Friday, February 26, 2016

Meeting challenges and expectations

Long ago, when I first began cub scouting with my first son, I only had 16 years of girl scout experience to compare it with.

Suddenly it was a new ball game with parents involved. The first time my son made a pinewood derby car he was a third grader and could make the car himself with only a little support.

When the day of the race came, he was there early and had his car weighed, measured and checked in. As we were sitting waiting for the race to begin, there was one cub watching the door. Suddenly he jumped up and ran to the person entering saying, "Dad! Dad! Have you got the car?" The father answered, "Yes, I've got the car." "Can I see it?" asked the kid. "Yes, but don't touch it", replied the father.  Well, so much for kid-made cars, I thought to myself. Actually, my son's car did not turn out in the design he had first planned but somewhere along the way he noticed it looked more like a shoe so he had added two rows of small nails and laces. We knew nothing about the fine tuning of weight and wheel work and the car was not very fast but my son did feel he was a winner because he had managed to take that block of wood and make it into a car. I did notice that the cars that won were pretty high-tech for elementary school age kids.

A few years later, I became the cubmaster and made a few changes in the race. We began what was called "rough-cut days". We assembled saws and gouges and tools and provided help when the kids came with their drawings. We also opened a category for siblings and parents and leaders.

I told the parents to let their kid make his own car.
We helped with the weights and wheel tuning.

I told those parents half joking, "I'm the one to beat!" Thus began a long line of "cars". If you are interested in seeing past car designs, you can go to my and click on the label for 2012 and 2013.

After so many years of coming up with car designs, the expectations have become higher and higher and the challenge of doing something new, more and more difficult.

This year I toyed with the idea of making a bobcat.
It is the first rank a cub has to earn and I thought that might give the idea of coming in first.

Well, I googled some pictures of bobcats and none that I could find gave me any inspiration ... and I was running out of time as the race is tonight!

Well, "Owl win", says the owl, so I went with plan B. The only paint I needed was for eyes, feet and beak. I used a wood burner to add the feathers and markings. The wings are added from Magnolia wood and I just added acrylic varnish to help him shine. Several times parents have mentioned they were looking forward to seeing what I will make. Expectations for them, challenges for me!

In the quilting world, I have dug out a few pieces of fabric (all gifted by a friend as I never buy large amounts of fabric unless I have a purpose to use it.)

The center numbers will have a one inch strip of the yellow on each side and the finished quilt will have one inch of yellow around the entire border.

On the right is some tenugui fabric, on the left, a pastel stripe. That looks a bit pale but I intend to applique a vine and colored leaves over the strip. The leaves will match the numbers in fabric so will need to show up against the background.

Here are a few more I auditioned.
On the left is a pale pink stripe of hearts that I used on another baby quilt made in the fall.

on the right upper side is a pale olive batik-looking print and below a rather pale blue batik.

I will have to think this over a while. The baby will be a girl so the two left-side prints might be nice with pink.

The blue kind of matches the appliqued cat print but might it be saved for a boy quilt later on?

I wanted the quilt to be the same size as the sister's quilt so the side strips will be only 7 inches. I could cut the pastel strip to feature the blue.
Checking back, I see I used the tenugui fabric on the backing of the sister's quilt. Hmm, another challenge? Didn't I hear somewhere that facing regular small challenges is good for the brain?


  1. Oh I just adore your owl car - whooo whooo will win? I bet the owl will. Oh to be able to carve like that - you are amazing. I like the fabric on the right in the first photo - maybe a little stopper of about an inch between the center of the quilt and the border. I know you will make it magnificent.

  2. I always enjoy reading your stories and love how you let the kids do their own. I used to teach kids, tole painting and they always did so well on their own. Love the quilt and pink is nice for a girl, I know you will pick the perfect one and it will be beautiful. I am brainstorming to come up with one for the shower in two weeks, they decided to have it a month early, ugh.


  3. What a delight to see your owl. I never had doubts that you would rise to the challenge of expectations. I like the tenugui fabric (that is the bright one, right?) the best, leaves or no leaves. Therefore, the tenugui fabric must naturally be the most expensive. Is this true? That's how it always works out for me.

  4. Regular small challenges!! I could do without any at all, and guess you could too.How are things in your home and heart? Yes, parents would like to help any small person to make a better car, write a more interesting story, get all the maths questions right, but this is not how life is in reality.I love that owl bob sledding down a steep slope, wings held tight, eyes on the finishing line far ahead. You could write a whole story, if only he had a name. Hugs sent with love.

  5. You are SO talented!! This is a great car!

  6. Love the owl! I took part in the parents race a few years and got best design for my sewing machine once. But then they changed the voting for design to viewer choice, so of course a block of wood covered with fuzzy fabric and googly eyes appealed to the kids more than a flower box with silk flowers.
    Sandy in the Uk

  7. LOVE your owl!! It's the perfect choice and a winner for sure!! As far as your quilting goes - I like the fabric on the right in your first photo - the tenugui - and if you used it on the back of the sister's quilt - it seems somehow appropriate to use it on the front of this one. It's bright and cheerful and you may not even need to add the appliqued vine and leaves - you already have the cute little cats in each number that can be counted.

    Regular small challenges - at least they're good for something besides making us nuts - ;))

  8. Love your numbers quilt. What a great idea for a child's quilt and your colors are perfect. Someone asked me for suggestions on making a child's quilt. I'm going to show them yours!

  9. Love your owl, looks very determined.
    I like that very bright coloured fabric rather than pale since yellow background is strong. Good luck with fabric audition!

  10. Your carved derby cars are stunning. I can see why the parents wait to see what you design next.
    Good luck with your quilt planning.

  11. Hi Julie, Your owl car is so beautiful and elegant. How in the world do you do that? It looks fast too! And the baby quilt is just precious - so colorful and fun. That is one lucky baby. You inspire us with your creations! Hugs from Q.I. gals.

  12. Stroke of brilliance to add a parent/sibling category to the pinewood derby. Get those adult hands out of the children's work! When I taught fourth grade I hated when parents would take over. Never good for the kids' development or self esteem. Anyway, your owl is yet another stunner! You will figure out the backing for this your next cute kids quilt! Tenugui gets my vote as you are known for your tenugui backings!

  13. What a beautiful story Julie! Beautiful work on the wooden car, and your quits are a pretty background! Thanks for visiting my blog as well and your kind comment!God bless you friend, Stay well!