Thursday, June 30, 2011

Remember to say Thank You!

It is no small thing to receive a quilt for a gift. If you do remember what your Mama taught you and say thank you. The following is my thank you to the ladies of the Frisco Quilt Guild. May it inspire you to your own epistle of thanksgiving.

Thank you.
That is the gist of what I want to say, but the words seem too small, too plain, too ordinary for such a splendid gift. They don't laugh or cry with joy. They don't brush up against the cool surface of a fresh quilt and breath deeply of the love that went into making it. They don't sparkle with glimpses of personalities shining through the bits of fabric and thread.
I know that it is a tricky thing to make a gift of a quilt, especially if the gift is meant to commemorate something. It isn't so difficult to make any old quilt for the odd birthday or wedding, but a quilt intended to mark the passing or the achieving of a particular event by a particular person, well, it is like trying to find the perfect greeting card. When it is a group effort, it is like trying to find the perfect greeting card by committee. It takes courage.
Receiving a quilt can be a bit overwhelming. If you are familiar with the process it is easy to be struck by the depth of work that went into each aspect. Regardless of how the rest of the quilt hits you, (and make no mistake this hits me somewhere between "Oh my Gosh!" and "Shut my mouth!") you have to be floored by that. It is no small thing to be the focus of someone's attentions for the number of hours that it takes to see a quilt from start to finish.
A quilt is a particularly personal gift. They are a bit larger than the pen set given at graduations. (I have a couple in the back of the drawer in my desk, replaced by the age of computers and my lovely I-pad.) They are certainly larger than the clocks given at retirement parties. A quilt can not be set indiscreetly on a back shelf and left to accumulate dust. It is meant to be at very least seen, and at best gathered around the recipient as if to impart the warmest of embraces from a distant friend. A quilt is a shield, a comfort, and an encouragement to the one it is gifted to.
If you were to ask me to choose a quilt to be gifted to me, I couldn't do it. However, I know I would want it to reflect the giver and say something about the relationship I had with them. Given the personal nature of a quilt, I would want it to fit me as well. That seems like a great deal to ask, much more than I would ever ask of anyone who isn't my mother.
You've conquered all of these things and created a splendid gift for me.
The color and style of this quilt is not very traditional....neither am I....yet it seems to respect the traditions of quilting and design. It doesn't so much create a mood as make a declaration. Joy is spoken here and love and friendship and just a little bit of nuttiness. Skill and balance are also spoken for. Your fine workmanship tells me that this isn't the quilt that was made "just for..." insert kids, picnics, community service, any recipient that comes to the tip of your tongue when you sigh and give in to the temptation to do less than your best. This quilt sings of the freedom to create and share your creation with others who are like minded. It is not bound by the traditions that formed it.
This quilt was made for me, by you.
I have to say, yet again, that I am honored to have served the guild in the capacity of president. If this quilt, even in a small way, reflects the effect that I have had upon the guild, then I am touched to my very core. Thank you all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Disney Swap

Hurrah! My little quilt has finally arrived at it's destination. That means I can share it with you.
First off, "rats!" my comment regarding my inability to share with you, was a veiled reference to the quilt itself. My partner, ShapeMoth, said that her favorite Disney character is Remi from Ratatouille. (Try walking into a local quilt shop and asking for rat fabric...LOL...I had to do some explaining.)

I love the Internet! Where else can you get ready made patterns for free?! Really, if you can find an image of something it is s snap to turn it into fusible appliqué, especially if the image is a coloring sheet. Once I had my rat fabric all I had to do was cutout the right colors to make a fusible Remi patch.

The patch was then put on a fabric frame. I thought this fabric was perfect! The center is a black and white road map of Paris France...Remi's dream location. The border is a lovely mix of fresh vegetables. This mini is quilted in a gentle swirl reminiscent of the "stink" lines coming off of Remi's cheese. I imagined that Remi's world was full of powerful scents that mingled and danced as he moved about the city.

The back is made from an orange print with pots and pans on it...Remi's ultimate dream...a real kitchen to work in.

The package contained bits of left over fabrics, and a nice chocolatey one that seemed like a better option than sending an edible bar through the mail in June; some metal buttons that had been gifted to me in a previous swap, they screamed ShapeMoth to me when I saw them in the button box; a little ruler and sticky pad with graph paper lines on it; and a snap bag made from some of the scraps from the quilt. All of this has arrived safe and sound. Another swap completed.
Stay month's swap theme is Repeated Rainbows...repeated shapes and a rainbow of colors.

The President's Quilt

As many of you know, I am a member of the Frisco Quilt Guild. I have been since I started quilting for others in 2006. I have found the members of the local guild to be friendly, knowledgeable, and generous to a fault. Members are always anxious to share their latest finds and or donate their time to help each other.

For the past two years I served as the president of the guild. Largely, it was a job that no one else wanted to do consisting of a great deal of juggling of people and projects. My favorite projects had to be the creation of the last two raffle quilts. Both were constructed from various blocks created by the membership adherent to a central theme.

The remainder of the job, at least as I saw it, was to keep the group going through what ever might come our way, to be point person and general encourager to everyone who crossed our threshold. During any given month during my two year term of office, this included 90 to 100 people.
It is the habit of our particular guild to make a president's quilt for the outgoing bearer of that title. The quilt is usually created as a surprise. Things that are customary are seldom a total surprise, but it has been a while since our guild last did this. A series of unfortunate events prevented the past couple of officers from completing a two year term. I had supposed that the tradition might die from disuse. Silly me. What was I thinking?!
Last night was my last meeting with any role remotely resembling that of the leader of the guild. The buck has been officially passed onto my friend Rose. (She is going to do a great job.). Not two minutes after I sat down I was asked to stand again. My eyes were covered while I listened to some suspicious rustling and the room went silent.
To add to the suspense here....I knew that my friends had been making a quilt for me. No, I'm not that nosey. I was accidentally included in a mass emailing. The subject line read, "Shhhhh President's quilt for Cindy". I didn't read it. In fact, I'd mostly forgotten about it. However, when I reviewed the books to create a financial report a receipt with the words "for Cindy's quilt" caught my attention. Up until last night I was having a lot of fun speculating about what they were up to. It is very much in my nature to be a tease. I think it is genetic.
So, I'm standing in front of my Quilty friends, listening to our new president Rose waxing elegant about myself and my contributions to the guild, and looking at a room full of Cheshire Cat grins.....
They turned me round to this...

Wow! (That's what I said. So much for Rose's elegant words.). I still haven't become familiar enough with all of it's details to adequately share how precious this gift is to me, but off the top of my head I am stunned that something so fun and cheerful was created as the result of my impact on my wonderfully creative friends. It is enough to make me dare to believe that my hope of eliciting a spirit of joy in the memories of those around me may actually have come to pass. That, dear ones, is a blessing even greater than the gift of this wonder filled quilt.
Some details that you have to see

The center piece of the quilt is this label, designed for this quilt, and embroidered specifically for me by my very own and very beloved Mom. She is a "give me a pattern" girl who created a special row sampler complete with funky little buttons just for me. She worked the label in over dyed threads, which are not washable, and then made the label removable so that the quilt could still be washed. Have I told you that my Mom is brilliant? (FYI See those tiny little buttons? She had me order them for her a couple of months ago to go one "something she was making")

The outer border is made of lovely yellow and black signature blocks!! AND there are signatures on them. How awesome is that?! It is like having a little bit of my friends in the room with me.

The clever creators of this quilt not only included bright colors, and critters (two of my favorite things) they included a nod to my favorite fellas too. There is a dog house for each of the men in my husband and my three sons. LOL - Gilbert gets a TV in his dog house!

This block was created by my friend Nancy Howse and is a portrait of her dog Misty. She and Misty compete in agility trials and pulling.

And pointy footed yappy dog makes me laugh out loud with pink embroidered bark bubble.
And there is so much more to look at...did you notice the quilting? Oh My Gosh! Kathy Bradbury of Bear Paw Machine Quilting custom quilted it for me. I know because her signature block is signed as a continuation of the quilting. Amazing! I don't even want to think about what it would look like if I tried that. It's not going to happen. She designed different fill for each block...go back and it!
The next time you see one of your very creative quilty friends, give them a hug from me and tell them thanks! That is what I am planning to do.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saravee Mangrum

This is my friend Saravee. My family adopted her 20 some years ago. Since then she has become like a great grandmother to all of the kids. In this photo, taken last week, Saravee is 99.5 years old.
Sara Violet was born in Corsicana, Texas. She is the oldest of a bunch of girls born to a farmer who grew flowers for the fancy markets in Dallas. She tells wonderful stories about traveling into the city - it took a couple of days by wagon back then and camping under the stars was exciting. She has seen a lot of things change in North Texas over the years. Something's for the better, some not so much.
I'm glad that she is a part of my life. I'm glad God gifted me with this beautiful friend, and that I get to share the joy of friends and family and quilting with her. I am convinced that the best of friends are hiding in the most unlikely places.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Compromise Quilting - how to hide that tacky television

When I was a little girl I went to many, many, musicals in the park. I remember summer nights, and fire flies rising in the woods; the sound of crickets humming along to the music; sitting on hard "benches" that were really rail road ties forced into the side of a dirt slope to make an outdoor amphitheater. AND I remember music under the stars.

I've told you all of that so that I could sing a little and not seem like such a dolt. "Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream...". So sang Little Buttercup in Gilbert & Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore". She was singing, "I know something that you don't know," without the ne-ner, ne-ner, ne-ner part. That is such a lovely feeling. The only better one that I can think of is to say, "Let me share my secret with you!"

Not long ago we faced the dilemma of what to do with ridiculously large screened television. My husband and boys thought there was nothing wrong with hanging it in the middle of the living room wall. I got the feeling that it was somehow a statement of their manhood, like a hunting trophy or power tools. I thought the thing was hideous and not what I wanted as the focal point of the most public room in the house.

To my mind something beautiful should hang in that spot of honor....or nothing at all. For years I had been very happy to have a special quilt hanging in that spot.

That is much prettier than a stupid television! Unfortunately the guys would not see it my way, so a compromise had to be reached.
The solution was to hang a quilt as a curtain in front of the television. We bought the hardware at the local big box hardware store and used rings with clips to secure the quilt. It works like a charm. Since then I have had many visitors come through the house, and unless there is a boy in the living room watching cartoon network or ESPN, no one is the wiser.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Graduation, Church Camp, and Disney

It has been forever since I sat down and wrote something other than a shopping list. It has been a very busy couple of weeks.
School is over for the year. My oldest boy did indeed graduate from High School, and his brothers were both promoted to the next grade...very handsomely I might add. Good job John and Ben. Graduation festivities are over, and I'm told that the thank you notes have been written. Mailed might be another story.
This week Ben, my youngest and soon to be 13, is at church camp. I miss him very much. I find myself thinking about him constantly, and praying for his safety. I am sure he will be fine. Next week his older brothers get to go to camp and Ben and I will have the house to ourselves. (The cats seemed to know that he was going somewhere.)
I've not gotten much quilting done lately, although I have used the Gammell as a clothes rack. I am nearly finished with my May/June Disney STUD swap mini. I have just a few details to complete before I send it off to it's new home in Germany. When it arrives I will be able to share it with you....ShapeMoth, maybe you could just close your eyes so the others can Well, rats! She made me Pooh! It is an appliqué masterpiece.