December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

May the Christmas spirit of love, hope, peace and happiness be with you and your family.

December 23, 2011

The Eagle is Back

We haven't seen the American Bald Eagle for several months now. But yesterday he perched in one of the trees near our house. He flew off about dusk. This morning he is back. He is so magnificent looking. He hunts the Laguna near Timber Hill.

December 19, 2011


Sassy and I sat out on the bench in the back yard and enjoyed a beautiful sunset this evening before dinner.

December 17, 2011

Busy Times

It has been so long since I've blogged. It's the season of busy around here just like I'm sure it is at your house. Here are some pictures of what I've been doing. Quilting of course----

These are five toddler quilts for my friend Joyce's great grandchildren.

I finally finished our neighbor Al's quilt. He is a Vietnam Vet. I still have the label to embroider. I'm excited to present this to him.

Finished quilting this for Linda. It's a Christmas gift she hoped I could squeeze in. Circle Lord Swirls template boards to the rescue. Done in a flash! Love the colors Linda used in this bed quilt.

These are two large pillow panels Cora asked me to do months ago. I was looking for some fabric yesterday and found them.

Cora was probably wondering what happened to them and too polite to ask---anyway, I decided spur of the moment to complete them just in case she wants them for the holidays. The thread painting was so much fun and a nice break from regular quilting.

I noticed on our morning walk along Timber Hill that the Fiddlehead ferns are starting to sprout. They are such a beautiful shade of green this time of the year. I hope you are almost finished with your Christmas projects, and find some time to simply enjoy the season. We have had beautiful weather for this time of the year here in Sonoma county.

November 24, 2011


Doris Lee~Thanksgiving painting. Oil on canvas c.1935

Thanksgiving brings so many nostalgic feelings. I'm thankful for the many blessings in my life. My family, my home, my health, my freedom and so much that I can't even put into words. Today, I also think of Thanksgivings past. This painting by Doris Lee reminds of those Thanksgivings of when as a child.---Thanksgiving was a huge family event. Aunts, uncles, Nonna, cousins, friends all together preparing the Thanksgiving feast.

My Uncles who made their own wine would arrive with their bottles of wine and conduct their annual wine tasting. Debating who had made the best wine that year.... My mother and her sisters made homemade ravioli downstairs on my aunts big basement kitchen table the day before. Layers of homemade pasta and fillings covered the huge long table. Several wooden ravioli rollers compressed the sections. I would get to use the little rolling cutter to separate each little ravioli. Sauces simmered on the stove. Cheese was grated. The turkey was the side dish. The ravioli was the main dish! Wonderful assorted antipasto dishes all arranged on the side board of the formal dining room table. The best china, glassware and linens.

Memories. Wonderful memories---I'm so thankful for those too.

I hope you are making many happy memories with your families today. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 14, 2011

How Do You Primarily Buy Fabric?

While browsing around other bloggers sites, or peeking into their sewing space I notice many quilters have large stashes of fabric. That was not too surprising!---but, what surprised me is that their stashes primarily consist of large Bolts of Fabric! I'm not noticing they are in a business, they are hobby quilters like myself.
I have bought my share of fabric through the years, but I don't recall buying bolts and bolts of fabric. Occasionally I splurge on six or seven yards, or a wide quilt backing fabric.

Am I missing some unknown advantage to buying fabric by the bolt?

How do you buy fabric? Yards, fat quarters, precuts---bolts of fabric?

If you buy bolts of fabric, is it cost cutting to buy fabric this way?

Do you ever get tired of having so much of the same fabric on hand. A bolt is 15 yards. That seems like a lot of one print or color.

Storage issues?

I would love comments about this, and I've also set up a poll here on the side bar.

November 11, 2011

Quilts of Valor

Perhaps it is coincidental that I finished quilting several quilts for our soldiers this past week which makes me feel useful in some small way this Veterans Day.

This wonderful quilt top was made by Linda who lives north of me in California. I loved quilting this top for many reasons, but looking at the various patriotic fabrics Linda had collected to make this top made it interesting and fun to quilt. I don't believe I've ever seen so many wonderful patriotic prints combined in one quilt.

One of my quilting friends, Pam made this quilt top, wonderful earthy African animal prints! I love the name Pam gave this quilt. "Peaceful Warriors". I'm sure it will bring much needed peace and comfort to one of our wounded warriors---

Peggy sent me this beautiful quilt top several weeks ago. I just finished the quilting today as I had been waiting for the Milky Way template boards to arrive from Circle Lord that I especially wanted to use on this quilt. Swirls & stars on "For Which It Stands" It will be off in the mail this coming week to one of our brave soldiers. (click on any pic. to enlarge)

A special thank you to all the soldiers who have served our country. We appreciate all the sacrifices you have made.

October 31, 2011

It All Started So Innocently

2001 machine quilting sampler from Sue Nickels class.

I've been digging around in the quilt closet back in the sewing room area. I came across one of my very first ever machine quilting projects. It's a small sampler that consist of two colors of fabrics. Yellow and beige.

How boring now that I think about it. Light yellow and beige. I must have been afraid of color. Well, that soon passed. Thank goodness!

I remember being so excited to take a machine quilting class with Sue Nickels. One of my machine quilting idols. Still is---I remember the class room had all new Bernina sewing machines to use, and Sue was so attentive and giving of her knowledge about machine quilting with all of us newbies.

The class was Oct. 2001 according to the faint lettering I can just barely read now on the back of the stitch sampler. 6" x 6" squares that comprised our nine patch project. I'm looking at it today, 2011, and thinking, hey ---that was the start of it all. My fascination with machine quilting.

I'm also thinking how perhaps I was much more freer back then with my free motion and design work.

As I look at some of the stitches that Sue encouraged us to do, I realize she was way ahead of her time. Now there is some notoriety with certain online machine quilters that are teaching machine quilting on domestic sewing machines using small squares of fabric. Like it's a new concept. Not so. We just never heard or knew about it back in 2001.

Sue Nickels was a pioneer of sorts. Teaching sit down machine quilting back in 2000 and earlier when machine quilting was not as popular, and was just taking roots. The internet classroom and blogging were unheard of then.

One of the six inch squares with a flourish of curves and petals Sue taught us.

---and how about this curved cross hatching. Ahead of it's time for sure.

Or this triangular filler stitch. Whoa--

I think Sue called these echoing teardrops. I've since heard the term peacock feathering.
Terms and wording have certainly changed for the various quilting designs since 2001.

I can't believe I stitched out these small free motion daises and leaves back then. No intimidation. I was much more freer with my quilting then than I am now. How did that happen. Self doubt perhaps. Fear of failure. Striving for that elusive perfect quilt design and stitch.
Grapes, tendrils and leaves. Now they call this "pebbling". I haven't a clue what that middle of the block design is supposed to be. Backward, every which way feathers perhaps? Having fun.

Thank you Sue Nichols for sparking my interest in machine quilting.

Happy Halloween!

I had hopes of getting my Halloween quilt, "Witch Way", quilted. But, I guess the goblins & ghosts did not have it in the cards. :o)

Here is "Witch Way" on the design wall. The backing is pinned up next to it. That's pretty wild too!

The cutting of this kit, and the pieced star blocks took quite a while. I did most of it at quilt retreat. I want to do some custom quilting on this project, and so I did not rush to get it quilted this month, as I knew it would take a week or more to finish.

Two of my favorite blocks in this quilt are the black cats!

October 23, 2011


Spring in the apple orchard

We have an old, but still producing apple orchard. All we do is an occasionally pruning of broken branches so Bill can disc with his tractor every Spring. Otherwise the property is somewhat neglected. Many of the trees are at least 50 yrs. old now. However, we still have many that produce. Gravensteins and Rome's mostly. Come mid September Bill starts picking the ripe Gravensteins and he gets his trusty apple peeler out. The applesauce making process starts. It goes on for several weeks as the apples ripen.

I do the sauce cooking. Add some cinnamon and a bit of sugar to taste.
A good supply of plastic freezer containers
Some freezer space!
And we are stocked up with delicious applesauce until about mid April!

We also make a few pies in the process!

(The cute quilted apple table runner is a gift from my friend Jane.)

October 19, 2011

Polly Has Zippers!

If you frequent my blog, then you probably know that Polly is my long arm. Recently I've been debating pins versus zippers for the leaders on the frame rollers. I really have never disliked pinning on quilt backings. I can do it quite fast, and seldom hit my fingers or hands with a pin.

However, there have been times I wished I could trade off a quilt for awhile, and load another one. Or---if I need to rip out some threads when I miss a line of stitching---like in the continuous curve on a 9 patch, or miss going up a feather stem. I could just un-zip and rip and fix things more easily. Unpinning or rolling and slacking the quilting, or reaching underneath with tweezers or your fingers to pull threads is not that comfortable.
Polly, 2009 Prodigy Quilter

Zipper on take up leader.
This is the first quilt backing I loaded onto the zippered leaders. I used pins this one time --- but now I'm taking the quilt backing and zippered section to the sewing machine. Setting the stitch length to 6.0 spi. and sewing the backing onto the zippered leader section. I clip, pull a bit and rip out the basting thread when I'm finished with the quilt.
Here is the quilt backing zipped on. I "float my quilts", so I use the zippers on the take up leader, and the front leader only. I don't use my middle leader but leave it on the frame for for the slight pressure it puts onto the quilt, and to keep it smooth when it rolls under the unused leader. I use the cardboard tubes for reference markers. One for the middle of the quilt top, and one on each end of the middle roller leader as edge guides along the quilt top. I can slide these cardboard markers back and forth on the leader fabric and adjust them for any size quilt I'm quilting.

Here is another view of the zippers. I purchased the Quick Zip sets at The Quilt Connection. I had read they have the best directions for attaching zippers. I am not good with putting zippers on clothing, so I figured this would be quite a challenge. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It went very well. Great directions, and everything is marked.

I did chose to buy some cotton duck cloth and attach one side of the zipper to the cloth. The part that would be normally pinned to the quilt backing fabric. I didn't want to continuously sew and rip out threads from the actual zipper fabric edge. I figured in no time I would have frayed zipper edges.

October 15, 2011

Little Things Add Up-Needs & Wants

When I left for Pacific International Quilt Festival. I had a list of things I "needed". I did buy two things I "needed". The rest is just what I wanted!

Here are some pictures of needs along with wants that made my credit card company overjoyed!

See that lonely cone of Perma Core thread. That is the only thing I "needed" or intended to buy. The fabrics, the ruler, the heat press tape, the marking pen, the silicon spray just sort of jumped into my arms and ended up at the cash register. The next picture of the little scissors---I needed. They are to replace the small pointed pair I wear on a lanyard when I'm quilting at the long arm. I like the scissor point covers on the new pair as I'm always jabbing myself with the ones I use now---plus they are getting very dull. A "need".
New little nipper scissors

These Bloc-Loc squaring up rulers are an impluse buy. The demo at the show was just too tempting! I did not however find the Nifty Notions rotary cutting 7" x 14" or 4" x 14" rulers I really wanted to buy. Nor did I find the June Tailor 6" x 12" rotary cutting ruler I went seeking. A "want". I am thinking of all the half square triangles I have made that I could have used these---sigh.
Bloc-Loc ruler set.

And of course if you have rotary cutting rulers who could resist these suction cup ruler handles---???!!!
Very comfy handles

You look in the pattern drawer stash (or wherever you keep yours)-- You know those cute project patterns that come so neatly folded and in 5" x 7" plastic zip lock bags with a hole for hanging that are in every vender quilt booth at the shows tempting you. The ones you oh-and- ah over. The ones hanging with the completed quilts. With kits. The ones you vow to make this winter or when you get back home from the show---I have such a "pattern stash"--and I make a determined mental resolution as I check my purse for keys and cell phone to NOT buy another project pattern. Well, here is one I couldn't just leave there. This must be number 78 of the dozens of such pattern I now own.

It this not the cutest Sister Quilt pattern.? Of course I'm going to make it right away---how could you ask me that question? (wink-wink).

Now, only a seasoned quilter could get excited about my next purchase. Batting! But, hey what can I say. The sample sure felt nice. One of the long arm vendors was using it and it was quilting up with nice definition. I did just end up buying one package to test out as I was very tempted to buy a whole roll! (control set in about then) I am going to preshrink it first as Bamboo batt and I in the past have had our problems. I'll keep you posted on this one.
Winline Textile Products 50% Bamboo 50% Organic Cotton batt.

Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA run through tomorrow if you are in the area. Annual show every October. It was fun and the quilts were fabulous. The vendors were great too. As you can tell