Archive for April, 2009

A Wacky Week…

This past week has sure been one for the books…we have gone through 2 days of heavy snowfall, 1 day of 80+degrees and a major storm with very heavy rains. “Unique” experiences along the way include an unexpected Service Engine Soon light on the little Saturn (fixed $376.00 later), unloading ALOT of mulch from the P.U. truck, unloading and distributing 3 yards of compost from the same P.U. truck, being way too tired to fixed dinner Friday night – so out we went, only to get caught in the earlier mentioned major storm; returning home in driving rain/continuous lightning & having a large tree fall directly in front of our path; hooking up huge straps to pull said tree out of the road (my DH always travels prepared!) , finally arriving safely back home and the crowning touch…the pump for the well goes out. I get tired all over again just thinking about everything. Right now, the status of things  – no snow left on the ground, cars are running well and cleaned up, the ground is saturated, our pond level is higher than it has been in recent years, and the well pump seems to have corrected its own glitch & we have water again(at least for now.) Life is good!

The very best thing of this week though? The binding is going on my “Medicare, Birthday, First 65 Years” quilt.  I really need to give some credit to another quilting blogger, Luann, at May Your Bobbin Always Be Full. She had posted some really great photos of her sewing area – I think she calls it “The Thread Shed.”  I have been doing simple machine quilting for sometime now, but with anything larger than a wallhanging, the frustration would set in at not having enough room to the left of the machine for critical support. My machine sits down into a Horn cabinet with plenty of area to the back but not quite enough to the left side for comfortable machine quilting. Struggling through just to get a project done, I knew in the back of my mind what needed to happen, but just did not take the time to correct it. Thanks to Luann’s timely post, the minute I saw her set up, that was the just the nudge I needed. My own sewing area is much smaller than hers, and my card table on blocks is not elegant, but what a huge difference it made in quilting a 68″ X 68″ piece. Please visit her blog site – the link is on the right side bar under Blogroll.  We have never met, Luann – but sending many thanks!

So for the last time, here is the completed quilt – all 1,024 9 patch blocks…I tried quilting through the pieced blocks, but at 1 1/2″ each, felt the quilted lines almost detracted from the piecing & ended up doing some reverse sewing.  I did like the way the bamboo batt handled and also thought the Gutermann silk thread did a nice subdued job for the quilting. I found using an Inspira #60 needle the best as the silk thread was being  shredded with a #75 Schmetz quilting needle… it is like giving birth to have this puppy done!




 Onto other projects simmering on the back burner…one of the stitching groups I enjoy is with 3 other ladies who do lovely applique…Spending last Thursday with them and seeing their hand pieced baskets, appliqued Oak Leaf and Reel and a classic red and green Princess Feather made me think…when I grow up I want to be an appliquer too. Then there is that next pink and brown log cabin (committed to Wall of Fame/Wall of Shame for our September Quilt Show), some embroidery work, more machine quilting with my new set up and the list goes on…….and summer is out there somewhere!!!(P.S. – alas, the sewing birds at the end of the page are reproductions – not antique.)

 Have a great week and 

Always take time to stitch…







Read Full Post »

A quick visit this morning…if you read my journal entry of 4/19/09 (Greening Up), you will be able to find those lovely daffodils somewhere under their new coating of snow…


I told you Springtime in Wisconsin can be devious…our south facing backyard waiting with good intentions!


If you live East of us – don’t say I didn’t warn ‘ya! Heading off to do laundry & the cozy sewing room for some machine quilting..

Have a great day where ever you are and

Always take time to stitch…


Read Full Post »

Greening up…


  sweetgrassdaffodils-001 Greening up! Don’t you just love the bright yellows of daffodils? We have some lovely clumps this spring. What a nice thought after our much too long winter…While we have been overly dry in recent days, there is a gentle rain falling today and as the hours progress this afternoon, there is a definite green coloration developing on the lawn and pathways. Even the weeping willows have taken on a slight tinge of color. Mr. and Mrs. Goose seem to have settled in for their nesting stay on our pond. His main job appears to be simply floating around and feeding, although we know he is quite the vigilant guard should anyone come close. That includes other waterfowl and our 3 shelties. The Mrs. stays very close to the nest out on the little island. Last year we watched this same event unfold (wondering if pairs always return to the exact location as before?) and it was fascinating to finally see 8 little goslings learning to paddle around always sticking by Mom or Dad.

This has been a somewhat quiet week with outdoor time spent in yard cleanup and removing protective fencing from shrubs. My garden monies that have been tucked away are really burning a hole in the pockets – lists are being made – compost, mulch, pea gravel, top soil…will there be enough for flowers this year? The nurseries are opening and the call is growing louder!!! Started in the potting shed are flats of morning glories and a new variety of “dipping gourd” seeds…hope they work out as I think the little boys up the road (our nearest neighbors) would love to see these grow and play with them this fall. The tomato and pepper seedlings definitely need to be transplanted soon into large pots.

Another Crabapple Hill project

Do you like to collect sweetgrass items? I only have a few and treasure them..naturally they are all sewing related and are part of the pincushion collection.  The small green velvet covered pincushion at the end of this page holds a straight pin doll. It belonged to my grandmother (also a quilter) and I figure it must be well over 100 years old…she was married in 1907 and I believe she had it as a young girl.  It is the tinest doll I have ever seen and appears to be made of threads wrapped around some sort of minute “cord.”  She even has waistlength black hair made from threads. I would love to hear from anyone out there who has seen something similar. 


I continue to discover new blogs every week…this is still so new to me as it has only been since mid February that I found out this amazing world existed. Take time to visit Pat Winter’s gorgeous website…her embellished crazy quilt work is beyond description. She also has so much going on with different subjects dear to her heart…gardening for one. So give yourself plenty of time to explore her creative world. Her website link and blog link are listed on the right side bar. Another interesting site I found listed in the latest issue of Early American Life is The Confectioners Mill Preservation Society. Who can resist the focus of this place?? They are “dedicated to the preservation of Early American Chocolate Mills and Chocolate Houses.” Visit them to read about the history of Chocolate in America…what’s not to love!!! The link is to the right under Special Places.

That’s about it for this week…not much new in the sewing room except to say I am trying a new bamboo quilt batt and Gutermann silk thread to machine quilt the “Birthday, Medicare, 1st 65 Years” quilt…slow going but a little bit at a time along with a sip or two of wine. 

Always take time to stitch…


Read Full Post »

Fresh from the oven…

At long last – my “birthday quilt,” “Medicare quilt,” “First 65 Years quilt” – not sure what to call it…the TOP is finished! Thought I would post the photo now as the actual machine quilting would never show up anyway. It will be a simple cross hatch quilting, experimenting with silk thread to keep the look “mellow.” Guess I am going for simple texture here. But what a relief to have this stage completed as the piecing has been going on since last October and seemed endless. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that this 68″ x 68″ quilt loses something when viewed up close, though if you are into conversational/shirting prints, it might be interesting to examine the fabrics used. Overall, I feel it is best seen standing back somewhat even though each square/9 patch unit finishes to 1 1/2″. Makes it hard to get a good photo too. birthday-quilt-009

 I hope each of you had a wonderful Easter weekend. Here in Wisconsin, we finally have enjoyed a few days in a row with sun and pleasant temperatures. Upper 40’s and low 50’s are a vast improvement over the last month! Being a transplanted East Coast/South resident to the Northwoods, it is still strange not to have azaleas and dogwoods in bloom. But as the writer, George Eliot once said…”In our springtime every day has its hidden growth in the mind, as it has in the earth when the little folded blades are getting ready to pierce the ground…” 

While growing up in the Washington D.C./Virginia area, special holidays such as Easter were always a time to have large family dinners. My West Virginia Grammy was still living and along with Aunts, Uncles and cousins, we would gather together each year. Often our Easter would have started with Sunrise Services where my Dad would play (trumpet) as a member of the US Navy Band. I can still feel those chilly mornings in the open air, bundled in a new coat and hat…Do you remember how important it was to have a new spring outfit – and always black patent leather shoes? So many years have gone by and our family numbers that gather are smaller now with kids and siblings spread out across the country from coast to coast. We still have a special dinner with my folks and this year, Dad celebrated his 90th Easter and my Mom, her 84th. We are blessed and hope you are also.

Saturday night we tried out a new recipe from Paula Deen ( of course!!) – her Crabmeat Hushpuppies – yes, I miss those dogwoods, but really, really miss the seafood, spoonbread and hush puppies! Oh my, those little rascals were tasty but very filling…the only other thing we had was a tossed salad. We froze quite a few hushpuppies – don’t know how that will work?? Good thing my salad dressing was restricted to 25 calories! Paula’s recipe can be found on http://www.foodnetwork.com . Be sure to wear elastized pants!


 Mom & I shared the meal prep for Easter dinner and one of the things I did was the Multigrain Rolls from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook…now those are very healthy and loaded with lots of good things. Oat bran, oatmeal, whole wheat flour &  flaxseed were some of the ingredients and surprisingly the finished rolls looked like Martha’s.


 That’s all for now – have to be thinking about getting that quilt top basted and then start in on the quilting. Gardening days are fast approaching and I need to wrap this long-term project up. Besides, there are a “few” quilting projects waiting in the wings…P.S. would still like to hear your feedback/comments on the silk or bamboo batting.

As always – take time to stitch.


Read Full Post »

Quilt batting questions…

Would like to hear feedback about the newer quilt batts that are available…have you used the silk or bamboo products? Hand or machine quilting? Threads used?? Pros and cons??

How well would they work in a pieced quilt intended for display (probably over a log railing)

Thanks so much – I look forward to your comments!


Read Full Post »

pincushions-0041Not exactly on a pincushion – but  the post for today is about pincushions and as always, a few other random ramblings. As quilters, we seem to accumulate pincushions along with all the other necessities of our passion. Personally, I have been quilting since 1982 and have made, inherited, been given, won, and purchased, pincushions along the way. For a number of years, most have been stored in a glass fronted cupboard and secretary. Interesting to look at – dust free – but not really being used for their original intent and purpose. Until now…why? I have a story to share about not using a pincushion.

How many of you ( myself included)  just tuck that little applique needle or size 12 quilting between into the cushioned arm of your favorite stitching chair? Bet you know what is coming in this tale…take a deep breath, yep…guess where a needle ended up for one of our quilting guild members’ ? At first, she didn’t understand why her left arm was beginning to “bother” her. The needle had been missing about an hour or so. That’s right, and we all saw the X-ray image she brought along for her Show and Tell at the last meeting.  Her surgeon had to remove the needle which had reached the main bone that runs through your arm. Lesson learned, not only for her but the rest of us too. Oh sure, I have pincushions by my sewing machine and in the sewing room which I do use. However, I get kind of lazy sometimes. For that reason alone, I am bringing out some of those collected pincushions and intend to use them.

The photo above is a wonderful pincushion made by one of my Stitching group friends…it was won at our annual Guild Christmas Party after participating in a fun quilty table game. Isn’t that little hand beaded purse the icing on the cake!

The hexagonal needlebox is a project I completed this winter – great fun, no sewing (except for the little elasticized pockets) and quite a conversation piece when fully opened. The pattern is available from Needleboxes, Etc. in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. See link to right.  Your local quilt shop may also have the kits on hand. Then (down at the bottom of the post) there is my pincushion covered in a tiny koala bear fabric and embroidered on the botton “Australia – 1994.” Doreen Speckman gave each of us one as a memento of our Quilters Tour with her. I do use this one all the time – with so many memories. I can still hear her laughter…what a hoot she was…



 As a side note, our Sasha (the sheltie at the top of the page) somehow had an applique needle pierce her skin and it took a number of years before it gave her trouble. About $2,000 later, the pin was safely removed under emergency conditions. She was a very sick pooch until the mystery was solved. I still feel terrible when thinking of my carelessness. So that is just a glimpse…it may take a while, but eventually I will share more pincushions with you and repeat reminders about using them!

Yesterday was a Saturday by myself (with the 3 girls as furry companions) as my DH was off working at a sporting clay shoot. I finally had a chance to really listen to the new Chris Botti in Boston and Sarah Brightman in Vienna  iPod downloads while making great progress on the “First 65 Years Quilt” (aka Medicare Quilt) – hope to post a photo of the completed top by next weekend or shortly thereafter. As it is the Easter holiday weekend coming up, the next post might be a few days late.

Today, being Palm Sunday, I am remembering where we were 8 years ago…April 8, 2001. In a world that is vastly changed and yet, somehow, remains the same, we stood with about 50,000 other people in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City and heard Pope John deliver his Palm Sunday sermon. Such a moment we all shared as he told each of us in our own language that we are the light of the world.  Someday I will tell you about the rest of the day – yes, you too can see Rome, on foot, in a day!

In closing, I would like to take a moment for some shameless parental promotion. Please visit our son’s website www.sixtyonenorth.com to see his latest images taken at the Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska. The body language and wonder of children as they interact with a very large sea lion is beautifully captured. Enjoy!


Have a wonderful Easter with family and friends and,

Always take time to stitch!


Read Full Post »