Tag Archives: blessings

Busy July

I am good at many things, but I am not good at multi-tasking. For instance, I can make or I can blog. Doing both at the same time seems beyond my capabilities much of the time. In July, I was busy making but not blogging about it.

Early in the month I showed you my list. At the end of June I had four projects in process, and my goal was to finish them all before my guild meeting on July 11. By July 1, one of them was done. By July 11, three of them were done. Since then I’ve finished the fourth.

The only one I managed to blog about since finishing was my guild challenge project, Iowa In My Mind.


Iowa In My Mind. Approx 31.5″ x 20″. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

I still might blog about how the other three were finished, but life moves on and perhaps I will, too.

More Precious Than Diamonds

2016_0630Diamond (1)

More Precious Than Diamonds. 86″ x 90″. June 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Find more about Diamonds here and here and here. And here.

Moonlight Waltz


Moonlight Waltz. 90″ x 90″. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Find out more about Moonlight Waltz here and here and here.



Untied. 41″ x 47″. Hand-quilted. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Find out more about Untied here and here.


Round Robin

Since July 11 I finished my small group round robin for another member. It was our last border pass, so my border presumably was the last border for her project. I also received my own in return. On Friday I quilted it. Sorry — no pix yet. I plan to donate it for my guild’s silent auction at our next quilt show.

Delectable Mountains

I love playing with triangles, and frankly I don’t do it nearly often enough. This month I chose to play with Delectable Mountains blocks created with half-square triangles. I do plan to blog about this but it might be a few days. Saturday I quilted this. I need to lengthen my binding by a few inches before attaching, but I hope it will be done this week.

Delectable Mtns on frame

Stacked Coins

I made the back, loaded, and quilted some stacked coins today (Sunday.) I made this mostly with scraps from the Diamonds quilt. With the angled cuts, scraps were icky shapes and I didn’t feel like putting them in my scrap drawer. So I cut strips from every piece I could. With adding a bit from my scrap drawer and a bit more from stash, I had plenty to create my strips. I LOVE strip quilts, so this was fun to make. Again, another blog post to come.

Stacked Coins on frame

The first half of my year was rather slow, so I guess I’m making up for it now.


Rings of Love

This week Facebook brought me a reminder of a post from four years ago. It was a picture of a finished quilt top. This is what I wrote in Facebook about it at the time:

I never cried on finishing a top before. This was not fun. But it is pretty awesome and will be moreso once finished.

That gives you a tiny peek into my mind at the moment. In fact it was a very bad time in my life, and I cried most days, so crying about finishing the top wasn’t very surprising.

The name of the quilt is “Rings of Love.” It is 69″ square, red on bright white. The name of the block is “Crown of Thorns,” or alternately known as “Wedding Ring.” There are 41 pieces per block, and 20 blocks. I have no idea how many half-square triangles there are in the borders. Though the block is traditional, the design layout is my own. I created heart shapes with sets of three blocks, to emphasize the them of love.

And to show a little more detail on the quilting

It’s nice to remember that even a time so awful could produce something so lovely. Even more wonderful, my dear friend Melody “purchased” it, with funds that went directly to our nearest food pantry. The price she paid helped to buy more than 3,000 meals.

This spring Melody’s daughter got married, and Melody gave it to her daughter and son-in-law. The celebration of love was also a celebration of life; as a family they have recently endured daughter’s ordeal with breast cancer.

When I named this quilt I thought about how good marriages are not just about two people, but also about those who stand with them and support them. Similarly, good communities require rings of love. We stand encircling each other, supporting each other, holding each other up in love. This quilt represents a lot of love, a lot of strength, a lot of sharing. It makes me proud to have made it.

Begin Again

Here it is, January 19, and I’m still trying to get my rhythm for the new year. The reason, though, is that there hasn’t been any rhythm! We took off for Maryland on January 4 to see our daughter’s family, and returned on January 14. Almost half of those days were traveling, and all of it featured different food, different activity, different schedule, than we usually face.

On the way home we both caught colds. It wasn’t at daughter’s house, as they were all healthy while we were there, and they are all healthy now. (With 5 kids, THAT is a minor miracle, in itself.) But at least we didn’t need to worry about giving each other a cold, since we both already had it. Neither of us has been very sick, and I’m actually completely fine now. Except the tired. OH the tired! Waves of tired, feeling fine, then tired again. That is improving, too.

As I said, though, I haven’t achieved any rhythm yet. It feels like when Jim and I go for a walk after sitting too much. As we head down the street the hips don’t work right, the arms don’t swing in sync with the legs, it all feels off. After a little while, though, things smooth out. I’m hoping for that next week. 🙂

In the meantime, I have kept busy. I’ve read two books and started a third. I finished my Ricky Tims kaleidoscope quilt! (Post on that soon. I just finished the binding a few minutes ago. Once I have a decent picture, I’ll tell you all about it, including some thoughts about the process.) I also started a new project featuring a great BIG center block. I’m talkin’ BIG, 50″. It will be a different way for me to use space in a quilt, as usually my centers are a quarter to a third the width of the quilt. This one will be about 60% of the width. The patches in the center are large, and because of that, it doesn’t look especially complex. However, there are 97 patches. It isn’t that simple after all. It’s just a little different than my usual style. And that’s GOOD!

So, yeah, creaky and arhythmic so far. But I’ll get in the swing again soon. How is your new year going so far?



Some Thoughts on 2015

With a couple of weeks left to the year, we naturally reflect on time past and hopes for the future. I could suggest my year has been a Christmas-letter perfect version, rosy with successes and accomplishments: all our dreams have come true (they haven’t), our children and grandchildren all have been happy and healthy (they haven’t), and world peace has been achieved (uh…) The truth is more complicated.

With age and deliberate mindfulness, I struggle less against the negatives than I used to. They are easier to accept, but they are still there. Effort made isn’t always rewarded; I screw up in various ways; random bad things happen to me and mine, too.

However, I’d rather mark the year remembering the good things. In that spirit, I’m going to share again some of the quilts I made this year. Click on any of them to see in a separate tab.

XX's Quilt. 75" x 75". Begun with a medallion print purchased in Boulder City, NV. Finished in February 2015.

XX’s Quilt. 75″ x 75″. Finished in February 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Little One Stained Glass

Stained Glass. 40″ square. Finished February 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Stained Glass Too. 66" x 70". Finished March 2015.

Stained Glass Too. 66″ x 70″. Finished March 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Garden Party. 62" x 68". Center panel by Julie Paschkis for In the Beginning Fabrics. Finished March 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Garden Party. 62″ x 68″. Center panel by Julie Paschkis for In the Beginning Fabrics. Finished March 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.


Marquetry. 87″ square. Made for my Medallion Improv! class. Finished May 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.


I Found the Housework Fairy But She’s Not Coming Back. 35″ square. Made for my Medallion Improv! class. Finished June 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.


DeLight. 96″ square. Finished June 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.


Branching Out. 45″ x 54″. Finished July 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.


Branching Out back. Photo by Jim Ruebush.


The Mountain. 60″ square. November 2015. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

My quilts are a memory album. All of these quilts are my original designs, and all represent growth for me. As I look at them, I remember the challenges and how I met them. I remember where I bought the fabric, or who I was with, or other quilts it was used in. For those I’ve given or have a plan to give, I think of the receiver and what they mean to me.

Looking back on them gives me a way to remember 2015 in a positive light, despite some of the challenges faced. And it may not have been Christmas-letter perfect, but it’s been a pretty damn good year.


In Praise of Technology

More than 25 years ago, Jim and I bought a house built in 1933. Only one family had lived there; with that comes good and bad. There had been relatively few updates, which was good, but those that had been done had mostly been done badly. Though most of the issues were cosmetic, the kitchen was worse than an eyesore. On one side were painted, built-in wooden cabinets with unadjustable shelves at heights I could barely reach. On the other were “St. Charles” metal cabinets, and not enough of them. Countertops on each side also differed, including their mismatched metal rims. The floor was covered in linoleum tiles that had shifted and drifted, the color reminiscent of street-splatter on my car after rain. The gas stove was in harvest gold while the small refrigerator was in avocado. The stove fan, which didn’t vent out of the house, was in brown.

Pretty, huh?

We took our time planning the update while also repainting every other room. Primitive design software helped us determine cabinet placement, and dozens of glossy kitchen magazines helped us sort out the options for decor. I was getting impatient for the kitchen’s turn at renovation, and everyday found myself huffing a little about how awkward it was to use, or how ugly the Pepto-Bismol pink paint was. While waiting, I read an anecdote. Perhaps it was in one of those kitchen magazines, or maybe it was a Reader’s Digest entry. It went something like this:

A young woman proudly showed off her new home’s kitchen to her grandmother. Excitedly she described the various features — countertops, cabinet styles, appliances, finishes. The older woman was quieter than expected, nodding as she took it all in. The granddaughter, surprised by the lack of reaction, prodded for more. “Grandma, what parts of my kitchen do you like best?” she asked. Grandma turned and looked around again before saying, “The hot and cold running water.”

That short reminder helped me keep my kitchen in perspective. We did have hot and cold running water, then and throughout the renovation. We did have appliances that worked, as basic and ugly as they were. After that when I worked in my old, mismatched kitchen everyday, I was grateful for the technology of indoor plumbing and what an amazing impact that had on our lives.


Fast forward a few years. Jim, Son and I were in England, traveling from London to Dover by train. The passenger cars were unlike any I’d seen in the U.S., wooden carriages with doors that opened outward, and bench seats inside. At one point I started giggling to myself and Jim asked why. “Well, I was going to say, ‘We’re lucky to be able to travel this way. A hundred years ago we couldn’t have gone from London to Dover like this.’ But then I thought, ‘A hundred years ago, we could have gone exactly like this!'” No, the rail travel between the two cities hadn’t changed much in that time, but it still was a faster means than walking or horse-drawn carriage.


This week I struggled to finish one of the VA hospital quilts, the one for which I’d already made a rookie construction mistake. It was on the long-arm frame with quilting nearly done, when all of a sudden OOUPH!! The needle hesitated running through a little build-up of fabric near a complex seam, and suddenly the sound of quilting changed. I stopped the machine and looked closely. On top nothing had changed, but underneath I could see bits of white batting fibers clinging to the stitches I’d just run.

I changed the needle and began again. After 15 or 20″ of stitching, I examined my work. Again on top it looked fine. Underneath I had loops galore! The tension was seriously out of whack.

How many steps are needed to solve a problem like this? As many as it takes to fix. Since I hadn’t changed the tension setting, I didn’t start there. New needle, rethreading both top and bobbin, cleaning all microscopic bits of lint out of the bobbin assembly, testing and retesting, rethreading again… I even reset the timing because in the meantime it had started skipping stitches, but the loops remained. Finally I tightened the upper tension dial, figuring I had nothing to lose. And that was the magic step, allowing me to finish quilting.

The work-to-glory ratio was not in my favor for this quilt, all the way through. (And I still need to bind it, so I’m prepared for more problems before it’s done!)


20150904_081406Though my frustration built at times, I tried to remember the modern miracles we enjoy as we quilt. It isn’t just the rotary cutter, which I wrote about recently. It isn’t even just the sewing machine, modern versions of which have been available for about 160 years. (YES, quilters in the 1800s did both piece and quilt on machines, if they were lucky enough to own them.)

The technology of quilting has changed in spurts throughout quilting history, or at least the last several hundred years of it. Consider a few recent changes. In 1794 Eli Whitney patented a cotton gin that could clean short-staple cotton, the only kind that could be grown economically away from the U.S. east coast. Power looms invented in the same decade allowed the rise of factory textile mills in both the U.S. and England. Improvements in dyes and printing technology throughout history let us enjoy the range of colors and designs we have available now. Modern transportation allows fabric and associated products to be shipped anywhere in the world.

Besides fabric production and distribution, though, there are other technological “miracles” that make our lives as quilters easier. Have you ever purchased fabric using a credit card, whether online or in the local shop? Have you ever read or written a blog post or looked up a youtube video about quilting?

My project got bogged down in various ways. Even so, 200 years ago it would have been beyond the imagination that I could use the fabrics I did. One hundred years ago, the even-lofted polyester batting wasn’t conceived of. Fifty years ago, no one had the notion that making a quilt from start to finish would take so few hours, regardless of my personal challenges.

As a quilter I try to appreciate our history, both from the artistic standpoint and also the technological. Practicing gratitude about the achievements of those who came before helps me keep my own challenges in better perspective.

This Thanksgiving, I wish you a sense of wonder and fulfillment in your craft and the rest of your life.