Autumn’s Tug

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An almost perceivable shift of focus,
gentle push from a cool breeze, a Lake Superior blue sky,
a slowing quiet saying it’s time

To turn south.

The memory of autumn hues,
scent and sound of earth moving towards hibernation
etched upon my mind urging me to stay

One more day.

 

Jamie Dedes posted her Wednesday Writing Prompt with the poem “autumn promises.” In Michigan July is summer, and it has been delightful with not too hot temperatures, low humidity and cool nights. My flower garden is at peek blooming. I usually don’t long for autumn rituals this early in the summer. It isn’t until August that the dog-days of summer heat set in and I hear the call of autumn’s promises. But I have been feeling that gentle nudge for about a week to start thinking about going south. As I move into October, however, I know I will once again feel the conflict of wanting to experience just one more day of autumn before we migrate south.

 

With a Little Help

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Our middle child visited us in May. Our grandson and his family were also visiting and she wanted to meet his wife and her son, and their baby daughter. She wants to be involved with her nephews and nieces but now that she lives in Texas and the nephews are in their late 20’s with adult responsibilities they don’t get together very often. It was a fun time having all of them in the house.

After grandson and family left, I showed our daughter the lap quilt I was ready to layer and machine quilt and she said she really liked it. I told her she could have it… or she could pick out fabric and we could make one for her. Her eyes lit up and we got busy going through my stash picking out fabrics she liked. Of course we had to make a trip to the quilt fabric store to round out the palette and I suggested we go south to Tecumseh because it has a great store and there is a nice little English Tea Room that has great lunches. Oh, did we have fun.

We made the quilt together, me cutting pieces and she laying them out using the finished top as a template. We looked, she switched pieces based on her knowledge of art, I put in an opinion or two based on my quilt-making experience, and we trust each other’s eye for color and composition. We discarded some fabrics we loved but didn’t work and made a couple of trips back to my stash to retrieve fabrics we hadn’t thought would work. I prepared them for sewing and she did the stitching. Then we “had” to make a trip to the fabric store in East Lansing to pick out the border and backing. The top was all pieced by the time she left. I have quilted it with a cotton flannel batting for the hot south Texas climate and now I have it boxed and ready to ship today.

I hope she takes it out of the box carefully because her dad added a secret surprise for her to find. He has been so excited because there is a story behind it – if she takes a photo and sends it to me I will share the rest it in a post. My surprise for her is that she will have to finish the hand sewing of the binding. I started but the arthritis in my thumb made it painful sewing. It truly is a collaborative quilt.

I keep thinking that I am in the best period of my life, now that I am in my 70’s. I have great grandchildren to fulfill my baby/toddler cravings and grandchildren from twelve to late twenties. I treasure my relationships with all of them, but my greatest treasures are my adult children and spouses. Our three children are all fifty-ish and are great people, the kind of people I like having as friends (as are the spouses). They are very different but each enriches my life in a special way. Now that they have total responsibility for making their life choices, we are freed to enjoy time creating fun life memories. It is the best time of my life.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Patterns… and Quilts

When I saw Cee’s challenge this week is patterns, I thought of the many photos I have that show patterns in nature. I almost started putting together that post, but I felt a strong pull towards a different kind of pattern – the pattern that develops when small pieces of fabric are sewn together into a quilt top.

This pattern is called Contrary Wife. I wrote about how making this was a healing project; you can read about it here. What I love about this quilt pattern is how, when the squares are sewn together, a secondary pattern is formed of strong, dark diagonal lines.

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This next quilt pattern is my favorite – Storm at Sea. This wall hanging is one of many variations of that pattern. When the fabric is carefully chosen and the pieces are precisely sewn together, this pattern is full of motion and curves, even though all the pieces of fabric have straight sides. I did a post on how I made this and you can read about it here.

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I made the following quilt for my daughter and a similar one for my son. They are watercolor quilts and the designs are made by hundreds of one inch squares of fabric sewn together. Wall hangings are made by putting these little pieces on a flannel board until the desired pattern is laid out. My queen sized quilts were made by sewing strips of fabric together and then cutting them crosswise strips, and sewing those strips of squares together to make blocks. The process is somewhat complex but easy, as long as measurement and sewing are precise.

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Those of you who have been following my posts on Emily’s quilt will recognize this one. I just finished piecing the top of this Log Cabin pattern. The strips are two different widths, so when blocks are sewn together a wavy pattern is formed.

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If you love patterns as much as I do, you will enjoy the other interpretations by visiting Cee at:

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Patterns

Emily’s Quilt

Granddaughter Emily turned 13 last August 2 and it was time for me to make her a quilt. She came to stay at our house so she could participate in the decision making process of beginning a quilt. She picked out the pattern she wanted me to use and we went to the quilt shop extraordinaire in East Lansing so she could pick out the fabric.

She has a really good eye for color and pattern and the only thing that stopped us from picking out a truckload of fabrics was the depth of my pockets. We had such a good time that after we went home and started cutting the strips and sewing together a few squares to see how they looked, we stopped for a few more pieces on our way to return her to her parents.

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It was soon time for Grandpa Jim and I to do our snow-bird thing so I packed up the fabric and my sewing machine. My goal was to get the top finished before I returned in the Spring so Emily would have her quilt before her 14th birthday. We are two weeks away from that northern migration.

Dear Emily,

Hi sweetheart – I am missing you so much but have been thinking of you (and your sisters) a lot because I have had your quilt fabrics on my dining table for most of the winter. I have been working on it only off and on because the going was slow – and this log cabin pattern is a bit more complicated than I expected. But last week I reached a point where I was almost finished with the squares and now I’m on a roll.

I think it is going to be every bit as beautiful as what we visualized and talked about when we were picking out the fabric. I wasn’t sure I would be able to figure out how to lay out the pieces for a twin size quilt because the pattern was for a wall hanging. It turned out to be easy and I am now changing a few outside strips to have less lime green and sewing the squares together.

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Here is a sneak preview of the squares laid out on our spare bed. Can you see how the different widths of the log cabin strips, when sewn together, create the curvy waves you like in the pattern you chose? I think your decision of having a border of the dotted fabric (the one we used for the center square) will be smashing. I’m wondering if a narrow black strip (maybe 1 inch) between the quilt top and the border would look good. What do you think? We can lay it out when you come for Easter.

I am sending you and your sisters big hugs to hold us for three more weeks.

Love, love, love and more love,

Grandma Pat

F is for Favorite Fabrics

I am making Granddaughter Emily a 13th birthday quilt and need more fabric. Picking fabrics is a creative activity that excites my soul – allowing me to be an artists. I am guessing that artists feel the same type of excitement as they are mixing colors on a pallet – working to find that perfect shade. It creates a grittiness deep in my being.

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I need to find a quilting store at my southern dot on the map. This is where I find the fabric designed by people who understand color and texture and quilting. I love pulling a bolt from the shelf and looking at the dots of color along the selvage indicating the colors used in printing. These rainbows of color intrigue me and help me as I mix my fabric colors.

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And the search begins. I start filling the cart with fabrics, stepping back to make sure they fit, that none stands out as too gray or bright or dull. I arrange them so one color family flows into another, moving bolts, exchanging with a different one, drawing from the techniques of working with color developed by Jenny Beyer. I look for different patterns to create varied and lush textures.

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I find fabrics that are so beautiful they bring tears to my eyes, they take my breath away. Sometimes I buy a length just because I can’t leave it behind, because I’m sure I will use it sometime in the future. I have many of these; the ones I take out of the bin at a later time to hold and caress, to hug close to my chest. I have the urge not to use them because they are so beautiful and I don’t want them to be gone – but how much better to use them to make something that is a more complex form of beautiful. When I use them, it is with faith that there will be new beauties to behold and bring home.

I look for a bright one, usually a yellow or orange because I know they will add a touch of sunshine warmth.

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I move around the store – to a different section looking for whimsy. These fabrics make me giggle inside when I find them in the finished quilt.

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I have a hard time stopping, because there is always one more that is perfect. My brake is adding up, in my head, how much they will cost. My pockets aren’t deep enough to take home all the joy.

I feel a glow as they are being measured and cut and stacked. I rearrange the stack as new ones are added. Before I leave for home, I arrange them on the seat next to me so I can take brief glimpses as I drive, and congratulate myself on another successful hunt.