Blog Archives

When the cosmos pokes you…

pay attention. Last week I poked myself three times and then dropped a needle on the floor. This reminded me of PYN–plant your needle. Not in your shirt, not in work–in your pincushion. I found my needle with my heavy duty magnet. The wand is fine but it is only magnetic on the tip so it doesn’t always work. I left the room and when I returned, I sat on my large. It must have caught on my sleeve when I left the room. Enough already.

I no longer have time to volunteer as a docent or hospital aide; however, I do find time to make quilted items for good causes–blocks for Pulse, fire victims in California, Vegas shooting, etc. This year, NW Modern Quilt guild will send a donation quilt for viewing at Quilt Con and we made placemats for Meals on Wheels. I also decided to make a house quilt for The House Quilt Project. These small quilts go to people who were formerly homeless and now have a home!

I started with a paper-pieced house found in The Foundation Piecer, Autumn 2001 (, both of which appear to have been discontinued. You can find back issues on e-bay. Then I added a Sue Spargo embroidery technique to give the roof some texture. Backstitch with floss (I used two strands) and then weave in and out with a heavier thread (#8 perle cotton). Her tip: weave in and out with the eye end of the needle to prevent splitting your backstitches.


Because I thought my house block was dull and depressing, I found some swirls from a previous project and made two more and the “home” lettering from a similar piece of fabric. I used a simple zigzag for the swirls and satin stitch for the lettering. The old swirls ironed down well–the needle didn’t gum up. The new ones and the lettering, however, gummed up, even after repressing with a very hot iron–to the point of scorching my parchment paper. I even tried steam. I’m going to experiment one more time with this Steam-a-Seam 2 before it goes bye-bye. Guidelines asked for simple hanging rings (pop-tops) but I crocheted my usual curtain rings instead.


P1140182.JPGYou can find more details on Jamie Fingal’s blog or you might have seen the call for entries in the Quilting Arts Oct/Nov 2018 issue (deadline is December 7, if you’re an over-achiever).

Placemats. Since it’s still fall, I bought some Real Tree fabric for the backing and binding and dove into my strip stash to make some improv mats. Do we ever really use up our stashes? I don’t think so, but I try. I took some of the leftovers to make a log-cabin-ish block which I’ll find a use for at some point. Final total: 53 placemats!

Can you see me now?


At our final Modern Guild meeting each year, we play Dirty Santa (a white elephant gift exchange) with handmade items and bring food. It’s a fun meeting. Here is my nifty-gifty–a pieced, small biscornu pincushion from self-dyed fabrics with beaded stiletto/accessory (hat pin).


I went home with a cool wallhanging made by friend Judy S.


TIP OF THE MONTH. In case you have to stretch a block just a little to reach the desired size, learn three ways to block a quilt block here.


Till next time–



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.



The forgotten pillowcase…

I forgot to post my finished pillowcase a few weeks ago—this was the only thing I could focus on this winter when I was taking steroids. Steroids not only cause me acute insomnia but they make me very agitated and unable to focus. Knitting is usually calming for me but I couldn’t focus on the pattern—plain simple embroidery did the trick, giving me something to do without much brain drain. I did forget to switch to yellow for the center of the second flower so did the same thing on the third flower on purpose. Then I found a stain that would not come out after three tries and a flaw on the reverse and then a small hole. Whatever. I did a very simple crocheted border and flat-felled seams to enclose the raw edges. I can still use it to store a quilt. A note about storing quilts: NEVER store them or transport them in plastic bags, especially black plastic garbage bags. Quilters (even professionals) have lost their quilts at retreats and conventions because the maintenance crew thought the bags contained garbage. Ouch.



Here is the simple edging I did with #10 crochet thread and a size 6 crochet hook:

Round 1: Single crochet around.

Round 2: *(3dc, ch1, 3dc) in next sc, sk 1 sc, sc in next st, sk 1 sc, repeat from * to end.

Stay tuned for another post before day’s end.

Applique Adventures

When you’ve been away from a project for more than a week, you tend to lose your place.  Finding nothing on the ironing board, I searched the studio and remembered I had decided to hand applique some wool to the first set of leaves, which looked too flat and boring.  I had already removed one leaf, which was glued down to the background, to make a longer stem to run into the seam line.  As I previously showed, I used small dots of Roxanne’s-Glue-Baste-It! and it peeled right up.  This is all part of a group project.  My panel is in shades of orange.  I was in a bit of a hurry when I hand appliqued the wool pieces down – my nose was running non-stop. I had thought of stuffing cotton up my nares and mouth breathing but opted for abandoning the project for the day.  My hiatus lasted eight days.  I’m not any too pleased with my handiwork upon closer inspection and proceed on leaf #3 using two strands of floss instead of three and making my stitches closer together.  This lies much flatter so now I’ll rip out the first two leaves, trim the edges and restitch.  This has given a little bit of dimension to this set of leaves.


Now my wool highlights are stitched in place with floss using the blanket stitch.  I will have to glue down the points – the wool was not felted tightly enough for my taste so there was a little fuzzing going on.

On to the next section.  I had most of these leaves done already and have two more to go.  I am not happy with the reverse applique leaf.  I had to cover up my botched dots with Art Glitter, the glitter doesn’t blend well with the Frost fabric underneath and there is not enough contrast with the adjoining leaves.  Definite do-over.  After these are finished, I will glue baste the leaves down for machine stitching.  I am going to save this for Friday when our group will meet for a work session so I don’t need to haul my machine.  I did at least put a long pin in the glue nozzle before quitting the other day but did not follow the rest of my usual routine.  This is what works for me:

TIPS for using Roxanne’s-Glue-Baste-It!

1. While working steadily, lay the bottle on its side.

2. If you take a break, put a long pin in the nozzle.

3. Done for the day? Remove the nozzle, recap the glue bottle, rinse nozzle in hot water and soak overnight in a small container.

4. Your nozzle will be clean and ready for use the next day.

Back to the long leaf with reverse applique.  I am proceeding along smoothly until I reach the curved end.  I have not left enough background fabric underneath to round the curve.  I rip it all out, thinking I can salvage the pieces but decide to change fabrics and start over.  This time the stitching goes considerably faster–my wavy piece is rather organic but we are talking nature here so I’m happy.  Trim the back, turn under the edges.  Here is my technique for turning under the outside edges.  I use my small triangular craft iron (the Clover one that comes with all kinds of tips now).  I only clip when necessary–when a convex curve (innie) won’t curve and a concave curve (outie) starts to fold or pleat.  Every clip is a potential point in the outer edge.  Be careful to only clip within a couple stitches of the fold.  When rounding a small curve, you will need to notch-clip and trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk.  I will be gluing or pre-stitching the sharp points before actually placing the leaves on the background.  This way I can glue-baste the leaves down instead of pinning and worrying about manipulating points as I stitch.  I have two more leaves in this section to finish preparing before Friday.  I may or may not start working on the lower, larger leaves.  My leaf shapes will need to be modified as the inner notches and outer points are really difficult to applique.  At least I have a lot of these shapes already drawn.



I like to use #100 silk thread with a #11 milliner’s needle for hand applique.  The stitches disappear.  The problem with this thread is that your needle tends to come unthreaded, even if you tie the end into a double knot.  Here is Liuxin Newman’s trick.  I was able to do this with Cicirino, which I now notice is cotton, but not my YLI last week.  All 100-weights are not equal.  Hold the long thread tail between you thumb and index finger and pierce the needle through the thread about every quarter-inch for at least five stitches.  Slide these loops off the needle and smooth out the thread.  This takes some practice–I actually do it by feel rather than sight.


I have been able to work for two half-days in a row, finally making some real progress.  I was even able to restart my latest pair of fingerless gloves last night.  I had started these a couple weeks ago and got bogged down with a new technique, relying on my faulty memory.  Here is a technique I believe I wrote down from the knitting show on PBS. It helps to make a tighter join.  I am doing one final test on the pattern.  The stripe is interesting in the 3×3 ribbing.  The fur yarn is purled to put maximum hair on the outside and I have just started the cable area in my favorite color.



1, Cast on required number of stitches, adding an extra stitch.

2. Slip the first stitch to the needle on the right.

3. Pass the last stitch cast on over the slipped stitch.

4. Give the yarn a tug, adjust the number of stitches on each needle and begin knitting.

That’s it for today.  Just remember, a bad day of quilting is still better than a good day in an office.  Happy stitching.

April Fools and Clean Up on Aisle 5…

Last post I mentioned the Solar Eclipse but you had to be in Europe and beyond to view it–April Fools.  I do have some photos of the recent lunar eclipse.


It was 35 degrees here so I had to keep coming inside.  I need to make myself some fingerless gloves.  I also need a better place to shoot from and a stronger lens, but it was still fun to experiment.

You know it’s time to clean your studio when you can’t walk anywhere, every surface is covered and you start knocking stuff over, like the pencil sharpener, and yes, I saved the shavings for mixed media art.  I used the Hello Kitty duct tape to repair the carpet protector which split under my chair some months ago.


Following two steroid injections, I have had acute insomnia, fatigue/depression, and agitation.  I am finally starting to sleep again and have been embroidering and spring cleaning to quell the agitation.


My daughter stopped by one day with this hair clip to cheer me up.


Between thunderstorms next week, I’ll be out taking new spring photos.  There be dogwoods!

We had a little hail last month, lasting just a couple minutes.  Kansas had some baseball sized hail the other day–ouch.  It is severe weather season–for the most part the worst of it goes north and south of us because of the Ozarks.  Our thoughts go out to those hit by the latest tornadoes.


I have a board on Pinterest called “My Failed Art.”  It’s not that I’m focusing on the failures but that I want the challenge of doing something with each piece (or not).  Here’s a new entry.  I designed a putter cover out of soft vinyl a few years ago–it was too small for my putter.  I ran across it last week when I emptied out a container on my shelf (still purging).


The terry cloth and fleece scraps went into a bag for a group who stuff dog and cat beds for the local animal shelter and I think I will turn this into a pin cushion.  I have gathered up my pincushions and needle cases, etc., to photograph for my board “Pincushions, Needle Keepers, Sewing Accessories.”  I joined Pinterest when my Modern Quilt Guild was working on donation quilts for Quilt Con but otherewise had little interest.  I really spent a lot of time developing boards when I was recovering from bronchitis and was bored.  Now I try to limit my pinning to early morning–you know, stop pinning and start doing.  Here is a link if you want some cheap entertainment. https//

We love to have brunch at Christmas and Easter at our house with egg bake, cheesy potatoes and either mimosas or Bloody Marys.  Here are our colored eggs and the Paas dye kit we used.  The wax crayon did not work so well as a resist, even with great pressure.  My pink egg was named “Stink Pink” and the blue one said, “If you are blue, paint yourself another color.”


My daughter and her friend Lindsey like to cook silly and photograph egg carton formations so here is one of my versions, with husband’s contribution.  He just doesn’t understand our egg carton art.  Or good chip, bad chip.



DD thinks it’s high time she learned to crochet but trying to pin her down is another matter.  She was thinking of attending a local Civil War reenactment and wanted some authentic socks and I didn’t have time to teach her or knit any so I tried to crochet a pair.  I thought they were butt ugly so I ripped the sock out and will knit her a pair for future use.  She wants tube socks so I’m looking for a pattern as I threw the one I had away long ago.  Truth be known, I would rather knit socks with heels–whatever.  As I was ripping I decided it was high time I learned to wind yarn with a center pull and to do a Russian join.  You can use a dowel, knitting needle or crochet hook to wind the ball so you can pull the yarn from the center.  I like using my finger:


I liked the first video I found so here is the link.

I also found an excellent video on the Russian join here.

I recommend rolling your yarn into a ball before starting your project so you can remove any knots or flaws and fasten the ends together for smooth knitting and crocheting.

Here is my finished ball of yarn and a little baggie for it.  This sweet bag was made by a friend who seldom sews, so it was a special gift.  I believe she gave it to me while we were putting on the play, “Quilters.”


So I guess that’s all I have for now.  Next post I’ll be talking about my latest group quilt and a challenge quilt, recent trips to 21c, Bentonville Square and Crystal Bridges, a local quilt show and whatever else is happening.  Our local nature trail is scheduled to reopen April 24 after being closed all winter for repairs due to severe storm erosion in 2013.  I also have a list of things to do to improve my blog, so look for improvements.  Here’s my own suggestion:  Get on here at least once a week for heaven’s sake.  Till next time, may your rains be gentle, the sun be warm on your face, and your hands be busy with art and goodness.

Here is my recipe for Virgin Bloody Marys:

ZingZang Mix, Claussen pickle spear, celery stalk with cream cheese, and if you have it, a large shrimp and celery salt.  Enjoy.