Monday, November 16, 2015

Happy Day

Oh Happy Day!  

Gardens of Rock is finally finished and has been bound and hung.  "Bound and hung"! That sounds terrible.  But you quilters get the lingo.

If you haven't been following my blog, or just gave up waiting for me to get this quilt done, this is my original design with each block, or record, inspired by a favorite rock song, all from the '60's and '70's.  You can try to guess each song title or look back at previous posts.

Outstanding machine quilting was done by Ann Becker. Kudos to her and many thanks.  Close up shots of her work are below.

Gardens of Rock
93" x 93"

By the way, if you really examine my full quilt photo, you'll notice a shadow in the upper left corner.  I take my photos outdoors, and this time of year there are few moments where the sun is just right, shining between the enormous trees in our yard.  I will be taking more photos as this one would not be "Paducah entry worthy", referring to my ultimate goal of entering it in the AQS Paducah, KY show this spring and later, other shows. Entry deadline for Paducah is December 4!  Plenty of time.... 

A new quilt which I plan to call "Happy" is in the works.   No, this time it is not named after the song.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Slow down

Echo Lake

"A woman must cultivate the practical arts, and lend to them that satisfaction of beauty, that the soul might flourish, and the hands be remembered past death." 

                                                                                                        A Sudden Country, Karen Fisher

I've kept this quote in my file of embroidery ideas for years.  How I do love to hand stitch:  knitting, crocheting, embroidery, wool appliqué and sometimes even hand quilting.  Of course, this is in addition to all my machine work.  Any time I spend with needle and thread slows me down and calms my soul.  

In the newest issue of Quilting Arts magazine, I found an article written by Mark Lipinski the creator of The Slow Stitching Movement.  He states: ..."you can change your life at the end of a thread"....

He talks about how quilting books and magazines boast patterns that are "fast, quick, easy, simple and fun" the end result being that quilts are all the same, instead of being unique and creative.

I thought about my own work.  Certainly in the early years of quilt making, I cranked out many many pattern quilts.  At one point, this became boring and forced me to start designing my own work and thus I slowed way down.  One of my large quilts will take me a year to make (while working on a few smaller projects).  I always tell people I make my quilts for me. I don't sell them or make them to sell the patterns to a wide audience.  

My book Nature's Journey Appliqué is all about this.  Most of the quilt patterns included are intricate and very detailed.  I know this is not everyone's cup of tea. 

I just finished my largest quilt ever:  Gardens of Rock.  You can read about it in my previous blog posts.  It took me a long long time to complete.  

Gardens of Rock (before borders)

Backing fabric for Gardens of Rock.  Neat hey?

Now it's on to a new project.  I decided I would only use fabrics in my stash for this quilt.  I won't share my idea until it gets rolling, it's still in the design process, in my head and on paper so far. 

Some of my fabric stash 

I'm also taking a Botany in Art class through the county extension.  We're drawing nature and also learning to do water color.  I do draw all my own appliqué designs, but have learned more about technique in this class.  The instructor is a wonderful artist and very inspiring. 

One of the most fun things I've done in the past year is to spend time with my grandson Woody.  I just want to freeze those moments with him.  He has changed and grown every time I see him.  

Grandma and baby Woody sitting on one of my "early" quilts

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


".... in disorder; chaotic"  

I've always liked that word to describe life's messes or glitches and that's where things have been lately with my "Rock Garden" quilt. 

Before I go on, this is block #8 inspired by four of my favorite Van Morrison songs:  In the Garden, Sweet Thing, And it Stoned Me and Into the Mystic. Common themes are rain and water, mist, nature and a sense of transformation (thus the dragonflies).  

Block #8 A Tribute to Van Morrison

From my own garden "wet with rain"

Now back to my snafu.  

Here's my original paper pattern with the quilt layout I had planned: (in random colors)

I liked this unusual layout. Each block or record would have three separate circular borders. 

When adding the third border though,  I used the wrong pattern and cut all the border pieces the wrong size.  Not to worry, I redrafted a correctly sized pattern and pulled enough fabrics from my stash to cut all new pieces.  

This new third border was pieced (I use 4 separate pieces to create the circle borders) and sewn to each block. Time to layout and finish this quilt!

But.... when I checked that original design layout - ahem - this quilt would turn out to be 112" x 112"!  Only 20 inches larger all around than I had planned. The third border would have to be eliminated. I'd never even attempt to make a quilt this large.

My carpenter Tom always says "measure twice, cut once."  Well, I'd already cut that third border twice.  

Do you ever feel like just stuffing a project in the closet and starting something new?  I felt like it, but I love these blocks too much, so no, I had to keep working at it. At this point my only choice was to forge ahead and decide it would have to be a masterpiece.  

So, I removed that 3rd border from each block completely and decided to set the blocks in a traditional 3 x 3 layout (your basic Nine Patch).  Meaning I needed to design one more block to equal 9 total.  

Which I did;  in one day - idea, design, all ready to appliqué.   I had no problem coming up with another favorite rock song. 

Block #9 is Forever Young written by Bob Dylan, my favorite version sung by The Band. It consists of flower buds, clean, simple and beautiful; young and hopeful always.

Forever Young by Bob Dylan

Once the blocks are sewn together the quilt will measure 87" x 87". The only thing left to decide is whether to add any borders.  I  always decide on borders once the  quilt is pieced.  

I know one thing:  I shall follow "Tom's Law" more closely from now on.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rock Garden Rocks On

San Francisco

Blocks 6 and 7 of my new quilt Rock Garden are finished!  The block shown above was inspired by the song San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair) by Scott McKenzie.  I always liked this song, it just sums up that whole era.  Peace and know.  

Learn to Be Still

Another lovely song inspired me to create this block (Eagles.)  When I want to "be still" I  take my paddle boat down the secluded river flowing into Echo Lake and float among the water lilies.  I kept this block simple and quiet.  

Here are the 7 finished blocks pinned to my sewing room wall.  The final block is in the design process, then I need to work on the overall layout. 

My annual trip to Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky in April was fun as always. I was surprised and happy to receive Honorable Mention for my quilt entry:  Nature's Edge.

Nature's Edge

And also, my quilt December was on display at the National Quilt Museum as part of the Nine Patch, New Quilts from an old Favorite exhibit.  Each of us exhibitors wrote a chapter for a book of the same title published by The American Quilter's Society.  

The museum sponsored a book signing for us on opening day.  There were a total of 18 quilts in this exhibit and 12 of us from all over the country made it for the book signing.  Very fun!

 My pattern Carla Rose and Katy Marie published recently and also available as a kit was on sale at the AQS booth.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Deep and dark

 One good thing about writing a blog is that it motivates me to keep working so I'll have something to write about!  

Progress.  I've complete the design for 2 more of my song blocks, but not all the appliqué stitching is done.  I love being at this stage when making a quilt.  I have more blocks to design, fabrics to choose, machine stitching to do and I can move between these steps as my time allows and mood directs. 

These songs are just a tiny sampling of some of my favorites.  I like them for their words, or just for the tunes.  

"Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Here I have depicted the song "Turn! Turn! Turn!" music and adaptation by Pete Seeger, sung by the Byrds, the words from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Copyright:  Melody Trails Inc. 

It's a simple but beautiful message.  We have seasons in nature and also in life.  No matter what, we move from one to the next, never ending.  

"I Am a Rock"

This block is based on "I Am a Rock" sung by Simon and Garfunkel, written by Paul Simon, Copyright: Eclectic Music, Paul Simon Music.  

The beginning lines of this song depict a cold winter day, the song is dark.  I created a maze of rocks and stones.  One can get in, but can't get out; once inside, protected and shielded.  

Block from my quilt "December" 

Speaking of dark and cold, I want to share a bright note.  My quilt December was accepted  by the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY as a finalist in their upcoming exhibit:  New Quilts From an Old Favorite: Nine Patch.  It will be on display there starting in April and then move on to other museums and quilt shows around the country for two years.  An even brighter note:  December won second place in the judged part of this exhibit.  

Each exhibited quilt has a chapter written by the quilt maker and will be published in a book by The American Quilt Society, available for purchase when the exhibit opens.  


Leo and Lily keeping each other warm

Rock on my friends!  

The Stones.  Always.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pattern Published!

Carla Rose and Katy Marie
I just received my March/April American Quilter magazine published by American Quilter's Society.  Included in this issue is their current catalog of fabrics, patterns and books. My quilt pattern titled Carla Rose and Katy Marie, published by AQS is featured in the catalog and is now available for purchase here.  A kit is also available.   

I designed and made this quilt for my adult daughters. Um.... guess what their names are? The bright colors and bold motifs represent their warm personalities, strong work ethic and enthusiasm for life.  Using raw edge fusible machine appliqué, this wall hanging is fun and easy to make.  

Lisa Arndt completed the long arm quilting.  I love her work;  note how her quilting matches the feel of this quilt.  

Quilting detail/Close up

And if you love appliqué as much as I do, check out my book also published by AQS and available on their website, at your local quilt shop or at

 Nature's Journey Applique

Friday, January 23, 2015

Gardens of Rock

Songbird by Fleetwood Mac

Finally, a new quilt in progress.  This design and theme have been in my head for some time now, maybe a year!  Maybe 40 years?  

I have never lost my love of rock music, most of it from the '60's and '70's.  And of course there is also my love of nature and gardens.

So I am designing a very large quilt, 89" x 89" where 8 of my favorite songs will rock on. 

Basic Block Sketch

The black background center represents a vinyl record and will be appliquéd with each song's theme, all in nature or garden motifs.  The first tier surrounding the record has appliquéd diamonds (diamond needle to play the record) on an ivory (in honor of my piano playing) background.

Next will be a tier of different colored pieced arcs - the colors here will not be used, I just crayoned the arcs to get the feel.  

The last tier will be again use black and ivory fabrics and will consist of different pieced tiny quilt blocks such as a nine patch, to represent my love for quilting.  I didn't sketch all the pieces in the outer tiers, they appear blank. I think each one will be a different quilt block. These outer tiers will mesh or converge with each other as shown here:

Gardens of Rock layout

Harvest Moon by Neil Young

Colours by Donovan

I will need 274 diamonds for this quilt for the first tiers.  These diamonds will be appliquéd using my favorite technique:  raw edge machine appliqué with fusible web.

I found Heat n Bond EZ Print Lite to use and it is wonderful when multiples of the same shape are needed.  

Trace your shape as many times as will fit on a regular sheet of paper, then run the EZ print sheets through your printer.  I was still able to cut the donut holes as I normally do with fusible web.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Do you sell your quilts?

What have we here?  It's a wild mushroom I picked up on my walk today.  I have no idea what kind it is or if it's edible, but it looks like fiber art to me.  I probably translate every neat thing I see in nature to fiber in my mind.

This mushroom has a nice round symmetry; I often use circles as a design element in my quilts.  A new quilt I am designing and drawing right now will be based on a circular design and is inspired by my love for music, nature and quilts.  Hmmmm, a quilt about quilts.  Stay tuned.

I'm just writing an update today.  Often I'm asked if I sell my quilts and the answer is always: "No, I don't." If I sold them, I would no longer have them in my possession (obviously) or have them to share with other quilters.

At the moment many of my quilts are on display elsewhere.  Several are part of a wonderful art exhibit at The Campanile Center in Minocqua, WI.  This exhibit is open through September during any of the events held there. 

Two of my quilts are now on display at Cheri's Fabric to Quilt, Mercer, WI promoting my book.  Many of my quilts have been displayed at The Fabric Patch, Ironwood, MI, sort of a rotating show there.  And 3 of my quilts are still "on tour" with The American Quilter's Society Quilt Week shows around the country as part of their author's exhibits.

I've recently kept busy making a crib quilt for my soon to arrive first grandson.  I can't show a photo yet as it's to be a surprise for my daughter Carla and her husband Jack, though they approved the design before I started.  This cute rabbit which I crocheted, was a shower gift and I'm working on a mobile consisting of little crocheted dogs!  Tiny stitches seem to take forever, but I love working with wool yarns and having needle and fiber in my hands.

"Nature's Edge" quilt top is at the long arm quilters being artistically quilted and I can't wait to see it and of course get it out to shows.

 And finally, this quilt top (not yet named) is also off being quilted.  I had planned to quilt this one myself with an overlay of tulle, and magical quilt designs to create the snowy effect shown in this photo (my inspiration):

However, after the top hung on my design wall for quite some time, one day it occurred to me that I was avoiding starting the quilting as I really had no idea how I was going to pull this look off.  It's out of my expertise, and within a couple of days I sent it off to the long arm quilter.  

Now, listening to rain outside, it's time to get back to my fibers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Few of my Favorite Things

Finished!  It's always a great feeling to have completed a project regardless of how long it took.  All the work and planning and imagining means nothing until a quilt is bound and hung and photographed.  Long sentence.

This quilt was adapted from the pattern My Christmas Album by Tina Curran.  Some of the blocks are my own design such as the ice skates above.  I hand appliquéd all the motifs in wool on cotton backgrounds and borders. 

Take a moment to note the long arm machine quilting done by Ann Becker, Always in Stitches.  Each block was quilted differently, picking up the theme of the appliquéd motifs.  Little quilting details were added - see if you can find them.  Ann does amazing work and turns each quilt into a personal work of art. Her love of what she does really shows.    

This kind of machine quilting is beyond me, though I'll continue to work at my own level.  

As always, quilting makes the quilt. Feast your eyes. 

A Few of my Favorite Things
48 1/2" x 48 1/2"