Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day America!

It's the Fourth of July in America, and we celebrate Independence Day with flags, fireworks, barbecues and picnics, family gatherings, and quilts.....!  Since the beginning of this country flag quilts or patriotic themed quilts have been created.  The history of our country is intertwined with the history of quilting, and today these quilts are as popular as ever.  

And instead of fireworks, this postcard arrived!  It is from Carolyn in South Africa, and it is an explosion of gorgeous feathers and colors, stunning.  Carolyn, I hope you make a quilt using these colors; the feather in real life looks almost illuminated; you made some beautiful color choices with fabric and threads.  

When I get these in the mail I see them outdoors first by the mailbox and I can't even begin to tell all of you how spectacular they look, and how they take my breath away.  Thank you all for working so hard and sending me these beautiful "mini quilts"!

Happy 4th to all my quilting friends, enjoy the day.

Monday, June 30, 2014

More Treasures Arrived....

The mail has brought me three new postcards from the Free Motion Challenge participants, and I am showing them here to share the wonderful creativity, colors, variety and style they all have.  The card above is from Martha Briese in Lebanon OH or OR, can't quite read the postmark and both of these states have towns named Lebanon!  It is so lovely with the thread work, shading of the feathers so they really stand out, and the added delicacy of the very tiny pearls in the spine.  A wow, for sure.

This rich green feather came from Brigitte Rosetti in Switzerland, wonderfully traditional, nicely done branching.  I think it looks so similar to feathers I've seen on some very old hand quilted quilts, and nice the way the feathers touch and eliminate the need for background quilting between branches. Pretty!

Another soft purple card with an artistic frayed edging that really sets off the feather and the colors.  This one is from Wendy Welts in the UK.  Here the thread colors really add to the exuberance of the feather design, making it much more contemporary looking.  Nice!

Thanks to all of you, especially for the messages you included on the backs of the cards.  I enjoyed sharing my techniques with you and am so happy you are all feathering away and quilting a design that is as unique and individual as you are.  

Keep quilting, your work gets better everyday.....

Monday, June 23, 2014

Little Treasures

Lately the most delightful surprises have been appearing in my mailbox!  Quilted postcards from far-off places, feathers that are beautiful, messages and drawings on the back that touched my heart have arrived, all showing me the spectacular results of my tutorial for SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge!  They are truly an unexpected delight.  

The first one, above, appeared in a stack of bills and sale fliers, hidden away, and when I sifted through the stack I almost yelped when the colors, texture, beautiful feather in the postcard were revealed, WOW!  This one is from Tina Gilly in Pensacola, FL, USA,  and I thought it was a "group thank you" card......until......gasp.....another one arrived!

Postcard #2, above, is done on a champagne colored silk, and is the only one that picked up some smudges from the mail sorting machines.  It is lovely, and is from Liz Gates in New Zealand.  I shall try and clean it.  Great pearls in the spine!

Then there was a bit of a pause, until the THIRD one arrived!  Below, a beautiful feather from Marelize Ries in South Africa, quilted with a shimmery silk thread in a soft teal on a deep teal fabric, love the color choices, which look deeper and more mysterious in real life.

On the same day, a fourth card also arrived, this one in a tiny striped fabric and accented with coloring to make it visible.  It's tough quilting feathers on print fabrics, but yet we tend to use many prints in our work, so using art supplies to highlight them is a good option.  Below, card #4 from Dorothy Matheson in Texas, USA.

Then some time passed and I thought that might be the end of feathers-in-the-mail, but no!  Postcard #5 appeared, below, a beautiful feather variation with curls in each feather and a string of "pearls" on the spine, very nice.  It is from Alice Ridge in Virginia, USA.

And.....the next day.........Postcard #6 was delivered by my now admiring mail woman, who probably wonders why, how, what are these beautiful things!!!  It is on the loveliest citron shade of fabric, quilted with chartreuse thread, so pretty.  Thanks to Barbara Crumpton in Malaga, Spain for this one!

When you look at all of these feathers and quilting styles, it is the way it was for me as a teacher to go from student to student in class and see all the differences in work, how each feather is unique to the quilter, much like our handwriting.  Even if feathers were traced using a stencil, same one for each person, the results would vary, reflecting the style of quilting and of course color choices with threads and fabrics.   You are the artist here and you make these a reflection of yourself in quilting.

I am so pleased that so many used my tutorial and learned on their own, without verbal help or even videos, without a teacher there to help with any problems.  You all forged on yourselves and came up with amazing results, and I am very proud of each of you.  Thank you so much for the postcards, they will become a treasured collection for me.  

Summer is here, but it has been gloomy, damp, dank, cloudy, rainy, icky here.  My hands stick to the laptop, the dishes do not dry in the rack.  We entertain ourselves with bird seed on the front step, which I did for the birds all winter, but now for the rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels, as well as the occasional sparrow.  They feed every morning, oblivious to Oliver peering with killer intent through the glass, tail thrashing.  Ah, the life of retirees.....

Geeky tip:  I am now used to Windows 8, no problems at all, fast and easy now that I have figured out its rather convoluted ways.  I use Google Chrome for my browser and like that better than IE.  I set the zoom on my new HP laptop at 150% to view my blog, and at 125% for all other pages with no problems and bigger everything for these older eyes.  

Hope you enjoy seeing these quilting samples, and are inspired to get back to working on your own quilting, making it better every day.............!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


We have survived the dreadful winter and finally are seeing some signs of spring:  robins, a touch of green in the dead lawns, a tiny crocus sprout poking through dead leaves.  And Mr. Chipmunk, up from hibernation, eating bird seed by the front door.  Mr. Oliver is riveted, tail thrashing, body tense, for hours.  He sleeps in the evening, exhausted.
I haven't posted about quilting for awhile as I was coping with a very sick husband, and then while caring for him had an injury to my right hand which kept me out of commission for awhile.  All is well now, and this all happened during the polar vortex in February, the snows, and the daily treks to the ER or the hospital or the outpatient center kept me more than busy. 
My hand emergency was a very bad burn that happened while placing a beef roast in a big pan with hot oil in the bottom.  It stuck on the pan's side as I was lowering it in, the oil was too hot as I had set the heat too high when distracted, and the meat bounced into the oil with my hand down in the pan.  The hot oil splashed up and covered my thumb and the first two fingers. 
I rinsed my hand in cold water, and we immediately went to the ER for treatment.  The burns were second degree, fortunately not worse.  I was so thankful for the excellent care and the pain meds! 
Two days later with my huge bandaged hand I went to the regional burn center for specialized treatment.  It looked very bad when the bandage came off, but they used a new method of covering the burn with a foam material saturated with silver.  No ointment or antibiotics,  just this wrapped onto my hand for one week. 
I became very creative in doing things with my left hand, along with the last two fingers on my right hand, all without getting the hand wet.  After a week they removed this material and the bandages and it was miraculously back to looking like my hand, only very red where the oil had burned it.  No pain, just a little itchy feeling as the skin peeled and replaced itself.  We celebrated with a meal out on the way home, yay.  Even the burn center people were amazed at how well it all worked.
My hand is fine now, it gets quite red and glowing sometimes, but it is ok.  I was very fortunate to live near very good medical care. 
Spring is arriving, birds are singing in the morning, and I've been doing some sorting and winnowing and cleaning, Oliver loves to help me.  He was so worried when my hand was bad, slept next to me with his paw on my shoulder, and purred.  Soon we will go into the forbidden sewing room and crank up the machines and see if they still work. 
I've enjoyed your emails and news on Facebook, and one email in particular I'll share with you soon, all about a technique I never heard of called "ghost quilting." 
A friend told me about a new product that erases blue lines from the washout blue liners without water.  I'll dig up that link and post it too, although you all probably are aware of this already, ha. 
The quilt show at Paducah is just around the corner, best of luck to all who have quilts there, and hope everyone has a great week there.  I won't be going this year, but will be checking online to see what's happening.  I'll miss it!
Wishing you all successful quilting and a happy Spring!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


We are still in the Polar Vortex, like much of the country.  Last Sunday we had balmy temps of 30 degrees, sun, no snow, no wind.  We fled the house on a wonderful visit to nearby Wauwatosa, WI, suburb of Milwaukee for a dinner out.  We walked down a charming street filled with small businesses and shops, and I stopped in amazement to see two big old-fashioned store front windows in a dry cleaner's store filled completely with pots of geraniums, blooming, growing, blossoming in the afternoon sun.
What a complete treat, a luxury to behold in the middle of the frozen winter with sun once a week if we are lucky, and snow and cold almost every day.  The flowers must have been on the sidewalk outside for all of last summer, and then brought in to flourish through the winter in the windows.  The owner saved them, loved them enough to keep them going thru the winter and let us, those who walked by or came in for business, delight in their beauty.  All those shades of pink, rose, red, white! 
Note the gloomy, snowy, bleak landscape behind me in the photo, and our reflections too, all bundled up, trudging along.  Sigh.
We saw a mini library outside too, next time I'll get a photo of that, they are so charming.  The old shoe store but with modern Clark's in the window, and real moccasins, love that one too.  The chocolate shop, the bakery with incredible confections.  Then we arrived at Balistreri's Italian restaurant, one of our favorite local places, for yummy pizza.  We experienced Christmas all over again with the holiday décor, and spent a very enjoyable time, eating delicious thin crust melt-in-your-mouth real pizza. 
We're headed to way below zero again, and the icy ferns on my window will reappear, just another winter window for me to enjoy. 
I think I spoke too soon about enjoying the treasure hunt in my new Windows 8 computer, eeeeek!  I am finding it so frustrating not to get my old menus, not to be able to easily find and do things, but it is getting better as I conquer this.  I do like the slide shows of the photos from the App screen, much like those in tablets.
I reached my breaking point last week trying to print a coupon for the office store.  It was a pdf attachment and showed on a black screen.  No matter what, no menu, no right click, no way to say "PRINT."  Finally I read the Help topics and did a Screen Shot, saved it, and could print that from the little file folder system on my taskbar.  Well, it printed the entire black APP screen plus the coupon, which I did take with me to show my tech guy and ask how to do it.  He didn't know, and they all laughed at my using half an ink cartridge to get the coupon........grrrrr.  I had to laugh too.
I figured it out now; I hook up my old Windows 7 Netbook I used for travel, open the email and coupon in that, click Print, and out it comes on white paper, perfect.  There must be a better way.........
Then I get an email from HP telling me they will soon have new laptops with Windows 7!  Ah, too late.
Hope you are surviving winter, it's a bad one for the entire country.  I am glad I am not driving to teaching gigs, or the airport at 5 a.m. on dicey roads. 
Today I was organizing my photos, writing an article for American Quilter Magazine, and found the one, below, of my window in the room I often had at Asilomar where I taught for several years.  I loved that window.  I could relax after class and before dinner and evening events, feel the cool ocean air, smell the Monterey pines, and just "be." 
Soon I hope to crank up my trusty Bernina and do a bit of quilting.  I think Oliver would like to be back in "that room" again, looking out his two front windows, watching the world go by!
Keep quilting; don't let the cold grey days stop you.  Your work gets better every day...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy 2014!

Oliver and I survived the holidays, napped through New Year's, and are now huddled finding warmth in the Polar Vortex that has overtaken the country.  Yesterday it was -14 when I took this photo of Oliver in his favorite cardboard box by the front door where he watches and stalks birds and squirrels at the bird seed I put out. 
Today it is supposed to hit zero degrees, and I might venture out for coffee, cat food, and bird seed!
Happy New Year to all of you, and best wishes for great quilting this year.  I hope to get back to giving you some ideas and tips soon. 
I am now working on my brand new laptop (a total impulse purchase for me, not at all typical) and have been rocketed into the new age of all things geeky.  Fixing DH's computer, system restores, installing all sorts of things that took forever to get back to normal, including a new WiFi router that gave me fits but is humming away now and not crashing and blinking and melting down - all this has been my daily routine for the past two weeks!  My new friends are the guys who help me out in the tech department.  The end may be in sight I think.  A few loose ends to tie, and I shall be freed from tech stuff.
It didn't take me long to get used to Windows 8 and I must say I am enjoying the treasure hunt to find where files are now stored, how to do the things I used to do without thinking, but it is all getting very easy and it is fun, not stressful.  I still need to get my photo program downloaded and then my old laptop will be cut free, to relax and enjoy its much-deserved retirement. 
And I have Apps.  I love my weather App.  The background photos look like my view out the window.  It can "find my location" and tells me everything and more about my weather. 
I've liked seeing all the holiday quilting projects and photos on Facebook, and pet photos too.  I know quilters are busy as always being creative.
We had our little Charlie Brown faux Christmas tree again, decorated with birds, nests, and real nests blown down in the yard that I have saved over the years.  I added clear lights and my collection of crystal ornaments, and it was beautiful.
Oliver took several days to "notice" that the new thing blocking his view out the window had BIRDS perched in it.  Every night at 9:30  he sat on the old Singer treadle next to it and gazed at it for a long time before gently reaching out and swiping one bird or nest off and onto the floor.  In the a.m. when I was having coffee he did the same thing.  The victims were then placed in the greenery on the mantel, out of his reach.  It was a game with us, and he ignored the crystal ornaments and never toppled the tree.  He is four years old and has developed civilized sensibilities. 
Below, a hazy photo of him gazing at his tree.
I hope your year is filled with lights and crystal and wonder, and quilting always.  Stay warm......