Tuesday, February 28, 2017


My last post expressed my excitement over how quickly and (ah hum) accurately a whole bag of fabric samples became 6.5" squares cut on an Accuquilt Go! die cutting machine.
I planned to make a lap quilt with disappearing 4-patch blocks at our annual upcoming fiber group retreat.  I'm not a fan of sewing patches....though I have made some really complicated ones when I first began to quilt.

My skills have gotten worse and I've come to blame my patchwork inefficiencies on my poor cutting and inaccurate stitching 1/4" seams.  (a.) blaming the shadowy overhead lights in my studio (b.) allowing the ruler to slip during cutting (c.) disliking the process of sitting at the machine and not taking enough time to do it right!
So now that all the patches were cut, I happily set about making a few test blocks.  WHAT!?!?!  Are you kidding me.....yes there seems to be a patchwork devil on my shoulder.  None of patches match, all off by about 1/8" - 1/4".  

 How on earth does that happen?  I never cut more than 4 layers at a time, and all were pressed so blaming it on wrinkles that affected the cut isn't possible.
 After some stomping of my feet at the mere thought of recutting so many patches, I decided to sew them into 4 patch blocks anyway.  I matched the seam edges as best I could, allowing the outside edges to be uneven.  After pressing, the block was squared by placing my ruler's 6" marks on the seam lines and whacking the offending edges off.
Next I recut the 4-patch and made two disappearing 4-patch sample blocks.  Oh dear, I don't like this......basically, I'm not fond of large blocks.  The blocks measure 11" unfinished and (for the moment) are too big for my liking.  

My plan is to make a few more before I give into the impulse to cut them down to about 9" unfinished.  Good thing I took the time to make some test blocks!

Have any of you ever experienced inaccurate cutting with a die cut machine??  This is so typical of the problems I have with patchwork that it's actually laughable!!

Monday, February 27, 2017


The Fiber Junkies were on a real tear this month.  Many of us were preparing for our annual 3 day retreat with another group we belong to.  So, without lingering over coffee and morning goodies too long, we jumped right into show and tell.
 To help inspire our activity for the day, Kate brought a darling small piece she created using die cut fabric pieces made on a previous die-cut Fiber Junkies session.  Her beautiful machine quilting, complete with stitched flower pots is an example of the well thought out quilting she always executes. 
 Judy showed her latest collage piece.....every detail was considered and finished to perfection...including the back.  She wrote a comprehensive post on her blog about the making of this piece....click here to read.

 Denny astounded us with not one but three huge patchwork quilts.  Life can get in the way of life and instead of giving into chaos she uses what she calls 'mindless patchwork' to soothe her soul.  Even though she's veered quite far from her norm of creating one-of-a-kind wall art, there was high praise for Denny's completion of these fantastic BIG pieces!
 Tim Holtz fabrics.

 Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

Denny gave a lot of credit for her speed in making the above quilts to the numerous die cut machines she owns.  She brought 3, along with 2 suitcases of cutting dies for our use. 
Here Kate is using Denny's large electric cutter. We were almost frantic cutting fabric as fast as we could.
I used a slightly smaller manual machine....cutting 6.5" squares.  My retreat project will be a disappearing 4 patch lap quilt....probably headed to our son's family in CA when complete.
Gen....who we all want to be like when we grow up, not only pressed my fabrics ....but cut sections for me to run through the machine.....ON FABRIC she gave me!!  Have I ever mentioned how fantastic this group of gals are?!?  Of course I have!!!
 Here's my stack.....the plaids are samples of Mission Valley Textiles.....given to me from the company ages ago when working on creating a traveling exhibit for that company.

What a GREAT day!!!

Friday, February 24, 2017


Currently my focus is directed toward a challenging project.....I like challenges!
With some hesitation during a dye session with my two pals Judy & Kate, I halved a vintage laced edged line table runner and ice-dyed it. The challenges of creating wall art pieces were the flimsy nature of the fabric, construction issues because 3 of the 4 sides are 'finished', and the high intensity of the ice-dyed designs. 
First I tackled the brownish half which resulted in:  Lunaira Annual  21" x 27.5" 
I'm currently working on the 2nd half.  It reminded me of a stormy day....yet there was so much contrast between the light and dark areas I couldn't get a design to properly stand out.  After spending way too much time trying to make it work, I decided to over dye it.  Here is the result.
My intention for this half was to feature beaded rain drops. I'd been struggling to find the proper contrast to work with the original dyed fabric....pal Kate suggested instead of using silver or white beads, I could try purple and call the piece Purple Rain.  I LOVED that idea, yet the original fabric was still too blotchy and once it was over-dyed, purple no longer worked either.  Big sigh here.
I plunged ahead anyway, not knowing exactly how the project would proceed. It began by   stabilizing the linen with Pellon's light-weight non-fusible interfacing.  Then an appliqued umbrella was incorporated.  Next a very thin batting and a backing were added. Machine stitching depicts rain, yet it doesn't stand out well enough. (As I suspected.) After a deep dive into my bead stash....ah ha.....I found pewter-like metallic bugle beads as well as some color lined seed beads to further enhance the rain drops.

Now....the beading continues......taking great care not to distort the fabric.  Stay tuned......the completed piece will show up here one of these days very soon.

Enjoy seeing what other artists have been working on this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, Crazy Mom Sews.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Unfortunately, my music report from day two of Bluegrass First Class is quite abbreviated.  We had to leave early because "The husband", after over 3 long months, is still recuperating from cervical surgery.  We were both terribly disappointed but he was simply in too much pain to stay.
 We did get to see Town Mountain, another new local Asheville, NC group (new to us that is). Their style didn't appeal to me.....despite having the 5 main elements of any bluegrass band; a fiddle, mandolin, upright base, guitar, banjo, it was too booey wooey pretending to be bluegrass for my taste. Their harmony was nicely done but sadly, the main vocalists when singing solo impossible to understand.  Like the day before, this venue is a great opportunity for less established groups to perfect their performances.
 We've been fans of Darin & Brooke Aldrige since we first saw them at Bluegrsss First Class a number of years ago.  They've now teamed up with John Cowan. John's fame came from playing with the New Grass Revival, from the mid 70's when he was only 22 years old until the group disbanded in 1990.  He went on to play in many genres, from country, jazz, rock-n-roll, to soul. Their performance was quite a departure with the inclusion of John than when Darin & Brooke were on their own.  
 This is one of the three groups I personally came to see.  Flatt Lonesome....love, love, love their music.....based very much in traditional bluegrass but with their own twist.  3 members are siblings.....thus their absolutely and unforgettable harmony.  They've already won tons of awards and not one of them has yet to reach the age of 30!
The Seldom Scene is my all time favorite Bluegrass group.  The name (selected way back in 1971 when they formed) can be explained by this Wikipedia notation:  Each of the band members had a job during the week; Duffey repaired musical instruments, Eldridge was a mathematician, Starling a physician,[1] Auldridge a graphic artist, and Gray a cartographer with National Geographic.[2] They agreed to play one night a week at local clubs, perform occasionally at concerts and festivals on weekends, and make records. The band's first home scene was the Red Fox Inn in Bethesda, Maryland, where they spent six years before starting weekly performances at The Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Virginia.

The last founding band member, Ben Eldridge retired in 2016....yet the majority have now been with the group since mid 1990's. Ben played the banjo on the tune linked below.

Sitting here writing this post.....I've been listening to another one of their famous hits, "Old Train"....written by Herb Pederson who I blogged about yesterday.  I NEVER tire of this group.  

So until next year, we will have to be satisfied with recorded songs from many of these artists.....but will jump at any chance to attend live shows when possible.

Monday, February 20, 2017


We moved from Wisconsin to NC in 2006.....one of many reasons we chose this area was the abundance of great bluegrass music.  Every February the best of the best come to Asheville, NC to play at Blue Grass First Class.

Many of the same acts appear almost every year.....but since they are top notch bands....we are always as excited as our very first time at this event 11 years ago.  The following is a short overview of the first day of the festival.  The days' events run from noon to midnight for two days.....a bluegrass lovers dream come true.....all in indoor comfort.
Each year new or up and coming bands kick off the event.  Blue Mafia, yes you read that right, was introduced.  Their album is titled "Hanging Tree"....and yes you read that right too.  Despite their enthusiasm and obvious thrill to be included in this event, they have a long way to go before I would consider them polished performers.  Everyone needs a start and perhaps this experience will help guide them.
 The Grascals haven't appeared for several years....always excellent, well prepared.....with fantastic musicians and incredible harmony. Unlike County Music....women band members are rare in Bluegrass.  Their banjo player is none other than 4 time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Award Winner Kirstin Scott Benson.
A newly formed California based group,  John Jorgenson Blue Grass Band made their first appearance at Blue Grass First Class. John (center) played for many years with the Desert Rose Band and has a list of accomplishments pages long. He plays just about any string instrument and really excells at the mandolin.....fabulous!  The other icon in the group is Herb Pederson (right) who knows everyone and has played with everyone.....from Rock, to Country, to Jazz, to Bluegrass for probably 50+ years.

Herb BLEW the whole room away when he sang two very, very well known tunes he wrote, made famous by my long time favorite group The Seldom Scene.  He shared how this song, Wait a Minute" came to be written. I couldn't get my recording to upload but found one recorded with Chris Hillman (an original member of the Byrds back in 1965) on YouTube that you can safely click here to experience.

 He'd been on the road in Europe for an extended period of time...home only a day or two before getting a call to play on another tour.  He shared this news with his 'then' wife who tersely said "wait a minute"!  As he said, this was the beginning of the end.....she KNEW who he was and what he did for a living before they married.  

Day two coming up shortly.......

Friday, February 17, 2017


I've been busy.......just added more wet felted votive holder sets and bowls to my online shop.  Here are just a few examples.....click here  to see the current inventory.

Take some time to see what other artists have been doing this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday,  Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, Crazy Mom Quilts.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Having so many talented friends has had an enormous impact in my life.  Their creativity is always inspiring, which opens my world to new adventures.  My pal Nan has been taking glass moulding classes.  She's gotten so interested that she just invested in her own equipment.  I was excited to experience a short tutorial.
 This helpful book is great for beginners.
 Here are two of Nan's pieces.

 We set out to make 3 small trays using iridescent glass.
 A paper template is made of each shape.
 And transferred onto the glass.
 Next the glass is scored.
And using a special tool, the shape is released from the sheet of glass.

We were using her brand new kiln for the first time.  Setting the timing for the various heating/cooling cycles was super complicated.  Unfortunately, after 3 attempts......
.....and anxiously opening the kiln each time, our glass remained exactly as it had begun, poised on top of the forms. Nan then sought help from a neighbor, a very skilled glass maker who was able to program it correctly.  It was time for my departure but I can report....it worked and I'll post a photo after the sharp edges are polished.  

Thank you Nan for a look into glass moulding!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Sometimes it's the little, seemingly simple projects that become quite challenging.  The goal was to retain the happy feeling of the colorful fun circular motifs, without resorting to taking the easy way out and simply make it a whole cloth piece. Incorporating two rows of polka dot scraps, adding hand embroidery  and finally machine quilting with long black dashes seemed to fill that intention.

Okay I admit.....my fingers were itching to add beads.....but fearing that would add too much clutter I restrained myself!

19" x 14.5"
Cotton fabric stamped with thickened dye, hand embroidered, machine quilted.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Look what came in the mail yesterday!!!  A gorgeous Valentine postcard from the very talented Robbie at Robbies Paw Prints.  I'm sooooo flattered to receive one of her very special postcards. No matter what construction style....this gal can do it all.  It's always fun to see what she's up to...use the link above and wander over to her blog.
Blogger friends are truly the biggest bonus of hosting a blog!  Thank you Robbie.

Now....a note about today.....
Darn it....I was hoping to have a reason to wear my lucky Packer socks that pal Gen knitted for me......but as they say....maybe next year.  For me....football season was over two weeks ago.....(not pouting...just a reality).....but I will say....best wishes for both teams...hope it's an exciting injury free game.