Friday, December 18, 2009


Okay, I learned to do kumihimo tonight. The top one is the practice run with the directions, but without instructions. The one on the bottom is after tonight's instruction. The process wasn't fast, it took 3 hours to make 8.5" of beaded cord, though I'm sure it would be much faster after a couple times. (And of course, that includes the time it took to undo it twice after I found mistakes.) These really could make cool bracelets. It takes a bit of rayon cord, some #8 beads and the tool. The cord needs some end caps and a clasp, but it definitely has potential.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Cool, you never know what you have. I just found out that I have a URL. I was trying to post a comment to the CWBQ page and had to fumble around trying to figure out how and they needed a URL, so I used the URL from the blog. And it worked! How fun is that? I also sent the note asking to join the CWBQ blog since I am starting this quilt after the holidays. But, and it is a big but... I still have to find the background. Nothing has yet called my name in the fabric store, well not exactly true. There are lots of ideas in my head and things call my name all the time, but not THE background. I'll have to work on it after Jan 1. I'm kind of busy until then with fabulous holidays, starting with hubby's birthday on Dec 23, celebrated with all the extended kids (including son-in-law, fiancee, and significant friend... ) and his sister's family, and couple extra folks on Christmas Eve, and then Christmas with all the kids. My sisters are coming after the holidays for a few days and it will be so good to see them too. I can't wait....

I'm excited, the art/fabric guild is tomorrow night and I'm using this stuff to create a beaded cord thingy (think bracelet or something). It is usually done using floss. It actually comes loaded with embroidery floss, if you look close, you can see the red and yellow. If you follow the enclosed pattern, you get a very dense red cord about the thickness of a pencil with little tiny yellow diamonds as the pattern. One of the folks is teaching us how to make the cord with beads. It's a Japanese kumihimo beading technique. I gave it a practice run and I'm not posting a photo of the trial. I'll see how it turns out with instruction. It has to be better. C was watching the trial and it is a bit comical, chasing those little beads all over.

It's supposed to look something like for this bracelet goes to EML Designs on the web. This is actually very nice, so I'll see if I can pull this off. Maybe next years gifts... I suspect it would take me that long to make several of these. It was a pretty slow process.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bread and Birch

Perfect cranberry and orange bread. A co-worker brought in her mom's cranberry bread to the office last week. It was the best that I have ever tasted, moist, tart, and nutty. I got the recipe today, thanks A, and made it tonight. I had enough batter to also make 6 muffins, which of course, you don't see because they were really good with our tea tonight and the other 2 are put away for breakfast. Each of these loaves is made with 2 cups of cranberries and a cup of walnuts. The moisture comes from orange and cranberry juice and there is also some orange zest for more flavor. It is pretty tart and you can really taste the cranberries, which I love. These are going in the freezer for the holidays so I will have something to go with the evening tea and coffee.

This next photo was yesterday afternoon's project. One of the women from basket guild makes the most beautiful little birch bark baskets. This photo does not do them justice. I went over to her house and she graciously showed me how to prepare the birch for basket-making. This stuff, after you strip off the outside white paper and the inside dark brown lining material, is gorgeous. It is supple, like leather and has that feel too, because it has natural oils left in the bark. This is bark from fallen birch that I picked up in the woods last summer while we were in Munising. It looked awful, was dirty brown and stiff, and probably at least a year old. But after scraping is going to make lovely baskets. It is every color of tan and cream imaginable. And we scraped it at M's kitchen table and just swept the floor afterwards. I left the big plastic bag of fire-starter with her. I'm not going to get to the baskets until after the holidays, but it is now stored properly, in C's dresser, don't tell her, and will be ready when I have time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gift Basket

This is the hand thrown glazed clay basket that I received today at Basket Guild during our annual gift exchange. Isn't it fabulous? The leaves, berries and curlicues on the side of the handles are made of clay too. N has been taking pottery classes for some time and it really shows in the details. N also weaves with me and does baskets at guild. All of her things are just as beautiful as this. Thank you N. The brown things in the basket are some kind of cone from a conifer tree. We weren't sure what kind it is, but they are pretty cool, very flat and rose shaped. If anybody knows what they are, let me know. These came from the collections of a friend that wove baskets with us and passed away a few months ago. I so much enjoy the gift exchange because I now have baskets from most of the guild members who are also dear friends. I love seeing my friends baskets on the shelf.
I see that some of the internet quilt groups do this kind of exchange too. They call them an advent exchange. I would do that too, but I need to get better at quilting first (unless I could just send cool fat quarters and buttons, that would work).
K will be here soon. She is interviewing locally and will be in town tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see her. I miss the kids so much. I made peanut brittle and fudge yesterday so she can take some back. And we went to Lansing today, had coffee with C, and bought some food for D. Next week is exam week and I wanted to make sure that he had easily made food so that he had time to eat this week. It's easier with C at home right now, I can make sure there is turkey and ham for sandwiches and fruit in the refrigerator, but it's harder when they are away. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that interviews for K and exams for P, C, and D (and neices and sister) all go well. And E will be here in a couple weeks too. How incredibly fortunate we are.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bright Baskets

This is the start of the bright baskets quilt. I know, it's totally outside where I usually am regarding color, but that was part of the purpose in starting this project. Since I have worked on this applique almost every day for 5 weeks, it is astounding to me that I don't have it completely done yet, but I'm not even close. In fact, some of these basket handles aren't even sewn down yet (which is why they look skewed to one side). These are only 5" finished blocks, so it will take 324 blocks to make a 90" x 90" quilt. I do have about 50 completely done, but it's going to take a while. Each basket is basted down, then hand appliqued, and the rick rack is sewn around the inside and outside. I also took a whole bunch of them apart tonight since the fabrics didn't really go with these. I'm still figuring out colors and they weren't bright enough. As it turns out, gold fabric doesn't really belong in this group. The yellows need to be yellow. I have another 170 baskets cut out of fabric and about 35 of them basted down, but since I don't want to do more than 2 of each fabric, that still leaves a bunch to do and more bright fabric to purchase, since I have already cut them out of every piece I own. I'm also considering adding some 9 patch pieces, but I'm still deciding. I did learn this last week that fabric stores will cut 1/8 yard pieces, 4.5" wide, which is plenty big enough for these baskets, so at least I don't have to buy tons of fabric. I am going to have to buy more rick rack however. I'm already out of orange and lime. Who would have guessed how much rick rack 324 handles would take to make. And of course, the huge question is what am I going to do with this once it is finished....

Friday, November 27, 2009


Not much sewing this weekend. C and D are home from college and I think that we have had a very nice weekend. We went to Detroit on Thanksgiving to watch the parade. We drove around for a bit, through downtown and around Belle Isle. The conservatory was not open of course, but the building itself is very cool. A traditionally built conservatory, built at a time when there was lots of money in Detroit. In fact the whole park seems part of a different city now, with it's big old fancy boat club and pavillions. We went to a Kruse and Muers for dinner in Rochester and we had a great meal with a couple bottles of wine and good food. Rochester had some interesting stores, so after breakfast with H, the kids and I went back yesterday for a few hours and wandered around. It was a good time, but we only bought coffee and fancy pastries at the bakery. Today, we went to the farmer's market this morning and tonight we walked around Frankenmuth with the dogs admiring the Christmas lights. A weekend to be thankful for all the good things we have, for the health and well-being of our children and family, friends, and neighbors. Thank you C and D, it was wonderful to spend the weekend with you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I started the holiday baking today and made banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. This picture is after the first 3 cookies disappeared, and the rest weren't out of the oven yet. Hubby only ate 3 cookies, very disciplined for him, but this evening he asked if he could take the rest to work for the guys to have with their coffee tomorrow. Oh well, hopefully he only eats 3 tomorrow too. Yes, those are raw peanuts in the background for peanut brittle, but I'm waiting until closer to Christmas to make it. It's better if made fresher. The banana bread didn't turn out terribly well, too dry and heavy. But I definitely know someone who will eat it anyway and she will be home in a couple hours. I've made this recipe several times and I'm in the market for a new one, so if someone has a really good banana bread recipe, send it my way. I have a good cake recipe, but I want to eat it toasted with butter, not frost it. I also worked on the applique, went grocery shopping, cleaned out the refrigerator, did laundry, watered the plants, and made sure everything had dinner in their tummies, hubby, dogs, cat, and fish. Productive weekend, if uneventful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crazy Quilt

This is the fabric and ribbon that I picked up today at a little needleworks shop in Metamora. The shop is completely dedicated to crazy quilting, R, I wish you were here. She had silks, (only the deep red is silk, they are tooooo expensive), cool fabrics, every silk, poly, and rayon ribbon imaginable, thousands of rayon, silk, cotton and wool fibers, many hand dyed, boxes of charms and beads, hundreds of books on crazy quilting, tatting, embroidery, brazillian embroidery (uses rayon threads), trapunto, and stumpwork, and buttons, lace, fringe, trims, notions, and other stuff. However she is always busy, so even though it was my first time in the shop, I measured and cut my own ribbon, and carried a little sales pad around and wrote down what I bought. She then rang it up on the register and I paid, evidently everyone has to wait on themselves, but she is talking and providing directions and sewing hints all the time that you are there. She had photos of a crazy quilt that just went on the local market for $6000. It will be very interesting to see if it sells. The photos were stunning.
I am still working on my second crazy quilt square. This is a poor photo, the light in the florida room is too yellow at night (and I cut off the bottom), but I am still using the cross stitch pieces. This one also has silk ribbon, cotton, poly and silk fabric, yarn, lace, an old wool embroidery piece, cotton and silk floss, perle cotton, buttons, beads, and charms. The little charm at the top of the sampler is a brass clock. I thought it would be appropriate given the sampler. The blue on the butterfly are beads, each put on by hand, and there are lots of them. The pink butterfly by itself was overwhelming, and I probably should have dyed it, but since I just thought about it and it now has a thousand beads on it, I guess not. I will post a better photo when I am done with the square. This square is much brighter than the first one. I think each reflects your mood as you are working on them (or in my case, a vibrant pink butterfly).

Friday, November 20, 2009


I made this little bag (about 4" x 7") today in quilt guild. The outside (focus fabric is what the instructor called it) is a batik and the lining is a lime green fabric that I purchased as a liner for a different bag several months ago. The bag took two 20" squares of fabric and a bit more for the strap. It's a cute little bag, but it was pretty plain so I brought it home and put some beads along the flap and a glass charm to hold the flap closed. The completed version is pictured below. I think it looks much better now. There are pockets on the front and back and a bigger pouch type pocket in the center fastened with velcro.

I am really looking forward to several of next year's programs for quilt guild. The Gee's Bend quilts are going to be at Flint Institute of Arts in February and we are going as a guild and getting a lecture by one of the curators. And then in April and June, we have nationally known quilt teachers coming and they will each do a lecture and a workshop. I asked today and they still don't know what the workshops will be, but because the June teacher just published a book on applique, I'm hopeful that will be her topic. However, lots of people don't like the "A" word as they call it at guild, because it is rather tedious and time-consuming. But in any case, I will try and take both workshops. I also worked on the crazy quilt sqare tonight, but beading really is tedious, so I quit for the evening. I have my bag of applique now, so I guess that's what I'll do until bed time.

And in case anybody thinks I'm not doing anything but sewing, I came home and made fried chicken, mashed potatoes and milk gravy for dinner tonight. I made acorn squash too, but hubby passed on the stuff that was good for him. The squash was great and since I'm the only one eating it, there's enough for tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ribbon Embroidery

This little (4" across) basket of ribbon flowers is what I did in 3 hours of crazy quilting class today. I have not really done ribbon embroidery before so I had to learn how to thread the needle (#24 chenille), do the knot, and make the stitches. Actually none of it was hard, at least not these stitches, but it was a bit time consuming. I'm not giving up the day job. The instructor gave us each a packet of silk ribbon, a needle, hoop, and this pattern that she had traced on a piece of muslin. She took the pattern from a Dover book for ribbon embroidery. She had some neat tricks, and it was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Thanks to everyone for the kind comments about the blog. I started the blog because I wanted a record of the "stuff" that I make. I needed to record technical details, (which I haven't really done yet), and maybe more importantly, I realized that I should take photos, and this was a reason to take them and a place where I could find them. A couple times I have realized that I was making the same mistake again because I couldn't remember how I corrected it the first time. And when I start feeling like a slug because I haven't done anything in a few days, I can go back and remember what has been accomplished. Also it turns out that Google has made it extremely easy to start a blog. The hard part will be writing something every few days. But a warning, I'm not writing every day, nor is there a picture of a finished project every other day, so check once in a while if you are interested and again, thanks for all the really nice comments.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Urns applique quilt

This is a photo of the quilt that I hand appliqued and hand quilted and finished last month. The design is loosely based on a pattern included in a Blackbird Designs book. I added birds and more berries and changed some flower designs. I started out with a more traditional dark red and green applique, but added gold to the flowers and then blue and red birds. The urns are all different patterns of brown. I was surprised how different it was to applique these squares. I had thought doing fewer sqares would take less time, but it was awkward to applique the bigger squares. The quilt measures 86" x 86". Though it just fits the top of my king-sized bed, I'm not going to use it, rather I am thinking of hanging it in my bedroom. I was pleased with the way it turned out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baskets and a crazy quilt square

These are the baskets that I finished at basket guild yesterday. All are cane and made on the same mold, but the one with a handle is a nantucket style basket with a nailed rim and free swinging handle and the other two are made of dyed cane with waxed linen lashing. The black one is a twill weave and the other two are tabby weave. The nailed rim was harder to do than a traditional rim, but I'm sure I could get much better with a little practice. I like using waxed linen for lashing because I think it gives a more contemporary look to the baskets which I like. Though it probably isn't obvious here, even though they were all made on the same mold, they are really 3 different sizes. It's funny how that happens.

I also decided to start another crazy quilt square today. Class is next week and I haven't done anything since before the last class, so I need to get started. I really like using the crosstitch pieces that I have done. They provide a focal point for the square and I like the words on the squares. This one was pretty dull colored so I added the bright pink border and put it together using a blanket stitch. The butterflies, both crocheted and embroidered, were purchased from garage sales. I have started ribbon flowers on the bottom left and feather stitch with a rayon floss on the bottom right. I machine stitched the background together before I started the hand work, so it's not all hand done, but it's going to be close enough for me.
It was also my birthday on Friday. My hub and I went out for breakfast and then he drove me all over the county to 3 quilt shops looking for just the right fabrics for the CWBQ. He and the dogs took walks and slept in the truck while I fingered all the fabric. It took all day, but I found enough to get started. Then we went to dinner at one of my favorite mexican restaurants and came home and drank a glass of wine. Nice day. Yesterday, we had dinner with C and D, and then had breakfast with P and T this morning. I also had calls from E and K, my friend R, and my brother and sisters. I have the best family ever. And to top it off, we have had fabulous weather this weekend, in the 60s and sunny. Unusual for my birthday, since early November is usually rainy and cold. It has been a really nice weekend.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Springtime Triple Irish Chain

This is a photo of the Triple Irish Chain quilt that I completed this summer. I call it Springtime, because the yellow and blue look very spring-y. I learned a lot of lessons with this quilt. I found that if I knew what I was doing in advance, I could leave the quilt/fabric shop with enough fabric for an entire quilt without going to 6 stores to find what I needed (and buying way too much fabric). I need to work on the 1/4" seam allowance. As you can see, the diamonds in the border do not line up properly. I did not measure the quilt top accurately before I took it to the machine quilter and I had to take her a second piece of batting and backing because the ones I had given to her were not large enough. I did find once again, that Eleanor Burns patterns are very easy to follow. I did 2 log cabin quilts last year when I started quilting, and found that book very user friendly also. This quilt measures about 95" X 105". I'm not sure what I am doing with it yet, but it was fun to make and for now, is very pretty on the spare bed.

I started appliqueing the rick-rack handles on my baskets last night and have decided that many of them are too plain. I am considering using the bright flowered printed fabrics for yo-yo flowers on a few of the single color baskets. It will make it busier, but it's already pretty busy and if it gets too bad, I will use a single color sash or border to unify things a bit. We will see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dyed tablerunner

This is the weft for my table runner. It is several hundred yards of muslin and cut up denim jeans that I dyed with navy Rit dye in the washing machine. I then pressed every yard with my iron yesterday. It took about a hour and a half to finish pressing. I have it coiled here and will wind it on the shuttle just before I weave it so that it doesn't wrinkle too badly. The loom has been warped with cotton rug warp which I also dyed with the navy dye. However since I wanted variation in the warp and weft, I tied the coils of muslin and yarn before dying so that there are places in the yardage that are much lighter than others. Tie dyeing! I'll show a photo when done, but since I worked late last night and didn't actually get to weaving, it might be a bit yet. I have been weaving with the same group of women for several years in a community enrichment program set up by Flint Public Schools. I always sign up and pay my money, but some semesters I don't get there very often due to work and other commitments, but I love it. It gave me a creative outlet before I was basket weaving or quilting, and the women are great. I don't do complicated stuff much, but I have woven rugs, towels, shawls, and scarves. I am doing a monk's belt for this table runner and we'll see what happens. I usually just do a tabby weave, over/under, though I have done a couple patterns before and several twills. Last year, I really enjoyed doing rag rugs using old jeans from my family and friends. They were perfect for my bedroom and are so knobby under your bare feet.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Civil War Brides Quilt

Yes! My CWBQ pattern has finally arrived from Australia. Thank you to P for carrying it from Australia and to E for mailing it from Maryland. I have a couple other projects to finish first so I shouldn't (maybe) start until after the holidays, however there is so much to think about. There are backgrounds to consider, fabrics to gather, and I want a groom, so I need to think about that. I have also printed off photos of the original and looked at a couple of examples that folks have made that are on-line. I would like to add to the CWBQ blog too, after I start. I love the idea of women making this quilt all over the world. It's like a quilt club, but with international members. I wonder if anyone has seen the original pattern for the groom? The museum says they have it, but maybe the patterns have not been exhibited. This is a photo of the original Peacock Quilt in the American Museum of Folk Art in New York City. The pattern has a more simplified border, but in general, they are pretty similar. I am really looking forward to starting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bright Baskets started

I am making a "Bright Baskets" applique quilt. I have seen a few examples. There is a modern version in a Blackbird Design book, and I have seen two different much older versions in the state books. Mine will not be antiquey looking, as my baskets will be in bright colors with rick-rack handles. I cut out more than 220 baskets today, and am basting them to 6" blocks. I have about 30 already done. The background is creme on creme tones, and the baskets are bright. I just used stuff from the stash, and it turns out that I don't have as much patterned fabric as I would have liked, but I am making 2 baskets from each fabric. The colors are all over the place and I am considering using a darker blue or green for the outside triangles to give it a little unity, but I'll have to think about it. Of course, I could use a border, but I'm really liking the idea of all those little baskets.

I also received today in the mail a quilt pattern of the map of Michigan. She used fusible and did a watercolor technique with 2" squares. I'm probably going to extensively change the pattern, make the map a bit more accurate, and not use fusible because I don't like the feel of it in a quilt. This map will be a bed quilt for one of my sons some day. He plans to study abroad for a year or so and I thought it would be fun to have a quilt of home.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crazy Quilting

I went to my next crazy quilt (CQ) class today. I learned some new stitches, and saw a wonderful "doll" quilt made with 6" CQ squares. She had beautiful embroidery and had unified her design by adding a yellow inside border and putting the same yellow behind her fans on each corner. And she had rounded the border corners to match the fans, how cool is that? I started a new CQ design tonight, but decided to baste my appliqued baskets instead. I have decided I have to be in the right frame of mind to CQ.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Crazy quilt legacy

I finished my first crazy quilt square tonight and I'm pretty happy with it. I am taking a class in crazy quilting because I really wanted to learn some more complicated embroidery stitches. We had one class last month and the next one is tomorrow. I will start another square then. This square has 2 pieces of cross stitch, silk ribbon work, cotton, wool, and rayon threads, wool yarn, a piece of blanket binding, old lace and linen, beads, buttons, charms, hand felted beads, and many types of fabric. It has taken many hours of work, and many parts of it, I did twice or three times, until I was happy with it. Here's a close-up of the center cross stitch piece. I used this saying for the theme and created lots of flowers throughout the piece.
I have been thinking about my legacy lately. I had a dear friend pass away earlier this month. She was full of life. I have been helping her daughter get her home ready for an estate sale this week. My friend was a true craftsperson. However that meant she had a lot of stuff. After sorting and boxing her stuff, I came home and tried to make some sense of mine. It takes a lot of stuff to weave baskets, quilt, cross stitch, loom weave, and do a little beading. So I boxed stuff and labeled it, so that if necessary, at least my family would know what was in the boxes. But I know that my friend's legacy is not her stuff, but the love of her children, stepchildren, friends, and neighbors. I saw it this week in their faces, and their tears, and heard the memories.
You have a well deserved rest, but we miss you terribly.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I want this to be a memory for my journey through life with details of the quilts, woven fabrics, baskets, and other things I choose to create, and my family and friends.