Saturday, December 26, 2009

So it's not a seagull, but...

Now that the gift has been given, I can post a photo. I never did figure out what I was actually remembering with the seagull kit for my aunt-in-law, but regardless, I punted and made her a tablerunner that will work on her sunporch year-round. Simple, but turned out nicely. I'm finding great benefit in tablerunners--they're a good way to reduce my stash and fast projects. Good way to practice machine quilting, too. I just have to make myself a couple now that I can keep.

Today is the day-after-one-Christmas-two-days-before the next. I'm allowing myself a partial pajama day, although we're going out to a movie later this afternoon so I'll have to get myself presentable at some point. Meanwhile I'm playing a computer game my daughter gave me yesterday and we're all regrouping. Tomorrow we'll be back into prep-day for Second Christmas, but it shouldn't be hard. The house is already relatively clean so it's just doing a little touch-up and the grocery shopping.

Today I was planning on getting the binding on the last of Mom's full-size quilts I need to finish for our family distribution, but it requires learning a new technique. I'm not sure I'm up to that--still feeling mentally fuzzy. Back to the computer game for a little bit--maybe after lunch (leftovers from Christmas dinner!) my brain will turn back on.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Manufactured Memories...Where Did That Seagull Go?

Here's a wierdism. The other night I was laying in bed thinking through Christmas gifts and who I still needed to do something for, when I had the perfect idea for one extended family member on my husband's side. "Oh--wait! Mom had that great kit of the seagull wallhanging that would be perfect for her! That wallhanging would be perfect for her cottage home by the lake!" I was so excited--I even thought through my schedule carefully to figure out when I'd have time to get it done before Christmas day. I knew Mom had probably gotten the kit to do for the cottage but I figured Mom would be just as happy seeing it used as a gift for someone who lived on the lake year-round. I had to force myself to stop thinking about it in order to drift off to sleep--the perfect gift for someone, and yet another kit off my shelf an into the world! Can't get better than that!

Two days later, I had a few minutes to spare so I decided to find the kit and look at what all was involved so I could figure out the schedule. I scurried into my office/sewing room and checked the shelf where I store the various kits I now have. Huh. Not there. I turned and pawed through my shelves holding fabric and project boxes--some random things are tucked in here and there. Nope, not there either. I proceeded to go through each shelf and stack a second time, a third time...then I trotted down to the basement to see if perchance there were still any bags of Mom's quilt stuff left own there--knowing there weren't because I'd just hauled the remainder out to a consignment store three weeks ago.

Nothing. No seagull anywhere. But the memory is still so vivid! How could I so perfectly remember holding a kit in my hands and thinking about how Mom had probably wanted to use it and deciding I'd keep it because it was pretty cute....and now it's nowhere to be found? And now, even though I'd felt a little stressed about whether I could get the project done in time for Christmas, I'm really disappointed that I apparently don't have the project to do at all!

The best I can guess--besides me somehow completely manufacturing an entire episode of my life--is that I inadvertantly mixed the kit up with the things I gave away to the consignment shop. So now I'm left with the question--do I order the kit again knowing that it would still be the perfect gift for her, even if she gets it sometime in May rather than Christmas? A much less exciting thought to keep me up at night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Digging out from under the pile of projects

I'm currently on leave from quilting, but probably only for another day or two. My incredibly productive late summer/fall came screeching to a halt when I got the last of the Christmas gifts done and only had one of Mom's quilts left to finish for the distribution that will happen the week after Christmas. At first, I needed a couple of days to reclaim my sewing space--putting piles of scrap fabric and batting away, cleaning off surfaces, de-linting the sewing machine...basically, letting the dust settle again for a bit. I never felt stressed about getting anything done--it was just continuous, almost machine-like work. I loved it. It felt great seeing the pile of UFOs on one shelf turn into the pile of completed projects on the other shelf. But when I quickly finished the last of the projects the night before my guild meeting when I'd get to display them all at show n' tell (a natural, built-in deadline!), I suddenly...just...stopped.

Then I cleaned and reorganized, which is for me a way of bringing closure and welcoming fresh beginnings, plus a way to settle my thoughts and make space for what might come.

A few days later, I went on a shop-hop with my BFF and BQF ("best quilty friend") Kate. It was a shop hop that Mom and I had made a tradition the last few years--we'd take a day in December to hit some of the Amish-owned fabric and gift stores downstate and then eat at a wonderful Amish-themed restaurant (not sure if it's actually run by Amish but boy, is that great comfort food!). Kate was a willing and eager accomplice in keeping the tradition alive. Earlier in the week I'd wondered whether I might get emotional, but strangely, I never really did. Kate had come with Mom and I once or twice, so it wasn't much of a mental transition for me to be going with Kate rather than Mom. And Kate and I loved having the day to really catch up with one another in a way that daily emails can't always cover. We talked about Mom and memories of previous trips, of course. And dang if I didn't find some of the fabrics I'd inherited from Mom on bolts in the shops--which was quite handy as I set about buying coordinating fabrics for them. As Kate said, "See, your Mom is still leaving you clues!" Yep, I came home with a stack of new fabric (although I feel the need to report that the bulk of it was on huge-a-mongous sale, just to make myself feel less guilty for posterity!).

So now, sewing room clean and organized, new fabric neatly folded, labeled, and stored, I'm feeling that breath of fresh air sweeping through my brain. I've taken a pause. I've regrouped. I've stopped focusing solely on finishing Mom's UFOs the way Mom may have wanted them finished, and I'm now reintegrating my own projects, thoughts and imagination.

That being said, Mom taught me a lot over these last few months. I'm really not exaggerating when I say that every project of Mom's that I finished either taught me a new technique, or taught me how to use a new tool or new aspect of my inherited machine. Sometimes I had no choice. Other times I was quite intentional about it: "What new thing can I try on this project?" My skills have increased significantly. More importantly, my confidence in myself as a quilter has grown hundredfold. Does it have something to do with constant practice? Most definitely. But there's a niggling little part of me that has to admit that part of it is also that I can't go running to Mom anymore to tell me how to fix things. I have to figure it out myself. And I did, consistently, figure it out myself. I tackled problems that would've been stoppers for me before. I ripped whole parts out and re-did them. I came up with creative solutions. I actually machine-quilted in a contrasting color thread so you can see the quilting--something I've never been brave enough to do before!

Now I'm finding myself pulling my own UFOs off the shelf with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. A project I'd set aside because I was afraid of ruining it with my poor machine quilting skills is now done and hanging on my wall. Other ones are sitting on deck, and I'm hankering to get at them. I'm still pondering the start of something new, but I'm apparently still in a place where I need to draw mental closure to a whole lot of unfinished business. So for now, I'm tying up loose ends.

The next six months will most likely not be nearly as productive as the last six months have been, but I'm good with that. Things are falling back into order. A rhythm is being reestablished. The hole of loss will always be there, but it's being blanketed by pretty fabric that Mom and I both loved. And that's OK.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Imagining the Past

Two more UFOs down, still a stack to go. I was on the road a lot in October but managed to have projects at a point where I could bring some with me and work on them at night after meetings. It was stress relief and productive all at once. Gotta love hitting a double.

Yesterday I brought one of the antique quilts back to the appraiser, Beth Davis--I had only gotten a verbal appraisal on it the first time around but Beth had written a note, when she sent me the written appraisals on the other two, saying she was hoping I'd decide to get a written appraisal on the Lone Star as well. Then my BQF, ("Best Quilting Friend," who in this case is a regular ol' BFF dating from my elementary school days as well), Kate mentioned to me a few weeks later that Beth had commented to her at their guild meeting that Beth hoped I'd bring the Lone Star back. It was clear the Lone Star had made an impression on her. She doesn't get enough for these appraisals for her interest to really be in the money--it truly is a passion for quilts. So I called her up and made the appointment.

That is always such a fascinating experience. You can learn so much history from a quilt. Probably only quilters would get that jazzed about the detail in the conversation, but it is just so amazing what you can learn by looking at fabric and stitches! I still don't know who made this Lone Star. It's 1940s, and neither of my aunts recognize it at all. But Mom never bought an antique quilt that any of us know of, so it has to be family. My best guess is my great-grandmother since we know for a fact she made another one I have from a few years earlier--same level of skill, but very different style, so it's hard to tell for sure. I guess her sister also quilted, so it might be the sister's instead. I'll probably never know.

What Beth could tell, though, was that this was a quilter of great skill. Lone Stars are a difficult pattern, and this was one completely hand pieced and done beautifully. All the places where the multiple seams meet lay flat--the biggest pitfall with Lone Stars. It may have been from a kit, as those were popular at that time. But it's got a very unusual color combination, one that Beth had never seen before, and the quilting pattern was also very unusual and unknown to Beth. Doesn't mean it wasn't all with the kit (many kits come with a quilting pattern), but it could equally as well be original to the quilter.

But what turned out to be the most interesting part of the conversation revolved around stains on the quilt. It's not at all unusual for antique quilts to have stains on them, but this quilt has a very unique pattern of stains. The stains all appear on one particular fabric (orange), and only where that one fabric appears in the same row all the way around the star points. Plus, it's quite obvious that the stain was in the fabric before it was pieced into the star. It looks very much like something got splashed on it--it's a watery sort of stain. Beth and I imagined all sorts of scenarios about those stains. Did the quilter--I'll call her "Q"--spill something on a stack of diamonds waiting to be pieced? Was fabric so expensive at the time that she couldn't replace it despite the stains? Are the stains a clear indication this was from a kit (since kits only include exactly the amount of fabric you need and not a thread more)--and Q had to plow ahead even though she was now using damaged fabric? Did Q even see the stains at the time, or are they something that only came out with age (and would break Qs heart now if she could see them)?

I found myself running all sorts of film reels about those stains through my head on the drive home. For some reason, the stains make my relationship to Q feel even more real. Whether it's to imagine her knocking over a drink with her elbow and getting really ticked off at herself for doing it, or to imagine her seeing the stains later and feeling heartbroken that some things just go wrong no matter how you try to avoid it, I'm there.

No matter how you slice it, I have some talented quilters in my family tree. Now I really need to step up to the plate!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Surprised by Heritage

A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling quilts out of the room where Mom had stored them in preparation for bringing them home to photograph them for our online photo album--we're posting pictures of heirlooms and potential heirlooms so all the sibs can go through them to indicate which they'd have interest in. I was short on time that day, so although I'd inventoried some items at the house, I had decided I'd grab the quilts and take them home with me to finish at a later date. I emptied out a bureau where I knew she kept many of her quilts, then noticed what looked like more quilts sitting on the upper shelf in a closet. They were mostly in plastic bags, so although I could tell they were probably quilts I couldn't see much more than that. I shooed Mom's cat off the top of them and started pulling them off the shelf and handing them to my daughter, nieces, and nephew (the day's designated helpers) to load into my car.

As I pulled one bag off the shelf, the bag opened a little bit and I realized that I had probably found an antique quilt I'd been keeping an eye out for. It's a crazy quilt that we weren't positive whether it had been given to Mom or was only on loan. We'd found some paperwork about it, but hadn't yet seen the quilt. I tugged open the bag a little further.... Yep. Definitely a crazy quilt. I handed it off to one of the kids, warning them to be particularly careful since it was likely an antique, then continued to pull the rest of the quilts off the shelf. I noticed a couple were unfinished pieced tops, so I thought maybe one of them was a set of blocks that had been given to Mom by the same person as the crazy quilt--the plan had been to finish the blocks into a quilt. All we knew about the blocks was that they were supposed to be from the 1850s or 1860s--nothing about pattern or colors or anything. I glanced at the unfinished tops and although they didn't look quite that old to me, I don't know much about fabric-dating so I shrugged, again warned whatever kid took them from me to be careful, and moved on.

When I got home, the quilts were sent up to my sewing room while the rest of the car load went to the basement. I was far too exhausted to even think about the quilts anymore that night--I just commented to Chris that I thought I'd probably finally found the mystery quilt and blocks, and then didn't pursue it any further.

The next day, though, I planned to do some sewing--which necessitated moving the quilts which had now been stacked all over my cutting table and surrounding floor. I decided to check them out before I moved them, and started pulling them out of the bags. The first to be opened was the crazy quilt. Yep, definitely an antique crazy quilt, so that mystery was solved. Found it! However, Mom hadn't included any further documentation in with the quilt so I still didn't know if it was actually hers or not.

Next, I flipped open one of the unfinished pieced tops. Huh. Very strange pattern. Could it have been 1850s? Possibly, but I wasn't quite feeling it. Still trying to be optimistic, though, I decided that maybe I wasn't understanding the documentation correctly and the blocks weren't supposed to be that old, or maybe I was just way off in my very little knowledge of fabric dating. I dubbed it the "Paramecium quilt" (The applique pattern is truly unique). The second unfinished pieced top was more attractive--a variation on a Dresden Plate. Still didn't look old enough to me, but hey, what do I know? Neither top had any documentation on them at all.

The next quilt I opened was finished--a beautiful Lone Star. Clearly hand quilted. I had no idea of the age of this one because it's all solid fabrics (prints are easier to date), but Mom had pinned an index card to the side of it that simply said "Antique Lone Star." OK, well, thanks, Mom. I could've figured that much out! No indication of the age or the maker.

Next, a huge--HUGE--and extremely heavy quilt that's appliqued tulip blocks. Very cute, and to me it looked definitely 1930s. I've seen enough 1930s reproduction prints to have a pretty good sense of that time period, and the fabrics weren't new enough to be repros. No documentation.

Finally, I pulled the last quilt up to my cutting table and flipped open an edge. Oooh. Pineapples. One of my favorite designs. Clearly hand-quilted. Wow--look at that quilting--wonderful! I felt myself start to get a little choked up as I opened the quilt further and began to take in the full effect of the pattern. It's gorgeous. Here I am, someone who has never been an afficianado of antique quilts per se, and I was very swiftly falling in love. I kept flipping it open and scootching it around on my cutting table, and suddenly came across another pinned label in Mom's handwriting. This time, the label was from the Big Tree Quilt Conference--Mom had obviously displayed this at one point. The label read: "Name: Thistle Quilt. Maker: Mrs. Bixby. Year: 1891. Owner: Shirley DeMott--Shirley's great-great-grandmother."

I burst into tears.

Stuffed in the back of a closet, hidden from view and nothing Mom had ever mentioned to me that I could recall, was this beautiful piece of my family history. An antique quilt from the 1890s? You've got to be kidding me. Mom--why hadn't you told me?

I grabbed the antique quilts and layed them all out on my bed so I could see them better, then ran to find every family member in my house at the moment and dragged them upstairs to see what I had found. I still choked up every time I looked at the pineapple/thistle quilt. We looked for signatures or any indication whatsoever of who had made the unlabeled quilts, to no avail. Later that night, I called my Mom's best friend Margie and asked her if she knew anything about these quilts. She remembered that my Aunt Jean had given Mom two of them--they were family quilts. Since Mom never bought an antique quilt to the best of my knowledge, my only assumption can be that they're all family quilts (except the crazy quilt).

I called Aunt Jean (Mom's older sister) next. She had owned the tulip quilt and the pineapple/thistle quilt--she'd inherited it when their grandmother, Grandma LaBelle, had passed away. She'd used the tulip quilt on her own bed and the pineapple/thistle quilt had been on my cousin's bed. She'd given them to Mom when she moved to Florida. She said that Grandma LaBelle had made the tulip quilt, but had no more information on the pineapple/thistle quilt than what Mom had put on the label. She knew nothing about the other quilt or pieced tops. I also called my Aunt Ginny (Mom's younger sister). Aunt Ginny didn't know any more than what I'd already been told, although she mentioned to me in a later conversation that Aunt Flo and Aunt Lea (Grandma LaBelle's sisters) had also been quilters, although Aunt Lea less so, apparently.

I decided at that point to take all of the quilts to a quilt appraiser--not so much for monetary value, although we probably needed to know that for the estate--but I really wanted to know what time period they came from to see if I could figure out what relative may have made them.

The results of the appraisal? That'll be the next blog entry lest this turn into a novella!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's finally done!

After weeks of pressing and folding, cataloguing and sorting, and eventually building a new shelving system and having my other shelves reinforced and bolted to the wall (!), my sewing room is finally usable again! Now let's just see if I can keep it looking this way.

I used Rubbermaid's "Homefree" series of adjustable wall-mounted shelves for the fabric, if anyone's curious. Perfect for what I needed, and easy enough to repurpose things from shoe and tie storage to yardage and strip storage! Note that my fabric is sorted by the ROYGBIV system (kinda sorta). We'll see how that works for me. Strangely, even though I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed by the amount of fabric I now have in my stash, I look at it and realize I'm still only at a fraction of what Mom had. Someone told me once, "That's because she had 30 years to accumulate." I'm not sure that explains it. I've had 10 and I only had a significant jump in size last month! I suspect it has more to do with expanding to fill your available space--as in, nature abhors a vacuum. Mom had a basement, so she filled a basement. I have these shelves. That's it. Something comes in, something has to go out.

OK, so to point out a couple of nifty little features of the Shelving System Remix. Note in the second picture the hanging rods at the bottom--nice place to drape my UFOs to keep them slightly more wrinkle free! (And to hide the bins stacked behind them--nice side effect.)

Note the two canvas pull-out drawers normally meant for scanty unmentionables. (Well, my unmentionables aren't particularly scanty, but that's a different kind of blog altogether.) The top drawer holds my entire fat quarter collection--what used to be tightly crammed in two fairly large plastic bins. Woohoo! The second drawer holds my jelly roll and accumulated 2 1/2" scrap strip collection. Another woohoo! Some of those were in a plastic bin, some were just stacked wherever I could find room on the old shelves. Much more enjoyable to look at now. Most of those jelly rolls are from Mom--she must have hit a sale because I found an entire shipping box full of them in her sewing room. I'm sorry she didn't get to enjoy having them. They're like candy.

And this final picture was my last Remix brainstorm--the pull-out tie and belt rack makes a great place to sort strips when I'm working on a project! Well, OK, we'll see how often I use it. But it's a fun thought.

So--my cutting table is finally cleaned off, my sewing table will be shortly (just a random collection of scraps I have to deal with), and I have plenty of elbow room. I'm good to go!
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Just a Spoonful of Sugar...or Something

I could really use a spoonful of sugar right now...or maybe something a little stronger. Or Mary Poppins just waltzing in and clicking her fingers. Yiminies.

My sewing room has descended into complete chaos at this point. I had been making such good progress on the fabric; my shelves were looking more orderly, I could move from one end of the room to the other with only having to sidestep a couple of stacks of books and one 8' table holding the fabric-in-waiting.

But I realized my wall-mounted set of shelves that holds the quilt library would soon be going the way of its matching set of shelves that holds my work library--early last summer, that set of shelves threw itself out of its anchors and onto the floor with a very dramatic crash, splintering of wood, and not a few choice words flying out of my mouth once my heart had returned to it's correct anatomical position. Fortunately, no animals or humans were near enough to get hurt, although I did have to jump in and very carefully pull some books off precarious positions lest it rip more of the wall out as the rest of the shelves came down. With only a few minor bruises and cuts, I saved the rest of the shelves and restacked everything, and then got on the phone to a handy-person I'd worked with on Mom's house. "HELP!," I sent up the flare. He and his son came about a week later and described the best possible fantasy for me at that point--sturdy shelves that would hold all the books I need and stay exactly where they were meant to stay. Woohoo! And fix it he did.
So now that I knew I was probably doubling the weight of my quilt library, I figured that set of shelves could probably use some reinforcing as well--especially since (like the first shelves) they had NEVER looked entirely level to me but I'd figured it was some optical illusion. Nope--neither set was level. And they'd been professionally installed, too. Go figure. Steve measured this current shelf for me and realized that the center had sunk down and pulled the bottom a good 1/4" out of whack. So yes, those shelves were probably counting the days until they could also leap to their death. But he'll work his magic on them as well.

That being said, DH and I joke that these are now probably the most expensive sets of shelves we have ever owned. And no one but family sees them! But hoo boy--our house could get swept away in a flood and those shelves would still be exactly where they were supposed to be.
Steve is coming in probably starting tomorrow so I had to remove everything from on and around the shelves and find places to stack it. And this is the same week that I plan on changing out my current stash shelving to a different set of wall-mounted shelves (I have high hopes for the Rubbermaid "homefree" series!). So my sewing room will continue to get completely trashed before it gets better.
Just so you can be on the journey with me, here's some pics of where we're at at the time of this writing

It starts out so neat and organized at the top of those shelves, and then turns ugly as you get towards the floor.
The table pulled in for temporary staging as I move everything around. Can't wait to get that puppy back down to the basement were it belongs again.

The offending shelves in question. They look so innocent in this picture--but notice how far away from the door trip they are on the top, and then look at the same spot on the bottom. Definitely not a great install! Keep your fingers crossed that this set of shelves works as well as the last one does, and that my own shelving experience later this week goes smoothly and is the shelving system of my dreams!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Teals and blues are now done!

And I've decided I need to completely reconfigure the shelving to hold it. I'll be shopping for one of those wall-mounted do-it-your-self shelving systems this week. I guess it's worth the money for the shelving to hold all the free fabric.

I had a good chuckle when one of my non-sewing sisters looked around Mom's quilt studio at one point, before we'd started taking anything, and said, "Wow. I guess Mom had a few hundred dollars worth of fabric, eh?" You should've seen how wide her eyes got when I corrected her, "Try a few thousand." You know it's more than a hobby when you look at the price tag. :-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Maiden Voyage

Tonight I finally sat down at the sewing machine that I've inherited--Mom's Janome MemoryCraft 6600 Professional. The "professional" simply means, in this case, "more machine than Sandy can handle." It's a little intimidating. My other machine--my former only machine--was also a Janome; I am, after all, Shirley's daughter and she was a Janome girl so I became a Janome girl. But mine was slightly-better-than-purely-functional. It's computerized, it's got a few fancy stitches and nifty do-jobbers and thingies, but it's a pretty straightforward machine. I really like my usual machine; I was quite ready to use it for several more years. At least until we finish paying college tuition, anyway.

But now I've got one of Mom's machines and my former machine has become my portable-take-to-class machine, tucked away in a corner with its dust cover. I guess it's earned a bit of a vacation.

I've had the 6600 installed in my sewing cabinet for about a week now, the new plastic insert in place, the knee lift inserted...but it took me awhile to get up the courage to sit down and start playing. Part of it is emotional, of course. But part of it is also hearing my Mom's voice every time any of us got near her machine when we were kids..."Be careful! That's not a toy!" For years, any time an offspring used her sewing machine, we'd manage to jam it. Mom got understandably a bit gun-shy about us coming within breathing distance of them. Even after I had been quilting for years, I maintained a bit of a fear-factor when it came to Mom's machines. I've known she had some pretty cool new machines for some time, but I never asked her if I could try them out. What if I jammed it???

I read the manual cover-to-cover yesterday over breakfast. I reviewed it again this evening sitting at my desk. Finally, carefully, I approached my sewing cabinet, sat in my chair, opened the manual at my side, and addressed the machine. I began to familiarize myself with all the buttons, toggles, do-jobbers and thingies. Finally, I was off and running--playing with embroidery stitches, writing silly messages with the monogramming features, setting it at high speed and letting it rip just to see what happened. Yes, I could still hear Mom's quick intakes of breath as she nervously watched me messing with buttons and craning my neck to see behind the needle as the patterns developed ("Honey, be careful!"), but I could also see her smile as I figured out all the nifty new tricks this puppy does. "Isn't it great? I was really excited to get that feature when I bought it." And that very satisfying whisk and thunk of the automatic thread-cutter? Our hearts were both pounding with excitement over that one.

As I shut down the 6600 a few minutes later, figuring that I hadn't jammed anything yet and probably ought to quit while I was ahead, I felt a bit sad. This is Mom's machine, and Mom should be using it. But I also felt inspired--challenged--motivated--to work on my technique to be worthy of having it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Global Warming...Contributing to Climate Change

I'm thinking I'm pretty close to creating a micro-environment in my sewing room with all the steam my iron is kicking out these days. I'm still pressing fabric from Mom's stash, working my way through by color family. Neutrals? Check. Reds? Check. Between all my task lights, the computers that live in the same room, and the steam iron, my sewing room/home office is a good ten degrees warmer than the rest of the house, and my hair takes on a rather unattractive frizzy curl when I walk in the door from the hallway.

Every time someone opens the door to come in, I half expect a tornado to develop in the region of my ceiling light.

Ah, but the visual comparison of sloppy, casually folded stacks of fabric laying in waitful repose next to the regimented, ready-for-action measured fabric soldiers awaiting my next command makes it worth it. I would almost think that there was a light compulsive gene that ran in my family but after going through Mom's stash, I know I'm much more anal about these things than she was. Even my collection of 2 1/2" strips from scraps is neatly folded in a bin. Mom's? Well, not so much. Although we all have our own personal compulsions. Mine is for as scrupulously organized a work space as possible. Mom's was quite clearly for gadgets. I'm not sure those two compulsions play well together.

Mom's quilty-friends came out to the homestead yesterday, at my invitation, to go through Mom's quilty stuff and take whatever they wanted. At first they were hesitant; I don't know if they were worried I'd burst into tears or that I'd leap off my stool and say, "Hey, I didn't see that one before! Mine mine mine!" I reassured them that, as for #1, I found it quite comforting to know that Mom would be so happy that people she'd loved and quilted with for so many years would be using her things; as for #2, although I did ultimately take one additional piece of fabric that everyone else had passed over but still tugged at my aesthetic center, I was very much aware of the stacks and piles awaiting me back home that I had yet to find space for. I already have everything I needed and wanted, and I was glad to be able to share the bounty. As I had suspected, sitting and listening to Mom's long-time compatriots and watching their joy in being able to take physical remembrances of their friendship with Mom was at times healing, at times a hoot. I hope I can someday look back at 30-year-quilty-friendships and know that, in that way as well, I had turned into my mother.

Thankfully, they made a nice dent in what was left after my sister and I both went through it. Now all that remains to be done is to clean out my Mom's summer sewing studio up at our family cottage near the Thousand Islands and combine it with what's at home, and then set up the quilter's garage sale. "All that remains...." A smallish phrase for a rather daunting task.

On the docket for tomorrow night? I do believe I'm feeling a teal mood coming on. Watch the Weather Channel for news about unusual weather patterns forming in Western NY.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep...

So here I am, in the middle of the rather daunting process of adding what I took from Mom's stash to my own. I decided to wash all of it, which then means my way-too-persnickety eye for detail kicks in (to put it crudely, I can get anal about certain things) and I end up wanting to iron most of it, so that it will look "just right" when it's finally on the shelf. So it's taking me for-freakin'-ever.

The first two photos at right are most of the fabric waiting to be pressed and folded, sitting on my cutting table and on the side of my sewing table. And this isn't all of it. When I took these pictures a couple of days ago, I'd already worked my way through part of one stack, and some of it was still in the laundry.Picture #3 is sort of a "before and after" shot. I needed to get at my cutting table and sewing machine so I emptied off my storage shelves and moved the fabric-in-waiting, so now you can get a feel for the neat, tidy, organized stacks of fabric it will eventually turn into. Note, however, the distinct lack of enough shelf space for my new stash. Picture #4 is folded and labeled (by size), but in the midst of being sorted and reshelved. I'm going to have to do some reconfiguring of my sewing space to fit it all in.

Once-upon-a-time, my stash was small enough that I kept it sorted by size--1/2 yard stack, 1 yard stack, etc. With what I took from Mom's stash, I have at least doubled my stash, if not tripled it. I was going to be careful about what I took, but a good friend and fellow quilter told me I'd be sorry, and just to go for it. So I took her at her word. I may also be taking her name in vain as I try to figure out how I'm going to store all of this! In any case, it now seems to make more sense to organize my fabric by color now. Using this folding method, it's pretty easy to tell at a glance a ballpark of how much of each fabric I have anyway, just by the size of the folded piece. Plus I label it anyway.

In picture #3, you can see that one area of Mom's stash that I decided to take full advantage of was her neutrals/background fabric. Just a few weeks ago, I'd been thinking that my small, well controlled stash was actually somewhat difficult to work with--trying to make a quilt only from my stash was virtually impossible, because I didn't have the right mix of fabrics. I found that going through Mom's stash was a real learning process for me--I paid close attention to the types of fabrics she had, what she tended to buy larger quantities of versus what were relatively small cuts, and so forth. I'm also keeping in mind how she had it organized as I reorganize mine. I guess, since I can't ask her for advice anymore, I have to learn by observing. Not quite as good, and certainly not as satisfying, but she's still passing on her wisdom to me, so I'll take it.By the way, even though about 75% of the fabric in these pictures is from Mom, my sister also took at least the same amount of fabric as I did, and there's still a TON left. Mom's quilty-friends are coming by this week to go through and take "remembrance pieces" for themselves (yes, you do grow to associate certain types of fabric with people), and then my afore-mentioned friend will be helping me put the rest in a quilter's garage sale.

Mom always laughed at me when I told her I was determined to keep my stash small. Now she's getting the last laugh.

I'm pausing in my stash-action in order to get a binding put on one of Mom's quilts--the first of her UFOs I'm tackling. I imagine that might be my next post.
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