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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A gift that will be enjoyed for years to come

One Christmas, when I was a child, my parents decided to get a live Christmas tree. I have never forgotten that tree, after the joys of Christmas day the decorations were removed and the tree was placed outside and later in the spring my parents planted it. The years passed, the tree grew, and we emigrated to America. After six years in the US my mother went back to visit family in England and while there she stopped by our old home and took a picture of the tree, we were all amazed to see how tall it had grown. The tree grew and grew for almost thirty years and then there was a gale and the tree blew over and that was the end of our Christmas tree.
Many years ago my husband and I purchased an artificial Christmas tree, every year the box was opened, the tree assembled, decorated, and enjoyed, then taken down and put away. I enjoyed the convenience of an artificial tree, but missed the scent of a fresh cut pine, and the uniqueness of a fresh cut tree. I always wanted to get a live tree but never actually got around to finding one. Last fall I was out with my daughter Amber, we drove past a tree nursery where there were many pine trees for sale, I mentioned something about having to remember the tree nursery closer to Christmas and perhaps I would get around to purchasing a live tree this year.
Much to the frustration of my children, I do not put my Christmas tree up until a few days before Christmas Eve, so imagine my surprise when I arrived home one afternoon and saw sitting on my front porch a live Christmas tree! I walked up to the tree and tucked in amongst it's branches was a homemade card, I opened the card and discovered that our children and grandchildren had given the tree to us for Christmas. I was overwhelmed, what a truly wonderful gift, a gift we will enjoy for years to come. We brought the tree inside on Christmas Eve, decorated it with a few lights, ornaments and tinsel, celebrated Christmas and a few days later removed the decorations and placed the tree on our back deck where it will stay until we can plant it later in the spring. I enjoyed the tree when it was in our living room, I enjoy it each day as I wash dishes and look at it out of the window, and I will enjoy it for years to come when it is planted in our back yard, I know exactly where I want it planted. I enjoyed the tree when we decorated it, and have enjoyed the tree outside as it has been decorated many times with snow. I was so touched by the thoughtfulness and generosity of our kids, and grateful to Amber for coming up with the idea and getting it organized!!

The Snow Decorated Tree

The Christmas Decorated Tree

The Gift Givers

Monday, February 21, 2011

Projects worked on this winter

Bed Covering

Barn Jacket

Emily's mittens

Hat, scarf, and mittens

Bonnet and Booties

Baby Quilt

Winter is a good time of year to work on knitting, crochet, and quilt projects. My Mom is an avid knitter and gives me lots of leftover yarn and with some of it I crocheted a nice blanket for our bed. About a year ago I started to knit myself a cardigan, it was a complicated stitch where I not only needed to continually count the stitches in each row, I also had to count the rows, somewhere I got out of sync and realized too late that I had made a major error early on. Discouraged I put the project away but felt guilty that the yarn I had purchased was going to waste. This fall I found a simpler cardigan pattern, I unraveled the messed up cardigan back, and started over to knit the "barn jacket" cardigan. I really like the barn jacket, it is a very roomy, comfy, cozy cardigan that I use it as a light weight coat. I knitted some mittens for daughter Emily using left over yarn from Mom, they match a scarf and hat my Mom had knitted for Emily about a year ago. I also knitted my self a hat, scarf and mittens to go with a new winter coat my parents gave me as a Christmas gift. This weekend I had a baby shower to go to, so over the past few weeks I made and quilted a baby quilt and crocheted booties and a bonnet.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homemade Quilt Frame

I had wanted a quilt frame for a long time, I make a lot of quilts, and last summer decided to make one. The total cost for the frame I made was about $30. I purchased two 8 foot long 1" x 2" smooth finish pieces of wood, and two that were 10 feet long, and 4 C clamps. I then took some leftover cotton material and cut it into 6 inch wide strips, I then folded the material in half lengthwise and in half again and pressed it with an iron. I made eight of the folded strips, each was approximately 44 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, and 4 thicknesses of material. Using a staple gun and 1/2 inch staples I then attached the material strips to the lengths of wood,leaving about a quarter inch of the strip hanging over the edge of th e wood. I did not leave space between the staples as the strips need to stay firmly attached. At this point the frame is finished, it took me less than an hour to make.
To put a quilt into the frame I simply attach the backing of the quilt, using pins, to one of the fabric strips attached to the wood, I then attach the opposite side to a second frame piece, then take the C clamps and hold the two pieces of frame in place on my supports. (I have two bar stools and two arm chairs from a dining room table that I use to support the frame, they hold it a comfortable height so I can sit at the quilt to work on it). Once the top and bottom of the quilt backing are in place I then begin to pin the sides to the remaining two sides of the quilt frame, and then hold all pieces of the frame in place with the C clamps attached to my supports.
Once the quilt backing is in the frame, simply lay out the batting, then center the quilt top in place and pin the edges. Everything is now ready to quilt. As you finishing quilting a side you can undo the C clamp, roll the quilted part of the quilt around the frame and then fasten the clamps again.
I use my frame in the basement, as you can see by the picture, the quilt that is in takes up a lot of room, it is approximately 90 x 90. The nice thing about this frame is that I can use it for any size quilt. When not in use the four C clamps and the four pieces of frame are easy to store.
The pattern in the quilt pictured is called Jewel Box.