Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wendell Wednesday: May Song and Weeds

Good afternoon, and
Welcome back for Wendell Wednesday!
 
This poem excerpt is from "May Song", which I found especially
apropos to think about while my own garden struggles with the weeds
I can no longer do battle with.  I do not use Round-up, but weed selectively,
taking all but a few kinds of native groundwort that are making a nice groundcover between my raised beds.  It is drought-tolerant and doesn't send up ugly seed stalks or sprawl in a disorderly way.
If mother nature is willing to help me green up the walkways,
I'm all for letting her.

In some of his other writings Berry muses on the importance of the law of the Sabbath, which the children of Israel were commanded to keep not only for themselves but also with respect to their land.  Every seven years, the land was to be given a chance to rest.  The farmer had to restrain himself, see nature and the so-called "weeds" take over for awhile.  He needed to marvel at the wonder of life and creation, that his part is so small compared with the eternal scheme.
Gardeners have for centuries fought this, and weeds become the symbol of our mastery or not, to some extent or another.  But looking at them for what they are, enjoy Berry's poetry and think a little on it yourself next time you grasp a wild geranium or dandelion at the base.  I won't say don't pluck it out of a disallowed place.  But I will say think.  Think about every aspect of what you do.
 

 
 
 
from "May Song" by Wendell Berry
 
For whatever is let go
there's a taker.
The living discovers itself

where no preparation
was made for it,
where its only privilege

is to live if it can.
The window flies from the dark
of the subway mouth

into the sunlight
stained with the green
of the spring weeds

that crown the improbable
black earth
of the embankment...

...seeing it send out weeds
to take back
whatever is left:

Proprietor, pasturing foliage
on the rubble,
making use

of the useless--a beauty
we have less than not
deserved.
 
 
 
 
 
Join me next week, and in the meantime...
 
Be well, and enjoy the sunshine!
 --Kathryn

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May is for Makers Week 2: Happy Quilting Moroccan Lullaby & Summer Sampler 2016

 
My second #MayisforMakers pattern this month is
Moroccan Lullaby from Happy Quilting on Craftsy.
 
The openness of this pattern really appealed to me.
As much as I love blocks, sometimes a more flowing overall design
that is open and relaxing is just what I want.
A design with room to breathe...
Hey, I like my space.
Someone might argue that sometimes I need a few acres, to which
I would readily agree.  Sure, let's go! 
Somewhere in the hills of VA would be awfully nice. 
Wouldn't it be great to have a finished barn in the middle of your garden,
to do your quilting in when you were done with the morning's work?!
Anyone else?  Just me?
Oh come on, I'd have a utility sink to wash up in first...
 
Anyway,
With my current mission to end the fall-and-wintery quilt overabundance
and dearth of warm-weather quilts, Moroccan lullaby just fit the ticket perfectly.

I've also joined in the Freshly Pieced Summer Sampler QAL, and can't wait to get started.

 
 
Probably this summer, after baby H's arrival, my sewing will mostly
be on the Meadow Mystery QAL and the Freshly Pieced QAL,
but hopefully with my two helpers around we'll be able to manage just fine :).
They are SO excited for another brother.
 
Have a fantastic week and be well wherever you are,
--Kathryn

Fabric Tuesday #276: Springweaver Quilt top

Here for a flimsy finish of my Springweaver quilt.
I've used Tula Pink's Dreamweaver pattern,
but my quilt top is wider and longer, so it will be either a low-hanging XL twin
or, turned sideways, a functional king coverlet.
 
I can't hang this top anywhere high enough by myself to show the entirety,
but you'll get the idea.
 
Please pardon my messy garden in the background.
This 32-week Work-in-Progress will
still have me slowed down until July!
 
 
Super bright light has washed out the pinks, aquas and mints.
This top is bright, not nearly so brown.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Linking up to Quilt Story for Fabric Tuesday #276 this week.
 
Hopefully I'll be back soon with a bag finish for Jay, for him to use on his
extended "campout" with the GP's in a few weeks while I'll be a little busy.
 
Before you go, hop over to the Tula Pink book book giveaway.
Still open until this particular quilt is finished.
 
Be well and thank you for visiting!
--Kathryn
 


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wendell Wedesday: Jefferson and The Mad Farmer Manifesto

Good afternoon, and
Welcome back for Wendell Wednesday!
 
Today I am going to share an excerpt from a poem
that should strike home for everyone who is living or planning the dream of
their own homestead and a sustainable lifestyle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
from "The Mad Farmer Manifesto: The First Amendment"
by Wendell Berry
 
1.  "...it is not too soon to provide by every
possible means that as few as possible shall be
without a little portion of land.  The small
landholders are the most precious part of a state."
Jefferson, to Reverend James Madison, October 28, 1785

That is the glimmering vein
of our sanity, dividing from us
from the start: land under us
to steady us where we stood,
free men in the great communion
of the free.  The vision keeps
lighting in my mind, a window
on the horizon in the dark.

2.
To be sane in a mad time
is bad for the brain, worse
for the heart.  The world
is a holy vision, had we clarity
to see it--a clarity that men
depend on men to make.

 
 
 
 
 
So, is your dream like Jefferson's, like Berry's?  Do you have, plan to have, or dream of having your own small piece of land where you can practice the practical and deep art of true husbandry?
Wise management of resources in the physical sense cannot but help produce stronger character in people.  Jefferson understood this, and so can you.  There is a goodness in getting back to the earth.
 
Join me next week, and in the meantime...
 
Be well, and enjoy the sunshine!
 --Kathryn

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bloglovin' Setup

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Evenin' all... just getting a few things set up around here...

Cool Melon Mosaic Contest - by Gotham Quilts and Stitched in Color

 
I'm excited to participate in the Cool Melon Mosaic Contest at Stitched in Color
and sponsored by Gotham Quilts.
 
This inspiration photos are just too wonderful to resist:
 
 
 
 
 
So, with all that gorgeous inspiration to get the color ideas flowing,
here is my fabric mosaic.  It includes a botanical, of course, some very modern
fabric choices and even the neutral polkas, which were inspired by the melon balls
in the third photo :).
 
 
I've included favorite designers like Tula Pink (Chipper fox),
Anna Maria Horner, Carolyn Friedlander, Alexia Abegg, Allison Glass,
Lotta Jansdotter, and Birch Organics.
 
What a lark through Gotham fabrics I had.
Making the mosaic (and I made a few) was almost as much fun
as putting real fabrics side-by-side in a shop...
except you can't get that wonderful feeling under your fingers.
 
While you're here, please take a quick moment to enter for my Tula Pink Book Giveaway;
the link is in the righthand sidebar for you!
 
Be well and enjoy the sunshine,
--Kathryn
 
 
 

May is for Makers: Week 1 "Small Town Girl"

Good morning and a happy weekend to all!
I'm taking a break from some major house cleaning,
and wanted to share my first week's support for the
 
This week I purchased this delightful "Small Town Girl" pattern
from Pretty Little Quilts, an indie shop on Craftsy:

 
I really like the cheerfulness of this quilt, as I realized about March of this year
that I really didn't have very many quilts made for a fresh, springy look
to brighten up the rooms when it's finally time to throw the windows open
and let in the breeze.
 
I'm working on it, with my Mon Ami's Broken Dishes WIP
and my XL-twin sized Springweaver flimsy, which is now assembled and
just waiting for me to work up the nerve
to stuff it down the throat of my poor little Brother...
 
 
Dreams of wide-throated machines.... *sigh* !
 
 
So, have you read about the #MayisforMakers campaign yourself,
and are you joining in?  I know we all have a pattern wishlist, either from our
Pinterest boards or Craftsy favorites or elsewhere.
Why not support some of these beautiful professional creative this month?
 
And if you do, do tell!
 
 
Be well and enjoy the sunshine,
--Kathryn
 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wendell Wednesday: Planting Trees

Good afternoon, and
Welcome back for Wendell Wednesday!
 
Today I am going to share an excerpt from a poem
I love so much, I wrote it on the back of my kitchen cabinet...
And not just any out-of-the-way cabinet.  The one with the peanut butter.
So yes, I see it every day.
So do Robin and Jay, but I don't think it quite registers for them yet.
 
 
The poem is titled "Planting Trees"
and this is an excerpt of the second half.  Enjoy.
 
 
 
from "Planting Trees" by Wendell Berry
 
...I return to the ground its original music.
It will rise out of the horizon
of the grass, and over the heads
of the weeds, and it will rise over
the horizon of men's heads.  As I age
in the world it will rise and spread,
and be for this place horizon
and orison, the voice of its winds.
I have made myself a dream to dream
of its rising, that has gentled my nights.
Let me desire and wish well the life
these trees may live when I
no longer rise in the mornings
to be pleased by the green of them
shining, and their shadows on the ground,
and the sound of the wind in them.
 
 
 
 
 
Who knows, you may even want to pull out the Sharpies yourself now.
Join me next week, and in the meantime...
 
Be well, and enjoy the sunshine!
 --Kathryn

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Is For Makers (Reblogged from Freshly Pieced)

I'm re-blogging the following from Lee at Freshly Pieced: May Is For Makers because I think it is an important cause that we need to think carefully about.  Having been on the business side of crafts, particularly in the papercrafts industry which is notorious for extortion (a harsh word, but it is what it is), I am sensitive to this as well.  Many wonderful friends have burned out their creative energies and never realized a monetary gain for it.  This is not right.  Read on for Lee's perceptive and proactive beginning to a solution!



---------
 
You all know I don't get up on any soapboxes very often—only when it's something extremely important to me. Today is one of those days. So grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or other beverage of your choice, and settle in. : )


I love blogging. I may get busy and disappear from time to time, but trust me, I'll always be back, because my need to write is second only to my need to create visually. But no matter how many pins you see on Pinterest screaming about making $20,000 a month blogging, ain't nobody making a living wage with a sewing blog, believe me. And yet, where would our modern quilting world be without the tutorials and free projects that are out there online? How many of us would never even have taken up sewing (or come back to it) if it weren't for bloggers? I don't think I would have.

But here's the thing. At some point, in some way, the people creating this content need to be paid for their efforts. Anything less is not sustainable. Free patterns are great, and they may sometimes serve a purpose for both the designer and the customer. But not every pattern can or should be free. And very few designers can afford to put in the work to self-publish a pattern without getting something in return. No matter how much they may love what they are doing. In my opinion, free content should be a fun, unexpected bonus from time to time—it shouldn't be automatically expected.

So that's why my friend Lindsey from LR Stitched has created the May Is for Makers campaign. To support the independent designers and content-creators who add creativity, beauty, and knowledge to our world. Lindsey is pledging to buy a pattern from a different independent designer every week in May, and I'm going to join her. I hope you'll consider joining in as well!

Here's how it works:
- Each week in May, I'll purchase a pattern from another pattern-maker. There are five Mondays in May, so that's five independent designers that will get my support over the course of the month!
- Every Monday, starting May 2, I'll share my pattern purchase on social media with the hashtag #mayisformakers.
- Hopefully, in the process, we'll send support and appreciation to independent designers all over the world.

Just to be clear, this is not about guilting people into buying my patterns (though if you want to buy from me, I won't argue! LOL.) This is about supporting all the innovators and creators of the quilting and sewing worlds. I am just one of thousands of independent designers trying to make a go of it in this business, and we all need your support. Consider buying a pattern as a way of saying thank you for a free tutorial you learned from, or a free pattern that you especially loved—after all, that free tutorial or pattern was probably only made possible by that designer's paid patterns. 

Let's join together to support all the Makers this May! I can't wait to see what (and who) you choose to support!
 
---------------
 
Thank you, Lee.
 
Just like the local food movement or any other home-based business endeavor, it takes a community supporting one another physically and financially as well as emotionally.  That is why, as soon as I saw Lee's post, I decided to join in the May is for Makers campaign.  I will post links to my chosen pattern designers each week on Monday, starting this Monday, May 2nd.
 
Make a difference for Makers in May!
--Kathryn

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wendell Wednesday: An Introduction

Good afternoon! 
I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite authors,
whose poetry and other work will be a frequent feature here from now on.
As I find other writers whose perspectives and ideas are similar, or non-profit
organizations to highlight, those may also take a spot on my new weekly post for
Wendell Wednesday.
 
For an excellent biography and introduction to this remarkable man, you can read
 
Photo by Guy Mendes
 
Here is a brief quote from Skinner's article:
 
"He is the sum of his beliefs. And those beliefs arise from a longstanding tradition most fully expressed in the American family farm, a self-sustaining economic enterprise that reinforced familial bonds and human obligations to the natural environment. The word husbandry, in his usage, combines the commitments of a spouse with the responsibilities of the farmer to his land and his animals. And what care the farmer bestows on the land and his livestock may even be reciprocated in due time.
Berry is more than a naturalist. He personifies an American school of thought that was notable, but also contested, in the founding generation. In the debate that set Thomas Jefferson against Alexander Hamilton—and rural farms against cities, and agriculture against banking interests—Berry stands with Jefferson. He stands for local culture and the small family farmer, for yeoman virtues and an economic and political order that is modest enough for its actions and rationales to be discernible. Government, he believes, should take its sense of reality from the ground beneath our feet and from our connections with our fellow human beings. And it should have a better sense of proportion: Its solutions should be equal to its problems and should not beget other problems."
 
 
 Photo by Kathryn Ritter
Sheep-shearing day at Brattonsville, April 2016


 
And if you are ready to learn more about his life and work,
here is a link to the official Wendell Berry website,
where you can even listen to a podcast of him reading 6 of his poems.
 
 


 
I truly hope you will take some time to familiarize yourself with Wendell Berry's work.
If you are at all interested in sustainability, homesteading, gardening, ethics, local food,
community improvement, global climate change--this is a writer you really need to read.
 
So I hope you will join me each Wednesday from now on,
reading articles, quotes, poetry and other tidbits to help us all with our
perspective and long-term planning goals.
 
Be well and enjoy the sunshine,
--Kathryn

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Childrens' Day at the Farm: Brattonsville Living History Village

This Easter weekend, I managed to actually pull off a surprise family adventure for Robin and Jay.  We went for a full day of hands-on learning fun at the Brattonsville historic plantation and farm in McConnells, SC.  This is a beautiful area of the state and of particular importance due to its Revolutionary War history.  The Battle of Huck's Defeat occurred less than a mile from the Bratton plantation, and up the road was the Battle of Kings' Mountain, which marked the turning point of the Revolutionary War in the South.
 
They do have re-enactments here, but we came for the Childrens' Day at the Farm.  I don't mind saying right up front that I felt wonderful out in the clean country air.  I've dreamed of a small farm all my life, and that desire has only intensified as we raise Robin and Jay.  For their part, I think they had a pretty fantastic time, too.
 
 
Jay especially loved the chicks and the lamb.  He even began to overcome his nervousness around the big animals--a huge step for him, since he had a very traumatic experience with large undisciplined dogs when he was about three.  We've been working through that ever since, but this weekend he pet the full-sized cow, felt the big Percheron draft horses while they rested between plowing demonstrations, and keeps talking about Seven, the adult Nubian goat.
 

 
The lamb is a week and a half old.  It was especially poignant, right before the Easter holiday.


 
The Percherons were very calm and easy-going, as many draft horse breeds are.
I remember listening to Jethro Tull's album Heavy Horses from an early age (tease me if you like, but he wasn't wrong about them).  One of my agrarian and literary heroes, Wendell Berry, is in his 90's and to my knowledge still farms with his draft horses in Kentucky.  "Names of Horses" is a haunting and beautiful poem that began to teach me what poetry really is when I was about 14.
 
These gentle giants have shaped humanity in ways we are too quick to forget.
In coming weeks I plan to share some more quotes and poetry, some from Wendell Berry and other admired authors on important agrarian topics.  I was able to speak briefly with these animals' owners; one had read Berry's work as well, which was of course delightful.

 
The guys also enjoyed the chickens, making me wish we were ready for our own little flock--an inevitability, really, but all in time.  I have my hands quite full enough at present.
 



 
That delight.  And they were so gentle with all the animals.
We'll be going back for the Sheep-shearing in a few weeks if my hip holds out.
I suppose I could let DH take them without me, but that would be no fun at all.
I'll go on crutches if I have to.
 
In addition to the animals, there were brick-making demonstrations, candle-making, cooking, blacksmithing....it went on and on.  DH was impressed with it all, never having been to an event like it, and especially after the wool-dying commented on what an incredible chemical process, when you begin to study it--these folks were NOT simpletons.  They had a kind of practical intelligence that we have, by in large, lost in our day.  Yes, I said.  The things they did with simple machines, their ingenuity is really extraordinary.  He was amazed at all the uses to which you had to put things, how you had to plan for every little detail.
 



 
I am so glad I grew up homeschooled, and that my parents taught us to have an appreciation for these things.  It's an important core that I want to pass on to our children as well.  Who knows?  Perhaps that farm dream will be just around the corner one day.
 


 
 
For now, I'm just glad we have such a positive family memory to look back on.
As we were sitting in the hayride wagon, Robin looked up at me and said simply but sincerely, "We're a good family."
I think he meant he felt a wholesome happiness too, being together in a great environment. 
And for that
 
 
and especially these
 
 
I am very, very grateful.
 
Be well,
--Kathryn


Monday, March 21, 2016

New Dreamweaver Spring Quilt and Brand-new Tula Pink Book GIVEAWAY

There's nothing like cutting out a brand new quilt in time with the vernal equinox, is there?
This one is positively unashamedly and exclusively for me.
It's a little shabby-chic, it's gentler than most of my other colors and designs, it's pulling together at least 26 different fabrics.  Yep, that's right.  And they're not from a precut collection.
 
I'm cutting her out in style. 
Well, LDS style....
 
 
Every one of these fabrics has made its way into my stash because I just loved it.
I have a passion for botanicals, and no surprise there.  I've also grown on butterflies but only in very special circumstances, usually when they are entomologically correct...at least, more or less.
And wood-grain?  Let me at it.

 
I was pretty bummed when Moda's Lush Uptown collection was finally gone. 
I was equally thrilled when they reintroduced many of the same concept fabrics in Erin Miller's newer line, Purebred.  The painter's palette is one of my favorites.  I splurged on a yard a few months ago.  See it in there?


 
The pattern for this quilt is Tula Pink's Dreamweaver quilt, which I used for a harvest quilt awhile back that is still one of my very favorites.  I didn't use Tula's colors or even her fabrics, just the layout:
 
 
I love how this pattern can pull together multiple colors and ideas without losing its integrity OR necessitating cutting into a beautiful fabric design too much. 
I like big swatches best, as an almost exclusive rule.  Cringe every time I cut through a gorgeous flower or worse--a rotary cut right across some poor woodland creature.  Sad, sad.
 
But to share the fun, I'm going to host a giveaway of Tula's book, Quilts From the House of Tula Pink.  It's a brand-new copy and unmarked.  I know you'll love it as much as I do!!  This giveaway will last until I finish this spring Dreamweaver quilt and post its completion here.  Enter with a comment and follow for updates.  You can link the giveaway for your friends, of course.  Simple!
 
 
Have a beautiful beginning to your spring!
 
Be well,
--Kathryn