HAPPY HALLOWEEN……..

I absolutely love Halloween decorations…the fun that the children (and adults) have in dressing up and partying…the chocolate candy. Alas I did not have a lot of time to do many new Halloween needlework pieces, but here is one of my favorites finally mounted and finished.    I found an unfinished box at Hobby Lobby, painted it black and roughed it up a bit to look antique.

I found the cutest tiny fuzzy ball trim to go around the mounted cross-stitch work.    Sorry it’s so difficult to see.

And the grandchildren just love the surprise inside!!!    And I love the orange paint!!!

My birthday is coming soon and my dear French friend, Maggy, sent me the most BEAUTIFUL pair of “Eiffel Tower” scissors!! I absolutely adore them. How did she know that I have wanted a pair of these for a LONG time? Thank you Maggy.

She also sent me two French Patchwork magazines and a watercolor book on scenes from Provence. This will keep me busy for sure.

Remember the Stumpwork workshop I attended….well I had finished the needlework itself, but now I have completed the finishing on the ornament. Don’t you just love the look of the Dupioni silk?

It was great fun doing the little spider.

And whoo hoo….I have finished the quilt top I started on retreat last weekend. Now it just needs to be quilted.

It turned out larger than I had expected…isn’t that nice!!

Hope everyone had a fun weekend and a laughter-filled Halloween Day.

Til next time, Amities, Averyclaire

A Quilting Weekend

Last weekend I went to Shalom Retreat House in Dubuque, Iowa for a four day quilt retreat. My SIL, Judy, and her friend, Kay, inspired me to come along. Their quilt shop in Cedar Rapids, IA sponsors this event twice a year. It was great fun, filled with lots of laughter and LOTS of sewing. Here are the photos from this productive weekend.

Monica w lovely purse

Monica's almost fnished quilt top..great colors

Patty with her Noah's Ark quilt

Patty's "circle" blocks (Libby Lehman pattern w Ricky Tims Fabric

More of Patty's circle blocks

Patty's duck baby quilt

Kathy working on Backyard Safari quilt

Kathy's lovely purses for the grandchildren

One of Kathy's many finished projects....Beautiful for any little girl

Lisa made a beautiful purse for someone who just learned of a serious illness

Lisa's lovely quilt top finished

Theresa with a small Halloween pillow cover

Theresa's Mom hand pieced this quilt a long time ago. Theresa had it hand quilted by some Amish women.

Betty Jo and Joanna enjoying the day

Betty Jo and the cute boxer shorts she made

Batik Purse made by Betty Jo

Betty Jo sewing a labor of love (buggy barn style) for the family of someone recently passed away

Terese working on a Paris Flea Market scrap quilt

Sue and her batik quilt...she was making LOVELY borders for this one.

Connie working on her Christmas Card basket

Connie and her monkey baby quilt....what a fun piece

Kay made this lovely table runner as a gift

Kay made several of these lovely purses, two with her Dad's ties

Another purse with a tie

Kay's lovely blue version

Kay also made this lovely table topper with tiny, tiny pieces

Kay also did this lovely fish (going to be a pillow)

Andrea sure is enjoying the creativity

Andrea's Rocket ship almost done

Rosie made this lovely sports quilt for a special needs friend

Heather working on fleece pants for her son and several neck warmers

Judy's beautiful batik fish quilt

Judy's Zen quilt

Jill's homespun quilt

Jill's red and white beauty she quilted this weekend

Jill's blue and brown all finished quilting

And LAST…BUT NOT LEAST…I did finish one quilt top…my Summer Nana’s Garden quilt. I also did a star quilt, but have not taken photos….next blog I will show you.

Averyclaire's finished summer scrap quilt

Hope you enjoyed the photo show.   If you have never been on a quilt retreat or a needlework retreat…you really must go.   It is a lot of fun, very relaxing and quite inspiring.

Amities……Averyclaire

Update

Warning: This is a LONG post…after three months of absence.

On July 6th we welcomed a brand new baby granddaughter, Maya, into our family. She is precious. Of course that meant “another” trip to Colorado to see our new little bundle of joy. Her parents are thrilled to say the least. It is SO hard to be so far away from them.

In May and June I caught the quilt bug! All I have been doing is working on quilts. First I would spend some therapeutic and meditative time in my garden weeding, then would have my shower and get to it! Last post I showed you the first two blocks of an applique quilt I am working on. Here are photos of the next six making a total of eight completed. Number nine is in process. (There are 16 total, so only halfway there.) It’s an easy applique pattern from Edyta Sytar called Sweet Sixteen.

I am committed to finishing projects this year. So here is a photo of a pinwheel quilt in process. Have the bug to use up old fabrics using half square triangles….hence the pinwheels.

Next I have a photo of my Japanese bento box that is still being hand-quilted by yours truly. I have only about a third of the sashing to quilt….but it seems to take forever. And when one has a million hand projects to work on….which one does one choose? (I even have one of those felt Christmas stockings I am putting together at the request of my DD.)

And last but not least I have made another 25 baby blankets with matching teddy bears. These are for my large quilt group Holiday Boutique which happens every year in November.

So between my garden, three active quilts in process, a Christmas stocking, 25 baby blankets and teddy bears, and a stabbing effort to get the laundry, cooking, and cleaning done….well…it’s a crazy fun world for sure. I did do a tiny bit of cross-stitch and taught my granddaughter, Sophia (age 9), to quilt (she made a small quilt for Maya); she learned to cross stitch; and learned to embroider (made two pillows).

And in the midst of all of this I was ill for five months…..April, May, June, July and August. In April I thought I got food poisoning. Not so. The painful attacks after eating, hanging over the commode, would last for four hours at least three or four times per week. After lots of doctoring, lots of tests, and my own experiments trying to be “fat free”, “lactose free”, “gluten free” nothing worked. Even the specialists at our wonderful Northwestern Hospital in downtown Chicago are mystified. However, I did learn after charting my food for weeks, that I simply cannot tolerate any kind of complex carbohydrates…no rice, no pasta, no breads of any kind, no crackers, no carrots or beets, anything with high carbohydrate content. There seems to be no name for my condition and no cure….but now I finally have no more illness so long as I don’t eat those things. I did lose a LOT of weight during this time (not such a bad thing…a bonus for me). Guess I just have to live and eat differently now. Golly I miss my junk food!!!!

For now it’s good to jot out a fresh blog post. I have silently lurked amongst all of your blogs in the past three months and they are wonderful. Thanks for visiting. Amities, Averyclaire

Happy Memorial Day!!

A very special thank you to all the men and women serving our country and helping to keep us safe!!

It’s been a LONG couple of months. First we were away in Colorado for some time, then I was ill, and then finishing up on some projects and a lot of work in the house and garden. Time heals all.

My DIL loved the quilt I made for the new baby-to-be (only six more weeks to go). Helping them set up the nursery was truly fun. And the baby shower was wonderful. Her friends made these scrumptious cupcakes…..delightful to look at….”almost” too pretty to eat!!!

It was such fun creating this secret gift tote for my friend, Maggy, with whom I do an exchange for Les Muguets Day (Lily of the Valley Day which is May 1st in France). Her favorite color is purple.

She, in turn, made for me this LOVELY, Japanese folded origami pocket. I adore it. It has THREE little pockets, perfect for sewing supplies, nail items, etc. Her sewing is exquisite. Already I have put it to good use to carry my nail files, etc. in my purse. Also…a generous friend of hers, Elaine, decided to make for me a lovely French apron. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful friend of a friend!!! Thank you so much Maggy and Elaine. [Correction: Maggy also made the apron…but her friend did some decorative stitching on the pockets. I love it Maggy and Elaine…thank you]

After recuperating for some weeks, I finally completed my scrappy tablecloth quilt (about 62 inches square). It is machine pieced, hand appliqued, then straight line machine quilted by me…and the applique border I free-motion quilted around the applique by adding lovely leaves whereever they would fit. I used a thin cotton batting. It is perfect on my kitchen table and will certainly warm my kitchen during Autumn.

And last, but not least, I have been working on another applique quilt. So far I have two of the sixteen blocks completed (16.5 inches square). I do love handwork. Although I have spent all of my time on the quilts and, alas, have not completed any “needlework” projects. But the applique blocks are fun and a change of pace for my fingers.

That’s all for now. I know that’s not much news for two months of absence….but I did miss all of you and am happy to be back.

Til next time….Amities, Averyclaire

It’s Been A Quilting Week

My quilt quild does a new quilt every two years to put up for raffle. Members are asked to make a block…fabric and instructions are included except for the tone on tone pink fabrics which we provided. This next quilt will be the Carolina Lily.

It was the block from HELL. I think the instructions were “antique” as well as the design. I absolutely love the block and think the finished quilt will be exquisite, but the pieces did not fit together properly and I had to cut, recut, sew, resew!!! I am happy it is finished. We were asked NOT to square it up in the end…I imagine that everyone’s will have slightly different measurements. Mine actually measures the 14-1/2″ it was supposed to be. Hallelujah!!!! Here are the photos of my block.

And here is a sneak peak at another project that I have been working on for a while. I LOVE SCRAP QUILTS. The actual piecing was done a year or so ago, but took only about two weeks. It was put away while I was working full-time because I couldn’t be bothered with the appliqued border. The applique sure took a long time to prepare and even longer now to applique it. I am using just a blanket stitch simply because it will be laundered quite a bit. My plans are to use it as a table cloth (as it is about 60″ square). Half of the appliqued border is now finished. I really like the way it looks. What do you think?

When one does needlework and quilting and gardening and reading, etc. etc. etc., it is hard to decide what project to work on at any given time. I guess I am just a jack-of-all-trades….master of NONE!!!!

And last but not least….I thought I would wish EVERYONE a Happy Valentine’s Day! Hugs and Much Love to All of You.

Amities, Averyclaire

PIF Gifts Mailed to Recipients

Here are two gifts I made and finally completed for a Pay It Forward.   Last Fall I received a Pay It Forward award (a lovely temari ball) from Jane at World Embroideries and now after eleven months, I have finally sent my Pay It Forward awards to the two people who won them on my blog.   For Anne at Nanouanne, I made a needlework biscornu.   I forgot to take a photo of the biscornu I made, but Anne took a lovely photo of it and she is letting me use her photo for my blog.

biscornu

And for Karol at  Rosebud’s Stitching I made a small Amish Friendship Basket Wall Hanging.   I forgot to take a photo of Karol’s finished gift as well, but here is a photo of one exactly the same as I made for Karol…only Karol’s had a different binding.AmishBaskets

Both items were made in friendship.   I chose a quilted piece for Karol because she is an expert needleworker and is not a quilter that I know of.   And for Anne who does lovely quilting and is an artist in many areas including Art Trading Cards, I thought to make a cross-stitched piece because I don’t think she does cross-stitching.   I just wanted their gifts to be different.   It was a fun thing to do to send a surprise in the mail.    Amities, Averyclaire

Back to Stitching Again

The vacation was not just about photos (although I have more to share and I will soon).   It was about learning to relax and enjoy life again.   So, I am attempting to get back to my sewing and stitching in a relaxing and healthy way.   It seems my full-time work is so busy, then my “health program” for myself and my DH (shopping for healthy food, reading up on the latest health news, WALKING at least one hour plus per day, etc.), and life in general has consumed all my time.   Surely you all have been-there-done-that in one way or another…found yourself on a turntable not sure how to jump off?

rockysantabeartoothm-MH20-8303So while away I have been working on this small santa ornament (Mill Hill kit “Rocky Mountain Beartooth Santa“), which I purchased at the House of Stitches.   I thought if I started out small I would get it done quwinterholidaybird283-542-9304-1ickly and feel good about it.    While in Colorado, I visited The Stitcher’s Garden once more and fell in love with this little white bird (also a Mill Hill kit “Winter Holiday“).    The kit even comes with some “furry white thread” to make him look especially adorable.    I also found at The Stitcher’s Garden, this pattern for small quilted pincushions (Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. “Tuffets“).   It’s just the right “small” size project that I was looking for at this time.

tuffetsnewAll_in_one

I am about 3/4 of the way finished with the Beartooth Santa ornament and it sure feels good to be stitching again.    I have a monumental project waiting for me.   I need to complete my son’s wedding quilt (it’s only about 1/3 complete).  He has been married for two years this month!    So I figured if I started small,  I would get inspired.   Anyone out there been feeling the same way as me?

Next stop on the trip was the fantastic Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming.   I LOVE the wide open spaces of Wyoming.    I will have photos for you next time. 

For now, happy stitching…..Averyclaire

Celebrations

We went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a couple of days to help celebrate the birthday of a friend.   It was such a joyful celebration.   The party was a kind of family reunion, where many of the family members had not seen one another for up to 15 years!    

From the sidelines I watched his daughter gently holding her father’s hand and I could see the tenderness and love in their faces as they spoke quietly in the corner.  It was fun to watch the joy on the faces of cousins who were together for the first time in years.  The entire weekend was very uplifting.  Thanks Ray for sharing your birthday with us.

 

It was also a “quilt fix” for me, as my friend, Judy, is a wonderful quilter.  She had many projects to share…some finished…some works in progress.  She inspires me to say the least.  I always find fun and laughter when we are together.   Sadly our time was limited to just a brief visit, but it makes me long for another visit, hopefully soon.

 

Today I share with you one of my works in SLOW progress…some of my Hawaiian quilt blocks.  My daughter, who has a wedding anniversary today, bought me a Hawaiian quilting book on her honeymoon in Hawaii several years ago.   So far I have only three blocks done.  I love to do the needle turned appliqué, but I fear it will be a long time before it is complete.  Her anniversary today inspired me to share this with you.

Work in Progress

We like to get away to the woods and nature whenever we can.   We both grew up in the city/suburbs and really appreciate the smell of the forest in the morning.  Here is a photo of our home away from home.   We don’t go too far with fuel prices high, but when we go now we go for a week or so and stay put.  I always bring my sewing machine along and some kind of handwork, as well as a good book.   That way, just in case of rain, I can always be occupied with something worthwhile.   During one RV outing it rained nearly every day.  We did a lot of walking and hiking with umbrellas.  But that week I put together the body of what will be a tablecoth.  It will have a wide border with appliqued flowers on all sides.   I did the top,  but not the applique.  I actually LOVE to applique, but after the week away, I put the top into a box and there it sat for a long time.   It is one of the projects I hope to finish this winter.   Just another UFO on the shelf for now.  I imagine that all of you needleart people out there have a few UFOs among you, no matter what is your desired medium.

A Time for Reflection

Yesterday I attended a benefit for a friend who has stage four melanoma. She was young and full of life one day, and in the hospital the next with serious bad news. We go through our daily lives never dreaming such tragedy could strike us. At least I don’t much think about these things. My heart is sad for her husband who is like a lost puppy; for her daughters who are doting on her hoping to have quality time for a few months; and for her mother who knows that NO mother should ever outlive her child. And as I sat with my friends, signing Karoke to “That’s What Friends Are For”…tears fell from all of our eyes unashamedly. It was difficult to leave the party, to say that last goodbye, to let go when we had that last hug. I am not sure if I will see her again. So many thoughts and what ifs….and so on. This certainly is now a time for reflection in my life.

Have I been a good wife, a good mother, and was I a good daughter? Have I been a good and faithful friend to those I love and trust? And have I been able to be a friend to those I do not love nor trust? And have I been true to what I believe in and searched for that which I could not? Have I been true to myself and have I lived my life not just for others, but so that I might be enriched and fulfilled? Have I supported and encouraged the artist within? Questions, questions, questions. I have no answers.

Instead I went into my sewing room to work on the unfinished wedding quilt for my son who was married a year ago. Perhaps I’d better finish it…perhaps in a few months, well, I won’t even say it. And all those other UFOs! But the panic quickly left. What I really must do is to call my two sons, and my daughter and tell them just how much they mean to me today. I do this occasionally, but one more time can’t hurt. And when I lay beside my husband tonight I will tell him how much I love him today, yesterday, and for always. Not who, not where, not what I am is important. Simply just to be is enough. The rest will come.

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