The Bible is an amazing witness to God’s ultimate plan to reconcile wayward humans to Himself.
Through Advent I’ve been following daily notes* exploring the book of Ruth. Just a few pages long, the book is tucked away in the Old Testament. Ruth was not a Jew but she married a Jewish man, an economic migrant, who died after ten years of marriage. Childless, Ruth and her Mother-in-Law, Naomi, were in a precarious position both socially and economically. Ruth opted to leave her homeland, moving with Naomi to the land of Israel, declaring, ‘Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God’. The book of Ruth ends with the marriage of Ruth to a kinsman of Naomi and the birth of a son, Obed. Obed was Grandfather to King David. Ruth isn’t remembered just for being the Great-Grandmother of King David though, she is, through David and subsequent generations, a direct ancestor of Jesus (the family genealogy is recorded in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1). The book of Ruth, the simple recounting of the lives of ordinary people living more than a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, is a wonderful illustration of God’s plan weaving history towards the perfectly timed birth of Emmanuel (God With Us).
John, writing as a first-hand witness of Jesus’ ministry recorded these words (John 3:17):
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn, but to save it.
God’s perfect plan of reconciliation and redemption revealed in the person of Jesus. Happy Christmas!
A sandwich of a blog post – two positives surrounding a rather negative filling!
First positive layer:
Here is the progress I’ve made with a couple of the projects I have on the go:
Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along: I made the twelfth and final block. Came home from Purple Stitches with fabrics for the sashing and cornerstones… I hope the rusty orange will provide enough of contrast without being a distraction from the blue blocks 🤞
English Country Garden cushion covers: Finished! 😁
The negative filling:
I’ve been getting a little stressed by deadlines lately. Not quite sure why, but I’m the run-up to Christmas (complete with it’s own set of requirements combining deadlines and perfectionism) along with heightened anxiety around Covid infection rates as invitations to social events begin to mount up are two of the causes. In my more rational moments I’ve been able to make sensible decisions about what to do and what to let slip but then (especially when I get tired) I have other times when I get overwhelmed and can think of nothing more appealing than shutting myself in my sewing room and not venturing out again until 25th December (when all the deadlines will have gone away!).
My coping methods at such times are unhealthy and expensive. On Thursday I ate so many biscuits I could hardly face my dinner and last weekend I blew my money on a whim – purchasing a sewing machine 😳 Totally mad! I decided I really needed a small, easily portable machine for sewing days. I chose a Bernette B35 which is a mechanical machine so it’s uncomplicated with no computerized workings to go wrong. When it arrived I felt ashamed of such an indulgence, leaving the box unopened under my sewing table for a couple of days! I have now unboxed the neat little machine, read the instruction leaflet, played around with a few scraps of fabric getting a feel for how it runs. Of course, one purchase leads to another, so I have ordered a quarter inch foot and a walking foot to add to the accessories kit…
Through the past two weeks I have continued to sew, but I have not been reading blog posts. My inbox reached overwhelm, social media was getting me down – so many Black Friday deal messages that any normal, friendly sewing messages were just lost in the deluge. And that left me feeling quite disconnected, lonely in fact. Does that make sense? Perhaps I was experiencing the virtual equivalent of feeling very lost and alone in a large crowd?
Anyhow, on Thursday I reached the bottom of the low, being overtired after a busy start to the week, I hit the biscuits, struggled to share a pot of tea and conversation with my lovely parents, fell asleep with my head on a table, woke up just in time to cook a dinner I didn’t want to eat, went out to a meeting only to find it had been cancelled (I’ve since found the 3 day old cancellation notice on Facebook – Facebook notifications are not a reliable means of communication), came home, escaped into my sewing room (again) before sloping off to bed.
Second positive layer:
Thankfully, a good sleep and a gracious God provided me with a New Morning on Friday. I finished stitching the walking foot quilting designs on the Modern Fans quilt – looking good even if I do say so myself 😉
– then pottered around doing a few chores before donning my weatherproofs and setting out to hand-deliver a card to a friend. Despite being elbow deep in pumpkin flesh she kindly welcomed me in for a cup of coffee and we had a good chat as we watched the birds flitting around her garden.
Strava tells me my walk was a 5.6 mile round trip, surely long enough to get a good dose of positive-vibe endorphins circulating through my system?
Have you been experiencing emotional ups and downs? Has patchwork quilting or another creative activity helped you to steady your thoughts, regain perspective or give you respite from a difficult situation?
I’m happy to have my first Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt finished in the year I began making it – just! The monthly hunt though a box of scraps of the prescribed colour gave me a sense of making progress through the topsy-turvy year of 2020. The simple nine patch blocks fit together in a 10 x 12 layout measuring 60″ x 66″. The backing is an extra wide text print and I created the label in my usual fashion using a computer print out, light box and permanent marker.
I stitched two sides of the label into the binding and finished the project by hand stitching the remaining two edges to the quilt back. The binding fabric is from the Solstice range by Sally Kelly @sallykellyfabric . I felt I was committing a crime by cutting this beautiful fabric into binding strips but the rainbow of colours on a dark blue background make it just perfect for the quilt!
In the end I chose to echo quilt a gentle curve across the quilt following the flow of the patchwork pattern. The echoes are 2½” apart so the quilt drapes well and feels cuddly 🙂 I used three different colours of Aurifil 40wt threads – 2314 across the yellow & orange sections; 2520 across the red, purple & blue sections; and 2902 across the aqua & green sections.
My final quilt of 2020 🙂 It feels appropriate to have ended with a rainbow, symbol of hope in the Bible, and a natural phenomena which moves us to look up in wonder. Before Christmas I shared thoughts on Advent as a season of waiting. The sense of waiting continues with the transition from this year to the next bringing few tangible changes. This morning I read a reflection by Mark Meynell* which included the thought that there are two types of waiting: passive ‘rainy day’ waiting; and active ‘house-guest’ waiting. I’m going to make a conscious effort to make my ‘stay at home’ Tier 4 existence a time of active waiting. Not necessarily making quilts (although there’s bound to be some sewing room action!) but a time of expectant waiting. Instead of staring at the rain and wishing it would stop I intend to be preparing for when the sun breaks through a gap in the clouds and a rainbow arcs overhead.
Rather than wishing you ‘Happy New Year’ (which may sound hollow to some and wishful thinking to others) I will instead go back to the theme of Advent: a sure hope in the promise of everlasting light that can never be extinguished by the darkness. Two thousand years ago John wrote with confidence, ‘… the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining’. Jesus is the name of that light and He’s still shining! Amen
* Mark Meynell, Colossians & Philemon For You, The Good Book Company
I hope your Christmas has been a peaceful time, perhaps even an opportunity to embrace different ways of gathering and celebrating. Our Christmas moved on from Plan C to Plan D as our daughter and S-I-L were plunged into Tier 4 restrictions – no mixing of households, no travelling. We hoped to have my parents share Christmas Day with us, then we heard the new Covid strain was indeed ‘going viral’ and we too would be in Tier 4 as from Boxing Day. So we played it safe, keeping households apart, and celebrated at home just the three of us. We were so grateful for a live-streamed Church Service in the morning and access to family via the internet.
No guests this Christmas meant my intentions to tidy my sewing room and convert it into a guest room could be set aside. I did a bit of tidying and sorting after finishing the Dashing Stars quilt last weekend. The Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt was the obvious next project. The blocks were up on the design wall and slowly through the week I pieced the quilt top together. Some days I just didn’t have the heart for sewing, trying to absorb the increasingly severe restrictions being broadcast from Downing Street and the resulting changes to our plans just left my head too full.
But by Boxing Day the quilt top was complete. I spent upwards of half an hour pressing all the seams – what a job! The quilt top measures 60″ by 66″ and I calculate (well my calculator calculates!) there are 1,080 two inch squares! I’m calling the quilt ‘Thousand Piece Rainbow’. I had a two metre length of Michael Miller ‘Calligraphy’ extra-wide backing in my stash and plenty of Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 wadding to make up the quilt sandwich. There was just enough space on the kitchen floor to centre the layers.
Next task will be pin basting. I will use my walking foot to stitch out a quilting design. I’m not yet decided on the actual pattern. Maybe a wavy grid to follow the wave of changing colour in the patchwork or a diamond grid to overlay the patchwork design… There’ll be plenty of time to ponder the choices while I’m basting.
The label is prepared and I’ve made the binding strip, I’m wondering if I can finish this years Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt before the end of the year? Are you challenging yourself for a final finish for 2020 or maybe doing the opposite by enjoying the opportunity to relax into sewing mode with no goals in mind?
This isn’t a Saturday Quilting Bring & Share post and I sure do have a LOT of blog reading to catch up on but here are a few links I’d like to share 🙂
Alyce has shared an encouraging post about free motion quilting and how to break through five common myths that could hold us back from using this skill to enhance our patchwork.
Jo Westfoot aka the Crafty Nomad has launched her on-line sewing school. Her in-person workshops are great so I’m sure her new easily accessible classes will be informative and a lot of fun. The latest course to be launched, ‘Confident & Joyful Free Motion Quilting‘ takes participants beyond the anxieties of starting free motion quilting with a series of four step-by-step tutorials designed to grow knowledge and skills.
And Jasmeen is offering free tutorials sharing her love of needle turn applique. She is extremely skilful and wonderfully calm. A bit of slow stitching may be just what’s needed as we wait for 2021 to shake off the troubles of 2020. The series of video and written tutorials begins on 1st January.
Thank you for following my blog posts through the past year. All things being equal Saturday Quilting Bring & Share should return on 2nd January. I might even sneak in another post before then if I make significant progress on the RSC quilt 🙂