A beautiful backlog.

Dear friends,

My blogging has been more than sparse lately, but what hasn’t taken a hiatus is my sewing. Between quilts and small fabric projects, my nights and weekends have been happily filled with a variety of creative diversions.

I received an email yesterday from my preferred long-arm quilting shop that two of my recent creations were on her schedule for next week. I can’t wait to get them back home for binding so I can photograph them for you before shipping them to their happy recipients.

I started thinking about the page on this blog that I devote to my quilts — and about how far behind I am on showing you my finished products — so consider this a catch-up day. Here’s what the Magpie has been up to:

You might recall I spent 2017 purging, cleaning and organizing my home. While I didn’t stop sewing all together, it did mean I focused on small projects. My new favorites are baby quilts, pennant banners and pillows.

Here’s one I made for the newborn boy of a co-worker. (This was the first time I used this particular pattern and I liked both the geometry of the design and the opportunity it affords to showcase larger pieces of selected fabrics.) His name is Grayson and I personalized it on the back (as I often do).

I tried my hand at a technique known as EPP (English Paper Piecing), not to be confused with Foundation Paper Piecing (featured in this quilt), and discovered that these miniature hexagons were not only soothing to handstitch, they make adorable pillows.

Here’s one I made for myself:

And one I made for a lifelong friend:

And one I made for another friend who recently remodeled her home:

And another one, this time a Christmas gift for a colleague.

I also made myself a slipcover for my ottoman. (I’m getting better about sewing the occasional project for myself.)

And then I got distracted by a pennant banner kick. I sewed a few in vinyl for friends to decorate their outdoor seating spaces. Here’s just one:

And here’s one I made for myself:

And here’s one I made for my cousin’s grandson, with a baby quilt to boot:

You might have noticed I had a little fabric left over from Grayson’s quilt and I incorporated it nicely in Hunter James’ quilt.

The biggest project I’ve worked on that you haven’t seen is a full-size quilt for my friend Julie. Several years ago, I committed to making a quilt for each of my lifelong friends that I call the “Js.” Johnna’s quilt was the first one I completed and you can see it here.

This quilt for Julie came about because I had started one but stalled for a variety of reasons including the difficulty of the pattern. Both Julie and Janet (whose quilt is still in progress) were getting antsy. One night during a sleepover with my friend, we were lying in bed talking about the promised quilt and Julie suggested I take an easier approach. She showed me several quilts on Pinterest that she liked and encouraged me to abandon the hard quilt for an easier one.

I can’t say this one was easy — but I had a lot more fun working with these cheery fabrics than the first attempt.

I’ve also enjoyed saving my fabric scraps and repurposing them into twine. I learned how to make handmade fabric twine from a Pinterest tutorial. Besides being thrifty, it looks lovely on wrapped packages.

By the way, it’s not like all I’ve done is sew and clean my house. Another pursuit I haven’t written about here is that I learned to ride a motorcycle. Specifically, a Beta Xtrainer 300 (a model perfect for off-roading). Here I am fully “geared up” after a ride in the woods.

And here’s Mr. Mom with both our bikes after a challenging ride in the Mark Twain National Forest.

By the way, that’s my bike on the left. Ain’t she a beaut?

I know dirt bikes don’t really have any relation to quilting, metaphorically speaking. (Or philosophically speaking. Or existentially speaking. Or any kind of speaking.) But I like ’em both. And they both give me a little thrill, so that’ll have to do.

With gratitude {for the great luxury of spare time},

Joan, Hoarder of Fabric, Matriarch of Motocross, Princess of Pastimes

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Day 11: The Sportsman.

Dear friends,

park

On Day 11 of this month of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but reflect on our home’s favorite sportsman.

Parker is the only 18-year-old male in our home and, as such, is by far our family’s finest athletic specimen. He runs a 21-minute 5K without practice, dunks basketballs with little effort, contorts his 6’7″ frame into amazing twists and flips off the high dive, and has a wicked (and frightening) tennis serve.

But it’s his talent at motorsports that really makes us pause. He’s only been riding since we moved to Missouri, but Mr. Mom says he’s a natural.

Parker spent last weekend competing in the Hillbilly Grand Prix, a well-known off-road motorcycle racing series. He took 5th place in his category, Class C Sportsman. (I know nothing about it, but Mr. Mom says it’s a step above the rookies and purely recreational riders, and a step below the money class.)

Mr. Mom competed in motocross for years until he gave up motorcycles for drag racing, so he knows quite a bit about the sport. He taught Parker to ride and figures he’s a fair judge of his skill. When he says he’s impressed by Parker, I take it seriously.

Of course it helps that Mr. Mom is turning our acreage into a motocross wonderland. Here’s Park trying out two new logs jumps Mr. Mom built.

http://instagram.com/p/f58wjAqhkG/

Watching a young man compete at something he loves in the prime of his life is — for this mother — as mesmerizing and alluring as Greek mythology. Like Hermes, the beautiful boy of my daydreams slays athletic obstacles, escapes danger and seduces those who would detour his aspirations. Who needs lore when the lionhearted is right under your roof?

With gratitude {for the beauty, grace and fearlessness of young manhood on full display},

Joan, but you can call her Athena of Textile Artistry

The creek done rose.

Dear friends,

I don’t know about your place, but it’s been raining here.  We put the work week to bed with rain and we started the weekend with rain.

The clouds finally parted for a bit on Saturday and Mr. Mom and Parker took a walk in our woods. What is usually a trickling stream snaking through our acreage was a superhighway of rain waters. Take a look at the photo Mr. Mom took with his phone:

We’ve had just enough rain and sunshine in the last month to persuade our woods to show off its foliage in nearly neon colors.

See that trail that runs through the brush? That’s where Mr. Mom and Parker and their friends ride their motorcycles. You can’t tell very well from this photo, but Mr. Mom has worked hard to clear a labyrinth of trails through our property. Every weekend, there’s a group of somebodys riding out back, including a group of mountain bikers Mr. Mom befriended. I don’t know about the cyclists, but the motocross boys love to ride through the creek. So does Ed. (Well, he doesn’t ride; he runs, but I guess you knew that.)

I don’t run through the creek (guess you knew that too) but it might surprise you to hear I’ve been running cross country through our woods. It’s a nice change of pace from road running, sticker bushes notwithstanding. I’ve got two new scars on my right leg from a wayward thorn.

Heat hasn’t been an issue so far, but I was surprised the woods are about 10 degrees cooler than the road. Assuming it doesn’t get too buggy, I might find summer running relief on my own property.

One of our neighbors even likes to walk our trails with his Labrador Retriever. Best we can tell, Fruitcake (the Lab) really likes it, too.

Here’s a photo Parker snapped with his phone and tweeted. I was kind of stunned by its beauty when I saw it.

I’m an original prairie girl, so I’m surprised how much I enjoy having a tract of wooded land.  I didn’t realize I would find it so scenic. And I certainly didn’t realize the riders (and walkers) would flock here, but I’m more than happy to share our little garden spot with anybody who can enjoy it.

With gratitude {for a lovely place to call our own with all sorts of wooded nooks and crannies to explore},

Joan, who always thought all she needed was a cabin and a pinafore and she could be Laura Ingalls Wilder