Karma Quilting

Last week was a busy week. There were roses and chocolates, a fun Calico Cutters Guild meting to attend. And I hosted “The Sometimes We Do” Quilt Bee. I made a carrot cake that was devoured too quickly to photograph on the cake stand.

When I woke up on Saturday, the sunrise turned everything pink and orange. We got 3 or 4 inches of snow during the night but by the time I snapped this photo, melting was progressing nicely.

I spotted tiny flowers blooming at Longwood! I know winter may not have had its last hurrah but this week promises temperatures in the 70’s. That’s crazy!

I started this quilt with the firm intention of donating it to the Calico Cutters Quilt Show “Small Quilt Auction.” The quilts must be 16 by 24 inches and that is a perfect size for my Quilting in Layers technique. But when the quilt was finished, I really liked it and didn’t want to let it go!

So I made another quilt, thinking I’d keep the first, donate the second. But then I liked the second quilt too! Clearly, I’m not cut out to be a surrogate quilt mother. So while my Bee friends were here, I had them vote on which quilt should go to the guild auction.

I’m so hoping that someone from the Guild wins the quilt with the snowdrops!

Here’s the thing about Karma. If you put it out there, it comes back to you. I’m having so much fun with this crazy scrappy Quilting in Layers technique! If it worked good on a 16 by 24 inch piece of batting, what about my little 4 inch squares? Oh heck yeah!

Don’t Touch!

My Quilt Guild, Calico Cutters, is having a Quilt Show in May. So the Challenge this year was to make small quilted signs to hang near the displayed quilts, reminding viewers that touching the quilts is not allowed. We were encouraged to be really creative and prizes would be awarded by popular vote.

I had a leftover Jack-in-the-Pulpit so I thought it would work with the Leave No Trace ethic encouraged when camping and hiking. I’m not really sure the sentiment will be understood but I certainly want no trace of sticky hands on my quilt.

I printed out several sizes of type and cut bits of fabric to plan the layout.

I traced the letters onto freezer paper and ironed the templates onto fabric pieces that I backed with Wonder Under fusible web.

The words are fused down and I zigzag stitched the panel onto the composition.

I wrote out Leave No Trace on Golden Threads paper and stitched over the letters.

I always like a striped binding.

It was so fun to see the little signs displayed at Guild!

We could only vote for one.

That little one on the bottom is a dire warning! Touch a quilt and you might be removed from the show in handcuffs!

I loved “Keep Your Paws Off!”

I was pleased with how mine looked and it was fun to make. I can’t remember the order, but the makers of the lovely flowered embroidery, the pin cactus “We Get Prickly” and the three bras, all went home with Quilt Shop Gift Certificates. Well done! We had to guess who made each sign, I wish they had read the members names. But it will be fun to find out at the quilt show– not touching, of course.

More Jacks

I’m knee deep in Jack-in-the-Pulpits in my studio. I must have taken hundreds of photos of them over the years. Certainly none are blooming now in dreary, frozen Pennsylvania. I love them because they are some of the first wild flowers to bloom. I’ve been hiking in early spring when the woods are still brown and the trees branches bare. When I come to a shallow stream flowing down the side of a mountain, I often stop for a moment, especially if I’m alone. You can see wonderful things if you remain still and quiet. Once a saw a fisher cat, kind of like a martin, come to the water for a drink! Often I’ve stoped to admire green shoots in wet drainages, thinking it’s skunk cabbage, when suddenly I realize, they’re all jack-in-the-Pulpits!

This is my basket of Ridiculously Small scraps. I can’t throw away tiny bits of my favorite hand-dyed fabrics.

I cut a piece of batting to the size I want for my quilt and iron Wonder Under fusible to one side.

I lay down the scraps, raw edges overlapping slightly, covering the batting.

When I’m pleased with the fabric selections and the batting is all covered, I iron everything to fuse all the bits and pieces.

I stitch with many different threads, some glittery copper metallic, variegated cotton with pops of purple and bright green, and shiny brown rayon. I like the uneven edges so I clipped the threads, leaving tails, to add to the rough look. This really is a fun, freeing technique.

Just a few snips left from the scraps I used. I can actually put these in the trash!

I have created an interesting “forest floor” canvas. Time to build the flowers and leaves on the Teflon sheet. I don’t have a composition drawn out, the plan is to make some Jacks, make a bunch of leaves and then position them on the background.

I’m pretty happy with this layout but I’m going to wait until tomorrow to iron it down so I can look at it with fresh eyes. I can’t wait to start stitching on the flowers.

All a Memory

I miss my morning walk. Gary and I were in Playa Del Carmen for two weeks.

Note the long sleeves, it was a little chilly at 7 in the morning when we would walk on the beach to Sr. Frogs and back. But the water temperature was a balmy 85 so a few clouds didn’t cramp our style at all.

Paddling up the rivers to the cenotes is my favorite thing. The water is so absolutely clear.

Reading by the pool is the best. I read 6 books in that lounge chair– not admitting to the number of cold beverages consumed. The best book by far was “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver. I think I have read every novel by this author but this book isn’t fiction. It’s a very thought provoking report on the Kingsolver family’s attempt to eat only locally grown food for an entire year.

I would have no problem eating this same, locally grown in Mexico, lunch, every single day.

The paella with fresh caught sea food was amazing too.

So we are back home now with memories of a relaxing vacation in the sun. I’m trying to keep warm with a fire in the fireplace and baking bread– locally sourced thyme from my window sill. I’m looking forward to quilting every day in February.

Maybe Spring will be early this year.

Debut Day

Yea! I did get pictures from the photo shoot. Reporting for the Hair and Makeup (and Fur?) session.

Work it, girl! Don’t let that scene steeler upstage you.

Exactly. Only one Super Model needed on this page. Kira thinks the photos will be used in advertising for TJ Maxx around Valentine’s Day and Bella may make her debut on the website banners and flyers. You know I’ll be checking it out frequently.

Green, Just Green

How about that cute studio assistant! Bella has been staying with me while Kira was vacationing in Spain and Morocco. My grand-dog had to return home to Manhattan because she’s a working girl now. Bella is making her modeling debut with Kira today. I hope I get photos! It was so much fun having her here. She and I watched all the figure skating on television together, Ladies, Men’s, Pairs, Ice Dance. Not once did she beg for football or try to switch to the Golf channel. Best binge buddy ever!

These past frigid days have kept me inside. I did have some downtime between ice skating competitions, tho. I got all the blocks together on my latest Bonnie Hunter scrap quilt. It’s so interesting how quilters choose color and fabrics. My friend Kelly, over at Pinkadot Quilts is making snow ball quilt blocks and her sewing room is a riot of colors. Mine is green, just green.

Ok– and some brown but definitely Spring is on my mind — as I look out the window at blowing snow. I need to make some framed pieces for an upcoming art show and I’ve wanted to do Jack-in-the-Pulpits for a while.

I just layer up a bunch of scraps on top of a piece of batting and then stitch to secure everything. I’ve left the edges raw because I want a rough, forest floor look.

I apply Wonder Under fusible web to my fabrics and make templates on freezer paper from my line drawing of the flower.

I fuse all the flower pieces on a Teflon sheet, then peel it up as a whole so I can position it on the background.

I had planned to add the stripes and details with stitching but I was afraid it wouldn’t show up well so I free cut some slivers of fabric. I thought about using paint or markers instead, but chickened out. I had already fused the flower down and didn’t want to ruin it with experimenting. I think the details and stitching bring the Jacks to life. All I need to do is glue it down to the cradled wood frame and add hanging wire.

I just don’t want to stop making Jacks. One thing led to another and some blue-purple started to infiltrate. I wonder why?

The colors just look so pretty together. Some Snow Drops would really add to a composition of Jack-in-the-Pulpits.

I’m off to the races with Jacks! I enjoyed making this small quilt, now I’m thinking of going Full On Spring. I could mix in some Trilliums– you saw that coming, right? And what about Lady Slippers!

Here’s a close up of the stitching. I think I like the quilted line better than the slivers of fabric on the framed Jacks. And it’s much faster. I could easily keep making wild flowers in fabric until the real ones bloom. A long darn time from now.

Surprise Quilt

I made this paper pieced wall hanging for my son, Tyler, years ago. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have it anymore. When we were out in Denver visiting, he mentioned that he really missed the quilt. Hey, I know how to fix that. Wait… no way am I remaking that quilt again. Paper piecing and I don’t get along all that well.

Bang! Inspiration! When I saw this book at the library I knew the quilt on the cover would be perfect for Tyler.

I drove to The Old Country Store in Lancaster and stacked up bolts. I was looking for a good color selection of not quite solid fabrics and the Moda Grunge collection was exactly what I wanted.

It’s so nice to follow a pattern. All the math in the yardage requirements has been worked out. I took my fabric home, tossed it in the washer– yep, even the white with all the colors. I decided to be brave because this is a bed quilt and I expect it to be used and washed. Gosh, Moda fabric is the best. Not a bit of color bleed, hardly any raveling and the fabric came from the dryer barely needing to be ironed. Worth every penny for quality fabric.

The design is made from squares and half square triangles. A LOT of hst’s. A LOT. I’ve never used this method of making 4 hst’s at once before so I thought I’d give it a go.

Layer up two colors of fabric squares, sew a quarter inch all around the edges then cut diagonally,

With this method, you trim the triangles down to size. I used a piece of quarter inch masking tape on the ruler to line up the seam allowance.

I nipped the “dog ears” with my rotary cutter by eye.

Pretty nice, accurate triangles. But here is where things can go wrong– pressing the seam allowance to one side. As a Longarm quilter, I have appreciation for pressing to one side to create the “ditch” to stitch a quilt line. But for me, it’s easier to keep my triangles square and to match points when sewing if I press seams open.

I lay out the triangles on my Strip Stick and the square stays nice and straight. I have the short and long Strip Sticks and I use them both all the time.

Did I mention LOTS of triangles. LOTS.

No problem matching a billion points with seams open.

I got one “block” sewn together and up on the design wall to admire. You’ve got to be kidding me– I was so careful to keep the order straight. I just could not quit for the night and have a glass of wine, leaving that mistake for morning.

Oh no, I picked out that rogue square THREE TIMES. And re-sewed it back in, exactly wrong, THREE TIMES. Gary was hearing some words coming from the sewing room and had the wine bottle opened by the time I finely got it right.

I was determined not to make that mistake again and laid out the blocks on the floor.

I didn’t have too much time to ponder the quilting design. The quilt in the book was outline quilted, very minimally. Didn’t care for that. I found this photo on Pinterest with a swirly quilting design. I didn’t feel that was in keeping with the pieced top.

I decided to go with sorta straight lines, horizontally quilted across, which was fast and easy.

I didn’t even have time to make a label, just wrote directly on the quilt back. I boxed it up and sent it off to Colorado– not quite in time for Christmas but that didn’t seem to bother Tyler. He loves his new quilt.

I Have a Plan

Gary and I decided to take a walk.

It was 18 degrees.

The Brandywine River was frozen.

So was I.

The End.

Ok… not the end…today we have a snowing blizzard white-out, Nor’easter. Gary got outa town, business trip to India, where it is 80 degrees. I’m home waiting for the howling winds to ramp up. I better not lose power in this storm because I have a plan.

Sew and quilt and long for Spring.

Read. I have 4 library books stacked up.

Finish knitting socks for my granddaughter.

Binge watch Big Little Lies. I have popcorn, chocolate, Oreos.

So that’s pretty much the plan. Oh, and catch up on writing Blog posts. Lots of Blog posts. I’m so behind. Maybe all these diversions will take my mind off wondering why I’m not in Florida.

A Splash of Christmas

For the last several years, Gary and I have decamped to Hilton Head over the Christmas holidays. This year we decided to stay home and we invited lots of friends for dinner parties and get togethers. Oh crap! I have to decorate.

The front door seriously needs a bower of fresh greens draped above the lintel and cascading down. Twinkling white lights would be a lovely touch as well. Not gonna happen, tho. I’m pretty sure I don’t even own any kind of Christmas lights. Last year, in a frenzy of decluttering, I attacked the Christmas stuff and got rid of– maybe everything. Gulp.

Thank goodness for lots of red roses and the Quilt Bee gift exchanges. I love being reminded of my friends when I use the gifts I’ve received over the years. Susie made this table runner.

This year I received a table topper made by Joan. I love the shape and I can use it year round. Thank you, Joan!

I created a low table scape with my nativity set brought back from Mexico. I need lots of room for appetizers.

It’s cold enough for a welcoming fire. St. Nick looks on, reminding me that we live in Wyeth country. I haven’t been to the Brandywine River Museum at Christmas for years. Time for a return visit.

I’ve been happily cooking for three days but doing the flower arrangements brings me to my knees. I always leave it to the last minute then it’s a crazy scramble to find the right vases. I never have enough greens and I grab a scissors– where is the real clipper? Who knows? I’m a mad woman chopping off whatever I can get in the backyard. Lucky for me, it was a good year for holly berries.

The red bear paw quilt can stay up through Valentines Day, woo hoo! I love this quilt. I made the blocks with red fabric donations from friends almost 30 years ago, and it’s all hand quilted.

Michele made this perfect fit table runner. I can’t remember when I started this little wall hanging quilt. I got the top finished then put it in the que to be quilted, maybe 10 years ago. Why didn’t I just finish it? I don’t know, but this is why you gotta love UFO’s. I hauled it out, machine quilted, sewed on the binding, –boom done! Got another Christmas decoration!

The house smells delicious, the table is set, the fireplace is glowing, there are splashes of Christmas in the house. Pop that champagne cork and bring on the friends!

The Child Finder

I think the adjective “really” is so over-used. I try to avoid using it. But I have to say, “The Child Finder” by Rene Denfeld is a really– no, make that– really, really good book.

So I’ve been thinking, what makes a book really good?

1. The first page of the story holds you like a vice grip.

2. Everything gets put on hold, customer quilts needing long-arm quilting, Christmas gift sewing, books you are supposed to be reading for discussion, blogging– (I know, I know…) Everything.

3. No actual meals get prepared because breakfast, lunch and dinner get devoured straight from the bag, wood-chipper style. Cookies, potato chips, whatever.

4. You don’t leave the house at all because you, Can’t. Put. The. Book. Down.

5. Husband. What husband?

6. The last few pages are super hard to read because the tears in your eyes make it hard to see the words.

7. When you finely close the book, you sit in awe for a nano second. Then grab the iPad and relief is palpable when Google reveals other books written by the author.

8. Write an entire blog post about the book. Yeah, it was that good.

Years End

I had such a fun time last week in Fayetteville, New York with the Towpath Quilters. Not enough time! I have given up on trying to take photos during a workshop because it’s too busy and intense. Ok, I mostly just get involved and forget. I want to return someday and ride my bike on the Erie Canal Towpath Trail and be able to explore the area.

Aha…my final lecture and workshop for this year. I just dumped everything in my studio. I’ll organize the stuff and put it away later. I’m so anxious to get sewing on a few quilts I’ve had planned.

Auditioning some silk center squares to add to these blocks. I feel like more flower appliqué is needed.

I’m enjoying lazing about! Cleaning up my sewing room. Starting some new quilts. Reading books. The cleaning and sewing (and cooking and everything else) were on hold while I finished Tana French’s latest novel. I’ve read all the books written by this author and if you like suspenseful detective stories, I highly recommend Tana French. There is new Irish slang vocabulary to learn because the author is Irish and the setting is always Ireland. I love that the cast of characters is familiar throughout the books, but the lead detective changes. I wish they would make a Netflix series with the stories. I’d be binge watching!

Fan Student

Calico Cutters Quilt Guild had a terrific speaker this week. Melissa Sobotka is an award winning quilt maker. She won Best of Show a few years ago in Houston for her quilt, “Chihuly’s Gondola.” The quilt was constructed with a raw edge appliqué technique and viewers had a hard time believing it wasn’t a photograph printed on fabric. 

The slide show was interesting but I was disappointed not to see a single actual quilt. Melissa has sold her quilts and several are in museums and she didn’t have any to bring to the presentation. Wow.

Lucky for me, I saw this amazing quilt, “Silk Road,” at the Lancaster AQS Show in March. I had to get my face just a few inches from the quilt to see the bitty, tiny, fused fabrics and quilting stitches. Seriously? This is not a photograph?

As incredible as those two quilts are, this one of spindles on a warehouse wall, is my favorite. Seeing the depth and coloration of the images in raw edge fabric blew me away and I needed to know, HOW DOES SHE DO THAT?

When I found out that Melissa was coming to our guild to do a workshop I was the first to sign up. I convinced my friend Karen to come too. 

We didn’t have to lug sewing machines to learn Picture Perfect Appliqué. And we didn’t even have to gather materials because Melissa provides a nicely packaged kit. 

We worked from a photograph of a colorful frog. 

We practiced cutting pre-fused fabric shapes and then using a variety of paints and inks to blur and blend the line where the fabrics meet. On the left, I used a pink Derwent Inktense block with a paintbrush on my fabric. Karen brushed Tsukineko ink in white on her shapes. Humm. This technique could take a lot of practice. Controlling the “bleeding” of the paint into the fabric requires a dry brush and experimentation. 

I’ve done quite a bit of raw edge fused appliqué but it’s interesting too see differences in another quilters’s technique. The painting on fabric was new to me and I might like to try this on my quilts. 

We didn’t have time to complete our project in class but got enough of the frog together to understand the process. I applied ink to the frogs eyes and dabbed on white dots to alter the flat green fabric. It made the frog much more dimensional. Ribbit!

I enjoyed the class and being a student for a change. Tomorrow I’m off to New York to lecture and teach my Quilting in Layers Workshop to Towpath Quilt Guild. Learn and teach, it’s all good!

Last Ride?

It’s November already but the great weather just goes on and on. I keep wondering, will this be my last bike ride for the season? Gary and I were just out in Denver, Colorado and woke up to a half inch of ice coating everything. No fun trying to chip ice off the windshield of the car using the plastic hotel room swipe key. Of course, the next day, it was 70 degrees. Crazy. I’m glad to be back in Pennsylvania where you can count on the forecast– mostly.

Last week we rode our bikes on the Delaware and Raritan Canal trail in New Jersey. What? The trail crosses through a golf course– never seen that before. 

No! Don’t even think about it. You know he’s thinking about it. 

I was sceptical about this trail at first. Especially when I saw the dirt path but it was smooth and easy riding. And spectacular, with a lake on one side and the canal on the other. Wow. 

I try to imagine what life was like, living in the small cottage and working the locks for the barges that traveled the canal. Such a different time. 

Beautiful Carnegie Lake. I don’t know if they allow motors but we see lots of kayaks and canoes. 

We rode about 9 miles from Port Mercer to Kingston where we knew there was a nice restaurant, Eno Terra, just a block from the canal path. Ratz! Not open until 4 o’clock. 

Hum… ride on and hope for food ahead? Or turn back, though we didn’t see anything on the way here. Gary better not be thinking about that golf course…

Hey, if we turn around, we can ride up into Princeton from the canal. Gotta be food in a college town. 

I did say “ride up”. It’s always up from the water. It might not look that steep but I got off the bike and walked because it was forever UP.

This is why I love exploring. First we rode through the University, with old ivy draped buildings and then wheeled our bikes downtown. There were street musicians playing guitars and a classical violinist. And we found a nice restaurant for lunch. 

The interior was so cool. I loved this chandelier made from lamp bases. 

One of Gary’s criteria for a perfect bike ride. Yeah, mine too. 

Walking back down to the trail, I learned that it’s pretty easy to guide the bike while eating a double dip heath bar crunch ice cream cone. Makes walking the bike actually pleasurable.

From Mulberry street in Trenton to Landing Lane Bridge in New Brunswick, the D &R Canal runs almost 40 miles. We rode about 9 miles, out and back, from Port Mercer to Kingston. Whoohoo! That leaves about 30 miles of trail to explore! Hopefully there are more gorgeous days left this season for another bike ride. 

My Turn

Fresh flowers and deserts– yep, it was my turn to host the Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee. Those limoncello cheesecake squares from Ina Garten’s, “Cooking for Jeffrey,” book were so good. 

I love Reveal Day! We’ve been working on our latest challenge. Make a quilt using stripes and solids. Karen set the bar high, showing her quilt first. Oh– we decided the quilt didn’t have to be completed– yeah, we ran out of time, even after extending the deadline a few times. We have lives! It’s a good thing!

Michele was very graphic and modern with her design. I can see this in her house so well. 

Peggy needed a baby quilt, so cute pinwheel stripes and solids, plus gift. Good idea.

Go big or go home! Susie knocked it out of the park. I want this quilt on the back of my sofa. 

Joan made not one, but three table runners. And she left them for me to longarm quilt, thank you! The background is a lovely linen-look fabric.

I decided to make my own stripes with inset stripes, using my Quilting in Layers technique. 

In addition to the Challenge Quilts, there was lots of Show and Tell. Patty made a T Shirt quilt. Her friend is going to cherish this memory quilt. 

Can you see the Halloween fabric in Andra’s quilt? You would not believe her collection of spooky prints. Modern and quite subtle for Andra!

Karen was crazy prolific, finishing up a bunch of projects. She’s going to be busy in the coming months and says she won’t have time to sew. Uh huh.

Hey Karen! I’m accepting Christmas presents early! Love this small quilt. 

Can you believe she is giving this away? Not to me, unfortunately.

Ginger just finished this T Shirt quilt for a customer. She captured a masculine feel to coordinate with the motorcycle memories. 

Peggy made this spectacular quilt. How about that piecing! She trusted me to longarm quilt this beauty. Lots of ruler work. 

This wool table quilt lives in Joan’s dining room with a pumpkin in the center. I bet this was fun to make. 

Pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns and witches. Andra made this cute dress and top for her granddaughter. Love that bit of ruffle under the skirt. 

Whew! That’s a lotta quilts and all I really want to do is go into my studio and sew stuff! 

Plans Change

I can’t believe I’ve been back from California for over a week. Note to self– schedule in a few recovery days at home following a vacation.  After a wonderful visit with our grandsons in Santa Monica, we got on a plane to SanFrancisco, planning to head to Napa for a few days of wine tasting. We had no idea that fires had engulfed the valley the night before. On the way to pick up our rental car, the shuttle driver mentioned the smoke drifting down from Napa. WHAT! That’s where we’re going! Gary and I sat in the parking lot, listening to the radio and scrolling on our phones for news. This was a serious fire. We were not going to Napa. We couldn’t even cancel our reservations. No cell service there. We later found out, our Inn Keeper had evacuated to a shelter. Wow. 

What to do? Just go home? Heck no! Never let it be said that we can’t scramble up a new plan on a moments notice. But… does it have to involve golf?   Sigh. 

We managed to get a room for the night at Quail Hollow Golf Resort outside of Carmel, and there just happens to be the lovely Folktale Vineyard right next door. 

We could only spend one night at Quail Hollow. It’s amazing how many folks fled the fires or were unable to get into Napa and have now traveled down south. I’ve never been to Carmel and I’m very happy to be right in the village where we can explore this quirky town on foot. Lots of the architecture looks built for gnomes!

It’s an easy stroll down to the ocean.

Can you imagine living with this view from your windows? We walked all around the ocean drive and marveled at the homes, built right up to the edge. They were not huge mansions with security gates.  The homes were all different and historical and had gorgeous, colorful gardens. I took about a thousand photos. 

We visited the church where Father Juniperro Serra administered to the missions he set up all along the coast of California.

Oh my gosh, I’d move to California for the farmers markets alone. And wine tasting was easily accomplished in tasting rooms all over Carmel. We bought a Wine Passport and could stroll to a tasting before dinner.

There is no shortage of wonderful restaurants in Carmel either. My favorite was Casanova. The food was delicious and history dates way back to the 1920’s when Charlie Chaplin ate here.

Of course The Golfer and I took the Seventeen Mile Drive along Pebble Beach. We stopped to buy a golf hat at Spyglass Golf Course… and just casually inquire if there were available tee times.  I think I was played…. a round of golf is $499, not including cart, caddie and tips. Heart palpitations! Nothing available for a week on any of the courses. Hey…. a hat is good!

I totally admit, I loved sitting outside at The Bench Restaurant in view of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. Gary watched the golfers, I watched a whale breaching, flipping his tale and cavorting just beyond.  

Every night we listened to the news of the Napa fires escalating and saw on television the ravaged homes and whole neighborhoods. We heard the stories of lives lost, fighting and fleeing the fires, and heroism. My heart is breaking in sorrow for the people affected. Napa Valley and the surrounding area is a very special place and the community is strong. I hope I can some day travel back there and raise a glass of wine in toast to resilience and indomitable spirit and see the amazing recovery that I know will happen.