Friday, April 28, 2023

Sewing progress

What's been happening in my sewing room? Quite a lot as it turns out. 

I have four quilt tops ready to take to Darby for quilting. Better pictures will be coming when they have been completed. 

Charlotte had some requests. Years ago I made her a Zip and Go purse (pattern by Dog Under My Desk).

 She requested a new one, this time in black. I tried to use zippers in bright colors. That was a no-go for her. But the lining is a fun llama print.

I also made her a tote (pattern by Poppyprint). I modified it to use the cool directional print, so it has a seam on the bottom. Because it was kind of bulky, I did not box the corners.

One of my friends (hi, Paula) made the comment it's funny that it says "live a colorful life" on a label that is black.

Now I'm feeling at loose ends, wondering what project to start next...

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Really Random Thursday, 4/27/23

A week ago, Janice and I were at a quilt retreat held at Hartland Christian Camp, up in the mountains. 

I'm not sure how many quilters there were--100+? We are spread out in six different buildings. Janice and I were in Redwood. Each of us had plenty of space. 

I think this quilt retreat is a really great value. It averages about $100/day but it includes lodging, three meals a day, plus they bring snacks to each building morning, afternoon and evening. Also included, if you so choose to participate, is at least one activity per day--a guided hike, the zipline, super swing, s'mores by the firepit. There were demonstrations of different techniques throughout the day.

Back in January during the extreme rain, the campground was flooded. Now the stream that runs through it is pretty low.
And there was even some leftover snow.
We had a great time and I feel like we were both really productive. Mark had sent some roses along to put on our sewing stations and they smelled so good--Double Delight, my favorite rose ever.

I worked mostly on pineapple blocks. Again. I think these blocks have been to at least four different retreats.
And then as a change of pace, I made 28 of these super cute blocks. They went together so quickly--unlike the pineapple blocks which take me about 2 1/2 hours for each block. 
While I was busy sewing, Stacie (our bonus granddaughter) and Sam got engaged. I'm so excited and happy for them. 
Mark and I went for a foothill drive on Sunday, in search of the superbloom. We were hoping to see lots of California poppies, but mostly just saw lupine. The streams are definitely full. I'm not sure what will happen to the snowmelt with the warm weather that is happening right now.

The flowers in our yard are gorgeous--my favorite time of the year, before they fry in the summer heat of July and August.

Tuesday night we went to the 25th anniversary performance of Riverdance. This is the third time Mark and I have seen it, and it is always thrilling.

Yes, Charlotte got confused with Riverdance and Riverdale...
Yes, I realize April 25th was a couple of days ago, but this pretty much sums it up.
And that's it for another week.

Monday, April 17, 2023

A look back in time

 With this year's MCC relief sale behind us, I thought it might be interesting to go back in a time to the first quilt I donated. It was back in 2003, and was quilted by Mark's cousin, Ione. 

Amish Shoofly. It was the high seller that year at $3,400.

In 2004, Ione and I collaborated on Stars Over Ohio. It sold for $3,100.

In 2007, Ione did the quilting on California Kaleidoscope. I had such a good time making this one, using just two beautiful fabrics by Paula Nadelstern. It sold for $2,100.

In 2010, we collaborated on California Flower Garden, a quilt that had 3,460 pieces, and sold for $3,700.

Colorbox is the quilt that has brought the most money, $5,900, although it was not the high bid of the year in 2013. I don't usually get emotionally attached to quilts, as I usually know from the start that it will be a donation quilt. But this was a hard one to let go.

Mark and I had an idea to raise even more money. This was pre Instagram, so blogs were quite popular. We decided we would donate $1 for every comment left on my blog, with a chance to win some scraps left over from the Colorbox quilt. Our goal was $500 (we topped out at 503 comments). Our son, Aaron, got creative and left forty (40!) one-word comments, not only adding $40 to the total, but on the chance that Random Number Generator chose one of his comments to win those scraps, he was generously donating those scraps to someone else. In his own (partial) words:


Amish Stars was made with my all-time favorite fabric, Oakshott shot cottons. It sold for $3,500 in 2015.

Moccasin was a fun quilt to make. It sold for $2,250, the second highest that year--the highest quilt went for $2,500.

And that brings us up to date with Embroidery Flower, 2023, $5,500.

It's kind of fun to look back and see the changes in what I was wearing at the sale.

Fun fact: Other than Moccasin (which was hung on the back side), all of these quilts have been hung in the front, something that makes me feel humble yet proud at the same time. 

Making a quilt and then giving it away is something I have to "psych" myself into. From the beginning, I remind myself that this is not "my" quilt. That usually helps keep me from getting too bonded with it. MCC is a wonderful organization and the work they do is vital to so many people, those who don't have the resources for the things we take for granted on a daily basis--food, clean water, a comfortable place to live. Sitting in my sewing room, a place that is comfortable and creative, with music, audible books, good lighting, snacks when I want them...things I take for granted way too often, making something beautiful with colorful fabric...the time and the money seems like a small price to pay when the proceeds go to a much greater cause--helping those truly in need.

West Coast Mennonite Relief Sale 2023

 For the first year since 2019, the WCMRS sale felt like old times. Of course it was canceled in 2020. In 2021, it was held online. Last year, it was held outdoors, but only for one day (it usually runs from 4 p.m. on Friday til about 4 p.m. on Saturday). 

For those of us in this area who have Mennonite roots, it feels like a big reunion. It is held on the campus of Fresno Pacific University. There is a wide variety of food available--BBQ ribs, tamales, homemade ice cream, homemade pies, traditional Mennonite ethnic food including zweibach (yeast rolls), verenika (kind of a German ravioli), borscht, fritters (deep fat fried dough rolled in sugar--SO yummy). There is a silent auction, used book shop, country store, a 5K run on Saturday morning, and lots of other things as well.

And quilts. So many quilts. 

There is a pre-priced table which consists mostly of comforters, the majority of which are tied rather than hand- or machine quilted. This is a great option for those who want a nice quilt for a reasonable price and don't want to take the chance that the quilt they want is going to be auctioned for a high price.

This year, 179 quilts were available for live auction.  They are draped over large sawhorses and you have a chance to wander through and look at them, and jot down the numbers of the quilts you are interested in. 
The auction is held in the gym. The quilts, 10 at a time, are layered on a bed. There is another bed on the other side of the partition.

Then one by one, they are held up. Someone gives a brief description. And the auction begins. Once those quilts have been sold, the turntable moves 180 degrees and the next set of ten quilts is ready to go. It's a pretty cool system. 

There are also six quilts that are hung up so that they can be fully seen--three facing the audience and three back to back. It is usually the larger quilts that are hung, lots of times with applique or hand quilting. I donated three quilts this year, and I was honored that Embroidery Flower was hung in the front--a bit unusual as it is not a large quilt. My friend, Dotty, said it was hung because it was an unusual quilt compared to the mostly traditional quilts. Anyway, I was thrilled. (It kind of looks like a midget quilt hanging next to that gorgeous feathered star!)

I donated two other quilts. I totally forgot to take a photo of Rosa when it came up for auction. Nerves, I guess. It sold for $300 and was purchased by a long-time friend, Pam, a super price for a quilt this size.

Embroidery Flower was auctioned a little after noon. There are two auctioneers who alternate shifts but my cousin, Todd, who is amazing, auctioned this one. (I always request him and I have an "in" because we are related.) He started the bid at $5000. He's been doing this for a very long time, and his philosophy is that you set the price that a quilt should go for in everyone's head, then you lower the bid and hopefully work your way back up to that price. 

It was an exciting, and nerve-wracking, few minutes. The quilt ultimately sold for $5,500 (so Todd knows what he's talking about--ha!), the high bid of the entire day. I have no clue who purchased it--it would have been fun to track them down and thank them for their generous donation. 

The third quilt was Firm Foundation, a really fun quilt with names of old traditional hymns. It sold for $675. I was very pleased with that price as well. 

Our North Fresno Church Wednesday morning quilt group had a lot of quilts in the mix. In fact, the quilts from out church accounted for nearly $30,000 of the total. The pre priced table added another approximately $3500. 

Overall, the sale grossed $190,000. Some of the cost of food will be deducted from that, but other than that, things are largely donated so a large amount will be used for Third World Relief through Mennonite Central Committee, an absolutely awesome charitable organization. 

An unexpected bonus this year was that our niece, Elizabeth (my brother's daughter), came down from the Bay Area to spend some time with us. She was at the sale for awhile, and then we had dinner together at Aaron and Christa's house. So much fun. 

It was such a good weekend. Perfect weather, beautiful quilts, great food and fun family fellowship. 

And in a show of hospitality, Gabe made Liz a breakfast sandwich before she got on the road Sunday morning.