Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hand quilted baby blankets

 I started thinking tonight about my projects that I finished (or started) in 2010.  I realized that I finished these during the time that I thought that I had lost the camera so did not have photos of them.  This one was the second of the two that I did during a 3 week class at the local quilt shop.  It is a rose pattern in the center with a feather pattern around it.  It is about 32" x 32".  The lesson here was that I needed more practice making a scalloped border.  The front is a batik with an off white cotton fabric backing.  I used the polyester batting that was recommended in the class for both of these projects.  I found that, much to my surprise, I really like hand quilting.  I don't use a hoop, although that was part of the class, and I don't use between needles.  They are just too small for my hands.  I use the #11 milliners needles that I also use to applique with and I like them a lot.  I copied these 2 patterns from the instructor so I can reproduce them if I want to, but I am thinking that I would like to make up some of my own patterns for the Winter Moonlight and Dresden Plate quilts. 
This quilt is a slightly bigger one with a square border.  It is about 36" x 38" long with a tulip pattern.  The best part of this pattern was the diamond border around the tulip center.  I really like the traditional diamond pattern.  It shows up well and sets off the center very nicely.  The front of this is an off-white cotton fabric and the back is white muslin.  I used light fabric for both of these since the method being taught was to trace the pattern directly onto the fabric with a blue washable pen, then sandwich and quilt before washing the piece to remove the blue marks.  I did find that both pieces shrunk pretty significantly and that gave the hand quilting a different look and drape than the instructor's pieces where she washed and shrank the fabric before quilting.  When I do another piece, I'm going to pre-wash the fabric.  I will do more wholecloth quilts since I love the way they look.  But hand quilting is time consuming.  I worked on these two quilts every day for 4 weeks to finish them.  And the first one had to be washed in cold water with detergent to remove all the blood from the fabric.  Getting my hands sufficiently calloused to do all these little stitches without a thimble was a 2 week job.  And of course, after a few weeks of not quilting, now I have to start over.   

Brayden's Quilt

A baby quilt for Brayden Remillard.  It is a panel with farm animals and a block border.  The name of each animal is below the picture.  It's about 42" x 52" and machine quilted.  There wasn't much to making it, but it's the perfect quilt for a little boy to haul around.  I am really looking forward to meeting Brayden on Christmas Eve. 

Winter Moonlight

Winter Moonlight is basted and ready to hand quilt.  I did decide to use the letters even though they don't really fit the traditional pattern, but it certainly makes the quilt uniquely mine.  This is just tacked on the wall so it's not as straight as it could be.  I bought quilting thread today, but got home and don't like the color much, so I'm off to the store again tomorow.  I also changed the wren shape into more of a cardinal shaped bird.  It ended up about 50"x70", kind of small, but since I want it for a wall hanging in the library, I think it will be the perfect size.  My goal for quilting is to get it done by next month's quilt guild, the third Friday of January.  In a perfect world I would get the Dresden Plates done too, but since I am still appliqueing borders, I don't think so.    

Thursday, December 16, 2010

HST Trees

This is Winter Moonlight, the complete opposite of Amanda's quilt.  I love this traditional tree pattern and since it is my first time using significant numbers of half square triangles,  I made every one of these trees at least 3 times.  And the green fabric stretches like crazy on the bias.  Judy at my local quilt shop gave good advice though.  The pattern that I used didn't mention squaring with a traingular ruler or pressing and she said that if I wanted my points to match, I should press and square every time I put in a seam. And she was correct.  It did make it almost possible, but of course, like anything else, practice is needed.  Don't look closely, the triangles don't perfectly match, but with some hand quilting, I'm thinking they will be close enough.  The circle on the top is the moon (which will be significantly smaller when appliqued in place) and the red bird on the bottom is supposed to be a cardinal, though right now it looks more like a perky little wren.  It may need a new shape.  We will see.  I'm using a narrow 3/4" dark red for a border and then thinking about piecing the words Winter Moonlight on the left hand side of the quilt.  I'm going to piece the letters and see if they fit with the rather traditional pattern before deciding about the words.  There will also be a 4" dark green border.  I want to hand quilt using a traditional crosshatch pattern following the triangles.  The quilt is not huge, about 55"x75" or so, but it will make a fabulous wallhanging in my home.  Just for fun, I want to also make another one with scrappy red/gold/green triangles on an off white batik background as the summer/fall variety.  Presumably, the second one will be easier...  This quilt is already one of my favorites.  I looked at it this morning and had to remind myself that I actually made it.  It is going to look pretty cool.      

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Congratulations Amanda

Amanda, We love you and congratulations on graduating from West Virginia this weekend.  This is the quilt that I made as her gift for graduation.  The photo isn't great since I took it after dark in a room with lots of windows and had to use the flash.  It's really much greener than the photo shows.  The quilt is made up of scraps and several fat quarters of green, mostly batik, cotton fabric that I purchased (and then didn't use) for another quilt.  I literally patched until I got to the width that I wanted, about 55", and the length was dictated by the size of the words, about 85".  I knew I wanted it to be a bit wonky looking, and since I don't have patterns for the letters, I pieced until they looked right.  I hand quilted it using #8 off white perle cotton (thank you Clare for the idea) with bigger stitches.  I quilted rows lengthwise along the quilt about 3-4" apart and then stitched down the center of each letter for emphasis and to get some quilting into the letter areas.  I used Warm and Natural cotton batting, and a bright turquoise/lime patterned cotton for the backing.  I labeled and it was done.  It took about 5 days from start to finish with a couple late evenings.  My niece will never get another quilt quite like this one and I know that she will enjoy having it.  All your family and friends are proud of you.    

Friday, December 3, 2010

Computer Crap

I think my computer joined the list of spammers this afternoon.  I have now run Norton virus protection and it cleaned up a bunch of medium risks (whatever the hell that means) and hopefully it is gone, but I did just talk to the lady whose computer has been spamming me for the last couple weeks and she says the "experts" told her that she couldn't get rid of it as long as she had that computer and her e-mail address.  They said that the computer would continue to send out junk to everyone on her address list no matter what she did.  I did ask her to delete my e-mail address and anything that she had received from me or sent to me.  I hope mine has been cleaned up, or I'm getting that Apple sooner than I had planned.  Sorry to anybody getting unsolicited or other crap from my e-mail address.  Let me know.   

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Everyday is Thanksgiving in my mind.  I am so grateful: for family, for friends, for neighbors, and a home, jobs, and enough resources.  Thanks to everyone who could spend a little time here over the holiday weekend, and for those of you who couldn't get here, we missed you.  I have also found my camera again after 3 weeks of looking for it, so I can start blogging in earnest once again...tomorrow.  My kids and guests have all gotten safely back to their own beds now, so I can go to bed too.   

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Autumn in Michigan

It is late fall in Michigan. That means the trees have dropped their leaves, Don's tomatoes have finally frozen, and the cattails are shedding.  These are photos of Tobico Marsh in northern Bay County. I have a landfill site in the area and was out there last week.  The weather was perfect, about 65 degrees and bright sunshine.  There is something about fall that makes the sky bluer than it is at any other time of the year.  I watched the birds for a while, pulled some cattails apart, and admired every variation of brown, tan, rust, taupe, gray, and black that are possible.  I also picked up another case of poison ivy.  And then I went back to work. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

a Quilt for Alzheimers

This is the little quilt that I'm donating to the Alzheimers Art Quilt Initiative.  Fortunately it is a little squarer than it looks here, the quilting almost creates an optical illusion-odd.  It is called Hope in a Whirlwind, the hope is the little wonky house (whose home isn't a little wonky) and the sun and of course, the quilting gives it the whirlwind effect.  I dedicated it to the caregivers of those with alzheimer's.  My quilt is made up of scraps, I think I showed the little houses the other day, and I appliqued the sun into the corner.  It is registered, #5862 ( in case you want to bid on it at and will be for sale after they sell their 1000 quilts that they are taking to the Houston Quilt Show this week.  Houston is one of the biggest quilt shows in the world and I understand that these little quilts just fly off the hangers, so many people attend the show, intending to purchase a donated quilt.  I hope to be able to see this phenomena some day.   

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Seriously Overloaded To Do List

Okay, okay, even I admit it.  (H's been saying it for a while.) I'm a bit over my head now.  I have a crazy quilt in progress, with another class scheduled in mid Nov.  I have a hand quilting project in progress with another class scheduled in early Nov.  I have another crazy quilting class scheduled at a different shop in late Nov.  I am hand appliqueing the border for the dresden plate quilt.  I have to clean out the flower beds.  I finished a 100x100" quilt top last week.  I went to weaving tonight and put more yarn on the loom for the baby blanket.  I am hand appliqueing the CWBQ blocks.  I am making wonky house blocks in my "spare" time.  I am the new newsletter editor for the quilt guild.  I go to the gardening meeting, art guild, basket guild, and quilt guild every month and weaving every week.  I have the basket quilt started.  It's much better than twiddling my thumbs, but I really NEED to wash windows.  I have to go to work every day and I am making time to feed the cat (yes Chrissy, Putts is getting fed AND I cleaned the litter box tonight) and the fish, but otherwise I'm cooking and ...well, you know, doing stuff.  I hate being bored.  Pics next time.   

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This and That

These are the last of the zinnias for the year.  They have been beautiful, in fact so beautiful that I really almost didn't care that they completely outgrew the snaps and I haven't seen a snapdragon since June.  The lesson is to put the zinnias behind the snaps, not in with the snaps...  I tried to dry them and they rotted so I'm not putting zinnias on a wreath for the front door, but they have been very prolific all summer.  I have probably picked 30 or more bouquets in the last 4 months.  I have given them to friends, neighbors, co-workers, the kids, and had them in the kitchen all summer. 

I am quilting, I am weaving, and we are going north this weekend to take Chrissy to dinner for her birthday.  This little house project is something that I did tonight because the big project is going hmmm...okay, but it's not exactly what I wanted, though it looks great, because I am finally getting better at piecing...pinning is the not so secret, secret and because it takes longer, I was reluctant, but it works, so now I'm a convert...however the big project is a secret so I'm not sharing yet.  The little houses are just for fun.  I think I'm going to make a village, maybe with trees and a dog or two.  The weaving is going pretty well, but I'm not going to be happy that I am putting all this work into acrylic yarn.  I decided to weave a baby blanket.  Now you would be asking yourself, why would she do that?  No idea, but the acrylic has been purchased, because it doesn't shrink and it washes well.... and the loom is almost warped so in a couple weeks, I'll have a baby blanket with huck lace blocks interwoven with plain weave.  It should look very cool, but I really have no idea what I'm going to do with it.  This weekend, H, the dogs, and I are leaving Friday morning to go up north for a couple days.  I am using Chrissy as a way to get away from the house and not think about having to wash the windows.  I hate dirty windows, I also hate washing windows, but I really hate laying in bed on a Sat morning thinking about washing windows, so it's on the list soon.      

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yeah MSU!!!

For the third year in a row...MSU beat UM at football today!  Yes, I know H, and C, and P aren't happy with the outcome, but I think it's pretty stunning.  And D said that things were exciting in EL this afternoon.  Yeah State!!!  On to BB, we will almost assuredly celebrate twice this year.    

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Alzheimer's and Dust if You Must

I volunteered today for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, a group started by Ami Sims, to raise money for Alzheimer's research.  She has her big fund-raiser at the Houston Quilt Show, this year in early November, and she wants to take 1000 art quilts with her.  She also has the exhibit that is at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.  It turns out that Ami only lives a couple miles away and needed help cataloging the quilts bound for Houston.  A couple members of my quilt guild and I spent part of the day there.  I also got to see, up close and really in person, the art quilts that were done by famous quilters to support the cause, the World Series Quilt Challenge.  There is a reason that these people are famous and published and prize-winning.  Their quilts were stunning.  No photos could do them justice.  Check them out at  On the other hand, most of the quilts that I handled today were from just people, quilters like me, but people with stories to tell, about folks thay have loved and lost to Alzheimer's disease.  Each of the little quilts has a dedication and many, many were to their moms who didn't know them, or how to cook, or sew, or garden, or drive anymore.  My family has been so fortunate, but today I thought of grandma's friends, and Aunt Irene, Sophie, and Grandma Jerry, and all those who cared for them.     

And since life seems so short...I love this poem...sorry I don't know the author, I think it's from England.

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better,
to paint a picture or write a letter,
bake a cake or plant a seed,
ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
with rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
music to hear and books to read, friends to
cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go - and go you must -
You, yourself, will make more dust!

Grandma always said that if she had her druther's, and of course, none of us do, she wanted to go with a stroke of lightning.  Me too.   

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2010, UP and the Durand Quilt Show

How can it be October already?  What happened to September?  I missed it somehow.  I went up north with Rh and P last weekend, went back up north to spend a couple days with Chris during the week and here it is October.  Last weekend....I worked on the crazy quilt square, photos will come soon, but my camera takes terrible pics with incandescent light so I'll figure those out tomorrow.  But all day Sat, I learned how to knit.  It was easier with them there since they both knew how and could help.  I made this fine dishcloth, really really pathetic.  It seems that I unknowingly went from 40 stitches to 51 stitches and then P got me back to 40, but in the meantime, I have this ruffle in my dishcloth.  Oh well, but I think I can knit and purl now.  I also worked on applique a bit, but mainly I learned how to knit...or so I thought, until I got up north to see Chris and walked into her house with her room mate's knitting sitting on the floor.  SHE IS MAKING A SWEATER!  Not just any sweater, but a gorgeous Norwegian sweater.  Now she is Norwegian, and she has clearly been knitting for a while, however she assured me that this was her first sweater.  I didn't take a picture, but I sure wanted to.  She has been doing socks for a few years...  There were perfectly consistent yarn floats to get the little white dots into the black background and a black and white triangular pattern around the bottom of the sweater... Absolutely gorgeous.  So, I ran out the next day and bought knitting needles and dishcloth yarn for Chris.  She must learn how to knit, and then, as M said, they can knit and watch tv together.  Good grief.  I don't think I will ever get good enough at knitting to do anything but watch where the yarn is...and my fingers are...and where the needles are.... 

The trees have turned to reds, yellows, and oranges in the Keweenaw.  These pics are for K, and your pretty colored leaves are on their way south.   The pic on the right is from Nara Nature Park across from the Pilgrim River Steakhouse.  I stopped there and walked for a bit along the trail, picking up leaves and admiring the trees.  The one on the left is from the MTU parking lot overlooking Portage Lake.  Chris and I drove up to Copper Harbor too, but it was cloudy and raining, so the leaves weren't great.  Some of the trees had already dropped in the wind.  But we stopped for a bit along the Lake Superior beach and watched the waves crash in over the rocks, it was so beautiful.  We also stopped at a restaurant in Calumet on the way back and had thimbleberry margaritas.  Only in the UP...

I went to the Durand Quilt Show today and these were some of my favorites. 

This one is applique of course.  Very pretty and lots of work. 

This one was phenomenal.  Someone has made 2,288 2" log cabins and turned them into this 83x96" quilt.  She did it all by hand.  This lady had lots of scraps of fabric and loads of time.  If you look closely, you can see the little 2" block on the paper.  Incredible. This was definitely my choice for the viewer's choice award.   The reason that quilters never throw away a scrap of fabric... 

 I liked this log cabin too.  It's hard to see in the photo, but she called this one Cabin Songs and it has an appliqued border of trees and coyotes howling in the corners.  Her colors were wonderful, bright, and perfect for a cabin in the woods. 
 This is a pattern from a book called French Braid.  I took this photo because Rh just bought this book and loves this style of quilt.  You can't tell from the photo, but the maker quilted this with a silver metallic thread and it just shines. 
Another applique, one of Mary Warner Stone's patterns.  This one was appliqued with a button hole stitch done by machine, rather than hand, but the colors were great. 

 Another applique, done by hand, I think.  She used batiks and it was bright and cheerful.  I loved her border and she had appliqued the veins on the leaves, which I had never seen done before. 
I took this photo because this is the same basic pattern as Don's apple quilt, and I was really surprised at how different the quilts were, even using the same pattern.  She used batiks and Don's quilt has the red and gold apple fabrics with the freehand lettering in the border.  This one was nice, but I do like Don's quilt better.  Personal bias... 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Quilting Weekend

Rh and I will leave on Friday morning for her cabin up north.  We will take the long route, through the fall color  (hopefully) and local quilt shops.  In the afternoon, we will meet P and the 3 of us, along with the artichoke dip and chocolate that H bought tonight and the weekend supply of chili, will sew all weekend long.  I am taking the CWBQ applique, the dresden plate appliqued border, the crazy quilt and the wedding quilt to work on.  Any of these projects would keep me busy for the next 2 months so I shouldn't have any problem filling up 2 days.  H has plans too, he and the dogs are watching football and eating pizza all weekend.  I actually think he may be as excited about the weekend as I am.  I won't be here reminding him that the grass really needs mowing... hopefully I will have photos early next week.     

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Knitting is HARD

Ok, I'll save you the photos.  I spent 4 hours yesterday learning how to knit, well not really, but I did spend 4 hours putting yarn on a knitting needle.  Nita, if you are reading this, stop laughing.  Nita gave me a lesson on Thursday night and sent me a youtube video.  She said "make a dishcloth"...and made it look absolutely idiot-proof...  I spent most of the time stopping and re-starting the video.  They should make a slow-motion button for youtube.  Why hasn't anyone invented that yet?  Do they really think that you can get your hands in the right position and wrap the yarn around your thumb that fast?  And don't even talk about making the stitches.  First off, the video had several lines of knitting already done.  How does the first row get on the needle?  That's a different was amazing how many videos there were on youtube showing one how to knit.  However, if you didn't already know how to knit, most of them are useless.  Actually the truth is, I can now caste on and knit (hopefully after 4 hours).  But have to be kidding, my thumb doesn't seem to want to go there.  I need another lesson before I start the socks.     

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Perfect Day

Yesterday, hub called from his work at 7am and asked if I wanted to go fishing with him.  Of course I wanted to go fishing.  It was a beautiful, cool, sunny September day.  Who knows how many more of these we are going to get...  I called into work and after having breakfast at a local diner, we were off to the lake with the dogs in tow.  Most of the day, the dogs laid in the sun in the bottom of the boat.   Any time we were near the dock, Maggie, of course, thought she needed a drink and consequently spent most of the day pretty wet.  Einie was wet too, but just because he was following Maggie around in the water.  The fish were sparse.  I caught (and threw back) one middle sized catfish about 1:30 in the afternoon, but it was a lovely day to be on the water.  The wind was pretty stiff so we were glad that we had long sleeved shirts and jackets, but the sun was glorious.   We left the dock and stopped at the quilting shop on the way home to get a piece of fabric that I thought was calling my name (I can't say with a straight face that I need fabric), got a little ice cream for the road and the dogs of course...  and brought the boat home.  We then went out and had a salad and pizza.  On the way home we stopped and I picked a bunch of bittersweet.  There's nothing that says it is autumn more to me than bittersweet.  I couldn't find any last year and felt out of sorts until Christmas.  I guess hub has never been with me before when I picked bittersweet.  First he stopped along the road and said, "I can't park here, there isn't any room", well, you can, because I do every year.  But I got out and he went a little further down the road and sat there for a while.  Pretty soon he wants to know how long I will be.  A while...  He yells out that he'll be back.  So he went for his lottery ticket and left me there.  When he got back, I had a pile 5' high along the road, and was stilll dragging it out of the underbrush.  He was a bit incredulous that I was filling his truck up, but we got home with it...and I have bittersweet.  I picked off leaves until 8:30 last night and when I was done, stood there in the dark, smelling the cool September air and watching the moon and thinking that it was the perfect day.    

Monday, September 13, 2010

Victory Garden

My friends that own the land where I garden told me tonight that I had a beautiful Victory Garden and invited me back next year.  Grandpa would have been pleased.  I finished the harvest tonight, dug the carrots, potatoes, and onions and picked the rest of the tomatoes, peppers, and zinnias.  Harold will take the Garden Salsa peppers to work tomorrow to try and give them away.  They are so hot that I can't get anyone at my work to take them.  One of my friends used one in salsa and then had to use 3 times as many tomatoes to dilute it so she could eat it.  I'm going to mix the onions and the bell peppers in with the tomatoes and can the whole mess together tomorrow night.  I don't think that I will bother with potatoes again, the seed potatoes probably cost $3 or $4 and I ended up with a little less than a bushel.  I can buy potatoes here for about $3 a 20 lb bag so I don't think it really paid off to grow them, and they taste the same....  I have at least a bushel of beautiful carrots tonight and have been eating them all summer.  It turns out that two 20' rows of carrots is a lot.   And tomatoes!  I have another 2 bushel tonight, that makes about 5 bushel from my 34 plants of big tomatoes (I inadvertantly planted 5 cherry tomatoes too and could have fed a small army off those 5 plants).  I learned my lesson about heirlooms though, next year, back to the hybrids.  I can't taste any difference, any of my tomatoes from the garden tasted much, much better than from any store (and I know that I have eaten more tomatoes this summer than maybe in my whole life) but the heirlooms rotted like crazy and they are pink (not a good thing according to H).  I didn't mind that most of the varieties ripened over a long time period, and a lot of them are still green on the vines, but based on the rot, I'm going to Big Boy and Early Girl next year.  We'll see if it makes a difference.  I also picked the rest of the zinnias tonight.  I will miss them, they are the best variety and the one that I started from seed, so we will definitely have those next year.  I stopped and told him tonight that I was done, so I expect my garden will be plowed over by the weekend.  Though the garden has been a really good time, I bought Michigan apples today (Galas-wonderful) so it is officially fall now.  I'm going bittersweet hunting tomorrow.        

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Crazy Quilting Again

I started a crazy quilting class this afternoon at my local quilt shop.  Diane is an excellent instructor, full of ideas and knowledge.  Interestingly enough, she also lives across the street from where I grew up in Swartz Creek and her kids went to school with me.  Funny how small the world is...  I spent this afternoon auditioning fabrics for the 16" square, and then basting them in place.  I spent this evening practicing my embroidery stitches, most people learn this as a kid, I am a late starter to say the least, and am nowhere near as good as I would like to be.  I was in a hurry when I left this afternoon for class, I had just finished freezing the bushel of peaches, so I didn't take as many fabrics as I wanted.  I anticipate that I am going to do much more auditioning and basting before I start the embroidery.  The process of crazy quilting is to baste fabrics in a somewhat pleasing pattern on a base, we are using pellon fleece, and then use fancy embroidery stitches to actually hold the fabrics in place.  No machine involved... Then you get to use ribbons, beads, lace, and pretty much anything else to embellish the square.  My class is a sunday afternoon once a month for 4 months.  We'll see how much I get done.  As Harold says, there are lots of irons in the fire right now. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Boxes and buckets of tomatoes are here!  And after yesterday and today, 27 quarts of canned tomato sauce and 8 bags of frozen tomato sauce.  I oven roasted every one of them, skin and all, pureed them in the blender, and dumped them in the bag or jar.  It took awhile because I could only roast 3 pans at a time, they took 45 minutes to roast, and then, they had to boil in the canner for another 45 minutes.  It seemed like it was going to take forever and that is after I bought jars and went to 3 stores yesterday before I found a canner.  I'm pretty sure I could have purchased a lot of tomatoes for the time and money, (and H is positive of it), but I have them now and they are beautiful.  I'm done, at least until next week when I go back to pick the rest.      

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rock River

This is one of the best pictures of my husband and I that has ever been taken.  Chrissy took it while we were sitting on the stone breakwall at Rock River.  We had a really good time, Pat and Terry were with us on Sat and Sunday, which was a lot of fun, and Don's friend came over for a couple days too.  We had intended to move Chris into her apartment in Houghton on Monday, but Don got a call saying that he had a telephone interview for an intern job on Tuesday and then we couldn't get to Houghton until Wednesday.  That meant we couldn't use the boat until Thursday, but fortunately the weather was spectacular and we fished all day on Thursday and Friday.  Chrissy and I also found time to bind our quilts on the way up, and I appliqued 2 more blocks of the CWBQ, so it was a lovely vacation.   I am so glad that Star Light, Star Bright is done.  I have enough wonky log cabin blocks done in the batiks to make another quilt and now that this one is done, I want to put it the other one together too.  This one, of course, is personalized, but the other one I'll probably do as a charity quilt or give away or something.  Or maybe I'll do wonky log cabin houses, that might be fun.  I'll see.  The last photo is of my annual garden in the front of the house.  The shorter marigolds don't seem to like the heat, they have almost stopped blooming, even though I have been deadheading like crazy.  The zinnias and petunias however, are doing great.  I put more zinnias in the house today.  I so much enjoy having the color in the kitchen.  I haven't been over to the veggie garden yet.  I gave every ripe tomato to R last week and I'm a bit afraid that every other tomato in the garden is now ripe and must be immediately dealt with.  Between those, and the peaches on the counter, and the pears in the fridge, I need to be putting stuff in the freezer, and instead, of course, I'm going to Maryland this weekend.  Good grief.     

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rx River

We are off to Rock River for a week.  We are totally full this year since Chrissy is moving into an unfurnished apt at Tech.  We have the desk, bed, lazyboy, lamps, dresser, fish tank, and everything else imaginable packed into the truck and on the boat trailer.  Hopefully it will be much cooler up north, it's hotter than crap here.  We have heard that the lake's temp is unbelievably warm this year.  We will see.  Have a fabulous week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dyeing Fabric

Another day of dyeing fabric today with Joetta. The fabrics on the table are from today and the ones on the line are fabrics that I folded, dyed, and/or screen printed last weekend. Those have been washed and dried. Last weekend, I did several techniques. Some of them are screen printed, very fun, I used leaves and grass for the resist and you can even see them in one out of three of the pieces. The other two are just green and blue pieces of cloth, and they would look really great if I didn't know they were supposed to be leaves and grass. One of them I just splattered dye on and that one looks remarkably like someone had splattered dye on it. I also used the sewing machine and tried to use thread as a resist to create a pattern on the fabric. It worked, somewhat, but getting the thread out of the fabric after it had been washed and dried was very hard on the cloth. I punched several holes in the fabric trying to get the thread out and would not be able to re-use this fabric in anything that needed structural integrity. I think the ones that have been folded are the coolest ever. It is called folded shibori, a japanese word meaning (surprisingly, right) folded dyed cloth. That is why all the ones that I did today are folded or wrapped around things, like the vacuum cleaner hose. I hope to be able to get the corrugated effect on the fabric. I used a new roll of contact paper (in the center of the photo) and scrunched and tied fabric on it too. I'll let it dry like that and hope to get the scrunched pattern. The other pieces I folded in triangles, at right angles, squares, or pleats and put different dyes on different areas of the fold and am letting them stew in dye for a couple days before putting them to dry on the line. I love the idea that I don't really have any image of how they will turn out when I am doing them. It's a surprise every time. A wonderful by-product of drying the wet fabric on the line is my new collection of fabulously colored clothespins. You can't even buy these. Aren't they great?

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I am working on the bride and have 7 more leaves to applique and some embroidered stems to finish.  I may get a photo tomorrow.  I washed and dried more of my dyed fabric today, so that needs a photo too, and tomorrow I am going to go to the weaving studio and maybe felt a little wool.  I also sent a new fabric postcard to my swap buddy on the Liberated Quilts group.  I mailed one to her on July 29, but it hasn't gotten to Wales yet, so she gets a new one.  Of course, I had to have the one postcard that didn't get to it's destination.  I hope she enjoys her new one (and the old one too if it ever shows up).    

Monday, August 9, 2010

CWBQ Block #1

Block #1 is done.  I am working on the bride tonight, but it's slow going.  I had to re-do the bloomers 4 times trying to get them even, the sleeves once, because 1 shoulder was higher than the other, the lace twice, to get it even, and her neck twice to get it to look right.  I knew it was going too well.... We did more fabric dyeing over the weekend and it is still all wrapped up in saran wrap and sitting on the deck.  Joetta said that I got fading because I didn't leave the dye on long enough, of course she was right, I dried, washed and pressed within hours, too impatient... so I will show it in a few days.  I did a couple screen prints too and brought home dye to overdye the prints.  I'll have to do that this week too.  Also a garden meeting, more tomatoes from the garden, a Red Cross meeting, and I really must go to work again this week. damn.  I want to applique....

Friday, August 6, 2010


Well, after a year of lurking on the CWBQ blog, I have finally joined and added my first blog contribution tonight.  It is so much fun to be able to see and read about everyone's progress on this quilt.   I also now understand that I am not the only person "obsessed" with applique, or with this quilt.  Who would have believed that I could so much enjoy something that seems so unlike me.  A few years ago, I, and those who know me best, would have laughed uproariously if someone had suggested that I would enjoy hand sewing.  It just goes to show that you are never to old to learn new things about yourself.  The CWBQ blog is listed in the Inspiration box on the right hand side of my blog for those of you who might not be familiar with it.  Check it out, you will recognize my post by the photos.   

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This is part of the color palette for the CWBQ.  I say "part of" because I purchased the background and 3 more colors today and added another 10 or 12 from the stash.  I'm at about 60 fabrics that might find their way into the quilt.  I also prepped the first block, 17 colors and 43 pieces on a 12x15 piece of background.  This one is going to be busy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Civil War Brides Quilt

I am choosing colors for the CWBQ (I will be using this acronym often in the next few months).  The CWBQ is an applique project, relatively daunting in size and complexity.  The pattern, by an Australian woman, is modeled after the Bird of Paradise Quilt made during the time of the Civil War presumably for a marriage, but the groom square is missing, so it is supposed that the marriage didn't occur.  No one knows why or who put all the work into the original quilt.  The original quilt is in the American Folklore Museum in New York City, a definite stop if I ever get back to New York.  I will be using the pattern as a guideline.  I'm making my squares slightly larger and want to include a house, groom, vegetables, trees, and a cornucopia, in addition to the flowers, birds and nests, animals, fruit, and bride included in the pattern.  I have had this pattern for months, but the time never seemed right to start it, but now is the time.  It will take longer than anything I have done before and I'm nervous about being able to maintain momentum, but if I don't start, I won't ever finish, right? 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dye workshop

The results of the dye workshop on Sunday. As usual, as much permanent dye on my hands as on the cloth. The cuticles are even worse, and when I asked how long to get it off, after I had it on, of course, Joetta said that it took her long enough to cut her fingernails 3 times, that's at least a few weeks. Oh well, here's some of the turned out pretty cool. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010


My online group has decided to swap fabric postcards. This is actually the third postcard that I have made in a week; I pieced the word Joy on the first one (it was a really cool postcard, much better than this one) and promptly misplaced it in the fabric stash and can't find it. What does that tell you about the fabric stash? And the second one, I fused a basket and 3 flowers on it and sent to Wales this afternoon...unfortunately I forgot to take a photo before it went to the post office. And in case you are interested, it costs $1.28 to send a postcard to Wales. This one is going to Massachusetts, and I put 2 stamps on it just in case there was extra postage. Supposedly you can send these through the mail without an envelope. I guess we will see when I receive mine. That is actually the most fun part, although they were kinda cool to make too, I am going to receive two in return. One from Texas and one from England. How cool is that? I can hardly wait.

This is the start of the dresden plate quilt.  The plates and sashing has been added to the background.  I am going to add a narrow green border and then I have been trying to decide about the wider border.  The pattern is actually set on point so the square quilt is made up of diamond shapes.  It's funny how they talk to you if you listen, this one is telling it needs an appliqued border with vines and flowers and maybe hand quilting too.   So far I am resisting the hand quilting idea, but I'm thinking it might be right about the border. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Upper Peninsula rocks and friends

It was a fabulous weekend, full of friends, beer, and really old rocks. Not necessarily in that order. Don and I saw amazing nickel sulfide cores at the Kennecott mine on Friday and heard a rather self-serving lecture on why operating this particular mine would be the best thing since sliced bread. It is true, there is lots of nickel in the rock, but it is only a 10 year operation to extract the nickel and then the company would be gone after making a projected 12 billion dollar profit.  They insist that the locals will get their share, but...   Yeah EPA, at least make them move the entrance away from Eagle Rock... This is a photo taken at Jasper Knob in Ishpeming, west of Marquette, made up of Negaunee banded iron formation (BIF). The red layers are Jaspilite and the gray is Specularite, a cherty hematite iron ore. These rocks are 1.5 billion or so years old.  The photo doesn't do it justice, the black Specularite is shiny and this formation just glows in the sun. This type of formation is found world-wide, and is a sedimentary rock formed formed in shallow seas. It was then heavily metamorphosed to give it the complex folding. There is a lot of speculation that since this rock contained lots of oxygen and the atmosphere at the time was oxygen poor, that a substantial amount of atmospheric oxygen was formed when these formations were "squished". This is one incredibly tough rock. For the most part, you can't touch it with a rock hammer, you have to pick up pieces that have frost heaved at the base of the hill. I already have quite a bit at home so I saved my strength (and D's of course). The next photo is of pillow basalts in the Mona Schists. These circular structures were formed when basalt flowed from a volcano under water and the rock was quickly quenched. This rock is about 2.6 to 2.7Ga or billion years old. Absolutely massive bedrock, no hammers at this stop either.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UP Field Trip

Yes, I'm going on a geology field trip to the Upper Peninsula. Yes, I know I have been there before, but is there something that you do, that no matter how many times you have done it before, if you do it again, it's still a thrill? Looking at rocks in the UP is that way for me. It's an adventure that I started with Dr. Chet Wilson 33 years ago at Mott Community College when I signed up for his physical geology course because I needed a natural science credit. How hard could it be to identify rocks? I love looking at rocks, I love touching them, I love tasting them, and I love just thinking about them. As habits go, it's not too bad, but it does have it's drawbacks... my son says erratic driving, that I'm not the most consistent driver through roadcuts because it is hard to see folding, faulting and lithology at 60 mph. My kids would tell you that talking about them is a also a drawback, but them knowing something about the natural world is not such a bad thing. This trip is basically a 2 day refresher of college field camp and I'm going with a couple college friends (and some of our kids) that I don't see regularly, in fact, our last meeting was 5 years ago at another field trip in the UP. I'll be back on Sunday with pictures. I bet you can't wait!

Also this week, the handmade paper is done, the 25 dresden blocks are appliqued and waiting to be pieced together, a harvest basket was made for a retiring co-worker, and the starlight quilt has my name and date in the border.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Oh, and I almost forgot...the first beans, snap peas, and cucumbers came out of the garden tonight. I immediately brought the beans home and just barely steamed them. They were perfect, especially with the first little cherry tomatoes from the deck. The cucumbers and peas were eaten on the way home. They were perfect too. I love having a veggie garden.


As promised, here is the paper-making post.
Deckle, abaca, hosta and goldenrod mash, kiss off, cooching...these are words with definitions that I didn't understand before last weekend.
Papermaking by hand is interesting. You suspend pulp, in our case paper mash and/or abaca (which is really dried paper mash that you reconstitute using water), in a large tub of water, swing in a mold and deckle, (really a frame with screening to capture the pulp and allow the water to drain through and another frame to create the deckled edge) and then cooch the paper pulp from the screen onto a wet cloth to to make a sheet of paper. To kiss off is to turn the screen upside down in the water and gently and quickly rinse the pulp back into the vat. On Saturday, Chris and I made about 50 9x11" sheets, and on Sunday, we made more than 250 notecards (I know, I know, even I was thinking that I wasn't going to live long enough to use this many cards) by putting tape across the deckle and only allowing the pulp to catch in the rectangles between the tape. This photo is of some the notecards drying on a line at the house. The pink with red flecks was created when I swirled some red oxide paint in the water. The green is the goldenrod/hosta mash made with torn strips of green leaves, soaked overnight and then boiled for a few hours. My cup of hosta mash was made from about 3 gallons of hosta leaves. Note to self...use outside grill to boil the mash on next time, it smells... Our friend Joetta, teaching the class, had about 3 cups of goldenrod mash. She said that she and the neighbor girl picked goldenrod for a couple hours. I believe it. The blue was Chrissy's idea, she added blue and green dye to the hosta mash water after most of the hosta was gone. So she got blue paper with just a lovely bit of green stuff. We made thick sheets, thin sheets, 2 sheets put together with inclusions between them (the piece of fern) and we embossed paper with leaves. For some papers, we added dyes and/or colored bits of paper or cotton or dryer lint or yarns to the paper. I put woven birchbark between paper and onto paper. We used raffia, onion skin, marigold and zinnia petals, and fresh and dried flowers and leaves. I was very happy with the results. We used sizing in the water to make the paper stiffer and seal it a bit so we could write on it. I also pressed it with a hot iron when it was almost dry so as to flatten the sheets and give them a bit of a sheen. I used a sharpie on a notecard piece today and it worked wonderfully. I'm thinking that maybe I'll go back on Sat again and make some envelopes to go with our cards. Also Joetta has a paperwasp nest from last year that has some gorgeous organic looking grays and taupes running through it. I'm thinking that a bit of it would look lovely in my paper. Look for a handmade card in a mailbox near you soon.