Back in 1995 Kelly decided that it was time to give up the flying business and go back to school, finish his undergraduate degree in music & get the teacher certification that he’d started in the late 70s.
To that end, he spent a year at Yukon College filling in the GUR gaps with 100 & 200 level courses and was making plans to either go back to Western in Bellingham (where he started the degree) or to transfer the credits to the University of Alaska and finish up there.
Either route would take him away from home for one – two years, coming home for the summer & mid-year holidays. So I decided to make him a quilt to keep him company, and to keep him wrapped up and warm in something created by my hands.
Michael helped me choose the pattern, and we chose stars because I’d just finished Michael’s “sky at night” quilt, and because Kelly loves astronomy, and well…because we just liked them.
We chose the colours red, white & blue because Kelly would be going to school in the States.
I finished the quilt top pretty quickly, and began the hand quilting. I was about 50% finished when Kelly decided that he wasn’t ready to give up on the flying industry after all and cancelled his university plans to stay home and go back to the air. With the deadline to finish the project gone, the quilt went on the shelf and there it sat.
Oh, of course I’d take it down and poke away at it now and again, but for the most part it remained incomplete. Until this summer. This summer I finished it!
The entire thing is hand quilted. Yes – HAND QUILTED. As in “by hand!” “By me!”
Another part of my balance journey is recognizing that I need to create balance and health in my mind, body & spirit. Toward this end, I am very proud to say that I have started a home yoga practice over the past several weeks and I feel quite devoted to it. I have always enjoyed yoga, and some time a month or so ago I decided to practice every day. I have taken classes off and on for many years and I have a small collection of DVDs that I would put on now and again. I read, and I work with “live” teachers when I have questions. Also, I have a lot of training in dance and dance instruction, which has resulted in good self-awareness & body knowledge. I know when something feels safe and when something doesn’t, so I’ve always felt okay to work with my DVDs on my own.
When we re-did the flooring in the house this month, I took the opportunity to re-vamp my sewing room, which I have always called the “yellow” room since we painted it several years ago, into a multi-purpose room. I packed the sewing machine & portable table to a place where it’s accessible to set up when I need to use it but otherwise out of the way. I mean, I don’t sew everyday. Or even every week. Or every month! I sew in spurts. When I’m not sewing, the machine can live elsewhere. I then sorted my stash of fat quarters into clear plastic containers according to colour family and put them on a bookshelf along with all my treasured books and DVDs. It’s so nice to see all my things so clearly!
I cleared out the entire room so the floor is bare of all but the necessary furniture, and it looks very nice with the wood laminate floors. I hung pretty sheer curtains in the window and hung my favourite prints on the walls. The walls are bright sunshine yellow. I kept my rocking chair, so that I could sit in there and have a place to be alone. I also set my laptop up on the sideboard that I use for storage so that I have something to play my yoga & Pilates DVDs on. It is a very tiny room, but there is just enough space to roll out my yoga mat in front of the computer screen and that’s all I need.
Every morning I grumble my way out of bed and make my way down the hall to my yellow room, roll out the mat, fire up the computer and choose from my small collection of DVDs. While the DVD is loading, I feed my two very hungry cats (who start protesting their hunger the moment my feet hit the floor). Misty is on the chest, watching, in this photo.
Then I begin. I am always stiff in the morning –who isn’t! But as the days have gone on, I find that the stiffness leaves my body sooner than it used to do. I am now putting my palms on the floor after only the third standing forward bend. A small victory, but important and one I am grateful for.
Some mornings I do only 20 minutes. Other mornings I do 40 – 60 minutes. I’ve begun noticing how much better I feel during the day. I start my day with more energy and purpose. My muscles are a little sore, but not terribly – just enough so I know I’ve worked them. I rotate my DVDs so the practice is slightly different every day. Sometimes I add a Pilates or other different workout to my practice. This morning I did a 20 minute Pilates workout followed by a 20 minute yoga session and then I rode my bike to work. What a great way to start the week!
I bought my sewing machine when we were living on Merry Island in 1983. I took a Home Ec class in junior high school, but other than that I had never sewn anything before. And honestly, I don’t even remember why I wanted a sewing machine! I was 22 years old. I lived on a light house. What in the heck did I need a sewing machine for? No matter. I dug out my trusted Sears catalogue and picked out a basic entry-level Kenmore. I still have it. It’s older than Michael.
I’ve sewed a lot of things on that old machine over the years. Back in our square dancing days, I sewed my own dresses with rows and rows of gathered ruffles. I set in zippers and made button holes. I hemmed and sewed trim. I set in sleeves (never very well) and fought with yokes and cuffs. All with my trusty Kenmore. I never thought the old machine was the best one around, but it did what I needed it to do.
It has definitely developed some persnickety quirks over the years. It is very demanding of high quality thread. Nothing less than Guteman’s thread for this machine! It doesn’t tolerate even the slightest fuzz build-up in the bobbin area. I have to brush out the lint every 30 minutes or so of sewing. If I don’t, the threads will tangle in the bobbin, resulting in a greasy monster of a mess on the back of my fabric. It sometimes has trouble remembering what the tension setting is, and breaks my thread for no apparent reason.
One time I loaned it to a friend, and it came back with a broken fly wheel. In order to stop the needle from going up & down when you wind the bobbin, you have to disengage the flywheel. Ever since my neighbor borrowed it, the flywheel has been stuck – which means that every time I wind a new bobbin, the needle goes up & down and the machine rattles and shakes like it’s having a convulsion. LOL! Yes, I learned the hard way to never loan your sewing machine. This same neighbor also borrowed and broke my blender. Sigh.
The old Kenmore does just fine for regular old sewing as long as I keep it cleaned and treat it nicely and am patient with it. But lately I’ve been wanting more. I’d like to do a small bit of machine quilting…something I wouldn’t even think of attempting on the old Kenmore (a healthy fear of a greasy tangled mess on the back of my quilt!) So my quilts are hand quilted and/or hand tied. Which is lovely. I will NEVER stop hand quilting and hand tying. But it would be really nice to have the ability to do some machine quilting, too. Without fear. And maybe some machine appliqué, too. Definitely.
So I have started a savings account and begun researching towards a new machine. I hardly know where to start! We have one quilt shop in town, Bear Paw Quilts and they sell Berninas. I haven’t tried one yet, and I’d like to look around and see what else is out there. Right off hand, I’ll admit that I’m intimidated by all of the fancy electronics on some of these machines. I’d definately like a more user-friendly bobin system (a LOT more user-friendly!) And an accurate 1/4″ guide is a must.
Something else I often think about is a treadle machine. If I had a treadle sewing machine, I would set it up out at the cabin. Can’t you just see me on Sunday afternoons, sewing away out at the lake? Bliss!
Anyway, if anybody reads this blog and has a comment about what you are using, please write in and tell me what you like/don’t like about your machine. And what you sew on it!
Last night most of the dancers in my troupe got together to send one of our members off to school. This was very special for me, because Haley started dancing with me at the ripe young age of eleven! She came to dance classes with her mom, and then because her mom was a troupe member, Haley started hanging out with us, doing her homework on the side of the studio while we rehearsed, and eventually I started putting her into dances, and eventually she started performing with us. Haley has many aunties in the dance troupe and we all feel as though we’ve had a part in raising her up. She is 18 now and heading off to university, and I am so proud of her and the beautiful, talented, funny, smart, self-confident young woman that she has grown up to be. Traditionally, dance (like cooking, sewing & all the female arts) passes from one generation to the next within the household. I learned to dance because my mother did it. Haley learned to dance because her mother did it. I feel a heart-connection with her because of it. In honour of Haley’s moving into the next phase of her life, I decided that I wanted to sew her a quilt. Here’s a picture of me working on it – with a little help from my friend Samson. Every time I took the quilt out, Samson had to “help” by making sure it was suitable for sleeping on!
Apparently this is a Very Important Job for dogs, because as soon as Haley opened it up, look what happened! There is her little dog Diesel also giving his seal of approval!
It’s a very special quilt, because all the members of the dance troupe signed it with wishes, quotes, and thoughts – something she can wrap herself up in – something tangible that will keep her connected to all of us.
Love ya, Haley-bug. Always dance in joy. And I will always be your dance teacher, no matter what. ♥