August 27, 2018

Blueberry Picking Styles

Devotion for the Week...

If you want to make my day in August, call me early in the morning and invite me to go blueberry picking. That's exactly what happened one day last week and I spent a fabulous few hours out picking (and taste testing!) berries. While we were picking, we talked about how different people approach picking berries differently.

Bonnie says she roams around a lot because she always wants to find the biggest berries and she doesn't have much patience for picking the small ones. She said that when she was little and would go picking with her aunt, her aunt would sit in one spot and pick every berry on whatever bush was in front of her, regardless of size, before moving on to another bush.

I tend to pick in one spot for a while, then roam around until I find another good spot, then sit there and pick for a while. I don't pick every berry on the bush before moving on, but I don't only pick the biggest ones, either.

Gord picks slowly, but cleanly. No unripe berries or leaves mixed in with the good ones, whereas Bonnie picks faster, but dirtier. She has to sort through her berries when they get home.

Nathan picked some, ate some, picked some more, ate some more. He kept looking into my bucket and saying, "I don't have as many as you." Hardly surprising since I think he ate more than made their way into his bucket, lol.

My father-in-law goes out for hours and hours and hours at a time, leaving early in the morning and getting back around suppertime or even later. Other people get tired of it after only a couple of hours.

Blueberry picking style really doesn't matter in the end, though. There's no right or wrong way to pick berries. We're all just out there to get some yummy blueberries to take home.

Strangely enough, this musing about how differently we approach picking berries had me thinking about unity in the church. Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me" (John 17:20,21).

He prayed for our unity, but unfortunately many over the years have confused unity with uniformity.

Unity means "being united or joined as a whole" while uniformity means "the quality or state of being uniform." Can you see the difference?

Unity is being part of something bigger than just you. The church or a group of blueberry pickers, for example.

Uniformity is being the same as everyone else. There's no individuality, no personality, no difference in style. If you don't do things the same way as everyone else, then you're either not doing it right or you're not part of the group at all.

The problem is, God never intended us to be uniform. Just look at us! He designed every one of us, from our appearance to our personality to our talents and even to our blueberry picking style. Psalm 139:14 says, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it."

If He designed each one of us to be so very different in so many ways, then why would He then expect His church to be all the same? And if we don't even pick berries the same way, how could we ever dress the same, talk the same and worship the same?
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
The church exists to help others learn about God and to help believers learn and grow to be more like Jesus. We're all part of the church together for that purpose, just as the group of us were all out in the woods together for the purpose of picking berries. But in the church, under the umbrella of that purpose, there's plenty of room for our different styles.

FYI, this isn't my first devotion inspired by how we pick blueberries . You can also check out Blueberry Picking.

August 20, 2018


Devotion for the Week...

When we heard last week that Aretha Franklin was in the hospital and her family had been called in, my husband said, "Wow. That will be a loss." Then, when she died on Thursday, we heard so many people talking about her music, her involvement with the civil rights movement and how bold it was for a young black woman to have been singing about Respect at that time.

What a legacy! What a wonderful way to use her talents to make an impact on the world. It made me think, "What will people say about me when I'm gone?"

I don't expect that my passing will make the national news or make headlines even in my small town. Yours may not, either. But that doesn't mean our lives won't impact the people around us in some way. How could we not? People's lives are connected to all of those around them and how one person lives will always have an impact on others. The question is, what will our legacy be?

Will it be one of service to a greater good? Or of only serving ourselves?

One of using the gifts God gave us to serve Him? Or burying those gifts out of fear and insecurity?

One of deep relationships or of being too focused on our work/hobbies/social media to connect with the people around us?

And more importantly, one with an emphasis on our faith or one where faith seems irrelevant?

Hebrews 11 is sometimes called the "Hall of Faith" because of the great faith of everyone listed. "It was by faith" is the start of all of the short profiles, including Noah, Abraham, Joseph and Moses. Everything these men and women did was founded in their faith in God.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
I love the profile of Enoch, which says, "It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—'he disappeared, because God took him.' For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God" (v. 5).

He was known as a person who pleased God. Now there's a legacy to leave behind, wouldn't you say?

August 17, 2018

When A Quilt Isn't Working

Have you ever been working on a quilt and then really didn't like the process anymore? I've been finding that with my Scattered Stars EPP quilt for the past few months.
EPP stars |
I enjoyed piecing the stars together, but I'm not at all enjoying joining them together. I set out to join them randomly using two different grey fabrics for the background diamonds. I likened it to doing improv piecing. I wouldn't join the stars in set rows, they'd just be scattered over the background, which is what inspired the name. This is where it stands right now.
EPP stars |
The problem is, I don't ever want to work on it. While I do like how it looks, I don't enjoy piecing the randomness nearly as much as I thought I would and I don't like trying to maneuver the weirdly shaped growing sections. But I don't want to stitch the stars together in rows with background diamonds in between either.

While this one has been in time out, essentially, I've been happily working on my hexie rainbow quilt, so it's not like I don't have an EPP project to work on, but the stars have still been on my mind. At first, I tried to convince myself to keep working on it, but I always chose to pick up the hexies instead. That's a sure sign that I'm not enjoying a project, wouldn't you say?

I finally accepted that I'm never going to finish Scattered Stars as it is going right now. That means I have two options...abandon the stars altogether or remove the grey diamonds to free the stars I've already stitched in and use the stars for something else. With over 100 stars made, I'm not fond of the idea of abandoning them, but what else would I use them for?
EPP stars |
Then, while scrolling IG in the airport on our way home last month, I saw this picture:
EPP quilt inspiration |

It's exactly what I've been looking for! It calls to mind the Flowers for Eleni quilts and the more recent Kingfisher SAL, both of which I loved, but with stars rather than hexagon flowers 😊

I love the addition of the curved sections in the corners, too, but I'm not sure if/how I'll be incorporating those. Maybe applique bias tape? Embroidery? Or maybe they'd make the quilt look too busy. I think I'll have to have a few stars stitched onto backgrounds before I can decide.
EPP stars |
What colour(s) will I use for the background? There's a riot of colour in the stars, but I purposely made them with all prints and no solids. So I think I may continue the riot of colour in the background, but use all solids. That way I could pair each star with a contrasting background, but (hopefully!) keep the whole quilt from being too busy.

And lastly, I don't know if I'll stagger the columns of stars as they are in the picture, or if I'll make them line up neatly. Again, I'll be better able to judge that when I have a few stitched up.

Still lots of decisions to be made, but at least now I feel like I have enthusiasm for the project again, which is a big improvement! I want to get a few backgrounds cut so I can start working on stitching the stars while we're on the road, alternating with my hexies 😊 I'll definitely share my progress as I'm going.

So how about you? Have you ever completely changed a quilt partway through construction?

August 13, 2018


Devotion for the Week...

Last Monday was the start of the 100 hexies 100 days challenge on IG and the theme for the first week was "all about me." Each day all of us participants have been sharing something about ourselves along with our hexie for the day. One lady shared that she loves taking pictures of flowers in her garden and she shared a collection of her pictures. The last one is a close up of what looks like a dandelion puff in silhouette and it is gorgeous. You can see it here, just click to the last picture.

I kept staring and staring at that picture, thinking about how dandelions are usually considered weeds, something to be pulled out and discarded. Her change in persepective, though, was so different from the normal view that it made the dandelion puff stunningly beautiful. And that led me to think about how God's perspective on our circumstances is so different from our normal view.

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Let's note, first of all, that Paul is not saying that everything in our lives is good. Illness is not good. The death of a loved one is not good. Accidents are not good. Poverty is not good. There is no debate there. We would like for everything to be good and rosy and perfect every day of our lives, but we all know that isn't our reality. There is no way to avoid trouble. It's part of living in this world where sin exists.

But God can use everything, even those things that aren't good in and of themselves, to create good in our lives. His perspective is different. It's not that He looks at those things and sees them as good, as I said, but rather that He also sees how He can use them to create something good for us.

Our perspective is limited to the here-and-now. We see how something is right now - the pain, the uncertainty and the fear. We can't see where today's circumstances are leading us, but God can. He sees not only today, but also all the days we will ever have.

I have heard people say that their illness brought them closer to God or made them more appreciative of the people around them. I have heard of hardships bringing families closer together and of people losing their jobs only to find a new career path that was so much better than where they were before.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
Not everything that happens in life is good, but from His different perspective, God can see how to use it for our good.

August 10, 2018

Island Batik Great Outdoors Blog Hop - Formal Garden

Note, the fabrics for this project were given to me by Island Batik as part of their ambassador program.

Welcome to my stop on the Island Batik Great Outdoors blog hop! All through this hop the ambassadors are sharing the newest Island Batik fabric collections (which are hitting stores now!) and there are prizes galore to be given away 😊 You'll want to be sure to check in with everyone to see the amazing things they've been making.

I was assigned the beautiful Vintage Morris collection to work with for this hop. This was the surprise bundle in my first Island Batik box back in February and I just love the nature inspired prints and the range of colours from very light to very dark.
Vintage Morris Fabric by Island Batik |
I think my favourite print might be this one, called Mini Sprigs, which is included in the collection in 6 different colours.
Vintage Morris Fabric by Island Batik |
The inspiration for this quilt design came from the print on my shower curtain, of all things. Proof once again that quilt designs really are everywhere! I've been looking at it for years and thinking, "That needs to become a quilt design" and now it finally has.

I'm pleased to introduce you to Formal Garden. Shower Curtain Quilt just didn't have the same ring to it, lol, and the regular squares and rectangles of the block remind me of garden plots surrounded by pathways. 😊
Formal Garden Quilt |
Formal Garden Quilt |
Formal Garden Quilt |
 I just love quilt-on-the-beach pictures, don't you?

I had yardage of one light fabric and one dark from the bundle, so I chose the light as my background. That meant I couldn't use some of the other lights for the blocks because I was afraid they wouldn't have enough contrast and the block design would be lost. I'm looking forward to using them in upcoming projects now that I don't have to keep them secret anymore.

Two of the fabrics I did use almost blend in with the background. You can see what I mean in the pictures above, but here are close ups of them.
Formal Garden Quilt |
My blocks are actually straight, I swear, but they sure don't look it when draped over a rock for pictures!
 Formal Garden Quilt |
These ones certainly didn't blend in! I love this deep green tone on tone.
Formal Garden quilt |
 In certain lights, the copper toned background of this print seems to glow around the green.
Formal Garden quilt |
 This light teal is so pretty, too.
Formal Garden quilt |
 And I love the dragonflies!
Formal Garden quilt |
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get this one quilted in time for the hop, but I do know what design I want to use, so I'm a step in the right direction already.
Formal Garden quilt |
I plan on releasing the pattern, just as soon as I can get it written and tested. If you're interested in testing it for me, please let me know in the comments. Formal Garden finishes at 59" x 73," is super quick to piece and it would be a great stash busting quilt.
Formal Garden quilt |
I said there are giveaways during the blog hop, didn't I? Well there are - and lots of them! Island Batik is giving away fabric strip packs on their blog (where you can also find the full schedule of participants) and each ambassador is also hosting a giveaway on their blog.

For my giveaway, the winner will be able to choose 2 of my PDF patterns 😊 To enter to win, just leave me a comment telling me your favourite summer activity.

For more entries, follow me on IG (@devotedquilter) or FB (@devotedquilterdesigns) and leave a comment for each way you follow me.

And for one more entry, subscribe to my monthly newsletter, The Bulletin. If you do, I'll show up in your inbox on the 16th of each month with news from here on the blog, a family favourite recipe and a fun themed roundup of things to make. You'll also receive my free Wind Farm quilt pattern, which is only available to subscribers. If you subscribe, just leave another comment saying you did (or already do!).

So, that's 4 possible entries. And yes, I will check to be sure the winner is actually following me as stated 😉

The giveaway will remain open until after the end of the blog hop. I'll pick the winner the morning of September 8th and they will be notified by email (so make sure to leave me your email address if you are a no-reply blogger).

Edited September 8th - the winner is comment #28, Sharon Aurora 😊 Thanks, everyone, for entering!

Here's one last picture. I think this might be my favourite of all. I love this beach.
Formal Garden quilt |
And here's the full schedule of participants 😊 Happy blog hopping! I'll try to keep up with updating this list with direct links to the blog hop posts as they're published.

Monday, August 6 - All A Flutter - Yellow Cat Quilt DesignsCreative Blonde
Tuesday, August 7 - Birds N’ Bees - Ark Angel CreationsPatterns By Jen
Wednesday, August 8 - Canterbury Manor - Sally MankePowered By Quilting
Thursday, August 9 - Eclectic Garden - Desert Bloom QuiltingSew Karen-ly Created
Friday, August 10 - Vintage Morris - MooseStash QuiltingDevoted Quilter (that's me!)
Monday, August 13 - Safari - Sew Incredibly CrazySweetGrass Designs
Tuesday, August 14 - Spring Blossoms - Mary Mack Made MineIf These Threads Could Talk
Wednesday, August 15 - Victoria and Albert - Bejeweled QuiltsClever Chameleon
Thursday, August 16 - Wild Things - Freemotion By The RiverKauffman Designs
Friday, August 17 - Petting Zoo - Den Syende HimmelSarah Goer Quilts
Monday, August 20 - Ocean Odyssey - Gateway QuiltsThe Quilt Rambler
Tuesday, August 21 - British Rose - Busy Hands QuiltsMania for Quilts
Wednesday, August 22 - Dear William - The Inquiring Quiltermmm! QuiltsLiving Water Quilter
Thursday, August 23 - Dragonfly Dreams - Inchworm FabricsBeaQuilter
Friday, August 24 - Fur-ocious Friends - Quilting Affection DesignsDizzy Quilter
Monday, August 27 - Globetrotter - Pamela QuiltsCurliecue Creations
Tuesday, August 28 - Jungle Cruise - Vicki's Crafts and QuiltingLittle Bunny Quilts
Wednesday, August 29 - Lavendula - Carole Lyles ShawMasterpiece Quilting
Thursday, August 30 - London Calling - Quilt in a Not-ShellLizard Creek Quilting
Friday, August 31 - Spirit Rhythm - Steph JacobsonWhispers of Yore
Monday, September 3 - Sweet Tweets - Kathleen McMusingAdventurous Applique and Quilting
Tuesday, September 4 - Whatnot - heARTS CreationsSlice of Pi Quilts

August 06, 2018

The Start of Two Fun Things

There are two fun things starting today that I wanted to quickly share with you. The first is an Island Batik blog hop sharing all of their newest fabrics that are just becoming available in stores now.
From Island Batik:

Aaaah the great outdoors. We’re seeing more and more research that says spending time outside is good for your mental health. A lot like quilting, in that way! ;) So, on those days when it’s just too hot to fire up the iron and sewing machine, we stay get outside and have fun walking, tending to your garden, or just basking in the glorious (hot) sun!

The great outdoors are what inspired the this hop’s theme. Throughout the month of August, our Ambassadors will be featuring Island Batik’s newest fabrics, appearing on shop shelves SOON! See something you like? Ask for it at your local quilt shop, or request it if you don’t yet see it. We have the most delicious collections to share with you!

For the full schedule of participants, click here. The ambassadors are a talented group, so I highly recommend checking out what they've all made.

I'll be back on Friday with my project for the hop 😊

The other thing that starts today is 100hexies100days2018, on Instagram. I participated in this challenge last year and had so much fun making and sharing hexies. The idea is to make at least 1 EPP hexie every day for 100 days and there are weekly themes and prizes. I'm the prize sponsor for this first week with the theme of All About Me. If you like hexies and you're on IG, you should join in! The hexie makers are all so supportive and welcoming, which makes it extra fun.

Here are my first hexies, along with some of the strawberries I picked this afternoon.
Hexies |
During last year's hexie challenge, I made 429 hexies for my Hexie Rainbow quilt. We'll see how many I make this time around 😊 I still need hundreds of black hexies plus some greens, blues and purples, so I'll probably still need more even after the challenge is finished.

Do you know of anything fun that's just getting started? Share in the comments if you do!

Growing Up

Devotion for the Week...

A friend and I were talking about our kids last week and the new things that are happening as a result of them getting older (first girlfriend and first job other than delivering a newspaper, in my house, freedom to bike farther from home in hers). It's exciting to see our kids growing up and becoming more independent.

Back when my boys were toddlers, I had older women say to me, "I wish mine were that young again!" I couldn't, and still don't, understand it. Maybe I'm just not sentimental enough. I was never the one to cry when they started school, either.

I love watching my boys grow up and seeing each new level of maturity and independence. I love who they are becoming and in no way do I want to take them back to when they were small and fully dependent on us. Growing up, after all, is exactly what they're supposed to be doing!

Growing up doesn't stop when we become adults, though, or at least it shouldn't. We may not get taller (I certainly haven't, lol), but we should be constantly learning and growing wiser. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, "There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word" (Hebrews 5:11,12).

There is so much to think about in these two verses! Let's take a look.

First, the writer calls the recipients of this letter "spiritually dull" and says they "don't seem to listen." He's not saying they're stupid so much as saying they're not paying attention and so they're not taking in what is being taught to them. Have you ever tried to talk to someone who is tuning you out? They have this look on their faces that just tells you that your words might be going into their ears, but they're not grasping what you're saying. That's what these Hebrew believers were like. They were hearing about the grace of God, but it was pretty much going in one ear and out the other.

Are we spiritually dull? Or are we engaged, paying attention and fully taking in what we are being taught about God?

"You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others." Do you sense the writer's frustration? These believers were not new to their faith. In fact, they had been believers long enough that it would be reasonable to expect them to be comfortable explaining the foundations of their faith to others.

It's interesting, too, that this progression to being able to teach others isn't being directed at people who were training to be pastors or some other kind of official leader. These were just ordinary believers, but the expectation was for them to move on to teaching others in some capacity.

Do we understand the faith enough to be capable of teaching others? Teaching doesn't necessarily mean we have to be on a stage teaching a crowd. Maybe we're talking with our children or teaching a group of kids during Sunday school or even just explaining what we believe to a friend who doesn't yet believe.

"You need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word." If a person isn't paying attention, then they will need to be taught the same things over and over again, until they finally pay attention enough for the lesson to sink in. There are basics of the faith that every believer must understand before they can live in the freedom that Jesus has given us. Most notably, we need to understand the our salvation is a gift, not something we have earned by our own efforts (Ephesians 2:8,9).

Do we keep hearing the same message over and over? Maybe that's God trying to get our attention and teach us something we've been missing even though we've heard it before. We have to grasp a lesson before we can move on to the next one.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
Just like I don't want my boys to stay in the same stage of physical development forever, so I don't want to stay stuck in the same spiritual stage of development. It's important that we grow up spiritually.

August 02, 2018

Pinwheel Whirl Pattern Release

Pinwheel Whirl is one of my favourite quilts that I've made, so I'm excited to be able to release the pattern today! You can get the pattern in both my Etsy and Payhip shops.
Pinwheel Whirl quilt pattern |
Pinwheel Whirl is a throw sized quilt that finishes at 60" x 72". I love pinwheel blocks and had a lot of fun creating this design with two very different pinwheels.

The bold design stitches up quickly using traditional piecing methods and the abundant negative space gives you lots of room for your favourite quilting motifs 😊 We all know how much I love the quilting part, right?

To celebrate the release, the pattern is available for 25% off the regular price through August 17th, so pick up your copy today!

Buy Pinwheel Whirl in my Etsy shop

Buy Pinwheel Whirl in my Payhip shop

As always, if you make Pinwheel Whirl, I'd love to see your version so tag me on IG (@devotedquilter) or FB (@devotedquilterdesigns) or send an email to devotedquilter at gmail dot com. Thanks for your support and I can't wait to see what you make!