Monday, August 18, 2014

Will's Song

Will's Song 
      Born William Jantzi, he went by many names over his lifetime:  son, nephew, grandson, brother, Will, Pop, Grandpa Will, Old Grandpa (to the great grands), Bill, husband, father, Jack of all Trades, a man of God.

      I was privileged to meet Grandpa Will in the year of 1994, when I married the love of my life. My husband often tells stories of the many things his Grandpa Will taught him to do around the farm. The very farm we now live on.  I look around the barns and this house I now call my own, and I see Grandpa Will's handiwork.

     As I started this wall hanging, the rooster looked as though he were giving morning praise to his Creator.  I thought the words to Grandpa Will's favorite hymn was so fitting.  Grandpa Will loved praising his Creator as he plowed the fields, tended the animals, and invented things to make farm work easier.

     Over the last few years arthritis has made it's presence known in my fingers, and so quilting by hand has become painful at best.  I have mourned the loss of this ability, but as I thought about Grandpa Will and his many projects around this farm, I realized that he left me with a challenge.  Was I going to let this difficulty stop me from creating and using the gifts my Creator gave me?  Or was I going to figure out another way to accomplish the same thing?

Grandpa Will was well known for his ability to fix anything that was broken. When something didn't work the way he thought it should, he found another way to make it work.  As I appliqued, sewed, and created this wall hanging in Grandpa Will's memory, I felt like he was challenging me to let go of the past (hand quilting) and giving me permission to embrace the new way of  "making it work" (machine quilting).   I am so thankful for the legacy Grandpa Will has left this small part of the world.

     I have decided to honor Grandpa Will's memory by selling this wall hanging at the 2015 Northern Michigan Relief Sale.  I think Grandpa Will would be pleased at the healing this project has brought me, and the healing and help the money raised will bring people in other parts of our hurting world.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Depth and Texture

Notice the pattern created by the turned bales of straw

This past week saw a lot of activity on our farm and in the surrounding fields.  Wheat harvest was upon us.  Even during all the busy hub-bub of life I noticed something that is important in quilting as well as life.  Texture and depth.  Without texture or depth, a quilt will seem flat and uninteresting.  If you add texture and depth to your quilts you cause people to stop and be drawn into the beauty of your art. 

Notice the contrast of dark and light

Texture and depth can be added in several ways.  The first is fabric choice.  There needs to be contrast in colors, so that the pattern can easily be seen.  Using shades of dark and light cause depth in our quilts.  

Stars of the Past
Second is batting choice.  Even though batting is never seen on the surface of the quilt, it adds visual effects once stitching is applied through all three layers.  Some batting will lay flat, giving very little puff or definition to the quilted areas. 

My quilt, Stars of the Past, had contrast in color, but the batting I chose, gave very little depth to the quilt.  This quilt laid very flat. I opted to do this because I made this quilt to be loved to death, not to be hung on the wall as a piece of art. 

If you want to add loft and depth to your quilt, choose a batting which has a high loft (puff) or consider doubling up your batting.  Some choose to layer a wool batt with a cotton batt for added loft.

The third way texture and depth is added is by your quilting.  Notice how the stippled effect of the sand behind the feather, causes the feather to come to the fore front of your vision.  Decide whether you want your quilting to be the focal point, or do you want the quilt pattern itself to be the focal point.

It is wise to take your time when deciding how to quilt your art.  You have already put a lot of time and love into your quilt and don't want to be disappointed in the outcome do to poor choices of the quilting design.  

"Oopsy Daisy"
                This week I did catch time here and there to sew.  Several years ago my sister gave me a bundle of fat quarters for my birthday.  They were flannel, and very girly.  Not something I would have ever picked out, which is the challenge I gave her. They laid in my stash and every once in awhile I would take them out, look at them awhile, and hope some spark of an idea would strike.  This week it did.  I now have a girly baby blanket waiting for a baby shower.  It will be nice to have a gift already made!  The one thing I found out is that flannel stretches!  I should have basted a little closer before I started quilting.  However the resulting puffiness due to extra fabric between stipples, gives it a cuddly effect. I wanted the daisy to stand out.  To make this happen, I opted to quilt the petals separately and then to stipple all over the background.  

Detail of the daisy petals
Life Lesson:  Our lives also need texture and depth.  We've all met people, along the walk   of life, who are full of wisdom and depth, as well as people who are         shallow and concerned only with themselves. The people with depth in their lives are the ones who draw us into themselves.  These are the people we want to learn from.  Who we are depends on what we add to our lives.  Is it a love for people (depth) or a love of ourselves and things (flat and shallow)? 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Northern Michigan Relief Sale & Quilt Auction

This past weekend my family and I attended the annual Northern Michigan Relief Sale in Fairview, MI.  All proceeds from the quilt auction and sales of various crafts and food items go to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). MCC provides disaster relief throughout the world.  They are often one of the first responders after a natural disaster.  MCC also has various ongoing projects to help people in rural third world countries.  They teach them farming and other skills so that they can work to support their families and villages. 
Crowd gathered to watch the quilt auction

The highlight of the sale is definitely the quilts. Comforters and quilts will sell anywhere from $50 for baby quilts to $2,000 for large exquisitely appliqued and hand-quilted quilts.   Here is a link to see more of the quilts sold on this year's auction. 

The Mariner's Compass quilt was my favorite and sold for $1,800.

Wise Old Owl - Color Challenge 2014

 Each year there is a color challenge.  I always enjoy laying out the five fabrics and deciding on my pattern.  This year's challenge fabrics screamed baby girl.  Since owls are so popular right now, I figured I'd jump on the band wagon. On Friday the public votes for "People's Choice".  Even though I didn't win this year, I was excited when my baby quilt sold for $80!

One thing I noticed while sitting in the audience, was the fact that I should have made my owl larger.  A good reminder to stand back and look at the layout of a quilt before sewing it together!