Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

It's so hard to believe that the end of a year and the end of a decade are close at hand. As someone pointed out to me last night, tomorrow will be 1/1/11. Which adds up to 4, which is my lucky number and, 2011 also adds up to 4. So who knows what wonderful things await?

As 2010 ends, I'd like to take a minute to thank my family, friends, and students for a simply stupendous year. There are some surprises in store for the new year--you'll have to stay tuned to find out what.

Thank you to the readers of the blog--and a special thanks to those of you who comment. We are coming up on the 300th post--I feel a give-away coming on!

My wishes for you? Health, happiness, family, friends--and enough--for 2011 and beyond.

"See" you next year!

Big hugs to everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


With just one day left in 2010 (the end of a decade), I've been trying to complete a few things.

Remember the blue snowflake batik behind the wristers a couple posts ago? Well, here's what I did with it. Three Black Spruce blocks from Judy Hopkins' 501 Rotary-cut Quilt Blocks. Nine inches finished, two inch sashing and two-and-a-half inch borders. Binding will be the same fabric as the borders. Nice long wallhanging and not too seasonal.

A detail shot of the blocks. Looks hard, but really isn't--shhhh, that's our secret!

I wanted to do a little something to put in a friend's holiday card. Raw edge ornaments are lots of fun and I don't feel bad if kids or animals (or naughty adults) give them a rough time. I papercut this pattern and then hand quilted it with Hobbs bleached cotton batting. I used Sulky Blendables in 12 wt. for the outside, and 40 wt. Mettler quilting thread for the detail work. Folk art fun!

Socks. I had one sock done months ago, and the second into the foot area. The yarn is Cascade Heirloom and the colors are much richer than they show in the pictures. I have one more pair that is one whole sock and the other is still on the ribbing--they will not be finished in 2010, but is by my chair to finish soon. I also started a hat as a gift (I wisely did not say which year it was going to be gifted!). And I have been doing some other hand quilting. And attempting to clean up my sewing rooms. I am going to have some new lighting put into my sewing rooms and am interested in hearing what you have and whether you like or dislike your choices. Remodeling is expensive enough when it is done once--having to re-do something because of an error in judgment is just ludicrous.

That's it for tonight. I will be sure to post tomorrow night to finish off the year. Hope everyone has enjoyed the holidays so far. And remember to designate a driver if you are going to be out and about Friday night.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

If you have not finished those last minute gifts...just give up. It's more fun for everyone, especially you, not to have to sit up til the wee hours. You know you'll be cranky all Christmas Day...and your family probably knows it too.

I finished these "wristers" for my mom a couple weeks ago. Nice washable wool.
And a detail. Thank you to my lovely hand model...heehee, it's me! (Sorry, I think I'm a bit giddy!) See the blue batik in the background? That will be showcased in a different post with machine piecing. Lovely backdrop for winter wristers, don't you think?

In two evenings I knit this boa. One skein each of black and red fun fur. The knitting goes fast, but pulling the "eyelashes" back out to fluff the scarf is not nearly as much fun.

Then one evening I made two potholders and four coasters. These are both for the same friend. No worries...she doesn't read my blog!

And two pillowcases. Sorry, I am of the less is more thought for pillowcases. No fancy cuff and trim. I choose fabrics I love and want as much of those as I can get into each case. Plus I can make more in less time, making them the perfect last minute gift!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night. Spend quality time with your loved ones, remember our troops in your prayers, and tell people how much you love them. Don't assume they know.

Special hugs to each and every one of you,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Picture This

On Thursday morning, I got up and, after doing the morning pet things, jumped in the shower. After washing my hair, I stuck my face into the flow of water and grabbed my pouf from the hook. Placing the pouf under my chin so that I could enjoy the water while wetting the pouf, I got my "Zen" on. Inhaling deeply, I thought "Wow, my pouf stinks!" (You have to understand that I have had a cold for several weeks and only just now can smell normally.) Moving my head from under the water, I open my eyes to find:

Yes, that's right...a stink bug!!!!! THAT's what stunk! The official name of this prehistoric-looking bug is Western Conifer Seed Bug, but it still stinks when startled! Needless to say, the Zen moment was gone, there was much flailing of arms and the stink bug finally released his hold on my pouf (they are quite tenacious). The shower was successfully concluded, sans the Zen, and the stink bug lived on.

Yes, I know this was probably way too much information, but really, when your day starts with a stink bug in your pouf, things have got to get better!

Here's hoping you never have to find out personally. This is one experience that is way better lived vicariously.

Next post will be some finished stuff and a bit of other stuff. Stay tuned!


P.S. I'm listening to Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts and reading Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton. And I'm watching National Velvet (the original with Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor). 1944--Wow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remember Fall?

While in the throes of winter, I found it comforting to look back to late October and wind-swept clouds and storm tossed Lake Champlain. No coat required. No boots...or mittens...or hats...or scarves. Do you remember those days?

I am ten rows from finishing the second wrister. Today was a day to run errands, plus my new laundry room window was delivered. Not installed...but in the building! How exciting is that!

Plus...Nona rocks!!!! She won Hell's Kitchen. Russell was a sore loser--nobody would have wanted to work for him--and then he threatened to blackball his whole team if they tried to work in any city he is. A perfect example of poor sportsmanship. Proving yet again that "if you can't be a shining example, you can serve as a horrible warning"!

More tomorrow!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A great day to be inside and sewing/knitting. Several weeks ago I had made 34 blocks from the Gems pattern by Blue Underground. I finished two more today and set the top together. I originally thought I would do a 6 x 6 set, couldn't count to six across, decided I had enough blocks to do 7 rows and couldn't figure out why I had one extra block. (Obviously not a good math day!) These are the same fabrics I used for Serenity and I still love them. The colors are not reproduced very well here. The ones that look almost white are a yellow/lime green and beige. But you get the picture (hee hee!). For those of you who are thinking of doing this pattern, the more fabrics you have, the easier it is to arrange. I just wanted to use up what I had.

A peek at my chandelier and its resident. I am in the process of replacing the plastic prisms with real glass ones. I got 10 at an auction recently and thought that would take me quite a ways--until I started replacing them and found I need at least 31 more! So it is a work in progress. None of the real prisms show in this pic.

And this is an up-to-the-minute picture of my Christmas cactus in bloom. Only one flower opens at a time--but they are so beautiful.

I also basted a small hand quilting project and have knitted on the hand warmers for my mom. One is done--the other one almost half. Also spent a bit of time looking for the perfect hat pattern; I have some beautiful light rose wool that keeps nudging me.

Hope your day has been productive--or not--whatever the best one is for you.

I just finished listening to The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry and am now listening to Lost Empire by Clive Cussler. And Christmas Glee.

Hugs to all,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Stuff and Just Stuff

After almost 24 hours and at least twelve tries, the photos downloaded. I'm not sure what the problem was, but I'm going to quickly move on before something else happens!

A few weeks ago, several of us who meet to quilt were asked to do quilts for a hospital nursery. The quilts were supposed to be 36 inches square, machine quilted and sturdy. I made the two that follow. The other ladies used smaller squares and borders--beautifully done. But they all wondered why they hadn't thought of doing the bigger squares--thirty-six 6.5 inch squares. I cut and pieced both tops in a couple hours. The machine quilting took a couple hours each and I machine topstitched the binding in place. Not a single hand stitch!

The quilting on the first one is done with (sort-of) straight lines on the diagonal as well as horizontally and vertically. I used variegated King Tut thread in both needle and bobbin.

Same fabrics, just arranged differently. Each quilt has a couple "different" squares because I ran out of a couple. All the fabrics were from my stash; I used muslin for the backs and an old Jinny Beyer print for the binding.

A close-up of the quilting on the second one. Just started on one side and drove a crooked path to the other side. No lines match or mirror each other. Whenever something went a bit wonky, I told myself that some wee one would love it despite its faults. Two good things.

And now Just Stuff: First, birds...lots and lots of birds. This was taken in November. I think they were all smart enough to head south. Or I definitely would have seen them in the snow. Okay, we've had enough winter. We are going to be so lucky to get lake effect from now until early Thursday, with high winds and bone-chilling wind chill temps.

Looking for some great Christmas music? Try Glee the Music, the Christmas Album. It's toe-tapping, waltz around the room good.

I haven't forgotten the window story--just need to get the window painted and the curtains up to show the before and after pics at the same time.

Last Saturday I hosted the annual make and take ornament class at the local library. Twelve people came and made tree ornaments complete with hand quilting, buttons, stars and imagination. I think I figured out this was the 11th year--and each year is a different ornament.

Guess I'd better close for now. If you can, stay in and do some quilting--it's perfect weather for that!

Hugs to all,


Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Change in the Weather

The day started with temperatures in the 60s and high winds, followed by torrential rain and flooding. About noon the temp dropped and we had:

Yes, snow. Every tiny branch was coated. This is the view from my new sewing room window! More on that in another post. And a detail of the first snowfall in December. (It's not the first of the season.)

I've been keeping busy and have lots of show and tell. Just have to get the pics organized and up on the blog. Don't give up!

Hugs to all,

P.S. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Truly a time to be thankful for so many things.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


When I ask permission to show someone's quilt on my blog, I always ask how they would like to be identified. Thus, I offered the maker of this fine piece: Donna, Donna H. or Hot Donna. She actually did not choose any of those, but the Hot Donna reference just makes me laugh out loud!

Here's what Donna Hopple had to say: "So here is my take on Charley Harper's "Herondipity" with thanks to my husband and Cincinnati in-laws for making me aware of this great artist, and to Sharon for teaching me how to create it!"

Donna's workmanship and attention to detail are stupendous. This work includes needleturn applique, hand embroidery, folded flowers, "fun fur" yarn to make the breast feathers, sequins and hand quilting. Here is a close-up of the head and neck.

And of the embroidery and other details.

There is a dark navy border surrounding this center--it shows poorly in the first photo, but looks perfect in the finished quilt. It has been an absolute joy to watch Donna take Charley Harper's drawing and make it using fabric and hand stitching.

Many thanks, Donna, for sharing this. You should be very proud--I know I am.


P.S. I'm listening to The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson and Martin Dugard. Still reading Julie and Julia--very different from the movie. Next up: Burn by Nevada Barr.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shelburne Farms, Part 3

As I passed the Farm Barn for the first time, I saw a sign pointing to the Breeding Barn. Thinking, foolishly, that it was probably just around the bend, off I set. Quite some time and several turns later, there it was.

Built in 1891, it has 56 box stalls surrounding a great hall. Until 1939, it had the largest unsupported span of any building in existence.

The view from the other side.

The structure you see in the middle of the barn in the photo above, seen from the side.

The windows you see along the roof-line are huge, opening all the way to ground level. Imagine that natural light pouring in as you were riding in the building. Almost a "cathedral" feeling to it.

This is a photo of a photo showing the inside of the Breeding Barn. See the stalls on both sides? The measurement from side to side and front to back, of just the open area, is 360 x 72 feet. All the horses could be in front of their stalls and one could still ride easily through the center.

Plans are underway to use the barn for special events. I was unable to go inside the building, but during the summer, tours are available. The stalls have been removed, leaving only the support beams, and the space is very open.

Better pictures of this and other spectacular barns can be found in a new book: Stables: Beautiful Paddocks, Horse Barns, and Tack Rooms by Kathryn Masson. It's a feast for the eyes, whether or not you love horses.

I am planning another trip to Shelburne Farms when tours are available. Maybe I'll see you there--I'll be the one with the camera, with my mouth wide open and eyes agog.

And there you have it--a mini tour of Shelburne Farms' barns. I can honestly say that my photos did not do them justice.

Hugs for now,

P.S. Next up is "Hot Donna" with her fabulous new quilt.

P.P.S. What I'm reading: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I loved the movie so much that I wanted to read the book. I'm loving it--and it is different from the movie in many ways. I am listening to Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas, Foreign Influence by Brad Thor, Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shelburne Farms, Part 2

The Farm Barn--built around 1898. It is truly a remarkable structure. This photo was taken while the light was still good and shows the barn from a corner. See the turret on the left? That is the other end of the building.
The next photos were taken with available light. It was truly dusk and I didn't think anything would come out--but not bad for an amateur! This is coming along the back of the barn--a different view of the same turret.

The main gate. Massive pillars that attach to stone walls that form the front of the courtyard.

The main barn: Four or five stories high, depending on the source of information. I found a postcard showing it framed up, including the cupola. Impressive, indeed. Even more impressive? The courtyard--the part enclosed within the main barn, the "wings" and the stone fence--is 2 acres! So imagine how big this structure is.

This is the same corner turret, but from the front. Imagine seeing this structure, not knowing what it is, as you come around a bend in the road. There is a working dairy on the farm and cheese is made in this barn from the milk of the Brown Swiss cows. I did see the cows and waved as I went by--both ways. It seemed the polite thing to do. (Okay, I also waved to the two horses and the multitude of sheep I saw too--so sue me, I'm friendly!)

I truly have saved the best for last. Wait til you see what's in store.


P.S. Are you remembering how special you are? I know that several people probably need a reminder--so here it is. YOU ARE SPECIAL! (Sorry to yell, but some people don't hear so well!)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shelburne Farms, Part 1

At the end of last week I was pleased to help judge the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild show at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. While I have been to the Shelburne Museum numerous times, I was not aware of the Farms, a 1400 acre working farm.

At about 8 AM, I was following Sally's car along a winding drive. At every turn in the road was something new and exciting to see. The mist was coming in off Lake Champlain and the sun was turning everything golden. As we rounded a bend, we were right on the Lake and then you see the mansion. And then you see: The Coach Barn.

Built around 1901, it is huge! We actually judged inside the barn. It is finished with beautiful wood, arched windows and some of the floors are brick. (I think my mouth hung open for quite some time!) It is said that late at night one can still hear the horses nickering and whinnying; one of the quilt ladies said she had heard them. This shows just a small portion of what was once stalls. Now there are special events held at the barn--what a fabulous place to be.

This is the inside of the courtyard, taken from inside a small enclosure on the front side of the barn. The clock works and strikes the hour. We were working on the quilts in an area to the left of the big green door.

This is taken from the green door looking out the arch to the Lake.

All these pictures were taken as I left about 5 pm. Here's the Lake taken as I was getting in the car. What a beautiful place. I must admit that the mansion didn't hold as much sway with me as the barns. Yes, I did say barnS. Next time I'll show you one of the others.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself--I still cannot believe that I was able to judge fabulous quilts in such a setting. As we were eating lunch inside the barn, I made the comment that the people who owned the farms would probably have fainted at the thought of eating in the barn! Nancy and I both agreed that as long as there was food, we didn't care if it was a working barn! (Rest assured, it was very clean and bright--and absolutely huge. Just unbelievable.)

Wait til you see the next barn! Stay tuned!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Great Quilt Show

If any of you are in the Shelburne, VT, area on Sunday, October 31, please take time to visit the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild's show. It is being held at the Coach Barn on Shelburne Farms. The quilts are fabulous, and the building they are being shown in is spectacular.

The address is 1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne, Vermont.

Both the show and the farm are worth seeing--it's a trip you won't regret. For more information, go to and click on the 2010 show tab on the top.

More soon!


Sunday, October 24, 2010


Saturday morning I was up at 0 dark thirty to drive to Scranton, PA. The day was spent in the company of 13 fabulous women who wanted to learn how to quilt my way. All I can say is WOW! They all worked hard--some had never quilted before and some had quilted with the rocking method (but were not satisfied with that method). By the end of the day, all were making stitches that were great on the front and the back and were justifiably proud.

Doesn't everyone look so serious?

At the end of the day--happy smiles all around. Thank you, ladies, for a wonderful day. You made me very proud. Special thanks to Maria for hosting this quilt fest and for the pictures. (And the trip home was uneventful!)

Where in the world is Sharon Stroud, you ask? You just never know!


P.S. Many thanks for the supportive comments on the last post. They meant a lot.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A First

Comments made on each posting are forwarded to my email so I don't have to search for new comments--which I did before I figured this out! Imagine trying to remember how many comments had been made and figuring if more had been added! Mind-boggling, shall we say.

I look forward to comments--it means a lot when someone takes the time to respond to what I've had to say. And I don't mind if people disagree with me--if it does not take a right turn toward mean.

Imagine my surprise tonight when reading my new comments. Especially to my "Lucky Girl" post. I have deleted the offensive text, which was left anonymously. It was rude and mean-spirited. I sincerely hope that I got it off before any of you saw it. It makes me angry that someone would use my blog as a vehicle to strike out at someone. And shame on them for doing so anonymously.

On a much happier note, please check out Janet's comment on "Here Today". Janet, your words made my heart sing--thank you. And heartfelt thanks to all who comment in the spirit of friendship and lightheartedness that I try to bring to the blog. You are appreciated--each and every one of you. (I especially pointed out Janet's comment because I read it just before the "other" one. From high to low with a mouse click.)

Next post--back to our regularly scheduled good cheer.

Lots of big hugs,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Here Today...

How many hours (days, months, years) do you get into a project and decide it is just not right? I had been knitting on this scarf (an excellent pattern, very beautiful) for quite some time, but only a little actual knitting at a time. Why, you ask? Because it had several rows of patterning that had to be counted very carefully. One of my main "rules" for knitting is that it has to be simple enough to knit anywhere. I was actually trying the pattern in the scarf size to determine if I wanted to knit the shawl. (The yarn is Ella Rae lace merino in color 102.)
I had about 12 inches done. Here's a close-up.

And this is what it looked like on Thursday afternoon. I knew I would never finish it, so while Callie wasn't looking, I frogged it. And cast on for a new scarf. I actually cast on twice. Once with too many stitches, thinking it would look fabulous wider. Then, after knitting several rows I realized my mistake and cast on again.

This is the result of only a bit of knitting. It is the feather and fan pattern, with three knit stitches on each side, 8 rows on the top and bottom to keep it from curling. Only four pattern rows total. (For the feather and fan pattern, please visit: You can knit lots of things in this pattern with different needle sizes and weights of yarn!

A close-up of the pattern and yarn.

In an ironic twist of fate, I was catching up on some blog reading today and guess what I found? The Yarn Harlot ( is using the same stitch pattern and the same number of stitches to also knit--wait for it--a scarf!!! How cool is that!

I have been quilting as well and will share those pics over the next few days. I actually started and finished something in less than 24 hours! (Okay, haven't I warned you about keeping chocolate by your computer in case you are overcome with vapors at what I'm up to? Consider this your second warning.)

It's been beautiful here the last couple days--but windy and cool. Better than snow! And the furnace is fixed--Yahooooooooo!!!!

Hugs to all,