Chugging Along on Christmas in July

August 6th, 2017

Week 2 of working on my Christmas felt kit ended with sequinning and sewing red stripes to the white rail that will eventually be sewn to the bottom edge of the train.

Christmas train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week 3 was all about sequinning and sewing red stripes, too, because there were so many of them. It was good to finish this, so I could move on to a really exciting week.

Christmas train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

In Week 4, the train transformed! I worked a little out of order, because I wanted to sew the appliques onto the green felt before sewing the entire piece to the background. It made sewing easier.

Every time I cut out a felt piece, I put the scraps into a bag for recycling. Bits of thread go into the bag, too. Next time I drive to Austin, I’ll drop the scrap bag (clearly marked “SCRAPS”) into an American Textile Recycling Corporation bin. To find out if ATRS has a bin near you, visit their website at www.atrscorp.com.

Christmas train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

Finding Life Valance

July 28th, 2017

Now that the Celebrate Doilies exhibit is up and running (details here), I’m taking a break to make other stuff. Yep, I can’t stop making.

We live in the country, so no one is close enough to peek into our windows. So since we moved into our house three and a half years ago, our windows have been bare. As much as I like the no-fuss nature of bare windows, they do look a little stark. So I’ve been making valances.

recycled vintage doily valance

A lady from Germany lived in San Antonio and loved to sew. When she died, her children went to their former German language teacher, Mary El-Beheri, asking, “Do you know of someone who would use and value our mother’s sewing things?” My mother, also a German language teacher, was Mary’s friend. Mary asked her if I would like the German lady’s fabrics and books.

That is how I came to have the fabric and trim for our new red and white dining room valance. Thank you to those students, the children of the German lady, for so thoughtfully taking care of their mother’s possessions.

recycled vintage doily valance or curtain

I think these filet crochet triangles must have been sewn to a table runner or dresser scarf. The sewn edge was frayed, possibly when someone snipped out the stitching.

But that’s okay, because those frayed edges are hidden in the fabric top of the valance.

recycled vintage doily valance

I cut a square crocheted table mat in half and bound the cut edges inside the fabric top of these cute little curtains.

recycled vintage doily valance

Pineapple patterns are among the most popular and beloved of crochet motifs. The pretty pineapple triangles are part of a crocheted chair set—they were meant to cover the back of an upholstered armchair to protect it from hair oil.

You can find the vintage instructions for making the crocheted pineapple chair set at Today’s Treasure. They have lots of old patterns for sale.

More curtains to come—we have a lot of windows!

recycled vintage doily valance

The Week Ends on Wednesday

July 21st, 2017

The week ends on Wednesday for my 16-week Christmas in July project. I admit it’s a head game. The lazy part of me doesn’t like having the week end on a Sunday, because if for some reason I’m waiting until the last minute to finish, then I would have to work on the weekend. It’s silly, but it seems to make me more relaxed about the week’s work.

July will be underway for another 10 days, so there’s still time to start a Christmas in July project. Here is an outline for creating a Christmas in July project plan:

  1. Decide on a project.
  2. When does it have to be finished? By December 24th, just in time to give it as a gift? Or around Thanksgiving, so you can use it for holiday decorating?
  3. From now, count how many weeks you have until your deadline. Alternatively, simply decide how many weeks you want to work on it. I chose 16 weeks for my project, because it will be done in plenty of time for decorating, with leeway in case another urgent project comes up, like it did last year.
  4. Divide the work of the project into the number of weeks you have. Remember to leave time for finishing, like sewing blocks together, weaving in ends, blocking, starching, and so on. Be reasonable as to how you divide the work, because the idea is to finish without feeling burned out or overly stressed.
  5. Make a list with each week number, the date the week ends (like my weeks end on Wednesdays), and the portion of the project to be finished by the end of the week.
  6. Get started and enjoy yourself throughout the process.
  7. Remember this is a tool to help you. Don’t use it as a tool to beat yourself up.

I finished my work for Week 2 at the last minute, on Wednesday the 19th:

Christmas train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

CWOW Continues

July 20th, 2017

Iced Water at the Cafe Rouge, a knitted, embellished quilt by Suzann Thompson, greeting cards

I’m resuming my letters to elected officials with these notes that will go in the mail on July 21, 2017. They’re about a seemingly evergreen topic, health care in the United States.

CWOW stands for Cold Water on Washington, because I’m using my greeting cards with an image of Iced Water at the Cafe Rouge, one of my early knitted, quilting wall hangings.

For the representative in Congress for Texas District 11, and for our Texas senators:

Dear Mr. Conaway,

Back in March, you sent me a letter which began, “Thank you for contacting me to express your views on abortion.”

But Mr. Conaway, I did not write to you about abortion.

I wrote to ask you to fund Planned Parenthood. Federal money cannot fund abortion, so what can your objection be?

As you know, the best way to prevent abortion is to prevent pregnancy. Planned Parenthood does this through education and affordable health care and birth control.

In fact I would bet that Planned Parenthood has prevented more abortions than you ever have.

So here’s a new slogan for you: “Prevent abortion—fund Planned Parenthood!”

Sincerely,
ST

Dear Senators Cruz & Cornyn,

I think you are lucky the BCRA failed. If it should come up again, please vote AGAINST it.

I would like for you to make basic health care and preventive care available to all Americans, paid for by taxes. Preventing disease or catching it early will save us money in the long run. Go ahead, ask the CBO about it.

Address the wildly increasing costs of health care. How about drastically lowering tuition and expenses for medical training, so graduates aren’t burdened with so much debt which they pass on to us? What about negotiating lower prices for medicines, medical equipment and procedures?

I look forward to your future open, better-informed, bipartisan efforts to improve our health care system.

Sincerely,
ST

P. S. for Sen Cornyn: Thank you for sending replies to my letters. I appreciate that.

Christmas in July 2017

July 19th, 2017

Christmas Santa train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla

Pacing myself to finish a Christmas project worked so well last year, I’m doing it again this year with this cute felt kit by Bucilla.

Boringly named “Train—Wall Hanging,” Bucilla kit number 86365 features Santa driving a steam train engine decorated with toys, gifts and ornaments, with a snowman catching a ride.

The kit, which I bought at Herrschner’s, my favorite mail-order needlework company, has 147 pieces printed on felt. When you see a piece marked with a solid line, you consult the instructions to find out which stitch and floss color to embroider the line with. Dots show where to attach sequins and beads. Dotted lines show where other pieces are to be sewn.

Christmas Santa train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla

It’s such an indulgence to have everything marked and thought out ahead of time by someone else! Kits like this include the felt, floss, sequins, beads, and needles. You provide a small amount of stuffing and other bits. “Train” requires chenille stems and cardboard for stiffening certain pieces.

For the next sixteen weeks, I’ll be working on nine or 10 pieces a week. And I’ll report to you here and on Instagram, which help motivate me to keep up with the plan.

And here’s the first week’s work finished:

Week one. Christmas train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

For more frequent updates, follow me on Instagram @suzannthompson (see sidebar for link).

Celebrate Doilies on March On! Texas

June 28th, 2017

Writer and historian Kelly McMichael offers a whole new spin on the Celebrate Doilies exhibition at March On! Texas.

press for Celebrate Doilies

Crochet Bloggers Spread News of Celebrate Doilies!

June 10th, 2017

Crochet Spot Celebrate Doilies blog post

I am very honored to have the Celebrate Doilies! exhibit featured in two well-known crochet blogs! Please follow the links and read new information and a behind-the-scenes look at Celebrate Doilies!

Rachel Choi hosts the popular Crochet Spot blog, where readers can find crochet patterns, news, and tutorials. “Taking a Chance on Doilies” is the name of the post about Celebrate Doilies! Chance comments and other coincidences figured strongly in the making of the exhibit.

* * * * *

Crochet Concupiscence Celebrate Doilies blog post

Kathryn Vercillo is the author of several books including Hook to Heal! (100 crochet exercises for health, growth, connection, inspiration and honoring your inner artist)–find a link to her book below. She studies and practices crochet and other crafts as therapy. Her blog is Crochet Concupiscence, where you’ll find Help Fiber Artist Suzann Thompson and Friends Celebrate Doilies.



Read lots more about the Celebrate Doilies! at my other blog, Curious and Crafty Readers.

Please contribute to the Celebrate Doilies Kickstarter campaign if you can.

Find exhibit dates, venues, and other details at www.textilefusion.com/exhibition-schedule.

CWOW Letters 6

June 9th, 2017

Cold Water at the Café Rouge greeting cards

The ill-fated and ill-conceived American Health Care Act was pulled from consideration minutes before a vote in the House of Representatives on Friday, March 24. These letters were mailed March 27, 2017. On May 4, the ACHA was passed by a narrow margin in the House and will move to the Senate for further consideration. I’m thinking about what to write to our senators about that, and I’m finding it difficult to keep it to the space of one greeting card.

Dear Mr. President,

You may not think so now, but you are very lucky that the American Health Care Act failed. That bill went against your promises to the American people: “insurance for everybody” and better healthcare for less cost. Yes, you promised these things and people believed you.

Now is your chance to make good on your promises. Take your time. Create a health plan that delivers the improvements you said we should expect.

Or, if you can’t do that, at least make changes to the Affordable Care Act so that it will deliver what you promised.

Mr. President, if you can develop and pass legislation that provides better health care at lower costs to all U. S. citizens and taxpayers, you can be proud for it to be called Trumpcare, and you will deserve to be considered for a second term in office.

Sincerely,
ST

Dear Representative Conaway,

We are all lucky the American Health Care Act failed. Now it is up to you and your colleagues in the House of Representatives to craft a healthcare bill that does the following:

  • Extends health care coverage to all U. S. citizens;
  • Funds preventive health measures, including birth control for those who wish to prevent pregnancy;
  • Brings down health care costs by subsidizing medical education and practice, so doctors do not carry such a heavy debt when they graduate from med school;
  • Mandates negotiating prices for medicines, medical supplies, and equipment, for citizens and for hospitals and physicians’ practices.

Please feel free to contact me about my family’s excellent experience when we used England’s National Health System for seven years.

Sincerely,
ST

PS I am embarrassed and very sorry that I misspelled your name several times. I will spell it correctly from now on.

* * * * *

The Senate got up to bad tricks the last couple of years, and caused our health insurance bill to skyrocket in 2017. The cause of the large increase to insurance customers appears to be this paragraph in the appropriations bill in December 2014:

SEC. 227. None of the funds made available by this Act from the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund or the Federal Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Fund, or transferred from other accounts funded by this Act to the ‘‘Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—Program Management’’ account, may be used for payments under section 1342(b)(1) of Public Law 111–148 (relating to risk corridors). (Source: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr83enr/pdf/BILLS-113hr83enr.pdf#page=362)

This paragraph ended a program put in place with the Affordable Care Act, which helped cushion insurance companies from unexpectedly high payouts. When the cushion was pulled out from under them, insurance companies passed on the costs to their customers.

There’s not much we can do about this after the fact, except urge our Senators to work hard to repair the Affordable Care Act and move it toward a single-payer health system.

Again, these notes were mailed March 27, 2017. I’ll be getting back to writing soon. There’s so much to do!

Dear Senators Cornyn/Cruz,

Well, thank goodness the American Health Care Act failed. Now it’s time for you to repair the damage you have done to the Affordable Care Act.

If Obamacare is collapsing, you have colluded in breaking it. I refer to Senator Rubio’s addition to appropriations bills which prevented planned payments to insurance companies serving high risk corridors, which had the effect of raising my family’s insurance rates by over 70% for 2017. Other citizens suffered even higher rate hikes.

Our insurance company’s letter notifying us of this rate increase was cleverly and suspiciously timed to arrive a couple of weeks before the November 2016 election.

Yes, Senator, we noticed that bit of flim-flammery you took part in. Is it your policy to make political points by hurting your constituents?

I demand that you UNDO the so-called Risk Corridors legislation to allow insurance companies to be reimbursed retroactively and rebates to be paid to customers. When that has been accomplished, you must legislate better and more affordable healthcare for all U. S. taxpayers.

Sincerely,
ST

Celebrate Doilies Kickstarter Campaign to Launch May 28–Please Donate!

May 27th, 2017

On Sunday, May 28, at 12:30 p.m. Central Time, I will launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to cover the remaining expenses of the Celebrate Doilies! exhibit you’ve been reading about on this blog.

Donation levels start at just $5.00, and there are rewards for each level. The more you donate, the better the rewards.

Please visit my Kickstarter page, and donate for art, for poetry, for heritage!

Celebrate Doilies! is a three-part exhibit. First there are doily-inspired art quilts by me. Here’s one called Winter Blues.

Winter Blues, a TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

Find in-progress photos of this wall hanging here.

Part two of Celebrate Doilies! is poetry by Sandi Horton. She was inspired by the crochet-work of her mother and grandmothers. Read her poem about this pretty green and white doily here (scroll down a bit).

green and white doily by Sandi Horton

The third section of Celebrate Doilies! includes stories and photos of doily crocheters past and present, and their work. Here’s one of the stories that will be in the show:

heritage at the Celebrate Doilies exhibit

The show will be beautiful, and your contribution will ensure that all the heritage posters and poems are printed and hung, and more.

I appreciate your support, and I look forward to sending your rewards!

CWOW Letters, 5

April 18th, 2017

Greeting cards reproducing Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

I sent these notes on March 12, 2017.

Dear Mr. President,

I read that you told an Israeli newspaper that settlements “don’t help the process” of negotiating lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. I am so glad someone finally pointed this out! Thank you!

Then, in a press conference, I heard you tell Mr. Netanyahu that you would like to see him hold back on settlements for a little bit. He looked surprised, but he needed to hear this.

All religious labels aside, those settlements represent a straightforward case of international bullying. It is pretty much drawing a line in the sand and saying, “Okay, like this is our side and that is the Palestinian side. Oh, and by the way Palestinians, we’re going to be building some apartments on your side and we’re gonna live there. But like, you are not allowed to come over to our side.”

What?! Like you said, this is not helping the peace process.

So please, please hold firm on this point.

Sincerely,
ST

* * *

Dear Senator Cruz/Cornyn, Rep. Conaway,

Please protect and fund the Environmental Protection Agency. [for Rep. Conway, Please vote AGAINST H. R. 861, which seeks to dissolve the Environmental Protection Agency.]

As you know, some people in our country wish to line their own pockets at any cost, including our health and the cleanliness of our environment. The EPA stands in their way, preserving our (mostly) clean water and air, among other benefits.

I want the continued protection of the EPA for myself, my family, and our fellow citizens.

ST