Sunday, February 15, 2015

Getting into the Groove

This pattern can be found here for free.
 In my last post I talked about my difficulty in getting into my February Creative Resolution of learning hand embroidery. After a hard but fun week at school, I was able to spend my Friday night, part of Saturday and now my uninterrupted Sunday working on my project. 

I think having a little break (we have no school on Monday and I also had off from teaching at church today) in addition with a little sunshine this week gave me some extra energy. I finished embroidering the lettering and changed my mind about the embellishing for the maniturgium (maniturgia? I have seen it both ways). Initially I was going to stick with something a little more serious but then did some searching and decided on something a little more whimsical. Since the maniturgium is used to not only wrap the newly ordained priest's hands but also to wrap his mother's hands for burial, I decided this motif worked well for both things. 

I am hoping to finish it this weekend. I'm enjoying this extra embroidery so much I'm thinking of starting another little project in February.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. On Friday we celebrated at school with a little party. Parties are always a wee bit crazy but the children do so enjoy them. My co-teacher and I were surprised with a gift of roses from the class. Inserted into the roses were things the children said they loved about us. How sweet is that! Of course when coming from the 3-5 year old crowd some of the sayings were quite funny as well as sweet. 

It was a lovely end to a long week. Now we are into a cold, cold weekend but the sun is shining and I've got a little time. What could be better?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Because of Love

February. It's a month that is very difficult for me. What is glorious about February is that it is SHORT. It is the month in which we long more than in any other month for spring. We know that spring is not so far off as it once was. I guess that is the reason there are so many celebrations: Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day, and this year Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year. Well....for me as a Montessori educator, we look at all of these cultural celebrations. 

I have been struggling with my Creative New Year's Resolution for February. My resolution for this month was to learn more about embroidery. 

Deacon Don and yours truely
 I was asked by a dear friend (see above photo) who is going to take his vows as a Catholic priest in June, to make his Maniturgium. When you feel great love for someone, especially someone you know has been on an arduous journey toward something of great good, you want to serve them as best you can. Of course I was greatly honored by his request.

A Maniturgium is really just a simple linen. I wanted to make it something extra special by embroidering it. Thus, the Creative Resolution for February. I have been working on learning the stem stitch and stitching on the linen.

To be honest, I'm not enjoying this endeavor much. I think some of the problem is that I feel so busy with my teaching (at school full time and then also at church) and with the days being short and dark and cold, that I just don't have the energy to put into a creative endeavor.
Vinegar Creek Constituency

On the other hand I have had the opportunity to hear some amazing music in our fair city. I generally take my cameral wherever I go. I think it is a way for me to compensate for my introvertedness (I think I just invented this word). I feel safe behind my camera. I find I am much more interested in photography and music than I am in sewing these days. 

The problem is that I am much more proficient at sewing and quilting than I am at photography and music making!

So...I'm dedicated to continuing my embroidery resolution for February but I'm looking forward to freeing myself from this resolution and changing it for March. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Creative Resolution for February

January is such a long month. It is dark. It is cold. Did I mention how cold and dark it is? Well, that makes it a long month for me. It makes me glad that February is the shortest month.

Although February is a few days away, I have begun my February Creative Resolution, which is to learn some embroidery skills. I promised a friend who is being ordained as a priest in June that I would make him his maniturgia. I really want to embroider it so I have been looking at blogs and reading instructions. I copied the text onto the fabric today and looked through my stash of floss for appropriate colors.

More on this, later. For now....I'm trying to catch up on Downton Abbey...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

With a Week to Spare

I was able to whip up the above simple quilt last weekend. I wanted to keep it simple because I knew I just didn't have time to finish a more complicated quilt. I quite liked this fabric and thought it looked good as a whole piece. 

My January creative goal was to learn to properly finish the binding. I was able to get the binding together with only TWO tries this time! I have to admit the finish looks much more seamless by doing it properly. Hopefully I learned a little more patience while I was at it!

My goal for February is to learn to do some embroidery. I have agreed to make a maniturgium for a friend who will be ordained a priest in June. When he asked if I would make the maniturgium for his ordination I had to ask him what the heck a maniturgium is! A maniturgium is a linen cloth used to wrap a newly ordained priest's hands after they are anointed. It is traditional for the priest to give the maniturgium to his mother and for her hands to be wrapped in it when she is buried. 

Needless to say this is an honor! I would like to embroider some words on it but have done very little embroidery in my life, thus my February creative goal! I purchased the linen a while ago and have only to decide how I want to embroider it. 

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Goal

Today is the baby shower for my co-worker. As you can see from the above photo, I was able to finish the quilt in time. I actually had it finished last weekend but only photographed it this morning. January is half over and I've completed half of my January goal. I have one more quilt to complete before February. I have most of the fabric already purchased for the next quilt. In fact, I'm using curtains I found at a thrift store for the main section of the quilt. I will keep this next one simple as well so I can get it completed in time. I hope to cut the fabric today when I get home from the shower. 

My goal for this week is to work a little bit every day on something creative. I find that I have a hard time motivating myself after I come home from school and get supper on the table. It is so cold and dark that I just want to crawl into bed! I work so much better in the morning. The good news is that the days are getting longer now. We also got our heat fixed so it no longer feels like a refrigerator in my sewing room. That should help. I have the day off school on Monday so I'm hoping to get a lot accomplished this weekend.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sorry, I Drank all the Coffee...

It has been very cold here in PA this week. 

Did I mention it was very cold here? Did I also mention that some of our radiators aren't working? 

When the temperature is in the teens and the wind chill sends the temperature to around 0, my body goes into hibernation mode. Our house has been an ice box. I was thinking about taking my sleeping bag to work since it's toasty warm there.

Unfortunately, when it is cold and dark and my body is in hibernation mode I just want to crawl under my electric blanket with a book and not come out again until spring. 


Lets just say I wasn't real motivated to work on my creative resolution this week. I forced myself to get the quilting done anyway. I could only do a little at a time before my hands were frozen blocks of ice. I'm glad this was a baby quilt and not a queen size or it would never get done!

Fortunately, every week ends in a nice little weekend and my Saturday morning started off by me waking up at 4:30 a.m. I didn't actually get out of bed until 5:30 but I did manage to drink almost a whole pot of coffee before my husband was up and about. 

While highly caffeinated I also managed to cut and attach the binding to the quilt. If you remember, my goal was to sew the binding on properly, not almost properly like I usually do. 

I'm pretty good at binding, if I must say so myself, until it comes to attaching the binding to itself once I've gone 'round the quilt. The binding should be sewn on an angle anywhere it is attached and I have never been very good (read that as patient enough) at getting the ends to line up correctly. So, usually I just sew a straight line where the ends meet up and call it a day. Every time I do it I am ashamed of myself. I think, "I know I can do this properly but I just don't want to take the time. No on will notice anyway, right????"

Shame on me. Well, I did vow I'd do it properly this time so I took out my handy binding ruler which is supposed to make things super easy. Guess what? It still took me about 5 tries (which means ripping things apart 5 times) before I finally got it right. Luckily I know better than to cut the ends off the binding before sewing it together like they recommend. I know myself better than that!
In the end, I got the binding sewn to the quilt and pinned to the back ready for the last step (hand sewing it to the back). And all before 9 a.m.

Of course, Mike had to make another pot of coffee when he got up.......

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Time and Creativity

I've been thinking quite a bit about my creative resolution since deciding to make it. In some ways, putting time limits on creativity is good and in some ways very bad. What is good for me is that time limits force me to get to work. Knowing I have two quilts to finish this month has made me get to work planning and cutting. The time limit isn't just of my own making (that I would focus on quilting in the month of January) but also of a natural sort (the two baby quilts are presents for babies due to arrive in February). 

The down side of time constraints mean less time to fuss and think and fix and redo. However, part of being creative is in the doing. Part of being creative is in the taking a look at your creativity and critiquing it. I heard once that the most creative people aren't afraid to take a risk, to put themselves out there, to just go ahead and take the plunge, no matter if the creating is good or not so good. 

So I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. I've had off work for two weeks due to Winter Break at school and must go back tomorrow. I spent a lot of time in my classroom cleaning and reorganizing and putting new works on the shelf for January. It never ceases to amaze me at the amount of time this takes. I'm taking a look at my time, asking myself if I am spending it wisely. I'm trying to determine if there is some way to streamline what I do at school so that I have more time for other pursuits. Like quilting!

So Friday I spent working on my quilt, Saturday on my classroom, and this morning back to quilting. One of the major necessities in quilting is measuring. I find that no matter how hard I try, no matter how accurate I think I am being, my measurements are always a little off. Oh my. Something to continue to work on, to focus more deeply on the next quilt.

In the meantime I am off to the fabric store to buy the backing for this quilt. I like to use flannel because it is so warm and snug, something necessary when a baby is born in the middle of winter. I hope to get the quilt sandwiched and pinned today if possible. I fear time may not be on my side, however!
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