Sunday, May 30, 2010


D has been in the hospital this week. Home now, but scary for me for a bit. It is amazing how every bad thing that you have ever heard, seen, or imagined comes into your head at 3:30 in the morning as you sit in the hospital looking at your child. Once again, we are so fortunate. Thank you to E for staying with D in the hospital.

On another front, D and I are missing K's graduation from med school today. Yes, she was the first phone call on Thursday morning. We are so proud of her and her achievements. She has managed alot while in med school and will continue to be challenged (especially for the next year) but we are positive that she is totally up to it. I am pleased that the rest of the family can be there with her and T to share today. I know C is taking photos, I'm just sorry that D and I aren't there to join the fun. I don't have enough words to express the gratefulness that I feel for all my children this weekend. Thanks so much to all of you. I love you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Amy's Creative Side: Blogger's Quilt Festival - Spring 2010

Amy's Creative Side: Blogger's Quilt Festival - Spring 2010

bloggers quilt festival - K's wedding quilt

Thanks to Amy at this site,, for the chance to talk about K's wedding quilt. K was the first one of five to get married, and I really wanted to do something special to celebrate hers and T's marriage. I hadn't been making quilts very long, only about 6 months, and had never done applique before, but I started looking at books, and the quilt had to be applique. I really couldn't imagine a more perfect wedding quilt.

These are some of my favorite squares and border pieces in the quilt. The wedding was planned for April 2009 at a little church in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I explored several ways to do applique. I did some zigzag stitch by machine, but wasn't crazy about how it looked, and I wanted this to be an heirloom. I also tried fusible, but again, it was too stiff and didn't have the old-fashioned feel that I was going for. I suspect that it still seems odd that I quilt to folks who knew me as a young woman. I never willingly picked up a needle and was totally lost in home ec classes as a kid (yes, I am old enought to not have had options in the 8th grade, it was home ec, period). I had resisted for a long time. I have friends that quilt and they had wanted me to try it, but I couldn't imagine myself really liking it (I was wrong). I was hooked when I saw a Laurel Burch panel of a mermaid and since C is a scuba diver and part fish, I knew she had to have a quilt that included that panel. My friends said that I had to do it myself, they weren't going to make it for me. But back to K's quilt... the wedding date was set and I still didn't really know how to applique, so I bought books, many of them, Elly Sienkiewicz mostly, of course the most complicated, and then took a 2 hour class to learn how to hand applique. Ok, I can do this, I just have to modify it for me. I didn't like the glue or the overlay, so I just eyeballed the placement and started in the middle of the square. I had no idea how long it would take, but I bought about 25 yards (yeah, I know, way to much) of fabric for the front and started. I (really) simplified patterns from the many books and I had made about 3 squares when I decided that I really didn't like the colors very much so I bought more fabric and redid them. I know I made every square at least twice, some of them 3 or 4 times. I started in March 2008 and after a couple false starts, appliqued like a demon all summer. Every night, I would work on it, many Sundays I worked all day. I was slow and not very good at the start, but by vacation time in August I was much better and faster. I appliqued all week of vacation and finished in September. It was a blast to think about K and put things into the quilt that I knew she would like. She had always wanted a bunny as a kid, so it had to include a rabbit, and then a squirrel and several birds, including the funky red one with the golden topknot. She also loves green acorns, so the acorns with the oak leaves had to be green. I knew that I didn't want a formal border so I just appliqued a vine with lots of leaves and different kinds of flowers and birds on the edge. I took it to a machine quilter (I know, all real quilters need air at this point in the conversation), but it really never occurred to me that I could hand quilt it too. Now I know better. The machine quilter said that she would be done the first of January. I called the middle of January to ask if she needed anything and then stopped over the end of January. It was still in the same pile it had been in October. Not a good sign. I called my friend, the real quilter, and she found a machine quilter who could get it in right away. It is beautiful and the machine quilting hid any piecing imperfections. Of course, I wish now that I had hand quilted it, but there are two more daughters and two sons, so I'm positive that I will get the chance.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Art Guild

I am going to art guild tonight. I don't really feel like going, but I should go. It has to do with getting out of the funk of this week. It has been a really long week. The women are friends, the art will be fun, we are having a potluck to celebrate being together, and I have to pay my $10 dues that I have owed and forgotten since January. I have my show and tells, my roving and felting needle from the Maryland fiber fair, my cherry boxes, and a little mosaic piece that I have been working on. I have also decided that I am putting on the loom the beautiful white baby blanket with pink roses that I saw in the magazine. Life does go on. Between the baby blanket and 2 weddings this weekend, and my daughter's graduation from medical school next weekend, I hopefully will not have time for the funk. And I am deadheading the petunias and marigolds. Maybe sunshine will help too. I hope so.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I know I can't say this eloquently enough, but my friend and her husband don't deserve this. No one deserves this. They are burying their youngest daughter tomorrow, 2 weeks after her 18th birthday. They did everything right, 2 beautiful, talented daughters, the older one in college, the other a senior in high school until last Friday afternoon. The girls excelled in academics and sports. The 18 year old was the captain of the soccer team and had played since she was a tyke. My friend worked with us many years ago, we took turns being pregnant in those days, one after another, bringing home new babies. You worry all the time, but you have to believe, as you sit through recitals, games, concerts, and matches, that everything will be alright. They start kindergarten and then they seem to be driving and going to prom, and all those years of lessons and laughing and age appropriate discussions...where did they go? This was a mom who took photos of everything, who always whipped out the newest picture from her purse when we happened to meet. Today, standing at the funeral home, in front of hundreds of photos tacked onto boards, her words were "let us share our daughter with you" as she pointed out the beautiful blonde with the grin in family photos, photos with her friends, her dogs, and her sister. We pray daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute, that ours that we love will be safe and happy, and I am so grateful that tonight, for mine, that is true, but I am heartbroken for my friend because her heart will never be the same.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Gardening Weekend

A very fun couple days. D and E, C, H and I went to the Eastern Market on Sat and bought flowers and cheese and ate ribs and pastries, washed down with lots of coffee. We stopped in Birmingham to get dad's special bottle of bourbon in the afternoon and came home to find that the 5 yards of compost had been delivered. Yippee! Since then, we have planted flowerbeds, moved compost, installed fencing, planted herbs and cherry tomatoes, planted raspberries, moved compost, pruned the trees and shrubs, planted the front porch pots, moved hydrangeas, watered everything in sight, rearranged the rocks and mushrooms, moved more compost, planted the back deck pots, and moved lots of brush in the woods. The pink dogwood have been stunning this year.

Tulips and allium,

grape hyacinth, just before they are gone for the year,

ferns at the front door,

japanese grass that the dogs munch on at every opportunity,

the cherry tree garden with snaps, marigolds, mums, daylilies and crane's bill geranium,
perennial bachelor's buttons,

white iris,


purple iris,

peonies almost out,

raspberries waiting for July,

volunteer chives in the corner of the herb garden,

white lilacs with the absolutely amazing fragrance,

hydrangeas with the boy and goose statue,

ajuga everywhere,

a bed of raspberries, more than enough to make jam...

the 8x50' annual bed planted with several varieties of snaps, marigolds, dahlias, cannas, sweet peas, zinnias, stocks, roses, glads, petunias, morning glories, cosmos, and sunflowers. It is almost perfect now and will be absolutely perfect in about a month (or so I tell all the neighbors who are stopping to admire). Thanks to D, E, C and H for a weekend of really hard, and fun for me, work. PS the white chocolate mousse was great too AND E got to eat her first coney. How cool is that! A wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


"Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." ~~Henry David Thoreau

I came across this quote today and it made me think of you. Your dreams are perfect for you and there is lots of time to build foundations. Onward.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I linked to a few blogs tonight. These are places that I go for inspiration, ideas, and just to see what fabulous things are being created by amazingly talented women. I'm still adding to the bloglist, so if you have a favorite, let me know. Check them out.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

maryland sheep and wool

I was in Maryland last weekend to see family and friends. We had a great party on Friday evening in L's beautiful garden. It was so good to see everyone and the beach is only 6 weeks away. I also went out this weekend so that I could attend the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Sat, May 1. Very cool. Lots of vendors, lots of fun stuff. The little lamb was in the vendor's area on a leash. The bag is done by felting wool roving into silk fabric to give the silk enough stability to create a bag. It was a very fun bag and I don't think too difficult to make. There were hundreds of vendors and people seemed to be purchasing stuff. I went with L and she bought a couple project kits. I bought a 10 point felting needle, some raw wool curls, more on those later, some dyed roving, a lizard shawl pin, some handmade buttons (a very good deal), a couple pairs of socks for gifts, and a mermaid button. The buttons were a great deal, all handmade, different colors, shapes, and sizes, and we each bought a grab bag of 24. I even have one with a sheep on it. I have been wanting a bigger felting needle since I only have the individual needles, and it takes a long time to get enough pokes into the roving over a larger area to actually get any felting done. They had lots of dyed silk for felting, but I wanted some plain that I could dye myself so I will have to get it mailorder. One of the women told me about and I checked it out last night and their prices are very good, so I will probably get some there. Most of the roving that I bought was dyed, but I did get some white to dye myself. I actually didn't purchase any wool yarn, partly because the choices were overwhelming, but primarily because I am thinking next year's weaving project is going to be basket weave with cotton warp and weft and I really don't need anymore yarn that doesn't have a purpose in my head. I already have too much.
Saturday was a very hot day, about 93 degrees, but the crowd was friendly and since we had gotten there pretty early, about 8:30am, we didn't have to park a long ways off. Lunch was a delicious lamb gyro and sweet lemonade. When we left at 2pm, there were cars parked a mile and a half from the entrance. And by that time, I was really glad that we didn't have to walk a mile away to get to the car.
P and D hosted a great spaghetti dinner on Sat night and after a nap at L's and dinner with a couple gin and tonics, I was ready to go back to the festival on Sunday, but C and D had finals on Monday and had to be back at school, so next year...
Okay, about the raw wool curls... what I know about raw wool is about nothing, so I bought a plastic bag of this very fun looking stuff, small matted curly locks of wool in white/cream and brown/gray/black colors. We had seen a Christmas stocking with a wool sheep felted on the front using these curly locks of wool and I thought it might be fun to make some ornaments or something. When I bought it, the woman said that it was raw wool and it had to be cleaned before I could use it. Not a problem, how hard can that be? Well, I finally took the bag out last night, and said to H, that this was my sheep smell, because on Sat, there had been a little odor to the wool, but that was on Sat and a serious understatement. By Tuesday and after a couple 90+degree days, the smell was enough to knock your socks off. It smelled like I had brought home the whole sheep barn in a bag. I spent last evening reading about how to clean raw wool, what impuities are actually in it, poop, burrs, grass, etc... (I found all of them, dirty work) and how to do all this without felting it during the washing process. It took many sinks of the hottest water I could get from the tap, not hot enough, by the way, only about 125 degrees (the articles said 140 - 160 degrees) and don't ever let it cool below 110 degrees or the lanolin will get sticky and not wash out. And it takes a whole bottle of dish detergent to do one pound of wool. It took a couple hours, but I think it is cleaner, or maybe it only smells a bit better. There is still a bit of an odor, not unpleasant, but a little sheepy... and the water wanted to bead up in even the last rinse, so I don't really think that I have all the lanolin out either, but it is better than it was and I am not going to try and card and spin it, so it should be ok?
This is going to be my grapevine wreath for the back deck. I want to make a big wreath and then decorate it with mosaic birds of different colors. I will use small pieces of broken stained glass and seal the birds to keep the weather out. I think they should look great when the sun catches the glass. My friend K pruned her grapevines and bundled it and brought it to work for me. H wants to know why we have all the sticks and I caught him tonight just as he was taking out the trash and scheming about how he was going to get my grapevine to the road too. By the weekend, I'll at least have a wreath. The birds will take a few more days. I have to get grout and a piece of 1/4" plywood for my bird shapes.
This is going to be the colors of my new quilt top. I want to make a quilt like the raffle quilt that I talked about last week, very bright, and appliqued with batiks. I cut these 1" strips so that I can make the 1" borders on each of the pieced blocks. I have a quilting workshop in June to make star blocks and I think I'll wait until then to do the pieced blocks, but I am starting work on the appliqued blocks tonight. I have several traditional patterns picked out and copied onto freezer paper so I can start cutting out applique blocks this week. I am working at Applewood on Friday for the Master Gardeners, so I probably won't get a lot done this weekend, since hopefully if the weather cooperates, I want to plant at least part of the vegetable and annual gardens too, but I am so excited to be able to start another applique quilt.