Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Different Kind of Tribe

You know, it's funny, I spoke with Kelly Morris on her cell phone. After reviewing several pages of the extensive Morris Tribe website, I was almost expecting something different. I'm not sure what I was expecting, just something more 'rustic,' I suppose. I wasn't exactly thinking the conversation would be done with a couple of tin cans and a string stretched between them, but something along those lines!

How silly!
The Morris Family

When you review the website, the Morris Family is clearly familiar with all of the latest technology, yet Kelly's goal to bring her family toward a sustainable lifestyle - raising their own food, getting off the power grid, living off the land - has many facets. And it's a lot of hard work - especially in the summer when the land is providing. The phone conversation that followed had me intrigued about the sustainable lifestyle concept, and Kelly's passion for her own goals.

Here are just a few highlights from my conversation. I'll let you explore her website for more in-depth information on the details.

I asked her how she got started on this concept. She said, "It's complicated, but I'll give you the Cliff Notes version." It started as a way to get out of debt. As a newly married couple, Kelly and her husband Mark had a small house, a small yard and big bills to pay. But you do what you can to save where you can. It felt good to grow tomatoes in buckets on the tiny patio, or save on grocery bills with coupons clipped from newspapers. But then as the family grew - Kelly and Mark are the parents of nine, ranging in age from 26 to 6 - it became even harder to make ends meet. So one thing led to another, she grew as much produce as she could grow. Finally, the family had the opportunity to purchase a farm, and now they raise their own vegetables, dairy products, and meat. All naturally.
She had to learn everything from ‘scratch,’ since she wasn't raised on a farm. And so when she had an idea to raise goats, for example (I'm clearly over simplifying here), she did research, spoke to people who raised goats, and learned what she needed to do to raise goats.

As natural teacher, she felt that others might also be interested in her 'how-to' so the website has become her venue to share her successes and the things she might do differently based on her experiences. 

One really important lesson that Kelly has learned is that a big part of this sustainability concept is 'community.' In other words, you can't do it all. So you depend on your own resources in some areas, and rely on others for resources that fall under their expertise. Bartering can be a big part of the process. Again, I'm over simplifying.

She also realizes that everyone has different levels of, shall we say, 'tolerance' for this stuff. I told her that I almost expected her to say that she lived in a log cabin, with no electricity, no lights, no TV, no internet. With four teenagers, she realizes that this concept doesn't work for anyone if it feels 'forced.' Sunday afternoon television sports are not uncommon in her home. But, if it makes sense, they burn candles or oil lamps, and save some energy, and become a little less dependent on the power grid.

And perhaps the most important thing of all, it has to be fun! None of this would make any sense if she didn't enjoy the journey. It's gratifying. She said, "This isn't for everyone. It's about sustainability that's do-able and enjoyable. And may mean different things for different people. And that's okay."

And here's my big take-away on our conversation: I heard my own inner voice in Kelly's words over and over again. It sounds just like when I talk about my passion for quilting. Can you see the connection too?

 - Community - I like to say quilting is a social sport!
 - Learning and researching - who doesn't like to learn about new gadgets and techniques for their favorite craft?
 - Tackling a project one step at a time at your own pace. If that doesn't describe the process of making a quilt, I don't know what does!
 - And fun! . . . Well . . .Yah!

If nothing else, it's an interesting concept. Myself, I think I'll keep buying eggs at the grocery store. As it is, there's never enough time in the day to quilt! And my neighbors probably wouldn't like the early morning rooster calls. Just sayn' . . .

** Would you like to win a copy of ScrapTherapy, Cut the Scraps!? Click over to The Morris Tribe website and make a comment before October 1, 2012.

Happy Stitching!

PS. If you are looking for the results from the GREAT Summer Orphan Block Challenge . . . Stay tuned, we're still reviewing all the entries.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall is Near

"Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week." – Spanish proverb.

Don’t forget the GREAT Summer Orphan Block Challenge! The deadline to be eligible to receive the grand prize package is tomorrow, one minute before midnight, east coast time (US).

Our mystery judge is sharpening her red pen. She's a stickler for rules, so make sure you have all your T's dotted and I's crossed (or is that the other way around?) when you send your entry in.

I can't wait to be inspired by your projects. And I can't wait to send the grand prize to the Challenge winner! 


Summer's Last Hurrah!

Great Camp Sagamore is one of the Great Camps of the Adirondacks built in rustic style during the Gilded Age of the late 1800's/early 1900s. The Great Camp, built by famous Adirondack developer William W. Durant, later purchased by Alfred Vanderbilt, passed to Alfred's wife when he died on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed on its passage across the Atlantic. The camp, now a National Historic Landmark, is host to a variety of summer programs. A quilting weekend is typically one of the last programs at the camp before it is closed up for the season.

For the last four years, I have been a participant in the quilting weekend event at Sagamore. This year I taught machine quilting on Saturday. Other teachers offered a variety of classes as well. Evenings included introductions, a trunk show, and quiet sewing time. Each year the event inspires me. I'm not sure if it's because of the beautiful, natural surroundings, the people, the food, or some combination of all of the above.  I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Guests cross over a small wooden bridge to access the cluster of buildings on a small peninsula on the tiny Adirondack lake.

The main lodge is the largest building in the complex. Wrap-around balconies offer breathtaking views.

Grab a canoe and a paddle for a close-up connection with the lake. Don't the blues in the water and sky look so inviting!

A red squirrel breakfasts on pinecone seeds. Three loons swimming and fishing just off-shore, were also a daily sight.

 The morning mist rises off the lake at breakfast time.

Crossing over the wooden bridge one more time, headed home. The leaves are starting to show fringes of the flaming color to come.

Relax and enjoy one last breath of summer . . .


Thursday, September 13, 2012

If You Like It, Put a Border on It!

After a nostalgic look back to summer, this week it's back to quilty business! 

A few weeks ago, I found a box on my shelf full of purple and white pinwheel blocks. Orphans. We got started on making a quilt. Now it's time to finish that puppy! Check blog posts here and here for the back-story.
The last time we looked, that purple pinwheel quilt had a completed center, but needed a border.
So, I chose three fabrics from my stash - a focus print featuring lilac blooms, an accent sage green solid that added interest and picked up the leafy green in the lilac print, and a little swipe of the cream--the same cream used in the pieced center, so the middle of the quilt wouldn't look so much like the center of a target.
Since I'm lazy, instead of adding each border one at a time, I decided to add the borders all at once, and miter the corners.
Find mitered borders intimidating? No worries. They are easy. Watch . . .
First, I like to lay out the quilt top, and then the borders, one at a time. With scissors (nothing fancy) I trim each border so the length is as long as the side of the quilt plus at least one border width extra at each end. Don't be stingy on the length of fabric! Mitered borders require a more fabric than traditional borders do.

With mitered borders, multiple borders can be sewn together first, then all three (in this case) are attached to the quilt center at once. If you have multiple borders, be sure to press seams on adjoining sides in opposite directions so they'll nest at the mitered seam.

Since my quilt is lap size, I folded it in half and then folded the sewn border in half. Lay the folded border on top of the quilt, so the folds align, and the border edge follows along one of the horizontal seams on the quilt, somewhere in the middle of the piecing. Using the quilt top as a guide, place a pin in the border fabric 1/4" to the inside of the quilt edge. Here I'm measuring two borders at once. Turn the quilt, and repeat to measure the top and bottom border lengths.

Open up the quilt, and pin the border in place at the quilt edge, using the pins to mark where to start and stop sewing. To secure it for sewing, I also place pins across the entire length of the border at about 2-3" intervals.

Sew all four borders onto the quilt, one at a time, leaving 1/4" at each edge unsewn, the back of the corner where the border seams come together should look something like this. You can see that I added a couple of backstitches at the end and beginning of the border seams.

Work one corner at a time. Fold the quilt center in half on the diagonal wrong sides together. You don't have to fold the whole quilt, only the corner where the borders come together is important. The bulk of the quilt can be crumpled up on the edge of the work surface while you are working on one of the corners. At the same time, align the edges of the floppy unsewn ends of the extra border fabric onto your work surface, nice and flat. 

Place a ruler on the border fabric (you will have two layers of border ends), so the edge of the ruler aligns with the end of the border seam, and the 45˚ line on the ruler aligns with the bottom edge of the border.  The multiple border seams will nest. Draw a line from the end of the border seam to the edge of the border

Sew on the drawn line, and cut 1/4" away from the seam. I used scissors because they were handy, you can use a ruler and rotary cutter. At this point, some folks like to take a peek to make sure the seam looks okay from the right side of the quilt. Better to check this before trimming. . . in case of any potential do-overs.

Press the mitered seam open (this is one of the rare instances where I prefer pressing the seam open) from the back. 

Pretty. Repeat the last four steps with the remaining corners. Then. . .

Sandwich . . .

Quilt . . .

and bind.

bout 75 orphan purple and white pinwheel blocks disappeared into this quilt. Another 75 or so remain in that shoebox I discovered a few weeks ago. Time to make another quilt!
Happy Stitching!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer Smiles

When I was a kid, on the last day of school, if we weren't headed to camp, we were packing the station wagon to go the next day.
My sister, Valerie, and me; I was about age 5
I always thought that "Sandy Pond," was our family 'insider' name that meant 'camp' for the summer. But "Sandy Pond" is an actual place on the map, a short drive north from our house in Syracuse.
Our little 'camp' is located on a sand dune peninsula on the east shore of Lake Ontario, just north of Pulaski, New York. The camp is accessible by boat or by foot path. No cars, and very few amenities. Over the years, the landscape has changed a bit. But 'camp' was and still is the definition of summer in my book.
The pond is in front of the camp.
And a short walk between two sand dunes behind the camp brings you to the lake where a sandy beach awaits.
It is like two different worlds all in one!
Since my birthday falls at the very beginning of summer, as a kid I always received summer clothes, butterfly nets (perfectly suited for catching frogs and small fish, too!), and beach toys to start out the summer on a high note.
This is a picture of me and my dad at the beach. He's holding an old Polaroid camera (well, it wasn't old then), so I'm not sure who is taking the picture. I don't think there's a photograph of my dad at the beach without his cigar! They were a weird color green and pretty stinky! I must be about 3 or 4 years old.
That red and white polka dot swim suit I'm wearing was the BEST!
A day at the beach included boating, swimming, floating, body surfing on windy, wavy days, making sand castles, and long walks collecting tiny shells. A day at the pond included fishing (not necessarily catching), picking wild blueberries, discovering new things in the woods, and feeding handfuls of nuts to the birds, squirrels and chipmunks that visited the patio.
My sister, Valerie, my cousin, Jeannie, and me. I'm wearing the fashion-forward black and white number and white sailor hat!
Here's a picture of my mom and dad on the beach right around sunset. This photo is from about 20 years ago. Mom was a red-head, and her fair skin burned easily, so it was pretty unusual to see her at the beach. She preferred the shady-trees on the pond-side.
What more could a kid ask for?
This past weekend, my sister and I took some time to relax on the beach (Smiley tagged along too, but needed some sunscreen), and I finally took some time out to sew - just for me!
And we watched the sun set.
Peaches (my blue-fronted amazon parrot) came along for a little R&R, too.
How about you? Did you take some time out to relax this past weekend? Enjoy family and friends? A little stitching, perhaps? Ain't summer grand?
Okay, enough nostalgia, time to forge ahead into quilting season. . .