Started Blog for my Fiber Guild

Fiber Guild meeting brings helping hands

Just a short note–I just started writing a blog for the Appalachian Ohio Fiber Guild. This group meets monthly at the French Art Colony in Gallipolis, OH.  Visitors and new members are welcome!  The blog has lots of photos of the group’s activities.

We generally have a workshop or demo of some type, as well as bring in projects we have completed or are working on.  We also plan outings to our member’s farms, as well as day trips to fiber-related shops and exhibitions.

Yummy yarns from Nancy's recent trip to Nova Scotia

Mary and I share our mesh tote bags.

Most who attend knit or crochet, others felt, spin or dye wool, a few actually raise animals.  Two of us are art quilters.

Beginning in January 2012, our programs will feature one of our members’ farm or studio, with a virtual visit provided by photos.  I am planning to include these as a separate page on the guild blog, so you can join us in the tours!

Outing to Adell's farm for goat and sheep shearing-March 2011


October 5, 2011 at 9:26 am 2 comments

Round Robins Returned!

Francis made the center block for my round robin quilt, borders made by Kay R, Kay C and Mary P.

Rhonda's Mariner's Star block, with borders by Jenny, Kay R and Cathy

All of those who participated in the Gallipolis Old and Young Quilters’ round robin challenge returned the finished quilt tops for our September meeting. They were beautiful!  I was delighted at how each team found fabrics and chose border designs to complement the center block!

Kay R's block, with borders by Mary P, Cathy and Rhonda

One thing I really enjoyed was the chance to try out new skills on a small project.  For instance, I paper pieced the outer border of Rhonda’s quilt and applique’d a vine on Kay R’s quilt, and worked outside my usual color palette for Jenny’s quilt.

I really enjoy quilting with these ladies, and every meeting I like to go around to each table to see what they are doing.

Check out this slideshow to see all the round robins, as well as a few pictures of the members working on projects.

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September 26, 2011 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

New Quilting Studio Page Added

Be sure to check out my new page, found on the Quilting Studio tab! Although I forgot to get a photo when it still was a bed-storage room, you can see several in-progress photos. There is also a discussion of why, as an art quilter, I chose a sit-down Tin Lizzie 18 rather than the same quilting machine in a frame.

I still need to add some photos of the studio that include the cutting table and Tin Lizzie 18, but the picture at the bottom of the post shows the room color and storage furniture better.

I have been planting in the portions of the garden visible from my quilting work station. The spring garden has lots of bulbs, but nothing much in the fall. Now there are ferns, mums and asters near the house, in addition to the more distant summer petunias and marigolds.

I love working here, especially when the morning sun comes through the window!

September 12, 2011 at 10:13 pm Leave a comment

Round Robin for Rhonda

My local quilt club, The Old and New Quilters of Gallipolis, has been working on round robin quilts, with maybe 5 quilts going at once. For those who are not familiar with round robin quilts, Someone starts the project with a central block, then sends it to someone else to add a border, and it continues until the agreed upon number of borders have been added, in our case, three borders. Today I finished the outer border of a quilt top that started with a beautiful paper pieced star created by Rhonda M. And here it is!

I added everything outside the blue and black checkerboard border. The corner blocks were paper pieced and I used 14 different fabrics because I wanted a scrappy look, which Rhonda loves.

This has really been a fun project, one I would like to do again, maybe with a theme. Everyone will be returning their round robins at next week’s meeting.  I wonder what mine will look like?

September 12, 2011 at 9:37 pm Leave a comment

Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibition

Herndon VA, June 22-July 5, 2011

I finally completed “The Way It Is”, renamed as “Out of the Depths,” after more than a year in the making. It was the subject of two earlier posts.

I submitted photos in April 2011 and it was accepted for the biennial Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibition, held near Washington DC’s Dulles Airport, just a few miles from my brother, Dodd’s home. My sister Dianne Colgan joined my husband Chuck and I for the Artists’ Reception on June 25 and then spent some time together. Chuck and I stayed with Dodd and Leighann a couple of nights, then visited Dianne at her home just a few blocks from the Capitol building in downtown DC.

Out of the Depths was chosen to be included in the exhibition’s 2011 web gallery, which you can access on the Gallery tab on this link. Be sure to check out the other beautiful quilts, too!

Artists were asked to include a brief statement about their quilts.  Visitors at the exhibition learned this about my quilt:

This wall hanging was created for a community ministry of intercessory prayer.  

Grief, loss, suffering, fear, deep needs of many kinds, may so afflict us that we feel like we are at the bottom of a pit, helpless and crying out for help.  White-on-white background quilting represents unseen spiritual influences.  The angular crystalline shapes quilted into the dull white duck cloth represent the anguish that drives our prayers.  The flowing cascade quilted into shimmering tulle represents the Holy Spirit that knows our needs and comforts us.

The woodcut “Reach” used by permission of the family of Robert O Hodgell.

My “Two Doors” wall hanging was also accepted for the exhibition. It was based on my husband’s photo of an old building in Staunton VA. The artist statement follows.

This work symbolizes two inspirations for prayer.  The wider warehouse door with mail slot seeks blessings FROM God.  The narrower dwelling door seeks the blessing of KNOWING God.  The number 7 represents completion of the work of reconciling Man (4) to God (3).  The completed work of Christ makes fellowship with God possible, represented by the dwelling door with its subtle outline of the cross.

Now, as I pray, I consider: “Which door am I seeking?”

Inspiration: Matthew 6:31-36 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added.”

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September 4, 2011 at 1:35 am Leave a comment

Preparations for New Quilting Studio

Over 10 years ago, my youngest daughter graduated from high school and moved on to college.  Once I got used to the empty nest, I had great expectations that I would clean all the clutter that had accumulated over the years.  I wanted clean closets, clean walls, nothing stashed away in bags under beds.  I even pressured my daughters to go through their memorabilia and take what they wanted with the understanding that was was left could be given away. I had dreams of a lovely guest room……..

Ha!  Over the past eleven years, my spare bed room and closet filled with tote boxes of puppets, props, costumes, portable stages, silk flowers and containers for church arrangements, and miscellaneous clutter.  I couldn’t even see the top of the bed!

Over the years, I spent hundred’s of dollars on those puppets and flowers!  The sad thing is, though I am no longer actively leading a puppet ministry at my church, and I no longer make silk arrangements  regularly, I am still holding on to everything.  Puppets can’t be stored in hot or humid areas or they will disintegrate, so I can’t put these seldom used items in the garage or attic.  Sometimes I think I would love to pass these on to an energetic new puppet director and find a new home for (or sell) the flowers.

Nevertheless, I am determined to clear this room!  And I have actually made progress.  The puppet boxes and silk flowers are now categorized and stacked neatly in the closet. The bed has been disassembled and stored elsewhere. Props have been sorted, throwing out many, storing others neatly in three mirror cartons.  I plan to lable the outside of the prop cartons, maybe include a photo of what is in each.

And I am going through my puppet costume closet, putting the best costumes into labled gallon ziplocks, for storage in a tote box.  There are still a lot of clothes (did you know puppets wear size 2 or 3 T clothes?) that I plan to offer to my daughters, and then maybe sell the rest.

What sparked this frenzy of organization? In the near future, I plan on taking the plunge to purchase a midarm quilting machine, and I will need a quilting studio to house it.  Since I don’t know how long we will continue living here–my local daughter may move to another town–logic says to purchase something that could be used in a smaller home, should we move to follow either of our daughters elsewhere.  That probably translates to a sit-down model.  But it is so much FUN to drive a frame quilter!

I have been looking at midarms for over a year.   I will be going to the Cincinnatti quilt show in a few days and will test drive several systems. Cost and size are the critical limiting factors in what I choose. I am leaning heavily toward Tin Lizzie 18’s as we have a good dealer/repair shop about 1 hour away. Here’s a picture from the Tin Lizzie website.  Their latest model, introduced last fall, now has an automatic needle up/down capability, something that previously had to be achieved by toe-taps.  Being able to set the machine to automatically stop needle down is a must-have feature for me. The table has a dropleaf that opens up to approximately 48″ square, and it can be put against a wall or into a corner if needs be.

I may still consider a frame quilter that can be set up for baby quilt size, but frankly, putting quilts on a frame (and the anticipated extra cloth needed for backing/batting on the frame) makes me reluctant to go this route.  I know I will need extra space all around the frame, too, which concerns me.  Still, I will try out various quilting systems at the show, looking at Tin Lizzie DLS on a frame, the TL Sit Down, and also the Crystal Quilter in a frame.  The CQ is only 16 inches, but it has some really innovative features, for a midarm.  Besides the up/down needle, they also have an automatic needle threader, thread cutter and presser foot down sensor!

Anyway, I need some time to plan this studio room.  I’m really glad for the online course on studio design!  Here is my current quilting area in our TV room.  It’s an improvement over what I had previously, but a 6′ by 9′ area is not large enough to add the midarm, and I’d like to have quilting, cutting and ironing in the same room. I will get out my notes and see what I can do!

Regarding furniture, my DH says I can have the heirloom 5-legged oak dining room table, which extends from 45″ square to almost 10 feet long.  Its a great size–my baby and art quilts won’t have to flop over the edge!  We also have an nice old high boy dresser that I can use for fabric storage, as well as two trunks for batting and quilt storage.  I really want a clean, uncluttered look to the room, with plenty of design wall space.  I can use this to put up finished art quilts, as well as works in progress.

I’m not sure what color for the walls.  The floor is golden oak.  I know I want to get rid of the dark green wallpaper and chair rail!  Since there are only two small windows looking east and north, I need to keep the wall color light.

April 4, 2011 at 12:18 am Leave a comment

Long Time No See–Chalk It Up To Volunteer Construction and Puppets!

Building Eight

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since my last post! Of course, lots has gone on. My quilting guild gave me the go-ahead to make the guild website, so I have been doing my best to keep that reasonably up to date. Wish there was a faster way to add the 10 to 15 “Show and Tell” photos of the ladies’ beautiful quilts!  Somehow, I messed up the formatting of the blog and I don’t know how to get it back to what it should be.  That is a discouragement, and the longer I wait, the more discouraging it gets.  The old “approach-avoidance” dilemma!     

And especially, I began volunteering at a newly established restoration center for abused women and their children. I spent most of that time working in “Building Eight,” a lovely three story house that used to be just a single story garage. The campus of this center is truly a place of beauty and rest for all who enter the grounds.  My first project was to organize a quilting studio as part of the creative arts-personal development aspect of the restoration program.  Thanks to all those who donated fabric, quilting supplies and six vintage sewing machines! Once that was pretty well in hand, I moved on to other projects in Eight.

I designed the storage units and helped construct “The Storehouse,” a room on the ground floor with built-in shelves for women and children’s clothing and household goods. With the help of others, we went from bare concrete block walls to four rooms and a stairway to a second floor apartment and the third floor Creative Arts Center.  Besides the Storehouse, the other ground floor rooms will be for counseling, laundry and a handicap restroom.        

Chuck and I only go out a couple of times a week, so work has progressed slowly. Finish work is very exacting and takes much longer than one would expect. We are finally nearing completion of these rooms.  Clothing and goods have been sorted by size and packed into labeled tote boxes and stored in the the Storehouse shelves, the first room to be completed. All the other walls in the rest of the ground floor have been drywalled, electrical systems installed, and now we are sanding the last layer of drywall compound in preparation for paint.  The laundry room for the apartment is operating now, too.  We hope to paint all the walls and floors in the next few weeks, then clean up the construction debris.  Whew!  Almost a year to do that!    

Over the summer, Wing Haven had three women who fled seriously abusive relationships.  They came to the beautiful campus to rest, recover, and learn the skills needed to start a new life.  The ladies have left now, we hope to live and raise their children free of abuse.  As originally designed, the Wing Haven program provided safe housing, job training, counseling for the Mom and children, and a special children’s development program to help heal the damage of witnessing domestic violence.     

Unfortunately, given the economy, financial donations were not sufficient to continue the original program, so Wing Haven is going in a different direction. We are now offering counseling for individuals and families in the area, as well as it’s newest venture, a special program called “Confident Kids” for pre-school aged children.  “CK” teaches 4 and 5 year olds to understand and accept their God-given emotions, learn how to talk about them, and how to cope with life’s experiences in a positive way.     

David, the shepherd king, who spoke to God heart-to-heart.

David and Friends

I am one of the volunteers, performing various modern puppet character roles and sometimes the part of David, the Old Testament shepherd king who is still considered Israel’s greatest poet.    

David’s poems, recorded in the book of Psalms, reveal fear, anger, joy, satisfaction, confusion and worship.  He is a wonderful role model for the children, who are learning that all their emotions are OK, even if some are not fun to feel.       

A few of the Circle Time Friends

Besides the Bible story, there is also a puppet skit for Circle Time, which features modern kids dealing with various experiences that bring feelings of woundedness, excitement, fear and confusion.  My puppet team from Pathway Community Church came over to my house a week ago and we videotaped three weeks’ worth of Circle Time and David skits.  Luckily, our puppet ministry is blessed with many puppets and costumes.   

This was our first time to film our puppet plays “for the public,” and we borrowed my daughter’s digital video camera!  What a difference from our previous videotaping experience with the older technology! We have lots to learn from the technical viewpoint of camera placement, etc.  My puppet team did very well, considering this was the first time they saw the scripts, and we just ran through the plays a few times before filming. In four hours, we filmed five plays to be shown the first three weeks of Confident Kids, with four more plays to go in the “All Your Feelings Are OK” unit.   

Jewel teaches kids “Share What You Have.”

My newest venture into puppetry is Jewel T. Cassidy. (T stands for Trouble.)  In a small way, I have started doing interactive puppetry, without a stage, just me, the puppet and the kids. I make no attempt to use ventriloquism when Jewel and I talk.  Instead, I look at her as I alternate voices and give her various body movements to keep the kid’s attention on her by bringing her to life. Jewel is a Folkmanis full-body puppet with a hand opening in the back of her neck. She sits on my lap, sometimes at a table to color, play with toys or use other props.    

In contrast to the wide-mouth puppets I usually use, Jewel has a soft cloth mouth that allows more natural lip movement. This type of construction is most useful at a close range to the audience. She also has arms that allow me to insert my hands, so she can pick up things, wiggle her fingers, even pick her nose! That last trick came in handy the first time we went to my grandson Garrett’s pre-school to teach them about covering your cough/sneeze and proper hand washing.    

Each month, the teachers suggest a topic–sharing instead of hitting, bringing food for a food drive, etc, and it has worked out very well.  The kids watch intently and are very vocal when Jewel talks to them, asks them questions, or shares a new version of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”  

In the picture above, Jewel is sitting in a cardboard box that I plan to make into a quilted carrying case. She is holding a picture of the “Crown of the Land of Sun and Smiles,”  a prop that I use to symbolize when the kids add jewels representing acts of kindly behavior.  On the back of this prop is the dreaded “Crown of the Land of Mud and Tears,” which Jewel often decorates when she behaves unkindly or selfishly.  Luckily, she much prefers the former, but before changing her behavior, she generally gets into trouble. Hence, her middle name!  

There is also a basket of canned foods and a card that says, “Jewel T. Cassidy says, ‘Share What You Have.'” Each time we go, I prepare a similar card with Jewel’s picture and the learning points of the visit. This month’s lesson was requested by the pre-school teachers because February is the month that the children can take part in a food drive. We will present it tomorrow to Garrett’s class, and sometime next week to the younger class. 

Interactive puppetry is a natural for helping children deal with the frightening things that go on when they are sick.  See “Bernard, the Hospital Puppet” here: Look for the video link down toward the bottom of the page. This was my first introduction to interactive puppetry.  What an amazing personality Bernard has!  Someday, I hope to be as skilled and effective as Diana Chiles, the “heart” of Bernard.   

I  had a chance to use Jewel in a similar fashion when Garrett’s younger brother, Quentin, was in the hospital with pneumonia.  That little 2 year old fought the medical staff like a tiger! When he was first admitted, it took two nurses and his dad to hold him down for his IV! And every time the nurses had to take his blood pressure or his blood oxygen, more drama.   

I made some medical equipment props (blood pressure cuff, blood oxygen meter, stethoscope) and Jewel and I showed up in his room, only to find him asleep.  So Garrett played doctor with Jewel, trying out the equipment.  Of course, Jewel was the drama queen, “Ow! Ow! OW!” when he pumped up the blood pressure cuff.  Garrett broke out laughing every time he did it. Eventually, Quentin woke up, and Garrett, Jewel and I went through the procedures.  More laughter, even a little snort from Quentin.  

Q came to visit me at home a few days after he was discharged. He headed straight to Jewel, who was sitting in her rocking chair, and brought her to me, along with the medical props.  Then he played doctor, telling Jewel that the blood pressure cuff “only huts a widdle while!”  

February 12, 2010 at 3:04 am Leave a comment

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