Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thoughts on the Beatles and the Psalms

My church had an evening of the arts last week and invited people to share creative works that somehow related to the Psalms, which we have been studying and using in worship during the last 3 months.  I thought people might enjoy my Beatles quilt, and then tried to figure how that could ever relate to the Psalms, especially since the Beatles were not traditionally Christian (or Jewish). 
So after some thought, I wrote the following to go with my quilt:

Thoughts on the Psalms and the Beatles

It seems completely contradictory to put these ideas together, as the Beatles said some outrageous things about the church and even Jesus during their heyday. So what do they have to do with the Psalms?

But first, consider this question:

1.       How many Psalms have you memorized?  For most of us, probably the 23rd Psalm, and maybe Psalm 1, or 91 (eagle’s wings)?

2.       How many Beatles songs do you know the words to? 

Unless you’re very young, or very old, probably 5 or 6 or even more that you know the whole song (there are a lot of repeats), and many more that you know the first couple of lines just from hearing the song title.


As English evangelist George Whitefield said in the early 19th century, “Why should the devil get all the good tunes?”


Our handicap with the Psalms is that we don’t have the tunes they were sung to.  We have some good hymn tunes  based on the Psalms, so we probably actually have more of those memorized than just the Psalm text.


But getting back to the Beatles, I think not only the tunes but the words reflect some of the same yearnings of the human heart that are reflected in the Psalms, even though Paul or John or George didn’t necessarily think they were talking about or to God. (Whereas the Psalmist clearly has a conversation with God in mind).


So here are some thoughts on similarities in themes and, perhaps more important, emotions,  in certain Beatles songs:


Psalm of Lament:  The Long and Winding Road, Eleanor Rigby

Wisdom Psalm:  the Fool on the Hill (compare Psalm 1)

Historical Psalm – Yesterday, In My Life

Psalm of Deliverance – Help!

Psalm of Comfort – Let it Be

Imprecatory  Psalm - Revolution


And a new testament theme :   Love is All You Need


French philosopher Blaise Pascal said:   “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
- Blaise Pascal, Pensees


I think the Psalms and the great secular songs that touch our hearts come from that hole crying out for God, even when the singer doesn’t even know God.


--Linda Newman

Saturday, August 24, 2013

end of summer

It's been a busy summer, with a lot of business travel, so not a lot of time for quilting, but I finished a couple of quilts that started last year.  The quilt above is from a block of the month from my local quilt shop, called "Tisket a Tasket."  I pretty much followed the directions, but had to adjust the setting instructions for the on point border blocks; the math was just off.  Local Longarmer Maria Hall did a fabulous job on the quilting; I can't get enough of the quilting feathers.  I hope you can see it in the photos. 
The other quicky quilt I finished was a donation quilt for our Guild's Covers for Kids.  Our friendship group did jumbo disappearing 9-patch quilts, and I did mine with large I-spy fabrics, with this quilt geared for an elementary age boy.   My friend Donna King did a great job with the quilting.  This one has already been delivered to the Guild for donation.  This makes 5 I-spys that I have made so far, and I'm working on another one for my niece.

My other current project is the Row Along from Lori Holt's Row along, and I'm on the 7th row.  (I'm substituting Sophie's birds for the mugs that were suggested.  I also have my eclipse blocks to cut to size and assemble, and putting the border on my Millions of Cats quilt.  So progress is underway!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

One more House

This will make three houses for me.  this house is the home of a quilt lady who has just won a ribbon, and she is a Beatles fan, with the Ringo poster visible through her window! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

so many books, so little time!

Besides quilting, reading and collecting books are big hobbies for me.  In addition to a couple of the half dozen books I got for Christmas and still haven't read (A Discovery of Witches, Building Stories (graphic novel in a box)), there are 4 or 5 books coming out this month that I want to buy and read.  I love Carl Hiassen, and he has a new Florida send-up"Bad Monkey" that I'm sure will be a laugh riot.  An author named Meyer has a new Texas-based multi-generational novel call The Son.  And one of my favorite novels of this century is Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin", and he has a new novel called "Transatlantic", a multi-generational book about Ireland.  And another of my favorites, John Favorite has a new Lucas Davenport Minneapolis police procedural, Silken Prey.
I need two weeks on the beach to devour all these!
My current bedside reading is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, (multi-generational novel in Italy, Hollywood, elsewhere), and my car audio book is What is the What by Dave Eggers about one of the Sudanese "Lost Boys".  Beautiful reading, and powerful content.
I just finished "Fall of Giants" by Ken Follett (another audio book beautifully read), and I have the book sequel, Winter of the World.
I also listened to a short set of novellas, called "Road Rage." The first was "Duel", which was the story that the TV special with Dennis Weaver from the 70s was based on.  (Old tanker trunk pursues driver relentlessly in an almost wordless drama). The other was a similar story by Stephen King and Joe Hill but with motorcycles. 
I also just picked up some used quilt books at $1 a pop to browse through.
And sort of book related, our summer "Challenge" for our Guild is a quilt using Nancy Drew fabric. 
My idea is to make a checkered counterpane, and make computer copies of book covers that an adolescent girl would read, and applique them on the counterpane, scattered about, and have the head of a girl at the top of the counterpane, reading the Nancy Drew book.  A lot to do by the end of August! (plus my day job!)
the link photo is my son and his fiance!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Millions of cats - work in process

I started this little project back in 2009 and then laid it aside.  It is a tessellation exercise, really very simple blocks, but the trick is in the arranging.  Originally I was going to phase it from purest white in the upper left corner to deepest black in the lower right, but there just wasn't enough VALUES CONTRAST! (thanks for all the lessons in this Sophie). So during our recent quilt retreat, I got to play with these on a design board, so now I'm in the process of sewing the little ears to the rectangle above, and then I'll just have 7 columns and 7 rows to join to gether.  I'm calling this "Millions of Cats" based on the Wanda Ga'g children's book from the 1920's (which Captain Kangaroo read aloud frequently on his old tv show (I'm dating myself  -- now my husband and I may be the little old man and little old woman in the book!) So the book's cover is yellow, so the border will probably be the brighter yellow on the left (but wider). To give a sense of scale, I think the rectangles are 4x5, with 1inch squares "flipped" to become the ears.  I haven't decided whether the whiskers will be added before quilting or as part of the quilting, to give depth.  (I would wecome suggestions). It's been interesting to work just in black, white and greys, as I am normally a color gal.

On other cat fronts, we've been thinking of getting another cat, as we have been just a single cat family since a year ago when our dear Jennifer died of kidney failure, and a quilt friend just texted me that kittens are available from a rescue group, so we may be investigating that this weekend.

On a separate front, I just downloaded about 15 or so quilt apps onto my I phone, so I may start reviewing them on this blog. stay tuned.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Eclipses into the sunshine


At a quilt retreat 2 weeks ago I got the assistance of my friendship group to assemble this on the design wall of the retreat center.  These are now sewed together in 4 block squares, and ready to be sewn together. I need to trim them to a uniform size and then it should be a quick task to sew them all together into a finished top.  These were the blocks I won from the Block Lotto in January nst2012, so I'm very grateful to all the other participants who made the blocks. the backing will be cool color chevron stripes against white, so a nice contrast of shape, I think. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gardening observations - flowers in the sidewalk cracks?

This weekend I put in about 3 hours planting caladiums and annuals in our front flowerbed.  I had my IPhone tuned to Pandora in my shirt pocket, and my mix is a lot of piano jazz, so it was a lovely breezy morning, not too hot yet.  I had to do a lot of bed cleanout, pruning, and leaf raking too (filling almost a whole trash bag).  One thing I noticed was how easily weeds grow in those little grooves between the sidewalk and the curb.  Just little bits of soil and moisture get in there, but those weeds just really root down and get well-established (and hard to pull out).  Which leads me to a hypothesis that if I wanted to start some flowers or vegetables from seed in the spring, I should skip all those special seed-starter pots and systems, and just dribble those little seeds in those cracks by the road side, and just see what happens!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Where do my quilts go?

Well, since I've started quilting around 2009 or so, I've completed 15 quilts (using a long-armer most of the time for the quilting).  Of those 15, I've given 9 of them to family or friends or to a charity our Guild sponsors.  Of the six I still have, I'm currently using one on our bed, and the other 5 are safely stored away.  I do have a quilt stand, but I have quilts made by others (some commercial) hanging on it, so I definitely need to change those out and display my handiwork.  I also have a quilt made by my grandmother, a Grandmother's flower garden, stored away, and I would like to find a sunlight-free area to enjoy it more.  Definitely a good question, Sophie! 
We are in the middle of remodeling, but about to move back into our bedroom, so my daughter's former twin bed will soon display one of my quilts instead of a raggedy store-bought one that is currently underneath all the pile of clothes! ;)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

recent work

This is a large disappearing 9-patch I-spy that I made as a donation quilt for our Guild's Covers for Kids project.  Since this photo I have added a greyish-black tot border.  I still need to find the backing fabric.  My friend Donna in our friendship group will quilt it.  Beneficiaries are Ronald McDonald House, a homeless daycare and a group that works with abused kids.  The large 8-inch squares feature boy-friendly novelties.  (The quilt is sideways, sorry).

This is another disappearing 9-patch but in a mini-style.  Each square is 1.5 inches.  I have a large stash of 4-inch I-spy squares that I have obtained though on line swaps, and I selected the ones with very small prints and cut them in quarters to get the starting 2-inch squares.  I donated this mini (about 22x22) to our Guild's mini-quilt auction, which this year benefitted Search One Rescue.  It is a non-profit that trains individuals and dogs to search for missing people.  (Some of the people and dogs attended the show!)  I quilted this one myself.  I called it "Dolly's Bedtime I-Spy."
For those of you new to I-Spies, the concept is that the quilt is a conversation starter with young children.  I spy a whale, can you find it.  I spy something orange, can you find it?  Or the objects can be selected to create a story...

And here's another quilt with a lot of detail.  This is my Beatles quilt, called "A Beatles Rebus," which I entered in the show.  In addition to some of the overall Beatles fabric used in the outer blocks, in the inner blocks, I have references to 57 songs or albums written or recorded by the Beatles.  It's a rebus, because some of the references are visual puzzles.

I think this quilt is more interesting up close where you can see this visual detail, and I could have done a better job in spreading out the colors as I created the blocks and then assembled the quilt.  But I worked on this about 2-3 years to gather the different fabrics to represent the songs, so when I finally got on a roll to put it all together, color impact wasn't so much on my mind. It is also so big that my very temporary design board was my den floor. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Patriotic Star quilt

This patriotic start quilt was designed by Shelly at Quilter's Connection, our local quilt shop in Northeast Dallas.  She had a civil war and contemporary red white and blue color way, and I chose the latter.  I made most of the blocks in 2011, and it took me several months in 2012 to get the 51 sashing blocks made (those devilish red diamonds!).  Maria Davis Hall quilted it for me this spring.  Shelly's kit suggested a deep blue background fabric, but I didn't like the color with the other blues in the blocks, but needed some color to contrast with the white triangles surrounding the square blocks, so I selected this red, blue and white star print.  I think this quilt looks better from far away than it does up close (my piecing errors aside), because the white triangles really pop the blocks.  Up close, I fear the background print is a bit busy.  But my husband likes it, so it will be his gift.  The backing is red and white polka dot print, and the binding is the same red fabric as the accursed diamonds!

More Dallas quilt guild photos

This quilt is "My Crazy Heritage" by Sally Brown of Colleyville, TX. This quilt won a special ribbon for its handwork.  It is composed of antique handkerchiefs from the women in the quilter's family, with individual embellishment with small keepsakes or symbols of the women involved. This is a quilt that is lovely from the distance but really worth a close-up look.  the quilt below is a similar family remembrance of the quilter's family background in England, with the center representing events or English cultural practices, and the border containing English pub signs.  The quilt is called "In the Blink of an Eye" and the quiltmaker is Sylvia Showers of Brenham, Texas.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

additional quilts from Dallas quilt celebration

This is a very nice pictorial quilt that did not win a ribbon, but I liked it very much. "Headwaters" by Gay Young, based on a photo of the headwaters of the Rio Grande near Creede, Colorado.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dallas Quilt Celebration

Last weekend was the Dallas Quilt Celebration, sponsored by the Quilt Guild of Dallas.  There were more than 350 entries, as well as several exhibits.  As a general impression, I would say the show was dominated by applique, album, and mariners compass quilts.  Lots of amazing workmanship.  I'll post some of my photos.

"Proud Ladies by Dot Collins of Port Neches, Texas; antique embroidered blocks with pieced feedsack prints, scallop borders.

The gold above is the "Best in Show," by Linda M. Roy, "Vintage Button Bouquet." The green-bordered is "Springtime," by Germaine Reconnu, Sachse, Texas, 1st in Seniors category.
 The red and white above right is "American Vortex" by Marilyn Hardy, Tyler, Texas. The red and white album is "Baltimore Snowflakes" by Sunisa Cote, Southlake, Texas, which won first place, artisan Large Applique.  I'll post more tomorrow!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekend tip: quilt label

Probably everybody else but me knew this technique for making labels, but until I read this, I struggled with just turning under the edges of the label, and since I was using a computer-printed label, the fabric was stiff and contrary, and I could never achieve a smooth straight edge.  this is a link to a tutorial for making a framed label with a border, and then attaching a backing, so all the edges have a nice seam.  For the computer label fabric, this results in the label lying flat (because the seams are pressed outward, so also reduces bulk.  It's so important to label your quilt, and this makes it easy. Here's the link:

I would add one more tip.  this tutorial suggests leaving one of the seams slightly open for turning.  Other tutorials have you sew all around, and to flip, just cut a slit in the lining fabric and use that for turning.  The slit won't show or ravel since it is behind the label.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I-spy mini quilt

Our Quilt Guild Show starts March 8, and we have a mini-quilt live auction to raise money for a charity.  This year the charity is Search One Rescue Team, which trains people and dogs to do searches for missing people in our metro area.  (We had 2 gorgeous bloodhounds and their people visit our Guild meeting a month or so ago!).  Since I collect novelty fabrics for I-spies, I decided to make a mini with my 4"  novelty squares, but I cut them in quarters, so just used 2 inch squares and selected the really tiny prints.  I put them together with the disappearing 9-patch pattern, and here is the result.  I've stitched in the ditch and then need to do some quilting on the border. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crystal embellishments on my Beatles quilt

These are 3 squares from my Beatles quilt where I added crystal embellishment.  The Lucille Ball square is a visual pun on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, the next is Across the universe, with the crystals added to the stars, and then I added some bling to Ringo's rings.  It wasn't that hard to add the crystals, and they suited this quilt well, but I don't foresee this kind of embellishment as a regular part of my quilting.  I'm more of a traditional block, scrappy kind of gal!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

weekend update

Well, I made some progress on 3 projects this weekend.
1. I finished the binding on the Beatles quilt and I added the crystal embellishments on Saturday morning.  It turned out to be pretty easy.  Just a slow and methodical process.  I followed the directions from an online tutorial.  I used the flat head of the heater tool, and just put the crystal in its place and then applied the flat head for about 15 seconds.  All that is left is making and applying the label and making a sleeve and sewing it on.
2. With my friendship group, we made quilts on Saturday for "covers for kids" which go to Ronald McDonald HOuse and similar kid charities.  We did disappearing 9-patch, but on a large scale with 8" squares.  I used 8" novelties for the interest squares, black on white circles for the sashing, and red small polka dot for the cornerstones.  I'll be adding a black border.  I'll post pictures tomorrow.
3. Tonight I started sewing together the "keyboard" border for my 30s basket quilt.  (Tisket a tasket). Got one side sewed together.  The trick will be to adjust the length so that it fits the edge.  I haven't started trying to measure this. 
Good progress.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

new endeavors

So many things.
1. First up, is learning how to apply crystals.  I have the crystals, and the tools and the quilt, and I've looked at an online tutorial (which says to place the crystal on the right place and use the flat bottom of the tool, not the beveled head).  More to come this week as I try it out.  Of course I will try a few on a sample piece of fabric.
2. The whole brave world of applique.  I've never taken a class, except my first intro to quilting class where we did some needle turned applique on a shape of Texas that we put in the middle of an Ohio star.  (It's been packed away about 5 years; soon to become a pillow).  I also did a little needle turned applique on a southwest block of the month, and a little tiny bit of machine applique on some of the blocks on the Beatles quilt, but I would like to take a class and really understand the "tricks."  I also receive a Go Baby last year as a gift, and have a nice set of templates, and have never even tried it yet.  I think it is the step of applying the stabilizer that is slowing me down.
3. Trip to the central basin national parks.  We've visited most of the Rocky Mountain national parks, but have yet to visit the more arid parks: Zion, Arches, Glen Canyon, Grand Canyon, even Carlsbad Caverns.  We need to get this on our calendar and start making reservations (but not in the summer).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

design wall reality

For 2 years I have had the incomplete makings of a one-block wonder pinned to my makeshift design wall (pink insulation board covered in batting).  I walk (struggle) by it every day on the way to my machine, and the fabric 1/2 hexagons keep falling off, and I repin them randomly or even get them back at their right "spot."  But this ufo is just not on my priority list for 2013.  So today I took down all those 1/2 hexagons and their mirror mates, pinned them together in pairs, and stored them in a nice clear plastic shoe box.   So now I have a blank design wall, and I can play with my pink terms of endearment, and 2012 pink and white sample blocks, and actually make progress! 
Moral:  a design wall filled with a project you're not doing, is just clutter. Move on!

Friday, February 1, 2013

tisket a tasket

This is my progress to date on a block of the month I worked on all last year.  The title is Tisket a Tasket, designed by Ann Wanke and published by The Quilted Basket.  The colors in the photo are a little pale.  the prints ins the design are 30s reproductions.  The remaining step is a keyboard border of the 4 solids with the prints (the solids are the "black keys" and the prints are the white keys).  This time I know where my backing is, so I should be able to finish this up in the next couple of weeks and get it to the long arm quilter.  I do love the 30s prints, and I need to get back to putting together my grandmother's flower garden!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

my beatles quilt top is finally done

I've been working on this quilt top off and on since 2009, when I was still a new quilter.  I had struggled with a couple of quilts that had 1/2 square triangles and biases, etc.  so I chose this pattern so I would only be working with squares and rectangles. The block pattern (from the July 09 Fons & Porter mag) also reminded me of a light box work of art that a classmate had made when I was a freshman at TCU in the late 60s (Charley Varner).   the inspiration was a selection of Beatles fabrics that Cranston offered.  I selected primary colored tie-dyed batiks to go along with the Beatles fabrics. 
Then I got side tracked with family things, and somewhere along the way I got the crazy idea to have some of the squares in the block represent Beatles song titles.  Then began a quest for novelty fabrics to represent song titles, and some of them I made word puzzles (or a "rebus").  There are now about 50 song or album titles represented in the quilt , which the Beatles or a Beatle either composed and/or sang. 
The quilt is at the long arm quilter now, and it will be entered in the Quilt Guild of Dallas quilt show in March. 

best books of 2012

I have 11 best books I read this year (out of 53). No particular order.
1. The Art of Fielding
2. Lamentations of the Father, short stories by Ian Frazier, particularly the title story
3. Game of Thrones
4. The Keeper of Lost Causes (Danish noir mystery)
5. When Will It Get Better, Kate Atkinson.  British mystery
6. Unbroken. biography of WWII survivor . by L. Hillenbrand
7. The City & the City.  dystopic sci fi, China Mieville
8. Bring Up the Bodies. part 2 of the Hilary Mantel Cromwell novels
9. When I Stop Talking You'll KNow I'm Dead.  Jerry Wintraub.  Show business agent autobiography
10. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
11. Emperor of All Maladies.  History & survey of cancers & their treatment.

I also listened on audio CD to William Shatner's "Shatner Rules"  A fun list.  First rule: say yes. 

Patriot star quilt top

The second photo below is the assembled quilt top of patriotic stars that were the result of a Block of the Month program at the Dallas quilt shop, Quilters Connection.  I used different background than the designer recommended, and I changed some of the fabrics and designs.  The twelve star blocks were interesting each month, but the challenge was all the red diamonds and sashing blocks--there are 48!  I have purchased dark blue fabric for the backing, but it is currently hiding among all my other stash in my sewing room.  I think my husband wants this quilt.  It's almost a queen size.