Hard Working Hands at Rest

I’m not OK.

Oh, if you ask me I’ll say I am.  But I’m lying.

Sure I can go through the motions without crying at least some of the time.

But every now and then I’ll be driving along and suddenly be overcome with a panic and my mind screams, “MOM!

She’s not here any more. I can’t call her and tell her the funny or moving thing that only she could understand.  Half my grief is for me and half is for my Dad.

When you lose your mom, you feel like you lost the one person in the world who knew you best–the one person in the world who loved you no matter what. She knew your history.  She gave you much of it.

It’s only been a few days, but I miss her. I miss how much she loved not only me, but my husband, my son and everyone else who needed a little mothering.

I recently read that when you lose a parent, you lose your past.  When you lose a spouse, you lose your present. And when you lose a child, you lose your future.

I’m not OK with that.  But no one ever asked me if that’s OK.  No one ever promised me life would be fair.

No, I’m not OK.  I’m sure someday soon, I will be.

But I will never be the same.


God saw you were getting tired, and a cure was not to be.

So he put his arms around you and whispered, “Come with me.”

With tearful hearts we watched you fade away.

Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay.

A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.

God broke our hearts to prove to us,

He only takes the best.

–from Mom’s holy card

mom and dad

Late February

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.



When Your Quilt Needs a Time-Out

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know I participated in a polka dot fabric exchange last year.  I received 60 – 10 x 10 in. squares of polka dot fabric from all around the world.

I resolved to include them all in a quilt somehow, and managed to cobble together a tree with the fabric as leaves.

But then I had to put the quilt in a “time-out”, as a friend of mine likes to say.  Quilts need it, you know.  They become unruly, arrogant, resistant.  Or sometimes they just become passive or apathetic.  Either way, when a quilt reaches that stage of behavior, it’s time to put it in time-out.  It makes absolutely no sense to argue or to fight your way through.  The quilt needs time to find its way.

So I put it in the guest bedroom where it could have some time alone to ponder its future.

I checked on it  occasionally, offering ideas and solutions, a way out.  But the quilt obstinately refused.  “OK for you,” I would think.  And walk away again, to work on another, more cooperative project.

For months it sat, sulking, pouting, depressed even.

Then one day, shortly before Christmas, when I walked in to check on it, the quilt looked eager. Just a hint of it, you understand, but there it was:  a small little whisper of earnestness.  It had formed an idea about its future.

So I listened.

And I let the ideas float around for awhile with no pressure or desire for any of them to be successful.  Tentatively, we tried something.  And then another thing, after that.

And now, the polka dot quilt and I are moving forward together, both listening, both asserting, both with renewed vigor.

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Truth and LoveGandhi

Warble Me Now, for Joy of Lilac Time

lilacs1by Walt Whitman

WARBLE me now, for joy of Lilac-time,
Sort me, O tongue and lips, for Nature’s sake, and sweet life’s sake,
Souvenirs of earliest summer—birds’ eggs, and the first berries;
Gather the welcome signs (as children, with pebbles, or stringing shells);
Put in April and May—the hylas croaking in the ponds—the elastic air,
Bees, butterflies, the sparrow with its simple notes,
Blue-bird, and darting swallow—nor forget the high-hole flashing his golden
The tranquil sunny haze, the clinging smoke, the vapor,
Spiritual, airy insects, humming on gossamer wings,
Shimmer of waters, with fish in them—the cerulean above;
All that is jocund and sparkling—the brooks running,
The maple woods, the crisp February days, and the sugar-making;
The robin, where he hops, bright-eyed, brown-breasted,
With musical clear call at sunrise, and again at sunset,
Or flitting among the trees of the apple-orchard, building the nest of his mate;
The melted snow of March—the willow sending forth its yellow-green sprouts;
—For spring-time is here! is here! and what is this in it and from it?
Thou, Soul, unloosen’d—the restlessness after I know not what;
Come! let us lag here no longer—let us be up and away!
O for another world! O if one could but fly like a bird!
O to escape—to sail forth, as in a ship!
To glide with thee, O Soul, o’er all, in all, as a ship o’er the waters!
—Gathering these hints, these preludes—the blue sky, the grass, the morning
drops of dew;
(With additional songs—every spring will I now strike up additional songs,
Nor ever again forget, these tender days, the chants of Death as well as Life;)
The lilac-scent, the bushes, and the dark-green, heart-shaped leaves,
Wood violets, the little delicate pale blossoms called innocence,
Samples and sorts not for themselves alone, but for their atmosphere,
To tally, drench’d with them, tested by them,
Cities and artificial life, and all their sights and scenes,
My mind henceforth, and all its meditations—my recitatives,
My land, my age, my race, for once to serve, in songs,
(Sprouts, tokens ever of death indeed the same as life,)
To grace the bush I love—to sing with the birds,
A warble for joy of Lilac-time.


All the Eggs in One Basket

Egg basketI made this little basket (or bag) from the Easter egg files designed by Purely Gates.

She only works with distributors and quilt shops, so you can ask for them at your local quilt shop (or at Sew Generously if you ARE local.)

You use mylar in the hooping as an applique. The sparkle of the eggs is not showing up well in these photos because I took them with my iphone, and did not pay much attention to the light.

egg basket 2The sparkle is obvious when you view them in person and turn them toward the light.  Each egg pattern is different and distinct and the color palette and instructions are very clear.  Just be sure to purchase some mylar too.  I guarantee you’ll have some fun with this.

Here in the midwest we have a stretch of mild days ahead.  My plants are not yet showing any signs of life, but it’s early.

I have faith.

May your Easter holiday bring you the peace of knowing that even the viciousness of this past winter is not the last word, and we cannot possibly understand or anticipate the resurgence of life just by looking at the barren twigs of today. Somehow, some way, spring will come and new growth and new life will triumph.

It always has and it always will.

How Many Quilts in a Lifetime?

One of the things I hear constantly in a quilt shop is “I wish I had more time.”

Usually someone is walking around a store, inspired by the work of others, inspired by the patterns, inspired by the fabric, just plain inspired.  But what is it about quilting that brings out the lament, “I wish I had more time” ?

When I worked in a fast-paced, deadline-oriented job, I never heard those words. Never.

Something about the act of creating makes us wish we had more time.  Or maybe it makes us wish we didn’t have to ever make any decisions.

But the truth is, we all make decisions about how to spend our time. Walking around a quilt shop, looking at all the work and beauty that goes into each and every project, we come face to face with the hard reality that none of us will ever be able to do it all. We simply cannot make all the quilts, travel to all the places, have all the adventures, meet all the people, have it all, be it all, do it all.

None of us.  No matter how productive, no matter how many sewing machines, no matter how much time we devote, no matter how skilled, no matter how trained or talented, no matter how much balance or non-balance, no matter how hard we plan, or how well we implement the plan, no matter how. hard. we. try.

We cannot do it all.

And every now and then, we look at one another and while we’re in a safe place, we say the words out loud.

I wish I had more time.

On a good day, someone smiles, gives us a hug and replies, “Me too.”

Larger than queen size. finally assembled and ready to be hand-quilted.

Larger than queen size. Finally assembled and ready to be hand-quilted.





The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

twigThe temperature is dropping all day today.  By tomorrow morning, we’ll be below zero.  Not unusual for this time of year in the midwest, just a reminder that we don’t control much.

I’ve had the privilege of having a week off during these holidays, and while I’ve done some sewing and done some relaxing,  I’ve also had the chance to get out for a walk or two. I have a stunned appreciation for the beauty of nature in my immediate surroundings.

You just have to know where to look.

I ran into a coyote the other day…one of my biggest fears.  He did a mild assessment of me, and, as my husband likes to point out, he saw that I was not walking a chihuahua that would make a good lunch, and he turned away.

Nevertheless, the winter landscape never fails to leave me in awe.

I am sewing, I promise, and I’ll share some of my latest projects soon.

But for now, a brief winter interlude.

winter hikeferson creekfersoncreek2chicken soup


I am grateful for…

…family.  Immediate and extended.  Functional and dysfunctional. Near and far.

…friends.  Old and new. Tried and true and even those who think I’m the crazy one. It’s OK. They may be right.

…work.  Getting paid to do things I love, to work with my hands, to teach.

…students.  Passing along  knowledge to those eager to learn. It’s lovely.

…a roof over my head. After recent storms I am reminded – it’s a gift.

…a warm bed. Enough said.

…more food than anyone at our house will be able to eat in one day on Thanksgiving.  The abundance is embarrassing, and I’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve it.

…snow.  Giant quiet flakes or howling blowing tiny ones that swirl on the driveway.  There will come a day in a few months when this will come off the list and all I’ll be able to think about is spring.  I am grateful for that too–that every season holds its own beauty here in the midwest.

…volunteer work.  Knowing that at least I tried.

…creative outlets. Photography, painting, sewing,.  Without them I would explode.

…good books. (If you like a good mystery, start with “Still Life” by Louise Penny.  Follow it up with “A Fatal Grace”.  Both perfect for the season.)

..nature.  All of it.  From the tiniest seed to the vastness of the stars.  I don’t get it and I don’t have to.  I’m grateful just to be a part of the mystery.

…faith.  Knowing that I know nothing, and that my puny mind is not the last word.

…hope.  “Sun follows rain. Peace follows pain.”  (yikes, what a time to quote a Marie Osmond song).

..love.  Without it of course, the rest doesn’t matter.

Wishing you and yours a blessed, abundant, creative Thanksgiving. Thank you for reading this blog.


Just Like Grandma Used to Make – Almost

This time of year, I really long for some snow.  Like everyone else, I’m really sick of it by March, but late November, early December, give me a little bit of holiday cheer in the form of weather.

At a recent community supper, I was lamenting about the lack of snow and how much I wanted to see it this year and global warming, blah, blah.    A friend looked at me and said, “As long as the weather stays moderate, I can work outside.  Working outside makes for a decent income.  When weather gets cold, we need different kinds of contracts–indoor work.  And while I can still get that, it’s never enough.  The longer I can work outside, the better.”

Oh. Now I see.  (I was blind and now I see.)   I don’t need the weather outside to be frightful, even though a fire is so delightful. I’d rather see people keep their jobs and income.

As for snowflakes, I can make my own.  Grandma used to make wonderful doilies by hand, some of them no larger than the palm of your hand. I still have a few.  But times have changed a bit, and now I can make ornaments with basically the same look, only they are done on an embroidery machine.  Free-standing lace is what they are called.  No teeny tiny crochet hooks.  Though I love the look of handwork, too often, I just don’t have the time.

I used two layers of Aquamesh  Washaway stabilizer.  Once the design stitches out,  cut away the bulk of the stabilizer, and rinse the rest under warm water. It disappears almost instantly.  I prefer Aquamesh over Badgemaster, having used them both now.  Badgemaster has a gummy, gooey feel to it as it rinses and does not seem to rinse as easily.  But in a pinch, it will work just fine.

Then just lay them flat and pin them onto a piece of styrofoam.  They dry out overnight, and maintain a slight stiffness.  Whenever I do this part it reminds me of the way my mom used to wash out doilies (she made plenty of them too).  But she had to starch them to get them to hold a shape, while mine will have a slight residue of the stabilizer to keep them in their shape. It’s a little hard to see the pins in the photo, but they are essential to maintaining the shape and flatness of the ornaments.  Free standing lace embroidery is everywhere these days, and I’ve seen some gorgeous designs for the holidays.

Most of these came from a collection by OESD called Snowflake Elegance #12429.

And I guess they are still homemade, though I have been contemplating exactly what that means.  If it’s made on a machine, is it really made by hand?  When I ask myself that question, I think about what Grandma might have done if she could have gotten her hands on a machine like I have.  I think about my mom and her knitting machines.  And the question then becomes not whether or not I should make use of technology, but with my heritage, why wouldn’t I?

The Anti-Nightmare Blanket and Other Tales

Once upon a time a little boy was 3 years old when his grandfather died.  He didn’t understand much at the time, but he knew something sad had occurred.  Not much later, a friend of his family’s passed away.  By that time the little boy was 4 years old and was just beginning to understand the enormity of the loss.  He thought about it and thought about it, and one night he woke up crying.  “Mommy, mommy, I had a nightmare.  It was so scary.”  He told her he dreamt about people dying and about things chasing him. And the mom listened.

Even though she was not sure what to do,  she spent a long time talking with her little boy.  Then, together, they went to a big chain store and bought a cheesy, gaudy  fleece blanket kit, which the little boy picked out.  He sat on her lap while she sewed it together, and they continued to talk about life and death and cookies and puppies and Christmas and games and grandparents and birds in the backyard.  All the while, he watched her sew the blanket stitch by stitch. Then, together, they signed it using thread.

When night came, she tucked the little boy into bed and surrounded him with the blanket. “This is your anti-nightmare blanket. When you sleep under this blanket, you will not have any nightmares, only sweet dreams.”  And from that day forward, he did not have another nightmare. Well, at least no more than you or I ever have.

The End.









Once upon a time an elderly woman walked into a sewing store.  She looked around a bit, and started a conversation with the salesperson. “Sewing saved my life, you know,” she began.  “When I was young I was home alone very often with 4 young children.  I thought I would go crazy, I really did.  Instead, I sewed.  It saved my sanity. It saved my life.  It gave me a reason to carry on.”  The sales person listened.

“I’m 80 years old now.  My children are all grown with lives of their own.  And sewing is still giving me meaning.  When you’re 80 years old, you wonder if there’s anything you can do, when your abilities are limited.  But there is something I can do.  I can sew.  I can sew quilts for kids in the cancer wards.  I can sew for homeless shelters and for maternity wards.  I can sew.”  She smiled.

The End.


Once upon another time another woman walked into  a sewing store.  After shopping for a bit she began to speak to the sales person.  “I thought last year was rough, what with my surgery and all.  But it didn’t compare to this year. ”  And the sales person listened.

“Three weeks ago, I buried my 40 year old daughter.  She died of breast cancer, and it was a long struggle.  She left behind a husband and 3 children.”

The sales person, heart breaking, wished she had an anti-nightmare blanket for the woman.

We all need one sooner or later.

If your sewing needs meaning, here’s a place to start

Who will make the anti-nightmare blankets if we don’t make them for one another?

The End.