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I roared you into the world, my son, named for kings and princes among men, named for family and strength and influence. We heard your name whispered by heaven’s messengers. You are the word for our world – stewardship, guardianship, the one who replaces old with new.

It was a new thing bringing you into the world.

I labored at home, in and out of warm waters, relying on your father for strength. And you came within 18 hours. (Eighteen – chai – the numerical value of the Hebrew word “life”.)

By 1 pm, the midwives were checking. Family was waiting. Nurses were ready. By 1:45 we were talking with doctors in the course of active labor. Then I was on my feet, leaning over a bed, and I felt you come on, and your waters burst. Climbing like an animal, I screamed from my cells, what my DNA produced from a fundamental place. I roared. I wailed. I became what I already was.

Transition. I learned later that when the waters broke, your head shifted down, suddenly locked in, fully committed, and here you came. But we were still a walk – or a run – away, and they were talking, they said a room was now ready. They made the call. I bellowed down my body, and we barreled through the hallways, past staff and elderly onlookers. The doula’s voice rang reassuring in my ears, “I’m still here!”

Then bright lights and a fresh bed, and my knees up and pushing. They said you were “at three” – you were nearly among us. So I roared.

Ten minutes, they told me later. Ten minutes of pushing. I saw you emerging, through glasses unfogged, a sign and a wonder, the embodiment of our determination. You’d come through it so quickly – once, twice, thrice was all I could remember. You were wet and alive on my deflating belly. And you sprayed as you cried, and the midwife caught it, one last fountain of your broken waters.

You were hungry. You were perfect. You were oozing with life. You personified every hard-won grace-growth of family and mothering.

And I was amazed, and your father amazed, and the angels attending stood in celebration and wonder. And Father sang your song, my son, called you by name, named the battles you’ve won. You are His favorite song.

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So it’s no surprise I haven’t written for awhile. There are two main reasons for this:  first, Instagram. Second, life stage.

I still love sewing, quilting, creating, and connecting, but writing blog posts doesn’t make much sense anymore. Instagram, however, is efficient and effective. As I’ve always been a fan of photo-heavy blogs anyway, my “professional” @walkingwithfeathers account has replaced blogging for me. Thankfully, you can look up public accounts online, even without the app. Find me through this link:  https://www.instagram.com/walkingwithfeathers/

As I write, my second child is snoozing on my lap. My two-year-old is out with my husband running errands in the new area of town where we just bought our first house. This is a whole new stage of life! And I’d rather spend my precious few minutes of free time quilting or creating than writing about it.

I will keep this blog up. It’s nice having a landing pad on the internet for a bit of prose or philosophy now and again (birth stories, for example). But my creativity will predominantly be documented over on Instagram.

I’ve enjoyed the blogging community and the growth it has afforded me! I hope to keep connected with y’all, no matter the platform!

Blessings until then!

My rodeo-riding cousin married the cowboy of her dreams, and I made a little wedding gift for the occasion!


Their style is very Western-inspired, so I took that as a jumping-off point. I’ve held tight onto my Alison Glass prints for awhile, but the colors and motifs in her original Handcrafted line seemed perfect for the occasion, letting the fabric do the talking. Variegated thread for quilting and a zipper back later and we were done! Blessings to the newlyweds for a long and happy life together!

Recently two friends of mine came to the conclusion that it is time to sell their home of over a decade. Many times I have been on the receiving end of their generous hospitality, so I wanted to make a gift for each to reflect all the love and memories of that home.


I started with sketches of the house itself.


I thought of the nonhuman residents as well.


Then it was just a matter of raw-edged appliqué, a bit of decorative stitching, turning under the blocks’ edges, and fitting them to embroidery hoop “frames”.

Sometimes I love a gift more in the making than the person receiving, but I could tell this time that wasn’t the case. Hoping that as time goes by, these little mementos will bring back sweet memories!

After hoarding my stack of Alison Glass Handcrafted prints for a year or two, I finally cut into them. Ultimately, there is a twin-sized quilt in the works, but I couldn’t help making something lovely with the scraps! 

   
    
 
It started out as a chance to play with curved piecing and evolved from there. The colors remind me of a sunset over the ocean, and the white IKEA print roughly evokes the shore. I have a friend that quilts without using any special feet, so I thought I’d give it a go and see what came about. Interestingly, it was much easier than using my walking foot! I had fun experimenting with quilting designs, particularly McTavishing, which I only recently learned about. It creates such a sense of movement! The colorful side’s quilting reminds me of stingray egg sacs, or maybe stylized crab claws. When it came to binding, I realized there were no straight lines anywhere in the quilt. But that’s just like the natural world! So I made sure to apply the binding in an ever-so-slight wave. I used a scrap of batik from who-knows-where, and unintentionally, the more solid bits edged the more colorful part of the quilt. Altogether, I love my little experiment! She finishes at roughly 14×26 inches and hangs proudly among other favorite artworks.

I am not typically one to blog fabric purchases, mostly because they are so few and far-between, but I am so chuffed with the bits I got during a few end-of-the-year sales that I decided to break from the norm.

 First a bit of Anna Maria Horner and Cotton + Steel joy from Southern Fabric! I’m slow to join the train for these well-known designers, and it’s not often I find pieces I like that also match my budget, but thanks to the kind folks at S. F., this time I did!

 Second are a few slices of Denyse Schmidt and a bit of Utopia from the Fat Quarter Shop. I restrained myself here, but I had specific projects in mind, and I really like what I chose. Even better, my husband genuinely ooh’ed when he saw these – always a good sign! Looking forward to putting them to work soon! (“Soon” is a much more relative term now I’m raising a Squish. Babies is hard, y’all!)

Linking up to Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash!

I was part way through knitting a grey-green hat for my son when I had an epiphany:  if I were going through the trouble, why was I making any old hat when I could knit the ultimate (nerd) hat?

   
    
 
“How does it sit? Pretty cunning, doncha think?

“Man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.

I don’t claim to be an excellent knitter, but I am pleased with the result, and it makes me laugh! To make the hat, I just knit a stockinette rectangle, stitched up the side to fit, and crocheted ear flaps. Then I gathered the top and added a puff ball! And my baby, who has as many smiles as there are reasons to love Firefly, got into character with a rare mean mug!

I love the colors, even apart from the show reference. I finished it just in time for the cool weather setting in! He will be so much warmer on our walks together, complimenting the gorgeous autumn trees. What more could I ask for?

Linking up with the 2015 Finish-A-Long!

I’ll make this short and sweet.

  

My to-finish list this quarter includes my two holdovers from last quarter which, at this point, are tops, backs, and batting awaiting services of my long-arming friend.

I have been consulting on a large-ish quilt for a Disney-loving little lady, but I’ve yet to firmly decide whether to take on the project. If I do, it needs completed by June.

“Baby Sets” refer to the number of friends pregnant along with me! Among my friends, there is one baby due per month between June and September. I’d like to get all the shower sewing done in one go, so I’ll make four of everything (probably a quilted bib, a softie, and an article of clothing). 

I cut all the pieces for the X+ quilt I’m working on for a friend. It won’t be a proper finish, but I’d like to at least finish the blocks and piece the top.

  

Not sure if I will get to any lap quilts, but I may be able to complete a few holdovers from my Lillian’s Stitches days. (Apologies for the poor lighting.)

   

 

Two Soaking Quilts are ready for quilting as well! Can you tell I am trying to clean out my wardrobe of incompletions?

Finally, I volunteered to make a new version of a four-year-old’s favorite stuffed monkey. Chocolate Milk will be remade in pink, but the project is a bit daunting as the original has lots of pieces and cannot be taken apart for a pattern. Yikes! Here’s hoping it works!

  

Linking up with the 2015 Finish-Along!

My husband and I talked about choosing a different theme each Christmas of our marriage. Knowing something of the traditional wedding anniversary themes (silver at 25, gold at 50, etc.), I thought it would be sweet to start there. With his affinity for reading, it was an easy sell. We visited our favorite used bookstore and picked up some older, free books. After a little Pinterest scrolling, we ripped out pages and set to work. I’m quite happy with the results!

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but now we are one month into marriage, it seems appropriate. This is a sewing post, I’m happy to say, though art reflects life, so there is a metaphor to explain first.

You know, I remember going to weddings as a twelve-year-old and my mother pointing out the programs, guest book, accoutrements, drawing my attention to the details so I could start getting ideas for my wedding. Seventeen years later, I didn’t have an elaborate plan for a dream wedding, but I had done plenty of work designing a dream man and a dream marriage.

First was the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. That hit Evangelical youth groups while I was a teen, newly rededicated to Christ, around the time I trashed all my faerie and renaissance festival paraphernalia, as well as my secular CDs. I took my powerful adolescent emotions and threw them head first into my religion. I wanted to be the most extreme Jesus person I knew. That meant embracing radical purity and archaic courtship practices. I was told by a crush that I was “a living testimony to the book” (though I never read it) – but that crush was not interested in courting me.

So I made a list instead! In fact, I made many “husband lists”. And I went to college, becoming involved in the most sold-out-for-Jesus campus ministry around. It was awesome! Surely I would find my mate! But then that one guy actually kissed me right after I said I only wanted to kiss my husband. I cried with the girls in my Bible study when we broke up. He really loved Jesus! I didn’t understand.

I changed my list. I heard more sermons on marriage and dating and purity. And I met someone else, someone who shared all my ideals, including the hyper-religious identity I’d adopted. Then this guy informed me that God told him I was his wife. My eager, hurting heart believed him, and I accepted his proposal, only to come to my senses three months before the wedding.

More hurt and confusion. This guy matched my criteria, but after that experience, I needed more items on my list! I could not risk repeating mistakes. I refused to gamble my heart again.

But I was needy, and I was smart. Over the next few years, more men came into my path. I adapted to become a version of what I thought they wanted. I made it seem like they pursued me, though all the while, I called the shots. Some followed Jesus, others did not. Some adhered to the rigorous rules I trusted, and when those relationships ended, my heart felt pulverized – all the worse because these men had no excuse for their bad behavior! And my list grew. And my expectations grew. After all, if God was taking this long to bring me my husband, he must be extraordinary! He must be as close to perfect as a man can get!

It looks ridiculous in print. I mean, how could I not have known I was manipulating men to get my needs met? Of course, at the time, I thought manipulation had to be sexual. I had impenetrable walls of self-righteous rule-following that supported my beliefs. I was blind to the state of my heart, completely unaware of how I used spirituality and emotion to spin scenarios so I got what I wanted – a temporary “love fix”.

But then something began to happen. I started to meet men who were everything I was looking for. I could check item after item off the list – strong relationship with God, educated, well-mannered, fond of dancing, cat-lover, financially secure, kind, passionate, single (a surprisingly rare combination, I found!) And as I got to know these men with joy and hope and expectation – because surely God wasn’t taunting me, surely He wasn’t dangling the proverbial carrot – something inevitably went wrong. Some kind of personality disconnect became apparent, some huge flaw manifested, and my hopes shattered in disgust.

Throughout this process, I did all I could to keep my heart open to God. But it was a complicated relationship because as an omniscient Creator, He ought to know how I felt, what I desired, and how I was sacrificing to follow Him. All my disappointment in men really came back to disappointment in God. I had come to believe that if I trusted God, I would never be lonely again. I would be spared from pain and heartache. And yet this is what I knew as normal, time after time. I didn’t know who to blame – was my faith too weak? Had my husband stepped outside of “God’s perfect will” and married someone else according to “God’s permissive will”? Or was God not really interested in fulfilling my heart’s cries after all? Maybe He was not as good as people told me. Maybe He was nice to others, but I was uniquely and helplessly flawed. He could take care of the weak, but I was strong. I could earn His best because I knew better.

And other such drivel.

So I turned my energies to cultivating faith in a fairy tale instead. I lost confidence in lists, and I threw myself into creating items for a hope chest. I took up patchwork quilting, enamored with the idea of blocks named after qualities I hoped to have in my future marriage one day. I worked on blocks like “Steps to the Altar” and “Young Gentleman’s Fancy” and “Tree of Life”, intending to make a glorious quilt depicting my domestic dreams.

I found those blocks recently as Husband and I unpacked our apartment. Truth be told, they were sort of sad. Colors I initially loved turned garish and awkward. More experience with quilting revealed my ignorance in using poor-quality fabrics. And construction was frightful! Maybe I could make them up into a wall hanging? I refused to put them into a quilt. I ought not to get rid of them, right? So much work, such a depiction of who I had been before I met my husband! (Not that meeting my husband suddenly changed me, but it is an easy place to put a marker on my timeline.)

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I tried to get inspired to work on something else, but I kept coming back to these blocks. Finally I made a decision.

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Destroyed! I took a critical eye to each block, harvested good pieces of fabric for my scrap bin, and trashed the rest. And these blocks were not the only ones. Each abandoned unfinished project got the same treatment. My scrap bin revived with new bits of favorite fabrics!

And I made cushion covers for our sofa’s toss pillows.

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Here is the metaphor: I have put a lot of effort and study into learning what makes the best marriage, but along the way, I’ve mixed a lot of poor quality fabric in the lot. I have to say, there seems to be a lot of wasted effort. My husband does not meet the criteria on my list. He is not what I was told to “hold out for”. He has ideas and opinions and ways of doing things that are unlike mine. He went through the same ministry school as me, but to my horror, he does not agree with every idea they teach. (Lord, that upset my apple cart!) There was a moment of panic, my mind reeling with the thought, “What have I gotten myself into?!?”

And then I’d look at those crazy pillows. Scraps and bits and chaos, wild and untamed, beautiful because of the mess. We sort, we piece, we pick apart, and we let go.

I let go.

I let go of my right to be defined as a hardcore God-chaser, rather than simply His daughter. I let go of my former last name. I let go of my expectation that it is Husband’s responsibility to intuit my needs. I let go of having the covers all to myself. I let go of my ideas of the roles of the wife and husband. I let go of my preference for doing things my way. I let go of control – in so many situations – and I piece trust instead.

It has been a month of sorting and choosing and saving and trashing. Moment by moment, gently or rushing all together. Not all sound teaching is universal. The best-intended rules can still hurt more than they help. And no rule – other than the Law of Love – actually draws reality and life into any relationship. (Seam ripper, scissors, scrap bin.) We have a long way to go. No marriage is without its baggage. But it is a worthwhile journey, and I am so happy to be on it. Laugh and cry and dance and learn and grow, together this time, and on down through the ages to come.

The other night, as it begins to turn cooler, Husband requested a larger blanket for the bed. (Y’all, I got a good one!) Is there anything sweeter to a quilter’s ears? Immediately I thought of my 100 City Sampler blocks. As I made calculations, however, I realized another row would be just right. Which meant:

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These are my favorite types of blocks. They are spontaneous and bold and free. They are the best of what I love, and they reflect what I want to bring to my marriage: life, effort, kindness, and freedom.

If this is the first month, I hardly dare imagine the rest of our lives! We have such a brilliant future ahead of us, and we are excited to launch into it – seam ripper at the ready! Here’s to the future! It is sure to be bright.