Tag Archives: Sewing

One Quarter Inch

One of the most unexplainable things is hand pain. Undescribable and indescribable.

Another is the absence of hand pain.

You cannot know one without knowing the other. If you’ve never had hand pain, the kind that makes you want to chop them off, you cannot relate to hands that have stopped hurting.

The pain consumes you and sabotages every act you engage in, or try to engage in. It’s depressive and depressing. “I can see you’re not feeling well,” my doctor said a few moments after walking into the exam room on my last visit.

Body language. My body had spoken volumes without my saying more than hello to him. I smiled. No need to add words to what my body screamed out loud.

Later, when he went to bend my fingers one by one, as he always begins his exam, he noted that there was more tension. My fingers were harder to bend. More tension in fiction is great, in my fingers, not so much.

But, I refused to give in to it. During this flare-up, I made two quilts with those hurting hands. Hands that could, once again, barely touch forefinger to thumb.

So while making this last red and white quilt, I came to a decision. I would make a concession. I would no longer do hand-stitched bindings. Instead, I would machine stitch them. And that meant I would have to cut the binding strips wider, not 2 and 1/2 inches, but 2 and 3/4 inches wide.

These days I am feeling lots better, My fingers are much more pliable, and machine stitching the bindings will speed things up, making me far more productive as I head into the holiday season.  But now, I have an exact measure as to how much this latest skirmish has cost me. How much ground I concede to RA this time.  Exactly one quarter inch.

quilt

Inspired by this site.

quilt

A wall hanging I made for my granddaughter’s first birthday. How time flies.

In So Many Ways

I’ve settled into a Tuesday and Friday Tai Chi class routine. Granted it’s only been one week. But it feels good. I’m renewing friendships and meeting new people. I met the lady who won my Native American Culture themed quilt at the raffle. (See my post, Done!) She was ecstatic and stopped the class to verify I was the quilter. “I love it!” she said. Talk about a shot in the arm, gave me renewed vigor to finish the class.

I’d wondered if my legs would hold up. It’s all a matter of shifting your weight from one leg to the other as you dance your way through the 108 moves. All this weight-bearing helps build bone, something mighty useful to me now. But I needn’t have worried, my legs remembered. They held up admirably, while the rest of me had a harder time remembering some of the hand moves.

Though they started the same week, these classes are independent of each other. That means that on Friday I get to repeat what I learned on Tuesday. This works well as I am a perpetual beginner, having yet to complete all 108 moves. Monday and Wednesday classes start in two weeks and I plan to take those too.  There’s nothing like reinforcement. And camaraderie.

And I have another reason for taking all these 10:00 AM classes. They will help me to structure my day so I can fit the most into it. Freelance editing is occupying more and more of my time, and that’s a good thing. But working from home, I’ve let myself maintain a non-schedule schedule, working all hours of the day or night. There’s been no clock to punch, and no boss but my lenient self. As long as the deadline is met, your client doesn’t care when you work.

But now, I need to adopt a daily discipline so that I can accomplish all I want to do. Such as my own writing (my WIPs won’t write themselves, sigh), and then there’s my quilting. I do want to keep up with it, and I plan to make a bunch of children’s quilts for the homeless shelter our Tai Chi Branch supports. For Christmas.

So you see, Tai Chi to the rescue. In so many ways.

Anatomy of a Quilt

I spent most of the day yesterday speed-quilting. Due to time constraints, I had to choose an easy-to-piece design for our Tai Chi Chinese New Year‘s party which is on the 23rd of this month. I try to make something to add to the raffles that we have at every celebration. We are a non-profit group and are working to have our own building with a kitchen that has running water. All we ask for is water! Anyhoo, I ran into a quilting speed bump.

This is the basic block of nine pieces, unsewn.

The basic block of nine pieces, unsewn.

The 9 x 9 inch squares attached to the 3 x 9 inch strips to make a row.

9 x 9 inch squares attached to 3 x 9 inch strips.

The 3 x 3 inch squares attached to the 3 x 9 inch strips to make the alternating row. My floor is so handy to lay my quilts out on.

3 x 3 inch squares attached to 3 x 9 inch strips to make alternating row. My floor is so handy to lay out my quilts.

All simply happy together.

All simply happy together.

To break the monotony, I planned borders. And this is where it all went awry.

I decided to give it some pizazz by adding a nine-patch block at each corner.

To  give it some pizazz, I decided to add nine-patch blocks at each corner.

I made all four blocks, cut all the border strips and went to bed. I wanted a purple/print/purple border, with the corner blocks as contrast. So it would look like this:

I was so pleased with myself!

I was so pleased with myself!

And then, I woke up. Woke up to the fact that I hadn’t considered the color contrast between the body of the quilt and its adjacent border.

Major clash!

Major clash!

So, it’s back to the cutting board and the sewing machine. My border will have to be reversed.

And the corner blocks will have to be reversed as well. Ahhh!!

And the corner blocks will have to be reversed as well. Ahhh!!

Oh, well, I’ll have to focus on the bright side. I have enough leftover fabric to play with. Worse would have been if I’d used up all the fabric and Jo-Ann’s was out. Don’t even wanna think about that!

(Note: the stated measurements are finished size. When cutting, you add a half inch all around to allow for quarter-inch seams. A 9 x 9 inch square would be cut 9 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches.)

By the way, this is last year’s Chinese New Year’s quilt. I had a little bit more time to spend on this one. It’s displayed as a wall hanging in the next county’s Tai Chi Center. The lady who runs that Chapter won it in the raffle.

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Eyeing the Eye

I find myself threading a needle these days the same way I sometimes had to start IV’s. Not because I can see the target clearly, but because, innately, I know where the target is. Seems I had a lot more success finding those hard-to-see veins than I’m having finding the apparent eye of a sewing needle.

Though I miss my bedside nursing days, I knew that eventually my body wouldn’t be able to handle all those hours on my feet. I accept that that is the way it is and I’m OK with it. That was then and this is now.

But, I never factored in my eyesight when I thought about entering decrepit old age. Other than reading glasses, I don’t need corrective lenses. At least, I didn’t at last year’s checkup.

My ophthalmologist did put me on “eye vitamins.” Giant capsules that contain mega doses of several vitamins. I guess I’ll find out if they’ve helped my eyes when I go back to see him. The one thing they have done is make my hair and nails grow exponentially fast.

And that’s great, but I would prefer to be able to thread the sewing needle exponentially faster. My years as a nurse brought me much satisfaction and I had to thread that IV needle countless times. (Threading is what we call advancing the catheter while simultaneously withdrawing the needle.)

Alas, my fingers have lost certain dexterity, age plus RA, don’tcha know. But I can still quilt, something I took up years ago as my nursing days waned. Maybe I just have to be around needles, I don’t know. I just wish I could see that freaking eye a whole lot better!

Quilt just finished. It had 70 thread tails to be worked in. I had to thread that needle 70 times!

Quilt just finished. It had 70 thread tails to be worked in. I had to thread that needle 70 times!

Next up, Spring Flowers. A quilt for my Tai Chi group's Chinese New Year's raffle.

Next up, Spring Flowers. A quilt for my Tai Chi group’s Chinese New Year’s raffle. You bet I’m gonna minimize the amount of thread tails on this one.

Last year I decided to take a picture of my hands every year. A visual track of RA's effects. So far so good, though my right hand is the worse for wear.

Last year I decided I would take a picture of my hands every year. A visual track of RA’s effects. So far so good, though my right hand is the worse for wear.

A year ago.

Picture from a year ago. My rings serve as a “barometer” to gauge morning stiffness and inflammation. When they are loose on me, it’s a good day.

Why We Write

Is it to fill the void?

Or is it to empty ourselves of what we can no longer hold within?

Sometimes I think the reason I write is the same reason I get up in the morning. Because I have to. But in truth, I don’t really know why I write. Maybe it is to share the joy, or maybe I do it to ease the pain. Perhaps it is to use the new words I just learned and sound so delicious that I must see them and hear them. For I always read aloud what I write, to hear the flow, the rhythm, the melody that words can at times produce. Even without our assistance.

I write many things, short pieces and long pieces. Fiction, nonfiction and sometimes a cross between.   I suppose I write what is next in the pipeline, waiting its turn to burst out. I go from one genre to another; I don’t know why that is either. I would love to sit and work on a book from start to finish. But, which one?

They say write the book you want to read. That is sound advice, except for me it doesn’t quite work. I read so many genres; there is no specific one I want to read. I want to read all of them.

Sometimes writing is therapy for me. Normally you pay for therapy, but in this instance I am going to see if I can make this “therapy” pay me. In the coming days I plan to share some pieces I have written. Some are funny, some are sad, some are just silly. But, they are all a collection of my words.

And I will continue to write, as that is an incurable condition with me, while I concentrate on the other projects I assigned myself for this month. Did I think I was Wonder Woman?

I’d love to know why you write.

Just completed this baby blanket for my newborn granddaughter. She looks so beautiful in yellow.
Just completed this baby blanket for my newborn granddaughter. She looks so beautiful in yellow.
Making this blanket as a Christmas gift for my father-in-law. A third of the way done!
Making this blanket as a Christmas gift for my father-in-law. A third of the way done.
And sewing this Christmas tree skirt for my daughter-in-law. The ruffle still needs to be made and attached.

Sewing this Christmas tree skirt for my daughter-in-law. She wanted blue. The ruffle still needs to be made and attached. And there’s four more projects pending. The suspense, will there be enough time before Christmas? I suppose time will tell! And why are my other captions not showing up as captions? What gives?