Friday, November 19, 2021

Dog•gedly Differing Opinions

Gratitude is in the air! 

But hedgehogs are on the ground! 

Since coming to Switzerland four years ago my cup o'gratitude has been overflowing. 

During this autumn season, I am thankful for the abundance of hedgehogs.

Along walking paths.

In the bushes beside said paths. 

Even leisurely crossing the road. 

(unfortunately this sometimes leads to their demise 😱)


Prickly pal posing beside the path. 

They are so darn cute

Uh, hold that thought, I hear Smidgey barking

Someone must be at the door...

Bark! Yip! Growl!

Finally! 

While Mom is checking on NO ONE at the door, I have a chance to take over this blog post and weigh in on this whole "hedgehogs are so darn cute" nonsense! 

(At 9 kilos, I am a dog who is weighed down with opinions!)

For the record, hedgehogs are NOT cute! 

Do you see that prick-pic above? 

That is NOT a cute animal. 

That is a smelly animal.

That is an annoying animal.

That is an animal that must. be. eliminated. from. my. world.

But, nooooooo, Mom and Dad keep me on a short leash when we encounter these vermin! 

Why do I have to have self control when those critters hog the hedges? Seriously!

Aaaad, they are NOT sharp. 

OK, they are sharp, but boy are they dumb! 

Look how close Mom and Dad got to that guy to take that picture above!

He just laid there like he's a Kardashian and they were the paparazzi! Disgusting!

Another time, when I was going for a hedge-jog, I came upon one of these pin cushions. 

I did what any other decent Rat Terrier would do, I went "Smidgey" on his spines.

But then Dad yanked ME back!

And do you know what the hedgehog did? 

He just poked his tiny little head through the opening in the fence and left his bulbous prickle ball bum exposed. 

Right there next to the path! 

It's like he thought he was HIDING!

Uh, oh, Mom's coming back. 

I've got to wrap this up...

I'll show you HIDING!

I didn't touch the computer. YOU touched the computer.

I'm back

So weird, no one was at the door.

Anyway, where were we...oh yeah, hedgehogs

They are so darn cute and I am thankful for them. 

So much so I wrote today's poem in their honor...

pointy noses
prickled spikes
wee critters
Smidgey likes @#$%&s!

©2021, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Carol is hosting a Poetry Friday Party that is full of autumn 

splendor. Join us!


Friday, November 5, 2021

PIECEmaker and Storyteller

With the month of November upon us, my thoughts turn to gratitude

I am particularly grateful for my PIECEmaker sister, SHEILA!

Sheila may be #7 (out of 10) in our family's birth order, but I am the LUCKY one...look what she made me:

 Sheila is SEW awesome! I love her (and my quilt) to pieces! 💗

Since quilt making is a bit like storytelling, I thought it would be interesting to hear the story of my incredible gift. 

Bridget: What was the inspiration for my quilt?

Sheila: I was inspired by your love of children's books and your talent as a poet. I also wanted to personalize the quilt to share what I see in you.

Bridget: What goes into making a quilt? Is there a story you are trying to tell?

Sheila: I started with the idea of your love of children's books. As I continued to think about how I wanted to personalize the quilt, I decided I wanted to include my perspective as to what makes you you, a sisterly biography of sorts.

I definitely wanted to include family - photos of your family and Smidge.

 And I wanted to include some of the places you've lived: Southern California and Arizona. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to do a good cow or cheese for Wisconsin.





I included your love of Peanut
M&Ms, VW Bug cars, your yearly celebration of Poem in Your Pocket day, and the color orange...lots and lots of orange. 

 




I also couldn't figure out how to add gymnastics and I forgot about an apple for teaching until too late, but there was no room anyway.

Bridget: What process do you use? How do you organize such a huge project?

Sheila: I knew the big picture goal - to make a bookcase. 

Initial idea...

 I looked for a pattern - for dimensions rather than strict directions.
 

Free pattern with other's quilts

My research 😁
 Then I went through my stash of leftover fabric (scraps) and found the ones that screamed my talented sister (Bridget!) and a way to include a little of my taste.

First I cut strips for the books: fat, skinny, tall and short. 
Testing where the books are placed without background. Realized I need a lot more books.

Then I laid out the strips for color placement and made specialty objects to be distributed among the books.
I laid out blocks before putting in shelves.

Then I tested the background of inside the bookcase (white or black) and figured out the "grain" of the shelves.
 
Layout of strips with shelves.
 
I also created the book titles (I went to our local library to check out every book they had that was on your favorite list) I read the books and tried to replicate the title font if I could. I used sharpie & fabric coloring pens to survive the wash.
 
Bridget interjecting here...Sheila even included my 10.10 Poetry Anthology before it was even finished...she had faith I'd pull it off. And I did!

 
 
Sheila (continued): Then I assembled the books and objects into 10"x10" squares so I could square up and string 5 across to make a shelf. I had to quilt all three layers so I could handle it in a smaller section.

Finally I added the shelves and background, then the binding. I chose crayons because color and you being a teacher!

Bridget: How did you go about selecting materials?

Sheila: Fabric choice was another way I told the story of you. I included your "likes" in the fabric prints I chose: the color orange, fruit (though I couldn't find any with arms & legs), dogs, paw prints, bees (from Maureen's quilt) and a lot of vibrant colors.

I also made the conscious decision to use leftover fabric from quilts I'd made previously as a way to add the love that I put into them into yours. 
 
For example, in addition to the bees,  I added sage green and pale yellow picture frames, and a flower pot that was on Maureen's quilt. Actually the book shelves are made out of a green fabric that I purchased for her quilt, but didn't quite work because it was too directional. It worked perfectly for yours!
Maureen's quilt.

Same flower...

 
 
 
 
I used the brown and green on the frame from Mom's quilt. 
(Checkout the needlepoint squares!)

From Emerson's elephant quilt I used the gray for your backing and the flying rainbow birds.
Emerson's quilt...
From my Eddie's quilt I added the grey/black Scottie dogs, grey from the back and burgundy. From my quilt I added in the light blue, royal blue and white on white.
From Aisha's quilt I used the tan and browns. And from Jaiden's quilt I used the purple for the frame.
 
I also chose the wool batting (the fluffy stuffing) for warmth and so it would be light weight and soft.  It also crinkles nicely after a wash.

Bridget: Are there sources that you consult regularly? Are there websites/stores that you recommend?

Sheila: I lurk on Facebook to see what others are working on: Quilting for Beginners, MSQC-All Stars. This is where I first saw someone working on the bookcase style. And I saw how some personalized theirs with cats, Harry Potter, sewing tools, coffee.

Then I went on Etsy and bought a basic pattern. I also found a free pattern on a blog (fabricatwork.com) and then used what I wanted from both.
 
On a side note: one of the patterns said not to use bright, solids, high contrast or novelty prints. oops!

Bridget: What challenges did you face while making my quilt? (Orange you glad I asked?)

Sheila: Orange. Lots and lots of orange. Not one of my natural choices, but each time I reached for it I thought of you. It kept you in my heart the whole time I was creating and adjusting. The back is VERY orange.

 The other challenge was my deadline. I came up with the idea when I was finishing Maureen's quilt and thought I could get it done by the time we met in California this summer. All went well until I washed it the night before we left for the airport. Washing is always scary - you pray your seams hold. They all held except the book labels started to fray. I know now that I should have fused them on. Lesson learned. The quilt will keep you warm and hold up, but the labels need a little help...

Bridget: Have you come up with your own unique way of approaching a quilting project and are you willing to share your secret?

Sheila: No real secret. When you come up with an idea you have to let it evolve and grow. Let it become what it needs to be. Be flexible and let the colors and shapes have room to shine.

Bridget: Is quilting something you consider a side business? Have you thought of selling your quilts?

Sheila: No. I don't think strangers appreciate the time and materials that go into making a quilt. They can go to Walmart or Amazon and get a comforter for $100. That would barely cover the material on the front.

As for the time involved, one of my simple quilts took 45 hours, Eddie's took 140 hours. You can do the math and know how the price would be driven. I stopped tracking my time because I do it as a creative outlet and you know, COVID. Look on Etsy to see how much an Amish handcrafted quilt can run.

Bridget: Who taught you to quilt? (and how did I miss this gene?)

Sheila: Funny story: I love embroidery and thought I could cross stitch Irises on quilt squares and Mom could make herself a quilt with the squares. Well, 20 (tax seasons and working in private industry) years later, I had only finished 8 of the 12. By then Mom's eyesight and hands couldn't complete a quilt. 

SO she handed me everything back and asked that I finish it, since I had just retired. Time spent on Google, YouTube and reading The Quilting Answer Book led me to finish her quilt. 

And now 8 and a half quilts later, here I am. I have learned a lot with each one.

Bridget: When you're not quilting what do enjoy doing?

Sheila: My first love is embroidery. I am a tactile person. I love the feel of threads and fabric. I also love to play with colors. After Mom's quilt, I finished an old needlepoint canvas based on a quilt pattern I had started in the 90's. After framing it, I thought making quilts was a more useful product than a framed canvas on the wall. After I finish Jaiden's quilt I may get back into the needlework until I find a new recipient for the next quilt.

Bridget: What is your number one piece of advice for beginning quilters?

Sheila: I don't know if I have just one piece of advice. If you give a quilt, it is a gamble to know if your choices are theirs. I knew you understood what went into quilts after we collaborated on Maureen's quilt. I also knew you loved books, poetry, dogs and ORANGE so I made this quilt with you in mind. If I make more, I will involve the recipient in color choices, themes, etc. 

Also, YouTube is your friend. Facebook groups are good places for ideas and to ask fellow quilters questions and see the latest gadget or tool. Also, get a reference book and use practice pieces. 

And lastly: Brush up on your geometry, fractions and math in general!

Thank you, Sheila on so many levels! In addition to being my sister, you are also my bestest "Pin" pal.

Today's poem is a triolet* for Sheila, my sew-per star sister!

Quilting "B"

pieces of cloth, needle and thread

love infused in every stitch

cut and crafted to be read

pieces of cloth, needle and thread

displayed on my wall, then my bed

warm and soft, doesn't make me itch

pieces of cloth, needle and thread

love infused in every stitch

©2021, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

 *A triolet is an eight-line poem (or stanza) with a rhyme scheme of ABaAabAB: The first line is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines and the second line is also the last line (the capital letters indicate repeating lines). ~ source for definition here

 Giveaway WINNERS: A few weeks back, to celebrate the release of my 10.10 Poetry Anthology: Celebrating 10 in 10 different ways I announced a giveaway of 10 copies to 5 lucky (and incredibly kind!) commenters (2 books per winner).

Using the gnome hat wet-felted by another one of my very talented sisters, Jane, a very scientific name draw took place. 

(What would I do without my ever supportive and very photogenic husband, Joe?)

Joe modeling gnome hat...

 
...drawing names...

...the WINNERS!
  






Congratulations:

Please contact me (bridget at bridgetmagee dot com) with your mailing address and I will get your copy in the mail ASAP. 

Thank you to everyone who commented and has supported the release of my anthology. The support for this project has been amazing (understatement).

Please join the Poetry Friday fun at Mary Lee's place...a "large percentage" of you will NOT be disappointed.