Thursday, December 31, 2009


Hard to believe, but I did try to post last night. My computer had a tantrum and logged off the internet and refused to reconnect. Even tonight I had a problem, but I deleted and reloaded the software and finally am able to post. Always happens when I have something to say!

First, the promised quilt pictures. The center was shown in a previous blog and is from the July/August 2009 Quiltmaker magazine. From there, I took a bit of artistic license. The narrow border was to have cornerstones. I chose not to do so. Then the pieced border was arranged a bit differently and used many lights. Instead, I used one multicolored batik for the "backgrounds" and then chose the darks from batiks that had been used in the applique and some others. I ran out of the "background" fabric before I got to the corners, so I substituted the narrow border fabric and used the pink dot (not previously used in the border) for the corners. At first, I thought the pieced border might overwhelm the center, but I don't think it does. I chose not to add another solid border--this is enough.
A detail of the center and part of the border.

A close-up of the hand blanket-stitched applique.

If you get a chance, please visit the Yarn Harlot's blog post for today. It says a lot to all of us.

I've spent a bit of time today thinking of 2009 and all the changes that happened, as well as things that have stayed the same, for both good and bad.

On the good side, in no particular order: Working with the horses, Lynnie's kidney disease being arrested, Callie's purring presence, the love of my family and friends, a career that I love, students who are the best ever, my Jeep, a home I love, being healthy, being happy.

What do I wish for you in 2010? Someone to love and who loves you, family that loves and supports you, friends who bring you joy, a job that is fulfilling, enough money to not want for the basics in life, a sense of happiness for who you are now and plans for who you want to become. Change is hard--so let's change for the good. Let's spread happiness and light, lift someone's spirits while lifting our own. We each have a unique gift--we may not think it is as good as someone else's, but God has a plan for each of us. If we all had the same gift, how could we appreciate our uniqueness. I want to make a positive difference in the world around me--will you join me? Let's make 2010 the best year yet!!!

Remember how special you are--I know I keep saying that, but some of you are hard to convince!

Happy New Year!!!

P.S. Bobbi, if you are reading this, you can have a laugh--the last horse thing I learned in 2009 was how to clean sheaths! For those of you who don't know what a sheath is, I'm not explaining it! I just love horsin' around!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Only Two More Days

With only two days left until New Year's Eve, I just have to say how much I miss Guy Lombardo (I know, I know, that really dates me) and Dick Clark. I rarely watch any New Year's Eve show now, usually just tuning in for the ball drop. But I am definitely up at midnight! During the summer and early fall I had turned into a morning person--sort of good--but have recently reverted back to night owl. That will become a problem next week when I start teaching again!

I hope to have quilt pictures for you tomorrow. I put a pieced border on a small hand blanket-stitched piece today and am working on a mystery quilt as a possible class project. I probably would have been farther along, but the block pressing is not something I agree with (twisting the seam in the middle--gasp, chocolate, chocolate to revive me!) so I am testing how best to press to get as many opposing seams as I can. I think the last seam in each block may have to be pressed open--but I am still working.

I have spoken with the physical plant guys about turning the air conditioning down outdoors. I mean, really! The wind chill here was sub-zero most of the day, but the wind has finally gone down tonight. Last night I thought we might be blown away.

While not "winter" pictures, these are of Lake Champlain in August. As you may have noticed, I love taking pictures of the ever-changing sky.

Til tomorrow, my friends!

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Came, I Saw, I Posted

Can you believe this is my 100th blog this year!!! Took me by surprise too! So that averages out to a blog about every 3 or 4 days--not counting all the extremely lengthy lapses and then the bursts of blogging activity. What can I say?

Sheila, I'll email you the details on the horse fabric. It was a joy to work with.

Joey, I'll do a post soon about the index card system of keeping track of my quilts.

Diane, stay warm--I heard you had it really bad in Watkins Glen today. We are still having blowing and snowing and they are predicting temps in the negative double digits for tonight.

Jay, you crack me up.

Janet, I always know you are out there waiting and watching--thanks!

And for those of you who lurk, thanks for tuning in.

As for what I did today, I finished the handwork on the sleeve and the binding and sleeve on the little quilt I am working on. I also did a bit more quilting on the star quilt. And I got a chance to horse around a bit today. Got to hold the foal (okay, I was ballast) as he got two shots and worm medicine. The farrier came yesterday and trimmed and shod the mare with the sore foot. She is much better today. Buckets were less icy than usual, but I imagine tomorrow they will be solid ice.

I just finished listening to Under Cover of Darkness by James Grippando. Excellent! And finished reading There Goes the Bride by M.C. Beaton (an Agatha Raisin book). Also excellent. Now I am rereading (for the fifth or sixth time) Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard.

That's it for tonight. It's shiver-me-timbers weather here! Stay warm!



P.S. I believe the statue at the top of the post is in Lowell, Mass.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Productive Day

I don't know about you, but sometimes (often) I need to be in the mood to really do something creative. That's why, when the urge strikes, I do little else. (Probably my all-time favorite excuse for not cleaning--but now I love my cleaner, so I will have to think up something else.)

For Christmas I received the cutest snowman wall hanging that I think can be displayed until, oh say, April ;-) so I made a sleeve for it and have it basted in place. How lucky is it that I just bought scads of the same line of fabric and had some to match!

A quilt close-up that I showed a while ago is now on its way to being done--I added the sleeve and binding by machine today so only have the hand stitching to finish. I took a look at the index card for that project and realized I started it in 2006. Well, it's a gift and good things come to those who wait. A gifting tip for you: NEVER say you are making something for a specific holiday--wait until it is finished and then give it for whatever holiday is coming up! No pressure, no guilt about not being done when you thought. Works great! Remember it for 2010 when you are rushing (yet again) to finish something for a deadline!

I also wanted to do a thank you gift for someone and decided to do potholders and coasters. Obviously these are for people who love horses! (Or I really don't like them and am playing an awful trick on them--but, no, that's way too much work for a stunt!)

As luck would have it, the perfect color for topstitching these was running low--I wasn't sure I would have enough. So I wound a partial bobbin and hoped for the best. Well, the spool ran out while I still had two coasters to go. So I wound part of the bobbin onto another bobbin, hoping again that I had judged correctly. Well...the partial bobbin on top ran out again! With less than half a coaster to go. So I ran a bit more onto it and was able to finish--just! And I added that color to my shopping list!

While I had out the fabric for the sleeve, I was inspired to try a couple small blocks for a potential class project. These beauties will finish at 4 inches and are called Baby Bunting. Not many pieces, but the squares finish at 1 inch, so precision is the key. I'm going to set them on point, possibly with a green print for the setting triangles. (Yes, Virginia, I will be making more--two blocks are not enough to do much with!)

The fabric line is Frosted Memories by Holly Taylor for Moda. As you may have noticed, I tend to work with brighter fabrics, but this line caught my eye. And it's not so Christmas-y that its display time cannot be extended.

Oh, and I did quilt more on the piece from the last post. And I made a poor attempt at organizing some fabric in a vain attempt to find the backing fabric (or what was left of it) for the sleeve on the piece I put binding on. In vain was correct--I never did find it. Alas and alack, I punted and used the binding fabric--a good compromise.

Can you believe it is the last week of 2009? Only four more days.

Hugs to all,

Quilting From the Back

Greetings, fellow quilters! Today I was going through my (rather substantial) pile of basted quilts and wallhangings. I was looking for a small project that I could mark and carry with me to family gatherings. At almost the top of the pile was this piece:

It's about 12 inches square, was hand pieced and hand appliqued, and seemed ideal. When I looked at the top, I realized that I would have to use at least two different markers to transfer the design from the stencil to the quilt. That is always tedious at best. Having basted this many years ago, I looked to see what I had used on the back and I was in luck. The backing is a navy ground with American flags--perfect to mark my design with just one marker.

The design I chose is an overall meander that forms stars--perfect for this patriotic piece. I used the Clover White Marking Pen (fine) to mark the design. This pen irons away, leaving no residue or reappearing marks. I've been using it for a number of years and have found no change in my fabrics.

When I baste, the final row in each quadrant is within the 1/4 inch seam allowance. So I could easily mark the design within those parameters.

Next was thread selection. While red/white/blue sounds perfect, I had used that variegated thread on another piece and found that the white portion was too bright. Being a hand quilter, I have options--like removing the sections of thread that are the wrong color for this project! This YLI 40 wt variegated thread was perfect in the blues and reds--but again, the white was too bright. Luckily, the sections of white are few and far between. I roll off my length of thread, cutting away the white, and quilt happily with the blue and red sections. Presto! Customized quilting thread! Try it! It's very freeing. (For those of you who machine quilt--what can I say--not such a happy fix--perhaps I can interest you in a hand quilting class? LOL)

And here is the result. I have almost one entire section done and am very pleased with the results.

Since I made and basted this 5-pointed star, I have learned the value of grading seams--something I didn't do on this one, and the bulkiness of the intersections makes some of the quilting a bit hard to do.

Guess I'll go quilt a bit more before bed. I hope your holiday celebrations have been excellent and that the countdown to 2010 will find you in good spirits. More tomorrow.


P.S. I have been keeping an eye to my blog roll and I've noticed that I tend to post when others are not--strange coincidence or planned mischief? Ha Ha--I'll never tell (although Lynnie and Callie say they can both be bribed!).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Did everyone have a great Christmas day? I spent lots of time with family and some time finishing gifts and actually wrapping them! (Okay, you caught me--I should have stock in gift bags and tissue paper!)

Remember when I told you about the raw-edge ornaments I do each year at the Groton Public Library? Well, here are two pics for you. This year was a holly leaf, embellished with a red button "berry". I used Sulky 12 wt. variegated thread and Legacy soy/cotton batting. They are quick and easy gifts or work great as gift tags. Think outside the Christmas holidays--Easter, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day--the list is endless. How about baby bottle or rattle ornaments/tags? Be sure to sign the back so everyone knows who made these little gems!

A close-up. I actually make the hanger as I sew on the button. Who said quilter's don't do buttons? Well, okay--only when we want to!

I also finished a knitted hat. A Penny Straker design--each pattern has great tips and usually two or three items or variations. I couldn't figure out how to change to a different size circular in the middle of the hat for Magic Loop, so I knit these on straights. It was like a blast from the past! And I did a modified mattress stitch to sew the seam. Lays flat, no bulk, looks pretty good! I especially like the double fabric over the ears.

For those of you celebrating other holidays, I hope your day was equally special. For tonight, cozy up in a quilt with a warm cup of cocoa and enjoy the holiday lights. The lights are the one thing from Christmas that I wish we could see all year round--okay, I guess I'd better modify that wish--the tiny white or bluish tint lights--not the inflatables, and probably not the icicle lights in the summer. Hey--it's MY wish, so I can be as picky as I want. YOU can make your own wish for or against lighting year round. Maybe I can add this to my presidential platform! I only have three years to campaign--I'd better start early!
Merry Christmas, everyone! And to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twas the Night Before the Night Before

And deer were definitely stirring. I have a family of four that eats and sleeps on my lawn. In the morning, or when I come home after dark, you can see them near the spruce trees. They are so used to my vehicle that they don't even get up and run off. With the bitter winds and cold temps we've had the last few days, I hope their coats got really thick.

Today I have knitted, hand quilted, went shopping with my mom, and visiting and.... Well, you know the drill. I imagine most of you are doing about the same. Tomorrow I will show you a bit of what I am working on. For now, I will bid you all a good night--I need to get back to work!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Christmas Quilt

Many moons ago, I started this Piney Woods pattern. I did change things a bit--did not piece the background, hand appliqued all the pieces and hand quilted it quite heavily. (Okay, it's almost the exact opposite of how the pattern was done!) I just love the piece and finally finished it earlier this year. So this is its Christmas debut. I have a narrow display space between the front door and the octagonal window--perfect for a long, narrow quilt.

Marion asked about the 3 women above my light display--it's an original oil painting in a handmade (not by me) frame. The artist is my mom's first cousin, Kay Stash. She tried to teach me to paint, but I am much better at quilting! I've had the painting for almost twenty years and it has always been over my roll top desk. (Okay, I can paint--but walls and trim only!)

Did a bit of horsing around today--helped trim hooves (my job was to hold the feet up and steady!). Also had each horse out to clean all its hooves and to give them a bit of TLC. Cracked ice out of water buckets and then refilled them, swept up the little barn--a good day. Especially since I managed to escape Nate's teeth for the entire time! He's the colt born on July 4--and he has a tendency to sneak up on you and give you a little nip. I think his record is five times in a couple hours--all on me! (In my defense, I've never been around young horses and figured he was playing--now I know differently--it's their way of vying for dominance--and I keep a sharp eye on where he is and what he's doing--I may be a slow learner--but at least I do learn!)

I hope you are smiling after reading about my escapades! And that you are ready for the holidays.

Til tomorrow!


P.S. I added a new blog to my list--Blackbird Designs. Their blog is wonderful and their designs are simply fabulous. Take a look!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let the Festivities Begin!

Tonight I thought I would share a bit of my decorating with you. Last night I washed all of the crystal candle holders and dishes that occupy the top of my roll top desk. And I even polished the tiny lights! I love this display so much that I leave it up all year long. The play of the white lights on the crystal with some glitter highlights never fails to lift my spirits.
Here is a bit closer picture of the display.

For those of you wondering if I have lost the thrill of my Dyson cleaner, the answer is no. I still love it! The rugs feel so much different--it's a joy to walk barefoot on them. I even did the stairs again today--all with the cleaner on the landing and I was able to reach the top with just the hose--no moving the cleaner half-way through to go from the top down.

Callie wanted to say she is keeping an eye on all this activity. And to let you know that she has submitted her wish list to Santa Meow--catnip, more catnip, did I mention catnip--CATNIP!!! (She looks so mild mannered, doesn't she?)

Jay, you are released from your promise to comment, although I do enjoy them immensely. Sheila, I'll be glad to see you whenever you can get to class--I miss you! Pam K., if you are reading this--I LOVE my snowman wallhanging! Thanks so much! What a wonderful surprise in the mail today!

Okay, I am back on the map--the countdown begins. And the best news of all today? Today was the winter solstice--and tomorrow we start adding minutes of daylight. This is always my favorite day--because it marks the shortest day and I can't wait to see the plus signs as we add minutes from now on. It's been cold and blustery here, but we have escaped the worst of the storms. And my four-wheel drive is fixed--yahoooooooo!

Hugs to all,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Weather Outside

We've actually been inundated with rain--and then ice when the temperature drops. Not a fun drive. And the driveway isn't much fun either! The other day I needed my 4-wheel drive to get up my brother's drive and, when I tried to activate it, nothing happened. So I parked at the end of the drive and walked in. Then I tried several more times under other circumstances and still no luck. I finally figured out that it was not hooked up! Apparently when I had the engine replaced in April, the mechanics never reattached it...and I didn't need it until now, so never discovered it...until I needed it. So verrrrrry early tomorrow morning I will be at the shop to have it fixed. I feel absolutely naked without my 4-wheel drive!

These are actually pictures from last year...or maybe the year before. Anyway, I thought it would be a good reminder of what we could be having!

I'm still in favor of calling a moratorium on gift-giving. A couple more friends have boarded my bandwagon and you can feel the stress level lessening each time we agree. There's still time for you to do this with your family and friends--or make the suggestion for next year!

Green Thumb for Everyone applique block of the month classes tomorrow at Calico Gals. Only four more teaching days for 2009--the year sure has flown. And, for those of you keeping track, I've almost doubled my blogging in 2009!

Night, night!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Finished Is Good

Quilted and bound, no less! Ginny D. of Candor, New York, started this quilt in a block of the month class with me in February 2009. This picture was taken on December 5--the quilt is finished! Ginny did an awesome job of the piecing and claims that I am in her head as she adds borders! (Please remember the poor photography is all mine!)
The colors are not very true--the background is a wonderful lime green, with a blue/white marble, tone-on-tone navy, a sky blue--rich, vibrant colors. The fabric Ginny chose for her setting and corner triangles was directional--she bought lots and used only the pieces that were correctly directional in the finished rows. She ended up with lots of leftovers, but the finished quilt reflects that coveted attention to detail. Great job, Ginny! (I'm sending good thoughts your way.)

Today, thirteen people came to my free make-and-take ornament class at the Groton Public Library. A mix of long-time students, some new faces and even three members of the library staff attended. We made raw edge ornaments suitable for families with young children or children of the four-legged variety. A bit of muslin, some cotton batting, quilting threads in various colors, and buttons--it was fascinating to see the combinations of threads and buttons. I think I figured out that I've been doing these ornament classes for 10 or 11 years--a different ornament each year. I love our library and use it lots; this is my way of giving back to the staff and community. I'm not sure who has a better time--them or me!

Will close for now. Tomorrow--pictures of ????? Stay tuned!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Say What?

I am saying this with wonder--there are only how many days left to get things finished for Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate)? Every year I think I will be better prepared, but.... Could it be more of that head in the sand thing? (I can almost see you, Janet--I'm tunneling your way!)

Let's see what's going on in your world. Are you making more gifts because of the economy? Or fewer because you have less time? Are you being more selective about giving handmade gifts? Most of my friends and I have agreed that we will do at least dinner and maybe add in a movie instead of doing gifts. We are all adults (or at least we say we are--hee hee) and either buy or have anything we really want. We have a great, no stress time for less than we probably would have spent on a gift.

This afternoon I put up about 25 of my holiday quilts at the Groton Public Library. If you are in the area, please stop in for a look. The poor librarian has been under siege--usually the quilts go up in November and I change part of them in December. But the library had some water damage and needed to be repainted. So the quilts went up today. I guess there were quite a few patrons who wanted to know where the quilts were!

As the holidays rapidly approach and people are short-tempered (okay, MORE short-tempered), remember to smile. In the grand scheme of things, the slightly longer wait, the snarly clerk, the elbow in the ribs from someone also after that last perfect gift will mean nothing. But your smile and graciousness will long be remembered, probably by someone you least expect. Spread the good cheer and help stamp out the "bah humbugs".

Hugs to all, and to all a good night!