Monday, April 30, 2012


There is something celebratory about marking events in some special way. It creates special memories or new ways of remembering. I feel like marking the last day in April by sharing this...

Since August of last year, I have had the pleasure of working with a wonderful group of women in my block-of-the-month class. The original quilt for the class sample was done in teal/purple/blue batiks. Then I decided that I would like to make a second block each month (with a totally different color scheme) along with my students so that what I was teaching was fresh in my mind. Thus began the brown star quilt. Very unoriginal name but I wasn't inspired. The inspiration might be coming...

The first quilt was set very traditionally. When I recently finished the twelve blocks, I thought I would set them in the same way but changed my mind. I really wanted something new. So, here it is. The twelve star blocks will be set around the circumference of this large starburst.  The pattern came from an old issue of Quilts with Style, 2006. I'm pretty excited about it.

Farewell, April.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Is it really almost May? Not only does it feel like this year is going a hundred miles an hour, but I'm headed towards my most dreaded time of the year....the end of school. This means getting the kids to finish all their work which is a chore when they certainly have spring fever. Then, there's the process of getting the portfolios ready for the district, scheduling evaluations, and even planning summer courses and next years curriculum. Ugh! Bring it on...

I'm steadily plowing through the morning glory quilt that I chose to make with my new stash pick. I hope to do some embroidery work in the center of each flower. We'll see how that goes. I'm thinking that I should make one extra flower just so I have a practice piece. 

The center is done and half of the outer flowers.

The red and white New York Beauty is finished. I don't know why every time I look at this I think of a 50's apron. Makes me smile :)

This was really a fun project.

Now, I'm off to Cloth and Bobbin to deliver it. Can I get out of that adorable shop without buying something? Oh....I think I'm hopeless when it comes to fabric, pattern, texture, and color.....absolutely hopeless!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lovin' Fridays...

I generally wake up in a different frame of mind on Fridays. I'm not exactly sure what it is. My weekends are filled with much the same things: cooking, cleaning, and supervising school that didn't get finished during the week. However, Friday morning...those first thoughts when I become conscious and open my eyes, are different. First of all, I look forward to sleeping in on Saturday morning...staying in bed for a bit, reaching for a good book and reading before I start my day. The children and I enjoy staying up a bit later on the weekends watching a movie together. ..And there is no question that I get to be at my machine a little bit more than on the weekdays. That's makes me happy. So, right now, I'm lovin' Fridays!

One of my daughters is studying Japanese this year and really enjoying it. A recent assignment had her go to several Japanese food websites, pick a recipe, and make it. No surprise to me, she chose ramen, and off to the kitchen we went. Now ramen is not only delicious, but it is an absolutely beautiful bowl of food. She put in chicken, salmon, hard-boiled egg, and scallions. It was wonderful! You should try it...

The "Reflections" quilt now has a border on it, and I'm pleased with the result.

I went and picked out fabric for the back, and it's ready to go to the quilter.

The red and white fabrics are being used for the New York Beauty. The sixteen arcs are finished....four each of four different reds and four different white backgrounds.

I have two settings picked out, all cut and ready to sew...

Every quilt you make has a different feel...even as you work on it. Some give me a mellow feeling from soft subtle colors. Others are loud and bright and get me geared up like a cup of coffee. This one is simply fun...a cheerful, easy, kind of old-school feeling.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Movin' right along...

At the end of March, I joined the Block Swap Adventure. It's a fun way to meet others quilters from around the world. Each month, you are given a swap partner. You each make a block for the other according to their color and design preferences. So, April was my first month. My partner's favorite colors are red and black. This is the block design that she chose...

I had some left over fabric, so I made another one for her...then off they went in the mail to Oregon. My partner for May is in Australia.

The top of the "Reflections" quilt is done minus the border.

Hoping to get this done and take it to be quilted tomorrow. This will be my first completed Judy Niemeyer quilt. I have another one in the closet that I needs a's been in there for a very long time. Story of my life....

Also, with these fabrics, I get to make up a store sample for a future class...classic red and white.

And, this is my new stash excited about this one. This project is actually almost done. I hope to be sharing this one with you soon.

By the way, yes, wedding invitations are done and in the mail. My 27 year old son will be marrying his childhood sweetheart in July in Belgium. They have been dating for nine years....his first love! Sadly, he will be moving to Belgium, but I comfort myself with the thought that it's a beautiful place to visit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Downton Abbey

Two out of the six quilts are bound. Now, that's progress. I love it. I got to sit quietly for two evenings while my daughter and I watched old episodes of Downton Abbey. We unashamedly admit to loving this British show. We just started back at the very beginning for the third time. Really! It is that wonderful.

So this is the Amy Butler crib quilt. Bright and cheery...

It measures 48" x 48".

It was a tough day to photograph because when I took the quilts outside, it had just started to rain.

This is the smaller of the two Transparency quilts that I completed. As I was binding it, I fell in love with it all over again. I'm even a bit tempted to keep it for myself.

The batiks are so rich and earthy...

and the overall feel is very calm and grounded. It makes me feel as if I am walking barefoot in the dirt, stepping over stones, sitting under trees....gazing up at the sky finding its way through the branches. It's a good feeling.

Generally, life is great. When you find a quilt that pulls you toward the good things that you love, whatever those things are, you just want to curl up inside it and savor those moments. I have a quilt on my bed that was made by my maternal grandmother. When I get under it each night, I am reminded of her and her life. That's a good thing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the end zone...

I broke down and turned on the air conditioner today. Seriously? It's only mid-April. I certainly hope this is not any indication of what the summer heat will be like. Despite the temperature, it's great to shed the coats and be comfortable in sweats and a tee shirt. It just makes me all the more ready to work...sunshine and a cup of coffee is a magical combination.

I finally finished all the squares for the Reflections quilt. Then, I roped my son into tearing the paper off the backs of all 64 of them. Now, it's time to decide on the layout and start putting this one together.

Last night, I got to participate in a class for the Orange Peel block. I had a lot of fabric left over from my ribbon quilt, so I'm sticking with the yellow/orange/red/purple with gray color palette. Quilting classes can be a riot. Listening to all the varied conversations, range of topics, and the general tenor is so much fun. During the evening, one woman was talking about what she would do if she won the lottery. I can't quote her word for word, but it went something like this....."I'd hire someone to cut out all these pieces..." Someone responded, "Oh, hire a quilting assistant?" Then she said, "And I hate binding more than anything!"

This conversation morphed into a discussion about borders. Many of us are so spent once the general quilt top is completed that we don't want to spend time on some elaborate border. We just want it done. Then, after the quilting...yet another step. Well, I can certainly understand not liking to bind a quilt. There is no question that it is monotonous and tedious. I have found that it is a perfect opportunity to put on a great movie... one that I've seen many times already so that I don't even have to look up from my work in order to enjoy it. 

All that said, I have just gotten six quilts back...four are ready to bind and two need to have the binding made and sewn on. This feels like being in the end zone.

Tonight, I begin. I don't know what movie I will pick. If my children have a say in it, I will probably be listening to old episodes of Doctor Who, Merlin, White Collar, or Downton Abbey.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday, the 13th

"Paraskevidekatriaphobics — people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th" Seriously, who comes up with these names??? 

I often wonder how these crazy things come to be. Who first decided that there was a stigma attached to the number 13 or the 6th day of the week? For those of you who struggle with Friday the 13th, apparently there will be three occurrences of this day in 2012: One in January, today, and one in July. They are each exactly 13 weeks apart.....weird!

I recently joined the Block Swap Adventure, a fun way to meet others quilters around the world. Each month, you are assigned a swap partner, and you each make a 12" block for the other. You pick the design you want and the colors. So, my first partner lives in Oregon. She asked for this block, and her favorite colors are black and red...

Since I had some more fabric, I made her another one for fun...

I finished the ribbon quilt for my friend. After adding the Paintstik blocks, I wondered if I had made a bad decision. Maybe I have to live with it for a bit. The colors were so much fun to work with.

When I look at the center, I really feel like I'm in a planetarium. 

As for Friday the 13th, for me it's just another day. However, Fridays generally are a wonderful reminder that the weekend is coming. 

Monday, April 09, 2012


It was far from a quiet weekend, but thankfully a sewing day with a friend helped me make progress on the new ribbon quilt. I've added two more stars and have lots of ribbons done for more panels. One of my favorite fabrics in this is dark blue with gold metallic dots,

so I'm leaning towards adding some work with Paintstiks. Time to color :)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

More ribbons!

A friend's daughter is getting married this summer at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. So, my friend decided to decorate this "cavernous room" with quilts. She planned to create quilts for two sets of grandparents, two sets of parents, and other relatives, all king size. I actually forget how many quilts in all in this crazy undertaking. The bride has no idea that this taking place behind the scenes. It will be a complete surprise!

This past Tuesday, several woman got together at the Cloth and Bobbin to help this process along. One was ironing, one or two were cutting, and several were sewing. My friend has taken one of my paper-piecing classes and had made a yellow and blue star. She pulled it out and said, "I'd like to do something with this." Well I had been aching to do another ribbon quilt and she had a stack of fabric to go with the star, so I came home with this...

and started making ribbon panels. This is how far I've gotten. I'm not sure what the draw is to these quilts, but the process is quite meditative. The sewing part requires little thought....just long, endless, straight lines.

I managed to complete another set of blocks for the Reflections quilt. I now have 48 set of 16 to go. Then I can begin to assemble it. Very excited!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Art Journals Days

"Allow your judgments their own undisturbed development, which, like any unfolding, 
must come from within and can by nothing be forced or hastened. 
Everything is gestation and then birth. 
To allow each impression and each embryo of a feeling to complete itself in the dark, 
in the unsayable, the not-knowing, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, 
and humbly and patiently to await the dawning of a new clarity: 
that alone is the way of the artist -
in understanding as in creating."

There are days when I've had enough of sewing exact quarter inches, carefully cutting strips, pinning so that points match, etc. Sometimes I need the mess, the scribble, the colored pencils without the eraser. Sometimes I simply crave another medium. This is when I plunge into my art journals.

It is here where I record wonderful quotes that I have read, things that I cannot bear to forget....and I draw. I sit in a patch of sun with a ruler, a compass, and a big inspiring box of colored pencils and gel pens.

I fade from that sense of time. I get sucked into these moments as I watch color rise from the empty page. I am lost without these days.

Life is wonderful and full of blessings but not always kind. It is in these pages that I find courage, peace, and renewed energy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sunshine Boy :)

I honestly didn't think that I would enjoy being a grandparent. Still raising the last of my eleven children, I believed that I wouldn't get excited about another little one. Well, I should have known better. I love children and always have. My one overarching desire in life was to be a mom.....and a grandmother is just a beautiful extension of that.

I have one grandson. Unfortunately, he lives on the other side of the country, but thanks to Shutterfly and Skype, I can keep up with all the new adorable stages that he goes through. His mom is one of my oldest, a twin. While she was visiting her brother in Chicago, this picture was taken of Silas on the quilt I made for his uncle. He is now officially "Sunshine Boy!"

Before he was born, my daughter and I chose fabric and discussed designs for a baby quilt. Mom and husband both love the ocean and live on the Pacific coast. Dad is a surfer, as well. So the inspiration came from sand, sea, shells, and ocean sunsets.

Silas will be a year old this summer. It's hard to believe. I sit in front of the computer viewing each new picture or video with swells of emotion. He is often my desktop picture...and I long for each visit, all too far apart. I'm hoping that someday they all live closer to me.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Hello, April

Another month has come and gone. One quarter of the year already passed. It feels as if time really does move quickly. March was another good month. I can't really complain about what I accomplished. I definitely stayed busy.
-Bound two quilts
-Completed four quilt tops
-Made twelve placemats
-Finished the last four blocks of the brown star quilt

My "What Star Are You From?" quilt came back from Carol of Lorac Designs.

There is something so exciting about getting a quilt back that you have sent out. In some ways, it is like seeing it for the first time.

I just have to finish the binding and then it's ready for the buyer to pick up.

From my stash pick for March, I have completed the first 32 blocks of a quilt. This is what I have spent the last few days working on.

April is going to be a rather crazy month. I will be teaching on three days, taking a class on two days, our quilt group meets on one night, the Ribbon Quilt class reunion is one night, and one sewing day at the shop. Because I will be starting a new project for the class I'm taking, I know I won't be able to start anything else new. Also, at least six quilts will be coming back to me and the two I just got back makes a total of eight. So how will I be spending much of this month.....binding, binding, binding!