January 27, 2021

Let's Get to Know...Sarah Craig!

 It's time for the second instalment of my Let's Get to Know...interview series 😊 This month we're getting to know Sarah Craig, who blogs at Confessions of a Fabric Addict (don't you love that blog name?) Sarah is the woman behind the Hands 2 Help Comfort Quilt Challenge (it'll be coming again soon!); she's a prolific quilter and she's always sharing wonderful scrap quilting inspiration. I love her puzzle style Tshirt quilts, too. Plus she's active in her church's quilt ministry. Whew! She's a force to be reckoned with, right?? 

Let's get to know Sarah!
Let's get to know Sarah Craig | DevotedQuilter.com

Tell us about your first quilt.  Do you still have it?

Well, I'm going to assume this means "modern quilting era" first quilt, as I made some tied quilts many many years ago before I would have called myself a quilter.  So the answer is that I don't have it, but my granddaughter does!  The first quilt I made was a Rae Hawley pattern, lots of different blocks that you could arrange to suit yourself.  I even put a felt applique of Lilli's handprint in the corner to commemorate her age at the time (she was two).  And it has been well loved, but is still in use!

Do you come from a family of quilters or crafters?

My grandmother taught me how to sew at the tender age of eight, starting me off with a pair of structured shorts with a zipper, darts, pockets and a waistband.  She didn't believe in easy starts!  I spent every summer with her, and always made my school wardrobe for the next year during that time.  She was a first-class seamstress, making her own suits and some of my grandfather's too. She also excelled at embroidery and needlepoint.  She taught me both, but the love for them didn't really catch on with me.  She also knit and crocheted.  The one thing she didn't do was quilt, and I don't remember a single quilt in her house.  The one quilt I remember seeing was given to her by a tenant at her farm, and she gave it to me right away.  But from her I have a love of fabric and sewing, and also a love of family heritage.
Sarah Craig's Harry Potter quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Sarah's Harry Potter quilt, made for her granddaughter Lilli. All pictures in this post are courtesy of Sarah.

Do you have any sewing related collections (other than fabric and thread, lol)?

Of course!  I seem to be a magnet for both vintage sewing machines and vintage quilts.  Personally, except for my lovely Juki, I'd rather sew on a vintage machine than anything made these days - they are so well made and long-lived, plus they are so pretty!  I have a shelf unit in my studio devoted to some of my favorites, and it's always a favorite stop for people who visit.  I haven't come up with a great way to display my vintage quilts in my new house yet, but their day will come....
Some of Sarah's vintage machines 😍

What sewing notions could you not live without?

Well, as far as not living without it, thread!  No way to quilt without it.  But the ones I would rather not contemplate quilting without include my Bloc-Loc Ruler for half-square triangles, my 100" tape measure, and June Tailor T-Shirt Quilt Interfacing.  Oh, and a good, hot, heavy iron!

Would you rather cut the pieces for a quilt or stitch a binding?

Ever since I learned to machine-bind a quilt, I've loved doing it - and I've probably put binding on 300 or more quilts.  Practice really does make perfect, or practically so.  I can bind a lap quilt in about 30 minutes now, and as it's the very last part of making a quilt, I love the process!
Sarah Craig's Long Time Gone quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Sarah's Long Time Gone quilt - just look at that texture from her amazing custom quilting!

What do you wish you had known when you started quilting?

That's a tough question - I kind of fell into quilting, learning as I went.  But looking back, I wish I had known years ago that scrap quilting was so much fun!  I also wish I had known way back then that it was easier to keep scraps in control as you go rather than letting them pile up into unmanageable mountains!!

How did your church's quilt ministry get started?  Has it changed much since that beginning?

That's a long story, but the short version is that our sewing class at church (not a quilting group) decided to make a quilt for a young woman in our church who was diagnosed with a virulent form of cervical cancer.  We enjoyed it so much we made some quilts for Quilts For Kids, and then our pastor started requesting quilts for people he was ministering to.  It kind of snowballed from there!  We started out working from my home once a month, and then after a few years moved into space at church where we can meet weekly and have our materials and tools set up all the time.  That was a welcome change and made for a lot more room in my house!

How do you identify people who need a quilt from the ministry?

Our church has a strong belief in mission work, and our members are constantly "on mission" in our community.  More than 75% of the quilts we give away go to people outside our church family - to people that our members are ministering to in their daily lives.  Any member can request a quilt for someone they know in need.  Generally the recipient is having medical issues, but it can also be emotional problems, grief, or personal tragedy.  We also look for groups that do good work, such as a local charity that provides suitcases and personal care items for foster children, and provide them with quilts or other items that they need.  For example, we received a huge donation of flannel fabric, and shortly thereafter, had a request from a local NICU nurse for receiving blankets for their unit.  It was our pleasure to be able to provide them!

Do you have any advice to anyone wanting to start something similar?

Keep it simple!  You don't have to do intricate patterns or super-fancy quilting.  No one who receives a quilt from you is going to judge it - they are going to see the love that went into the making of it, and feel the comfort that only a quilt can give.  Oh, and don't be too consumed with perfection!  It's highly over-rated.  
Sarah Craig's Supernova quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Sarah's Supernova quilt - it's a free pattern on her blog!

This one's not quilting related, though it could be if you listen or watch while you quilt.  Do you have a book, movie or show recommendation to share?

I have to admit, my guilty pleasure while quilting is to listen to audiobooks - and my absolute favorite series of all time is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  I read them before audio books was really a thing, had them on my Kindle when I was going to unending doctor's appointments ten years ago, and love listening to them now when I quilt (although I do listen to other books too!)  But Clare and Jamie feel like good friends, and I know they can always take me away to another time and place.  If I'm watching movies, anything from the Marvel Universe can entertain me, although I must say that Aquaman saying "Permission to come aboard!" always takes my breath away.... LOL!

Thanks, Sarah! I loved getting to know you better 😊

Be sure to go visit Sarah's blog and see more of her beautiful quilts. If you have the time, I'd recommend you consider getting involved in Hands 2 Help, too. It's a wonderful opportunity to share a quilty hug with someone in need.

January 25, 2021

Skimmed Over

 Devotion for the Week...

I've been working my way through the Old Testament, reading a little bit each morning while I have my breakfast. Recently I finished 2 Samuel and in the second last chapter there is a list of David's mightiest warriors. It's a long list of 'this guy, son of that guy; this guy, from here; that guy, from there.' You know the sort of list, right? Where a whole bunch of people (mostly men) are listed off with almost no information included besides their name and their father's name. There are similar lists scattered throughout the Bible. Sometimes they're genealogies, tracing someone's family line, other times they're census records. 

Whatever the reason for the list, they're always boring. I usually skim them, looking for the rare entry that includes a little snippet of actual information about the person. Bruce Wilkinson's book The Prayer of Jabez was written about one such snippet, a couple of lines that set Jabez apart in a long list of 'this guy, son of that guy,' which makes me think I'm not the only person longing for actual information about these people. Of course, if a life summary were included for each person those lists would go on and on and on and on.

After reading the list of David's mightiest warriors and thinking about my habit of skimming over the names, it occurred to me that if my name were included on a similar list I likely wouldn't warrant an extra snippet of information. My life has been an ordinary life, without the sort of extraordinary achievements that would get a special treatment when the person making the list needs to include dozens of names. Maybe you'd be listed there with me, 'this quilter, daughter of that woman; that quilter, daughter of so-and-so.' 

These thoughts kept coming back to me over the course of a few days. I branched out from thinking about the people whose names were listed to those whose names didn't even make the list. All those people who lived, but who aren't recorded in any way. They all lived lives full of thoughts, dreams, chores, loves and annoyances, like ours, yet we know nothing about them. 

But God knows everything about them - and us. Don't you love when a sentence starts 'But God'? It's a signal for a complete change from our limited knowledge or perspective to God's, which is unlimited. 

Psalm 139 is a beautiful declaration of God's knowledge of each of us. It starts out with:

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand! (vv. 1-6).

Though our names would likely be skimmed over by someone reading one of those tedious lists, God knows us fully. Every detail, every moment. His is not a casual knowledge, like of an acquaintance who has met us a few times. No, His is a depth of knowledge we don't even have about ourselves. See above where it says, "You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord." How often do we not know what we're going to say until the words pop out of our mouths? And yet God knows them before we speak.
God knows us fully | DevotedQuilter.com
God knows us. Isn't that an amazing thought? He cares so deeply about each of us that He knows our stories, our dreams and interests, our aches and pains, our joys and sorrows. Such things could never be included in a genealogy or census record, but God knows them anyway. 

Aren't you glad He doesn't skim over our lives, but rather immerses Himself in the details of who we are?

January 18, 2021

Ugh, Again??

 Devotion for the Week...

For years now I've been doing our menu planning and grocery shopping on Saturday afternoons. I keep a fairly long list of all the meals we like so I can quickly fill in the week, but lately I find that every time I look at the list I don't want anything that's written on it. Not that I don't like the meals anymore, just that I'm bored of them all. Even my favourites, like spaghetti, don't interest me. I used to make homemade pizza every week, because it's one of Paul's favourites and everyone liked it so that was one easy day to fill in. But then Zach decided he was tired of it, to the point where he won't eat it at all anymore - even though he'll happily eat any other pizza!

The funny thing is, once the menu is made up, I'm fine to actually make those meals and eat them during the week. It's only on Saturdays that I'm sitting there thinking, "Ugh, I don't want any of it again this week." 

Writing to the Galatians, Paul said, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up" (Galatians 6:9). That about sums up how I feel about menu planning...I'm tired of all the options, but when I don't give up on the task I reap the benefit of not needing to think about what is for supper every single day. Of course, Paul wasn't actually talking about me planning my meals for the week.

The verse has always made me think of people who have been serving God for a long time, doing the best they can to serve others and maybe not seeing much in the way of results. They're discouraged, but Paul is telling them not to give up. That living to please God will always bring good results if we don't give up when the results take longer than we might like.

Is there anything you're doing that is good, but you're just tired of it? Maybe you've been doing it for a while and don't see that it makes any difference so now it just makes you feel like 'ugh, again??'

Don't give up! We want our results to come right away, but Paul said that the harvest of blessing would come 'at the right time'. Unfortunately, we can't know when that time will be or why sometimes there is so much pain in the waiting. Nor can we know why it's faster to come for some people than it is for others. Only God understands His timing. Even when we don't understand, though, we can still trust Him.

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." That means even the waiting times, the painful times and the ugh, again? times can be used for good. Not that they themselves are good, necessarily, but that God will use them to create good.
The harvest of blessings will come in God's time, if you don't give up | DevotedQuilter.com
So whatever it is that makes you feel tired and like you want to quit, don't give up! Your harvest of blessings will come, in God's time, if you don't give up.

January 16, 2021

Announcing the Grace in the Meadow QAL!

Do you want to focus on Biblical truths in the lead up to Easter and make a beautiful quilt? I am excited to announce the Grace in the Meadow quilt along, which begins on February 17th, the first day of Lent, and runs until Easter Sunday (April 4th). Registration for the QAL will open on February 1st.
Grace in the Meadow QAL | DevotedQuilter.com

Each day of the QAL, except Sundays, I'll share a devotion to help us reflect on our salvation - the need for it, the hope we find in Jesus, our response to the gift God offers us and the result of salvation. It's my prayer that this will be a season of preparing our hearts to fully appreciate all that Good Friday and Easter Sunday mean for us.

January 14, 2021

Snow Day Sparkler

As soon as Mathew, Mister Domestic, shared that he had a Snow Day fabric line coming out, I knew I had to make something with it! After all, I love snow and playing in the snow. Plus, since I babysit for teachers, I love snow days! A snow day means a sew day and maybe a snowshoeing day if we get enough snow. The other morning I had my tea, a fantastic book (love the whole series!) and my new quilt, just wishing for a snow day 😊

Snow Day Sparkler quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I made a baby size version of my Sparkler pattern, using 5 of the prints from the Snow Day line, plus Art Gallery's solid in sandstone. The Sparkler pattern is available in my Etsy shop.

January 11, 2021

Don't Keep it Hidden

 Devotion for the Week...

I am ridiculously sensitive to light when I sleep. I remember as a kid my brother would get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and he'd leave the hall light on when he went back to bed. That would wake me up...even though my bedroom door was closed! I'd have to get out of bed and turn off the light before I could go back to sleep.

Sleeping anywhere away from home can be interesting, depending on the number of streetlights nearby, the thickness of the curtains, etc. The last Airbnb we stayed in had a digital thermostat in the bedroom, which I had to cover with a shirt before I could sleep. 

Of course, me being me, that light covered by a shirt felt like a devotion waiting to be written 😄 

Jesus told His followers, "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father" (Matthew 5:14-16).

Jesus told us specifically to let our good deeds shine out for all to see, but how often do we hide our light under excuses about not having time, not being talented enough, not having enough money, or whatever our personal 'not enough' might be. I know I am guilty of this. Maybe you are, too.

And yet, we are the light of the world, Jesus said. This is not because of our own goodness, but because He shines through us. Speaking about Jesus' birth, John wrote, "The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world" (John 1:9). It's His light we are hiding when we believe that what we have to offer isn't enough to make a difference.

What we often don't realize is that it doesn't take much light to make a difference. That digital thermostat wasn't very bright, but when the room was dark the display was bright enough to cast shadows. We may think that our efforts aren't much, that they can't make a difference, but we are wrong. No matter how small it is, light always makes a difference in the dark.
No matter how small it is, light always makes a difference in the dark | DevotedQuilter.com
So go ahead, shine that light out into the world. It's no use to anyone if we keep it hidden.

January 07, 2021

TGIFF - Handmade Christmas 2020

Note, this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

TGIFF is here in Newfoundland again this week, since there wasn't a host signed up and I have some other finishes to share 😊 There are plenty of weeks available for 2021, so go here to sign up if you'd like to host. Anja, Laura and I manage TGIFF, but we certainly can't do it without our hosts!

Last week I shared my last finish of 2020, but today I'm sharing the Christmas presents I made, plus the ones Nathan made for the family. I'll start with the ornaments I made for Nathan and Zachary. Zach got his beginner's driver's license back in February and we spent a lot of hours driving around town during the spring, especially, so his ornament is a van. This was the first time one of the boys guessed his ornament, which happened a few days before Christmas, when Zach noticed Aiden's van ornament from the year he was 16.
Cross stitch van ornament | DevotedQuilter.com
I was thrilled to find a pattern for a Playstation remote to do for Nathan. Video games are high on his list of favourite things, plus that was how he connected with his friends after school shut down back in March. If you want to see how I finish my cross stitch pieces into ornaments, check out this tutorial.

January 05, 2021

Intertwined - Quilt Block Mania

Before I hop into today's free block post, have you see HollyAnne Knight's free fmq masterclass called What is Your FMQ Secret Sauce? Click the (affiliate) link to sign up!

It's time for the first Quilt Block Mania of 2021 and this month the theme is Romance. Whenever I thought about what I wanted to represent with my block's design, I kept coming back to thoughts of an older couple who used to live two doors down from us and who walk together every day, sometimes multiple times a day. They sold their house a couple of years ago and now live in a different part of town so their walks don't go past our house anymore, but I still see them regularly when they're out for a drive. It's still always both of them together. One of the saddest things I've ever seen was when she was hospitalized for a while, before they sold their house, and he was out tending to things in the yard alone between trips to the hospital. Seeing the joy on his face when she came back home was beautiful. That, to me, is the best kind of romance.

I translated that into a quilt block called Intertwined. I wanted to represent how two people can somehow be two separate people, but also one. This, of course, is not an original thought, and comes straight from Genesis 2:24 "This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one."
Intertwined quilt block | DevotedQuilter.com
I've had this scrap of red heart print for so long I can't remember where it came from. I've always loved it, but had trouble finding the right project for it, especially since it was only a small piece. This was the perfect time to use it!

January 04, 2021

Put Your Socks On

 Devotion for the Week...

Between my own boys and the kids I've babysat, I've been living in toddler-land for almost 20 years now. This is reflected in the fact that Paul bought me a picture book called Princesses Versus Dinosaurs for Christmas this year. It's really cute and I'm looking forward to reading it with the littles next week 😊

In all these years in toddler-land, I've noticed that kids love to take off their socks and some of them dearly love to pull the socks off the other little feet around them, too. Putting those socks back on is a lot harder than getting them off, though! There are a lot of skills involved in holding the sock open, fitting the toes into the opening and then pulling the sock over the foot. That's without even bothering about whether the sock is the right side up!