Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Almost the End of an Era

How beautifully trees grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.
~John Burroughs

Cleaning out continues. This time I found six yards of beautiful linen, a gift my parents brought me from Europe years ago - before my oldest was born. All these years I thought it was yardage for a shirt and doubted my ability to make it fit correctly. When I pulled it out this time it was only nineteen inches wide. {It must have shrunk while in storage.} Perfect for hand towels or dish towels - some to use and some to gift. There was enough for eight of each.

Linen hand towels
Sewing Specifics
Project: 16 linen hand towels
Size: 13" x 19"
Thread: 50- white Gutermann cotton thread
Approximate Yardage: 6 yd (but only 20" wide)


Remnants of a very old novelty stripe used to make a twin quilt for my youngest son were the next to surface from the stash. Ribbons of red or orange-and-yellow wiggle waggle between each row of critters. It made the stripe directional so the corner posts were needed to fill out the width of the quilt. Yes, we may all be getting tired of lone stars but I have the design down now and am interested in working out background variations. A few more ideas are wiggling around my brain. Haha.

Lone Star quilt 8 with salamander border

Softer colors were planned for the quilt but once I added orange it started looking like a gas flame and screamed for a stronger center star. There was just enough of the African print to put green and blue diamonds in the center and plain blue ones at the outer points.

Possible center stars on this lone star quilt

Ah, that saying: Pride goeth before the fall. Someone wasn't keeping the quilt straight as she quilted and the result is waves. Grr. But we all know the solution. Measure across the center for the binding widths and ease the sides in place.  As you can see from the first photo, everything worked out once it was washed and blocked. Whew.

The wave at the bottom happened when I didn't keep the packet squared up while quilting.

The egg print on the back is Birdwatchers by P and B Textiles from our dearest sister's stash. It's lovely and meaningful - almost too good for a back - but I'm sticking to my pledge to use the best stuff first. The yellow at top and bottom were needed to extend the length.

Detail of quilting and binding on Lone Star quilt 8 with salamander border and birdwatcher back

Why did I ever think I could create a stash of baby quilts ready to go? This one was gifted the day it was done.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 37"x37"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt yellow cotton
Quilting: Spiral with a walking foot
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yd


This photo of the original quilt using this fabric was in my files. It's amazing the 25 year old photo made the transfer through all those computers because the camera is long gone. My son loved playing at the creek so it includes every fabric I could find with aquatic life. Bugs and caterpillars fill the corners. You can tell I've always designed around limited yardage of any one fabric.

Every Critter in the Creek twin quilt

For a while I used the leftovers to make baby bibs. Then it just rested in the stash until this week. There is just enough border print before this era comes to a close.


Off the Bookshelf

Using a combination of patient and family histories, interviews with other professionals, and summaries of research, Dr. Gawande shines a light on elder- and end-of-life care in Being Mortal, another wonderful book from my shelf. After bookmarking twenty pages I finally just started underlining, something I rarely do with any but textbooks. He traces the evolution of elder care through family care, poorhouses, nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice.

We lose abilities with age and those with incurable diseases may face that issue sooner. Most of the current solutions fail to focus on the varied desires of the people for whom they're designed because "we want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love." Ranging from Plato to Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow to Keren Brown Wilson's community living model, he develops thoughts on "how to make life worth living when we're weak and frail and can't fend for ourselves anymore."

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Psychologist Laura Carstensen theorizes that "how we seek to spend our time may depend on how much time we perceive we have." As time horizons contract, whether through age or civil unrest, our focus becomes more immediate and concrete - family and simple pleasures.

Realization that life is finite "can be a gift." It drove the La Crosse, Wisconsin, hospital to develop a questionnaire for patients that ended up prolonging life, increasing peace in patients and their families, and reducing medical costs by starting family conversations about what people do and don't want before the crisis occurs.  They clarify how our lives continue to have value and reflect our goals when a cure is not possible. "You may not control life's circumstances, but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them."

As a surgeon, Dr. Gawande recognizes the drive of all medical professionals to fight for life but he points out that death will always win in the end. We need serious and truthful discussions to prepare for the inevitable consequences of both a disease and its treatment options.

The book also discusses chronic aspects of aging, not just diseases. One point was that looking down while eating prevents the choking that many elderly experience. This was particularly useful to me because both my mother and grandmother suffered from this. I wish I'd known sooner but will put it to use in my own life.

Being Mortal touches on a wide range of topics centered on a simple question. How do you create a meaningful life at every stage of it?

Enjoy the day, Ann

18 comments:

  1. Lovely star quilts...that book looks fascinating...thanks hugs, Julierose

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  2. Such gorgeous linens and so great that you will now be able to enjoy them. BTW, love the way your star points break your borders.

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    1. I'm pleased to be using them sin e they remind me of my parents. The second border improved the quilt.

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  3. I am not getting tired of your lone star quilts! This one is absolutely striking with the outer star border of rust and orange. Too funny that it already found a home and that you haven't been able to get a stash of quilts going. I guess you will have to keep making them!

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    1. I need to be faster or quiet about completing them. You must be in the same boat. It certainly is fun to have young friends.

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  4. Those kind of towels are used to dry dishes here in Sweden.They work better and better the more they are washed! I have some very treasured that my maternal grandmother wove after growing and spinning the flax!

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    1. That's good to know. I think of my parents each time i use them and that makes them a lovely memory. Thanks for telling me they get softer with use. What a treasure you have to own some your grandmother grew, spun, and wove. So special.

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  5. You come up with the best combinations. The quilt that you made for your son years ago was so innovative. I loved it.

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    1. How kind of you, Robin. I enjoyed making that quilt all those years ago and was thrilled to find a photo.

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  6. I love linen towels, and washing them does result in better and better!
    Your Lone Star quilts are wonderful. I think working in a series is great, you learn lots, getting better and better and getting more and more insight into what not to do and what to do.
    Thoughtful book for sure. At any point in life, from the first days to the last, being cared for, then giving care, then being cared for again, looking ahead patiently and treating others, young or old, the way we would want to be cared for.
    That would be a good book for high school and college age people to read.

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    1. You are the champ at working in a series, Janie. And you are so right that we learn by working through the iterations.
      I found the book very helpful and hope others do too.

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  7. End of an Era? Wow, hadn't thought of it that way, but your right. Love the linen, looks lovely.

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    1. This fabric has hung around so long I figured the critters must be extinct by now. I’m glad you like the linen, too. It feels great and I’m told will improve with age.

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  8. You say it looks like a gas flame. I was thinking more of a firecracker the way it extends out with all the color. I have a very talented sister!

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    1. Ooo. Love the firecracker visualization. Thanks, Sis!

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  9. Ann I thought I had left a comment here but on scrolling back down I see I am wrong! I admit to coveting your linen hand towels - wonderful. I found myself thinking that both quilts here had a similar colour theme but then I read that the last one is 25 years old, unbelievable.
    Your book by Atul Gawande is on my bookshelf and such an interesting and thought provoking read. Have you read his other two books 'Complications' and 'The Checklist'?

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  10. I wish I’d made them up years ago but I was drain the yardage was for a blouse. They remind me of my parents as I use them but I wish I could have showed them how lovely they look.
    Isn’t it amazing when we can find an old photo. I was surprised how similar the color were - and so many years apart.
    Atul is a talented writer. I haven’t read his other books but they are on my list - as soon as I clear a bit more off the bookshelf.

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Reading your comments is a pleasure. I usually reply here where everyone can join in to create great conversations.