Late February

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.



Do You EQ?

If you haven’t heard of this yet, EQ (Electric Quilt) is software used for designing quilts.

And it’s very reasonably priced.

I had the opportunity, recently, to learn EQ7 and get to know EQ expert, writer and educator Barb Vlack.  Within minutes, she had us designing quilts.  Barb will be teaching Electric Quilt at International Quilt Festival in Houston.  If you are interested, I highly recommend her class.

As you can imagine, the program gives you rotary cutting instructions, fabric yardage and templates to complete your design. Their website Electric Quilt offers training, books, downloadable fabrics and tons of other support materials.  The blog, offers a quilt club, challenges, and a stunning, stunning quilt gallery of customer’s designs, laid side by side with the quilts they then produced from the designs.

Did I say stunning?

electric quilt 1After only a few minutes of playing in the software, I designed this quilt.

electric quilt 3With another click it became this.

electric quilt 2Now it may take a little longer to actually sew it.

Or I can choose to just enjoy it and sew it later. Or never sew it.

But it’s still fun to discover the possibilities — my unique possibilities. You can create your own appliques, and with a plug-in, you can even create your own embroidery.  The ideas are endless.  The program comes pre-loaded with something like 4500 blocks and designs, so if you never create a block yourself, it will still keep you busy for the rest of your life.  And you can also display fabric instead of just colors. These images I’m showing? They would make great greeting cards — more ideas.

I could see myself getting lost for days in this software.

But what a terrific way to challenge ourselves, learn new techniques and explore design.

Do you EQ?

Maybe you should.


How Do You Redecorate?

This is the time of year when I look around my house and everything looks stale.

The bathroom needs new accessories and new towels, the pictures on the walls have been there a hundred years.  Well maybe not that long but they might as well be.  And I don’t really have a lot of enthusiasm and energy (read $$$) for a huge renovation.

Then along came this fabric collection.  I LOVE it.  And I’m not even into roosters.

IMG_3403It’s called El Gallo by Deb Strain for Moda.

With all the blacks, grays and reds, I just thought it was elegant and fabulous.

I had to have it for our kitchen.

We have one large window and one small window in the kitchen, and I quickly grow tired of the valances, so I make new ones whenever I have the time.  I decided I would make this set reversible.

Now, this is so easy to make, it’s unbelievable.  Simple valances for a kitchen or bedroom are nothing but straight lines.  I can’t tell you how many people think that’s some sort of inborn talent. Really it’s not.  It takes a sewing machine, some thread, and the will to practice.

For a simple reversible valance, you need two types of fabric, preferably contrasting in some interesting way.

1.  Measure your window.  You’ll need 2 to 2 1/2 times the width of your window in fabric to get a nice gathered appearance.

2.  Decide the length of your valance and add an inch or so for seam allowances.

3.  On mine I included 2 inches of contrasting fabric on the bottom, which I laid out the opposite way on the reverse side. See the picture below.

4.  Place the fabric right sides together and sew all the way along the top and bottom, making a large tube.  I used a serger because it finishes the edges at the same time.

5.  Turn the whole thing inside out and press the seams along the top and bottom.  This is the most time-consuming part.

6.  Next, I serged the ends of the tube…not shut, just all the way around.  if you don’t have a serger, just fold and press the sides under twice, about a 1/2 in. on each side.  Don’t sew the front to the back just yet. We have to add the rod pocket.

7.  About 2 inches from the top, sew a line all the way across the valance.  Make sure your rod will fit before you sew the second line of the rod pocket, usually down about 2-3 inches from the first line. Sew all the way across.

8.  Now you can use a topstitch to sew the sides together leaving the rod pockets open.

9.  I also added topstitching along the bottom contrasting fabric.

10. Done!

IMG_3383Once the valances were up, of course I needed some accent pieces with roosters on them.

Now, frankly, I thought roosters were yesterday’s news. Washed up, used up, replaced by chubby hens with skinny legs.  I don’t know, just not current any more.

But I went into Strawflower Shop in downtown Geneva and asked them if they had any roosters. “Oh yes,” the gal exclaimed, “upstairs in our furnishings. I’ll call to let them know you’re coming up.”  By the time I reached the top of the stairs, an elegant woman greeted me.  “I understand you’re looking for roosters,” she said, as though I were buying fine wine or maybe a new car.

“We have quite a nice selection in our kitchen area. Roosters are always in demand, you know.”  I didn’t know.

But I did find a lovely rooster for the kitchen wall.  Who knew they were in demand?  I guess I’m cool. Again.


Looking up at the valance you can see that it's reversible, with contrasting detail.

Looking up at the valance you can see that it’s reversible, with contrasting detail.




Just another Blizzard/Snowstorm/Super Bowl Sunday

Yesterday after work, at about 5:30 PM,  I stopped at the local Meijer.

You would have thought that none of us had ever eaten before or would ever eat again.  The shelves were cleared of chips and salsa, although I found some on an end cap.  The stockers were angry and the check out clerks were exhausted.  The gal at the counter told me the store had been packed all day.

I couldn’t find any potatoes. They were gone.  Yes, all the potatoes were gone.

The Canadian bacon I usually purchase had been replaced by rows and rows of real bacon and Velveeta. And ribs. Sour cream shelves were empty. And I couldn’t even find my son’s yogurt.

The combination of Super Bowl Sunday and a pending snowstorm….excuse me…. BLIZZARD…were seriously almost causing the end of civilization.


Today, the snow IS falling, thank goodness.  The plows in the neighborhood have been few and far between. I heard one last night at 3 am, then again once during the day today, and that’s pretty much it.

Of course, I have been sewing.

I used a new pattern and assembled a couple of cute table runners for Valentine’s Day.  My goal is to get them to the point where I could spend the Super Bowl doing hand work by putting on the binding.

The pattern is called Rock Candy from Jaybird Quilts and the accompanying ruler is called a Sidekick.  This is truly a simple pattern to do using the ruler, and a fun shape for a table.

jaybird quiltsI did manage to get the binding on, and now I’m ready to sit and watch the game.

jaybird quilts 2The fabric is adorable, called Kiss Kiss from moda.

So get out your chips and dip, salsa and sour cream, your chocolates and cheeses and crackers and cookies. Turn on your big screen, enjoy the screaming crowds and the silly, raunchy, depressing, goofy, and tear-jerking commercials and half-time show.

As for me, at 8 pm I switch to Downton Abbey. Pass me the stress-reducing herbal tea.