Monday, June 25, 2012

Travel Prep

I spent the weekend prepping for my trip (which is in just 4 days!  4 days!!!).  This involves a lot of "what if" scenarios...what if

  • the plain is delayed
  • the trains are on strike
  • the weather stinks
  • I hurt my ankle
  • we get stuck somewhere en route (either or both directions!)
These what if scenarios can get a little crazy, and sometimes I start to worry that I might actually run out of things to do, so I start going overboard.  So far I've packed:  
  1. a shawl that I want to knit because the yarn is so beautiful (it's part of my Rockin' Socks get a skein of hand-dyed yarn and 2 patterns, one sock, one "other"...the "other" is clearly what this yarn is made for) that will be a challenge to knit so something to "think" about when I need it
  2. a gift I'm making for mom's birthday--a perfect "mindless knit"
  3. a pair of socks (from January's Rockin' Socks Club) that I've let sit for too many months--another thinker project
I have pulled out of the stash the yarn for Ernie's socks, a skein of yarn that spoke to me (it's gorgeous and merino and bamboo so will be unbelievable in a pair of socks), and another BRIGHT pink skein of yarn.  These three socks I intend to use as my "mindless" knitting when mom's project gets finished.

I could honestly sit and knit my entire vacation and still not get everything done.  My knitting bag is STUFFed, and I'm still thinking of "what else" do I need to bring.  I still think it might not be enough...I need to relax, but I fret.  

Silly silly me.  Maybe tomorrow I'll post a pic of all my gorgeous vacations yarns!  And think of all the things I'll be wearing (or someone else will be!) that can honestly be said to be made in Switzerland!

Today's picture is of the bees Aunt Betty sewed together out of the fabric I wove...remember that "giant project" that went on forever and ever and turned into a teenager?  Well, this is graduation day.  We're very proud parents!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Yesterday I wanted to title my blog post Generosity and Gratitude because they seemed to fit together, but as I started writing, I realized that I had much to say about Generosity and that it deserved to sit by itself in a post. I'm glad that it touched a few of you.

Gratitude also deserved its own post because, for me, gratitude, and showing your gratitude, is the basis of civilized behavior.  It's what differentiates the wild child from the one who truly appreciates the giving in receiving gifts.  I think being a good receiver of gifts is just as powerful as being a good giver of gifts...and being a good receiver means understanding the responsibilities of receiving--which often entails showing your gratitude.

We often show gratitude through thank you notes.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the notes that have been showering my mail box this past week.  Hearing from my mother, daughters, aunts and cousins that they enjoyed the stuff I created means a lot to me.  I know that they are all good receivers and will treasure (and use, which I think is important for the things I create...I make them to be used) the stuff they received.

(And I try very hard to be I sat down to write my thank you notes, I felt slightly guilty because I couldn't remember every single thing that people gave me.  I thanked them for the things that came to mind, but then realized after the letters were already sealed and ready to go to the PO that I'd forgotten some things...the t-shirts, for instance.  And I don't remember exactly how I got them other than Aunt Janice was involved because I remember her sewing on the bees.  So, thank you to whomever gave us our t-shirts.  The color was most becoming and I'll wear it for years to come.  And if I left out something from your thank you note, please know I didn't mean to...)

But, back to the topic of gratitude in general.  I had a hard time learning to be properly gracious.  Over the past year, I have realized that I've gotten rather negative about a lot of things.  Work is sometimes challenging and there are many things that I don't like...and that I have to pretend that I do (and I hate pretending to like things I don't and I know I'm terrible at it and don't convince a soul, but I try nevertheless).  David and I have also had many things to go through together this past year and I'm battling a general cynical attitude, it seems, all the time.  And to be honest, some really sucky things have happened over the past year that have made being positive, grateful and optimistic difficult.

So, I made a challenge to myself.  While I'm not a religious girl (please don't mistake religiosity for believing/having faith), I do talk with God on a regular basis, especially at night as I'm falling asleep.  I noticed at the beginning of the year that I was always asking for this or that to be fixed and that I needed certain things in order to have a better life.  I became very aware one night that I wasn't being properly grateful for the wonderful gifts that I have in life so I challenged myself to shorten my conversation with God and just say the one thing that day that I'm most grateful for.  Some days it's as simple as chocolate, but some days it's the good car that I drive that saved my life.  As I've been doing this every night I find that I more easily find the things I'm grateful for and the challenge is just mentioning one and thinking about it.

Two nights ago, however, I had trouble. David and I had gotten into an argument and fussed and fumed at each other for over an hour.  My ear hurt from getting infected (went to the dr. on Friday to get my tubes for flying and one of the ears was primed for an infection, which apparently it did get) and I in general didn't feel good.  I was exhausted from only getting a couple of hours of sleep the night before.  Overall I was frustrated and didn't quite know what to be thankful for.  I almost said, "I'll just skip it tonight" but I held myself accountable and made myself find ONE thing...and as I was laying there in my comfortable bed with my comfortable pillow I realized that I could sleep in comfort because of having this thing so I was thankful for bed and my pillow and the soft sheets and blankets that cover me at night.  And the fan that kept the air moving, and the air conditioner that kept my house cool, and the beautiful house that I live in which is on a beautiful street.  Snowballing out of my mind from one simple grateful thought was all the wonderful things that I have.

And I knew then in a very powerful way that I'm amazingly blessed.

Today's picture is another of Pearl being goofy.  She buries herself in places and charms me with her adorableness.  Her role in my life is to be a comic--to remind me that things can be simple and fun and that I need to sometimes let go of my serious side and just do the things I enjoy...which often is playing hide and seek with her or throwing a ball for her to chase or letting her bite my fingers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I read once that crafters are the most generous people out there--they will find an excuse to make something for someone.  They will stay up late to do so. And they will cause physical pain to ensure that they finish the project in time for a birthday or Christmas or whatever.  I know that I fit that bill.  I love making things for people and will spend all my time and money putting together gifts for people and hoping that they enjoy it in the end.  It's very gratifying to see someone enjoying the fruits of my labor.

And the stupid insecure part of me worries that they are just bluffing me and put whatever it is I've made them in the back of the closet so that they don't have to see it.  I have to smack that little part of me around every now and then.  Because I do think the work I do is pretty good, sometimes pretty awesome, and I know that the people I give things to truly enjoy them...

I think that the ultimate in generosity is giving away the very first thing you've made that you're very proud of. And most of the time that particular thing took a long time to make.  Giving it away is giving a part of yourself to that other person, and requires the ultimate in crafter-ly sacrifice.  Alyssa made that gift to someone last week at the quilt bee.  I could tell that it was hard for her to give away her masterpiece.  She sat that the quilt and peacefully quilted on it much longer than the rest of us.  She looked at it with satisfaction in her eyes and glowed when the rest of us praised her work (and no we didn't just say it to make her feel good...she did do an awesome job).  I could sense the enjoyment she gleaned from us having a great time adorning our dresses.  But at the end of the weekend, she had to draw a name and be happy for that person to take it home with her.  And I know that it was hard for her because not only did she have to part with it, but she likely won't see it again for a few years...

I know that Aunt Janice will treasure the 20th quilt from our quilting bee all the more for Alyssa's generosity. And here is Alyssa quilting with 3 of her aunts and her grandmother.  A lovely testament to the cross-generational love and camaraderie in my family.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

All Dressed Up

 Here we are at the end of the bee.  The quilt didn't quite get finished, but almost.  There was just a border left and a few diagonal stripes.

The quilt is called "All Dressed Up" and is a pattern by Jan Mullen of Stargazey Quilts and is called "Dressez." It's a crazy piece kind of construction where you design as you go.  Each dress is individually designed.  Alyssa picked colors and dress style to reflect each member of the bee.  There is one "hula skirt" in there as well with fringed fabric to mimic a grass skirt. The dresses are posed an a mannequin or dress stand.

At the bee we each decorated our dress with buttons and beads and floss.  That was very fun.

I think that Alyssa did an amazing job for her first finished quilt.  I can't wait to see it all finished up!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Treasures

When I returned to work yesterday, Amy asked what treasures I brought home from the quilt bee.  I immediately responded, "The bee itself was a treasure, the gift stuff was just gravy."

And that is so true.  I treasure every minute of time I spent with my family this weekend.  Besides having a crazy amount of fun, it was good for me to be around family.  I realized more than once that I haven't been able to properly grieve and remember Grandma because I'm living in a house where people don't remember her the way I do.  I think that's why I'm still so sad when I think about her being dead...I'll never get to make new memories to share with the people around me.  Sure I can talk to Alyssa and Elizabeth or my friends about her and how much fun it was staying with her when I was a little girl and all the cool things we did, but talking with someone else who can add "I remember that...and when I was a little girl we also did..."  And then we'll talk and laugh about her reactions to our silliness or something along those lines and it'll be all good and wonderful.

This trip to Texas was my first since her funeral.  I was shocked when we were driving out there to realize that. I got to the bee and felt how strongly she and her memory glues us together.  I thought several times about her asking Bonnie before she passed over that we not forget her.  Like we could.

While we couldn't call her every day during the bee and share our secrets as they got revealed, while we couldn't call her at the end of the bee and have her talk to the person who won (and that tore me up, I grieved Grandma then), we could celebrate her memory and call upon her spirit to look down upon us and hold us tight while we lived this "love story of our family," as Bonnie Blue called it. When Bonnie Blue said that I teared up because Grandma so enjoyed her "stories," as she called her soap operas, and she so enjoyed love stories and believed very strongly in the power of love. I felt she was somehow speaking through Bonnie Blue at that moment.

I have realized all along how special we are to have our quilt bee and spend time together as a family.  I realized what a true treasure it is during the quilt show as everyone was awed by our creativity and spirit of sharing that we have.

And we have Emma Lucille Thornton to thank for that.  She has always been at the bee in spirit...and she always will be.

My picture today is of the two items I most greatly treasure from the quilt bee.  The first is a book Betty wrote titled "If you give a girl some fabric" and the second is a painting of clothes on a line made with scraps from Grandma's stash.  (And I'm sorry that the picture is so dark.  My camera flash isn't working any more.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Where Quilters Gather

The 20th Thornton Thimblers Quilt Bee blew me away!  I have so many things to write about that wonderful weekend that I don't know where to start...but I DO know that it is the material for many blog entries, not just one.

I thought I'd start with a quick overview of the weekend.  We:

  • ate very well
  • quilted a lot--decorating our dresses may have been the most fun we've spent on a quilt block
  • shopped a teeny tiny bit (seriously, it surprised us too)
  • paid tribute to my mother who started this whole thing
  • hosted a quilt show with many in attendance, all in awe of our prolific creations
  • loved each other
  • laughed a lot
  • cried some
  • remembered Emma Lucille Thornton (I broke down after the drawing because we couldn't call her, I knew I would but the intensity of it surprised me nonetheless)
  • played games...can't forget the games
  • had our fortune told
  • listened to some of the loudest cicadas, crickets, or other insects I've ever heard
  • read stories
  • received the latest Betty Thornton Tand book hot off the presses (FUN!)
Today's picture is the grand prize in my "yellow elephant": Save the Best for Last.  It is a cross stitch design by Victoria Sampler that has a group of women quilting under a flowering arbor.  They sit atop a quilt of 25 squares with flower borders and a lace trimming at the bottom.  Carolyn won and said she was "in awe" which made me feel awesome.  

This design sums up the quilt bee to me: Where Quilters Gather Friendships Blossom.  I cannot think of a better way to spend a weekend each summer.  It's such a wonderful tradition we have.  Hearing everyone exclaim over it at the quilt show cemented what I already knew:  We have something very very special in our Thornton Thimblers Quilt Bee and I'm honored to be part of it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today's the Day!

Woot!  I'm so excited!  Today's the day for leaving for the bee.  Tomorrow we'll gather shortly after lunch and Alyssa will unveil the quilt soon thereafter.  I don't have the full agenda, but I know there will be lots of games, some stories, shopping, fabulous meals, and of course some quilting.

Did I mention that I can't wait?

I'm even excited about the drive because it means I have uninterrupted knitting time.  I'm planning to work on the baby gift and daddy's socks if I can.  I've never knitted with needles that small in a car, so that could prove a challenge.  We'll see.  I'd love to have the socks finished so Daddy can try it on and I can get a sense of whether I've made them way too big or not...they seem kind of big but David assures me they aren't.

This afternoon, after the car is packed, I'll post a picture of all of our stuff...and then I'll be signing off until next week!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last Night, Tonight, and Tomorrow!

I'm so excited about the quilt's just a day away from when I'll be leaving.  Long drives, but I get to knit on my cool new baby project, so that's ok.  Hopefully it'll be light long enough for me to get a good bit of the road behind me.  I don't like riding in the car with nothing to do...

Last night I didn't get much knitting.  I did get the gusset stitches picked up and start knitting the descreases.  Somehow I ended up with 2 extra stitches on each side, so either I counted my rows wrong (possible) or picked up the same stitch twice (also possible).  Either way, it was the same on both sides, so I posited that it'll work out in the end.  Guess we'll see.

But I didn't get to do much knitting because I had to pay bills last night.  That's always a drawn out process at the beginning of the month and even more so because I decided that last week I didn't need to do the bills since nothing was due right must "pay" for procrastination! ha!

And normally I do bills on Tuesday, but I had to do them last night because tonight... I PACK!!!

So very excited.  Trying to figure out what I need to bring clothes-wise.  All the other stuff is packed...and we do spent a good bit of our time lounging around, but there's shopping, and dinner out...and of course I have to bring knitting to do when I'm sitting around with nothing to occupy my hands...and for the car ride there and back (I think the one project I've started will be finished by the time we get there...)

And tomorrow...David and Alyssa will pick me up around 4 and we'll hit the road.  I'm hoping we're in Houston by midnight.  We'll spend the night and on Thursday it's Wimberley bound!  Keep those quilt bee clouds a puffing!  It's going to be a rocking good time!

Today's picture is of a proud Alyssa taken (with the quilt underneath her, but I've cropped that out!) after she finished the bee quilt!  I cannot wait to see her glow when she unveils it to the family on Thursday afternoon!

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Driven

Currently I'm working on socks for my daddy.  I've read about making socks for their feet are bigger and wider and how it takes more time...and I didn't really think about it until I kept measuring the leg to see when I was ever going to make 8"...I finally did which means that I could finally turn the heel last night.

Isn't it the pretties blue green you've ever seen?

I'm so driven to finish this thing, though, I spent all day working on it and not weaving like I'd planned.  I rationalized that decision by the fact that I wouldn't get anything but "maybe" the loom dressed (warp all tied on and tidy) and certainly wouldn't have time for weaving, so I decided that I should really just focus on the sock.  I even contemplated bringing it to work today but feared I might forget it and then be in trouble for the whole "working on it tonight" part of my daily expectation.  So, I left it at home, but that was a struggle...

It's awesome and I LOVE working with this yarn, and I'm trying to decide if it might fit me instead of daddy (only if I made the foot too short, but I would never do that on purpose).  And the funny thing is I already have a pair of socks out of this yarn which I'd wear every day if I could.

(Note to self, must make more socks for self...quit being so generous and giving everything away!)

This weekend I also started a gift for my friend Aaryn who is preggers.  It's adorable and I'll work on it in the car, but needed to get started before I left so that the whole troublesome casting on and making sure no stitches are twisted part of the process if out of the way.  I almost couldn't stop.  I love the yarn (Berroco Weekend) and I love the colors, and I love the pattern, and it's so darn cute I'm sure I'll have it finished before we hit the Louisiana Texas border, which probably a good thing because it'll be dark by then and difficult to see to stitch...but still...I felt the pull of it saying to me, "you could work on something know, all those other 20 projects you've started and the 20 others that you want to start"...but I ignored it for the sake of having something to do in the car on the way there.  Must figure out in the next two days what I'm going to do on the way home.

On a side note: Elizabeth tried to convince us to unveil the TTQB quilt to her early since she won't be there for the unveiling...we weren't swayed.  Heartless we are!