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Life Lessons from a Mystery Quilt

The “Good Fortune” Mystery is finished!  Well, kind of…  Except for that one little square that I need to rip out…  now that it is sewn into the quilt.   That I didn’t even see until I took this picture.   And now that I have seen it, I can’t unsee it.   (Big sigh.)  And of course layering and quilting and binding.

I have learned many life lessons while finishing the quilt top this last couple of weeks.  I have had more time to reflect on the process, and here is the result:

  • Trust the Designer. As I worked on this, knowing only what I was to do on that particular week, I could not see the big picture.  I could not see how all these little pieces were going to fit in the big scheme of things, or even if they were going to fit together:  little squares, bigger squares, rectangles, smaller rectangles.  How on earth is this all going to come together to make one beautiful quilt?   But I knew the reputation of Bonnie Hunter.  I had looked at photos of her quilts over the years, and knew they were beautiful, so I kept working at those odd pieces, trusting that they would come together and be beautiful.  I happen to believe that we have a Designer as well.  There is a plan for our lives.  Sometimes we don’t understand why today, or this week, or even this year has to shape up like it does.  Sometimes we don’t really like the color we have been handed.  But we know the reputation of our Designer.  We know that He makes all things beautiful and that in the end it all fits together.  So trust in the Designer, and trust that somehow, someway they will all come together and be beautiful.   Jeremiah 29:11  
  • Be Diligent. One of the things that makes this quilt so special is the small pieces: the little squares that make chains throughout the quilt, the small rectangles that make up the sawtooth borders, the little checkerboards in the centers of the red and orange squares.  Not a big piece in sight!  I have to admit, if I had seen this pattern in a magazine, I probably would have laid it aside, saying, “Too much work.  Too many pieces.  I don’t have time for all that piecing.”  And I would have never done it.  But I didn’t see the big picture.  I was fed bite size pieces, just one little step sometimes repeated hundreds of times.  But doing the same thing over and over isn’t a big deal.  And then the process is repeated the next week with a different same thing repeated.  And then suddenly  the reveal!  I couldn’t believe that this pile of different blocks was all I needed for a beautiful quilt!  Life is like that as well.  We do the same thing over and over, day in and day out.   And then we are asked to learn a new thing, or a new way of doing the old thing and we do that over and over.  We don’t even think about why or what those things are going to lead to, we are just doing what we need to do.  And then the reveal!  Suddenly, after years, we realize that that skill learned while raising young children, and that lesson learned at work, and that talent that we unveiled, and the thing our boss asked us to do that we didn’t think we would ever be able to do (but did!), have all equipped us for a new stage of our life.  All those lessons and skills have turned us into the person that we now are.  It would have never happened if we had not been diligent in the small things each step of the way.  Isaiah 28:10 
  • Keep things straight. Can you just imagine what this quilt would look like if the blocks were just sewn together randomly…  An orange next to an orange, a sawtooth border running across the middle, the star blocks sewn together to not even slightly resemble a star?   It would be a mess!  But isn’t that how we try to live at times?   We just do what we feel, what we want or don’t want to do.  No discipline.  No thought of those around us.  We are just thinking of ourselves, doing what WE want.  And we end up with a mess, and then try to blame others.  We need to know there is a  plan, and then work the plan.  Keeping things straight, whether we feel like it or not.  (And sometimes rip out that little square and turn it a quarter turn, even though I don’t want to!)  That is the road to a life that I can sit back and look at from time to time, and smile at!  Proverbs 4:26  
  • It’s all about the value. I am not talking about one person being more valuable than another, or about money.  I am talking about the interest that is created in the quilt by the areas of neutral colors, next to the brightness of the oranges and reds, in contrast to the solidness of the blues and greens.  Our lives are like that too.  We need those neutral, thoughtful, sometimes full of introspection, or just calm times in our lives.  The problem is, if we sit in that place too long, we are boring or maybe even depressing.   We need the brightness of life, the times of joy, and laughter, and happiness to contrast with the neutral times.  And then there are the blues and greens.  The hard times.  The stoic times.  The solid, one step in front of the other times.  The just breathe times.  We need those to develop character and perseverance.  We need those to appreciate the calm times.  We need those to appreciate the bright and happy times.  And just when the blues and greens get too heavy, a bit of orange, a bit of red comes along to bring us cheer.  And it all works together to make our lives good, to make us more like our Designer.  Romans 8:28

I am going to miss working on “Good Fortune”, and the thinking about what to write about this quilt.  But alas, there are more projects on the horizon!   Come back again sometime and see what’s next!

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Comparing Ourselves to Others

As I am assembling my “Good Fortune” blocks into rows and ultimately a quilt top, I am learning many things about quilting.  I listed some of those in my last post.  However, I have to admit that I am learning even more about myself.   In the posting of these blogs, and in the viewing the progress of others, I am reminded of what comparing myself to others can bring out of me.

You see, at the time I am writing this, I am seeing many photos online of totally finished quilt tops, complete with the beautiful borders that have been designed for them.  They are carefully laid out and photographed, with not a flaw to be seen.  Then I think of all the time I have spent with my seam ripper over the past couple of weeks, because in my haste to keep up with all the progress I am hearing about others making, I have made mistakes.  And I have been so busy trying to keep up, I haven’t even noticed my mistakes until I had to put it all together.  And it would not fit.

So rip out I did, because in order to make this beautiful quilt, it all has to fit.  Does that mean I am inferior?   Why can’t I be fast like the others?    Should I just pack it up and quit?

What I am forgetting, is that I only see what is happening in my life.   I only know the thoughts that go through my mind.  (And now you do too! )  I don’t see what others had to do to make theirs fit.  I don’t see what else they were doing in their lives when they were working on theirs.  I don’t see the flaws hidden in a fold of the top.  I only see what they are allowing me to see.

And so it is with all of life.  Life is a process, a journey.  You and I have to pursue that journey, learning as we go, ripping out the mistakes and starting over when needed.  Moving forward when we have no idea what all these pieces are going to look like when it is completed.  And most of all, relaxing and enjoying the journey, taking time to relish the learning, pass it along to others, and enjoy their company.  We have to remember that only we know what is in our minds.  And we can not judge others, because we do not see their fears, their thoughts, their insecurities.  We only see our own.

Thank you for joining in the journey of “Good Fortune” with me.  I hope you have been inspired to try something new, taking it one step at a time and trusting the process.

There is still time to download the instructions for this quilt from the “Good Fortune” website.   And by the way, I have assembled this one row.  I have many other bits and pieces together, but I am not sharing what they are.  And that is okay with me!  It is beautiful and I am enjoying the process.

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“Good Fortune” is Revealed!

I hope 2019 is getting off to a good start for you and your loved ones!   It is so hard to believe that time is marching by this quickly!   I remember when 2007 sounded so far off.   2019!!!

This week not only was the beginning of the New Year, but the reveal of Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt “Good Fortune”.  This is the first of her mysteries I have participated in.  I have thought about participating.   I have even downloaded the PDFs, but I have never actually done one.  Part of the reason why I have not is because of the time of the year.  Another big part was the fact that I was going to put that time into making a quilt that I had no idea whether or not I would like.  I admire Bonnie’s quilts.  I look through her website, and like 95% of them, but who knows about this one?   But. hey, scraps are accumulating and they have to go somewhere, right?

Well, I am super glad I did!   This quilt is going to be gorgeous!  And I have learned so much from her hints that I had not heard before, even though I have quilted for many years.

What have I learned?

  • Next time I will be more adventurous (yes, I said next time!) and stray a bit from Bonnie’s color palette.  If the color values remain the same, and the colors look good together, it should work.  I love what she picked, in spite of all the orange, but I would make it mine next time, and change the colors up, keeping in mind what color scraps I have in excess.
  • I had never heard about keeping the ruler line on the fabric and not on the cutting mat.  Just that extra “scant” when cutting makes a really big difference.
  • I learned that there IS a use for the strips of Christmas paper that you have left after wrapping gifts!   I used these for the foundation paper for the neutral rectangles.
  • I am still in amazement at all the planning that Bonnie Hunter has put into these.  I am not a pattern follower.  I love to put my own blocks together, and design them myself.   But I cannot fathom putting all of this together, right down to the direction to press every piece and have it all come out properly.   I have never done anything this intricate with this many pieces.
  • I learned to trust the authority, and blindly follow.  GULP!  I had no choice if I was going to do this.  I had no idea what the final goal was, other than a quilt.  (I like plans, and l like to work the plan!)  It was obvious I was working a plan, but I had no idea where that plan was going to lead.   Lots of good life lessons in that one!
  • Last but not least, I learned to slow down and enjoy the process.  I am a get it done person, who has trouble sitting still.  But when you know that you won’t know for a few days what the next step is, it takes some of the fire out of the “get it done”.   Why rush when you are going to be able to move on anyway?

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My Helper, Lucy, supervised while I removed the paper foundations.

Now I can’t wait to get the blocks together so that I can play with the beautiful borders!  If you haven’t gone to the website and looked at this beauty, or better yet, downloaded the free instructions, I would encourage you to click here!  The free instructions disappear the beginning of February.  After that, they will be incorporated into a pattern or book.

I saw this quip Willowlane Designs posted on Facebook, and thought I would share.  It pretty much sums up my hopes for this year!  (She has the prints for sale, as well as other goodies, so check her out!)

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Haste Makes Waste!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas this week!  We have not yet celebrated as a family.  Parts of my family were at our church’s Christmas Eve candlelight service however.  The service was beautiful, and it was a blessing to celebrate this wonderful night with family.  This is a rare year for us, as we are not all going to be able to get together at the same time.  Some years we have our family Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend, just so we can all be together, but this year there just wasn’t any way of working it out.  I guess that is what happens as everyone gets older.  Most of us are gathering at our house this coming weekend, and I FINALLY have all of my shopping done!

In addition to preparing for the coming weekend, I completed a new design that should be released in mid-January.  I still need to write the instructions and photograph for the website and the packaging, and of course, play with the laser!  I am really excited about this one, but am not ready to disclose its identity quite yet!  I CAN tell you that it is NOT a bird.  LOL.

I also embroidered names on some stockings.   We had kind of been on the fence about whether or not great-grands got stockings, and that definitely was not feeling right, so now the great-grands (and the new grand!) will have stockings.  In order to make this work, we will no longer be hanging stocking for adults.  Another price you pay for growing up, I guess.

I have been determined to complete the week’s assignment for the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune” each week before the next one comes out.  I ALMOST made it this week…   This week was a small black made of a half square triangle and two quarter square triangles.  (If you want details, go to the Quiltville website and download the instructions.  The instructions will only be on her site until the Mystery ends, so you might want to make sure you have downloaded all of the steps before then!)   Of course, you make many of this one block.

I chain stitched the quarter square triangles together, being very careful that the color placement was as directed.  All were pressed to the dark side, and clipped apart.  So far, so good.

I then cut all of the half square triangles, and made a chain again, stitching them to the first unit.  I am trying to keep this quilt very scrappy, so I took extra care to try to change up the blue with the different oranges, so that not too many blocks came out looking alike.  I finished them all and gave them a good press.

This was last night (Wednesday), and I was so happy to have gotten all of the blocks completed ahead of Friday!  I decided not to clip off the bunny ears until after our Christmas get together, because I will have more “free” time then.  (Whatever that is!)  But I  did have fun playing with the block so far, and trying to figure out how they will eventually all fit together, which is impossible, as we have many more to make.

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I must admit I was a bit disturbed when I read toward  the end of this week’s instructions, “It’s about to get crazy around here in the Mystery department—anyone feel like they have boarded a freight train headed down hill without any brakes?”.   I have kept up so far, and soon the house will go back to normal (whatever that is!), so it will be fine, right?

This morning I woke early, and went down to put the  blocks in their basket and clean up.  Of course the bunny ears were bugging me, so I dug out my appropriate fussy cut ruler to knock a few off, and guess what?   I had hurried a bit too much and my center seams were ALL off!    My machine has a scant quarter inch setting, and I am thinking I forgot to use it!  All of the blocks are too small!  Sooo…  I “un”pressed all of the blocks, so that the two halves would be smooth after I rip them all apart.  And they are now in a box waiting for me to sit down and rip out all of those blocks.

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And tomorrow morning the next clue comes out…  (Big sigh!)  My daddy always told me “Haste makes waste.”   I guess I proved him right…  again!

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Not So Good Fortune, and “Good Fortune” Week 4

Gee, I am re-reading last week’s post, and life seemed so much simpler then.  LOL.  Isn’t everything in life just relative?

My three year old great-granddaughter did indeed help me decorate the tree last Monday.  I put her in charge of adding my favorite icicles to the bottom half of the tree.  (I have 24 of these, so probably 20 of them are at the bottom now.)

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After EACH addition, she made sure I looked at it, and then, EACH time asked “Isn’t it just beautiful where I put it?”.   Now remember, she is only three.  She has been talking full conversational paragraphs since she was 18 months old.  And boy does it get entertaining at times!  She brightens our lives for sure!

We then moved onto the very fragile glass ornaments that she insisted on unpacking and handing me one at a time, with much commentary on each.  So fun!  I am just happy to have the tree decorated.  And the week did a fast decline from there, so it is VERY good to know at least that is done.

 

Tuesday included attending an elementary school Christmas Sing Along (my youngest daughter is the music teacher) an hour away.  Then afterward texts and calls were flying back and forth as a two year old grand was taken to the ER with difficulty breathing and an almost four year old grand was covered in hives and the question was “Do we go to the ER?”.   Do hospitals do group discounts?  We thought we were going to find out.  All is good with them now.  Wednesday was good.  The Sewing Connection sold out of Snowflake kits, and I had a good evening playing with lasers.  Playing with lasers and quilting are my happy place, so good times.  Then the creepy crud hit me very early Thursday morning, and that was pretty much the end of my week.  I spent two days in the recliner (And it takes A LOT to put me down.  I don’t sit still well!) and spent the next two feeling like I should be back in the recliner, and now it is Monday!  And we are even CLOSER to Christmas.  Yikes!

So, when you have no energy, feel like crap, and feel like there is way too much you should be doing to just be snoozing in a recliner, what do you do?  First of all, you realize that there are legions of people in way worse shape, and you thank God for your life, and move forward. Then you take a good look at what you CAN do, which for me was Good Fortune (in very short bursts), online Christmas shopping (also in very short bursts), and store stuff (even shorter bursts).  I am so thankful my husband was willing to run errands and go to the basement work area and bring me what I needed.  I am also so thankful for online shopping!

Last night I even set up my YouTube account, so I could start adding tutorial videos to my store.  I have added ONE!  You can click here to see it.  It took six hours to upload!  So ONE it is!  And now that I know, I will add them before I go to bed at night, and sleep while they load!

I am also so thankful that this week’s assignment for Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune” was foundation string piecing, which did not require accuracy.  The accuracy comes with the trimming into rectangles, and I didn’t have to deal with that until I was ready.  I still haven’t taken the paper out, and I think that is just going to wait until after Christmas.  I DID get all my pieces from Week 3 sewn, but didn’t trim those up after either.  I sure hope I have the break after Christmas that I see in my mind.

So here is what I have for this week, and what I have done so far, and yes, I am keeping my eyes open for a larger basket.  I know there is one around here somewhere!

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I was not thrilled with the idea of orange.  I am not a huge orange fan, so I went with more of a sherbet shade, which I like, but I am still not convinced that these colors will mesh together in the end.  This is my first ever mystery quilt, and I have found the color palette to be my largest issue.  Color is something I am usually pretty good at, and maybe that makes me even more nervous of whether or not I am going to like this when all is said and done.  I also am trying very hard to keep to my scraps and stash on this one, which is limiting as well, however I did purchase a bit of orange, as it is not something I use much of.  I am enjoying the mystery from week to week, and doing things I haven’t done before (like these strings) and learning new tips, including what I will do differently next time with the color palette.  Someone will think it is lovely when all is said and done, and it can always be passed along to that someone.  But who knows?  There is the possibility that that will be me!  It most certainly would not be my first project that I doubted while in progress, and then turned out great.

Please consider heading over to the Quiltville Blog and getting involved for yourself.  It really is fun, and you can download the instructions from the past weeks and save them, start where we all are and get involved in the community,  and catch up later.

I wish you “Good Fortune” and that all your Christmas plans go forth smoothly!

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Bonnie Hunter’s 2018 Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune” Part 3

Bonnie Hunter "Good Fortune" part 3

Good grief!  Is Christmas really only a little over two weeks away???   I am SOOO far behind this year!  Between babysitting little ones, working on the store and the new designs to be released in early 2019, and the Mystery Quilt, I lost track of how quickly Christmas was approaching!

I have been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt “Good Fortune” (https://quiltville.blogspot.com/2018/12/mystery-monday-link-up-part-3.html), but I am afraid I am going to have to slow down on it and get my Christmas together.   Our family dynamic is way outside the box of being normal.  (As Patsy Clairmont says, “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.”)  We have lots of grandkids and a couple of great-grandkids, and the great-grands are older than some of the grands.  At the moment we have five under the age of 5.  Three of those are grands.  Two are great-grands.  (I had my four children over a 16 year span, and my youngest child and my oldest grand are only 2 1/2 years apart.)  Christmas is going to be really fun this year, IF I pull it together!  🙂

So, back to “Good Fortune”.   Here is what I have so far:

Basket of Quilt Pieces for Bonnie Hunter "Good Fortune" Part 3

 

Obviously, I need a larger basket!

It is really fun to play with all of the little blocks and wonder how Bonnie is going to put them together when all is said and done.  I realize the arrangement at the top of this page doesn’t work.  The green and neutral squares would not fit like this after they were all sewn together, but it was fun to play with them!  I only have about a fifth of the green and neutral ones sewn together at this point, but I will plug away at them in the late evenings until the next clue comes out Friday.  If I don’t get all of them done, the rest will have to wait until after Christmas.

In the meantime, hopefully my great-granddaughter and I will decorate the Christmas tree today.  (She is hanging out with me today while her mom does nursing school clinicals), and get some online shopping and my store work done so that I can get back to “Good Fortune” without feeling guilty about taking the time to sew!

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Wish me “Good Fortune” as I try to get this poor naked tree dressed today!

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Bonnie Hunter’s 2018 Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune”

I have considered doing a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt for many years now, but joining just before Christmas was a hindrance.  I have folders on my computer of a couple of the PDF’s from years gone by, hoping that I would make it during another part of the year, but without the deadlines and community, never started them.  One year I even tried to get some quilter friends to do it with me, but was not convincing enough.

This year, someone posted about it in a Facebook group I am active in, and I decided that this was the year to just do it.  It really helped the decision that when the paint swatches came out, they were all colors that I had in my scrap bin or my stash, and using much of that fabric was priority.  So…  I have taken the plunge, and I am glad I did!  It actually is a nice break at the end of the day to go to my sewing area and work on something rather mindless.  Bonnie has done all the hard work, and each week you are just doing the same block, in the same way, over and over.

This is Week Two of actual sewing, and I would think it would be quite possible to jump in now and still keep up.  All the information and the free downloadable PDFs are on Bonnie Hunter’s website.    In one of her posts or instructions, she gave “permission” (Let’s face it… some personalities need to get permission!  🙂 ) to do part of the blocks and make a wall quilt, or do part now and catch up later.  I thought that was probably what I would end up doing, but I actually get a little caught up in it and go farther than I expected.  So far I have completed all of the Week One blocks (the red and neutral ones) and almost half of the Week Two (blue and neutral) blocks.  Week Three instructions come out Friday, so I plan on being done with these by then.

Bonnie’s instructions are very good, and even though I am an experienced quilter, I am learning time saving and accuracy tips.  Another plus is that at least the first couple of blocks are small pieces.  I have been able to use some fabric that needed to be cut very small to look good and get them out of my stash.

I plan on posting weekly updates of progress on here, but I realize that as it gets closer to Christmas it may be fewer pieces than needed, and I will have to catch up later.   I would love it if you would join along!