Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Stopping by to say Hello

Stopping by to say Hello

imperfect patchworkGlad to have you back, Readers.

Today I'm in the blog neighborhood for a chat. Most of what you find here are articles. Lately, though, I've been pulled in different directions. Here's one.

Years back, when a new homemaker, I did some quilting. With household moves in succession - keeping much of our things in storage - quilting faded into the past. Then, homeschooling was a practical concern and much of my spare time was given to reading.

I'm still reading. I read for hours. But lately I've been dabbling in quilting again. I've started with doll size quilts in the "scrappy" old-fashioned look.

Imperfect Patchwork
In my attic office/sewing room I have a chair which seems to be used, these days, more for laying out a small quilt design than for sitting in. The fabric sticks to it nicely. My sewing machine is next to this chair making it handy to sew pieces and return them to their orderly position. Oh, how frequently I change my mind! In the case of this simple quilt I decided the pink dotted flowers, for setting the squares, were dizzying. I ripped out what I had sewn so far. It is rare that I sit down to sew anything without using my seam ripper on some change or mistake. If points don't meet I will rip out and sew it again.

Sometimes, when points don't meet exactly, even when I'm being careful, I'm satisfied. I leave them just as they are. These misses may look noticeable when the the quilt block is flat, but quilting the layers tends to soften the lines and minimize imperfections. And isn't it these slight imperfections that give charm to a homemade quilt?
the scrappy look

I recently bought a rotary cutter but haven't used this modern streamline-method yet. Instead I measure the pieces as accurately as possible with a quilt ruler and cut the pieces out with scissors.

easy doll quilt with squares
I read that for scrappy patchwork, if I like the colors I shouldn't be concerned about them clashing when placed side-side. If the same color is used in at least one other spot, it creates a somewhat planned appearance. I followed this advice with my quilt. Can you tell?

I baste layers together generously because I don't use a hoop. It is easier on the fingers to hand-quilt without one.

Because I lack confidence I quilt in the ditch of each square. But I'd like to stitch some designs into the quilt squares I'm piecing now.

After watching a YouTube on how to sew on a binding I ordered a "walking foot" for my machine. What a fabulous tool for preventing puckering. And while I was at it, a piecing foot, too - that keeps my scant one-forth-of-an-inch seams consistent.

I'd like to hang this quilt somewhere.

stone house in autumn

Autumn Colors
One scrawny wild-in-the-woods-maple is showing a beautiful shade of red leaves. Splashes of autumn color are finding their way in the doll quilt I'm piecing now (not shown) - and found their way into a skirt I made for myself.
 A remnant on the bargain shelf - of a store five minutes into town - caught my eye. 
Right there I dreamed up a frugal three tiered skirt.

skirt in fall colors

Other Writing
Another direction I've taken is "other" writing. I made a good start on something secretive. In the middle of this writing Israel Wayne contacted me. He is building a website where homeschool pioneers tell their story. I felt honored to be invited and was busy writing for it last month. I hope to link to his website when the article is in place.

Once in a while my writing appears in a magazine. I am happy to help spread the word about Miss Charlotte Mason's ideas which are to this day as-relevant-as-ever. Hours and hours go into writing one article. This article appeared in The Renewanation Review that promotes Christian worldview education.

My family came together for my birthday. It was joyous. We are infrequently all together. That same Saturday Dean's friend from Bible college and his wife, were touring in Lancaster and stopped by. My daughter asked them to take an impromptu photograph.

Baby Eloise is getting a little bigger.

I've been knitting a cardigan for her in tutti-fruity colors.

I always knit sleeves in-the-round.


knitting sleeves in the round

Daniel and Yolanda (left in photo) drove me to see my parents for a week-end in early autumn. I brought my knitting. When I got home I was surprised to find the sleeves did not match the body of the cardigan with the right amount of stitches - when attempting to attach them to the yoke. While packing my suitcase in haste I  scribbled down the stitches to be cast on and my eye must have landed on the wrong number - (haste-makes-waste). I ripped out the sleeves and started over. Anyway, it is coming along.

Here's a tip for cardigans. Slip the first stitch of each row. This forms a much neater edge. (See above.)

To hold my double pointed needles together I bought a set of plastic coils. I like how tidy they keep my narrow dp needles especially.

Here is a link for Clover Coils.

They come in small and large.

Nigel and I went to Philadelphia to see our pain specialist. Nigel has made very small improvements. I'll be honest. My chronic pain level has risen. The medicine I've succumbed to taking has side-effects. But I'm hanging in there. Mornings are my golden hours when I can accomplish tasks. Afternoons are restful. I've been a naturalist of sorts, and probably have eaten a barrel of locally grown broccoli this year. Still, I thank God for family, modern medicine and for creative Mother Culture.

Facebook is new for me. Welcome to my Author's Facebook Page. 

I've been reading the names of each person that has "liked" the quotations and excerpts I've posted. Keep walking with Jesus, my friends.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola


  1. I loved this post! Your quilt is quite colorful and it was so nice to hear of all your goings on. I always come here to feel encouraged in my efforts and undying belief that life can be gracious and beautiful!! Sometimes I feel sorely tested by the garish noise of the world, but here I find solace. Thank you so much for that!

  2. Hello Karen,

    Loved the chat and catching up with you here. The grandchildren are growing so fast and the baby Eloise is precious! All of your children too look so well.

    I am sorry to hear the PM doc couldn't offer more hope or help. I saw my doctor today, who had just returned from a Neuro conference in Las Vegas, and she couldn't offer much more hope or help either. No cure for us on the horizon, yet. More drugs, yes:-( Has your doc mentioned the neurostimulator to you and Nigel yet. You may wish to obtain information, if not. Some of us are candidates. I am , but not sure I want such an invasive piece of equipment zipped up into me! The other alternative is medical marijuana, which I sort of blush to mention here, but it is more natural concerning pain relief than the toxic drugs. What to do? Lots of prayer right now. Please know I still pray for you and Nigel.

    I am glad to connect via FB-it seems the way social media is leaning. I did redesign my blog. I hope you'll stop by and offer your critique. It has a more old-fashioned feel, I hope. The designer "got me":-) I am having an apron give away too , by Joyful Aprons. She makes such lovely aprons!

    Look forward to chatting again soon with you.

    Your friend,


  3. Thank you for sharing your projects and photos. Eloise is such a pretty baby! How nice to have a little girl to knit for. God bless you all :-)

  4. Dear Karen, I'm so sorry to hear of your chronic pain. I can only say I sympathize with your frustration in your limitations. I do not suffer from chronic pain, but I do deal with several health issues which sap my energy and make it very difficult to manage a busy household and homestead. It's just so frustrating when we want to be busy and industrious, but need to rest so frequently.

    I second Suzanne's suggestion to consider medical marijuana for pain relief. Before aspirin was invented, doctors used to describe cannabis tincture for pain relief. I wonder if something like that is even available today?

    Anyhow I hope you (and Nigel) are able to find some form of relief. I have said a prayer for you both today.

  5. Hi Karen,

    I am new to reading your blog and I appreciate its soothing words and pictures.
    It was a pleasant surprise to find this update today and I am sorry that you and your son are dealing with chronic pain. I will pray for both of you.

    Last year was our first year homeschooling after my first three kids (we have six) had already been in a private Christian school for years. It was a tough transition and I would have put them on the yellow bus if I hadn't discovered and read A Charlotte Mason Companion over Christmas. I found myself in l tears of joy and relief as I slowly realized that I could do this in a way that worked for my family and it could be gentle and enjoyable.

    This year is gong much better and I am learning so much along with my kids. It is so wonderful to break up the day with sweet moments of studying a Rembrandt, learning to sew on buttons or a walk in the fresh air. I feel closer to my children and more aware of what is important in their education.

    With gratitude,

    Near Cincinnati, Ohio

    1. One wish I have for everyone who reads "A Charlotte Mason Companion" that each will say, "I can do this." Therefore, when I hear a report of how a mother makes personal Miss Mason's principles, I am truly happy. Thank you for taking the time to tell me, Melissa. This is good news, indeed. I sounds like you are enjoying your own personal adventure of the gentle art of learning.

      It is kind of you to be concerned for us. I cringed a bit while being honest about how we're feeling. You have your own burdens, surely. Nigel and I had options offered to us but we are not up to more intrusive treatments just yet. Perhaps mm will be legal in Pennsylvania in future. I met a lovely homeschool family this summer. The dad, who was a soldier, had a neurostimulator in place and felt so much better.

      It is good to hear from you. Karen A.

  6. What a lovely family you have Karen! It's so nice to see an updated picture. My, how time flies!

    I, too, am sorry that you and Nigel are suffering. You will both be in my prayers.


  7. I really enjoyed your newsy email. :) I bought a rotary cutter but it took me quite awhile to give up my traditional scissors. When I finally switched over (for cutting certain fabrics) I was so pleased! I hope you'll try it soon. I still often think of you and Nigel and continue to pray for your health.

  8. Love your little quilt! It will get easier with each quilt you make, as does any thing new you try. Just another word of careful when changing the blade on your Rotary Cutter (ask me how I know)!!
    Also, your house is beautiful from the outside picture you shared. I too live in PA, but a little closer to Philadelphia than you.

  9. I enjoyed the nice to gather all your family together. We forget how quickly small children change. It's like the autumn leaves that you just wish could stay as they are a little longer!

    I pray that you and Nigel may have relief from pain.


  10. We enjoyed your post about quilting and the photos of your family and house. You have a beautiful family. Sorry that you and Nigel are not feeling any better. Will keep both of you in our daily prayers. Wishing you a year of happiness,HEALTH and blessings.

    God Bless
    Marilyn,Joan and Marion

  11. This is like having a visit with you! Fun.

    Your quilt turned out very well! You should hang it somewhere!

    Praying always for you and Nigel.


  12. Karen, your little quilt is just lovely. Those little corners that don't quite line up just add to the charm of the quilt. I have a top made that has one area with which I am not happy, but since it doesn't want to line up just so, I'll leave it as is. You should try your rotary cutter. It, along with the one-quarter inch foot, makes the pieces go together much more easily. Just make sure you have your cutting mat under your fabric before you cut. Ask me how I know about that! Sometimes I wonder about myself.

    Your little cardigan yarn is beautiful. I hope we will see a photo when your sweet granddaughter is wearing it.

    I am sorry to hear you and Nigel are still not feeling better. I am going to add you both to our church's prayer list.

    Your family photo is beautiful. I know you must be happy when everyone is together. Praying for the Lord's blessings on you all.


    P.S. Something secretive? If it comes from your pen, it will be wonderful. Can't wait!

  13. I so enjoyed this post! The pictures of your quilting projects are so pretty and inspiring. I agree that the random choosing of colors does make for a very old-fashioned quilt. Eloise is adorable! The sweater you are working on is so sweet. Thank you for the tip about slipping the first stitch. I will try to remember that. You are in my prayers!!


  14. Hello, Karen!

    I finished a quilt for my son's birthday. Not being yet brave enough to try my hand at quilting, we took it to a local quilt shop for finishing. Seeing the finished product has inspired me to work on a quilt I've been dabbling at for several years now. My son (the one who will receive the birthday quilt) called it my, "eternal quilt." This is not in reference to the quality of my work or the enduring nature of something that can be passed down. He is, rather, with tongue in cheek, referring to the amount of time it has taken me to get to this point in the work! I chuckled and called him a rat fink.

    Enjoy this lovely autumn.

  15. I'm smiling. It is good to keep a sense of humor with our "projects" isn't it? Today I came to terms with the fact that I won't have the small hand-quilted table centerpiece completed in time for Thanksgiving --- because I prefer not to feel rushed. Hurry takes the pleasure out of so many things.

    I always enjoy our visits. Karen A.

  16. What a lovely chatty post. It was so nice to visit. I feel for you about the knitting. I started some socks recently and ended up tearing them all out. I haven't had the fortitude to start them again. ~smile~ The quilt is wonderful. I haven't quilted since my second child was born 18 years ago. I've been too busy with kids and homeschooling and reading and...and... and.... You get the picture. I enjoyed my visit with you today. Seeing your family was wonderful. Blessings to you all! Laura Lane of Harvest Lane Cottage

  17. I used to read Laines Letters and I remember how good it was to read how she dealt with fatigue the same way I did by doing most work in the morning, knowing she would be on the sofa by evening. The same with reading your challenges. Just knowing we are not alone and that God can use people with less than perfect health! Of course, I have so long appreciated your writing.

  18. Belated congratulations for your birthday! How glad you must have been to have your family near you. And what a pretty photo of all of you.
    Your house in autumn looks lovely and peaceful. And I love the soft colors of the tiny cardigan.
    Sorry to hear Nigel and you are still in pain. I hope so much you will feel better some day. Keeping all of you in my prayers, Martina

  19. How fun to have everyone together! Miss Eloise is just beautiful, as is your quilting. Hugs!

  20. Hello Karen,
    Lovely blog post! Just wondering...are there any plans to re-publish the original homeschool series?

    1. Charlotte Mason Research will no longer be keeping Miss Mason's books in print. We have been in contact with another company who hopes to supply people with an easy-to-read, accurate version through various mediums. At present we have unused copies of Home Education and Philosophy of Education in stock - over-runs from previous print-runs. Those interested may write me for details.

      I'm working on an article for my next blog post. See you, Karen A.

  21. I just want to quickly thank you for the reviews of Boyhood and Beyond and the other books for boys. My husband works a lot of hours and it has been hard for him to do things like go through good books with our boys but narration came to the rescue and I have a plan. I made a copy of the contents page which lists each chapter title and glued it inside their written narration notebooks. I am going to assign them two chapters per week and have them simply narrate (verbally) to their dad. He can wrote his initial next to the chapter names so I know they got to them. I'm excited because I know that the subject matter will spark some needed conversations and he won't have any presure to read the book himself.

    Also, thank you for your kind response to my earlier post. I think of you and pray for you and Nigel. Our pastor preached a wonderful sermon on 1 Timothy 2:1-8 last week and I have been learning about the importance of praying for others. Thank you for sharing your need.


    1. Dear Melissa,

      Your plan seems well-thought-out. We home teachers have an ideal in our minds of how we'd like things to be "just right" or "just like so-and-so's family." But it is always encouraging to read of an instance where a mom can work around this - to good ends withing her personal circumstance. Your plan shows the "gracious way" of approaching your aim for a father-son blessing. It just so happens that I will be bringing "Boyhood and Beyond" into my next post. I've been polishing the article - around company,cooking, and making gifts - and it will be ready soon. I haven't gathered pictures for it yet. Thank you for writing me. Thank you - very much - for your prayers. Karen A.