Thursday, November 29, 2012


.....and the fun continues, at least for me!  I'm sure there are lots of you out there that get antsy too without doing some sort of 'busy' work in the evening.   For's handwork, usually beading and lately embroidery too as I've been adding it a lot more to my wool pieces.

Yesterday I posted the start of this you'll see the end product.  But please don't jump to the conclusion that this was completed in two days....NOT!  The handwork alone took about 5 hours of stitching each evening for about 8 days I think.

 One reason it was so time consuming is because I decided to couch strands of Lana thread over the strips.  Seriously, I could have accomplished it much faster with a stem stitch.  However, I liked the extra texture the couching threads provided and after all, this isn't a race!
 Here's a for a larger view.  The 'dots' are French knots....another time consuming tasks.....but again....super texture.  So.....I'll be you are wondering...why in the heck didn't this bead crazy artist use beads?  Actually, I  planned to instead of the French Knots, however the only tiny beads I had were very shiny....I felt this piece needed matte ones.

Did I mention I live pretty much in a shopper's void?  Of course I could have mail ordered them and waited a week.....nah....
 The piece developed nicely....for a time I wondered whether the orientation should be horizontal....but given that wall space is at a premium for many folks, the hanging sleeve is located for a vertical view.

LINES  11.5" x 17"
Woolfelt, artist hand-dyed & felted wool, machine stitched & hand embroidered.

This piece is ready to hang as is....OR it would look fabulous on a white mat and framed!  For ease of shipping and to keep the price more reasonable a hanging sleeve is attached.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


So....while I've been stitching patchwork blocks in the daytime.....evenings are always reserved for handwork.....and this is the project I've been working on.
 Like always....we quilters tend to gather our supplies before we dig in and start getting creative.  I don't always use everything.....but for me, being thoughtful as I begin is helpful.  Narrowing down choices makes for faster decisions as the work goes on.
 My background is National NonWoven's 80/20 Woolfelt, straight off the further felting was done.  I've thread basted a stabilizer to the wrong side. Outlining the desired finished size of the piece also helps with motif placement.

 Using a chalk wheel, lines were marked which I followed with a simple straight stitch.  Construction-wise.....this provides a bit more support for the embellishing and also adds some interesting texture to the background.
Try as I might, I can't quite get the correct color of the yellow Woolfelt pieces to translate to my photo.  It appears yellow but is a bit more limey-yellow.

Please visit tomorrow for more process photos along with the finished piece.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


For lack of any other project to show you today.....I'm revisiting the "Squares" quilt I talked about yesterday. The colors here are not as true as yesterday's post....but you'll get the idea....

All the blocks are now stitched....I think this will be the final layout.....

Karen and Patty emailed me directly asking if this was a specific pattern they might be able to use for themselves. The idea for this quilt came directly from a pattern at MaryQuilts.  A FABULOUS blog, by a very generous and talented quilter who lives in Minneapolis.  

I prefer smaller size blocks than Mary's quilt, so here's the cutting instructions for what I did....  Just make a bunch of each for the size quilt you wish!  

Large square block:   4" center, 2 strips - 2 1/2" x 4", & 2 strips - 2 1/2" x 8"

Small square block:  2.5" center, 2 strips - 1 1/2" x 2 1/2", 2 strips 1 1/2" x 
4 1/2", final row 2 strips - 2 1/4" x 4 1/2" & 2 strips - 2 1/4" x 8"

Monday, November 26, 2012


Besides stuffing myself with food over the long Thanksgiving weekend.....I managed to spend more than a couple of hours each day stitching squares.....

 I'll admit to being kinda a type "A" personality......when I start a project, it's a high rate of speed if at all possible.  I try my best to allow scrap quilts to be SCRAP quilts....rather than coordinating the fabric too much.  Naturally, that's a losing battle. Really, I could just have easily selected each and every piece of fabric for each and every block and one position at a time as I sewed.  

However, during one sewing session I chain pieced a whole bunch of center square blocks. Knowing I needed a variety allowed me to try to just pick up cut strips without agonizing over each one!!

But now.....I have only 7 more to go....these will be the small square variety....  At this point I am now going to be more thoughtful about fabric choices for each remaining position.  Hopefully I'll be pleased with the layout and won't find repetitive fabrics/colors next to each other before I begin to sew the rows together.

This may or may not be the last peek you see of the quilt.  You all know what it will look like now.....and the quilting will be simple straight lines....  Even though this of course used a great deal of I look in my closet I don't even see a dent in the stacks.  

I guess there will be more patchwork stitching ahead for me....however not real soon as I'm now concentrating on two projects, neither of which are beaded and my fingers itch!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


If you know the significance of the following photo.....then this totally off subject post may tug a bit at your heartstrings too.

 Jay Jones / May 3, 2011)

This is Southfork.....the Ewing family's (TV home).  Where week after week from 1978-1991, viewers world wide tuned in to see J.R. Ewing's latest bad behavior.  The show was revived by TNT in June 2012.  Many critics panned it....but I'll admit, I got sucked in again!! 

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images / April 12, 2012 )

 Yesterday, Larry Hagman passed away at the age of 81........

Friday, November 23, 2012


So......did all the Thanksgiving Day goodies require you to unsnap your waistband last night??  Good thing this food fest is only once a year.....though we ought to remember to be thankful every day!

 Here's our prep. center....... peanut oil and a Butterball turkey deep fryer.
 'The husband' likes to brine the turkey for about 24 hrs. ahead of time.
 About an hour before frying the's removed from the refrigerator, the brine drained, turkey patted dry and placed in it's frying basket.
 After a mere 50 mins. in the deep fryer for our 12 pound turkey......ta's done.  Seriously, for those of you that never experienced this culinary delight....I can positively guarantee it IS NOT GREASY.  Hard to believe but true.  

Of course we will be eating turkey & all the trimmings for the next two weeks to come since there were only the two of us yesterday......but no one is complaining.
Dessert anyone???  No....we didn't have Twinkies...but I have to admit 'the husband' would eat a cow pie if it was frosted with chocolate.  Though, I would eat a cow pie if it was covered with cheese and someone told me it was a pizza.

Actually, we've never seen Hostess products in this part of the country (although to be honest.....we really never shopped for them....haven't touched such stuff in probably 25 years...hummmm maybe that's why they are going out of business?!?)  BUT...of course when you think you can't get it want it.  

Perhaps I shouldn't admit this......but after not being able to find Hostess goodies in our stores, (they only carry Little Debbie products), 'the husband' went to his favorite shopping source..... AMAZON!!  I know, I know....ridiculous.....but that doesn't mean I didn't eat one!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


My neat pile of fabrics posted yesterday has turned into this mess....

 I decided to grab a few minutes to test a block or two for a small lap rather than taking the time to cut a bunch of strips...... I simply did the 'cut as you go' method.  The results yielded heaps of fabric.....
.....and a few blocks on my design wall.  This 'utility' quilt is not intended to be high energy or even brightly colored....yup, I think I achieved that!!  

Since we are flying solo for Thanksgiving....I'll have to begin the cooking process today so I don't expect much time for stitching in the next two days.....  
I've always said that one of the best rewards of quilting is that your in-progress projects don't have to be cleaned or cooked....the fabrics will remain right where I left starting over like the 'making meals' part of our lives!  

We are deep frying a turkey tomorrow.....hopefully I'll remember to take a few pictures.......   till then......  gobble, gobble.... 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Well...the kick off of another busy holiday season is here.  Tom or Tilly turkey  is only 2 days away.  I'm getting off a bit easy as we will be home alone this year.....a casualty of moving so far from family.  But.....really, any day is a holiday when we do all gather.

 So, I'm looking at the brighter side of life this's one of the reasons we chose to live in the Blue Ridge Mountain area.  Sunrises have a  totally different appearance from the flat terrain of the Midwest!

Even though we will still be making the full traditional Thanksgiving meal.....I hope to have time over the next few days to begin a new project.  Digging deep into my stash, I've pulled stacks of commercial cottons for a patchwork lap quilt.  It was fun revisiting these favorite designs....I'm still a sucker for fabrics that provide a vintage (late 1800's) look to a quilt.  

Looking at these piles....I see I really should be adding some bubble gum pink, puke green, and faded blue to achieve that look.....maybe....but I have another idea.....  Stay tuned....

Sunday, November 18, 2012


What an amazing collection of activities available in this small shopping, blood, guns, & church!

I have to remind myself when I'm out and about to stop and look around.  To take in my surroundings and pay attention to things going on in the immediate area.  I have a habit of walking with my head down....eyes only on the ground which I'm trying yet again to break.

About 10 years ago I began having bouts of dizziness, feeling disconnected, and even disorientated at times, & finally having some hearing issues.  After a long frustrating path that involved numerous tests & doctors, I learned that I no longer had any inner ear functions. (Probably due to either an infection or an injury) Your inner ear is your balance center.....and when that no longer works.....well....your body tries to compensate.  For me that meant never standing in one place for more than 30 seconds, or I'd start to sway! Of course I didn't know WHY I had to keep moving...didn't even realize I was body simply didn't allow me to stand still.  Anyway, other situations such as big box stores (a nightmare for me) and driving on freeways, especially when there are a lot of trucks zooming on each side of my car became increasingly difficult to handle.

Slowly, without any awareness that I was doing it......I began to stop looking side to side, instead I looked straight ahead. Not a good idea when driving!) OR when walking, I looked down at the street/road.  A pile of one hundred dollar bills could be off to the side and I'd never see it!  You see....moving my head made me dizzy....even if I didn't realize it.  With some training, I got back on track and learned to use my eyes to help with my balance issues.  Unfortunately, I let some of that training lapse over time and now I'm working hard again trying to move my eyes more effectively (not my head!) this shopping center sign is what I saw......  This small victory may not be blog worthy but sometimes saying things out loud (or in word form) is a good way to acknowledge a goal....even if I'm only talking to myself!

OH...and the Packers got a win against Detroit in the last few minutes of their game today (sorry Robbie)....Yeah!!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


We spent the day yesterday with friends visiting several spots we've never known about.  

One was a clock shop in Cleveland, GA.....the owner is one of about 4 or 5 authorized repair persons of cuckoo clocks here in the US.  Interestingly, our friends learned about him during a trip to Germany!  I should have taken photos of all his treasures.....but neglected to...sigh....

 Next we headed for lunch then onto Helen, GA....a charming re-creation of a Bavarian Alpine town where we were told we'd find yummy Black Forest Torte.  Shop owners were busy decorating their store fronts as tourists wandered the main drag which has lovely views of the Chattachoochee River.
 We noticed many, many outdoor seating gardens etc.
 Of course a large decorated Christmas tree was already on display.
 And....lookie here.....a quilt shop!
 Next we visited Huge's Sorghum Farm in Young Harris, GA. You can see all the stalks piled in the background.  AND.....our infamous dog Sooty in the foreground.....who had an emergency visit to the vet on Thurs.  We hope antibiotics will take care of her problem.....but personally, I still worried that all the faux felted wool 'rocks' she ate recently is at the root of her issues!!!  This is getting to be one expensive dog!
 There's a self-service shop one can stop by to pickup this tasty syrup...the owner was available and provided lots of info about his product.
 He's got quite the operation going on.....all these buildings are used during the syrup making process.
Traveling with dogs means lots of pit stops.....this overlook explains how folks can come to love this whole entire mountain region......lovely......

Friday, November 16, 2012


My visit with the members of the Cotton Patch Quilters in Athens, GA was such a pleasure.  It's a talented friendly group.....and I hated to go home.....

The subject of my workshop was embellishing wool wall quilts.  It may be unnerving to students to sign up for a class where there is no actual pattern is provided for them to follow! Rather they create their own 'original' design....okay....sure I help guide them....but still, there is apprehension.  However....that only leads to great satisfaction when they realize they CAN do it!!

We worked up to the last minute and unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough during the class to take photos of everyone's masterpieces in please enjoy those that I do have.
 Simple abstract designs can be elusive to style.....but this one is going to be a winner.
 I bring tons of real samples to inspire the students.  I'm always delighted when someone likes one of them enough to recreate it in part or in total.  This view shows only the leaves and stems being stitched down....they will be 'planted' into a button basket, and small bright colored flowers will highlight the foliage.  It is about 1/4 the size of one of my pieces featured in "Embellishing With Felted Wool".
 Another piece inspired by one of my designs will be similar but not exactly like a pattern in my book.  Rather than placing a teddy bear sitting on the moon, the background will be filled with felted stars....embellished with beads.

Here's a trick I share with students.....after drawing a pattern that will be filled with buttons, I audition buttons on that pattern to make sure I have enough of the correct size to recreate the motif.  BUT.....then...after they are so perfectly's difficult to keep them in place as they are stitched to the quilt.  So....I place clear adhesive tape over the arrangement......then it's only a matter of removing a button at a time and attaching them to the shape that has been outline basted onto the wool... Click on this photo to get a better view.
 Frances came to class with a small piece of nuno felted wool that she had created.....what a perfect backdrop for further embellishing!  Also, note that when working with a tiny's easier to handle if the stabilizer is cut larger than the wool.
 Another trick I suggest to students to get their creativity in gear is to select a theme or subject.  Something that's special to you or someone you know. In  this case.....the idea of using a snail, which is something collected by a family member was perfect.  The shell will be made of buttons, while the body will be felted wool.  I can't wait to see a photo of this when it's complete.
 Holiday's are another really good subject manner because many of the colors and motifs are already chosen for you...such as a Christmas tree above and below.....  These motifs are the perfect backdrops for further embellishing.  Yes, you get the idea.....there can be presents with bows, beaded snowflakes, a Christmas mouse, lights, bulbs, or garland made of beads on the tree!!
I was so proud of all the students......each and everyone departed with a designed project well underway.  I do believe I turned them all onto the ease and fun of working with felted wool....not to mention embellishing with beads!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Cheryl asked whether I backed my wool pieces with anything.....  I've blogged about this subject in the past, however after checking my 'labels' (older posts) I realize that must have been ages ago since it doesn't readily come up....

So, the short answer is YES, I always back my work with another piece of wool and here's some tips to get you started.

 This is the back of Root Beer Float..... I fused a piece of bamboo/rayon felt to the wrong side.  It hides the stabilizer and protects the stitches.

If I'm finishing the edges of the piece with hand embroidery or beads, fusing may not be necessary. 

My labels are printed on cotton fabric using my Epson printer.  
For wool quilts only, a fusible adhesive is secured to the wrong side of the label, it's cut out using a wavy rotary cutting blade, and then fused to the backing. 

Hanging sleeves are done in the traditional manner on my larger designs.
But....for these tiny resist dyed felted wool pieces, I use small felt triangles and a narrow diameter metal rod.
Because most of these pieces are not square....before you add the triangles, you need to measure/mark the top of the quilt so the rod will hang level.

I place my finished piece on a gridded mat, and position straight pins on each upper outside edge for reference marks.  Next on the back side, I line up a ruler from pin to pin and mark a horizontal guide line.

The corners are hand stitched in place and a rod is cut and slipped into the triangles and....ta's ready to hang!

I'm off to GA to teach.  I'll try to snap lots of photos in my wool workshop so you can enjoy seeing how students develop their own wool designs with a little guidance from their enthusiastic instructor when I return!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Have I said how much I'm loving working with resist dyed felted wool???

Here's another tiny piece that's looking for a new home.......

 After removing some of the embroidery and beading....and rethinking the surface design.  Yes, I seem to do that a lot on these pieces.....  
 7" x 6"  
Available for purchase HERE

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Ami Simms, the director of Alzheimer's Art Initiative has announced a record Priority Quilt sale at Quilt Festival in Houston this year.

They sold 1,597 quilts, bringing in $75,000 for AAQI.  This beat last year's sales by $13,000.

To date AAQI has earned more than $855,000 for Alzheimer's research!

I'm happy to report my personal contribution in just the Priority Quilt category has now raised over $2,000....and I'll be working on my $3,000 level goal next.

To learn more, including about how YOU can get here.

Last night AAQI's celebrity quilt auction concluded.....raising another $15,545.
Pat Holly's piece, "Fear of Empty Spaces" (photo below) earned a whopping $3,665.00 for the cause.

Be sure to follow the link above to see the fabulous quilts donated by other leading artists in our field....such as John Flynn (who by the way we can all thank for covering the cost of the AAQI booth in Houston!!), Sue Nickels, Diane Gaudynski (whose quilt earned over $3,000 too), and more.....