little of all three, I just haven’t found the right formula for it yet. Today I’m sharing some great reads for you. Mother’s Day is coming, and what better gift than a book, something that will allow her to transport herself to another time, and/or place, relax and be entertained all while staying and taking care of her family. It’s the perfect gift.

Of course, shopping in the quilt store is a fantastic option. However, books are a close second. If the mother in your life doesn’t quilt, the book moves up to first place.  Here are some book ideas for  you to consider:

Devoted to Quilting (mine, imagine how it got on the list) = a collection of quilt stories. Each story includes a Bible verse and prayer, making it a perfect devotional. It is also just a fun read, and educational since each story also includes a quilting/sewing tip. You can see the picture of it on my side bar.

Devoted to Quilting 2 (mine again, surprise, surprise) – More quilt stories. This one has more quilts from friends and fewer family quilts. Otherwise it’s much like the first Devoted to Quilting.

Romance, The Spice of Life. Not mine, but I do have a story in it. This is an anthology, a collection of short stories. Like a good meal, life needs a little spice to make it amazing, and romance is the perfect spice. There are six genres included, romantic suspense, nostalgic romance, inspiration romance, paranormal romance, historical romance (ahem), and a contemporary romance. The mother in your life is sure to have a favorite genre represented, and she’ll love all the stories.

Grave Secrets, by Linda Trout. A baby disappears. A husband murdered. Sara Adams searches frantically for her infant daughter and must turn to insurance investigator Morgan Daniels. Except, Daniels is sure Sara murdered her husband. Will helping Sara find her daughter also help him prove she murdered her husband? Will helping her prove her innocence and uncover the real killer? On top of all that the man is devastatingly handsome. Sarah must be careful.


Preserving Family Legends, M. Carolyn Steele.  There was a time when family lore was passed down from one generation to the next. It was a form of entertainment as well as education for the younger family members. However, life has changed, and many of those family legends are left gathering dust in the attic of life. Carolyn’s books helps us not only find those stories, but write them in an entertaining fashion for our children and grandchildren. It must be entertaining, both for the reader and the writer, after all who wants to write, much less read, a laundry list of marriages, births, divorces, and death?

Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge, Gloria Teague. A nostalgic look of growing up in the fifties in Tennessee. Although, the setting could of been anywhere in the United States, the stories revolve more around the people and the experiences of one little girl between four and five years old. If you grew up in the fifties you’ll love this book for the memories it invokes. Because, really, who hasn’t done the “switch dance?” If you weren’t lucky enough to grow up in the fifties you’ll love this look back at a different time and way of life. Each story stands alone, and the book can be read in snatches of time if necessary. However, Gloria weaves such entertaining, and exciting tales that you’ll find yourself flipping to the next story rather than putting the book down.

Navajo Rose, Kat O’Reilly, the pen name of  Jen Nipps.  From the back of the book :

“Antiquities poachers send Native American arts’ enthusiast Paige Douglas the Navajo Rose, a stolen tribal artifact. Can she trust Ricky, her high school crush, to help her return it? For that matter, can she trust herself around him?

Detective Richard Travis is determined to help Paige return the Navajo Rose in spite of — or perhaps because of — his growing attraction to her. But can he do it while maintaining his professional integrity and reining in his libido? And what if he can’t let her go when they’re done?”

 

 

Wilda’sOutlaw, Velda Brotherton. From the back of the book:”Calder Raines and his outlaw gang may be more than Wilda Duncan bargained for. All she wants is to escape an unwanted marriage, but she finds herself in the arms of a tantalizing man whose warm kisses arouse a storm of forbidden desires. Calder never wanted to rob banks, but it’s a family tradition. When he embraces the alluring redhead, passion conquers good sense and he imagines a life he cannot have. Will Calder return her to the man she is to marry before she gets hurt? Can Wilda set things right and prevent Calder’s arrest?”


 

 


What is a Longarm?

What is a Long arm?

When I first heard the term my mind went silly. A person (most likely a woman) sitting in a chair with arms that reached down to the floor. Or she could be standing, flat-footed and changing the light-bulb on a nine-foot ceiling.

Purhaps the comics I read as a child left that mental image for me. Comics like the Elongated Man. Although, I don’t remember reading about him. My memory conjured up “Rubber Man” or “Elastic Man,” I didn’t even think of “Plastic Man” which apparently was a real comic according to the cool blogger over at LEFT AND WRITE blog. Back when the A to Zers were on the letter “e” he wrote about the Elongated Man, how would you like to have THAT name as a super hero? He mentioned the Plastic Man, but said nothing about the Rubber Man or the Elastic Man, guess my brain just made them up.

All of that to say, that is not what a long-arm means.

Longarm doesn’t refer to the quilter (man or woman) at all. Instead it refers to the sewing machine.  Most sewing machines are 9-12 inches between the needle and the body of the machine, the longarm machine has 18-26 inches (I think those numbers are right) making it easier to quilt.

Most longarm machines are mounted on a frame holding the quilt. The machine is moved along the quilt to do the stitching rather than moving the fabric. These machines are BIG and require space, not to mention they are also expensive. Two reasons most quilters send their quilts out to be quilted, it’s cheaper and more space saving than owning their own longarm machine.

There are longarm machines that can be placed on a table allowing the quilter to sit, and move the quilt sandwich under the needle to do the quilting. These machines are less expensive (although still pricey) and take up less space.

Many quilters purchased their longarm to build a home-based business. It gave them a way to earn money while staying at home, and allowed local quilters a way to have their projects machine quilted locally.

It’s also possible the men in the quilt world is a direct result of the longarm machine. After all, it’s just a big power tool. I have no proof, just my opinion.

Now you know, a longarm is not a strange person, but a very handy machine. Do you have a longarm machine? How do you get your quilts quilted?

Linking up with Blogging A to Z :

And, the Ultimate Blog Challenge:

Quilters are NOT Hoarders

Today, from A to Z blogging is the letter H.

Hope

Help

Harmony

Holes

Hand stitching

Hold

Heart

Hoarding

Hoarders

Just a few of the many quilt-related words beginning with H.

Wait! Hoarding and hoarders?

Yes, hording and hoarders. Now, mind you, we don’t think we’re hoarding and we certainly don’t think of our fellow quilt enthusiasts as hoarders. However, our friends, family, and strangers see our over-flowing supply of fabric (let’s not get into threads, machines, and other accessories) as the “makings of a hoarder.”

They are wrong. Every piece of fabric in our possession has a purpose. We may not know what the purpose is when we save or purchase the fabric, but we know there is one.

Some quilters will limit their fabric selection size. Some only purchase precuts, those cute 5 1/2 to 10 1/2 inch squares, the long 2 1/2 inch strips, or fat quarters.

Me? I’ll buy whole yardage, two to five yards of a fabric I like. Of course, I also sew clothes and other projects which take more than a precut.

Others limit the size of fabric they’ll save. My quilting friend Mary, throws out anything smaller than 2 1/2 inches. She says, “I’m not messing with anything smaller.”

Me? If I think I can sew it, or fuse it, it gets saved. This sometimes leads to me saving scraps I know in my heart will never be used. I’m working on culling those teeny-tiny pieces from my collection. Although, quilters who enjoy string quilts probably use every last scrap, regardless of the size.

I recently went through my tub of scraps. Okay, one of my tubs. After pulling out several pieces for a class I’m teaching, more for a stalled project,  and a few more for improv blocks, I’m still left with a full tub of scraps.

Scrap collage 4-9-13 blog post

I even tossed out some of those teeny-tiny pieces. Still, the tub is full. Although, it’s not quite as packed as before.

No, quilters are not hoarders. Ever scrap of fabric has a purpose. I promise.

Quilting Groups

Today’s post  brought to you by the letter G for the Blogging A to Z Challenge.

Quilt guilds and groups are great for learning, sharing, and girl time. I love the my guild, and visit a couple of others regularly.

For many years I didn’t attend, or even know there were quilt guild nearby. Back in  the early seventies when I first tried quilting I had no idea there was such a thing as a quilt group.

My local library didn’t have any books on quilting, and the librarian was less than helpful. When I asked for a book on how to make a quilt, she responded, “we don’t have one, when you get one made you can write one.”

Right. I didn’t have a clue how to make a quilt, and she thought I could write a book? I think she was being sarcastic because I’d asked for something not in the library, and something she saw as useless or unnecessary.

Even if there had been a quilt group or guild, I doubt I’d have gone. Back in those days, teenage girls weren’t always accepted in women’s groups.

I made that first horrendous quilt top, and didn’t try again for several years. While in college, and for the first several years of married life I contented myself with collecting quilt magazines and patterns.

When I once again ventured into quilt making I still didn’t know of a local quilt group. When I learned there was one in our small community, I didn’t join, I felt too young and in adequate around the older skilled women. It wasn’t until after all the kids were grown, and married that I ventured into a quilt meeting.

In addition to the Material Girls Quilt Guild, in Allen Oklahoma, I often visit the Stuart Quilters, and a Bernia club in Oklahoma City. Sometimes, I visit other small quilting groups in the area.

Not all clubs are large, or structured. A quilting group in McAlester has 5 members, there are no dues, no business meetings, they just get together every Tuesday and hand quilt for themselves, friends, or others who ask. They don’t put the quilt top together, they just quilt. There are a group of ladies near Ardmore that gather in the home of one lady and she teaches them about quilting. Again, no dues, or structure, just fellowship, learning, and sewing.

Do you belong to a quilt group (or other group if you aren’t, gasp, a quilter?)

Also linking up with The Ultimate Blog Challenge.

 

Patchwork Living

Nin 2011.jpgWhat do I want to be when I grow up? Hmm.

I hated that question then and I’m not overly fond of it now. What do I want to do? What do I want to be?

So far I’ve been published in three books, DEVOTED TO QUILTING and  DEVOTED TO QUILTING 2, which combines my love of quilts, and quilting with writing and meditation. I also have a story in the anthology, ROMANCE THE SPICE OF LIFE. It looks like I’m making progress as a writer. Now, about that quilting and inspirational speaking….continue reading

Christmas Stories – Celebrating Christmas

Here are a couple of Christmas stories for your reading pleasure. I didn’t write either of them, but enjoy both of the. The first story, doesn’t have a title as far as I know, it is from fellow author Janet Brown‘s blog, she received it from her daughter who had received it in an email. As Janet said on her blog, many of you may have received and read the story. It’s such a sweet story she posted it for those of us who hadn’t read it, and I’m paying it forward. Enjoy.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church In suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw Their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19 a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church, his heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth
with exquisite work, fine colors and a cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into It there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria .

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten “The Tablecloth”. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria .

When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the Spirit were great. At the end of the service, the Pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story – submitted by Pastor Rob Reid
who says God does work in mysterious ways.

 

This second story is actually a poem by Helen Steiner Rice. I first heard it, years ago, performed by Grandpa Jones. You can hear it here. You can find more of her poems, here.

The Christmas Guest

It happened one day at the year’s white end,
Two neighbors called on an old-time friend

And they found his shop so meager and mean,
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green,

And Conrad was sitting with face a-shine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine

And said, “Old friends, at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away,

The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said, ‘I am coming your guest to be’.

So I’ve been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir,

The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined,

And now I will wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear

His step as He nears my humble place,
And I open the door and look in His face. . .”

So his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known,

For, long since, his family had passed away
And Conrad has spent a sad Christmas Day.

But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best,

And he listened with only joy in his heart.
And with every sound he would rise with a start

And look for the Lord to be standing there
In answer to his earnest prayer

So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all that he saw on the snow-covered ground

Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.

So Conrad was touched and went to the door
And he said, “Your feet must be frozen and sore,

And I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that will keep you warmer, too.”

So with grateful heart the man went away,
But as Conrad noticed the time of day

He wondered what made the dear Lord so late
And how much longer he’d have to wait,

When he heard a knock and ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more,

A bent, old crone with a shawl of black,
A bundle of faggots piled on her back.

She asked for only a place to rest,
But that was reserved for Conrad’s Great Guest.

But her voice seemed to plead, “Don’t send me away
Let me rest awhile on Christmas day.”

So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sip.

But after she left he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were passing away

And the Lord had not come as He said He would,
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.

When out of the stillness he heard a cry,
“Please help me and tell me where am I.”

So again he opened his friendly door
And stood disappointed as twice before,

It was only a child who had wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day. .

Again Conrad’s heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he should make this little child glad,

So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted her childish fears.

Then he led her back to her home once more
But as he entered his own darkened door,

He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away.

So he went to his room and knelt down to pray
And he said, “Dear Lord, why did you delay,

What kept You from coming to call on me,
For I wanted so much Your face to see. . .”

When soft in the silence a voice he heard,
“Lift up your head for I kept My word–

Three times My shadow crossed your floor–
Three times I came to your lonely door–

For I was the beggar with bruised, cold feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
And I was the child on the homeless street.”

Helen Steiner Rice

Hope you enjoyed the stories. Have a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah.