Sunday, March 27, 2016


EASTER GREETINGS from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina.....where a lone peach tree is blooming.....

Friday, March 25, 2016


A friend alerted me to this super worthy cause for our veterans. With the disturbing news reports about the inexcusable financial abuse in some of the programs designed to assist seems so important to highlight a potentially excellent one which appeals to us fiber lovers.

Trish Browne is trying to launch a veteran based art project called Breaking Rag.  Her Kickstarter has gotten national coverage here. This crowd funding project is now 40% sponsored but it's an all or nothing thing.  If she doesn't receive full funding by April 14th, the dream will be over.  Please visit her website to learn more.

"Breaking Rag" is a term in paper making referring to the physical process of breaking fibers into pulp from which paper is made.

This post is being linked to:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Won't you consider helping?

Thursday, March 24, 2016


OH YIKES!!!  Activity across the street caught my eye late today.....yup....a fire racing up along the creek.  This is the time of year where the locals go out and burn the brush along the roadsides and fields. Why??  I never understood that....
Obviously.....this one got away from the fellow....way away I might add!!  We only have a volunteer fire department here....which is far enough away that we are penalized on our homeowners insurance.  And given that there are no fire hydrants.....we get another dig on our insurance premiums.  Fortunately there is a robust creek which provided the water for the firemen to put it out.

Their response time has never really been tested for our community in the 10 years we've lived here......this had a happy and swift end.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


This Fiber Junkies meeting was very special.....all three of our absent members were able to come. Val, who is back from her winter stint in FL stayed the whole day. Unfortunately, both Gen and Denny's time with us was shorter than we wished but we were so happy to have them there.  Both have been coping with major family matters so we are all hopeful that the group will be back in full force soon.

  In fact, we are planning on it for our April meeting where we will be playing with this product that Denny got for us.
It will be used as a declourant to create an interesting background such as this one that Kate made.
We've been using the last couple of meetings to help each other formulate plans for some unfinished work. I haven't touched the blue string pieced blocks I started at our PTA retreat because I am unhappy with their overall dull appearance.  Kate had suggested adding white to help it pop, which led me to considering sashing each block with white.  

When I brought them to Judy's to audition on her large design wall, suggestions began to fly.  Some thought altering the size of the sashing would be a good way to go, others suggested adding various colors might give it a fresher look.  I'm still not certain what I'll do but have decided to finish making the remaining 40 some blocks and then revisit the setting options.
 Now that I no longer travel-teach on the quilting highway, I've eliminated all my teaching samples by re-purposing or passing them along to others who can use them.  Judy is doing the same thing.  Here's one of her beautiful machine work samples.  It will be fun to see how she uses it.
This piece was a sample from her stamping class, esp. charming as her students signed it.  
 Denny's purging of her amazingly awesome studio continues. You really can't believe how fantastic it was.  However, a current family situation requires it be used in another way.  The Fiber Junkies are beneficiaries of her vast collections of 'everything'.  Bins of ribbons/trims were just some of the treasures we were able to pick from this meeting.  Any remaining items will be donated to a preschool to be used for art projects. close......Here's our Gen.....who forgot for a time that she had trim on her head!!  It's great to have such good friends and heart-warming to know how we are all pulling together during these difficult times.

Monday, March 21, 2016

INTO THE NIGHT - Patchwork lap quilt

A couple of hours here and there....and this patchwork 'couch quilt' came together quite quickly.  The unusual color combination was inspired by the decorating scheme of my niece.....lots of blacks with touches of plum and lime green.

I tried for way too long to get a good photo of it....and it's just not happening. The purples come out pink and the lime greens = yellow.  However, in person it's surprisingly attractive.

Sometimes this is just the kind of project one needs.....and it's a stash buster too!
INTO THE NIGHT  48" X 66"  MARY STORI © 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016


Mother nature has continued to surprise us with wonderful summer like weather in early spring.  Seveal weeks ago we headed out to explore Horseshoe Mountain....only we couldn't find it.  
 Yup, this huge mountain nearly at tree line level was not to be found on our first attempt. With more investigation....we learned we had actually been on the correct road....which we mistook for a bad cattle trail and after fearing the car would bottom out....we turned around.

This time we approached from a different direction...the iPhone photos I took are imprinted with "Nantahala National Forest".....but we are unsure whether this is actually on national forest land or not as the trees along the road were blazed with purple paint. (a new marking system in NC to indicate 'no trespassing.)

Sadly, and way too typical for NC, the graffiti and litter reduced the experience.
 The view was stunning and it would have been fun to hike the area if we had walking sticks. The road/path was steep and filled with huge ruts and rocks. 
These interesting shallow holes almost looked like animal tracks but the curosity was spoiled by the blue graffiti  I'm continually stunned how folks living this beautiful part of the country treat its natural beauty with such distain.


This week has gone poof.......totally disappeared with very little to show for my time.  However, I finally have my car back after 2 months.  Rural mountain living has its benefits but also its being the local body shop is a one man operation!
This is NOT my car.....but as I was waiting for all the insurance company's "i's" to be dotted.....I spotted it in the lot.  WHAT....that's Styrofoam on the bumper?!?!  I couldn't believe it. 

I was driving a Subaru which has a high safety rating when I got rear ended on the interstate. (Surely Styrofoam free!)

Thursday, March 17, 2016


From time to time I've mentioned my gratitude over the generosity of my dear friend Helen.  I met her oh so many years ago at the NW Suburban Quilters Guild in suburban Chicago.  

Despite my two moves to two different states, we've remained in touch.  She has an enormous fabric collection....the good stuff.....nothing from Walmart or JoAnne's.  She's shared boxes and boxes of batiks, Japanese inspired prints, hand dyed, and lots of black and whites with me. When I say that about 1/4 of my current fabric stash came directly from her I'm not exaggerating.  
Helen just completed this stunning quilt. I LOVE, LOVE everything about it, esp. knowing how thoughtful she'd been to combine and utilize as much of these rare (original) Dutch wax batik prints as possible.  I'm not sure of the size, but know it's not small....Helen makes BIG quilts.  Click on the image to feast on these gorgeous fabrics.

Beautiful, no???

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Here's a final look at our 2016 PTA retreat....sigh, we weren't able to book our regular March dates, so we now have to wait till April 2017 for our next (9th) annual retreat.
Each year I marvel at the fabric choices Leigh Anne chooses for her unlike anything I'd ever select, yet I just love what she creates.  NOTE to self:  get out of your comfort zone!!
Linda Cantrell who is known nationally for her exceptionally well designed and executed applique quilts has been informing us for the last couple of years that she has entered 'quilter's block'. She tends to concentrate now on reading (lots and lots and lots of books on her Kindle) and knitting lots and lots of socks.  Don't you just love this color combo too?
I also have to share this with you.  Dear Gen handed me a gift bag.....what?  why?  I do have a BIG milestone birthday coming up next month but really, it's next month and we don't normally exchange presents.  Much to my delight, inside were these 'Packer' colored socks Gen knitted for me. She had planned to give them to me during the playoffs, but when Green Bay lost she thought she better wait. Thank you Gen!! You know I'll treasure they will now be my lucky game day socks.

Noticeably absent are photos or info about our actual 'free' time.  We rent a big house that sleeps 14.  There's a large kitchen table where we all gather for Happy Hour and after dinner. Honestly, we act like we aren't well fed 3 times a day here, considering the amount of snacks we bring and consume.  

BUT, like the saying goes....What happens in Las Vegas......  You know the rest....and that's our motto.  I can assure you, a big time is had by all, constant giggling and staying up way too late are always a given. 

I'm not much of a game player but each year several games are brought and often we actually play them.  This is a new one and what's funny about new games is that even after reading the one can remember them.  Naturally that causes more hooting and hollering and lots of laughs.
Working in teams of 2, we really enjoyed this one because there was no math and not a lot of thinking necessary.  Hey....if it's suitable for an 8 year old....we decided we could handle it.
I will share one of the many, many silly things that went on.  One of our members is going to be a grandma for the first time.  She learned while we were there that it will be a boy.  So, the next morning I passed out blue strips of fabric for each of us to wear.....we waited to see if she noticed them.  Obviously, with the one tied to Georgia's glasses just above her nose.....our snorts of laughter got her attention.  

This year several videos were made which will NEVER be posted anywhere....we all promised!!  Sorry that's such a tease.  We have a tendency to get really silly and make phone calls to members who weren't able to join us.  One of our members is an excellent mimic and has Lilly Tomlin's "ringy dingy' routine down pat. All I can say is it's hysterical and we get hysterical.  Wish you all could be flies on the wall...... 

So....the moral of these three yourself a favor....grab a couple of like minded pals, go off and be carefree for whatever time you can spare.  It will bring you much happiness and many memories.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


As usual, and you all know what I mean, intentions to document the event fell way short....but hopefully you'll enjoy these snippets.
 Barbara's project.....and she graciously shared the technique for making these lopsided motifs.  (As much as I love the look, you can be sure you'll never see it flowing from my machine as my attention span couldn't handle the process.)
 Judy spent time finishing some pieces for our joint exhibit at the NC Arboretum in April.  A piece of her marble-printing is featured in the background, the 3-D dyed and stitched leaves add another design element.  She machine quilted it and added a snappy color binding to really set the whole thing off.  LOVE it.
 Kate is THE FASTEST and most accurate sewer I know.  She's dedicates a lot of time making charity quilts like this one.  Her excellent machine quilting will be the icing on the cake (quilt!)
Here's another one Kate made.  She came with her strips cut, but seriously, I probably made only 4 or 5 blocks (with my pre-cut strips) and yup....she was already finished with this one!
 Georgia Bonesteel was also in a finish up mood.  This large block is pieced to perfection. She knows so many short cuts and tricks for accurate piecing.
Georgia worked on this piece first as it needed to be finished for an upcoming weekend baby shower.  What a very special gift! 
This is another project Georgia brought to work on. I'm not sure what was the story behind it.....but I believe she was going to add more borders.

So...this is a little peak at some of the pieces our group worked on.  A final post is coming tomorrow.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Since this is our 8th year of retreats at Lake Logan, in Canton, NC.....the routine is well established. We start arriving at 9:30 AM and depart three days later about 3:30 PM.

 Oh....I had a question from a reader who noted our age group and wondered why we are still in PTA.'s not the school based Parent Teachers Association most of you are familiar with. Our group is actually, Professional Textile Artists....PTA for short.
Over the years Kate, Judy, and I had gotten into the habit of doing the same scrap quilt projects....often pooling our fabrics.  This year we each did our own thing, but continued the practice of putting our tables together.

I'm set up on the left, and look, I even remembered to bring a cushion to raises me higher on my chair.  The timely gift of a Pfaff couldn't have been more appreciated!!!
 In a previous post I mentioned this antique drying rack which is such a helpful organizer strips.  (Though I did manage to knock it down twice...finally it got moved a bit farther away....sure I had to get up more often but that was probably a good thing!)
Our sewing space is huge and this view is more typical than you'd expect.  From top left: someone is at the snack table, three are rushing to see the action at another sewing station, and two are pondering over something else. It's a wonder we get anything done.

 My plan was to string piece blue/white homespun fabrics (with cottons added to increase the selection). This quilt will be hung on a large stairwell measure about 76" W  x 90" L.
  I'd selected this barn red solid for a sashing, planning to have 1 row of single blocks along the outside edge.  Even with so few blocks pieced, I began to get concerned that it just didn't have any spark, despite the red sashing.
 After coming up with numerous other ideas....such as adding applique over the entire background, or separating the blocks with more sashing strips, I've decided it's not working.  I may either use the 30+ blocks I have made for a smaller lap quilt or continue to ponder over how to add spark to such a big quilt.

Check back tomorrow for part 2.

Friday, March 11, 2016


I scheduled my last two posts to publish while I'm away. We have only very spotty wi-fi at the facility so I probably won't be able to see if anyone was a good detective until I get home.

BUT......Yes, that was a Pfaff you saw ready to be seat belted into my car. After selling every last foot, bobbin, and accessory I had for my dead mother board Pfaff machine......I was astonished to be gifted this 7570!!!!!!!!
Recently I had a long talk with myself about the need to get acquainted with its replacement, a 8900 Janome.  I began a notebook documenting the various settings/feet that I use the most to cut down on the frustration associated with a machine that does everything except churn ice cream! I even did some test blocks for the retreat and felt comfortable.....EXCEPT for the fact that the Janome is really big and weighs a's not something I care to bring to a workshop-type setting.

In the nick of time this unselfish gift came my way.  Our newest Fiber Junkies  member Denny has a family situation that required her to immediately and drastically downsize her 'dream' studio space.  I'm totally indebted to her....even wanted to trade my first born but that was rejected.....

So as you read this.....there will be 10 happy PTA members stitching and laughing away their days.....including me and a Pfaff.

I hesitated about sharing this rather personal story....but then could probably only happen in the quilt world!!! Thank you, thank you know my thoughts are with you during your difficult road ahead.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


We members of PTA (Professional Textile Artists) wait all year for our next 3 day retreat.....our 8th one is this week.  It's when we leave husbands/pets/all our cares at home and totally immerse ourselves into quilt projects and laughter.

My pile to haul along is growing.  The antique drying rack is a rescue from Georgia Bonesteel who was going to donate it.....'the husband' repaired the parts that were broken and now it's my 'go to' organizer when I'm working with strips. Not so easily seen in the basket at the back of the photo, are rolls of homespun strips that I precut.  It gets pretty crazy with 10 of us all talking/sewing/snacking at once so I personally always do a lot of prep. work at home which allows me to mindlessly stitch without making major mistakes.

This view is just the sewing materials that I'll be bringing.'s my question.......Do you spot something here that you wouldn't expect to see??

Sorry.... no hints.....but if you've been following me for at least the last 6 months or may notice what it is.

Check back tomorrow for the answer......

Monday, March 7, 2016


While visiting a relative recently, I was struck by their very unusual home decor color combination.  Black, plum, with touches of lime green and white.  

I KNOW, I doesn't sound like it would work, except perhaps for only the more quirky and adventuresome.   
 However, I couldn't get that look out of my head.....which found me pulling those colors from my stash and grabbing my rotary cutter.

To best utilize the fabrics on hand, black strips were cut 3.5" wide...then subcut as needed into a variety of lengths.  Colorful purples and greens were cut to measure 3.5"  x 1".
Though it may be uncommon to layout such a simple design on a design wall, I prefer this method as it helps to eliminate fabric waste because I basically cut only what I need. Though I have a bin or two of small scraps, I've yet to feel motivated to organize or utilize them....and probably never will!  This isn't a terribly time efficient method either, but it works for me. 

It's also a great way to ensure seams are staggered which makes for easy piecing. The first 7 vertical rows have already been I'll go back and arrange the remaining narrow colorful strips before heading back to the sewing machine. 

 I've used this identical approach on several other quilts of various sizes....see more examples below.
 Big Red  43" x 53"
 CWS's Birthday Quilt  68.5" 51.5"

Dashes  33" x 35"

Friday, March 4, 2016


I'm so humbled and flattered to be sharing this post with you.  In June, 2014, I received an email from Marlene Howe who had taken workshops, not only from me but the cream of the crop of national instructors.  She asked permission to use a pattern from one of my books.  Of course I said yes.....I was delighted!

 Fast's her completed sampler quilt, "A Tribute To My Teachers", where she honored each of us by recreating a pattern of our work. You may even recognize the designs of these well known teachers, such as Margaret Miller, Alex Anderson, John Flynn, Carol Doak and others. Sadly, and some who are no longer with us; Pat Campbell - 2nd block - 5th row and Doreen Speckmann 4th block - 5th row).
   This was a project I designed for my book, "The Stori of Beaded Embellishment".  Click on the photo to enlarge and see all her lovely beadwork.
Marlene sent each of us a photo of the quilt, a personalized thank you letter, and a key to blocks she created.  After asking her permission to share this with you, she sent these photos as well.  The back of her quilt documents the story behind each block.  It must have been an awesome task and I'm so honored to be included.  She says ,"The quilt was the most challenging I have ever made and by far the most fun."

Follow these inspiring links to see what others have been up to this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


The sun was shining, the temperatures are it was time to get out and explore the Carolinas.
 Our first stop was a tour of the BMW factory in Greenville, SC.  Truth be told, I wasn't actually looking forward to it.  However, it was fascinating!!  No photos were allowed so this one was grabbed from their website.  Our prearranged tour took about 45 mins. via a super comfortable tram....outfitted with the center console and seats of a BMW X5.  It also had a large video screen to show more details about the specific tasks the employees were undertaking. Our guide was very informative.

The 5 million square-foot campus generates its own power, has an on-site family health center and you could eat off the floors!!  They produce over 1,000 vehicles a day....each built along the assembly line in order of when they were purchased.  Just imagine the organization involved in that task considering all the combination of options for each.  I believe it takes about 30 hours to build a car from start to finish.  They make 4 different models in this facility and surprisingly, a great majority are sent overseas.  They do not build cars on spec.....rather each car has already been bought and paid for. 

Another reason for a trip to this area; lunch at Culver's.  Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows my passion for Culver's Chocolate Malt Concrete Mixer. It has an astonishing number of calories but it's ooooohhhhh soooo good.   Culver's ("Perfected in Sauk City, Wisconsin...enjoyed World Wide") will be opening in Asheville this spring. I'm relieved that it will be 50 mins. away, if it was any closer, I'd have to do a 'forced march' twice a day!

We detoured on the way home to see the oldest surviving stone bridge in South Carolina, built in 1820!  It was part of a state road that ran from Charleston through Columbia, SC to North Carolina.  

There were walking trails adjacent to the bridge.....but unfortunately, time didn't permit us to explore them too much.  
This historic site is located near Travelers Rest, SC.  Click here to learn more about the Poinsett Bridge and view some beautiful photos.