January 31, 2014

More Thread Catchers

I have made 8 more thread catchers, still following this same tutorial as the first time I made them.
Yes, I know there are only 6 in this picture. Two have already been given away. I'm using one and the other 5 are just being held until I have other occasions to give them away.

My original one is still in my hand sewing bag, but it won't stay open very well after being smushed into the bag so often. It just sits like this...
So my new one will sit by my machine, and hopefully stay open, making it easier to dispose of thread tails and the like. I must say, after using the red one for almost a year now, I'm amazed at just how much thread it holds. I'm also amazed that my post from April, when I accidentally made 3 of them, is my fifth most popular post.

In other news, my happy birthday quilt is sporting some new hardware.
I'm still looking for testers for the pattern, so if you're interested please let me know.

The Compassion Bloggers trip to Uganda is almost over. Go here to read their blog posts about the trip. Interested in sponsoring a child? Go here to help release a child from poverty in Jesus' name.

Have a great weekend! I'm linking up with all the Friday finish parties.

January 28, 2014

A Stitching Day

Today was an unusual day. School was closed this morning because of icy roads, so I spent about an hour stitching on my sewing room block for the And Sew On BOM. It doesn't look like much, but these four sections will eventually be the framed pictures on the walls of my stitched sewing room.

I had fun picking out the fabrics to fussy cut for these tiny frames.

School was open again for the afternoon, so I should have had my usual crew of little ones to look after. But one of them is only here a couple of days a week and today wasn't one of those days. Another had a playdate arranged with another family, so he wasn't here. That left me with the youngest, who cooperated and napped for two hours. Since Nathan was in school, I was all by myself. That almost never happens in the middle of the day!

So what did I do? Quilted, of course!
I took out my scrappy log cabin quilt and quilted spirals in another block. That leaves me with one more row to go, which is only 8 of the 56 blocks.

Then I did all the feathers and flowers in a full row of sashing and cornerstones. Only one more row of the vertical sashing left. Then it will be the horizontal sashing and the borders. Still lots to go, but at the same time it feels like the end in is sight.
I took the quilt out of the machine, took these few pictures and that's when my little charge woke up. How's that for timing?

Linking to these places.

January 27, 2014


Devotion for the Week...

Proverbs 18:9 says, "One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys." At first glance, this may sound a little harsh. After all, being slack in our work doesn't feel like we are destroying anything. But while we are not actively destroying, our lack of attention to the work we do can sometimes leave lasting damage.

I wrote this verse in the clipboard I use for devotion ideas months ago. At the time I thought I would use it for a quilting related devotion. The verse has been going through my head all day today, but not with a quilting connection, just a regular life one.
As a stay-at-home mom, my work involves caring for my three boys - getting them out the door for school in the morning with healthy lunches and snacks, helping with homework when needed, giving them my time and attention so they know they are valuable to me.

My work babysitting three other little ones involves changing diapers for the littlest two, making sure all three eat snacks and lunch, getting the youngest to take a nap (a feat in itself for a child who won't stick to a predictable schedule!) and playing with all of them throughout the day.

If I were slack in my work with either my own boys or the three I look after, it would not be an active destruction, but it would do damage. Not caring for them physically, with meals and snacks, clean diapers or appropriate naps, would hurt their bodies. Not giving them my time and attention in a positive way could hurt their self-esteem, their emotional development and their relationships with others as they grow older. Though each little task throughout the day may feel minor and insignificant, all of them together make for a work that needs to be done properly.

As I write this on Sunday evening, this verse really strikes home. It has been a somewhat 'off' day for me. You see, Nathan, my youngest, talks A LOT. As in constant. As in sometimes I feel like I am going to lose my mind if he doesn't just stop for a while. I struggle with finding the balance between listening to him, validating his ideas and thoughts, and preserving my sanity by telling him not to talk anymore. 

Today has been more of a preserve-my-sanity kind of day. I have really just wanted my own space while he has wanted nothing more than to tell me his favourite parts of the show he watched earlier, or to sing me a song or three.

I know all parents have days like this. I know I have not been slack in caring for Nathan or any of the others, but today makes me wonder how my moods affect my parenting. How my moods affect Nathan and his development. Thankfully, I also know that it takes more than one day to set how a child feels about himself. And normally I have more patience for listening to Nathan's chatter.

It is easy, though, to see how a pattern could develop. A pattern of days with no patience, of not listening to him, of always telling him to go find something else to do. While that would not be actively destroying him, it would be slacking off in the work that is required of a parent. It would be damaging to him, or to any child, in a much more subtle way. So I can see how "one who is slack in his work" could be seen as "brother to one who destroys." Not the same, no, but kin.

What is your work, paid or otherwise? How could slacking off in that work be damaging? Though you may not be actively destroying anything, cutting corners or doing less than your best could be making a negative impact on someone or on whatever project you are working on. Would you be working differently if there were a supervisor watching your every move?

The Bible tells us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23, 24). That is our standard for everything we do. Though we will all have 'off' days, days when we just aren't ourselves, 'slack' should not be the word people would choose to describe our work.

January 26, 2014

My first-ever solids

This lovely rainbow arrived in our mailbox this week. Aren't they beautiful? This is the bundle I won from the last quarter of the Finish-A-Long  2013, courtesy of Sew Sisters Quilt Shop.

I haven't made a solids quilt yet, though I've been considering it for a while. So now I get to figure out what I want to do with these. And what other solids I'll need to round out any quilt plans I come up with, of course!

Any tips for picking patterns to make with solids?

I'm linking up with Sunday Stash today.

January 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Progress on Several Fronts

I've been making bits of progress on several of my projects. To start with, I've been working on the Happy Birthday banner quilt. I got the top pieced, after a slightly panicky moment when I realized I didn't have enough of this blue batik for the borders.
I figure that extra little seam in each side border won't be all that noticeable, right?

I also have the letters drawn on the paper side of the fusible web. I'll be using the red of the inner border for the letters. I'm working on writing the pattern for this quilt, so if anyone is interested in testing it for me, email me at piecefullydevoted at gmail dot com.

Monday night I did some of the stitching around these snowmen. There are six snowmen (three at each end of the runner) and only one and a bit left to go for the stitching around the body. Then all six need arms so they are actually holding the things currently just floating on their bellies.

I have started pulling fabrics for the sewing room block of the And Sew On BOM by Kristy at Quiet Play. This is what I took out of my scrap bag one evening. I still need a bunch of other fabrics, so hopefully I'll dig those out of my stash later in the week.

 I have my paper foundations all printed and labelled, which will make life easier when I am ready to start sewing all these tiny pieces.

As I was labeling the sections I realized the sections are lettered from A all the way to Q - that's a lot of sections. Then I noticed that some of the sections have 10 or more pieces, which made me wonder, "Just how many pieces are in this block, anyway?" So I tallied them all up.

See that number circled at the top of the paper? Yep. 117 pieces in one 10" block. I don't know who's crazier - Kristy for designing it or those of us who think it's too cute not to make!

I hope to tackle at least a couple of sections of this block before the week is out. We are under a blizzard warning for tomorrow, so maybe that means I'll get a little extra sewing time.

I link to these places.

January 21, 2014

Compassion Bloggers Trip to Uganda

Compassion Bloggers ganda Trip 2014
Compassion Bloggers are heading to Uganda next week. They will be visiting two Compassion Centers and meeting the sponsored children and some of their families. They'll also be writing about their journey for those of us at home. Their posts will be shared here.

Will you pray for these bloggers and the families they will meet?

If you would like to sponsor a child through Compassion, click on the picture on the sidebar or go here.

January 20, 2014

Interested or Passionate?

Devotion for the Week...

I have a couple of friends I sew with on Monday nights. They enjoy making quilts, but if they don't have a project for a couple of weeks, or if they have are too busy to sew for a while, it doesn't really bother them. They enjoy quilting, but it isn't a passion for them.

Then there's me. They probably think I'm a little weird, or maybe that I'm completely insane, I'm not sure. Maybe I should ask them. I have so many projects on the go at one time I am probably never going to run out. Anytime I finish something, I start right in on one of the many other ideas that are swirling in my head, or just a random one that catches my attention. If I go a couple of days with no sewing at all, I start to feel a bit antsy, anxious to get back to my machine. I am passionate about quilting.

Whether your interest in quilting, or any other hobby, is a passion, a slight interest or somewhere in between really doesn't matter in the long run. How much time and mental energy you want to devote to a hobby has no consequence one way or the other. It is entirely a matter of personal preference.

Not so with our pursuit of God. Our desire for God's presence and for His Word should be passionate. Psalm 42:1,2 says, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?"

Have you ever been really thirsty? Remember how much you thought about and longed for that glass of water that would quench your thirst? That is how we should feel about spending time reading the Bible or praying. That is how much we should think about and long for times when we can be in God's presence. Our pursuit of God should look more like my passion for quilting than like my friends' interest in it.

I have a confession to make. Lately, my pursuit of God has been more like an interest than a passion. If I didn't read my Bible for a couple of days (or even more than a week) I barely gave it a thought. Prayer has been reduced to a few moments here and there, scattered throughout my day, whenever something came to mind and I prayed a couple of sentences and then moved on. Any deer that drank from the stream that rarely would be dead.

 I have always tried to fit God in at the end of the day, when the boys were tucked into bed and I could read in peace. Except, when they did go to bed, I found I was quilting or reading or watching TV with Paul. Pretty much anything except reading my Bible. So I have made a change. I am setting my alarm clock 30 minutes earlier to give myself a dedicated time to read my Bible and pray. The only reason I'm out of bed at that time is to be with God. That works well to limit the distractions.

I have found that the more I quilt, the more I want to quilt. I have found it with other interests in the past too. I am hoping that the same will be true of this time with God. The more I do it, the more I will look forward to it and the more I will feel a day isn't complete without it.

Today is my fourth morning with this new schedule and I find I really enjoy those few minutes at the start of my day. It may not seem like much, but it's a lot more than I was getting a couple of weeks ago and I don't miss that little bit of sleep as much as I thought I would.
How passionately are we pursuing God? | DevotedQuilter.com
Background quilt is Cross Stitch
Where are you in your pursuit of God? Is it a passion you anticipate and long for, or is it an interest you enjoy when you can fit it into your schedule? Is there something you could change to make more time for God, to give yourself a dedicated portion of your day free from the distractions of everyday life?

Wherever you are in pursuit of whatever hobbies you enjoy, I pray you would join me in pursuing God more passionately.

January 18, 2014

A Great Way to Spend an Afternoon

Fresh snow fell Thursday night/ Friday morning, so this afternoon we strapped on our snowshoes to take advantage of it.
This trail runs right behind our house to a cliff overlooking a brook, which is usually where we stop. This year we decided to tackle the steep hill taking us down to the brook.

I love the sound of running water! We walked along the brook for a while before heading back home.

Without lugging a tripod or finding a perfectly placed rock, this is the best we could do for a family picture - with Mom, then with Dad!

By the way, did you know Craftsy is having a flash sale this weekend?
Craftsy Flash Sale 1/18 - 1/19
This year, turn your resolutions into reality with Craftsy! For the next 48 hours, choose from over 50 classes in 14 categories that are up to 50% off and start learning from the comfort of your own home. Categories include cooking, photography, sewing, quilting, fine art, knitting, and more! Check out the flash sale here: Craftsy Flash Sale 1/18-1/19

January 16, 2014

First Finish of 2014

 I have a finished project for 2014! Whoo hoo! I made this bag for the laptop Paul gave me for Christmas. Now, truth be told, the laptop will probably only leave the house a couple times a year (if that) and will live on the kitchen counter while in the house, so the bag is maybe a little unnecessary, but at least it's pretty. Plus I've already used it once...though not to carry the laptop.

I almost made this bag without looking at a pattern or tutorial, pretty much going on memory after making the messenger bag for the boys, but I had to check the tutorial when I was ready to sew the outside and the lining together. I can never remember which goes inside which and I really didn't want to get it wrong and have to take that seam out and sew it again. This is the tutorial I used.

I couldn't get fusible fleece so I used regular batting, with one layer on the outside and one on the lining. It makes for a nice weight to the bag. I quilted the outside with a loopy stipple, which gives great texture to the fabric, but the stitches themselves don't show up well because I used black thread. I quilted the inside (which is red) with straight lines.
This fabulous folded hexagon flower was so much fun to make. I used this tutorial for that. It was really quick to fold and stitch and I love the little detail it adds to the finished bag. I stitched it to the bag using a ladder stitch, so the stitches are pretty much invisible.

Another first for 2014...

My first empty spool of the year. This used to hold red thread until I polished it off while making the bag.

Do you keep track of how many spools you use a year? I kept all my empty spools last year, after reading a post on Quiltmaker's Quilty Pleasures blog back in January 2013. Turns out I used 27 spools last year, which sounds pretty decent. Of course, quite a few of those were almost empty to begin with and I used them up to baste hexagons. So now the count for 2014 has begun. I wonder if I'll top 27 spools.

This bag is the first of my finishes for my FAL list this quarter...and the link-up for proposed finishes isn't even closed yet! I feel so productive.

I also got an email yesterday from Leanne at She Can Quilt telling me I won fabric for one of my finishes last quarter, so now I may have to hang out at the post office a little, waiting to get my hands on these mystery fabrics. I'll be sure to share a picture or two when they arrive.

January 13, 2014

How Great?

Devotion for the Week...

In church yesterday we sang Chris Tomlin's "How Great is our God." Every time I hear or sing that song the chorus really grabs my attention.

How great is our God – sing with me
How great is our God – and all will see
How great, how great is our God

'Sing with me...and all will see'...that's the part that gets me. You see, I know our God is great. People in churches all around the world know that God is great. But what about all the people not in church? The people who have no desire to ever enter a church? Do they know God is great? And if they don't, how will they ever see His greatness?

According to this chorus, it will only happen if we who know God can 'sing' together. That may sound like a very superficial answer, but it isn't really. Tomlin doesn't mean our voices must be in tune with each other, or that we know the song well enough not to fumble the lyrics. That would be too easy, too superficial. Tomlin means our lives must be in tune with each other. We have to be singing the same song, and that's no easy feat.

Think about it. Just within one local church there are often divisions over issues like music styles or what is considered proper attire or even which translation of the Bible the pastor should use. Magnify that over all the churches within a denomination, then all the different denominations. That's a lot of differences in opinion. 

Then, of course, there are the differences between denominations. Some are rather small differences, others full-out, bloody war.

Can you see how the people of the world can miss the wonder of God's greatness when we Christians are the only demonstration they see?

Does Tomlin have biblical basis for this chorus that so affects me? Turns out, he does. In John's gospel, chapter 17, Jesus prays for all those who will one day believe in Him. He prays, "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17: 21-23).

Complete unity.

That hardly describes Christians in the world today, or any other era of church history. And yet, if we were to live in unity with one another, to sing the same song as it were, then the world would see and know that God sent Jesus. And knowing that would change them for eternity.

So how does that mean we should live? Do we ignore our differences, or pretend everything is perfect? Of course not. But there is a world of difference between disagreeing with someone and bad-mouthing them to anyone who will listen. 

Paul wrote, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18). That should be our guiding principle in every relationship we have. Not to make ourselves doormats, but also not to try to take advantage of others. To not take offense easily or to hold grudges. To forgive as readily as God has forgiven us, which I know is easier said than done.

As for the differences between denominations, I think it is important for each of us as believers to read the Bible for ourselves and know what we believe, but not to attack others who interpret certain passages differently. The Bible is full of hard to understand passages that have been debated for centuries with no resolution. What good do we do if we hate one another over these differences?

Jesus said, "This is my command: Love each other" (John 15:17). If we could obey that command, doing our best to live in peace with everyone around us, then I think the world would sit up and take notice. They would see something worth further investigation. They would want to know why we are different. And that would give us the opportunity to tell them about the God we serve, who loves them so much He sent Jesus for them. And then they would see how  great He is.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Will you sing with me?

How great is our God – sing with me
How great is our God – and all will see
How great, how great is our God

January 08, 2014

Finish-A-Long List for Q1 2014

Here we go...another quarter of the Finish-a-Long means another goal setting list. So, what do I hope to finish between now and the end of March? The obvious place to start is with those two projects that didn't get finished last quarter, both of which I really want to have off my list and in use already!

1. My scrappy log cabin quilt. I have been at the quilting stage for almost a full year now. I did take it out a couple of times since I put it on my Q4 list, but it's still a work in progress. I'd really love to have this one finished and on the spare room bed.
 2. My And Sew On quilt. Kristy at Quiet Play has moved on to another BOM and I'm still not ready to put my top together from the last one. I have finished one more block since I wrote my last list, so that's progress at least. I plan to make the sewing room block and then put the whole thing together to hang on my laundry room wall. I don't have a sewing room and I spend a fair amount of time doing laundry, so a pretty quilt in there will brighten up a never-ending task.
3. Next on my list in this snowman runner I started back in November. I was making great headway with it until I abandoned it to work on the boys' ornaments for Christmas. Now I'd like to get it finished so it will be ready to display next year.
 4. Paul gave me a laptop for Christmas, to fuel my addiction interest in blogging and being part of the blogging community as a whole, so I need to make a bag for that. I have the pieces cut out, the outside stitched together, and I've even made this folded hexagon flower to decorate the front of the bag. This should be a rather quick finish.

5. I have a Happy Birthday banner type quilt designed that I would like to make for celebrating our family's birthdays. Zach's is the first of the year (on February 4th) so I better get moving on this one if I want it ready in time. I plan to write the pattern for it too, so hopefully it will soon join my Portrait of a Snowman block in my Craftsy pattern store.

So that's it. There are other projects I'm working on, like my hexagon quilt and my Sugar Block 2013 quilt, but they aren't near enough to being finished to make the list for this quarter.

Want to link your own list? Head on over to The Littlest Thistle, and join in the fun.

Finish Along 2014

January 06, 2014

Our Giving Attitude

Devotion for the Week...

Quilter, as a group, are quite generous. When a tragedy occurs, quilters step up to blanket the victims in love. Lately, this has become a rather regular occurrence. Just since I have started blogging there have been quilts collected for West, Texas and for Moore, Oklahoma. Flags were donated to show love and support to the city of Boston and more quilts went to the people of Alberta. Sarah, of Confessions of a Fabric Addict, regularly shares the quilts made and donated by her church's quilt ministry. There are many other avenues for donating quilts, like Project Linus or Siblings Together. The do.Good Stitches bee works like any other online bee, but their finished quilts are donated.

I found this verse from 2 Corinthians to be interesting when I read it the other day. "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have" (2 Corinthians 8:12). The phrase 'for if the willingness is there' practically jumped out at me. God doesn't look only at what we do, but also at our thoughts and feelings about what we do. We can give and give and give all day long, but if we're grumbling in our hearts and heads, our giving is not acceptable to God. He wants us to give willingly. In the next chapter of the same letter, Paul wrote, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). So, God wants us to give, but we shouldn't be giving because we feel we have to or because everyone else is giving to a particular cause. God wants us to be giving because we want to give. Of course, we also can't just feel willing to give without actually giving anything. Both the willingness and the gift have to be there.

And if we are willing to give? Then the acceptability of what we give is measured according to what we have available to us. A person living on a small income who can only give a little shouldn't feel guilty for not being able to give as much as a person with a six-figure salary. Likewise, a quilter who sews in her spare moments and donates a couple of quilts a year shouldn't feel inadequate compared to a retired quilter who sews pretty much all day and has a stash to rival her local fabric store.

Jesus Himself shared this principle when He sat watching people putting money into the temple treasury. "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on'" (Mark 12:4-44). Though the widow's offering was tiny in terms of what it could buy, it was huge in terms of her faith and her willingness to give whatever she could.

Where are we with our giving? Whether we donate quilts or time or money, what is our attitude as we give? Are we cheerful givers, excited to be able to share some measure of what we have? Or are we giving only because it is expected of us, all the while thinking of what we could be buying with that money if we kept it for ourselves?

What about the proportion of what we give compared to what we have? Our tendency, I think, is to compare ourselves with others who have more than we do, making us feel that we don't have much we can share. If we were to take an unbiased look at our own resources, would we find we are better able to give than we thought? Many would probably have looked at the widow and thought she was crazy for giving as much as she did, and yet Jesus commended her actions. Would He commend us for our giving?

January 03, 2014

A Christmas Tradition

I know, Christmas is well over and we're moving forward into 2014, setting goals and all that stuff. But I have one last Christmas post to share and then I'll join right in with the goal setting. After all, the linky for the first quarter of the Finish-a-Long 2014 opens on the 7th!

Every year I make one ornament for each of  my three boys that reflects something important about his year. The ornaments are cross-stitched, except for one of Aiden's, because I couldn't find a pattern at the time for a phone (his favourite toy that year). These are surprises that I hang on the tree Christmas Eve for them to find in the morning.
Here are Aiden's ornaments, in order from 2002 to this year. Some of them need a little explaining when people are looking at our tree. Like the big poppy with Lest we Forget written on it. Aiden has been interested in the military for years, especially military history and both World Wars, so his ornament for 2009 reflected that. The tent is the only ornament I gave all three boys the same year, marking the year we bought a tent and started camping. This year I made Aiden a set of drums to commemorate his love of drumming.
These are Zachary's ornaments, from the dolphin in 2004 to his love of science experiments this year. When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas this year, his response was, "Well, I like engineering." What were we supposed to do with that?? His love for insects made it onto the tree in the form of a spider (not your usual Christmas decoration, I know), and last year's obsession with reading mysteries resulted in the book with a ? on it.
These are Nathan's ornaments. You may have noticed that all three boys have the little chalkboard, which marks their first year of school. Being rather smart, Aiden and Zachary had already figured out that Nathan would be getting that this year. The worm in the apple for 2008 was because Nathan was the squirmiest worm of a baby that we have ever seen. He simply could not stay still unless he was sleeping. Plus, he loved to eat, a fact which was further noted with the seagull the next year. Remember the seagulls in Finding Nemo? "Mine, mine, mine!" That was Nathan's reaction anytime he saw anyone with food. Though he couldn't actually talk at the time, he toddled over to whoever had the food and made it very clear he expected them to share. Mine, mine, mine!

I started these collections thinking it probably wouldn't interest the boys much while they were kids, but eventually they'd grow up and their wives at least would be interested. Plus it was something unique I could give them. What I think is wonderful is how much they do enjoy their ornaments. Some years they start asking if I know what the ornaments will be as early as October. Other years they make suggestions for what they think they should get.

There. We actually took down our tree and all the other decorations yesterday, but I kept these out so I could take pictures to share. Now Christmas can be officially put away for another year.

By the way, this is my 100th post! Wow! Thank you so much to everyone who reads my little blog, and especially to those of you who comment. It is so much fun to share my quilting (and other stuff) and to 'meet' new friends around the world.