Monday, July 25, 2016

Progress on my "Contentment" project...

Today is the 26th anniversary of the day I met my husband, Steve, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. How appropriate that I am working on this center medallion block for the ongoing anniversary project called "Contentment" that I started some time ago.  

The blocks that are currently in my blog header are also part of that project.

The block will be trimmed to finish 16-inches square after the stitching and glue-removing soaking is done.  I chose to draw us as we were then, instead of the older, lumpy way we look now, LOL...

Artistic license...also using modern fabrics and modern style of clothing.  

I glue-basted the larger units together working right on the pattern and even did a little hand-stitching before inserting the pressed background fabric on the pattern and continuing the layout.  I can do this without the light box and it makes the complicated, puzzle-like construction a little easier.

I keep drawing this stuff more and more some point, I will have to start re-drawing things in an easier fashion!

My more recent applique efforts have been on small blocks.  I decided to prep and stitch the outer arbor of this larger block first to make the block a little easier to work on when I start hand-stitching.  The outer arbor is made up of two bowers, one containing flowers and one containing hearts.

I love working on my portable light box.  The vintage pattern weights really make the glue-basting easy to manage.  I have been scanning Ebay and have added an additional couple of sets of the weights. I really prefer the hard plastic, old style weights to the bean bag type that are commercially available now...probably because I used, and got used to, the older ones first.

Hopefully I won't find out some day that they contain some dangerous, leeching lead and/or radioactive substance to make them so delightfully heavy.

My light box is 12 x 17 inches...I wish it was a square instead of a rectangle, but sliding the work around on the surface is not a problem.  The pattern weights keep things from shifting around.

After doing the heart bower, I re-positioned my pattern and background fabric on the light box to work on the flower bower on the other side of the block.

I drew the two bowers to tangle over our heads...after all these years, our lives are happily tangled in the same way.

Done and all ready to insert the happy couple with their shared basket of hearts and flowers...

Now everything is glue-basted into place and I am ready to finish the hand-stitching.  As per my usual style, all edges are turned raw edges in this work!  

We were in Canada for our annual trip to family property in the 1000 Islands.  It is a little rustic there, so this was not a good thing to work on while vacationing.

With only a little solar power available on the St. Lawrence River "island," really a peninsula at Grass Creek, pressing of freezer paper or fabric is not possible.  Plus, there is very little room in the car to pack sewing stuff.  So, the light box and iron were out of the question!  

I miss my mini-van, which could hold a lot of my stash on trips, LOL!

I worked on prepping applique blocks for a Sue Garman quilt called "Afternoon Delight" while I was out of the country.  I will show progress on that next time.  Sue is currently dealing with a serious health issue, and I was using her project as a sort of prayer vehicle, like Rosary beads, saying little prayers of healing, strength and comfort as I worked on the blocks.  Send her some love as you say your prayers.

I am working "Afternoon Delight" in repro fabrics with scrappy backgrounds that hide dirt easily, LOL!  A good project for the outdoor, camp feel of Grass Creek.

I did take a small, flat piece of plexiglass, which I used with my husband's Kindle-like device as an emergency light box (some of my neutral, repro fabrics were a little busy to see the paper pattern through during placement without a little help).  

I thought this was genius, if I do say so myself!

Now that we live in Alabama, our annual pilgrimage to Canada now includes almost 1200 miles of driving, ONE WAY (used to be 430 miles from Michigan...).  Our lives seem to revolve around family property.  We stayed in the one cabin on this 11-acre peninsula this year that is not on the river, it is in the woods.  It is called the "Turtle." (Thus called because it sits on a big piece of granite, sunning itself.)

Normally it just has a double bed in it, but we moved a bed in for our daughter as well.  We were cozy...

I am sensitive to the wool blankets there, so we always take quilts. I won the one on our bed as a raffle quilt, back in Texas in 1994. The other one is a scrappy "leftovers" quilt I made for my daughter eons ago (the leftovers include 13 of the intended 26 blocks for an alphabet quilt I never finished, LOL!)  

Ahhh...civilization...home-made, hand-quilted quilts, even camping in the Canadian 1000 Islands with no electricity or running water!

What is behind the second door?

Yep, you guessed indoor outhouse!

This trip was a cool escape from the hot and steamy southern weather. The temperatures at night near Kingston were mostly in the mid 50's...GREAT sleeping weather in the open cabin.  It is so hot and steamy now that we are home...and it isn't even August yet...

When the wind isn't up, the St. Lawrence looks more like a lake than a river...

The "Boat House," with Howe Island "lit up" by the fading sun across the river.

The "Main House," which is the heart of the "island."  It contains the kitchen, eating porch, living room, and store room.  It is slightly uphill and has a great view of the river.

There are two other sleeping cabins and lots of room for tents. Steve's side of the family owns this rustic retreat.  We've missed just one summer in 26 years.  And Steve's family spent so many summer vacations up there before I met him.  It is a lovely family tradition. I love Canada!  It is so beautiful and the people are so nice!

Friends, I have been struggling with this move from Michigan to Alabama.  I have not met local people yet and feel so isolated.  The move-in continues, with trying to establish spaces of our own in this large, family-shared home and property.

There are different things about living in Alabama, and not just the climate.  There is currently a rattlesnake in the detached 3-car garage where we keep some of the work and recreational vehicles, up, away from the house.  My husband went up there yesterday, opened a door and there it was...then it slithered back away from the door, under lawnmowers and other equipment.  Crap!  

Good thing it has been dry here and I don't need to get the riding mower out of there this week!  I did acres of mowing before we left for Canada.  One of the door thresholds needs to be repaired so that critters don't get in there...just add it to the list of things to do.

I guess things take time, and I just need to be patient and take the time to discover the area and new friends.  But mostly, I need to be selfish and carve out quilting time for me.  I need that or I am going to sink.  I did sign up to go to a retreat in late September...that will be fun and something to look forward to!

I left blueberries on a few bushes before leaving for Canada.  That was sad...they were so good this year!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)


  1. so many leaves on that applique! wow you have patience. Your drive to Canada sure was long, what a trip - sorry you are still adjusting to Alabama - I know so many think the south opens their arms to new comers and quickly you are part of the community but I have been in the south for 36 years now and still do not feel a part of the area and could leave at any time and feel not one of my neighbors would miss me.

  2. Oh, dear, I'm sorry you're having difficulties adjusting. I'd be having a conniption if I saw a rattlesnake in my garage!! There was a medium sized snake of some sort that got itself all balled up on one of those sticky traps we had put in for mice. He got dispatched when we got home from our trip.

    Now, as for that applique. Girl, you just blow my mind. I can't even imagine all those tiny little pieces. I want you to show me exactly how you do that at retreat.

    The getaway to Canada looks a dream about now. Hot and dry over in the hills.

  3. Love the rustic cabins in your own little family retreat. Your personal touch in your own cabin is just so cozy and appealing. Sorry you are still feeling a bit lost in a new world. Your applique of such tiny bits just blows me away.

  4. Your block is so lovely and the colors are bright which I love! I enjoy seeing the photos from your annual trip to Canada. The scenery reminds me of western NY. It seems so far away right now as it's so hot here in CA, I miss the greenery. That snake - I could scream but it doesn't help. I heard that if you put baling twine which is scratchy around the area where you don't want any snakes that it keeps them away as they won't slither across it. It could be an old wives tale. I went with some quilting friends on a retreat in April and there seemed to be several garter snakes around. We've gone to this same place for years without seeing one snake and suddenly there were a few. One slithered across the sidewallk in front of me and I can still see it as it was zig zagged across the walk - no telling how long it was if it had been straightened out. Two inches would have still spooked me. I screamed! Keep taking care if you and attending quilt related activities in your area and eventually you'll connect to people. Moving to a new area reminds me of that saying about selling a house - it only takes one buyer and then it's sold. It only takes one person and then you have a new friend but it may take awhile. Be patient, be good to you, and volunteer at church, school, or a library. Saying a prayer for you and for Sue Garman.

  5. I moved to SC so many years ago. I won't tell the amount of years. I've never left and have always felt the southern hospitality. But then I grew up in NY where people now seem rude and grumpy. Hang in there girl, things will look up. I'd love a road trip to Alabama.....

  6. Oh Teresa, I was feeling so happy for you until I read the last paragraph. I have been reading beneath the lines for a while that the transition might be a bit harder than you thought. I know I could never leave my beloved Maine, so I am particularly proud of you for taking on the challenge. Your work is so lovely. Please do take time for yourself and sit in the AC and stitch a little each day. You are such an inspiration!

  7. You so need to meet some people. How far are you from a quilt shop? I think you could teach an applique class. Or sign up for a class as a way to have some quilt friendly contact. You have such a lovely home at your new location. If there was a way to let locals know you are a quilter and maybe have a class right in your home.

  8. The block is abundantly lovely. I say abundantly because of all the flowers. Such a bounty. . . Making new friends and feeling like you belong is so hard. We moved here from Colorado after 23 yrs. and 5 babies (added to the previous 2). We've lived here 17 yrs. but I long for the smaller town and the memories. I know I just need to make memories here and put up with the traffic. Easier said than done. I'm glad you got to make your traditional summer trek to Canada. The pictures look so tranquil.

  9. The blocks are beautiful. The camp is serene. The Alabama family-shared place sounds like a cross to bear. Give it time. You'll settle in and find friends. Quilting will make a way for you!!

  10. I feel for you. It's hard to make friends in a new place. Even though I've lived in the same town all my life as I retired I needed to make new friends as most everyone I knew still worked. I found a quilt shop that has a free sewing day once a week. It made all the difference in the world. The women in that group are so welcoming and giving. My quilt guild also has a sew day twice a month and it has been fun getting to know the quilters that come to that. I'd love to be your quilty friend. Wished you lived nearby! Love your applique and the whimsy in your pieces. Keep your chin up will all work out! Hope you get the snake! (well not you, but someone :) )

  11. Your retreat looks like heaven to me (minus the indoor outhouse!)
    I hope your time is restorative and relaxing!

  12. Your retreat looks like heaven to me (minus the indoor outhouse!)
    I hope your time is restorative and relaxing!

  13. I would never enter that garage again -- ever!!!!! It gave me the creeps just reading about that.

    I will go back and look at all the applique pictures to take my mind off seeing that snake -- LOL

  14. I can handle a lot of things, but a rattler! Oh HELL NO!

    Give yourself time, Theresa. Have you joined a guild? Is there a church nearby that you'd like to attend? That's how I got to know people. Of course, when you have little ones, they're always conversation starters. Maybe Riley's musical ability can be a way for your family to go to church.

    Hope this helps.


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