Sometimes It’s Just Love at First Sight

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Tom and I love to head down to Holmes and Wayne counties in Ohio whenever we have the chance. For those who don’t know anything about this area, it is the home of the largest settlement of Amish in the world. There is just something about this area that brings a peaceful feeling to the mind and soul. For many years, I was a nurse in a pediatric hospital where Amish families often brought their children for treatment. Their faith is amazing and their devotion to family is unparalleled in my experience. I had many conversations with the Amish moms about cooking, baking, quilting and raising children. I learned so much from them about life and God’s peace.

Naturally, this area of Ohio is filled with quilt and craft shops that are some of the best I have ever seen. Usually I just meander through them and drool over the beautiful quilts and projects. True, I have purchased many items for “future projects” and have a stash that rivals that of any quilter/crafter, but while I was working full time large projects were just not in the cards. It wasn’t until I became semi-retired in December of 2015 that larger needlework projects were once again feasible.

Last spring we were on one of our trips to Holmes County and stopped into the  Country Craft Cupboard, one of my favorite shops for needle craft supplies and ideas. One of the projects on the wall caught my eye and captured my heart (and Tom’s too). Entitled My Country Home, this rag style quilt had all the color and flavor of our home décor. I stood marveling at the wool applique squares and the blending of colors wondering how it the world I could ever learn to make something like that. It was then that I saw these magic words “Pattern free with the kit available at the front of the store”. I had to check it out.

The kit contained all the homespun cotton fabric for the quilt blocks and the wool for the applique. All I needed to add was batting, thread, and some iron on adhesive to secure the applique in place until I could stitch it down. The sales woman gave me a quick crash course on the simplicity of creating a rag quilt so I took the plunge and made the purchase.

I started actually working on the project this past January. The applique was the hardest part but when I was stuck or confused, I just called the staff at the Country Craft Cupboard and they gave me all the help I needed right over the phone. It was great fun watching the quilt come to life piece by piece.

My friend Shirley, who is an avid quilter, assured me that it would only take about a month to complete my quilt, as rag quilts are a very simple technique. When I told her about the applique, she amended that time frame to two months…. and she was just about right. It took me a couple extra weeks to complete everything because, while I do my piecing by machine, I quilt everything by hand, thus the echo quilting around the applique took a bit longer than the simple crosses on the plain squares.

This past Thursday I finished piecing my block together, clipped the seam allowances and held my breath as I threw it in the washer where the magical fraying of the seams takes place. True to form, it made a mess of my washer with all the stray threads that unraveled from the clipped seams. The dryer finished the job and the quilt was done!

Now to make the matching pillows with the leftover cloth……..

My Country Home

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Welcome to Our Little Flower

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Every season holds it pleasures but so often winter seems never ending. Not so this year! December held a special magic for the Bowers and Kiser families this year, as we welcomed the newest member of our family, Lillian Rose Bowers! Lil arrived exactly on time  on December 15, 2016! What a prompt wee baby she is! Each child holds his/her own charm and magic and Lil is no exception to that. From the moment we met her she captured the heart of every family member. From her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to  her sister, Claire, and her cousins Soda and Cooper, everyone fell in love with her. We were, and still are, enchanted by her sweet face and tiny hands. What a blessing she is.

Naturally, the announcement that a new baby was on the way sent me into a whirlwind of stitching. I got to work immediately on the Woodland Babies afghan by Stoney Creek (Book 455). I was determined that this afghan would not arrive for Christmas when she was 7 years old! (See my post about my last afghan for Soda!)

I presented the afghan to Lil on her 1 month birthday. Her parents and sister loved it. As for Lil…. she yawned, wiggled, ate and fell asleep! What else would a 1 month old do anyway? So the afghan hangs on the end of her crib waiting for the day she scoots over and discovers it!

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Lil’s Afghan

Family Pictures

Top left to right: Daddy and Lil, Mom, Claire and Lil, Me and Lil

Middle left to right: Grandpa and Lil, Soda and Lil, Cooper and Lil, Aunt Sabrina and Lil

Bottom left to right: Uncle Dale and Lil, Lil at 2 months old

Christmas Fantasy Friends

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Nearly 30 years ago, I discovered the joys of soft sculpture Christmas characters that could be cut out from pre-printed fabric panels and pieced together. Better still, I was able to personalize them with buttons, bows, charms and bells to make them even more animated.

My first adventure into this crafting art was the Mr. and Mrs. Clause pair in the first picture below. Actually, it was supposed to make two Santa  Clauses but I decided to play around, cut down some pieces and create other ones to make Mrs. Claus instead. Who needs two Santa Clauses, right? I found this great fuzzy fleece-like material to use for the trim on their coats, capes and sleeves. Cruising around the fabric shop, I found some cute buttons to add to their outfits to make them more festive.

Now, any crafter knows that if you spend enough time in any fabric or craft shop you will find tons of intriguing items, especially at Christmas time. It didn’t take long before I found a ton of little holiday charms and some wire to create the string of delights each of them is holding.

Home I went and created my couple but within a week or two I was back out shopping for more of these delightful patterns. Reindeer were next, followed by a snowman that year. It was so much fun!

I got away from using pre-printed panels after a while and began creating dolls based on the basic shape of the two Santa figures. (I posted two of them, Bedtime Memories and Simon the Fisherman, earlier this year.) When my daughter got married and started her own traditions, she began seeking out the Christmas panels once again. No longer carried in fabric stores, she found them on e-Bay and together we began collecting all sorts of wonderful panels and creating them in our spare time. Many of them are displayed in the “group” picture below.

I still have panels to put together… lots of them! One of these days, they will all grow up to join my collection!

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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

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It’s been some time since my last post. Life just got in the way with our trip to Ireland in the spring and the flurry of activity that boys and girls Little League baseball brings when you have 3 grandchildren on different teams, playing on different nights! It’s be a fun filled summer so far with much more to come.

Back in the late 1980s I decided to do my first counted cross stitch sampler. My family and friends thought it was beautiful. It took forever to do but was well worth the effort. I was encouraged by a local stitchery store owner to enter it in the prestigious Stan Hywett Hall needlework show. She was certain it would receive high “marks”. I decided to do so on lark and had both my children enter one of their pieces in the children’s competition.

I didn’t win anything, but both my children did get ribbons and a commendation for their abilities. The comments on my work, you may ask…. Well, the first thing they did not like was that it was professionally framed. (I still can’t figure out why that was a drawback!) I honestly don’t remember their other comments well, but I do know it was something about uneven stitching…. I  don’t quite understand that one either. It was and interesting experience though and I’m glad I did it. To this day it hangs proudly on my dinning room wall.

The fact of the matter is that no one and nothing is perfect. The Amish ladies I have met tell me that since only God is perfect they allow an error to exist in everything they make. I can live with that…. and so can my stitching.

Sampler1 for blog

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way….

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When we found out Sabrina was pregnant with her first baby we were thrilled. My mind went immediately to all the creative sewing I could do for this first little one. Sabrina asked me to make the baby a quilt but, since we weren’t sure of the gender, we both decided a cross stitched baby afghan in a pattern that a boy or girl would like would be perfect. I had done one before in a teddy bear theme that took no time at all, so off we went to Holmes County to find the prefect pattern.

Back then there was a magnificent cross stitch store in Berlin, Ohio called The Stitching House, that had every pattern you could imagine. We picked out one that had awesome woodland animals on it that would work perfectly in the afghan blocks. The deer would be in the middle and each of the other 6 animals would be repeated twice. Simple, right? Ummm… no.

I began the afghan with gusto but, since I was working full-time during the day, working on my Master’s degree, and managing a clinical group of nursing students, I just did not have the time to cross stitch all that much. So, the baby was born and to our delight it was a boy. He’d love that blanket. Time passed and the afghan got worked on sporadically.

I retired from my full-time job in December of 2014 and the afghan came out once again. This time I worked non-stop and finished it. Actually, it was embarrassing to give it to little Soda when he was now 7 years old. I hoped he would like it, since it was lap size blanket and wasn’t a baby pattern. To my delight, he loved it and has it on display in his bedroom. I’m so glad we picked that pattern and I’m so blessed to have a grandson who understands that his afghan is more than just a blanket.. It was a work of love for a little man I love very much!

Wild Animal Afghan

                      (Soda and his blanket)                            (Top: Closeup of the raccoon square)

(Bottom: Soda & Cooper, his little bro)

Soft Dolls with Big Character

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Quite a few years ago I began to do soft Christmas sculpture using cut outs printed on fabric. I made a wreath, a puppy in a box and a few other items. Eventually I sort of put this hobby on the self as other things intrigued me. Years later I decided to pursue this art form again but found that the fabric companies no  longer made these wonderful cut and sew pre-printed fabrics as they once did.

Together with my daughter Sabrina, I searched the internet and found many of them available through Ebay, so the two of us began to purchase them and construct them around the holidays each year. It was great fun and we still have some of the patterns left to do… someday.

In the middle of this flurry of stitching, I got the idea to create dolls using simple body shaped and various fabrics and novelty items I had found as I built my sewing stash. It took me hours to plan each doll pattern, decide on the theme for it, and then construct it. Hair was particularly difficult, but with some research at the library and online I figured out how to give my dolls lush, beautiful locks. Sabrina, added the eyes and cheeks to bring their faces to life.

Each doll had a theme. I made nurses, teachers, gardeners, children and other fun creations. Some I gave as gifts, but most I just kept. They were time consuming and, though not very expensive to construct if you shop sales and remnant bins, there is no profit in selling them. Still, they were my babies and I loved them. They allowed me to be creative and express myself.

I’ve been thinking of taking up doll making again. I sure have the stash to do it! Now all I need is the time to devote to creative thinking and construction. I’m sure in time it will happen. Until then I’d like to share two of my creations with you. The first is Simon. He is a famous fisherman, depicted here with his fish. His distant ancestor, however, was a fisher of men! Can you guess who that might be?

The second is a pair of dolls, a mom and her daughter in matching nightgowns. They depict cherished memories of the bedtime hours I shared with my daughter. Maybe I’ll add a boy to the grouping in honor of my son. I always intended to. Ahh… the best laid plans of mice and men…………. and stitchers!

Simon the Fisherman

Simon

Bedtime Memories

Sabie & Mom

A Magnificent Heart

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Some people have big hearts. We all know people like this. They would give you the proverbial shirt off their back if you needed it. Once in awhile, however, there comes a heart that is beyond big. It is magnificent. Diana is one of those people and I’m proud to know her.

Diana has often taken in foster children, but over the past few years she has opened her heart, her home, and her entire life to three little ones who needed someone to love them permanently. Two of these little folks are special needs boys who take much time and patience to guide as they grow up. They both have emotional issues that require a very special person to raise them.

Diana knew these two boys had serious problems while she was fostering them. It would have been so easy to just let them go to a different home when the going got tough, but that’s where Diana differs from so many. She took the next step and adopted them, making them a permanent part of her life and her of theirs. She has offered them the stability and unconditional love that they need to learn to handle their problems and lead  independent, productive lives.

What about the third child, you may be wondering? She is an adorable 18 month old little girl whose adoption will soon be finalized. So far she is not displaying any special needs…. just a little body full of happy energy.

I live many miles from Diana so there is little I can do to support her, but when she mentioned a quote she would love to hang on her wall somewhere so her children could know how loved and special they are I figured “I can do that!” and so I did.

New adoption pic

God bless you and your beautiful family, Diana!