Craving Structure

Every now and then we long for the structure of a quilt that requires repetition and precision.

This is such great fabric called Birds and Berries–so appropriate for this time of year.


And it couldn’t be easier to make with one of the Creative Grids rulers.  If you have not checked out the Creative Grids website, be sure to visit  They feature videos for all their rulers.  And more importantly, they are all designed by women who are over 40.  So the numbers are BIG. And CLEAR. And EASY TO USE on all fabrics.  Even more importantly, they sell only to small quit shops.  Be sure to ask your local shop if they have them.

This particular ruler makes it easy to whip together quarter square triangles.  Just stitch together a couple of 2 1/2 inch strips (from a jelly roll is fastest!), press and lay flat.

Lay the ruler over the top and follow the angles.  The lines on the ruler mark the top and bottom of the fabric and the seam line, so your cut is precise.  Cut along the edges of the angles, and move on down the strip. Very little waste.



Before you know it, like me, you’ll have piles of quarter square triangles to assemble.

quartersqOne of the books recommended by Creative Grids is Strip Smart Quilts by Kathy Brown.  Using this ruler she provides 16 different patterns for this one technique. You’re sure to find something you like.  And the best part is that the piecing goes really fast.

stripsmartI’m just loving this, but have no idea what the quilt will look like when I’m done or how to quilt it in the future.  For now, I’m making blocks.. lots of them, all basically the same–repetition, precision, structure.

For now.


Hometown parade today.

Veterans, young and old, boy scouts, cub scouts and girl scouts, marching band, candy thrown to the kids, Knights of Columbus, Civil War reenactors, citizens waving American flags.

Memorial Day service in the misting rain.

Prayers, 21 gun salute, and Taps.

Fellow Americans, let us bow our heads.



Bloom Where You’re Planted

IMG_1487[1]Most everything is planted in the garden now.  My job going forward will be mostly to weed and to water and to wait.  Some of the seeds will not sprout.  Some of the plants will whither and fade.  (This is the last year I’m trying rhubarb. For 3 years now, I have planted and watered and not had anything come back the next year.  Might have to do some reading about that.)

Bugs will eat the cucumber leaves to within an inch of survival.  Japanese beetles will descend on the raspberries mid-summer and I will spend hours picking them off and dropping them into soapy water.  Rain will not fall enough.  Rain will flood.  White butterflies will lay eggs that turn into worms that will eat the cabbage and cauliflower.  And the weeds will take every opportunity to hog the nutrients from the soil and suffocate the vegetables and fruits.


Still, I cannot walk away.  It’s hard for me to imagine an act more basic than growing my own food.  In the early morning the birds chirp overhead.  The air is fresh.  Dew on the grass seems like a twinkle of paradise.

One morning a red-tailed hawk perched so close to me, I could almost hear her breathe.  She glanced casually at me and hopped over to the ground squirrel hole.  She cocked her head comically and peered inside.  Squirrels are hiding deep today.  With a final glance at me, she lifted herself back off the ground and flew back to her nest.  Maybe later.

Another evening, no one was around, as I puttered and weeded.  The skies were a heavy gray and the air was thick.  Silence enveloped me.  The raspberry branches reached for me in the breeze.  I stood upright and  looked to the skies.  At that very moment a lone sandhill crane flew overhead.  As it passed directly over me it made several warning cries.  “Storm!! Seek shelter!!”  was what I heard from the crane, though at the time, no words formed in my head.  It was simple instinct. A moment later I saw the lightening in the distance.  By that time I was already packed to go back home. Minutes after arriving a storm blew in that knocked down trees and cut electricity, causing hail and torrents of wind and rain.

I have no doubt the crane was communicating.  I have no doubt I got the message.

Maybe nature communicates with us all the time.  Maybe we’re not always listening.  Maybe listening to the birds is good for us.


Special thanks to my nephew for helping me to till this year.

Special thanks to my nephew for helping me to till this year.

Couldn't do it without you kiddo...thanks!!

Couldn’t do it without you kiddo…thanks!!

Needle Punch Peonies


As I wait for this years’ peonies to find the courage to rise and bloom, I am inspired by a picture of last years’, and so I pulled out some wool, some roving and decided to needle punch a bouquet of peonies.  If you are not familiar with needle punch, it is the process of using needles to insert colored fabric into another fabric.  The process of punching the roving into the wool actually creates a whole new fabric because both fabrics become one.

Here’s an example of some roving, which is essentially semi-processed wool or cotton fibers.

Samples of dyed roving.

Samples of dyed roving.

Needle Punching on my sewing machine.

Needle punching on the sewing machine.

Using special needles on a machine and a needle punch foot, you can use your sewing machine to “punch ” the roving down into the wool fabric below. You’re not using any thread, and if you have thread sensors on your machine, you’ll want to turn them off.  After that, the process is a lot like painting with watercolor, or more precisely, like charcoal drawing, using the different colors of the roving to create shading, shapes and color.

My intent was to capture the carefree way the flowers moved and “relaxed” into the group.  I always want to loosen my style.  Sometimes my art is uptight.  One of the reasons I enjoy working with fiber over paint is the amount of control that one must give up to the medium.  That’s exciting and unpredictable.  (Some people love precision and this may be frustrating for you.)

After punching out the basic shapes, just add some background texture.

Adding texture through small quilting patterns. I added some batting to the back for stability.

Adding texture through small quilting patterns. Add batting to the back for stability.

What it looked like before I added the topstitching.

What it looked like before topstitching.

As the final touch, add topstitching to the whole arrangement. This brings a bit of dimension, with a “pen and ink” feel.  All of this is very textural. Interesting to look at, interesting to touch.

Anyone can do this with a little inspiration, some wool, and some roving.  You can purchase hand needle punch kits at any craft store and I’m sure most sewing machine manufacturers have some form of needle punch accessory.  (Bernina does, for certain!)  After that, the sky’s the limit.

Machine tip:  Be sure to clean out your sewing machine really well after doing needle punch.

Now get out there and have fun!!

Final piece.

Final piece.  Not sure if I’ll turn it into a pillow cover or garment or something else entirely!




The World According to Bots

For those of you who don’t write your own blog, I want to share something.  First, a little background.  Apparently, when one writes a blog , it is customary to visit other blogs, write comments, and include your own website in the hopes of receiving reciprocal visits.  However, humans, being resourceful yet lazy creatures, have figured out a way to visit other sites without ACTUALLY visiting them.  They create little scripts called “bots”, short for robots.

Now, the web is full of “bots” and “spiders” which crawl over the internet to do real work…many of them help to organize search content.  But the ones I’m particularly fascinated by are the ones that visit websites and blogs…my own, in particular.

After I received the first few comments, I began collecting them–  a weird hobby, I guess.  Many of them are from drug peddlers, spam generators, phishers,  internet creeps, and those are generally not included here.  But others are just plain crazy or silly and just short of being human in their own way. And who knows?  Maybe some of them were actually written by humans.  But I doubt it.

Join in my fascination.  Here’s a little taste.


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