Saturday, January 28, 2012


On the fifth day of her visit, Mary met with some of my guild members to teach a class on the Tri Recs rulers.  Here she is with Mary Ann and Lee Ann, talking about how to line up the triangles in making the star points of our project. 

She also combined this lesson with one in the many ways of creating stems for applique and demonstrated her favorites.  Lynne is looking on as Mary shows how you can still get excellent curves from a bias strip even when Heat N Bond or Wonder Under is applied.

Mary has a wide base of knowledge in quilting and loves to share with others whatever she knows.  She has an easy, humorous, supportive way of teaching that makes her an annual favorite in our guild.

So now I have caught up with our doings this past week.  I'm still laid low with this stomach and lungs flu-y thing that I came down with Wednesday evening and that's going around, but my head has finally cleared enough to write now and then.  I'm better off than three of our guild members who have come down with pneumonia, though.  Hope to be up and well next week and quilting my Fons and Porter quilt for the show!


Steve and Lori Clayton run a wonderful quilt shop called Threads Run Through It in Phenix, VA.  I LOVE going there, even though it takes an hour and forty-five minutes to get there.

You can find just about any fabric you would ever want for your quilting projects.  Here, Myrt's devilish grin speaks volumes about 1) her glee over finding new goodies for her stash, and 2) her solution as to how to get these newest acquisitions past her husband when she gets home. 

Not really.  Most of us have co-dependent husbands who understand that a cold meal is better than no meal at all; that laundry can and does get done eventually, even if it's in the middle of the night while we're obsessively stitching out our quilts; that a happy quilter is MUCH better than a p----d off woman going through fabric withdrawal; and that if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Joyce has discovered the newest tease in the shop:  scraps by the pound!  I'm telling you, these people know how to market!  Could a restaurant sell scrapings from customers' plates?  Could a hospital OR sell used sponges?  Could a newspaper sell last week's papers?  No!  Basically, most left overs are ditched because they are contaminated or obsolete.  But not scraps!  Scraps are pure gold, and the more eclectic, the better.  Joyce is a very happy camper in this picture, believe me!

Mary hates to shop.  Fortunately, she has a hubby who doesn't mind doing it for her.  However, it's a different story when it comes to fabric.  All of us who quilt are basically junkies.  We get high just being in proximity to fabric.  We have all sorts of guilty (quilty) pleasure pulling bolts from their shelves, feeling the smoothness of well made cloth, fantasizing about how it will look in our projects, matching it to others that complement the color scheme.  Ahhhhh.  It's heady stuff, this addiction of ours.  Here's Mary, getting her fix for the day.

The Threads Run Through It team are so very welcoming, especially to groups.  They will make you a free lunch, and a very hearty one at that, if you tell them a group of you is coming.  The table above was one of two, chock full of treats.  Sliced ham, roast beef, turkey and two kinds of cheeses for our sandwiches were on this one, and grapes, cookies, raw veggies with dip and chips were on the other, along with delicious iced tea or water.  Yum!!!

Mary is taking a moment of peace after completing her shopping to text her hubby.  The front porch of this quilt shop is inviting, with its quilts hung on the walls and many rocking chairs.  Occasionally, Wingnut, the cat and familiar of this place, visits and INSISTS on being petted.  He is a long haired, mostly white and brown, large cat who thinks everyone is his friend.

And so we bid adieu to Day Four of Mary's visit.  We got home too late to do much sewing, so we knitted instead.


Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine had this pattern in it in the July/August 2007 issue.  It was called Whimsical Garden and was done in bright colors like orange and turquoise.  I didn't care for the color scheme, so I changed it to more of an old world look, with muted blues, warm browns and strong reds.  It has taken me over three years to finish this project.  The applique, which I did on the machine, was extremely time consuming, so I only did it now and then when I was feeling masochistic. 

Finally, I decided to finish it on Day Three of Mary's visit, because I want to enter this quilt in our annual quilt show in March.  Just the top is finished at this time, but I will be quilting it soon.


Remember my Painless Cathedral Windows class?  Well, I used that approach to deal with the fabric challenge from my guild. This fabric is a Kaffe Fassett mille fiori sort of look on an olive background, and I think it's pretty ugly.  Others don't.  Our assignment was to take the two crayons in our packet, and the 1/4 yard of the fabric, find two fabrics that matched the crayons, add two other fabrics of our choice and come up with a quilty thing.  I KNOW I will never hang this fabric on my walls, so I made a pillow.

I put a zipper in the back.  My crayon colors were the pink and sea green that are on the back.  You can also see them in the windows on the front.  The added fabrics were a deep purple and a batik orange.

Now I have to fluff out my pillow and hand it in.  Our guild has a quilt show at the Library every March, and we will be showing some of our challenge projects as part of the show.

I finished this project on Day Two of Mary's visit.


I thought for sure that I had already shown this quilt, but apparently not.  This was quilted and bound on day one of Mary's visit with me.  I don't know the pattern and would love it if someone recognized it and passed it on to me.  I found it in a box of UFO's from the year 1 in my studio while cleaning up for Mary's visit.    Love the scrappy look!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Another UFO bites the dust.  I am ashamed to tell you that I made this quilt AND quilted it about 10 years or so ago, but I never put the binding on it.  So I put it by my seat on the couch, and whenever I watched TV, I handfinished the binding.  Now, this is not a quilt that I would ever enter in a show.  It's a Billie Lauder mystery quilt that I made back in 2000 or 2001, when I first started quilting.  Billie came to the Allenberry Resort (where my family and about 100 close friends all used to go each February for 17 years for the Murder Mystery Weekend) to teach this quilt under the auspices of Quilt Odyssey's Melissa Molino and her fall quilt retreats.  So now it is finished, at last!

Today several things arrived in the mail!  This luscious grouping of Sulky threads contains all the ones I didn't have for embroidering the St. Nick Lights the Way mantel scarf that is our next embroidery group's project.  This starts Februrary 2nd, so it has arrived in plenty of time.

These ChiaoGoo 24" circular needles also came today.  They are the same 1.5 size so that I can do the double needle technique of making socks, particularly an intriguing way of starting from the toe and knitting up, rather than the usual way of starting from the leg opening and knitting down.  This will be an entirely new experience for me, and there's no telling if I will even be able to master casting on, so we'll see.  That little tin at the bottom is shea butter for the hands.  It has an almond scent and feels quite lovely on the skin.

The piece de resistance is this super luscious Sea Silk yarn.  It is multicolored and looks almost irridescent, much like a butterfly's wing.  The yarn is made from 70% silk and 30% Seacell, which is some sort of seaweed derivative.  I can't wait to use it.  This is the yarn I am going to use for that shawl that I started in cotton.  I will complete the cotton one first so that I can learn from that experience and get all the bugs out of the pattern -- or out of my knitting, is more like it!

On a surprising and wonderful note, the little old black chihuahua that I told you about that was having a horrible time breathing in the vet's office the other day -- well, it's doing well!!!  I dropped in to see my vet today to ask how it was faring, and she was so happy to tell me that it was recovering rapidly!  It seems that its teeth were very very dirty with lots of tartar, and an infection around the base of the teeth in the gums had taken hold and spread to the entire body.  It took the diuretics to help the enlarged heart and lots of antibiotics to cure the gum disease. I suspect that the heart has something called endocarditis -- same thing junkies get from giving themselves injections with dirty needles.  The bacteria set up housekeeping in the heart and destroy the valves.  So this little dog will never be fully well,  BUT he will last alot longer than anyone thought when we first saw him a week ago!  Hurray!

The moral of the story is -LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!  Brush your teeth.  And brush your dog's teeth, too!

Monday, January 16, 2012


This jumble of fascinating objects comprises my studio.  I have at least four projects going on at any one time.  Ordinarily, no one but me sees this mess or has to work in it.  However, I'm going to have company at the end of the week, and since she's a quilter, she needs a place to sit down and sew!  Yes, Mary is coming to visit!  Part of her visit will be to teach my guild the Tri Recs ruler applications, and part will be just girl fun.

So, one thing at a time is being put away, filed under level of need for immediate location and continuance of work, with an eye to two things:  the class I'm teaching this week and the class she's teaching next week.

But first!  One of my UFO's was regarding my new serger.  I bought this Babylock about 6 months ago.  It has all these neat bells and whistles, but the real reason I bought it is because it threads itself with little puffs of air that blow the thread through a series of tubes to the right place in the serger.  Well, I have never taken it out of the box until today.  It's all hooked up, and I have my manual ready for a daily attempt at operating the thing. 

Here's my sewing cabinet, expanded and turned sideways so the two of us can sew at the same time.  Now to organize the rest of the room.

As if I don't have enough interesting things to take up my time, I'm trying a beatiful and detailed knitting pattern.  I'm not much of a knitter, but if this turns out half as pretty as the pictures of the completed pattern, I'll put it on my blog for you to see.  I'm knitting a fingering weight of a lavender cotton thread.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Jet is coming along slowly but nicely in healing from the surgery on his left ACL.   His fur is starting to grow out a little, and he's starting to put some weight on the repaired stifle (knee).  He is a valiant dog, I must say.  All heart, and completely uncomplaining.  We try very hard to make things as comfortable as we can, given that he walks on all fours and has to go outdoors for nature's calls.

I was in the vet's office the other day (seems like I'm there alot these days), and I noticed that there was an elderly man sitting in the waiting room holding a black chihuahua wrapped in what looked like a woman's pink chenille bathrobe.  The dog was having severe respiratory distress, gasping audibly when he tried to breathe in and having to force air from his lungs in order to breathe out.  Several things went through my mind -- heart worms, asthma, congestive heart failure, obstruction.  I was alarmed, as was another lady who had just come in to pay her bill.  A third lady was at the desk, explaining to the receptionist about when the symptoms began (4 AM that day) and that she had had to wait to bring the dog in until she could find someone to drive her to the vet (it was now 2 PM) and that things were tight and she was worried about what would have to be done to make her pet well.  She was old and frail and pale, and she held onto the desk as if she needed support to remain standing.  She told the receptionist that someone had given her the dog only a year ago, but that she loved him like a child.

So I thought:  we always hear about a dog being man's best friend, and it is so often true.  They ask almost nothing of their owners but give unflinching, unadulterated, unbelivable love back to us whether we deserve it or not.  And some of us truly deserve it.  This lady is one who does.  She had taken this somewhat older dog and given him a warm and comfortable home, provided veterinary care, cleaned up after him when he was wormed, worried over him when he was sick, and was as distraught as if it was one of her children  struggling for breath out in the waiting room.  Despite her limited resources, she was willing to do whatever she could to help the dog return to good health.  Frankly, I thought she was a very caring person.  But then, many of us pet owners regard our furry friends as family and become deeply attached to them, don't we?

Well, all of us were distraught.  The vet was in surgery, and even though the receptionist immediately went back to tell her about the extreme condition of the dog, she could not come out right away.  Finally, she nearly ran down the hall to the waiting room and took the dog into the examining room instantly.  I heard mumblings about heart and overnight.  And then the lady came out, crying quietly.  Lady-2 and I both had the same thought:  he died.  But no, he just had to stay overnight.  Xrays were needed, and four injections of some sort of medication were given. Ka ching!  Ka ching!  The elderly man had gone out to the car -- I guess he was a neighbor.  Lady-2 and I mumbled our heartfelt hopes for success in his treatment, and the lady left, without her dog.

Lady-2 and I looked at each other.  She said she had to return to the vet's office to have her dog's teeth cleaned in a few days and just had to know what happened with that chihuahua.  I felt the same way.  We both left, thoughtful and sad for his owner.

The next day, I had to go into town (such as it is) again, so I stopped by the vet's office to find out what had happened.  The dog had been taken almost an hour away to another animal hospital that had an xray machine, and they found that the chihuahua's heart was enlarged.  Diuretics and cardiac stimulants had been used to try to alleviate the dog's condition.  And that's all they knew at this point.  I will have to drop by the vet's again soon to see if the little dog improved or succumbed, but I fear the worst.

Anyway, I was sad to hear the vet say that there wasn't anything that could be done about an enlarged heart in an animal.  She meant that this dog was going to die from heart failure sometime in the future, possibly soon.  My own heart hurt to hear those words.  I walked up to the desk and pulled out some money and put it on the counter.  "I'd like to make an anonymous donation to that lady's bill,"  I said.  The vet, who is a sweet woman with a deft touch and a quiet style with the animals, smiled beatifically.  The youngster behind the desk was surprised and stricken.  "That's so nice.  Do you know her?"  "No," I answered.  "I just overheard her say that times were hard for her, and I wanted to do something to help.  I appreciate that she brought her dog in even though she knew it would be a hardship.  And now she's going to lose him anyway.  It's not much, I know, but maybe it'll help her with her bill a little."

I walked out of there feeling a little better.  My own dogs have had their serious medical problems and have survived, by the grace of God -- and good care from my vet.  Jet has seizures.  Razzy nearly died from an unknown tick-borne illness (no, it was not lyme disease) when we first moved to Virginia.  They got well because our vet is good and because I am fortunate enough to be able to afford decent care for them.  I am a good friend to them.  I watch out for them and seek help when they need it.  And I return their sweet, nuzzling, furry love.  It's what dear friends do.


Jet and Razzy

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I have finished one UFO.  Sadly, it was not on my 12 UFO's list to do over this year, because I would like to have credit for finishing it.  This is a picture of the completed class sample for my Painless Cathedral Windows project, all quilted and bound.

And here's the most recent crazy quilt block for my embroidery quilt.  Fifteen more to go.  You can't see it well unless you click on the picture to enlarge it.

Today is guild, followed by at least 3 hours finishing my ugly fabric challenge.  (There are those who do not think that this fabric is ugly, but I assure you -- it is.)

And tonight the ladies in my development are getting together to plan our activities for the coming year.  We are a very diverse group.  Many retirees.  Some young folks just starting their families.  And the occasional mid-age woman well ensconced in her career and enjoying the benefits of living at the lake while continuing to reap the fruits of her efforts in building her business and reputation.  I remember those days with fondness but am very glad to have these elder years to rest and amuse myself with things that interest me and that don't have timetables attached.  What am I saying?!  I DO have timetables -- getting classes organized, doing quilting for others, and at the very least, getting dinner on the table before midnight! 

Silly me!  And here I thought I was retired....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Patchwork Times is having a UFO contest of sorts.  We are to list 12 of our UFO's (if only there WERE just 12!), and each month, Patchwork Times will draw a number, and that will be the UFO we work on for the month.

So here are my 12 UFO's for the year:
1)  Wool Christmas pitcher applique project finished and framed

2)  Fons and Porter applique and pieced quilt assembled and quilted
3)  Bonnie Hunter cruise quilt assembled and quilted
4)  Guild ugly fabric challenge quilt completed entirely
5)  Finish appliqued Christmas table runner
6)  Complete all 20 embroidered crazy quilt blocks and assemble and quilt
7)  Quilt sisty's star quilt
8)  Finish applique on Doheny quilt
9)  Quilt my stars and stripes quilt
10)  Assemble and quilt braided plaids quilt
11)  Finish applique and quilt Pat Sloan cruise wall hanging
12)  Assemble and quilt mantel quilt

These all seem doable except for the Doheny quilt, which is quite intricate and time consuming, so it always gets set back on the shelf when I want something to take out of my UFO stash to do.  Hmmmm.  Seems I'm not much on commitment.  Gotta work on that.


This is the completed top for the Painless Cathedral Windows project I'll be teaching my guild in two weeks.  I hope I can get it quilted before then, but if not, at least they will see what the finished pattern looks like.  Some people learn by watching.  I'm one of those.  Some learn by doing.  I'm also one of those, but I DO better if I have SEEN what I'm supposed to be doing first. 

These three blocks are #'s 2, 3 and 4 in the 20 block series of crazy quilt embroidered blocks that I started wayyyyyyy back in October.  I couldn't make the November class because I went on a cruise with my sisty.  And I couldn't make the December class because DH and I went out to California to celebrate his mom's 80th birthday.

So, I updated my DD sewing/embroidery machine with the newest updates put out by Husqvarna Viking and sat down to try to catch up a few days ago.  My machine coughed, sputtered, and plastered a "motor overload" message on its screen.   I tried cleaning it, contacting the HV yahoo group for advice, and asking Sherry, my local computer and HV and software guru.  Nothing.  So I guessed I should just take it into the shop.  Trouble is, the shop is an hour and a half away.  I don't make those long trips for just one thing.  My next 5D software lesson wasn't going to be until the 17th, and I could take in my cantankerous beastie then, but I was feeling dismal about having to miss yet ANOTHER embroidery lesson!

So I loaded up the machine with hoop and fabric and thought I'd just give it a whirl.  The doltish devil wouldn't even read the USB with the patterns in it.  In a last ditch effort, I put it through the commands to download the updates from the USB stick (I had done it by cable the last time when it refused the stick), and this time the machine took the update like a dream and started stitching out with only an occasional motor overload message.

I'm still going to take it in to be checked, but it's good enough for me to take it to my lesson this week.  Hurray!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


In the first installment of this demonstration of a new twist on the cathedral windows block, we prepared our fabrics, cutting and ironing them to specific shapes and sizes.  Then we made leaf units (40) for this particular project.

Now that we have made our leaf units, we need to put four of them together to make a cathedral window block (CW).  Sew one leaf unit to another, raw edge to raw edge along one side, so that the folded edges make a "V".   Do the same thing with another pair of leaf units, but turn them upside down when finished so that the "V" mirrors that from the first two units.  Sew these two sections together.

You now have one cathedral window (CW) block.  The folded edges make an "X" across the block, as above.  Make 9 of these.  You will need to join two of the CW blocks to make one CW rectangle.  Make 4 rectangles, leaving one square CW block for the center of the tabletopper.

Now we need to work on the corner squares.  Sew one leaf unit to one 3 1/2" background square so that the leaf unit's folded edges are tilted up from left to right as above.

Next sew a 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" background rectangles to the duo above, keeping the folded edges of the original leaf unit going in the right direction as seen here.  You now have a corner block (CB).  Make four of these.

To make the center, take the left over square CW block and add a 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" background rectangle to either side.  Press to the background fabric.  Then sew a 3 1/2" x 12 1/2" background rectangle to the top and another to the bottom of this.  You now have a square measuring 12 1/2" with the CW in the center.

So, what do we do with all this?

Assemble the first row of the tabletopper by sewing a corner block to a CW rectangle (2 CW's) and then add another corner block.  Keep in mind that we want these corner blocks to mirror each other.  You can place your corner blocks so that they look like mine, above, with the leaf units in the inner corners, or you can turn them so that the leaf units are in the outer corners.  Try them both ways to see what appeals to you.  Make 2 of these long rectangle units, one for the first row and one for the last row of your tabletopper.

Next sew one CW rectangle (2 CW's) to each side of the center block you created earlier.  Press towards the background fabric.  Then sew your first row to the top of this center unit and sew the last row to the bottom.  Make sure that you have a mirror image between top and bottom.  You can now see the subtle secondary pattern starting to emerge.

We aren't quite finished yet.  We still have to tack back those folded edges to create the cathedral windows appearance we all love.  This is just one 24" block, but several would make a stunning quilt.  You could also play with the placement of your basic units to make long table runners, zig zag paths for the CW's, smaller ones for candle mats, elongated ones for placemats, sew them into a purse or pillow, alternate rows of CW's with rows of background fabric, or place the CW's on point -- so many creative ways to use this simplified approach to the cathedral window look.

In the next few days, I will show you the folded edges all tacked back and perhaps even begin to experiment a little more with this pattern, trying it in reverse, or combining the units in some other fashion.  Try it for yourself!  Let your imagination go wild!