Sunday, October 23, 2016

Little Bee

Made of wool, penny rugs are representative of the kinds of domestic arts that women and girls pursued during the mid- to late-1800's. They have become popular again with today's quilters. I was drawn to these mysterious little things when I browsed quilt magazines or visited quilt shops. I wasn't sure how to make one, but true to form, instead of asking about them or taking a class, I decided to make one on my own. I don't know when or where I got the notion that I can make things without instruction! As is usually the case, I needed some help. When I saw a class offered at Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company, titled: Enchanted Pennies, I signed up. You can read about Mt. Pleasant on their website:

I gathered up the wool pieces I had acquired and headed off to my first class. As I sat at the table, I noticed the pretty wools the other women had in front of them. Mine didn't look at all like theirs. What I discovered was that the packet of "wool" that I purchased in a wool and yarn shop was actually felted and not 100 percent wool. It looked like wool to me when I bought it, but it didn't look like what everyone else brought to class. I decided to be frugal and make do with what I had. After all, this was a craft that had its humble beginnings when the makers used wool scraps from clothing, which is far removed from the conveniences of today with beautiful quilt shops where quilters can buy patterns, fancy hand-dyed wool for handwork, and threads in every possible color, shade and hue.

Several of the women who sat near me in class were very nice and generously shared their soft pretty wool scraps with me. I think they felt sorry for me! I used the donations and was grateful to have them. "Thank you", my anonymous quilt-y angels! We learned a few embroidery stitches in class, but then after a couple classes, I didn't finish the project. When I had surgery in 2014 and 2015, I worked on it a little while I recovered. In the beginning of this year, I listed my UFOs, which in the quilting world are UnFinished Objects. You can read about my UFO list here: This piece was on that list. Having the quilt show this year was a good incentive and helped me complete it. Here is a link to my quilt guild's blog, where you can read about the quilt show:

When I finished all the embroidery on my piece, I noticed a vacant area in the upper right corner. I decided it needed something. I cut out some of my "wool" and made a little bee that I heavily beaded. I liked him so much that I named my piece "Little Bee" in his honor. :-)

He is only an inch long from nose to tail, but he was so much fun to create,
that I named my wall hanging after him.

There are definitely more penny rug and wool projects in my future. At the quilt show, I purchased some of the "good stuff" and some high-quality embroidery thread from a vendor. I am a strong believer in buying the best quality materials that I can afford. Having the right tools and good materials goes a long way to producing a nice piece. So why I decided to make do with my wool pieces is probably due to being brought up by parents who lived through the Great Depression. Everything had to be used in our house until it was used up. Little pieces of string were tied together to make a longer piece and wound around a jar filled with buttons. Cups with broken handles became flower pots. My mother took clothes that had served their purpose, and were not suitable fabric for rags, to an elderly lady who used them to make braided rugs; but before she delivered them, she snipped the buttons off and saved them in her button jar! It has been hard to break myself from the habit of saving every little thing just in case I find a new use for it someday. And, all in all, even though the wool in my piece was not the "good stuff", I do like how it turned out. I learned a lot in making it, from selecting the right fabrics and thread, to learning a variety of embroidery stitches and taking a class.

"Little Bee"
Wall Hanging
23" x 18"
Pattern: Enchanted Pennies
Book: Pennies From Heaven by Gretchen Gibbons
Wool on Cotton Background
Embroidered by Hand
Quilted by Hand

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I plan to write another post soon with my sixth and final quilt from the show. Until then, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Christmas Memories

I have admired embroidery for years, and especially redwork, aptly named because the thread used for the embroidery is red. I tried to embroider many years ago when I was in my 20's. I thought it would be cool to embroider flowers on the yoke of my Levi's jeans jacket. I had no clue as to what I was doing and it was disaster! But, when I saw the pattern for this piece, I knew I wanted to give it another try. Being in the 21st century, I could still go it alone, but now with the aid of YouTube video tutorials. YouTube has been a great help to me, no matter the hour, when I have wanted to learn a new technique for either knitting, papercrafting, sewing, or quilting.

My first exposure to embroidery and redwork was when I was a child. All of my pillowcases were embroidered with cute little animals, baskets of flowers, or had crocheted lace trim along the edge. In fact, I didn't know there was such a thing as a plain pillowcase until I stayed overnight at other kids' houses. I was shocked to see a naked pillowcase. I thought all children dreamed on hand-embroidered and lace-edged pillowcases.

My "Christmas Memories" piece was in the quilt show that my guild held last weekend. You can read about the show here: and you can see other quilts I entered in my recent blog posts. I wasn't sure that I would be able to do the redwork or if I would like it, but I gave it a try and found I enjoyed it immensely. It took some practice to get the stitch gauge the way I liked it. I considered making this into a pillow for the sofa at Christmastime, but decided to use it as a wall hanging, as the pattern calls for. Since my husband happens to be very good friends with Santa Claus, and has helped him out over the past 40 years by making appearances as Santa, I made this with him in mind. Now, we just need to find where to hang it for the holidays. :-)

Now that I know how much I like to embroider, I plan to do more. I purchased a book of stitches, so I can practice and I may delve next into Crazy Quilting. You can read about crazy quilting here:  Once I become interested in something, it is hard to know where to stop! When it comes to quilting, there is always something new to learn!

Christmas Memories
29" x 19"
Wall Hanging
Pattern: Merry Christmas by Betty Alderman Designs
Embroidered by Hand
Quilted by Hand

Thank you for stopping by today to read my blog. Your questions and comments are welcome. And, as always, may the Lord bless you and keep you and until we meet again, may He hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stars Over Chincoteague

Another quilt from my guild's quilt show! (You can read about the show here: and you can see other quilts that I entered in the show in my most recent posts.) This quilt was inspired by our trips to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. My husband and I make frequent visits to the Lancaster area and marvel at the farms, gardens, and quilts of the Amish. The Amish are known as the plain people, but there is nothing plain about their quilts or their flower gardens. They are full of color. Amish quilts sometimes have a black background with solid colors used for the blocks, which are often primary colors or jewel tones.

The fabric for this quilt was purchased at Zooks, in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, which is probably my favorite fabric shop. I always look forward to shopping there and used to have an elderly Amish woman, Rebecca, wait on me. We struck up a friendship of sorts, and when I went there to shop, we talked about different things. Many of those things were the similarities we shared in our lives. She reminded me of my Aunt Mabel. Straight forward, no fuss, with a charming homespun sense of humor. Being that my grandfather, my Aunt Mabel's father, emigrated from Germany to Titusville, Pennsylvania, and then to Alexander, New York, we might be from a similar background, . . . or at least that is what I like to think! Rebecca isn't working there now. I miss her when I go there, but have fond memories of her. :-)

It was my intention to make this quilt by hand, without a machine. I started making the blocks while my husband and I were on a winter vacation on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. It was pretty slow going. My husband suggested we drive up to a fabric store on the mainland to see if they had machines to rent. It was a great idea, but they didn't have rentals. So, off we went to Salisbury, Maryland, where, instead of picking up a rental, I found a really nice little Bernina machine that had been used in classes and was on sale at a good price. It didn't have a lot of bells and whistles . . . just the basics, which is all I needed. That was in 2007. I still use that little machine often. I completed all the blocks a few years ago, but still had to put them into rows. I assembled the rows and made the inner and outer borders this year and finished it on my little Bernina.

The quilt gets its name from our nightly jaunts to see the stars while we were on Chincoteague. Being at the coast, we were able to see the stars at the horizon and overhead in the winter sky. It was pitch black out there! The nights on Chincoteague during the winter are more like the nights here in October . . . a little chilly, but not freezing, so we could just watch the night sky for hours!

Stars Over Chincoteague
75" x 75"
Pattern: Sawtooth Star
Book: Simply Stars by Alex Anderson
Machine Pieced
Custom Quilted by Chestnut Bay Quilting

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading about "Stars Over Chincoteague". I plan to write again later this week about other quilts that were in the show. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you and may He hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Monday, October 17, 2016


The past month has been consumed by quilting and preparations for the Museum Quilt Guild Stitches in Time 2016 Quilt Show. Read about the show here:

Our dear long-time guild member, Kate Martin, passed away after a brief illness. She had been instrumental in many facets of our guild and we miss her bright smile and willing spirit. She had been taking care of the publicity for the show, but when she became ill, the guild needed someone to step in and take over where she left off. They asked me to do it because I had done the publicity for the show in 2012. It added a little more to my days, but I approached it like a fun little job and dedicated about an hour or two a day to it starting in mid-August. It all worked out and the show, which was this past weekend, was a success, as always. I don't know how many people walked through the aisles of quilts, but it was steadily busy.

I was determined this year to enter as many quilts as I could get completed in time for the show. On the day we had to submit our quilts to the show committee, I bravely, and maybe a bit stupidly, entered six items. Then I got nervous . . . and busy! Having a lot of UFOs, the upcoming show was a good impetus to complete some of them. They were all in different stages of un-doneness. See my post about UFOs here:

One quilt in particular that I really wanted to finish was a blue and yellow log cabin quilt that I started in 2000. It is comprised of 9-inch paper-pieced blocks in a pattern that I drafted for an earlier project. Once that project was complete, I still had a lot of patterns left over. I decided to use them for this quilt. I brought it to the home I share with my husband when we got married in 2004, still in pieces. I took it with me to a guild retreat a few years ago and completed the blocks. Earlier this year, I sewed the rows together and finally finished the top. My only quandary was whether or not to put a border on it. After looking at it atop the bed, I decided to just bind it and let the blocks speak for themselves, sans border.

2000 was a challenging year for me and it is funny that I even chose to make a blue and yellow quilt, because I didn't really have much blue fabric! I had yellow, but not much blue. Of course, there was plenty of blue fabric for sale at the quilt shops, and I was able to add to my stash! While I was making this quilt, a friend stopped by and when she saw it, she told me she had recently attended a quilt lecture and heard the speaker say that when there is yellow in a quilt, it represents the light of Christ. When she told me about this, I then knew why it was bringing me so much happiness to work on it and why I was drawn to it. That is why I named this quilt "Joy".

72" x 72"
Log Cabin Quilt
Quilted by Mt. Pleasant QuiltingCompany
Log cabin blocks can be set in a variety of ways.
This setting is called Barn Raising.
Log cabin blocks traditionally have a red square in the center, which represents the hearth.
The "logs", which make up the rest of the block are the walls of the home.

I spent a little time today in my sewing room. It needed to be straightened up after getting ready for the show! I am looking forward to starting something new. :-) Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I plan to write more posts this week and include the rest of the quilts that I had in the show. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you and may He hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Finishing some UFOs ...

Just a little over a month ago, I was working on finishing the projects that I had committed to show in my quilt guild's biennial Stitches in Time Quilt Show. In February I wrote about my quest to work on my UFOs. You can read about it here:
Determined to make a dent in them, I set out to work on one of my oldest quilt tops. It was a pink and red Jacob's Ladder pattern, which is an old quilt design that has been around for years. I started making it about 20 years ago. Over the years, at different times, I pulled it off the shelf and made blocks, and eventually had enough blocks made to sew them into rows. So, when I pulled it out this spring, I needed to sew the rows together and then add a couple borders. Having decided that I would use only fabrics from my stash of the original pinks and reds I had used in the blocks,  I auditioned several different ones for the inner and outer borders. When I found what I liked, I had barely enough to reach around the quilt,  but in Tim Gunn fashion , I made it work by adding 4-patch blocks to the corners.

64" x 76"
Machine Pieced
Machine Quilted by Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company

I named this quilt "Picnic" because it reminded me of a picnic table cloth. This is the first of six quilts I put in the show. I plan to post the other five here on my blog this week. 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed reading this post.

And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Living in the moment . . .

I am continually trying to get organized. I am a list maker. My first thoughts upon waking are: what time is it? . . . and . . . how much can I get done in my waking hours today? The only trouble is that I keep thinking those same thoughts for a couple of hours while I drink a lot of coffee to get my neurons firing!

On a recent morning, while waking up with my coffee, and after my prayers and writing my TO DO list, I decided, in addition to trying to get organized, I needed to somehow not get bogged down by so many items on my list. I observe other people who seem to be perfectly happy with getting done whatever they get done in a day and they don't beat themselves up for what they didn't do. I am just the opposite. Instead of being happy about my daily accomplishments, I fret over what didn't get done.

I need to work on being content and living in the moment . . . enjoying each thing that I do while I do it, instead of racing the clock, as is my usual modus operandi. There are a lot of articles on the Internet about this very thing. On a recent morning, I found several that interested me. I read about enjoying the process, paying attention to the nuances of our days and the significance of everything we spend our energy on. As I read the third or fourth article,  I found myself speed reading through it. I laughed right out loud at the absurdity of my own behavior! There I was,  trying to find simplicity and meaning in each thing I do, only to fall back into my old bad habit of cramming things into tight spaces in my day and....more importantly, not enjoying myself as I read the articles.

So, I am working on pacing myself and allowing myself to enjoy everything I do. Of course, there is just so much enjoyment I can derive from dusting and vacuuming, for instance;  but I have begun to make it a practice to consciously decide I will enjoy the process. One way I do this is to think how happy my mother and grandmother would be to see me enjoying the home I share with my husband. I'd love to be able to have them visit me for an afternoon in my freshly cleaned house. Or how the family of Mamadouba, a child that we support in New Guinea, would marvel at the things I have that make my life so easy. Thinking about these things makes me grateful.♡

The summer seems to have disappeared. I spent much of it indoors because it was so dreadfully hot. It worked out, though, to be time well spent. I focused on getting back in my sewing room and studio to work on some UFOs and make a few cards. It was also a great time to prepare some of the items I have entered into the Museum Quilt Guild quilt show that will be held in October. Here is the link to the guild's blog: On most days, I have successfully lived in the moments I have been creating for myself. When the enjoyment of working on a project started to feel like more like a deadline to be met, I stepped back and reassessed. I asked myself why I was in my sewing room or studio. I listened for the answer. I needed to be clear on my purpose . . . to enjoy the moment and let that be enough. It is starting to feel more natural to me to think this way. Of course, there are always deadlines to meet, but meeting them can be enjoyable . . . with some forethought and planning.

It is mid September and finally the nights are cool enough to sleep with the windows open. The simple pleasure of listening to the late summer night time sounds of the bugs in the dry grasses lulls me to sleep, instead of the hum of the air conditioner.

Below are photos of some of the things I have worked on.  I needed to hold off on posting a few of them because they were gifts.

I made this wall hanging of lanterns for my granddaughter's 18th birthday.
She studied Mandarin Chinese in high school and is now continuing with it in college.
I used batik fabrics for the lanterns and some parasol fabric from Graphic 45's Birdsong collection for the outer border. It was custom quilted on a longarm machine by Cathy Schmieder, a local quilter.

When I saw this photo from my granddaughter's summer vacation in San Francisco,
 it reminded me of the wall hanging I made for her.
I tried something new. I used spray paint on a mason jar. I had never used spray paint before. It was fun.
Then, I decorated the jar with die cuts, paper, lacy burlap fabric and a few other things I had on hand.
I covered these little shoes and the purse die cuts with paper.
I used my dies to cut out the leaves and flowers and added brads for the flower centers.
The little paper-covered clothes pins work, so you can remove the little dress and write a sentiment on the back.
I put paper around the edge of the lid and added the lacy burlap to the top.

A card with a bit of a western theme for my favorite cowboy . . . my husband!
A card for a friend.
There are many jobs that need to be done to make the upcoming quilt show a success.
One of those jobs is creating the awards for the winners of various categories.
I volunteered to help make some of the components of the paper-pieced awards. They came in a packet all ready to go. I just needed to sit and sew! They were a lot of fun to make.
 The person in charge of awards will complete them . . . about 50 or 60 of them!
Many hands make light the work.
These strips needed to be cut, sewn and sliced into rows to go on one of the quilts I entered in the quilt show.
Tedious work.
However, I must say, I feel like a new bride with my brand spanking new extra-wide ironing board and my new Rowenta iron. It has to be over 20 years since I purchased what I was using. The straw that broke the camel's back was when the tipsy ironing board jiggled and sent my old Rowenta to the floor, leaving a nice melted mark on my sewing room carpet. My new ironing board has stable feet and a contraption on the end of the board that will hold my iron.
Did you know that when you use a steam iron, you should ALWAYS iron on a vented board? I read this in the little manual that came with my new iron. If you use an iron on the steam setting on a non-vented board, it can cause the iron to leak around the sides, above the sole plate, because the steam has nowhere to go. I have been pressing with steam on a little board next to my sewing machine that is covered with batting and fabric. Luckily my old Rowenta still works, but it is starting to leak. That's why I replaced it with a new one. It is good to read the manual!

It is time for me to start my day now. Coffee hour is over.:-) I've enjoyed getting this post written  . . . finally . . . and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Somewhere, in between. . .

Every once in a while I decide I am going to pull away a bit from things. Things. Things like the TV, the internet, chasing after people who don't want to have the kind of relationship I want, accumulating art supplies for that future (translation: maybe never) project that has been rolling around in my head. Those things.

As I think about the process,  it comes to mind that there will be fallout. Fallout. Fallout that I will have to deal with in order to continue pulling away from things. For example, TV. Pulling away from TV means I will spend less time sitting, which is a good thing. Yet, it also means that I will spend less time with my husband, who loves watching movies on TV and with ME. In addition to the movies he records to watch by himself, he also records movies that he knows I will like or because they are one of his favorites that he wants to share with me. Thanks to DVR technology,  he can record hours and hours of movies on our TV, which he does!

It is enjoyable watching movies with my husband. Much more than enjoyable, it is an event....akin to a three-ring circus. Let me explain. While he saves little tasks that he can do on his TV tray for movie watching, such as purging the day's mail of junk mail, gluing broken stuff back together, writing out checks or greeting cards, and editing his To Do list, movie watching for me is not so much a multi-tasking event. I try to knit,  but can't count my stitches.  After a few rows, I put the knitting away. I decide I would like a snack, so I ask him to pause the movie while I make a quick run out to the kitchen. Five minutes later, when I return, the movie is not on the screen. He has switched over to something else during my absence! He does that channel surfing thing with ease. But, he quickly, and without comment, cues up the movie to where we left off for my kitchen run. I try to eat,  but my food falls off my fork if I don't look at my plate! So, I opt to look at my plate instead of the TV. I might move on to sewing or sketching, which means another pause while I run to my studio for my sewing box or sketch pad and pencils. Same thing. They don't really work for me for movie watching. I miss the good parts! My very patient husband will ask me, "Did you see that?". I mumble back a "No, but I heard it". Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't. So, he rewinds the movie back to the good part that I truthfully DID miss, so I can see it. Nice husband.

Google plays a major role in our movie watching. For instance, if we are watching a historical movie, we will often pause the movie to ask Google for event dates, maps, customs, or anything else that we are curious about. In doing that together, we learn new things and have a conversation that we would otherwise never have had. We do silly things too. We might see a particular dance in an old movie and try to do it. Or we might hear a song that we like, so we pause the movie and switch over to Pandora in order to find the song and add it to our extensive list of stations.

Another thing that causes us to hit the pause button during a movie is for discussions about the characters and their motivations, actions, the results of such, and how they relate to either our lives or those of people we have known. For both of us, movies are a source of entertainment, edification and insight.

I think you can now understand why I say watching movies with my husband is akin to a three-ring circus. There are many simultaneous activities occurring under the big top of our living room. Not to go unmentioned is the time it takes us to watch a two-hour movie. With the pauses, rewinds, Google searches, and discussions, and other breakaways, a two-hour movie becomes a four hour event!
That leads me to another benefit to movie watching, most likely due, in part, to all of the extraneous energy-consuming activities that occur whilst viewing. Naps. Movie watching, for us, usually includes naps, which means more rewinding! But naps are good for us; therefore,  movie watching is an obvious healthy choice for an activity!

So, will I end up choosing to pull away from TV viewing? Probably not! I just need to accept it for what it is and all it has to offer in the way of enriching my life. I believe I would miss the conversations and closeness to my husband that it provides. And, it would be selfish of me to take that sharing experience away from him. For now, I will keep the movie watching. I will try to pull away from the other things I mentioned . . . the internet, one-sided relationships, and accumulating art supplies. Time will tell if those efforts will be successful. There might even be a blog post or two in the future about them. Who knows?

In the meantime, watching TV will fit in just fine; and somewhere in between pulling away from other things and deciding how to spend my time, I will be watching movies with the person I love.
We've learned so much about railroad history by watching the AMC TV series "Hell On Wheels". 
A actual photograph of a railroad trestle built for the transcontinental railroad.