Wrapped Up in Art

I still have the quilt that my grandmother made for me when I was a child.  Though no longer in the best condition, it has a special significance and is still warm.

Over two years ago, I started a quilt for my now five year old.  But after realizing how much of my time it took, I decided that I’d finish it the next summer when I’d have more time.  Of course, when next summer came, it did not get done.

I had pretty much given up on finishing it until about a month ago.  My older three children already have a hand-made quilt from me, but my youngest son does not.  I knew I had to do something.

I mostly learned how to quilt by reading quilt books, experimenting, and especially by making and fixing lots of mistakes.  For example, I really wanted to make an eight-pointed star quilt several years ago.  I’d cut on the bias and pieced everything just as I had read in a quilt book.  But when I’d finished the final stitch, my star did not lay flat.  I felt frustrated.  Rather than give up, I got out some scrap fabric and started over – that day.  I was determined that if the lady smiling back at me on my quilt book could make this, then so could I.  But this time I was more careful and aware of the seam allowances.  And after the final stitch, it laid flat.  This was a lesson for me.

In light of my busier schedule with homeschooling, for my youngest son’s quilt I chose a simple pattern – squares and rectangles – with the theme of cars since he loves cars.

Though I pieced the quilt fairly quickly with a sewing machine, I decided that I didn’t want to machine quilt it.  (In the past, I’ve found that the machine jerks the quilt too much when quilting the final patterns.  It’s also difficult to stay on the lines.)  Instead, I prefer hand quilting because it gives me more control over the stitches and more accurate stitch results.  But the problem with hand quilting is that it takes a lot of time.

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Putting on the binding…close to being done.

So I have been waking up at 6 a.m. most mornings for the last 30 days hand quilting for an hour before everyone else gets out of bed.  (Yes, I’ve easily spent over 30 hours hand-quilting this.) At first, I wasn’t enjoying it.  I admit it.  It felt like another of my long list of things to do.  I even put myself in a routine just to get through it and get everything done.  But towards the end, something changed.  The peacefulness I felt in just having a little time to myself to think while I hand quilted made a difference in my day.  Now that I’m done, I’m even considering making another quilt.

The lesson for me in finishing this quilt was that when I put my mind to it, I finally started to get somewhere.  Making a quilt is a big project requiring a plan, time, and effort.  But the thought of having created a piece of art that my son will be able to wrap himself in for years to come makes me happy.  And now he will have his own quilt like everyone else.

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The Explorer’s birthday is this week, and guess what he is getting as one of his gifts?

Keeping Your Lego Sword Close – Wordless Wednesday

The Architect, 8, came up with this nifty idea for a place to carry his Lego Sword: with a Lego piece attached by his belt.

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This is quite the useful piece.
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Sword slides right in and stays in place. 🙂

Coming next week: an in-depth review of our first quarter of school.

Lego Swords – Wordless Wednesday

The latest original creations from the Lego enthusiasts around here:  Lego swords.

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Designed by the Investigator and the Artist.
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Designed by the Architect.
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The Explorer, of course, also designed his own sword.  He named it Orcrist the Clown Cleaver.

It’s always an adventure.

Week 7 – Beyond the Lessons – Building Within

Week 7 – Have you ever noticed all the learning that goes on when the books are put away and the lessons are done for the day? Often it’s the time we have to ourselves – when we can construct what we choose – that we learn a great amount.

The Architect, 7, came running up to me this week – so excited to show me what he had built on his break!  He’d designed an igloo made of white Legos from his buckets and buckets of pieces.  Alongside this igloo stood a little man wearing a blue hat to stay warm.  Later he showed me a house and floor plan he’d imagined which included a unique roof, a ladder, a bed, a black-hatted man, and an ‘X’-shaped window.  Beside this was a car he made with the same little blue hat man from before sitting behind the wheel.  Think of all the ideas he used building these!

A house and car built by the Architect.

The Explorer, 4, loves when his big brothers are done with their work, since he then has instant play pals and learns so much from being around them.  He showed me some little men and a ‘flying bird fang ship’ he’d created.  Notice the mixed and matched heads and bodies on these men and women Lego people.  So much fun!

Winged bird ship behind the little men constructed by the Explorer.

The Investigator, 10, observes many things – little details that I often miss in my busy life.  He designed this three story house with removable levels that include internal structures such as stairs, a bed, and even a burning torch lamp for nighttime reading.  Imagine all the concepts he learned by constructing this!

A 3-story house made by The Investigator.
An above view of a layer from the 3-story house showing stairs, a TV, and a yellow chair.
With the roof removed – another level of the 3-story house showing a bed with a burning lantern beside it and a dividing wall.

The Artist, 12, builds her own unique structures. She built this mini Lego castle complete with an arched window and doorway.  She has also begun knitting and is currently crafting herself a scarf.  Think of all the counting she’s getting in while working with those many rows of thread!  😉

The Artist’s castle.
The Artist’s knit scarf in progress.

This week I chose to spotlight instead another important subset of our day.  Although we did do our usual school work as scheduled, it was the time the books were closed when other interesting structures were built.  Free time spent working on constructive activities can teach us so much, and we are more likely to internalize and remember the knowledge we gain – to build within – because we are choosing to do something we want to do.  Children notice details and are constantly gaining understanding – often when the books are closed.

Perhaps this is what Albert Einstein meant when he was said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge…”.