Just Write {2}

When I step out of the car, the wind takes my breath away. I fumble with my hood, but the closure is too tight, so I yank my right mitten off with my teeth and unzip my coat a bit. Holy Freaking gawd, it’s cold. I can’t get the hood up with one hand, so get back into the car. A blast of snowy wind rocks the car as, with two hands finally free, I manage to pull my hood up and re-zip my coat. Leaving my things behind for a minute, I step out of the car again and immediately turn my back to the wind. I take two side-steps to the back door, get the extension cord out and move quickly to plug the car in. This part isn’t too bad as my back is to the wind and I’ve left the engine running so the headlights shine onto the electrical outlet mounted on the post that I’ve parked in front of. At least I can see what I’m doing. 

The college parking lot is full this morning – it always is when the temperature drops into “cold spell” ranges – and I have had to park at the very back of the lot. I suppose that’s good…extra steps and all that, but this morning I could do without them. Finally, clutching my insulated coffee cup to my chest with one hand and gripping my purse with the other, I begin the trek to the building.

The world is a cozy muffled place inside my hood. The snow strikes the fabric over my right ear with a deceptively soft patter that reminds me a bit of rain on an umbrella, but by the time I get to the building, my shins are stinging and burning with cold. It’s an odd sensation to have a warm torso and warm feet but be nearly frostbitten in  a single area the width of my hand, just below the knees.  I need a much longer coat. Or maybe after 27 years in the Yukon I should buy some snow pants.

I am taking my coat off when my coworker comes stomping in, face red with cold and hair disheveled. “Bloody god-forsaken country,” she mumbles not so quietly. We laugh. And really, it’s only -28o c. Hardly cold at all.

 

Linking up today with the free-writing exercise over at the Extraordinary Ordinary .

 

On English Paper Piecing

I like to sew and quilt and do
I love to learn things that are new
I have joined a quilting bee
(Actually, I did join three.)

The We Be Learning on-line gals
Stitch and sew with on-line pals
And every month each one of six
Adds a new block to the mix.

January is Shilo’s block
And I’ve been sewing ‘round the clock
To make a Rocky Road to Kansas,
With the colours of agapanthus.

(Those are blues and aquamarine,
And including a bit of celery green
For those of you who don’t know flowers,
Or the colour wheel of bowers.)

There is a secret I’ve been keeping
I’ve never done foundation piecing.
Shilo’s block is E. P. P.,
Something entirely new to me.

I sewed one block and ripped it out
I sewed again and gave a shout!
I ripped it out and sewed again
It wasn’t good enough to send.

The block should be a certain size
Unfinished inches twelve point five,
But on my cutting mat its borders
Measure eleven and three quarters.

Back to the fabric store I go
With a heavy heart of woe
For I have used all my grey cache
No more background in my stash.

I measure twice, I cut and sew
Careful, cautious, hopeful, slow.
I see the end within my sight,
I am so sure this time I’m right…

I am a frightening beast to see,
Scowling, hating E. P. P.
To the cutting board I go,
Pulling hair and growling low

I have been reduced to drink,
To curse and swear and really think
About the angst of this first bee
And what possessed me to enter three.

Two full weekends I did spend
Ruining this block for my new friend.
I have tried with all my might
but don’t know how to make it right.

And now the month is at an end.
And I have yet a block to send.
In February I beseech you Lynn,
Choose not a block requiring gin!

A colossal…

…screw up. Totally awesome in dimension. It would be really bad form to actually swear on the blog. I know. But…Aaaarrrrghhhhh! Okay. Why all the drama, Nita?

Well! The January We Be Learning Bee is paper pieced. Am I intimidated by paper piecing? You betcha! But it is called “We Be Learning” and let me emphasize the “learning” bit. So okay. I swallow my fears and dive into it. I read the directions. Many times. I asked questions (also many times). I thought I understood what I was going to do (ha!). I dig through my stash and find the right colours. I cut them into strips and sew them back together. So far so good, although I am a bit appalled at the amount of fabric wastage. But that’s okay, I think, because this is the only time I’m ever going to do paper piecing – I sure wouldn’t choose to do it if it weren’t this month’s block for the bee just because of so much waste (and I just can’t afford to buy as much fabric as I would like to, anyway, let alone waste so much!). But no matter…that is what scrap quilts are for, right? Using up all the waste from other projects?

I was feeling pretty good when I got to this part…hey, look at me! I’m paper piecing! It’s kinda cool!

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I’m learning something new! I’m not a paper-piecing virgin any more! And so I sew merrily away and forget all about reading the instructions for the 300th time. When I finally remember, it is too late.

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Aarrggghhhh! stomp stomp stomp! howls, beats breast, pulls out hair.

And since I have now used up and wasted every bit of both the background grey AND the blues & greens requested, I must drive to the quilt shop and buy more. Which means I am going to be in trouble with Mr. C, who is the keeper of the family budget, because today is sale day at the quilt shop. Which is sort of like putting an alcoholic in a room full of single malt scotch.

That’s my Saturday blues

 

 

Needles of Birch

Needles of birch,
warmed by her hands,
slipping loops
over loops
over loops

Jan 13 006

 

 

playing with needles, thread & string

After the mad rush of knitting and quilting to get Christmas presents ready in time, I can finally get back to “my” projects. Yay!

Twelve pairs of Christmas slippers later (yes, twelve!) I started to feel left out and decided to make a pair for myself. I remembered seeing a lime green Tresko sock yarn at Knit Now, our local the wool store, and since lime green is one of my current favourite colours, I stopped by after work to pick up a skein and got busy!

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Something else I had put down awhile ago was the quilt I had started for my sister. I made the quilt sandwich, basted it, and then put it aside for a few months because I just couldn’t decide how to quilt it. Eventually I gave into my original idea of a vine pattern. As soon as the last stitch was taken in the last Christmas gift, I popped that baby into the lap frame and got started!

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It’s a fairly big quilt, so it’s going to take me awhile. But hopefully she’ll think it was worth the wait!007

Something else I’ve started recently is knitting my first pair of socks with fine sock yarn on itty bitty 2.5mm double-pointed needles. I’ve knit socks on heavy sock wool, but never this beautiful fine sock wool.

Jan 13 010

I’ve always loved looking at it whenever I’m in the knit shop…such a variety of pattern and colour! But I’ve always felt intimidated to try. I don’t know why…now that I’ve gotten this far I’m really enjoying it and isn’t hard at all!

Jan 13 006

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve slowly been replacing all of my metal needles with birch. They feel like silk in my hands and no more annoying clicking!

It feels so great to get back to things I’ve wanted to do – learning new things and creating with beautiful fabrics, fibres, threads and needles.

The Biggest Thing

Today  I’m linking up with Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary. She hosts Just Write, the goal being to write about what is happening around you, freely and without editing or censure, what you see, hear, feel, think. I’m nervous because I’m not a writer, and yet I’m linking to a writing blog. Go figure. And also, I didn’t exactly follow the rules – I didn’t write about things going on around me. I wrote about things going on inside of me. I guess these words just needed to come out.

2012 was a horrendous year for me. I broke down. Like an old car, or an old horse that has walked beyond its last step and can now only stand with head hanging low over the fence rail. Unable to move forward or back. I found myself hitched to a wagon, some rusty old thing with sticky brakes and loaded up with chunks of old concrete and rebar. That’s what it felt like. Depression. My body forgot how to dance.  My body and my brain forgot what it was to experience joy. I  remember watching the partly frozen river flowing by and wondering what it would be like to go under the ice. Cold at first. But then warm again.

That was exactly one year ago.

I couldn’t work and was granted a 6-week leave of absence. I saw a doctor. I saw a therapist. I got a diagnosis. I started taking citalopram. I started sharing my story on my blog. I asked my friends for help. I started to get better.

One year later, today, I consider myself recovered. Healed, but with scars that still ache once in a while. Like old bones that have been fractured but still occasionally twinge and complain even after they have closed. I am careful with myself. I am frightened of returning to that state. I am chary of becoming overwhelmed, and have been ginger about putting things on my plate. I’ve taken it slow. I started off by committing to sewing one quilt block a month on an on-line quilting bee. Then last term I enrolled in a course simply because I was interested in the subject, but I worried about my ability to juggle it all. A full-time job, a college course and a quilting commitment? Was I well enough? Would I break down again?  I was. And I didn’t! I successfully did it all – and enjoyed myself, too!  and so this term I have enrolled in another interesting course and have taken on a 2nd quilting commitment (two on-line quilting bees). Though I am nervous, I know it will be okay.

Recently, my body has remembered how to dance.

I haven’t done any formal practice, but not because I can’t…because I don’t feel like it. (Oh how I love being able to say that! I don’t do something “because I don’t feel like it”. How freeing! How empowering!)  Instead, I wiggle around the kitchen to whatever strikes me to move at the moment. I realize that I am still a dancer. Yes I am. Just because I’m not practicing at the moment doesn’t make me any less of a dancer. Any less a dance artist. And miracle of miracles…I am starting to miss teaching dance, too. Just because I’m not teaching at the moment doesn’t make me any less of a dance teacher!

Do I have a goal for next year? Are you kidding? The biggest thing I learned during my year of illness and recuperation is that my worth isn’t measured by how much I produce or how much I accomplish. I have intrinsic value. I matter.

What began as a curse has turned into a blessing.

 

Because You Matter

Be the change you want to see in the world. ~Mahatma Gandhi

What change would I like to see in the world? I would like to see people treasure and take care of each other for no other reason than that we all matter. I also believe that change begins at home. There is so much need in the world, and it is easy to feel helpless to do anything about it. But there is something that we can do. One small act of kindness shows someone else that they matter.

How can I be the change that I would like to see? I have given this a lot of thought, and I have chosen to keep an ongoing charity quilt project. I want to give quilts to kids who need to know that they are important in the world. I’m calling them Because You Matter quilts, and they will be given to kids who are in the child welfare system. These are kids and teens who are having a hard time and who could use the gift of a handmade quilt to wrap up in for the simple reason that they matter.

I struggled with whether or not to put it on the website. I’ve come close to taking it off many times, thinking that it’s better to keep my project private, fearful of  mis-understanding, of being judged for bragging. But I keep deciding to leave it up because I want to put the thought into your mind that everyone can do something. Even you! You can donate to your local food bank, you can send a child in a third-world country to school by donating to organizations such as Christian Children’s fund, you can keep granola bars in your pocket to give to that homeless man begging on the corner instead of simply ignoring him and walking by.

If donating materials to this quilting project is something you would like to do, just drop me a line and I’ll let you know if I’m looking for anything specific at the time. Things I am always looking for  are backing fabric in 3  m lengths (simple prints on quilting cotton or flannel. solid colours or prints suitable for children through teens), 1-2 metre lengths of solid neutrals for backgrounds (white, sand, grey or black) or solids of any colour for bright backgrounds. A pre-cut such as a jellyroll or layer cake will make an entire quilt top. Maybe you are a quilter and have a stash you’d like to clean out – I’ll give it a good home! If you aren’t sure, just ask!

My first Because You Matter quilt has gone out into the world! It is a crib-sized Sticks & Stones. A terrific “blankie” size for a 2 – 6 year-old. It is hand-quilted.

Another One Yukon Minute!

Filmed in the cabin last Saturday night, January 5th, 2013.

 

Twisted Tea Time

I like to make quilts and I like to give them to people. I like that feeling of giving someone something so special. Something full of my thoughts of them that is a reminder of me. Something that they can pull over themselves when they are chilly, put on the bed or the back of the couch for decoration, make a tent out or pull over their heads for comfort if they are young. Something for everyday use or something reserved for special.  General purpose or heirloom, they’re all part of that lovin’ feelin’.

This Christmas I got to experience the feeling of being on the receiving end of such a special gift.

 This beautiful quilt is called twisted tea time and was made by Danielle Marchewa (check out her blog!) She used a Hello Luscious jellyroll by Basic Grey.

I’m not sure how it got its name, but I love it! Dee and I don’t manage to get together very often – especially considering we live walking distance from each other – but when we do manage, we always drink tea. And, well…we both consider ourselves to be a little bit twisted…just a little (in a good way, of course!) Meaning that we aren’t ordinary, ya know? We’re….rock & roll girly girl meets vintage hippy biker chick. Or something like that. Yaaaah!

Well, actually, she probably called it twisted tea time because we like to have tea time together. And because of the way she twisted the blocks to make the neat patterns.

The quilt actually wasn’t a surprise. One day in October (I think), Dee came over for tea and brought it with her to show me what she was working on. After I oooh’d and ahhhh’d over it, she broke down and told me that it was for me. She was just bursting to say something! Lol!

Another reason this quilt is so special to me is because Dee was going to be having major surgery.

She told me that she was saving the hand quilting to do during her recovery time, so she would have busy work for her hands during the time she wouldn’t be allowed to do anything strenuous. Wow! Talk about meaning in a quilt! I am wrapped up in a lot more than fabric when I snuggle under this baby!

Dee is one of the most patient, generous people that I know. |She is always making things and doing things for other people. And even though she has often been in pain from chronic illness, she shows a brave and happy face to the world and always seems able to see the bright side of life. She’s just a genuine all-round nice person and I love her to death.

I took the quilt out to the cabin over the weekend and really lucked out on the weather. I wanted to take some good photos of Dee’s quilt and surprise her with this post.

I love it!

Thank you, Dee!