Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday thoughts

I've loved reading the various postings from bloggers about why they quilt. There are so many different reasons, and each person's are a little different. I hope more of you will think about my question and take time to post an answer.

As I was taking a break from work to run to the post office, I started thinking about my question and the answers that others have posted. I immediately thought of three more reasons why I quilt. I knew there were more that didn't occur to me yesterday as I was rushing to finish before my ride arrived.

I quilt because I make cherished friendships with other quilters, both in person and all over the world through the magic of the Internet. I think quilters are the nicest people in the entire world. They are almost always such creative, loving and giving people. I'd rather spend my time with quilters than anyone else other than my family.

I quilt because I love the way my home looks and feels with quilts in every room. I love quilts on the walls, the bed, the couch, the chairs, the quilt racks, the tables and anywhere else I can think to put them. I love the warm friendly feeling they give a room. I love to snuggle under them for a nap or at night. I love to change them with the seasons. I can't imagine living in a home without quilts.

I quilt because I love contributing quilts to charities. It's so much more personal than giving money. Quilts can fill a need at so many different troubled times. I can give of myself this way, even when I'm not able to work for charities in any other way.

I quilt because I love being able to look at something beautiful and know that I made it. There are so very many things that I will never be able to do, but as an accomplished quilter I can feel good about what I create. Everyone needs to be good at something - something they can be proud of. Quilting fulfills that need for me.

How many of you are familiar with Cathy Miller, the Singing Quilter? I have the three CD's that she's recorded, and eagerly await the new one due out in September. Many of the songs she writes are so expressive of the reasons I love quilting. Some are very funny, some make me cry every time I hear them, some make me want to get up and dance. All of them are wonderful. You can hear parts of many of the songs on her website. I currently have all the CD's in my CRV and I sing with them going back and forth to work. Here are excerpts from a couple that really speak to my love of quilting and my need to quilt. I had the good fortune to hear her and her husband in person last September when they performed for our guild. I encourage you to search out her music if you aren't familiar with her.

First chorus from "In a Quilters World". written by Rick Speyer and performed by Cathy Miller. In the CD "A Quilters World":

"In a quilter's world, it all take time
Stitch and sew, adjust the line
Solitude and quiet, her companions
And that sewing room is a sacred place
Where work and art come face to face
Traditions passed on from long ago."

Last verse and chorus of "My Hands" written and performed by Cathy Miller. In the CD "A Quilters Embrace":

"I live for the beauty my hands create
The gardens I grow, the bread I make
The music I play, the quilts I sew
I'll work with my hands until I go.

The lines grow deep, the years go by
Before I sleep, these hands must try
To leave my mark in the sands
Made with these two hands."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why do you make quilts?

While waiting for my ride to arrive I decided to write a post that's been floating around in my head for awhile.

I ask each of you in quilters blogland - why do you make quilts? I'd love to have you share with us. Please answer either in acomment or - better yet - so more people can read it - on your own blog.

There are lots of reasons why I quilt, and I'd be very hard pressed to choose which is the most important to me. All the reasons are woven together in my mind - lots of pieces that make a whole - just like a quilt!

I quilt because I love fabric. I love to touch it, stroke it, smell it, play with it, experiment with it, gaze at it and collect it. Making quilts is much more fun than making clothing - particularly now that I'd have to fit an overweight, middle-aged body.

I quilt because I love color, shape, contrast, texture, value, tints, shades, and hues. I love crayons, paint, colored pencils, coloring books and everything to do with art - but I can't draw or paint to save my life. Quilting allows me to express my love of these things without needing to draw or paint.

I quilt because I fell in love with old quilts as a small child. We had one in the family, which is long since worn out and gone, and I loved to look at all the different fabrics and trace the star patterns with my fingers. It was made by my paternal grandmother who died before I was born. I bought my first quilting book with baby sitting money at the age of 12 or 13 - 101 Patchwork Quilts by Ruby McKim - but didn't try quilting until I was 27. In between I saved every magazine picture of a quilt that I could find.

I quilt because it connects me with my foremothers. I love to study the history of quilting and stories of quiltmakers. I feel a kinship with those women of long ago. I also feel connected to the quilters of the future who will inherit quilts I make and will finish the UFO's I leave behind. My quilts are evidence that I existed. They show that I was here, that I contributed to beauty in this world and left some of that beauty for future generations.

I quilt because I love to work with my hands. The needle going in and out of the cloth as I hand stitch has a rhythm of it's own. I can sit and do handwork and have no concept of the passage of time. For me it is like meditation. Instead of focusing my thoughts and vision on a mandala or some other such thing, I go inward to a center of peace and calm and let the repetitive motions of my hands take me deep into that center. I finish refreshed and revitalized.

I quilt because I enjoy the process of creation. I love to see a pattern emerge as I stitch little pieces of cloth together. I love the quilting process itself, because as the quilting stitches add texture to the quilt top, causing lights and shadows to play on the quilting designs, the flat, somewhat lifeless quilt top comes alive. I confess I enjoy the process more than the finished quilt. I will continue to quilt no matter how many quilts I finish because I love the process.

I quilt because I love to give quilts to others. It's like giving a part of myself. It's wrapping other people in my love. It's the work of my hands made especially for them.

I quilt because I must. I am lost when I cannot quilt. It helps me define who I am. It keeps my hands busy. It brings joy and happiness to my life.

Now it's your turn . . . please share with us why you make quilts . . .

Judy Laquidara and Sunshine Quilts

Just a quick post here - have to fix dinner and get ready to head out to my medallion class.

If any of you are readers of Sunshine Quilts by Judy, she's thinking her blog may be toast. So she's started a new one. This link will take you there:

She's copied some of her hour a day quilt instructions there, and will blog there until Sunshine Quilts is fixed - if it is fixed.

Haven't had any time all week to do anything quilty - it's really starting to get to me! Makes it a lot harder for me to write a post too. I did fall in love with a new fabric collection posted at Z & S Fabrics, but I convinced myself I don't have to have it!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Warm Hearts and Mistletoe Manor

My Mistletoe Manor fabrics were waiting for me when we got home yesterday. What a lovely thing to come home to! I am so glad I got these - they are more beautiful than I could have imagined, and are exactly what I've looked for several years to find. The Warm Hearts quilt will be made from these plus some others I pull from my stash. I can hardly wait to get started!

The pale green stripe will be the background. The red with the tiny floral will be the sashing and border. The pink tone on tone is the other color for the sashing and border. The rest of the fabrics will be the appliqué. I'm pretty sure I'll need to pull more greens from my stash to have enough for all the bias stems. Since there are so many little "berry" shapes on this quilt I may decide to do them in wool. Otherwise that's going to be an awful lot of tiny little circles to stitch with turned under edges. I'll have to see how the wool looks with the rest of the fabrics. I have some beautiful hand dyed felted wool that might be perfect. It's been years since I've been this excited about starting a quilt!

I'm still on a funky sleep schedule - slept in until almost 9:00 a.m.! It's going to be a rude awakening when that alarm rings at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow. This afternoon we are headed about an hour south into Oregon to the outlet stores at Woodburn. My husband needs some "back to school clothes" as school for him starts on Friday. On the way home we'll stop to pick up my featherweight cabinet. Can hardly wait to get that in my sewing room to see how it looks!

I sure wasn't thinking clearly when I set myself a goal to quilt 5 tops this month. I didn't stop to think that I didn't have a single weekend left that I'd be spending at home! Besides that, we are still having extra hot weather - at least for us. When the temperature is 85 to 90 in the quilting room neither Gandalf nor I can take the heat. Even if I could take it the computer that regulates the stitch length, machine speed, etc. can't take it. It forgets to stop sewing even when I stop moving the machine - and that doesn't work well at all!

Better get dressed now - Fred wants to leave by 1:00!


1. A wonderful camping trip
2. New fabric to love
3. One last day of vacation
4. Trip with my kids coming up next weekend
5. Grandchildren on the way - I think I finally have the kids permission to talk about this!


Sunday, August 20, 2006

I can't seem to sleep tonight

Maybe it's because I got too much sleep on vacation? Those of you who've been reading my blog for awhile know I normally get up at 5:00 on weekdays and not much later than that on weekends. Apparently I needed a lot of catching up on my sleep because I didn't get up before 8:30 any of the days we were camping. You can't imagine how strange that is for me. Fred got up just past his normal time of 6:00 but let me sleep in. That was a good 10 hours of sleep each night as we were in bed by 10:00 each evening. I had no idea I was so tired. Now it's almost midnight and I don't seem to be sleepy at all. It's going to be hard getting back to my work routine on Tuesday in many ways!

Anyway, since I'm awake I decided to try loading more pictures. The air was just a bit hazy so the mountain doesn't look crystal clear. This morning the skies were totally clear of haze, but there was no time to take pictures as we had to break camp to come home.

From top to bottom:

1. National Park Inn at Longmire. You can see the tip of the mountain behind the chimney. Longmire was the site of a hot springs spa developed in the first decade of the 20th century. It was the end of the road up the mountain for many years. The Inn was built in 1917.
2. This log cabin, built in 1911, houses the general store at Longmire.
3. Mt Rainier from the porch of the National Park Inn at Longmire. There is a huge meadow, streams, ponds and hot springs directly across the road from the Inn. Mt. Rainier rises in the distance beyond this meadow.
4. Mt. Rainier from the first alpine meadow we crossed on our hike. Burned trees from a long-ago forest fire are in the foreground.
5. The first alpine meadow we crossed. The picture is taken looking away from Mt. Rainier and toward the Tatoosh range.

Home again

We had a wonderful time at Mt. Rainier - we always do. Just in case anyone wonders - the national park is a three-hour drive from our home. We've been camping there since our kids were small. The last few years we've gone every year.

Mt. Rainier National Park is one of our older national parks. The volcano is merely dormant - not extinct - and will probably erupt again in the next 100 to 200 years. It is 14,411 feet high, and is one of the most climbed mountains in the United States. It offers many of the same challenges that peaks in Asia do, so many climbing parties train here before tackling Mt. Everest, K-2, and others of the world's tallest peaks. If you are interested in reading more, here is the official website. The mountain is easily visible from most of Seattle where I grew up, and we often told the weather by saying "the mountain is out today".

I didn't take nearly as many pictures this year as I have in past years. Our trip was shorter and we were past the best part of the wildflower season. The only flower we saw in any quantities was Queen Anne's Lace. Friday was our hiking day, and we wanted to do a hike we'd never done before, so we climbed to Bench and Snow Lakes. This trail took us away from Mt. Rainier and toward the Tatoosh range. The trail was rated "moderate" so I figured I could do it even though I'm pretty out of shape. It had only a 700 ft. elevation gain, so I figured it wouldn't be bad at all. What the map DIDN'T say is that there was a lot of going up and down ridges to gain that 700 ft. - so a lot more uphill climbing than I expected, both going in and coming out. The trail was very dusty and had lots of log steps on the trail - very challenging for my short legs. By the end of the hike my knees and feet were aching a lot, so I really loafed the rest of the day. Saturday we walked around the campground a lot but that was it - no more long hikes on this trip.

I didn't do any quilting at all, even though I took some appliqué with me. I started reading The Wedding Ring and was totally involved with the characters, so I sat in my camp chair and read all afternoon on Friday and a lot of Saturday. I loved it so much I started Endless Chain as soon as I finished the first book, and I finished that one also. By then it was Saturday evening and too dark to stitch. Fred and I spent evenings playing Yatzee, dominoes and Phase 10. It was a very relaxing trip. Weather was wonderful - almost too warm in the daytime but cooling to high 50's at night. Fall is obviously on it's way!

Blogger is letting me post only 3 pictures, so I'll post a few more tomorrow. From top to bottom - sign at trailhead, Bench Lake, Snow Lake.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Missing everyone already

I plan to get up early enough tomorrow to read blog postings before I leave. I know I'll really miss all of you while we are gone. In the meantime I'll leave you a couple pictures of where we are going to be.

The first picture is the Tatoosh range and Mt. Adams in the distance. This is taken from the wildflower walk at Paradise on the south slope of Mt. Rainier. The second picture is Mt. Rainier from the beginning of the wildflower walk. The third picture is Mt. Rainier and a waterfall on the Skyline trail.

We are going about 3 weeks later than usual this year, and with the very hot summer we've had we have probably missed most of the wildflowers. I'm looking forward to hiking, even though I'm in really lousy shape.

See you all on Sunday!



1. Five days off work!

2. Our little home away from home

3. Sunny blue skies and mountain peaks

4. Trail mix and camping cookies

5. Handwork to take with me


So much going on quilt-wise

No buy challenges . . . sew an hour a day challenge . . . finish a UFO challenge . . Judy's "Sew for an Hour" project . . . use up scraps challenge . . . Tonya's "Take a Leap" challenge . . . organize your scraps challenge . . . So much going on to choose from. What's a quilter to do? Are any of the rest of you like me - you want to do it all? And always think that somehow there must be a way? We start new things even though we are working on things we love that we want to finish, because if we just try hard enough we'll be able to do everything we want to do.

At some point, however, the idyll fades and reality takes over. There just is not time for it all. So I've made the difficult decision that I'm not going to participate - even though I really wanted to do Judy's quilt and take Tonya's leap. There is already way to much "food on my plate" quilty wise, so I'm going to remain focused on getting it done. Besides, we're almost half way through the pre-1830's medallion class and I've yet to start mine. That must happen soon. I have an appliqué border to stitch for our guild's contribution to the Northwest Medical Teams quilt auction in November, and I'm also committed to quilting that quilt. I want to start my Warm Hearts quilt as soon as the fabric gets here and I get it pretreated. It's due to arrive on Friday, but I won't get to fondle it until Sunday as we'll be out of town. In the meantime I'm having a wonderful time seeing the Judy and Tonya projects that the rest of you are doing. I'll miss seeing your progress for the next four days.

We are headed to Mt. Rainier tomorrow for four days of camping - I can hardly wait. Our weather is supposed to be perfect. I should have some wonderful northwest mountain pictures to post when I get back sometime Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Progress on "It's a Wonderful Life"

I finally finished the appliqué on the last block of "It's a Wonderful Life". Not sure why this one took so long. I know I stopped to do a lot of piecing - that was probably a lot of the delay. I wasn't at all excited about this block either I guess I should have done something different with it like Jeanne did. At least I didn't have to turn the edges under on all those little blue circles - I used felted wool so I could leave the edges raw. The background is a pale green; it doesn't look that color in the picture. Now that it's sewn into place it looks just fine with the rest of the blocks.

This block is the upper left corner of the quilt. It's stitched into place and all the borders are on. I'm not posting a picture of it with the borders until I do the border appliqué. Normally I do that before stitching borders on, but there is way too much overlap to the quilt itself on this top. I'm eager to get this one finished so I can begin Warm Hearts as soon as the fabric arrives and I get it prewashed. Hopefully I can get the rest of the appliqué prepped so I can take it to Mt. Rainier to work on when we aren't hiking.


1. A wonderful day trip with quilting friends.
2. Talented Pacific Northwest quilters.
3. "It's a Wonderful Life" top nearing completion
4. Reproduction fabrics
5. Three day work week this week!


Den Haan and Wagonmakers

Here is more info about the Dutch fabric I bought:

"This very old Dutch company reproduces chintz fabrics for handmade quilts and garments using document fabrics which were brought by the merchants of the Dutch East India Company (VOC founded in 1597) from India's Coromandel coast to the Netherlands during the 17th and early 18th century. These shiny chintz fabrics featuring floral and tree of life designs were popular for not only the interior of Dutch homes but also for women's clothing.

The handprinted fabric panels (palampores) often depict a tree of life. The word palampore comes from a Persian-Hindu word meaning bed-covering, garment or prayer rug. The design, a central tree on a mound or rockery, and featuring a light background and floral borders reflected Persian art (handpainted miniatures) of that period.

The fabrics of den Haan and Wagonmakers are 60" wide and lightly glazed. The designs include early Dutch chintzes, wax printed indigos and prints of Provence. is the proud North American distributor of these exquisite reproductions."

I also could have purchased a tree of life panel which would have made a fabulous center of my medallion, as well as a wonderful feeling white fabric that wasn't muslin or broadcloth that was typical of the period, but I decided I had to draw the line somewhere. I really can do that! :-)

Seattle Quilt Show

The Pacific Northwest Quiltfest in Seattle was as fabulous as expected. Every quilt was more incredible than the one before it. 223 quilts were juried into this show. There was also a display of antique quilts, a display of quilts made for both silent and live auction to benefit the Quiltfest, and a couple of other unusual collections. There were hundreds of people there, as well as 52 vendors. What a surprise to find that Norma had discovered me in the middle of all those people, though I didn't notice her until she stuck her name tag in my face. How fun to meet an Internet quilty friend! In reading her blog this morning I learned I can't post pictures of the quilts - rats! I can show you a picture of the best of show quilt here, because it won a big award at this years' IMQA show and there is a picture of it on their website. This artist lives just across the river from me in Lake Oswego, Oregon so I've been privileged to see many her quilts in person. Three members of our Clark County Quilters had quilts in the show, and two of them were ribbon winners.

I've been going through the pictures I took and unfortunately there are many didn't turn out well. I tried a new setting on my camera that made it unnecessary to use flash - this preserving the colors of the quilts better - but I didn't hold the camera steady enough a lot of the time. Pictures that looked just fine in the viewing screen on the camera turned out to be blurry when downloaded to the computer. A learning experience, but what a disappointment!

I should know myself better by now, and should never make a "no buy" pledge. I can go a long time without buying fabric - months and months! - I really can when I have to! But it just seems so silly to do so when I find something unusual that is very hard to get and is perfect for a project I'm doing. I wasn't even slightly tempted in most of the booths, because I'm not into batiks, orientals, brights, hand dyeds, and most of the other fabrics carried by the vendors. Only one booth was tempting, and I succumbed. Reproduction fabrics - a website I've visited many times - had a booth there. I love this website because they have their fabric sorted according to historical category. I've never ordered from them because much of their fabric is imported, available no where else, and more expensive than most. I don't like to order that sight unseen. Well, yesterday I got to examine all of it close up. The incredible reproduction chintzes important from the Netherlands made from 17th and 18th century designs. Real indigo prints imported from South Africa that feel like cardboard but soften to a beautiful hand when washed. Fabrics you just don't see anywhere in this country. Fabrics that are absolutely perfect for the pre-1830's medallion that I'm making in the year-long class I'm taking. Once I saw them in person I knew I wanted them for my reproduction quilt. It just seemed silly to wait until September to order them when I'd have to pay shipping on the purchase, so I bought them yesterday. And I'm not at all sorry!

As far as my other spending goes, here is the scoop. I joined the Appliqué Society, which I've always wanted to do. If you joined at the show you got copies of the last year's newsletters for free. I also fell in love with two Gund turkeys at the booth of a shop from Montana - the little one gobbles - which will be great for Thanksgiving, especially when grandchildren arrive. I love the striped stocks on the larger one - I'd love a pair like that for myself! I found paperback copies of the first two Emilie Richards quilt-related novels, about which I've heard so many positive comments. I've read two chapters of the first one and I'm really enjoying it. Of course I had to have a purple t-shirt with the show logo on the back, and a pair of purple socks also with the logo, and the show pin. That's the full report of my spending, other than Starbucks and meals.

It was a long day - we left at 6:00 a.m. and got back about 9:00 p.m. - but a wonderful day with quilty friends. As soon as pictures of all the winning quilts are up on their website I'll post the links. Now I need to spend today catching up!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Pam said my punishment is that I have to remove the "no buy in August" button from my sidebar. Fair enough - it's gone!

Also gone already are one or two of the Mistletoe Manor fabrics at Z &S, including the green stripe I ordered for my appliqué background. A friend of mine placed an order after I did, and she couldn't get as much as she wanted of that one because they were sold out. That was fast - I know the fabric hasn't been on their site more than a day or two. Obviously I'm not the only one who fell in love with it.

I don't feel guilty at all. It's a long time since I've been this excited about a fabric purchase. I couldn't go to sleep last night just thinking about the quilt, and now I'm awake and up over an hour before my alarm is due to go off. I think this quilt was meant to be for me.

I know for sure now that I'll need to be VERY good when I head to the Seattle quilt show on Saturday. Supposedly that was a "free buying day" because it is something special that comes along only once every two years. But I've had my fall off the wagon - I plan to stay firmly seated on that wagon for the rest of the month.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Warm Hearts

Well ladies, I lost the battle. I've looked at too many Christmas collections for too many years to pass this one up. I made the decision after I looked at my books to see what I could make with it. I know I'm going to be so glad I did this. It's perfect for our Christmas quilt. I'll start on it as soon as it gets here, so there is no chance of it going into my stash.

The quilt I'm making is large - 94" square. It's designed by two of my most favorite designers - Alma Allen and Barb Adams of Blackbird Designs. I've had this book for several years - it was published in 2001 and I bought it soon after it came out. I've wanted to make this quilt ever since I first saw it. The blocks are large - 20" square. The appliqué pieces are nice and large. I want to add some plaids - I'm sure I have some in my stash that will work. I chose the green stripe for the background. I can hardly wait to get started with this!

This will be similar in many ways to my Friendship Garden quilt, that I posted early on in my blog. This quilt was designed by Alma Allen (half of Blackbird Designs) and Cherie Ralston, another of my most favorite designers. I've posted the picture of it here again for you readers who only recently found me. I did this one quite painlessly by setting a goal to finish one block each month. I'll do this one the same way, and shoot for a finished quilt for Christmas 2007. It will be my hope that this becomes a family heirloom passed down to my grandchildren and great grandchildren.

So please don't judge me too harshly, though I am prepared to receive 10 lashes with a wet fabric strip for falling off the wagon so dreadfully.

Oh dear - I'm in trouble now!

I knew I shouldn't have looked at the website. I knew it! I couldn't stop myself however - I had to see what was new. So I visited my favorite online quilt shop to take a look. There's only one addition for August, but I immediately fell in love with the collection. Moda makes some of my most favorite fabrics, so I always pay close attention to what they do.

I've wanted a Christmas quilt for our bed for so long. But I'm so picky. I don't want the fabrics to be anything "cutesy". I also don't want them to scream "Christmas" like so many of the non-cutesy fabrics do - full of pine cones and holly and a gold metallic look to some of the prints. I want something soft, that gives just a suggestion of Christmas. Something that just speaks to me. I've looked for several years and haven't found the right fabrics. Robyn Pandolph's Christmas collections have come close, but still not quite what I wanted.

Well, the 3 Sisters have designed a Christmas collection called Mistletoe Manor. It's exactly what I've been looking for! I love almost every piece in this collection! And the prices at Z & S are so good. I'm afraid if I have to wait until September to buy these they'll be out of a lot of it. Because their prices are good, they often sell out quickly.

So now I'm have a real dilemma. I really thought I could go without buying for a whole month without any trouble. I have so much fabric. But I also didn't expect to find something that I've been looking for unsuccessfully for several years. What's a girl to do? I don't want to cave in. I want to stick to my guns. But I also want this fabric so very, very badly. It would be so perfect for a simple Christmas quilt - something I could do up quickly like Turning Twenty or Yellow Brick Road - and I really don't have anything in my stash that works.

Can you hear that rationalization? I've not caved yet. I'm hoping for the strength to resist, but I feel myself weakening with every moment!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Replying to comments

I love the comment feature of blogs! There are so many benefits!

1. Allows sharing of opinions about each other's quilts and quilting in general.
2. Allows for passing along tips, sources for supplies, etc.
3. Provides a way to meet new quilters almost daily because of comments they leave on the blog
4. Getting to know new quilty friends better.
5. Getting messages about my own work that make me feel good.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that occur to me right off the top of my head.

It's frustrating when someone asks a question in a comment, and I eagerly send a reply, only to have it returned a short time later as undeliverable because that person hasn't shared their email address. I never know how to respond to comments when that happens. Should I go to their blog and answer the question they posted on mine? Or would that be confusing because it doesn't relate to their post? Should I answer it with another comment? What if they don't come back to read additional comments? Should I answer it in the next post? Wouldn't that be confusing for people who don't read comments? It's a dilemma.

I encourage everyone who asks questions in their comments to change their profile to display their email address. That way a blogger can reply to the comment quickly and directly to them via email. Are you uncomfortable posting your email address in something that is as public as a blog? The answer to that is to open an additional email box with a new address. If you can't get a second email address through your web provider then get one through a free website like hotmail or yahoo. Then if you start getting lots of spam and other unwanted email you can shut it down right away.

When I started my blog one of the first persons to comment suggested I display my email address so we could communicate better when one of us commented on the other's blog. I did that by going to my profile and clicking "yes" on display email address. I was afraid I might start getting lots of emails I didn't want to, but so far that's not happened (knock on wood!) I think my internet provider is pretty good with screening out unwanted comments. It sure makes it easy to "talk" back and forth with the people whose blogs are set up that way.

Just a thought for today . . . and now I'd better go back to work. Can hardly wait to get back home and back to quilting!

Tuesday morning

I'm glad Blogger let me add the rest of the pictures to the post I wrote last night. It's pretty useless to read descriptions of things without the pictures to go along with them.

I'm happy to say that the UFO that I posted yesterday has a new home. I'm so glad it's going to someone who wants to finish it. I'll get it to the post office sometime today.

We got up this morning to 54 degrees inside the house. It really cooled off last night, in spite of the fact that the predicted thunderstorm never materialized. I quickly shut all the windows - we were pretty cold as I've left the quilt off the bed because of the heat. It was so good to feel that cool air streaming inside! Maybe I can get some quilting done in the next two days if the cooler weather stays around.


1. New home for a UFO.
2. Cooler weather
3. Hot tea with milk
4. Quilt group at Peggy's tonight - it's been a long time since I've seen her
5. A Mariner victory at last!


Monday, August 7, 2006

Heirloom Stitches July Blocks

Finished the two pieced July blocks for Heirloom Stitches - more or less anyway. They would both be done except a square of green was inadvertently left out of my kit. It's pretty tough to cut 2, 2 7/8" squares from one 4" square. I emailed them today and they are sending another square right out. So as soon as it arrives I can finish the Union Square block.

The other block is called Aunt Martha's Tulips. I love how it turned out, but it's one of the most complicated blocks I've ever pieced. It's just 12" square, so those half square triangle squares finish at 1 1/2". If I counted correctly there are 93 pieces in this block - that's a lot of pieces to squeeze into 12". There are 16 flying geese units alone, and that's one of my least favorite units to piece. This would make a wonderful looking quilt but I don't know that I'd want to take that much time for an entire quilt. This one block took me several hours to cut and piece. I know one thing - if I were going to design a quilt around this block I'd draft it to be considerably larger than 12"!

I thought some of you might like to see the back so you could see how I pressed it. Notice I didn't hesitate to press seams open, or clip seams so I could press part in one direction and part in another. I'm not at all afraid of the clip weakening the seam on the quilt. After all, when I used to sew clothing I'd make lots of close together clips on the bottom of the armseye when sewing in a sleeve, and would do the same for the crotch seam on a pair of pants. If those seams didn't rip open while wearing the garment with all the stress on them while being warn and washed, then I have no fear of the quilt seams ripping open at these points. They will certainly suffer way less stress than the clothes I used to make for my kids!

The is also an appliqué wreath block for July - prepping that for handwork is my next quilty task That and quilting Broken Dishes, which is loaded onto Gandalf and has had the first three passes of the pantograph stitched. I'll finish it as soon as the weather cools down a little. As you can see the stitching I've done hardly shows up at all, so I chose a very simple pattern called "Surf's Up", just to give it some texture and hold the layers together.

Opinions requested . . .

or at least assurance that I'm doing the right thing . . .

With so many people looking at stashes, UFO's, etc. I know we are being a good influence on each other. That's what got me into this quandry. First I read about Barbara's decision to toss theUFO's that didn't appeal to her. Many, including me, applauded her for doing so. I've done this several times in the past, and really though I'd tossed all the ones I didn't want.

Then, this afternoon as I was revising my progress on my sidebar, I took a look at my list of UFT's, and immediately thought "Do I really want to finish that one?" Right away I decided the answer was no.

But now I'm home and I'm second guessing myself. First I thought "No I won't toss it - I think I really like what I've done here." Then I put some of the pieces up on the design wall (the only thing really sewn together is the feathers and 5 of the purple triangles) to take the first picture you see to the left. (I didn't have a design wall when I started this - well over 15 years ago - so this is the first time I've looked at it this way.) My immediate thought was "hmmm . . . I don't know whether I like that or not. It's awfully busy, and the center doesn't stand out the way I thought it would."

This was to be a "quick" project when I started it. I planned to enter a challenge at In the Beginning Quilts in Seattle. The fabric in the second picture was the challenge fabric. Obviously I never came close to finishing it - I think it was due at the store in less than 6 months - and here it sits all these years later. The appliqué and embroidery is tiny and delicate, as you can see by the third picture. The leaves are 7/8" long, the tulip 1" long and the center flower is 1 3/4" with a 3/4" center. The stems are embroidered with one strand of floss. You can see I've not made a lot of progress by looking at the last picture. The applique is done on 3 of the 9 blocks. A fourth is in progress. All the little pieces are cut out, and the size of them terrifies me now that my eyes have aged and my hands have arthritis. The strips of feathers are all pieced.

These are just NOT my colors and never were. I have no idea whether I have more of the green and purple fabric around. I never planned what was going to happen around the outside of the star or in the borders. I figured I plan that after I constructed the star I guess. And I never make quilts with so few fabrics any more.

So ladies - I think I'll toss this one out. The three appliqué blocks can go into my orphan block drawer. The strips of feathers can go into my crumbs drawer for mile-a-minute blocks. The cut applique pieces can go into the garbage. The floral can go into the stack of fabrics I'm cutting up for quilt backs. I can cross one more UFT off my list.

Does anyone disagree with me and think I should finish this one? Does anyone else love it enough to want to finish it - I'll happily gift it to you. I just don't want to finish it, and now that I've written this post I've convinced myself that getting rid of it is the right thing to do.

Update: Now that I've really thought about this I've realized what really bothers me. The flowers in the center of the appliqué blocks are too dark! If all 9 of them were up there they'd look like some sort of bazarre target practice piece! Isn't it amazing what a design wall, camera, and 15 additional years of quilt experience can tell you!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Cheetos and other junk food

I really chuckled when I read all the comments about Cheetos. Seems like lots of us are junk food addicts at heart LOL! What I'm really grateful for is all the baked chips, including Cheetos. The Cheetos especially taste just as good as the ones with lots more fat. All we buy any more is baked chips, and I don't feel nearly so guilty eating those.

Someone asked about the 100 calorie packages - can't remember who. I like to get those for my lunches. Makes figure the WW points much easier. I didn't know Cheetos came that way however - I'll have to look for them!

Customer quilt finished, thank goodness!

I never should have stopped yesterday - I should have finished the quilt no matter how hot it was upstairs. Everything was going beautifully except for the temperature in the room. I went upstairs about 8:00 this morning to finish the quilt and everything went wrong. Stitches skipping. Thread shredding. I'd not touched the machine or changed a thing since yesterday! Longarms can be very finicky machines at times - often when it seems like nothing has changed. Struggled across about 1/3 of the quilt with the thread having shredded and broken about 5 times. Tried 3 to 4 things that changed nothing. I finally changed the needle, even though the one I was using was a titanium needle, which is supposed to last 10 times longer than regular needles, and had been used on only one small quilt. Voila! Everything back to normal. This is the first titanium needle I've ever used - so far I'm not sold! This is the second quilt this beginning quilter has made, which is a gift for a friend. I quilted her first quilt a couple weeks ago - a quilt for her baby due any day now - but forgot to take a picture of it. She's doing pretty well for a beginner!

Now I'll ride my 20 minutes on the bicycle while watching a Simply Quilts episode, then will load Broken Dishes onto the machine. Hopefully I can do it while watching the Mariners BEAT Oakland (are you listening, guys?). They beat them the first game this year, but since then have lost 11 straight to them. If they'd beat them only half of those games they'd be in first place in the west instead of last place. Argh . . . ya gotta love 'em even when you are totally disgusted with 'em!

Saturday, August 5, 2006

A good quilty day!

I accomplished a lot today, and I'm heading for bed satisfied with all I did. I finished the back for Broken Dishes and it's waiting to be loaded on Gandalf as soon as the customer quilt is done. I've loaded the customer quilt and done the first pass of the pantograph. It's a very complex pantograph so one pass takes quilt a while. I stopped because it was getting too hot upstairs - I'll finish first thing in the morning.

I escaped the heat of the upstairs by taking refuge in my sewing room downstairs. I cut the two July blocks for the Jan Patek mystery and stitched them together. The block is called "Devil's Claw". I've not ever done this block before. It went together very easily and I really liked how it turned out. I may have to do a whole quilt of these some day. That catches me up on this project because the August block won't come until almost the end of the month. Tomorrow I'll do the two pieced blocks for Heirloom Stitches and prep the appliqué block. I'll also load Broken Dishes as soon as the customer quilt is done. It's supposed to be hot again in the afternoon so I probably won't get much quilting done on it. If I finish the piecing and it's too hot upstairs I'll spend the rest of the day doing appliqué on It's a Wonderful Life.

I even cut up all the scraps leftover from the two Devil's Claw blocks. I want to keep up with scraps now so all I have left to deal with is the two giant totes. One of these days . . . . All this cutting has made me realize that I don't want to do any more BOM's - at least not for a long time. I just want to use my own stash. I've used my owstashst for It's a Wonderful Life, but the other two have come with fabric. I justified it because it was such a good price - besides, it was the only way to get the pattern for the mystery. Right now I'm not planning on doing any more BOM's until I get lots and lots of my own quilts quilted and many more UFT's into finished tops.

At least that's how I'm feeling at the moment . . . . Hopefully I can hold onto this thought more than a day or two!


1. Quilty progress
2. Safe trip to the beach for my kids
3. Cool breeze coming in the window - finally!
4. A finished quilt back
5. Baked potato chips and cheetos


Friday, August 4, 2006


I'm happy to report that I've finished cutting up the last smaller tote of scraps (right now I'm going to forget that the two huge totes exist). I couldn't resist taking a picture of them all lined up ready to put into their respective boxes.

And I just couldn't part with even the tiniest piece of fabric, so I made a muslin sack and put all of the little bits into it. I also put lots of little scraps of batting too. I think it is full enough. I'm going to seam the end shut, manipulate it to distribute the scraps evenly, then put on a quick cover in a more durable fabric. Presto! A pillow for Shadow (the dog) that's all his own. I hope he'll love it and start leaving our pillows alone!


1. Fresh corn on the cob for dinner
2. Soft, fresh sugar cookies
3. Gandalf, the Proto Stitch Wizard (my longarm)
4. A good doctor's report for my daughter-in-law
5. #36 on the waiting list for our daughter and son-in-law


Personal Challenges

Wow - people are challenging themselves all over quilting blogland! Vicki in California started it all by issuing a challenge to herself and others that there be no fabric buying in August. A bunch of us jumped on that bandwagon, then Hanne went farther by challenging herself to a daily hour of "Do it Now". Others have added no buying of books - I can't remember who all did that. Now Mary is challenging herself to not start any new projects. I think this is catching - spreading like wildfire - which in my mind is a good thing!

I'm no different than the next quilter - excitement about doing something is contagious. So I'm going to issue a challenge to myself. It occurred to me to do this when I was changing some things on my sidebar and noticed my huge list of tops waiting to be quilted. There is absolutely no reason why that many are still there, other than the fact that I've just not done them. I've chosen to piece and appliqué instead. So I'm going to be bold and challenge myself to quilt 5 of those this month. That's a real stretch goal for me, as I don't have that much time. But there are at least three of them that I can do pantographs on, which should be fast. And several of them are quite small. So here's hoping that you'll see six more crossed off as "Completed" by the first day of September. I figure if I put this out here publicly I can pretend you are all holding me accountable for this, and it might actually happen. The only big "wrench in the works" out of my control would be if I get in a bunch more customer quilts. I guess if that happens I won't complain. I know I have one coming tonight that must be finished by Tuesday. Thank goodness it's only 53" square and is being done with a pantograph!

I also took a look at my 2006 goals. Hmmm . . . probably no one remembers that there used to be 4 goals there. I took one of them off by the end of February because I'd already failed miserably. Now I can't even remember what it was! The first goal of turning friendship blocks into tops is really lagging behind - only one done. I have a sneaky feeling that may be the only one that actually gets done - there are too many other things needing finishing that are calling to me. The second goal is probably not going to happen either - unless I can count the fact that I sold and gave away all that fabric last month. I don't know why I keep setting this goal - I never make it. Maybe when I retire. It's certainly not from lack of wanting to sew! The last goal I've already reached - hooray! One out of three isn't what I'd hoped for, but it is certainly better than it might be. I'm pretty sure that I'll have crossed off more than 10 by the end of the year.

I've sure been chatty lately with long posts. Now I think I'd better get back to work, as I'm sure my 15 minutes break time has passed.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Scrap quilts

Several people have asked me whether I've decided what I'm going to make next with my scraps. That's a tough one. There are so many, many scrap quilts I want to make. I need to get back to my string quilt before it becomes a true UFO, and my string tote is overflowing. My drawers of strips are overflowing also, so I want to start working with them. And I want to try making some Mile-A-Minute blocks. And that's just a start. Since scrap quilts are my favorites I've been collecting books of scrap quilts since I first started quilting. These books are some of my favorites to take to bed with me for quilty reading in the evening (Maybe that's why I have trouble going to sleep - I keep quilting in my head!). A couple of my favorite books are Quick and Easy Scrap Quilts by Leisure Arts and American Country Scrap Quilts by Fons and Porter. (I've linked the titles to copies of the books for sale on I've been drooling over quilts in these books for years. Tonight I scanned some of the quilts I like the best - all are on my "must make someday" list. I thought you might enjoy seeing them . The scraps I'm cutting are perfect for any of these quilts. The piecing is straight forward and simple, and all blocks can be drafted easily on graph paper or in a quilting software program. They are also easily resized. The hardest thing is choosing which one to do first! I'm leaning towards "Flock of Geese Medallion". I guess I'm not yet tired of working with half square triangle squares!

From the top of the post down they are "Churn Dash", "Flock of Geese Medallion", "Four Patch Star", "Kansas Troubles", "Nine Patch", "Scrappy Stars", and Jewel Box.

That's enough to keep me busy for a few years, don't you think?

Some of you have also asked me about the sizes and shapes I'm cutting all my scraps. I'll summarize that for you here. I've decided on these because they fit all the patterns I want to do. Squares 5", 4.5", 3.5", 2.5" and 2". Bricks 3.5"x 6.5", 2.5"x 4.5", 2"x 3.5", and 1.5"x 2.5". Strips 1.5" wide, 2" wide, 2.5" wide and 3.5" wide. Half square triangle squares 1.5", 2.5", 3.5" and 4.5". I also cut half square triangles from oddly shaped scraps (appliquérs have a lot of those) that will match squares of the following sizes: 2.5", 3.5" and 4.5". I have separate totes or drawers for most all of these. I also have a tote for strings and another tote for "crumbs'. I can't stand throwing away anything that's about 1" square or larger. I know many people don't save such small scraps, and that's fine for them. This is just what works for me.

It's getting very late, and my alarm will ring early tomorrow. Seems like pictures I scan always take way longer to upload than camera pictures. My scanner must be set to scan large. Not sure how to change that - I don't think we ever got a book with it as it was the floor model.

All the quilt pictures will enlarge quite a bit if you click on them. I just tried it, and noticed that I scanned almost all of them upside down. Oh well, with these quilts it really doesn't make any difference!


It seems like there has been a lot of "philosophical thinking" going on in blogland lately. People are asking themselves lots of questions. The most recent being (pardon me taking liberties with the Bard) "To stash or not to stash, that is the question". Shopping habits, buying habits, hoarding habits, living habits. Someone wondered if this type of thinking is stemming from the wars and uncertainty we are seeing these days. I don't know about that - there have been very few years in the history of the country that we weren't in some war or experiencing some type of unrest. I'm sure all of our minds' wheels are turning whether we've posted or not posted about the subject.

So here is your warning - I'm going to express my opinions in this post. They are my opinions and they work for me. I'm not suggesting they would work for you also - I do not want to try to sway anyone else's way of thinking. We are all different - which is a wonderful thing! If you think you might dislike some of the things I say then stop reading now. I promise my next post will be back on the subject of quilting.

On the question of stashing - I have a very large stash bordering on the obscene, and I'm not at ashamed of it. Have I bought fabric in the past that no longer appeals to me? Absolutely! Have I given a lot of it away? Most definitely! Do I think that's a bad thing? Not at all! I've given it to new quilters who haven't been able to buy fabric of their own, and that's a good thing. I've tried to do my part to pass quilting down to the next generations. I've given yards and yards and yards to the charity committee at our guild. Until I retire I don't have time to sew many charity quilts, so this is my contribution to the cause. My unused fabric is being put into quilts that are warming and cuddling children and adults in need, and that makes me feel good. Do I wish I had back the money I spent on that fabric? Not at all. I'm very happy to think about what is being done with it. Maybe that wouldn't be the case if I were charging the fabric, paying interest on the charges, lying about the buying to my husband, hiding the fabric, and spending money on fabric instead of necessities - but I'm doing none of those things. I am blessed to have a good paying job and can afford to buy the fabric I want to use, so why shouldn't I? None of the fabric is going to waste. I'm helping keep a valuable resource - our local quilt shops - in business. And my kids don't have to deal with it if something happens to me - I've willed it to my quilting buddies first, then anything they don't want goes to the guild for charity quilts.

Here are the reasons I think it's important for me to have a stash:

1. I'm very impatient. When I'm in the middle of the "throes of creativity" I don't want to stop to run to the quilt shop. Especially when I often work at night and on the weekend when quilt shops aren't open. Especially when my favorite shops are a hour drive in any direction. If my shelves look like I'm running a little quilt shop it's because I am. I do a huge amount of "shopping" in my own stash - much more "shopping" than I do at a quilt shop. My friends shop in my stash also, and I shop in theirs - we love to share that way.
2. I don't make quilts that are "matchy matchy" and are from a limited number of fabrics. They may not all be scrap quilts, but almost all of them have at least 40 to 50 fabrics and usually many more. Can you imagine how a quilt shop would hate me if I always came in, lined 40 or 50 or 100 bolts on their counter and said "give me an eighth of a yard of every one of these? It would take forever to cut, and I'd feel obligated to help them put all the bolts away. It would probably take at least 4-5 hours for one shopping trip for fabric for a scrap quilt. I'd rather be sewing!
3. I love to have a huge palette of colors, shades, values, textures and prints from which to work. Fabrics change from year to year, and what's available one year isn't available the next. All through the late 80's and early 90's the palette in the shops was cool. You couldn't find a warm, buttery yellow, vibrant gold or pulsing orange to save your life. Sometime during the 90's the fashion changed from cool to warm. For a long time you couldn't find cool ice blues, forest greens, or blue reds. At that time I was thrilled to have them available in my stash. I also bought lots of the warm colors, because my maturing stash was primarily cool because that's all that was available. Medium tones are what's usually around. When the watercolor craze started pale florals were almost impossible to find. Right now it's the deep darks that I can't find easily. I love to use navy and midnight blue in my quilts, and have to search everywhere for it. When I find it I buy at least 6-8 yards or more. What I used for the border on my Broken Dishes took almost all I had left, and it took me over 6 months to find that piece. Now I'll have to start looking again. Dark black prints are very hard to find also. When I see one I grab it, and it never goes to waste.

Do I want to control my shopping? Absolutely, for several reasons. I want to retire soon. My shelves are full. I have more than enough fabric to last me the rest of my life. Does this mean I'll stop buying fabric? No. I need to keep track of what I need and what I don't need. This is one reason I like to sort by color - it's easy to see what I'm getting low on. I know I don't need to buy medium blues for another 10 years, but I have very few purples and oranges. Will I buy those colors without knowing what I'll use them for? You bet - because I know they'll be used eventually. I estimate I don't know the final purpose of 95% of the fabric I buy, and for me that is just fine. When something new comes out - like all the Civil War fabrics that have been coming the last 2-3 years - will I buy it if I absolutely love it? Yes, because I won't have anything else like that in my stash.

I consider my stash to be like an artist's paint box full of tubes of paint. Would anyone ever dare tell a painter that he can't buy any more paint until he or she uses what is there? Not at all. If I don't have the "fabric paint" that I need to create the wonderful quilt that is singing in my mind and heart, then I won't hesitate to buy the fabric I need to bring it into the real world.

The beauty of quilting is that there is something for all of us. Whether we are a quilt artist, a quilt artisan, or someone who creates quilts simply for the joy of creating them - there is a place for each of us. We are all of equal importance in building the heritage of this wonderful art of quilting. I shudder every time I hear someone say "she isn't a real quilter because she doesn't ______." Or "she doesn't make real quilts because ______." Fill in the blanks yourself - you know all the different things we hear. The quilt police don't exist, and all that matters is that you make quilts that you yourself love no matter what anyone else thinks.

To me living simply doesn't mean cooking everything from scratch, growing our own food, or anything like that. To me, living simply is a state of mind. Being comfortable in the shoes you are wearing whatever they are. Not buying things to try to find happiness, but at the same time (if you want) collecting possessions you love that give you joy, bring a smile to your face whenever you see them and/or use them, and just being content with life. Whatever life you choose. My life is right for me, but I'd never expect it to be right for someone else. Each person must choose what is right for them, while at the same time never judging others for the life they choose. I have no right to judge anyone else because I have not walked in their shoes nor do I know what it is really like to be them.

I don't know whether growing older makes it easier to be comfortable and happy with one's life, but that's how it's worked for me. It's taken me almost 60 years to get to this place, and it feels so good to have "arrived". I wish the same comfort and happiness for each of you, whatever that means to you.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Another tote emptied . . .

Or at least in the process of being emptied. I THINK this is the last small tote of scraps and little pieces. I don't think there are any more hiding in the room anywhere. This one had lots more of the big squares in it, plus the pieces I took off my fabric shelves and baskets when I was sorting for the yard sale. They have large chunks out of them and are of oddball size, so I'm cutting them up to make storing them easier. As you can see I'm pressing first - still have to press the pile in the front. I hope to have them all cut up by the end of the weekend.

This will leave only these two big containers - the worst of all. Fabrics are totally crammed into each of them. I think I'll wait for awhile before I deal with them. I'll sew up some of the things I've already cut, plus my drawers full of strips. And since it's now August I need to get back to my BOM's. I was caught up in June but I'm not caught up any longer!