Friday, August 17, 2012

Never say never...

How many times have I said "never" or "never again" to myself and to friends.  I am never going to: STOP there. Do not let it out unless you plan to watch yourself do just what you said would never happen.  When I moved onto the first parsonage with out little family, I could see where bunk beds had been, and where a child had written the alphabet on the wall.  In an instant "my children will never write on walls"  came right out of my mouth. I did fairly well. They didn't....until one day I walked into the den to discover that 2-year-old Kay had drawn a HUGE happy face on the wall....with a black magic marker.  She had never drawn anything that even looked like anything.  Yet there it was.  Not a tiny little string of letters penciled on a wall. A perfectly BIG happy face smiling right at me. When I asked her about it, she was so proud of what she had drawn, I was not about to punish her.  I left it there, until it was time to move.  I tried to paint over it and the face would come smiling through.  Several coats later, I gave up.  I invested in some epoxy to hide that smiling face.  It still makes me smile.  

We lost Patches at the end of October, 2011. Several kindhearted friends and customers offered us replacements.  We declined...emphatically.  No more cats.  We like the doors open.  We do need to be scooping a litter box, or running to the vet, or trying to find a hiding cat or.....

I think you know where this story is going......
Meet Suzy Blue.   Kay was sewing in the studio and looked out the window to see baby blues eyes staring at her from under the box car. Kay's cat whisperer skills quickly surfaced, and soon there was a bowl of water and  some scraps of food offered on the "porch" of the caboose.

How is it that we some how attract unusual cats? This one is a Siamese kitten, maybe 5 months old.  I am not a great gauge of animal's ages.  A kitten for sure.  Emma called her "Blue" when she saw her.  It took us 1 day to get her to the door.  Another day to get her to nibble on food, just inside the door.  Day 3 she ventured in to explore the shop....everywhere, and then to run scared to her hiding place under the box car. Day 4,  I moved the food and water in beside my desk. Still a very frightened kitten we could not even touch. She'd come to my feet purring loudly.  When I reached for her, she was out the door! Day 5 a customer who was quicker that I am, scooped her up, and we checked to be sure she did not have an I.D. chip any where.  That's when we determined she was Suzy Blue.  Day 6 was Sunday, and I came in to the shop to invite her in to be fed.  Monday was the same routine.                        

Tuesday, I came with a box and litter, kitten food and a resolve to tame her.  It really did not take very long.  She is quickly learning her way around the shop.  I have had a discussion with her about what she needs to do to be able to stay.  No scratching or biting.  Her "motor" runs easily.   She comes to the counter where I am working, just to stretch out and watch. You have heard of the "cat in the hat".  I have a cat-in-the-lap when I sit down to sew or design or work at the computer. And I am once again, totally taken in by a feline. I tell myself that I am doing my part for the SPCA.  One kitten they do not have to process.

I have decided that it is just fine to have to eat ones words. It means I am growing and learning.  Some word salads are easier to eat than others. These words taste sweet when I remember a happy face smiling back at me from a much painted wall, or this time as a (formerly)stray Siamese kitten follows me around like a puppy and then curls up on my lap as I sew.

Live, learn, adapt and adjust.  Time moves on.  Our experiences move us to see differently and maybe even change our minds.  Once again, we have adapted....and have been adopted. A good feeling.                                                                                                                                                              ~~~~Rachel 

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

I love, love, love my scraps.....

     Let me tell you about scraps.  I cannot throw them away.  I made my clothing since Jr High and my daughters clothing from the time they were born...and I saved the scraps and used the scraps.  When I moved  to Virginia in 1972, I was introduced first to quilting and later to patchwork.  That was back in the Gorgia Bonesteel days.  All I had was a book from Oxmoor House. I decided to make a log cabin quilt, but wasn't sure I wanted to spend a lot of money on fabric.  What if I got halfway through the project and didn't like patchwork?  I smile at the thought.  I had a toddler and a baby on the way.  I did not have any extra money.  So I dug out my scraps.  With a yardstick and scissors I cut 2 inch strips and sorted them into color groups and lights and darks.
     I love it because it is full of visual memories my little girls' favorite clothes.  I did not buy any fabric until I got to the borders.  I had read that the center of a log cabin block is orange or red representing the fire in the hearth.  But when I ran out of red and then orange, I used green and blue and even brown.  As long as it was a solid fabric, it could be the  "hearth".  I did not have enough blocks to do the "Barn Raising" setting that I had seen, so I set it in "Plowed Furrows".

     I don't remember how many years it took me to finish the top.  When it was finished it measured one inch smaller at the top than the bottom.  Embarrassed, I put it away until some years later I learned that 1 inch was really not too bad.   So I got it out, put borders on it and then quilted it with the help of my teachers in Franklin County, VA

    There were still scraps left.  This past Christmas my girls got quilts made from the rest of those scraps.  3 1/2 inch scraps alternated with muslin.  My friend Katheryn Crickenberger started the pieces maybe 15  years ago. Before she died, she handed me a bag with about five sections of piecing  In August (2011) I pulled the pieces out and re-worked them into two queen sized quilts.

     The scrap saga goes on and on.  I still save the leftovers.  I always will. I have great ideas for using them.  I will get to them.  As I cut up the scraps left from a quilt or sewing project, the pieces bring back memories.  Lots and lots of the best memories life has to offer. 
                I wish the same for you.                ~~~Rachel


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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Look "Who" showed up in my garden

I would be surprised if quilters are not also writers, good cooks, gardeners, or artists  in glass and beads and paper, ink, brush and paint...the list could go on and on.  I dabble in lots of them.  Most recently, I have donned a hat to protect me from too much sun, pulled on gloves and headed for my little gardens.  The house I live in has lots of shrubs, a few flowers, and no vegetable garden...but lots of potential.  I started with flowers.  A shaded bed got my first focus.  I divided and replanted hostas...about four different varieties over growing themselves in the corner by the spigot.  I divided the peonies, and with the help of my nephew Everett, dug bushels of  crab grass out of a corner bed so I could plant herbs.  I still fight crab grass but the rosemary, parsley, oregano, chives and thyme are doing quite well.  That's where my lettuces, arugula and spinach grow as well.

About a year ago, I trudged through the trails and trees at my sister's bed and breakfast, Swiss Woods (Lititz, PA) and with Travis's (son-in-law) help dug up some Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants.  I have seen Lady Slippers in Virginia, but have not found the elusive preacher in the woods here.  I wanted some in my shade garden.  What a treat it was this year to see the three tell-tale leaves poking up next to the Johnny-Jump-Ups and violets..  There he was, tucked under his little canopy, just about perfect.
 These guys are hard to find.  I look for them when I begin to see May Apples grow in the woods.  As a little girl, I remember going into the woods in search for Jack.  They seemed hard to find because I was looking for the pulpit; later I learned to spot the three distinct leaves that pop up above the bloom.  This year I have two blooming, one bedraggled by cold weather. Spring was too warm too early and then too cold.  There are lots of leaves, so maybe next year there will be more pulpits. 

With this victory cautiously  in my pocket, I have moved on to turning the space next to the property fence into garden.  I tell Travis the more grass I turn into gardens means  less grass for him to mow.  I a strip against the fence tilled in April, and finally on Monday borrowed a truck and picked up two scoops of mushroom soil to amend my garden.  The first part of the garden along my driveway is planted with lavender and lilies.  A yellow rose bush breaks the garden space in half.  The rest of the space will (hopefully) yield tomatoes, green and wax beans, cucumbers climbing the fence and red beets and cantaloupe.  And there is still room to plant more, maybe a pepper and some egg plant.  Check back to see how I progress.

My goal is to be able to keep up without being overwhelmed.  Like so many projects, I take off and almost become overwhelmed with a good idea.  I am enamored with stripes and the easy table runners I can make with them, and suddenly I have a stack of too many....and none of them are finished.  Or I start a huge quilt that seemed like a great idea at the time, and then lots of other projects got in the way; now it lives in a nice plastic box on my shelf...waiting.  I know myself.  My creativity takes over, and I can get easily take on more than I have time or energy to accomplish.  

I am planting knowing what I should be able to keep up with. My  garden is long and skinny, not more than two rows deep. One of those rows I plant with a climbing plant like cucumbers that I will train up the fence, or sunflowers that grow tall.  I am trying to use my space efficiently and creatively. I want to grow enough to have fresh vegetables through the summer, and maybe a few tomatoes for canning.
My long and skinny garden should be just enough.    Enough is good.               ~~~Rachel
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pinterest - a new online obession

I don't know how many of you have heard of Pinterest.  I heard about it several months ago, but never really checked it out till last week.  I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect to be so inspired by online media.

For those of you who haven't discovered it, this is the best way I can describe it...
Do you remember when you would look at Southern Living and see that perfect garden? You'd carefully tear it out and put it up on an idea board or post it to your refrigerator? Or decide you just had to do that cute craft in a Parents magazine with your kids or grand kids, so you tore it out and put it in a notebook? It's like that... but you have the entire internet to chose from and all the ideas go onto 'boards' that are all in one place.

I have created several 'boards' - Gardening, Food, Quilting, Ideas for Emma, but my favorite is the crafty ideas. Most of the crafting pictures redirect you to a blog that has the full instructions. It is inspiring, not to mention addicting. 

To make me feel better about all the time I spend searching cute crafty ideas on Pinterest, we are going to start having Pinterest inspired days here at the shop. I am going to commit to doing a craft on the last Tuesday and Wednesday each month.  It will usually be something to be used for the holiday in the following month or something seasonal.  For example, we'll do a St. Patrick's Day or Spring craft at the end of February (the 28th & 29th).  March 27th & 28th we'll do something for Easter and so on.

We invite you to come join us. We haven't worked out the details, but just know we will be crafting those days.  Call ahead so we can save you a space and see what you are interested in doing.

If you are not on Pinterest and need an invitation, send me an email and I will send you one. But be ready, it can really be addicting.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Search and Rescue

     I am on a mission.  I am always on a mission of one sort or another.  This time the mission is guided by the "waste not want not" theology with which I was raised.  As I began unpacking new fabric yesterday, I reached for pins to hold the fold on the bolt...and the pin cushion was empty.  In the process of looking for pins, I got side tracked and never went back to the task.  So this morning, when I came into the shop...there were the new bolts of fabric, waiting for me and still no pins.

     Yes there is a peg board filled with notions, and yes, there are boxes of my favorite flower head pins there.  I resist breaking out new pins.  Surely there were some already opened somewhere.  As I sat down at my desk, I happened to notice a pin in the crack of the floor boards.  I found a magnetic Pin Grabber, quite empty and the pin hopped out of the crack on onto the holder.  I didn't stop.  A half an hour later , I had picked up magnetically pulled so many pins from the cracks in the floor board that I had filled the pin grabber.

     We live in such a throw away society, that it is easier to buy new than find what we already have.  Now I know that a little pile of glass headed straight pins really is not big deal.  But it made me feel good, and it made me think about what I waste, and what I  throw out or buy twice as a matter of convenience. 

     I am going through my fabric here at the shop--again !  I am calling it Search and Rescue.  I open a drawer or find a box full of pieces, usually leftovers from three projects....or more.  It is all very good fabric.  I still like it.  I would not think of throwing it away.  Just sitting in the drawer, it becomes a forgotten thing.  So I spend a day, sorting, pressing evaluating and cutting the fabric into usable pieces.  Then I store it so that I can more easily see what I have, and how I might use it.  I already have several scrap projects in mind. 

     I know I am in business to sell fabric and notions.  I also want to sell you on the idea that what you have in hand is a great just have to know what you have.  I am glad to have you come through the door with a piece of fabric you need help with adding coordinates.  I see my job as helping you with ongoing projects as well as beginning new ones.  Both are important to the success of our business.

      I am also going to help you with your own Search and Rescue.  We will be setting up workshop times here for you to bring in your bundles of scraps and learn how to sort, press, evaluate, cut and store your collections of scraps.  Look for information coming out in our updates, 

      "When life gives you scraps, make a quilt".  That is a sign hanging in my studio at home.  Sometimes I have to sort the scraps in order to have them be something of worth.  This is my year to search and rescue.  What an adventure!!  See you on the journey!!!                         .......Rachel  
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