After taking a week off to do a bit of spinning, I am ready to share another patchwork project – or two.
These are two of my favorite blocks. One of them may look familiar to those who have been following my blog and videos. I used it for the Festive Placemats last year. The other block looks a bit more complicated, but with a little trick in the sewing, it comes together quite quickly.
The principle that when the complicated is broken down into pieces, a simple path forward is usually exposed is one of the great lessons patchwork quilting teaches us.
Once again, I am sharing the patterns. You can find the download links just below the video of each project.
In an effort to help answer the question, “How do I begin?” or more specifically, “How do I begin quilting?”, I have embarked on a project of creating simple patchwork quilt projects.
I believe that pointing in the direction of a path, and providing a map, is often better than holding a person’s hand as they journey on the path.
It is with this philosophy that I have embarked on my current adventure to create simple patterns and accompanying videos. No fuss and nothing to sell, just tip-n-tricks, and a bit of pithy ponderings.
There are many wonderful tutorials on the internet and in libraries, both in book and video formats. These materials can help the quilter on their journey, and I highly recommend seeking them out. However when I am asked the basic question of how to get started, I often do not have a concise direction in which to point. So I have resurrected a project I began years ago, and I have tried to make it better fit into the modern world – a world where the video helps us learn when classrooms are often out of reach.
I have created a playlist on YouTube for ease in finding these specific projects. In this first project video, I demonstrate the basic construction of the classic Nine Patch block and the construction of a small quilt featuring this block. I have also created a PDF pattern for free download.
The Autumn and Winter holiday seasons inspire me to be creative, and flood me with memories of times gone by. So many of my memories include the practice of creating something that can be given to or shared with others.
I awoke this morning from a troubled dream. It was nonsense, but the crazy chaotic scenes were all too familiar. It was a reflection of the many times I overdid my efforts to make the holidays special for others, and in the process, overwhelmed myself. The overwhelmed me is not a person I like to recollect.
With age and greater understanding of my limitations, wisdom has emerged. This year, a year of stressful uncertainties and worries, I have made a commitment to myself (and my family) to maintain balance – or at least try my best to do so.
I have focused my creativity on projects that not only bring me joy, but represent all the things I didn’t do because I was busy doing too much for those I love. I am still giving and sharing, but now I am focused on sharing inspiration and joy rather than physical things.
I have long lived by two adages. The first relates to eating an elephant one bite at a time, and the second that it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him one.
This year it my goal to share these truths rather than cookies, quilts, or hand-knitted hats. Hopefully by doing so, I can feel the joy of sharing, and not the chaos of overdoing.
Fear is never an easy thing to overcome. Whether great or small, fear can prevent us from fully benefiting from the joys of life.
One of the great fears in knitting is cutting open a finished sweater so that it can become a cardigan. This fear is made even greater when the sweater is knit from handpsun wool, loving carded and spun for the purpose.
Overcoming the fear allows the knitter to have the ease and benefits of knitting in the round, while also having the benefits and comfort of a cardigan sweater.
I enjoy making the top-down raglan sweater for ease of construction, accuracy of fitting, and management of yarn use. When making this latest sweater for my son, I was able to spin the yarn as I was also knitting on the sweater. This ensured that I had little unused yarn when the project was complete. Since the yarn I used was a blend of Mohair, Alpaca, and CVM sheep’s wool, I was glad to avoid making any more yarn than was necessary.
I have steeked sweaters before but the nervousness of cutting open a sweater remains.
While it is never easy overcoming any fear, great or small, it is always worth the effort, and it does become a bit easier as our confidence in ourselves grows.
This week I travel down memory lane and reflect back on how much I have learned since making my first holiday placemats.
My sewing and quilting skills have certainly improved, although my hands won’t hold quite as tiny of needles as they did a quarter of a century ago.
Life has taught me many lessons during these 25 years. There was a time when I thought I would lose my ability to hand quilt. Perseverance, medical advancement, and a better understanding of how vital balance-in-life is to one’s health have all played a role in my continued ability to use a quilting needle.
Quilting delightful and useful items for my family fills me with joy. I learned the skills of a quilter before I could afford the gadgets and gizmos of the modern quilter. Even after accumulating stacks of rulers, and cutting mats of various sizes, I still occasionally like to return to the simplicity of the old ways of piecing a block.
It is with simplicity and the budget-minded quilter that I have put together some basic blocks. I have also included instructions to turn the basic block used in my placemats into a rectangular placemat for those who wish for that shape.
Leadership should be from the front, even when it is behind the scenes.
Leading the way means to take the first steps and chart the course that others will do well to follow. This can be done behind the scenes as is the case with most organizations that rely on volunteers. While the volunteer army goes forth to accomplish the goal, their success heavily relies upon the plan and focus designed by the leadership who may very well not be with them on the battlefield.
Or in other words, a good farmer does not need to directly harvest the crop if he has a harvest plan that can successfully be followed by his field hands.
There is a parable of sorts that goes around about a religious man watching the flood waters rising. Rather than getting into the rescue boats or helicopter, he keeps saying God will save him. At the Pearly Gates he asks why he was not saved. The answer he receives is that two boats and a helicopter were sent.
In truth, the answer should have been, “Why didn’t you seek divine assistance and build yourself the boat before the flood?”
With divine help, we can build the boat and then when the flood waters rise, we can seek to assist those in need rather than waiting to be assisted by our fellow man.
I have found that basic patterns are sometimes the hardest to find, especially for free. This can make teaching a skill troublesome when simple and basic are required. Young and old, there are times when a bit more step-by-step help is needed in order to gain success. I know that on my fibro fog days, I require an easy-to-follow pattern, one that can act as a check list to cross off as I go.
Years ago I worked up a few dozen quilting patterns that I could use when I was giving tutorials on basic quilting for beginners. Now I find I am doing the same thing in crochet. So here is my first pattern and I hope a few more will arrive in the next weeks and months.
Developing a good relationship with your tools is so very key to success. An understanding of the nuances of your tools brings accuracy, contrary to what the salesperson at the shop might try to tell you. This understanding, this relationship you might say, only comes through practice.
I have been pondering the connection between national defense and support for education. In a war between ideological enemies, support for education seems to have been very important. Yet education seems to be losing public support even though past wars have shown that an educated populace makes for a stronger society and better military force.
The following are two Pithyhistory posts that resulted from my ponderings.