Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Step Back In Time...

Today I take a step back in time...

Recently I quilted a vintage, hand-pieced quilt top for a friend.  This quilt top is the second of three that my friend acquired from her Mother-in-law.  It is unclear whether her MIL pieced them or if they were pieced by another family member...  None the less, it reminded me of two of the first quilts that I made... 

They were from a Block of the Month "club" that I was invited to by a friend. You are probably familiar with the drill - $5 the first month for the block pattern and the fabric needed for the block and only $1 each month thereafter when you return with a completed block. (The price has probably gone up since this was in 2003.)  

The fabric selection for the BOTM featured 1930's reproduction fabric.  I had in my collection of fabric some original 1930/40's fabrics that had be set aside and saved from my Paternal Grandma, Katherine Schleich.  (There was also a collection of signature blocks that included the circle of friends and neighbors of my Grandma S.)  When I located that fabric it was then that I decided that I wanted to make two quilts...

In that same year my Maternal Grandpa passed away and we moved my Grandma from Tucson, AZ to Trinidad, CO so that my parents and our family could help care for her.  Each month I would take the pattern and the finished blocks to her house to show her. 

These blocks were reproduction fabric  


The blocks below are mostly original 1930's fabric... 
(some of the solid fabrics were reproduction)

I called the quilts "Getting to know Grandma" I & II

It was a very special time with Grandma T... She would share stories of how her Mother & Mother-in-law would attend quilting groups at their churches.  I heard many stories about her childhood and her experiences as a young mother and stories about my Mom and Uncle.  It was always a good time when she would reminisce.  

It was also a special time with my Grandma S (who passed away a few years before I was even born).  I had the opportunity to go through the fabric and quilt blocks and patterns that she had saved, as well as the collection of crochet thread and doilies patterns... I had the opportunity to hear stories from my Dad as he would share stories about the neighbors and friends whose names were on the signature blocks that came from Grandma S. 

So, **sigh** I wish I could know more about where the quilt top that I recently quilted for my friend is from.  I hope that Tracy can learn more about who made them and have the opportunity to pass on the story to her children.

I would love to know the story of why there are six blocks like the one to the right and three like the one above, which matches the border.  Was this intentional?  Was it because they ran out of fabric, but wanted the quilt to be bigger?  This curious quilter wants to know!

Ok, enough of being all nostalgic and such... I have quilting to do!

Happy Stitching!


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Thursday, April 21, 2016


I have a confession...  I am an Emmaus "Junkie".  

My name is Melva Nolan, I was on walk #64 at Hermit Basin in April, 1999.  And I was at the table of Esther.

I met a "New Best Friend" on walk #122 and over the years we have become very close friends.  But because we live two hours away from each other we mostly talk on the phone.  She has been there for me through some very tough and difficult situations and some celebrations, and I have been there for her as well. We are each other's "sounding board".  We offer each other a safe place to vent and should someone ever ask, we can solve all of the problems of the world. LOL!  

This quilt is for my very special friend, Bonnie Johnson.  She is the Lay Director of Emmaus of the Rockies Walk #167.

People not familiar with the Walk to Emmaus movement - a short course (72 hours) in Christianity - would think it more than odd that one of the "symbols" associated with the event is a rooster... let me explain.

"De Colores" was written by a group of Spanish participants called Cursillistas or, what we call pilgrims in Emmaus.  They had been on a Cursillo event.  Cursillo is the Catholic forerunner and the basis of the ecumenical Emmaus movement.

This group was on a bus headed for home.  After having heard the many talks on the colors of God's grace, they were a joyful group indeed!  Suddenly the bus broke down.  Fortunately, there was a barnyard nearby.  The glorious show of spring colors in the fields, the flowers and budding trees inspired them.  The bright iridescent colors of the roosters and chicks and distant rainbow touched them.  so they wrote a song, "De Colores" which means "of the colors."  As they awaited rescue they, with joy in their hearts, wrote verse after verse!  Obviously they waited a long time, because the song has 99 verses! 

So... this quilt, while it is a rooster, also represents so much more!  

  • It has every color of the rainbow
  • The rooster reminds us of Peter and how quick he was to deny Christ... and how quick the Lord was to forgive Peter on the beach when He returned.
  • The tiny pieces of fabric that some would have considered waste and far too small to be useful, come together to make a larger piece - just as each of us come together to make up the Body of Christ 
(1 Corinthians 12:12-14 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.)
  • There are special messages of love quilted in - hearts, De Colores and Walk 167

Bonnie, what a blessing to be your friend and Sister in Christ.  I love you.

De Colores!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Read the Label

***I was invited by Doris at The Quilting Queen Online to be a guest blogger while she was enjoying a cruise.  This is what I submitted***

As a self-taught quilter, I find myself set in my ways and it is often years later that I learn the "proper" way to do something or, at the very least, an easier way. Thus was the situation for how I did my binding...  It is for this reason that I like to learn and gather as much information from other blogs or tutorials.

Recently, I have been seeing numerous blog posts about quilt labels.  I value the importance of such labels and am a firm believer in providing as much information on the label as possible.  I personally feel that the name of the quilt, the maker, who it is made for, the occasion, and a date are what I feel are the "vital statistics."

Here are two labels that I have used - both from pre-printed 
panels that were either 1/2 yard or 1 yard cuts.

I have read many of Jennifer Chiaverini's "Elm Creek Quilters" books and am fascinated by the storylines she has created emphasizing the importance of offering as much info on the labels as possible, and that when the proper info is offered, how much easier it is to learn the unknown history of family members.

I think it was in one of the Elm Creek Quilters books that I learned the importance of including all of this information not just on a label, but on the inside of the binding, when entering a quilt contest.  In the event of the quilt being stolen or that someone else tries to claim that it was entered into the contest by someone other than the quiltmaker.  For only the quilter would know that the info is there, but in the event of trying to "prove" who made it, the binding could be undone and the truth revealed.

For me, the label is the final step of the project.  About a year ago I listened to a podcast ( that the label should not be an after thought of the project.  Rather, it encouraged quilters to place it on the back of the quilt prior to quilting it, making it near impossible to remove the label.  Interesting thought...

I never thought that it was really necessary... And then I gave a wedding gift.  

(I have given numerous quilts as wedding gifts and as shower gifts with the thought that everyone appreciates a home made gift.  After all, I always received thank you's that were gushing with appreciation for the quilt.  Many times the note sender included comments on how it perfectly matched the room or how they looked forward to using it for years to come.)

But this wedding gift was different.  The thank you note was received... and then a few months later I noticed that a sibling of the original recipient has shared a picture of her apartment with the quilt proudly displayed in her room.  My husband and I had the opportunity to visit her and I snuck a peek at where label had been placed and discovered that the label had been removed. 

Yep... REMOVED! 

It took me back a bit.  Ok, I'll be honest... I was hurt.  My quilt was rejected!?! Really? How could someone not appreciate or want the quilt that I had carefully pieced and made for them???  And then I thought about it....  At least I didn't find it at a thrift shop or for sale on the local swap shop...  When I realized that the person that had it proudly displayed was doing exactly what I had intended it for I felt better.  I wanted someone to love it and use it!  I have long stated that I make my quilts to be used... I overcame my hurt and disappointment and embraced the fact that at least SOMEONE loved it.

So, if I had placed the label on the back and then quilted it, making it very difficult to remove, the recipient may have kept the quilt... or not. I state again, I am happy to know that the person that currently has it loves it and uses it.  If the label could not have been easily removed, it may not have ended up being the situation at all - It may have ended up shoved in the back of a closet or even tossed out!

Last year I was contacted by StickerIt - - asking me if I would be interested in trying one of their QRC labels that when scanned takes you to a web-site where a personal written or video message would be waiting for them. I accepted the offer and placed one on the back of a wall hanging that had been made for a dear friend.  The message I left for her included the reasons I picked the blocks and the meanings of each one.  There was a large group of friends that were to sign the back of the wall hanging.  Not everyone signing the wall hanging had heard why there was a QRC label on the back. A well meaning friend carefully peeled off the iron-on label, thinking it was there by mistake. 

They thought that perhaps it had been purchased and were removing any such evidence... Thankfully, I found the label tossed aside and hand sewed it back onto to the wall hanging.

(I am not a paid spokesperson for StickerIt, simply an impressed customer.) 

And they have some fancier looking ones so that they would not be mistaken for some sort of UPC barcode. They have a variety available... some you can color yourself or the color printed ones are nice too!

I am sure there are lots of options for labeling your quilts... What do you do?

Have I changed when/how I place the label?  Not yet - I still do the quilting and then add the label.  As I stated at the beginning... As a self-taught quilter, I am set in my ways.

Happy Quilting!

Thank you Doris for inviting me to be a guest blogger while you are out enjoying your cruise!  And to Doris' readers, join me over at Melva Loves Scraps!

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Relay for Life - Hope, Fight, Celebrate & Remember

My latest quilt is a donation for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The shirts and fabric were sent to me by a friend who fought and overcame her battle with cancer.

Here is Colleen's story...

When I was 17 my grandmother, my hero, died of Ovarian Cancer, I still get a bit teary when I think about her and still miss her terribly.  Since grandma, we have lost so many people to this hideous disease, Mother-in-law, father in law, brother in law, three uncles, a few cousins, and my Dad.  Multiple friends have also fought the battle and lost. 

The research and steps made to find a cure have made it a happy ending because I have several close friends that are survivors!  We have identified several of the genetic markers in family members thanks to the research; this has given us many awesome years with some of the family due to the knowledge of the genetic markers so they have been able to get preventative testing for early detection.  There are so many people touched by the disease, as I was talking to the car salesman, he told me about his mother and his aunt.  While going through my own treatment, I met a man in the grocery store that told me the story of his wife that had cancer and died; he had a tear in his eye and looked so sad.  At the swimming pool while I was trying to regain movement in my arms and upper body, I was approached by a lady that told me of her daughter who was battling a rare cancer; she was in her 20s….   

I know people think they may not know anyone that has been touched by cancer but just listening to the heartbreak and stories and looking at my family that stood by me when I was not able to lift more than a few pounds with my arms, could barely move some days and was so sick during chemo that laying on the cold floor was the only thing that I could do because the energy to get up and wait for another round of getting sick just took too much energy…  The journey has taught us about the genetics of cancer and unfortunately there are many bad genes in our family.  The good part of knowing this information the capability/opportunity to be proactive and get the testing for early detection!  Early detection seems to be the best treatment as of now…   

As I made the quilt I thought of all those that I have known and loved that have had to fight in their own battle with cancer.  Some won.  Some did not.  I asked some of my friends to share how they had been touched or affected by cancer and to share their own personal stories.  Many thanks to all that shared!

This quilt is in memory of ...

Grandma Olafson,  Grandma Walton, Dad – Steve Olafson, Mary Jo Frizzell, Walt Sr. Frizzell, Greg Frizzell, Lawrence Olafson, Bill Olafson, George Walton, , LaDonna Breidjford, Jean Hodges, Kris Larson, Karen England, Bonnie, Karen England, Mike York, Jim, Brian Wheeler,  - I am missing lots here - Colleen Frizzell

My Father, Robert W. Johnson died from pancreatic cancer - Mark Johnson

My dad went home with the Lord due to prostate cancer. - Lonnie Gibson

Top of the list of people in my life taken by cancer is Mom (Sandi Nolan), who lost her battle way too young on 4/22/1995. I miss her every day. Also cousins, Joe Weigel, who died from leukemia complications a couple of years ago and Scott Gromer, tragically lost many years ago at the age of 16, only days after being diagnosed with Hodgkins. - Linda Hopp

Lost my husband in 1998 and my Mom 2 years ago - Cindy White

I lost my sister Cathy in 2011 to cancer.  - Ruth Lopez

Dad, Dave Russell, went to heaven on November 19, 2014. Hospice care givers are a gift from God. - Lori Schleich

I lost my Dad to lung cancer in '09. I still miss him - Sheryl Blair

My God Mother Theresa Duran is a cancer survivor. - Susan Moreno

We lost our 8 year old nephew Dylan Maldonado in April of 2013 to lymphoblastic leukemia. Ron's father Carl Maldonado January of 2016 (lung and colon). Patricia Mascarenas February 2015 (had a few different types of cancer). Patricia Mabry (pancreatic). Sylvia Mantelli (colon) - Kathy Bell

Grandpa Schleich died of prostrate cancer, his daughter, Clara Wirth had cancer as well. Great Grandpa Bohl had throat cancer, Auntie Bob, Uncle Ralph, Aunt Marie, and my cousin Dyke.  Not so untouched by cancer after all. - Carol Schleich

This quilt is in honor of...

Mama Bessler, Julie Palermo, Linda Fischlein, Donna Gaul, Linda Kline, Laura Olafson, Joan neighbor, Colleen Frizzell, Susan McCamey, Marti Thompson, Karen the Piano Lady, - I know I am missing so many here… - Colleen Frizzell

My Mother, Betty J. Johnson beat breast cancer. I am a survivor, also. The memory I have is of the support of family and friends - like you and Dave -- who kept me going through your prayers and encouragement. And twizzlers. And cashews. Mostly prayer, though. - Mark Johnson

Steve Gibson (lung) & his parents (dad - prostate & kidney mom - breast). - Lonnie Gibson

Currently fighting are my brother in law, Tim, who has a rare cancer of the small bowel, My son-in-law Jon's Dad, Mike Krauski, currently in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins for pancreatic cancer, Caryn's Mom, Nina, a friends daughter, Lynn Washabaugh, with multiple myeloma, who has had her own stem cells harvested and is going in today to have them transplanted back into her (she will be in isolation for some time). Also another church friend, Lynn Hammerlund, who has metastasized breast cancer, now in her bones. As for survivors, we have 2 musicians from church, Colleen and Chris, that are both brain tumor survivors, our friend Mike LeRoy is now free of prostate cancer, and Cindy Hopp's sister, Sheree Cannis, survived the removal of a large tumor from her abdomen a couple of years ago. I know there are more that I'm forgetting, but from this list it's obvious that cancer affects every facet of our lives! I'm in awe of the positive and upbeat attitudes of all of the people I know that have either survived or are fighting cancer and I pray every day for a breakthrough and cure. - Linda Hopp

My cousin Deb is a survivor and her husband Allen is currently battling cancer. - Ruth Lopez

Although my Dad passed 9/14/14 due to complications of Alzheimers, he did survive prostate cancer, I believe in 1999. - Sally Kilpatrick

My son and your cousin, Joseph Patrick Weigel, age 45, who went to be with the Lord on November 3, 2012, from complications after a bone marrow transplant. He beat leukemia, but lost his life to a subsequent autoimmune disorder that caused respiratory failure. - Sheila Weigel

I just lost a dear friend Marilyn Presley in March.  - Susan Moreno

Colleen is passionate about Relay and shares... "due to the changes we have seen just since my diagnosis I have chosen Relay as my event to support.  The genetic testing in 2012 when I went through it was over $2000, with new laws and information, it can now be done for under $100."   

I don't think that there is a single person that is not affected by cancer.  It is a nasty, ugly, mean disease and I can only hope that science can defeat it once and for all!  I know that this quilt will help to raise money to get one step closer to a cancer free world...

This one is for all those fighting!

Be blessed!


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Sunday, March 27, 2016

He Is Risen!

When I saw the picture of this quilt I just knew that I had to make it!

I didn't know who I would be making it for... I figured I would make it and then sell it since there was great interest expressed in it when I shared on Facebook. 

And then a very dear lady approached me about making a wall hanging for her. She actually reminded me of the conversation that we had had several years before. she wanted purple (she LOVES purple of any shade), green and a little yellow. I immediately knew that this was the perfect wall hanging for her!

So I sat down to figure out what size squares were needed to create a wall hanging no larger that 30-ish inches wide.  I printed out the picture, drew grid lines on it (much like a cross-stitch pattern) and did some math.  Using two inch squares, i would need to make it a little narrower than the original quilt picture.

I pulled out a large tote of fabric that had been given to me with lots and lots of fabric that had been pre-cut for some quilt-as-you-go quilts and an assortment of left over 2-1/2" jelly roll strips.  But among all of that there was a small snack sized baggie that had an assortment of purple(!!!) 2" blocks!  Perfect for the cross... this is where I began ~

You may notice three squares with red hearts... intentionally placed to represent the nail placement from Jesus' crucifixion.

I then moved on to the background...

As I searched for the perfect squares in my bin of scraps, I found that I needed a greater variety of yellows and of a much lighter shade.  I could have gone and dug out another bin of fabric, but I was stubborn (or lazy) and refused to do so because, by accident, I discovered that the back of some of the yellows were just what was needed!  
You can only notice the difference on the back of the top and yes, it was a bit alarming when piecing them together to see the "front" of the fabric on the back, but had to keep reminding myself that it was intentional!

Jesus Has Risen from Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

May you have a happy and blessed Easter... HE IS RISEN!


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Friday, March 25, 2016

What is Normal?

The past month was really busy and I am SOOOOOOO glad that I am back to my "normal".  Erma Bombeck once asked the question, "what is normal?" and answered that question with "It is a setting on the dryer!"  What a great sense of humor. :)

However, MY normal typically involves most of the day spent at home either in my sewing room or doing the routine cleaning/chores, and an occasional trip to the grocery store or the bank. Pretty boring, but I'm okay with that.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Fort Collins for an allergy testing/clearing treatment.  I was simply seeking relief from the seasonal allergies that have plagued my life every spring and fall with more sinus infections than I care to remember. Over the past six years or so I have learned how to manage the symptoms and prevent the infections by having facials and other natural therapies offered at the Massage Therapy program at Trinidad State Junior College.

Like I stated, I was simply seeking relief from seasonal allergies... But it was suggested that I follow an anti-inflammatory diet that includes being soy free and dairy free.  :P Throw in on top of that, I was also told to avoid corn, white sugar, white potatoes, pork and shell fish!

ugh!  "I'm fine... I don't really have these food allergies. Pffft... Ridiculous." And then I recalled waking one Thursday morning with such pain and stiffness in my shoulders and recalled all that I had eaten the day before.  I had consumed a banana, fresh pineapple, yogurt and cheese & peanut butter crackers... all foods I should avoid. :(  Okay, maybe it is worse than I thought...

I have since been on the hunt for soy free foods.  That is tough!  I have had some success, and I do feel much better.  My shoulders don't ache near as bad as they had.  This is progress!

But the no sugar thing got to me yesterday.  I was really, really wanting something sweet... chocolate chip cookies, specifically!  I pulled out my bag of chips and they are packed with soy! Not good!  I began searching for alternatives.  Using my favorite recipe I altered it by cutting out the white sugar and used 1/2 the amount of maple syrup.  I added baking soda to cut the acidity of it allowing the cookies rise and increased the flour by 1/4 cup.  I mixed in dried cranberries and almond slivers, and reduced the baking temperature by 25 degrees


My craving was satisfied and I don't have suffer!

Here's my recipe...

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2-3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Bake at 325 for 9-10 minutes

Oh yes, my allergies are so much better!  There are still a few things that are bothering me, but over all, I am actually enjoying this spring.  A few weeks ago we were enjoying a day of antique window shopping with trees in full bloom lining the streets.  My eyes did not itch, I didn't have a runny nose, or constant sneezing and wheezing.  Woohoo! 

Changes can be hard!  But I have a new normal... and I am loving it!  Now that I can satisfy my sweet tooth. ;)  Carry on with your normal!

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Put A Song In Your Heart

I am a quilter... And I am a woman... therefore, I piece and quilt with a strong tendency to the feminine side.... You know, "pretty" and sometimes "frilly".  

Quilting for children is easy because you can still use bright colors, kittens and puppies and such.  But I recently had the challenge of creating a couple quilts for some young men - the grandsons of a dear friend.  Both play guitar.  But they had begun their music lessons on the piano.  I needed something masculine for them and really didn't know where to start - other than I felt that nothing small or intricate.  After all men, like Tim Allen, like all thing bigger and faster, right?

I purchased "music" fabric just estimating how much I might need for the queen sized quilts.

Then I began searching for some "big blocks"... I ended up settling on two quick to assemble blocks, which made the quilt tops go together very quickly.

When they were ready for borders, I knew that the piano key fabric was needed. I felt it needed mitered corners for the best look... Mitered corners are not something that I do often, in fact, if completely honest, I avoid them!  I pulled out my reference that offered detailed instructions for them and moved forward.

I was pleased with result!

I chose an overall cross-hatch for the quilting... nothing fancy... remember, these are for male teens!  The final results...

It was a great compliment from my husband when he said, "I really like the look of these."  While they may not be among my personal favorites, I feel good that they are the best "masculine" quilts I have made.  Not once did I hear the word "pretty" to describe them... Funky, trippy and different were among the descriptions, but NOT pretty.  And I consider that successful!

Put a song in your heart and have a great day!



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