Monday, December 24, 2012

I hear sleigh bells jingling!

Merry Christmas!

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home! - Charles Dickens

"May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope; 
The spirit of Christmas which is peace; 
The heart of Christmas which is love."
-   Ada V. Hendricks 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Patchwork Star Ornament

Just in case you have a little spare time before Christmas, I'm joking of course. Aren't these darling? I always feel so rushed at Christmastime that if I were smart I would make these in January to have on hand for gift giving next December. Let's see how that goes....

Thanks for the tutorial "croutoncrackerjacks"! I think you may really be Santa Claus.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Quilted Quilt

Ann Woodhead sent me these photos of my quilt that she has finished machine quilting on her longarm. This is the first quilt I have had professionally quilted. I can't wait to see it in person as it looks very nice from the photos. I chose a wool batting instead of cotton and it looks very puffy and delicious from here!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

International Quilt Festival via Bonnie McCaffery

The next best thing to being there? A vidcast by the wonderful Bonnie McCaffery. Take a look at some of the most beautiful quilts in the world.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Portuguese Border Stitch

The green stitches above the straw hat girl (one of my favorite rubber stamps) is this week's TAST stitch. I've been working on other embroidery and quilting projects and have neglected working on the TAST challenge. One reason I wanted to join in this project was because it was pressure-free, join in as the mood strikes or time permits. 

I worked this week's Portuguese Border stitch first in a wool yarn on the right, then with a Very Velvet thread. The base of horizontal stitches done in Perle cotton, form a ladder and the braid is made by looping yarn or thread up the rungs of the ladder. Interesting stitch and fun to do. I had to take care with the tension and some of the rungs show a bit. 

Take a look at more samples at

I made up another block for the Back Roads raffle quilt this afternoon. These blocks are done with foundation paper and are curiously addictive. I really like the precision achieved with this technique including the fact that the block measures an accurate 12.5 inches when completed.

I've been off work for Thanksgiving for five days so now I get to "enjoy" going back to work tomorrow. 6 AM is going to be a shock!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What to do besides eat turkey

I've embroidered another flower block. This one is Veronica, my own version of the plant which grows in my perennial garden. 

This embroidery features the pistil stitch.

The pistil stitch is a french knot with a little tail.

The leaves are stem stitch and chain stitch. Very satisfying to stitch. I've had some bouts of insomnia lately and have been stitching on this project in the wee hours of the morning. 

Yesterday Bill and I made a very long trip up I 95 to Patten and from there through Shin Pond and onto the Scraggly Lake Road. We wanted to have a look at the campsites available at this public reserve area. It was worth the trip and we will come back in the summer. 

Here is the Scraggly Lake boat landing. There are four or five picnic tables in this spot. You can camp there and have a fire. This end of the lake is just a small portion of the lake. It was a beautiful day, clear and sunny, but cold! I was surprised by how cold it was and really it was only about 42, which will seem warm come January. We brought our camping stove and heated a can of soup and ate turkey sandwiches. We saw a few trucks leaving as we were driving in. I thought we would see hunters because it was the next to the last day of deer hunting season, but we only saw one car parked off the road. We saw a camper trailer in one campsite and figure it must belong to that hunter. 

There was ice on the water in one area before we got to Scraggly. You can see the open water in the middle. With these cold temperatures it won't be long before that is all frozen solid. The best kind of weather to stay home and make quilts!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my quilting friends and neighbors! 

Here is a quilt top I made around 2005-ish. Pies, pies, pies. I really should finish this, don't you think? I think this pattern was by Bonnie Hunter who lives in Maine, not Bonnie K. Hunter. I haven't seen this pattern in my collection for a very long time, so I can't say for sure. 

My Thanksgiving wish for you is that you share a joyous day with your family and friends. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paper Piecing for Back Roads

 My quilt group Back Roads is making a raffle quilt. We were given paper piecing instructions for making this block. The background (white) fabric was provided and we were asked to make blocks using reproduction fabrics or similar type fabrics. I did the blue block first and it took me a long time, all afternoon to complete. There was a lot of "unsewing" that day.

The second block I was able to finish Sunday afternoon in a shorter amount of time. I can learn! These were really fun to make. The block is 12 inches finished.

I was really interested in trying paper piecing for a full size block. My experience with paper piecing was quite some time ago and it was with little itty bitty blocks. I did not especially like the process, especially putting the blocks together. However, I've been inspired by Sue Garman's quilts recently. She uses paper piecing and what she produces is just amazing.

We are having a half square triangle swap at Back Roads tonight. We are using Edyta Sitar's book "Friendship Triangles" for inspiration. I'm making a little table topper so I prepared five packets of triangles to swap. We are using her half square triangle paper which makes 28 squares. I've kept 6 from each packet and have the rest to swap. Thank you to Ann and Nena for actually swapping the squares!

Here is a little embroidery project I've been working on. You may have noticed that I haven't had anything to post for TAST which Sharon B is hosting on Pin Tangle. Oh I have lots of excuses. Let's pick a few: did not like the stitch that week, too busy, too much bother to take a photo, too much bother to post, etc. Okay, that said I also like making something, not just learning a new stitch. I like producing something. 

So here is my little hollyhock garden made with buttonhole wheels. French knots in the centers. I used a cotton thread called coton a broder. It is a one ply thread that is the weight of two threads of embroidery floss. I really like it because the colors are great and there are no plies of floss that separate and bunch up when stitched. I like the stitch definition with the coton a broder. 

I worked on this at Camp Kieve and added the border with strips from a Robert Kaufmann Kona Cotton jelly roll that I bought recently. 

I'm working on another flower block now using pistil stitch, which is a French knot with a tail. Oh my, I am getting tired of all those knots but it is pretty! 

My goal is to make several flower blocks, add a border and then machine quilt the piece. 

It's a long weekend for me. I'm going for a hike this afternoon with hubby. The sun is shining and it is mild for November in Maine. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sue Nickels and Pat Holly!

TQS just announced the block of the month for 2013. This stunning quilt is by sisters Sue Nickels and Pat Holly. I was fortunate enough to take a class with Sue at Maine Quilts a couple of years ago. She taught her machine quilting technique around applique in that class. I got to see her own quilts up close and was that ever fun!

I've never participated in the TQS block of the month, but this year I just have to! Kits will be offered and I really like this colorway, so I may have to splurge. Looks like a lot of work, doesn't it? The thing I like about these BOMs is that there are monthly videos to go along with the block. 

Do you like it, want to join in the fun? Here's the link:

Enjoy your Saturday and don't forget to "fall back" tonight. Daylight savings time is over. Time for darkness and winter projects.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quilt Retreat

Back Roads had a quilt retreat at Camp Kieve this weekend. There were about 14 of us who attended, mostly members but a few guests, too. I hope they enjoyed our group and will come back again. We all had so much fun. I haven't stayed up so late for months!

I didn't quite know what to bring so I looked in my ufo bin and found a quilt that I started years ago. All the shoo fly blocks were done and all the alternating blocks were done. In fact, I had four rows sewn together and the remaining blocks labeled row 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.

 Why had I never finished this quilt? I think I lost interest and thought it was kind of boring. The fabrics were all from my stash, mostly reproduction fabrics. The dark blue print and light blue print for the alternate blocks I did purchase and I have 3 yards left of the dark blue. I even have leftover blocks because I decided the quilt did not need 11 rows. It is large enough at 9 blocks by 10. The blocks are 9 inch so the quilt measures 81 x 90. I'm not adding any borders, but will use the dark blue for the binding. The colors are a bit off here, it is not quite so vivid, think buttery yellows and soft reds.

Camp Kieve has a great wall in the dining room that we can use as a design wall. So fun to show your friends your work in progress and get their feedback. It is good to have other people appreciate what you've done and enjoy your work, too! Thanks, ladies!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cabinet of Curiosities

I just had to share this. I hope it inspires you to create your own art.


Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Is this October?

Did you ever see a Morning Glory tree?  I grew this morning glory vine up a shadblow this year. It has been really fun to see all the blue blossoms all over the branches every morning. Sometimes there have been as many as 20 blooms!

Doesn't this just glow? The spent bloom from the day before is pretty gorgeous, too. 

Lots of design possibilities with the flower, the buds, and the leaves. 

Here in southern Maine our first frost date is around Sept. 19. Well, that date has come and gone with no frost in sight. Cooler temps next week, perhaps. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my blooming tree!

Enjoy your long weekend!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What would you call it?

Here's my second journal quilt for the Quilt University class I am taking. This week's lesson was all about exploring possibilities. This little quilt is 12 x 16 inches. 

I played around with lines inside a rectangle which could be a border on a quilt. I made the curved line at the top left and then added another line in each box. I worked on variations and when I was done I chose one of these to work with. I chose the far right box in the second row. 

I decided to quickly applique these shapes onto a strip of fabric rather than make individual blocks and then sew those together. I used a zig zag stitch and machine quilted within that shape. As I was working with this little open circle I thought: Pac Man! Oh, no, there really isn't anything new under the sun, is there? Well, I just looked at Pac Man and he's not split right across to the other side like mine, whew, wouldn't want any copyright issues!

I traced some smaller versions and then painted them with acrylic paint. Now they look like fortune cookies! Wait, hasn't that been used by someone, too? Well, the fabric fortune cookie's I found were actual objects, not a quilt pattern, so I guess I am still safe. They also look kind of like lily pads, too, don't you think? Hmm, this could be a whole series of little quilts!

p.s. Do you like the plaid fabric? I love it and wish I had about 5 more yards of it!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer and Winter

I'm taking a Quilt University class again. This is my fourth class and this one is called Journal Quilts. The first lesson taught us how to do mind mapping, a technique that starts with one word and that word leads to another word and then another word until you feel you have come to an end of that line of thought or associations. After that exercise is done you reflect a bit and come up with a phrase or poetry or an image in your mind. My mind map started with smart and it led to some very interesting places! Two branches or roads perhaps since this is a map led a loop de loop to the word life, which I liked. Another road led to the word deadening, which was interesting. Upon reflecting on the words in my mind map the phrase "Summer and Winter season our lives" came to me. I then added "1) Adjust to taste", like a recipe. What fun!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Here's a little wall hanging I just finished. It is a Patch Ability design called Sassy Cat. I used a piece of batik fabric that I have had forever in my stash. I love it for the background for my sassy cat.

Have you ever made something from Patch Ability patterns? I'd love to see yours, too. I've made the Fall Country Flowers pattern; that's the one with sunflowers in the mason jar. I also have the pattern called Pond Critters. I'd like to make the purple coneflowers in the old boot, too. My brother works for LLBean making boots and I thought that would be nice for him. :-)

These are quick and easy patterns. The hardest part is finding just the right fabrics. The directions are pretty skimpy, but if you have ever done fusible applique it won't be hard.

First quilt meeting of the season is Monday night! Can't wait to see everyone!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Art Quilts Maine

Congratulations to all the members who have their work on display at the Portland Library! This is a travelling exhibit so be on the lookout for it over the coming months.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September already?

You may recognize this wall hanging from Edyta Sitar's book Friendship Strips and Scraps. I made this for a friend who got married this summer. I love the imagery for newlyweds. A warm home, the sheltering foliage protecting their new home and marriage, the heart for their love, and the blue bird for happiness. In the red border I quilted two lines similar to marriage lines in Aran knitting. It was fun to make but I would piece the border differently another time. The directions call for cutting triangles then piecing together the small print triangles with a white triangle, then joining two of these units to make the square. Lots of very small pieces that I think could have been more accurately pieced and more quickly pieced using another technique. Well, there weren't too many to make, so I just kept going. 

A happy little blue bird. 

I had fun with the machine quilting. Lots of hearts and a musical note by the bird as Mariah is very musical! I embroidered the Est. 2012 in chain stitch using a variegated thread. 

My dear daughter stayed with us for a week in August. She lives in North Carolina now where it has been very hot all summer. She didn't get much relief from the heat on the day we went to the Maine Botanical garden in Boothbay. It was sweltering! 

 We really enjoyed our visit to the garden just the same. This algae filled pond was a cool green oasis.

I've been catching up on some of the Take a Stitch Tuesday embroidery stitches. The green arch and stitches below that are Sheaf Stitch. The little yellow flowers are done in Cast On Stitch. 

The pale yellow sprays are made with Palestrina Stitch. 

The "candy cane" is done in Pekingese Stitch. Below that are some leaves and a flower made with Oyster Stitch using wool yarn.

Here is Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch. The bottom row has red Lazy Daisy Stitch flowers and Oyster Stitch carrots. 

As with every other summer, when September comes we say where did the summer go? I feel like that, too, but there is plenty of beautiful weather yet to come. Yesterday I spent the day with a dear friend at Popham Beach and my husband and I have been enjoying taking our canoe out this summer. I love being outdoors but look forward to many creative days indoors when the weather changes.

Enjoy your last days of summer!