Thursday, February 14, 2019

Back in the Saddle

Many things have happened in the nearly two years since I wrote last.  Most of them had to do with a family member's health, now being slowly restored, that took up time and psychological energy that in turn required having down time to restore that energy.

But now I am back in the saddle, and then some.  In fact, so busy with life at full tilt that I STILL haven't had time to blog.  Hopefully, now that I have finally remembered my blogspot password, I can now do a little updating and then on to realtime living!
We took a Viking Riverboat cruise called the Danube Waltz up the Danube from Budapest, Hungary  to Passau, Germany, visiting magnificent castles, government buildings, churches and town highlights along the way. 

This trip was our belated honeymoon.  Our wedding was in May, 2017, but the trip was during April, 2018, and it was magical.  At night we would glide slowly by towns and  countrysides with their churches and castle all lit up  like Disneyland.  It took my breath away.  By day we would take bus or walking tours of the cities or we would visit a distillery to sample the schnapps or to a farm to learn how to make various breads or to see Hungarian horsemen perform on beautiful HUGE horses.
The ship had a superb chef and a talented and attentive crew who would perform for us sometimes.  The food was exceptional and would often include local traditional fare as well as the beautifully executed culinary bounty provided by our chef.
It is very smooth sailing on a flat bottomed riverboat.  You glide serenely, and there is no rocking about.  The weather couldn't have been better - temps in the 70's, clear skies, no polution, so you could see for miles and miles.
Sometimes I thought the clustered and quaint houses with their central church reminded me of the smaller towns in Pennsylvania, where I spent a lot of time walking with my grandmother.  To the observing eye, it seemed like a simpler time, and I  wanted to get off the boat to visit with the local townspeople, who could speak English,, and just "visit" informally.  
We had signed on for only 7 days -- way too short for such a rich experience, but when we made the reservations, we thought we would have to limit the time away from work for my husband.  
But as luck would have it, he was between jobs at the time, so we could have stayed for two weeks, which I would recommend if you're not a frequent visitor of Europe.  He's retired now, so we will have more scheduling freedom in the future.
That's all for now.  
More about quilting on another day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Hello all you patient people who have been waiting for me to extricate myself from the morass of this past year and put my blog back in business.

I have a new blog: Ladycat Quilting.  Go to to see it.  I also have a new business:  Ladycat Qulting; a new location: Owings Mills, MD; a new status: divorced; and a new life: My Guy (more of that in the new blog).

Thank you to all who encouraged me through this tumultuous year and stood by me while I ranted, cried, put on my big girl panties and lived into a miracle I never realized could happen.

Donna Turner

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Here are the first six blocks of Elegant Garden applique designed by Edyta Sitar.  I had to scramble to get them all done by last night since our embroidery class was today.  Now we have the next 6 to do before July 12th.  The entire disk holds 24 designs in all.

I promised myself if I got all my customer, baby gift and applique blocks done in time, I would reward myself by learning how to use the Quilt Design Creator software from Husqvarna Viking that I ordered a few weeks ago.  You might not hear from me for a few days while I start on those lessons...

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I finally finished the binding for the baby quilt I made last week.  The shower is tomorrow.  Almost new mom and dad have decorated the baby's room in woodsy themes, so, since it is a boy, I kept to plaids and a forest color scheme.

The back of the quilt is very fine corduroy in a black, tan and red hound's tooth pattern.  This is soft and hopefully durable.

And here it is, all wrapped up and ready to go tomorrow.  Woo hoo!

Friday, June 1, 2012


Edyta Sitar has a beautiful collection of 24 Baltimore album-type blocks called Elegant Garden available on a DVD for embroidery in many formats.  The embroidery group offshoot of my quilting guild has taken on the task of learning to make this highly stylized, formal, and beautiful machine appliqued/embroidered in the hoop, guided carefully and expertly by Sherry N, our guru embroidery software teacher.

This is block #2.  After we finished block #1, Sherry said that we had just finished the hardest block in the collection, and we all went around and patted ourselves on the back about how well we had done the first time at bat. 

Sherry lied.  I thought this second block was harder than the first.  It's the cutting.  Even using the spoon billed applique scissors, it is very hard to cut one micron away from the placement thread. And it really does need to be extremely close to those stitches, because otherwise, excess fabric will show beyond the satin stitch.

 Sometimes I have erroneously cut through the placement stitches, but Sherry has a nice little trick to keep our appliques in line:  we line our fabric with Steam-A-Seam.  Once it has been anchored by the placement stitches, we trim the excess away and then iron the fabric to the background.  So now, no matter how many stitches you may have accidentally cut through, that sucker won't come off of there while the zigzag stitch and then the satin stitch is applied.

Here is block #3.  This one was definitely easier.  Not so many inner curves to cut out.

I have three more to do before the 7th.  But I need to bind that baby quilt first.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I have a quilting friend whom I have never met, Sue B.  We were introduced through the Quilts of Valor program.  I happened to quilt some of her patriotic quilts that were ultimately donated to wounded soldiers.  She chose me to quilt some of her own works of art, too.  Eventually, she told her friends about me, and I am happy to say that several have taken the chance and sent me their work as well.

The latest "friend" quilt is this repro beauty that measures only 30" x 30", but was every bit as labor intensive as if it were queen or king size.  Each block is only about 3.5" square, but I had to cram a 24 feather wreath into the ones with the appliqued circle and star in them and outline the circle as well as digitize a five petaled star in the middle, which made it look sort of like a starfish.  There were 30 of these star blocks and 30 plain.

In the center of the quilt was this amazing star made out of teensy tiny appliqued circles, each measuring only 3/4 of an inch in diameter.  The friend wanted stippling all around this star.  I also did stitch-in-the-ditch along the inner border of this block. 

This picture shows a 20 feather wreath that I put into the plain blocks and added the loopy star in the middle.

The outer border consists of a row of flying geese, which are quilted with stitch-in-the-ditch.

Lastly, the friend wanted to have the individual 3/4" appliqued circles outlined, but I ran into a problem with the outermost ones, which touched.  I found that there was not enough room to outline these circles without having the thread show on top of the adjoining circle, so I only outlined the inner 16 circles, which, as you can see, had adequate space between them to keep the quilting clean.

This was a most difficult quilt to do.  There were 60 3.5" blocks and one central block with innermost and outermost borders.  I had to make every single circle for the inner star individually, since there was no reference point for their centers, and even a millimeter of difference would look sloppy if the threads crossed the fabric.

So I spent as much time on this little quilt as I would have on a much larger one -- and with much smaller tolerances -- and I learned a lesson:  you can't base your fee for quilting something merely on the size of the article.  You have to take into consideration the number of patterns you use and whether or not you had to digitize them yourself, special custom techniques, maneuverability, density, and labor intensity of the designs as well as structure of the quilt (how well it's put together - this one was very well done), number of colors of thread, any ruler work, etc.

A pantograph on this quilt would have been a travesty but would have taken one hour and it would have been off the frame.  I spent 16 hours on this ultra custom quilt -- so you can see how all these things factored into the job.  But oh!  What a great quilt!  This lady did such a great job with the tiniest applique stitches you can imagine!  She created a work of art, and it deserved every bit as much attention to the quilting.

I was honored to have been chosen to do this for her.  Some of her friends are making the same quilt, and Sue B. is passing my name along to them as well.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed!  I have saved all my patterns but will alter one:  the 24 feather wreath is way too small for this size quilt, so I will, with the customer's consent, make the number of blades just a bit smaller, which will allow the feathers to be fuller looking.  You can see the difference in these feathers in the second picture.

Today I'm in my studio working on my embroidery software homework -- woo hoo! 

And I have to bind a baby quilt I made for a shower this Sunday.

Forward, ho!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


DH and I are experimenting in the kitchen.  There is this WONDERFUL website called Closet Cooking that somehow I happened upon, and the recipes are super delicious and fun to try!  DH has been hanging out at the old homestead this week, checking off Honey-Do lists and reworking one of his go carts, and grilling to beat the band, so this dish was right up his alley.

Also coming up this week is souvlaki chicken, sausage meatballs in pineapple sauce and pork burritos. 

Yesterday we made one of our rare trips to Raleigh.  DH, Harbor Freight flyer in hand, meandered through that store happily while I read one of the  8 books I had just purchased at Barnes & Noble.  Then we were off to the Cheesecake Factory for a real treat (especially when it's made by someone else!).

Nonetheless, since there is a veritable dearth of commendable restaurants near our tiny backwoods village, we are becoming quite reasonable cooks, and this is a new addition to our culinary repertoire.  Check out that website.  You're sure to find something that appeals to you!