Sunday, September 4, 2016

Emergency Stitching Detour

So I started out my stitching time today with more free motion quilting on my yoga mat. I'm about 2/3 finished already! Then, as I'm happily quilting along, I remember...

Tomorrow is the Soup Party!

The Eck Soup Party is an annual family reunion (on my Mom's side) steeped in tradition and each year's enormous kettle of beef vegetable soup. If you're picturing a big pot of soup on a stove and thinking, "Wow, what a lame concept for a reunion", let me enlighten you. The original soup kettle for this every-Labor-Day event was a cast iron pot you could have cooked a missionary in, if you were a cannibal family, which we're not. My Mom was one of 14 children, 12 of whom survived to adulthood to procreate and require ever-increasing quantities of soup, so a huge kettle was a must. A few decades ago when my Grandpa Eck passed, the original soup pot was replaced by a somewhat lighter weight version one could still cook a good-sized child or two in (again, we are not so inclined).

There is no soup like soup party soup. It's rich and beefy and full of fresh-from-assorted-farms veggies. Several family members start prepping it at 7 AM so we can sit down to lunch at noon, when the cry of "Soup's on" is met by a stampede of Ecks young and old heading for the park pavillion. (Did I mention that we rent the park for the day? The whole park.) By the end of the party, the soup is even better. We (almost) fight over the leftovers, which go home with families and get carefully stowed in freezers for mid-winter soup party rituals involving lots of crackers and a bit of vinegar to refresh the flavors. I warned you there were traditions.

Carved wooden box by my uncle, Greg Eck

Another tradition of the Eck Soup Party is the arts and crafts raffle table. This is a class-A affair with nary a foam refrigerator magnet in sight. Among my relatives are many talented woodworkers (Grandpa Eck was a well-known local carver), painters, seamstresses, and all-around crafters. Heck, I have cousins who hand-craft the prize horseshoes for the horseshoe tournament each year! So the raffle table is a must-stop for everybody. And every year, I add my contribution, usually a small quilt or other fabric project.

But I forgot to plan something this year! So this morning when the realization hit me, I searched frantically around my sewing room for ideas. And I found some orphan quilt blocks. And I remembered that in my Mom's stash (still in my sun porch waiting to be disbursed from when we cleaned out her apartment in February) were some pretty nice pillow forms she had snagged on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics. Problem solved!

I got to work sizing up one of the blocks by adding top and bottom strips, and then making an envelope back. Here's how that one turned out:

And then I decided to get fancy, because that's how I roll. I had an elaborate paper-pieced block I made when I did a review of Penny Layman's book, The Paper-Pieced Home, and it was exactly the right size for a 14" pillow form. But it needed something at the edges. Like...piping! But I didn't have any piping cord on hand. No problem...I'll use a triple strand of yarn! It actually worked out pretty well, and the pillow is so cute I'm tempted to keep it. But I won't. Because I want there to be many more Soup Parties in my future.

So, if you were an Eck, which of these pillows would get YOUR raffle tickets?


  1. I love finding purposes for orphan blocks! I would take either pillow. The smaller one would be a fine pillow to prop my arm on (a habit I developed post shoulder surgery). But I do love the sewing machine pillow. I would have to add it to my 'machine' collection. Enjoy your soup & family.

    1. We had a great day, and my niece Lara won the clamshell pillow and my cousin Carolyn the sewing machine pillow. Great homes for both of them!