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I am tired of looking at the strips in the strip box, so I started Rainbow I today. Red, Orange, Yellow–tomorrow, I’ll hit the Green strips.


I walked with the Bella Vista Walks group today–started at Bentonville Square, went on Compton Gardens trail, came back through Crystal Bridges, and on the South Trail. One hour. I am not heat tolerant yet, but I finally cooled off and rehydrated enough to finish the yellow strips.  Tomorrow I’m going back to Bentonville Square–they have planted some wonderful plants that I need to photograph before the heat/weather gets to them.

Only five more days to Georgia O’Keeffe. WOOHOO. Stay tuned.


The weekend of the exchange block

Sonja Koch from NWA Modern Quilt Guild brings us exchange blocks to make at least once a year. Most of us make one or more blocks, putting our names in the hat for each block we make. Last year we made wonky stars (using green, orange, and grey), made one quilt for charity and then there were enough blocks for three lucky winners to make their own quilts. Here they are, as shown at our first ever quilt show, held last month. (Top left) NWA MQG Wonky Star Galaxy, Hazel McFall; (Top right) Wonky Starry Night, Leeanna Walker and members of NWA MQG (quilted by Brenda Bell); (bottom)Wonky Stars, Debbie Wheeler (quilted by Sonja Koch).

This is Wonky Churndash by Sonja Koch; the guild also did this as a block exchange using these colors.


This time, our block uses a pieced-curve technique and is also a great block for using up scrap strips. For the center of the block, sew together strips (approximately 5-1/2 inches long, any width) to make a strip set that’s about 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches. Make sure the strips on the ends are wider than the other strips so that you don’t end up with a tiny strip near the seam allowance. Then cut two sides with gentle curves. I placed my ruler on top of the strip set to hold it in place and to keep my fingers away from the rotary cutter. Keep the curve gentle, or it will be difficult to sew. Strips do not necessarily have to be trimmed (see below).



Next, place a black strip (approximately 3-inches wide) underneath the curve and cut the black fabric, following your original curve. Note that the black fabric is even with a line on the mat and both pieces should be even at the top. I switched to my smaller rotary cutter, which made cutting the curves a little easier.

P1120607Match the points of the two fabrics and sew the two pieces together with an 1/8-in seam. Sew slowly and keep matching the edges as you go, turning in order to follow the curves. Press to the black. (I used a letter block instead of a strip set here.)

Square up to 8 x 8-inches. I marked the 8-inch marks on my ruler.

There were all kinds of leftovers in my scrap box. This was a 23-inch strip set that was supposed to be water in another project. I cut it up and sewed it back together. I was patient today–it took me several tries to get this to 8-1/4 inches.



Here, I used a directional fabric left over from donation quilts. The fabric came from a program in Minnesota for at-risk babies and children.


I made a total of 11 blocks and alternated the direction, since some of the pieces were directional just to see how it looked. Elvis has entered the building (block 3). By the way, I did not make an appreciable dent in my scrap box, but I have an idea. That extra strip set? I had made a wide strip set and cut it in half. Each half was 4-7/8 inches wide–I was barely able to make a 8×8 block, which is why I suggest starting with 5-1/2 inch long strips.


Yo, Sonja. I said this would be addictive–I used up my black fabric, so I’m moving on now. See you in June! Thanks for the 10-minute tip and video.

LAST OF THE DOGWOODS. My dogwood is finally blooming. The leaves look curly and wilted, as do the ones at Crystal Bridges (last photo). Dogwoods make me happy.



I suck at dieting

or is it just that dieting sucks… Besides my foray with the South Beach Diet two years ago, I have only dieted one other time. Way back when, Weight Watcher’s Low Fat-High Fiber Diet. I lost five pounds, and not a pound more, and was so cold all of the time, I gave up on it. I have done the two-week Phase 1 of S.B. for three weeks–no carbs/fruit/sugar/alcohol, lean protein, non-starchy veg. I lost six pounds the first two weeks and gained one pound back this week. Feels like a BIG FAIL. People will say, it’s because of all the walking, muscle weighs more than fat. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Don’t care–it does not console me in the least–I still can’t wear more than one pair of zip-up pants. Lesigh.

Since I put the salt shaker away, my average blood pressure is 94/69. That’s a BIG WIN. (We’ll see what it is in the doctor’s office…)

I was so desperate to get a jump start this time, that I considered forking out the money for South Beach Diet food delivered to my door. Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners are used. Besides the fact that I can’t stand the taste/after taste of artificial sweeteners and am allergic to some of them, I have never known anyone to lose weight by consuming drinks/food with artificial sweeteners (or non-nutritive additives). In fact, here’s what Dr. Joseph Merkola has to say (take it with a grain of sugar) (wordpress link-er still not working–I’ll get it fixed some day):

For me,  I just avoid sweets and food items with added sugar, which is pretty easy to do if you read labels. Oops–forgot to check the Chobani with Black Cherry on the Bottom (evaporated cane sugar?). I just wanted something portable for when I leave the house–there isn’t much that’s healthy out there if you’re serious about losing weight. SAVING MONEY: HUGE WIN. This was tasty but all I could think was to add in some chunks of high-quality dark chocolate. Can I get a WOO-HOO?  I also throw 100-calorie packets of Emerald cashews/almonds/dried cranberries in my purse–not too sweet and not salty. My blood sugar tends to go in the cellar if I go too long without eating or after a long walk, not to mention getting hangry. You won’t like me when I’m hangry.

Supposedly just losing six pounds means 24 pounds of pressure off of my knees (WebMD, for people with osteoarthritis–why, is there a difference for those of us who have RA?). That’s another BIG WIN. I have routine labs in three weeks–with all the healthy eating and walking I’m doing, the cholesterol and blood sugar better be down in significant numbers. Alright, I’ll settle for any drop in the numbers.

The other reason I suck at dieting is that now, nothing tastes good and I could care less about eating. I force myself to eat because I know I need to. I guess I don’t have to like this to do it, but how long can I stick with something that doesn’t produce more positive results? Color me IMPATIENT.

If you really want to get depressed, watch The Magic Pill on Netflix. Eye-opening as far as government’s thinking on nutrition for the general populace and indigenous peoples worldwide. The difference in a child with autism who would previously eat nothing but junk food was totally amazing after her diet was changed from carb focused to fat focused. We’re talking LARD here. BRAVE PARENTS.

I’ll be back with an update at the beginning of June. I weigh myself on Fridays and Mondays but only haul out the tape measure once a month. A person can only take so much failure at any given point in time. I’m not giving up yet. After being laid up for four months, it’s wonderful to get out and move. My hip is pain free most days if I stretch and walk. Only 55 more pounds to go… Remember, sitting is the new smoking.

Enough of this. I skipped the walk today and have declared it to be Fun Friday in my studio.

QUILTING TIP OF THE DAY (yes, we still quilt here): If you have a small wallhanging and know how to crochet, crochet around a 1-inch curtain ring with single crochets. I had a little ball of #10 crochet thread, Rit-dyed along with some fabric before I got serious about hand-dyeds. Also note my plug for labeling your quilts! Someone may care someday.



Take a few anchoring stitches under the ring (see above) and then sew the rings on the back of the quilt, going through both loops of the single crochets. Leave the top of each ring unsewn.


P1120511Measure the distance between rings from center to center, place two straight pins in the wall and hang your art! VOILA.

NEXT TIME: I’ll be working on some small projects, a block exchange, a mug rug swap, another biscornu pincushion, and a cover for my camera strap. The leather is showing wear and now that summer is here (no collars), my strap is uncomfortable walking in the heat. In the meantime, don’t just sit there–do something, even if it’s wrong.

ART FOR THE DAY: Flowers That Bloom Now, Yoyoi Kusama, 2017, stainless steel and urethane paint, as seen on the North Forest Trail, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Kusama is one of my favorite artists, having learned about her in an online class on Abstract Expressionism from MoMA. She sometimes has interactive art, inviting museum-goers to come in and cover furniture and walls with dots (her signature) in varying sizes. How fun is that!


Notes from the Trail…

I walked three days around Lake Bella Vista this week without my camera. Today’s walk was slower and longer (two hours instead of 40 minutes). Here are highlights.

Views from the new bridge on the trail leading to the soccer field and the Back 40. Bob the Builder forgot his shovel.

The geese and ducks used to inhabit the beach (in the far background) but have moved downstream. Buzzards are often found near the parking lot now.


Love lock bridge now has 35 locks.


Three friends having breakfast while enjoying the creek.

Local business


Overhead wires


Paw prints in dried mud


Waiting for help?

P1120415Before it’s too late


Green backed heron


On the other end of the lake


Remains of a structure, repainted


Peonies near where there used to be a house


A committee of buzzards



Veterans Wall of Honor–the Arkansas flag needs help.


LITTLE ELEPHANT. I saw this sculpture by Fausto Melotti on-line and decided to interpret it into a small art quilt (started in May). Someone must have bought this sculpture, made in brass wire, about 15-inches tall–I can no longer find a picture. Anyway, our Modern Quilt Guild had a speaker last year who used a lot of bias tape, so I decided to make some myself for the basic elephant shape. This is the actual color–for some reason, the color faded out as I zoomed in.


Echo quilting:P1100476

It looks like the elephant is spraying water–a happy accident.


Before I started quilting, I added elements similar to the original sculpture, using a shisha mirror surrounded by crochet for the eye, a yo-yo, another circle with embroidered lines and colonial knots, and finally one large circle with encrusted beading. I left the front foot loose for dimension.



I finished the echo-quilting in October, bound the quilt, stitched two rows of big stitches inside the body, and decided to rice-stitch the remainder of the body, which was just a little puffy. We had had a big-stitch quilting workshop earlier in the year and I came home with the better part of a spool of green perle cotton thread. Of course, I ran out of thread. Months later I found some more thread, albeit just a tad lighter than the original, but it was the same weight. Hey, from 5-feet, no one will be the wiser. I finally finished the stitching yesterday. Here is the completed quilt. It maketh me happy. FINISHED ELEFANTINO (20.5 x 16.25 inches):


Gotta go–walking with the Bella Vista Walks group at Lake Bella Vista before it gets too hot. Stay tuned for more quilting hi-jinks.


Before it’s too late.



Less is More

THE LESS IS MORE QUILT. In a previous post, I talked about one of the reasons you have unfinished projects: you’re working on one project but then have a deadline, drop project #1 and finish project #2. So, I dropped everything to make this quilt. My last #doonething in March was to cut out 96 squares, make 48 half-square triangles, and piece the top for a quilt I wanted to enter in the NWA Modern Quilt show (our first). The quilt was juried in but 20 minutes of quilting a day didn’t get it finished in time. I found this wonderful neutral fat-quarter bundle online and it was more than enough fabric for what I needed. 

I like to wash my fabric in order to remove the chemicals. I also think it is easier to cut once the sizing is gone, and it doesn’t make me sneeze and wheeze. The fat quarters did get a little wrinkled and only one piece was cut off-grain but I managed to cut four 8-1/2 inch squares from each. Squares laid out in random order.



Pairs of squares for half-square triangles.



I marked the 8-1/2 inch mark with a piece of Master Piece Static Stickers (it comes in 8-1/2×11 sheets). I cannot find this product online; instead, you can mark your cutting line with a piece of masking tape, such as the blue or green painter’s tapes.


Less is More, before quilting.


Some straight-line quilting–I started by echoing around the brown arrows.



I was going to add a small border in order to keep the brown points but opted not to. Matchstick quilting can shrink and warp your project quite a bit, and I learned a lot from this project. I stitched around the brown less than/more than signs before starting quilting, but should have stitched in every seam to prevent distortion. I have no idea if I’ll lose the points when I square this up. Draft of my label:

Less is More

Original design using mathematical symbols (less than/more than) to express the phrase, “less is more,”  meaning that a minimalist approach to artistic or aesthetic matters is more effective. Phrase made famous by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but used before that in a Robert Browning poem, “Andrea del Sarto.”

‘Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.’

Kona fabrics, Superior King Tut (variegated neutral) and YLI (earth with black and red) threads. Machine  pieced and straight-line quilted on Janome 6600P.


I often weave thread ends in as I go, but I wanted to spend the time at my machine finishing the quilting. Instead I wove in ends while binge-watching Death in Paradise on Netflix from the comfort of my recliner. Is binge-watching a hobby or a sickness? I have watched Midsomer Murders at least five times, mostly while piecing. I’m still not sure if I need to block this quilt–will have to consult with my blocking guru, Karen K. I’ll post the finished quilt as soon as it’s, er, finished.

TIP OF THE DAY: When marking fabric, place a piece of sandpaper underneath so the fabric doesn’t stretch or move. Use what ever you have; 400-grit is grit enough.

Next post, my Elefantino quilt.




The Stitching Pillow

One of my favorite features in The Quilt Show Daily Blog is Anna and G on the Road. Anna lives in Sisters, Oregon, travels a lot, takes her quilting and blog on the road. This winter she featured a stitching pillow–a pillow you place on your lap when doing handwork. Raising up your needlework relieves tension in the neck and shoulders. One of my friends, Judy S., informed our Van Go-Go Girls small art quilt group that this odd shape is called a biscornu. It took me a long time to memorize this strange word. Wikipedia: A biscornu is a small, octagonal, stuffed ornamental pincushion. Collins Dictionary uses biscornu as an adjective meaning crooked or weird looking.

Here is a picture of my pillow, made in January, at the start of a mini-workshop I held on Friday. Like a dork, I got so focused I forgot to take more pictures. While my daughter does handwork, she would like this second pillow for use with her smart phone and ipad.


Here is the link for the video tutorial.


(2) 15-inch squares fabric

(2) 15-inch squares batting

(1) 2-1/2 x 10-inch strip for handle

(1) 16-oz bag of poly-fil

I actually used double-sided pre-quilted fabric; otherwise, quilt the top and bottom pieces. A simple diagonal grid is sufficient if you’re not comfortable with free-motion.

To make the handle, I folded the strip in half lengthwise, unfolded, pressed each raw edge in to the center, refolded, and stitched along both long edges. For my second pillow I used a Moda tape used to wrap a set of fat quarters.




Remember to leave an opening for stuffing and to sew on your handle before finishing.

TIP: You can pivot at the corners to continue stitching, but you will have the needle down and need to manipulate the fabrics to continue on. This will put stress of your needle, possibly causing breakage at some point (I learned this from a previous project).

TIP FROM JUDY S.: Use a forceps to stuff into the corners.

Yesterday, I made a biscornu pincushion using this same method. I started with 4-1/2 inch squares. You can go smaller but I don’t recommend it as you will have a very small opening for stuffing (unless you go around corners) and a very small pincushion. If you want a tutorial for the pincushion, try this. My first try yielded two pleats at the end because my stitching got off. I ripped it, started over, and marked the center point on each side for better matching. Voila–pretty cute, eh?




If you have to cut and paste the links, I apologize. The Edit/Insert Link function wasn’t working today. Have a great week–I hope you are having wonderful weather like we are, albeit the deluge of green oak pollen is causing a lot of us grief. Thank goodness for nasal spray and eye drops.

Next post: Less is More (I promise).






Back in the land of the living…

or how I almost gave up quilting (and everything else). I live with chronic inflammation and pain from rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Basically everything I do hurts my back, but I was in excruciating, almost constant hip pain for four months. Then one day after pretty much overstretching trying to relieve a spasming piriformis muscle (near the sciatic nerve), I got up and my hip gave a loud pop–and relief. I started doing these exercises which I had found in the Parade insert of the Sunday paper, Move Away Your Pain by Mary Sauer. Go to the links below and remember to consult your doctor before bending at the waist (thank you, Rita Rudner).

Speaking of doctors, I asked to be referred to the rheumatologist who originally diagnosed me in 2008 (he moved away and returned, but after three years, you’re a new patient). I thought perhaps the AS was progressing. My primary care sent two referrals–they didn’t get them. I hand carried the referral myself–still no response. Since I had no response after leaving messages, I decided I will just fix this myself. About the only thing I can do to help myself at this point is lose weight. Four months of being sedentary and eating Lays Wave Potato Chips, Swalty Popcorn and drinking cokes put on another ten pounds. My blood pressure was up. Now I am on a quest to lose 60 pounds. Most people who know me here have never seen me at my normal weight. I was underweight or normal weight until age 45. An underactive thyroid, total hysterectomy and being misdiagnosed started the weight gain. I still cannot walk without my hip going into spasm, but hopefully that will improve. I am going to stick with this South Beach diet until people start asking if I am sick. Right now, as far as I am concerned, you cannot be too thin. I have one pair of zip up pants that I can wear. I don’t eat much bread but I love white potatoes. The first week has not been hard except that I really don’t get enough to eat some days. If I have a headache or feel lightheaded I have carrots (sugar/starch). I have added tortilla chips (carbs) to my salads. I do not feel guilty. Results after one week: lost 2.5 pounds and 1.75-inches. My blood pressure is back down to 117/70 (I also put my sea salt away). It’s a start. And the quilting? I finished quilting my current project, wove in all the ends, and have to decide whether I need to block it. I didn’t get Less is More finished for my local quilt show but I’m going to enter it in the Modern Quilt Showcase at Houston International. Deadline for entry is June 22. I can do that. I am back to #doonething. This week: finish/recycle reading pile and get rid of the last dregs of paperwork. It’s all good.

P.S. I had a large post in draft and last edited it on March 3. Two days ago, I tried to edit it again and it was all over the place so I decided to just start over. I. Never. Give. Up. Next time, I’ll post all about Less is More–back to quilting posts. In the meantime, have a great weekend–it is finally spring here and supposed to quit raining, so I’ll leave you with a new dogwood photo.


Quilting UFOs and Mystery Quilts

If I had known what a lousy quilter I was in 2000, I would have quit quilting and found a different hobby. Haha. Eighteen years later, I’m still at it.

When I lived in Minnesota, there were often quilt retreats to attend with my friends. This particular retreat had a mystery quilt that I thought I would participate in. It was my first, and probably my last. I didn’t finish this quilt because I was overwhelmed with it. We pieced together a bazillion 2-1/2 inch four-patches and another bazillion 2-1/2 inch half-square triangles (hst). Why so many hsts?  Because we then proceeded to sew them together into flying geese.


For some reason, this highly irritated me. The other reason I did not finish this quilt was that the thought of quilting that large, blank snowball block scared me to death. So it got put away and I hauled it out once, sewed four rows together and put it away again. Fast forward to 2017.

I still love the fabrics and colors I chose for this quilt so I decided to just finish it. I think it was originally going to be at least a twin-sized quilt, but I decided to make two smaller quilts instead. The remaining four-patches and hsts were not quite 2-1/2 inches square so I did a lot of ripping and repiecing and finally got enough units put together to finish the 8-1/2 inch pieced alternate blocks.

Side note on snowball blocks: The prevailing method in the past for snowball blocks was to sew diagonally across a square at each corner and only trim away the middle triangle, thus ensuring that the original base square would remain at the prescribed measurement (8-1/2 inches square in this case). The problem with this is there is a lot of bulk at the corners. I did not rip apart the four rows I had constructed, but I did go in and cut away all of the triangles from the remaining snowballs and made yet more hsts from these triangles.


Lesson Numero Uno: Always check to make sure you are sewing an accurate ¼-inch seam so you don’t suffer the agony of defeat (yes, I know the Olympics are over).


Kudos to the Duluth Curling Club for bringing home the gold and to all the other wonderful athletes who participated in PyeongChang.

Lesson Αριθμός 2: Quit with the mean tweets.

So I put together two quilts but had to wait until last week for the weather to warm up enough so I could spray baste them outside. This quilt is called Starway to Heaven but I’ve come to think of it as Paved Road to Hell.


In the meantime, I decided to work on this small baby quilt, adding borders and quilting diagonal straight lines in the center and on the first blue border. Those are prairie points sewn randomly into the seams and a creative border because I didn’t have enough yardage.



Then I had to take my Janome in for regular maintenance, I felt that the needle bar was once again not centered, and I just couldn’t get the tension right for free-motion quilting on this quilt. I only needed to quilt that last border but nooooooo—wasn’t going to happen. At least I had something to do while waiting for my machine: rip out the six inches of quilting that I thought was going to be okay.


Lesson Troisième partie: Always have something to do when you take your machine in for service.

Suffice to say, I need to practice my free-motion quilting again so I can finish this little quilt and then I need to decide how to quilt those snowball blocks. If all else fails, I can echo the octagonal shape.

Lesson Nummer Vier: Never leave more than three quilting projects unfinished. This creates the Unfinished Object (UFO) Nightmare. I think this is my third year trying to complete my UFOs. Of course, if I wouldn’t make charity blocks for donation quilts, or participate in challenges, or stop everything to try a new technique, or stop to cook/clean/do the wash/exercise… But where is the fun in that! Till next time, work on that ¼-inch seam allowance. Unless you’re doing improv piecing, it really does matter. Or does it?





California Thomas Fire Quilts

As members of NWA Modern Quilt Guild, we are occasionally asked to make blocks for donation quilts at Quilt Con or for quilts being made for disaster victims. This month we are making blocks for victims of the fires in California. Go here for all the details. California Thomas Fire Quilts

The Fabrics: I wanted to use green fabrics (signifying hope and new growth) but didn’t have sufficient contrast and greens that played well together. Leave your medium fabrics in the bin as you really need the light and dark contrast for maximum impact. I went to my purple bin and found a couple commercial fabrics and then found more from my hand dyeds, including one rather crappy sun-printed fabric that didn’t turn out so well. It’s been hanging around since we moved here (2006) but the color was just right. HINT: If you water down your Setacolor paint, it loses the ability to do a decent sun print.


Next I cut one 4-1/2 strip and one 5-inch strip from each fabric and subcut the squares. The 5-inch squares make a slightly oversized half-square triangle so if your sewing is not quite perfect, you’ll still be able to trim to 4-1/2 inches. You know what to do.


After I laid out four blocks, I photographed them on the design wall. This can be very handy if you mix up your units at the ironing board. (photo of blocks) HINT: When chain piecing blocks together, leave the units attached; you can also do this when you make rows. This prevents mixing everything up.


Here are the finished blocks.


If you make multiple blocks, here are two settings you can try. BONUS: I did not have to trim my blocks for once. Whaaaaat?


I had some blocks left over so I turned the hsts into hour glass units. Take two hst units and lay them right sides together with the light side on top of the dark side. Nest the diagonal seam, pin, and draw a straight line as shown (perpendicular to the seam). Sew ¼-inch of either side of the drawn line and then cut on that line. Voila, two hour-glass units. If you want to make the block lie flat at the center, undo the two or three stitches in the seamline, press on the little four-square on the reverse, press the seams in opposing directions, and press again on the right side.


I have saved all these fabrics, scraps and hour-glass units into a bag and will use them for an improv tote bag workshop in July.

FREE-MOTION QUILTING. I was practicing free-motion quilting and could not get the tension right. I tried adjusting my bobbin case to no avail so I sent for a new bobbin case for my Janome and noticed they also had a bobbin case especially for free-motion quilting. I cannot see the difference between the two bobbin cases (except for the blue and red arrows) but I saw a difference in the quilting–mo loops on the reverse.


Sewing machine companies like you to order parts from authorized dealers but try sewing machine parts and ask for items specific to your machine.

FREE-MOTION COUCHING. I also got a special hopping foot for couching yarn, etc. My results were not stellar but I’ll keep working on this.  Stay tuned.


You can thank Jackie Wolven (uber motivator) Jackie Wolven from Eureka Springs for kicking my butt enough to end my procrastination about posting to my blog again. It’s called #doonething. If you are overwhelmed with all the things you want to do and need to do, then pick one project and work on it during the week with the end goal of finishing by midnight on Sunday. Last week I did not post by midnight, but I did post first thing the next morning.  A little side benefit I have noticed for me is that I’m also getting a lot of other things done. Could procrastination be a thing of the past for me? (Probably not) But go here for a great TED talk mentioned in the To Well With You blog Suzy Oakley by Suzy Oakley. TED talk

I’ll most likely finish quilting the borders on this baby quilt this week, maybe even today since we are iced in. I’m finishing all my UFOs this year because it’s time and I want to do more improvisation—it maketh me happy. So do one thing, finish a UFO or give it away, and stay warm and healthy.