Friday, July 27, 2012

A Question Posed

This next week will be very busy, so I am going to try and see if I can setup a post…. to post while I am at IQCAfrica.

When I told my sister that I was moving back to the USA, she asked me what I would miss about living in South Africa. I gave her a couple of things…. but I can think of several more.

  1. The FRIENDS I have made. Those that sew and those that don’t.
  2. The WEATHER. It’s hard to leave a place that is warm for most of the year, and the few cold days are just that, cold, but NOT freezing.
  3. The VEGITATION. So many different kinds and something is in bloom all year long.
  4. The WILDLIFE. Birds and animals, just like the flowers, there are so many different kinds… and they are very entertaining.
  5. The opportunity to EXPLORE. New cities, places, people and customs.
  6. The VETERINARIANS. They practice old fashioned medicine, and know what they are doing. Axel has done very well here, and we are not looking forward to the difficulties in the USA, again.
  7. THUNDER STORMS. Not that we don’t have them in the USA, but the intensity is amazing.

Of course there is the flip side, things I am looking forward to having again.

  1. FOODS. I have missed Cranberry Juice, cottage cheese, apple sauce and cheeses.  They have these here, but they are just not the same!!!
  2. QUILT STORES. Not just the quilt shops, but the choice. We don’t know how lucky we are in the USA. The cost of the goods is much less and the choices are much larger!
  3. DRIVING. On the correct side of the car and road, again.

As you can see the list of things I will miss is considerably longer that the things I am looking forward…. to.

As usual, I’ll have More Later- Beth

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Recently my friend Susara, was telling me about a group of ladies that she is working with at a church. These ladies have been making clothing and were finally tired of the same thing -so Susara was asked to teach them some quilting. She was so frustrated with the things she had to work with or I should say the things she didn’t have.


There are 2 groups of ladies at the church, those that make clothing and those that are learning patchwork. Notice the sewing machine in the picture -it is a hand crank sewing machine. Can you imagine sewing with only one hand… while the other turns the the flywheel, that makes the needle go up and down?

The fabrics they started with were more like decorator fabrics, the cutting implements dull -the rotary cutter and mat are Susara's personal items. Add to that only one iron and most of the ladies had difficulty threading the needles on the sewing machines due to eyesight.

So I went home and sorted through my fabrics. I removed most of the ones I just didn’t like, ones I didn’t use for the original project and therefore wouldn’t use in the foreseeable future…. etc. I pulled out about 40 pounds… maybe more I really didn’t weigh it.  Most were fat quarters, but there were several pieces of 1-3 yards. The next week I went back through my stuff …. looking a bit deeper. I found my cheater glasses (4 pair), lots of waxed hand quilting thread, some batting, patterns and the iron I dropped (still heats/no steam).

In the meantime I was emailing with Kelly at “I Have a Notion”, and mentioned my donation. Kelly insisted on helping and asked several of her friends if they had any items for the box. Kelly notified me that a box was on it’s way. Next hurdle was finding a date that I could get to the group to deliver the box. The day was yesterday.


Susara started to teach them making string quilts on a foundation. None of the ladies have a machine at home, so Susara has come up with ‘homework’, a hand piecing project. Here one lady is sharing her hexagons. Can we just say WOW! I recognize some of the fabrics in these too from my stash donation several weeks ago!  I have to say very impressive.



These are some of the string blocks.  And one of the first tops made with the string blocks. The border is also one of the larger pieces from my stash. Susara is having them all make string blocks so that they can all have a string blanket. These will be hand quilted, without a batting since they were done on a foundation.


I then interrupted to give them the box from the Kelly and Friends. This a picture of the ladies giving the goodies a quick look see. Margaret appraised the contents. Asked if it was for the ladies to share, and I said yes. She and one of the other ladies took the box to the corner…. and began to distribute. There are 7 ladies currently in the group, and they made 7 different piles…. and


put a piece of fabric in each pile until it was all distributed. One member, Rebecca was not there, but she will get hers next week! I must say that I got several very tight warm overjoyed hugs from these ladies. They could not believe their good fortune!!! These women are the working poor. They all have jobs, but their existence is hand to mouth and rarely have any $ left over at the end of the week. While this box doesn’t seem like much, it is truly a welcomed gift.


While the box was sorted, Susara showed the ladies how to layer a top and a backing, for sandwiching. Next it was basted. Susara asked if I would show them how to hand quilt. I didn’t have a thimble with me, but I faked it as well as I could.

I doubt if I will be able to get back to see the progress before I leave. Susara will be away in August, and I will be leaving Africa the first week of September. But if I can I will!!!

I am so glad that Kelly at IHAN and her friends sent the box!!!! These ladies will have so much fun stitching and creating. As I saw some of the fabrics being distributed…. I was drooling, since I haven’t seen many of them… in person or online either!


Don’t they just look over joyed and thrilled?

Thank you Kelly and Friends for helping me to pay it forward!

More Later- Beth


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big News… no pictures

Well the date I alluded to in the last post is now a known thing!

I have another date to share first. Next weekend is IQCAfrica! The International Quilt Convention Africa. It’s a big deal for South Africa. It’s only a 3 day event. I don’t think there will be much in the way of a quilt show. But there are workshops and vendors (many from the USA). I am taking an all day workshop on all 3 days. I will be spending time with Susan Brubaker-Knapp on Friday and Saturday taking her “Dragonfly Sketching” and “Start with a Photo” workshops. On Sunday I will be doing the “Goodbye to the Grid” with Dena Crane of Kenya. I will be staying at the venue- something I wouldn’t do if I were in the states, but the traffic daily between Pretoria and Johannesburg is just too unpredictable…. and why should I waste 2-3 hours a day driving?

I am looking forward to a weekend to myself, sewing and relaxing…. no meals to cook, no dogs to look after (not that I mind), a small break before the pace picks up.

The other date? We have orders! That means we are now able to start the move. In just a bit over 6 weeks we should be back in the USA. Our next location is Washington DC…. Of course we will be in a hotel until we find a house, which might be a little iffy, since we have 2 dogs. Everyone ‘says’ they have good dogs… even if they aren’t. The good thing is, mine are -Good Dogs. Neither chews on furniture or digs in the yard…. and are generally well behaved. But we will have to try and convince property owners of their good behavior. So if you are a real estate agent; or have a house to rent or sell…. let me know!!!

To complicate things, the office I work for is being relocated to Johannesburg right now too. Next week I begin the physical move of our warehouse of parts. Not a small task!!! It took me and a crew of four workers to get everything palletized and wrapped to move. Next week we take the first load of shelves and pallets…. and begin to unload and shelve the stuff. I think it will take me 4 weeks to get it all moved, organized and situated….

As usual, more later!  Beth

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Fast Lane

Since my last post about Mark…. life here has hit the FAST lane, well that is how it seems. Sure there has been down time… but not enough to do much with and certainly, nothing to write on the blog about, and the time thieves (those little things that eat up the time… but you can’t remember). Of course it doesn’t help when we are waiting for “The DATE”. I don’t think I have mentioned here on the blog…. that we will be returning to the states. 1 year before our tour is up, and a bit earlier than the 5 year plan we came with. The DH has been offered a new position, and of course he accepted. We will be returning to the DC area!!! Of course all the headaches that come with a move are now showing up. But more about those as they become more of a reality…. Once we have a date, it should move really fast.

One of the time thieves -one of my co workers was moving… and needed some assistance. She had some scheduling conflicts… so I volunteered to sit with the movers while they packed her belongings. The next week I took her to a medical test…. and picked her up later in the day. The other was Axel, since we have been here… his allergy thing has been much easier than in the states, but for some reason he has had 3 subcutaneous cysts burst. The most recent one was on his neck…. can we just say oh YUCK!!!! The physical part is easy, but it’s the twice a day meds that take up the time… and energy.

In the quilting department (and finally some pictures)… I have completed 2 more Birthday blocks for my friends and took my turn hosting the ladies. I nearly forgot that my date for hosting was at the end of June…. whew… I made Baked Ziti for dinner and strawberry short cake for dessert. It was delicious.

Corrianne-bday-blockAt the beginning of June we celebrated Corriannes birthday. She selected birdhouses for her blocks and provided a black background and a color swatch…. we could make any size of block…. She wanted ‘bright’ primary colors.

In the middle of the month we celebrated Laetitias birthday. Her block was very specific in size and background, which she provided. She has a plan and wanted a flower. If she had provided more background I would have made another!!!! Somehow I let that block out of the house without a picture!

The small group, belongs to the larger group, the Jacaranda Quilters Guild ofKwetter-block Pretoria. Each small group was asked to make a block to represent their small/home group. This was our block. We have all participated in the building of the block in some way. I did the quilting!!!

I also finished the last of the baby boy quilts. I was planning to ship it, but I don’t think I can squish it down enough to fit in the size box I can ship from here, (10” x 8” x 2”).

I also had to put a sleeve on the black, white & bright quilt, so it could be hung at a small show. So I spent a morning playing with a little Embroidery machine, a Brother, I bought before we left the states…. WoW how much fun can they be? I put the name of the quilt on the Sleeve, playing with several fonts and thread colors. I can see how and why some have the ‘super duper’ embroidery machines.

In between these few quilty things…. I have entered a baking contest at the Embassy 4th of July Party. And I won! THE Category (Brownie/Blondie), THE Extra Ingredient (macadamia nuts) and THE Overall Best Dessert!!! I submitted the Blondies and the Decadent Chocolate Brownie. Woo Hoo! I have sort of established myself as a baker here. I usually make something for the bake sale table and for the quilters, I take the dessert to the hostess. Sometimes its extravagant, like cheesecake, but sometimes as simple as snicker doodle cookies.