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Fortune Cookie Roulette #24


Stay in touch, above all, with how you feel.

Some days are less than best, and today was just one of those days.  Nothing major happened - lost keys, exploding coffee, a stubbed toe, return trips to the store - a series of less than stellar moments.  Fortunately, that is all.

It was the kind of day that makes me glad I have my own little meditative practice.  Hand-quilting does it every time, fortunately.  

And, also quite fortunately, I have a very generous neighbor who shares her cucmbers and tomatoes with me.  Her unexpected delivery at 5:30 in the afternoon made my dinner complete - and eliminated one more trip to the store.  Might I recommend replacing your hamburger bun with two slices of a Big Boy tomato, warm and fresh from the garden? 

And all of this made me feel quite better and I managed to forget all of those goofy little things.

Have a fortunate weekend.

Take care,


Fortune Cookie Roulette #23

It's the crying baby that gets the milk.

Congratulations to the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William who, besides having the most elegant titles, welcomed a little boy into their family.  I'm sure they are pretty well set in the baby linens department, so instead of a quilt, I'll just send along my good wishes. 

Our heat wave had me doing quite a bit of early morning piecing.  In fact, I didn't realize how much I'd done.  What you see here are some new pieces mixed in with some older ones that needed just a little work.  

I feel a bit more comfortable making tops just for the heck of it, not feeling that I have dive into quilting right away.  This is perfectly okay.  After I debulked my stash a few months ago, I was left with my absolute favorite fabrics.  It felt good to work with what I had, and just make tops for the sake of making tops.  After giving up knitting and sending my needle collection to a reader in the UK, I committed to going into the comb daily to cut and piece whenever my hands got a little antsy.  I'm so happy I did (I also sent a skein of baby blue cotton yarn, so I guess I had feeling . . .).

As a result of this furious stitching, I had to do some organization. 


I made up these cards which include the dimensions of the top as well as the anticipated batting and backing sizes.  If I've got some title ideas, I add those too.  I've started dropping borders on my quilts because they are the my least favorite element of a top.  So many times the quilting I do there seems like an afterthought.  I'm trying to change that and I think adding a pieced border might help.  Anyway, these cards are not like writing in stone, so if I want to add a border it's not a big deal to change the measurements.  It also helps if I'm running to the fabric store or placing an online order and if I want to throw in some batting and backing, I just check the card.  If someone calls and asks if I've got a quilt top ready to go, I can do a quick search of my inventory and we're all set.

So at last count, I have two quilts being hand quilted, six completed tops, three more in the piecing stage, and a few experimental blocks.  It looks like I will have quite a bit of cozy hand-quilting to do once winter arrives.  I am prepared.

Speaking of being prepared, here's a little advice to the new parents:  yes, it is the crying baby who gets the milk, but give him some hugs and kisses too.  A baby has so much to say and he is just trying to figure out what to say and how to say it.  So until he can tell you (and in no time at all, he will, trust me), give him those hugs and kisses and something to eat and all will be right with his world.  Cheers!

Take care,



Fortune Cookie Roulette #22

Pay attention, an opportunity will knock at your door.

I've spent the past few evenings hand-stitching the binding to my blue and white quilt and I'm almost done.  I find attaching bindings bittersweet, this time in particular.  I've spent a lot of time with this project, I'm very happy with the way it turned out and it was an absolute pleasure to work. In a few days, it will be gone to a home which sits on an island, where I hope its comfort will be felt when those warm summer days turn to cool and misty nights. Block-Island-13

I spent my studio time working on my Beatrix and Willem quilt.  That's the working title.  I might change it to Abdication but that sounds a little heavy duty.  


Most of my quilts have a decent amount of forethought to them.  Not this one.  It was born from a morning of destashing.  I just cut and sewed.  I had tons of cream fabric so I cut some alternate squares.  I thought it was looking kind of plain and with so much blue in the florals, I thought that my favorite orange would liven things up a bit.  


I was concerned with combining the abstract orange pattern with the very traditional Dutch floral, but I cut myself a break and just did it, and I'm happy I did.   So I guess it is looking more and more like a combination of traditional and modern, and I think it's working, just like I hope things are working out in the Netherlands and their transition of power.


One more thing,  for anyone who has visited my blog in the last several days,  I wanted to say thank you very much.  I particpated in the Celebrate Hand Quilting Blog Hop and I had no idea how many people would read my blog and leave a comment.  Let me change that: I meant to say nice people.  It was really fun to 'welcome' visitors and have the opportunity to visit other blogs.  With all that is going on in the world today, it is really encouraging to see so many people happy with handwork and sharing with each other.  Let's all keep putting those creative, positive, fun vibes out there!

Please come back again!

Take care,


Fortune Cookie Roulette #21

HANDQUILTING ON MY LATEST COMMISSION is going well, so well that I decided to spend studio time working on something new.  I recently reorganized the c.o.m.b. and found fabrics which my sister brought back from Amsterdam a while back.  I strip-pieced 3" widths to some cream fabric from a long time ago, anchored the blocks with a leftover funky green from Midsummer  and suddenly I had a 11 blocks:


I haven't decided on the setting - perhaps on point - but whichever way they go, I'm pretty sure I will alternate the blocks with larger cream squares.


The blues are telling me to add some orange and I think I will, perhaps as a slim 1" interior border.  I have quite a bit of orange from Midsummer as well.  It's an abstract tone-on-tone print but I think if it's cut small enough, it will work.  

So I was pretty happy when I left the comb on Monday, having gone in there at 7:30 in the morning with absolutely no plan in mind, just coffee cup in hand, and rediscovering some forgotten fabric.  I guess I was channelling The Netherlands when I learned later in the day that Queen Beatrix was planning to abdicate the throne in favor of her son, Willem.  Supporters of the crown wore orange, the color of the royal family, and just about everyone was having a good time.  

Had I pieced some blocks in a King's Crown pattern, I think I would have hung up my needle and bought lottery tickets or become a fortune teller or something as I was definitely picking up some vibe, somewhere.  What shall I call this quilt?  It's All Yours, Baby?

It's late.  Forgive me.

Anyway, I picked a fortune just for King Willem and his wife, Queen Maxima:

Do not worry about holding high position; worry rather about playing your proper role.

Take care,


Fortune Cookie Roulette #19 and #20


Two for one:

Every good friend once was a stranger. 


Don't be over self-confident with your first impression of others.


I've developed a renewed interest in using templates.  I swore I'd never use them again once I discovered improvisational piecing.  No doubt about it: there is a very good reason why Gwen Marston chose the word liberated to describe what she does. Between reading her book Liberated Quiltmaking II and taking a class with Denyse Schmidt a few years ago, improvisational piecing has made me a better quilter - I'm just a lot more relaxed with the whole process.  Each of the 400 pieces in this top and the 40 on the back was traced with my old-school cereal box templates and pinned before sewing.  This is a big deal for me and it is extremely gratifying.


I cannot wait to start hand-quilting it.  I say this as today's temperature reached 83 degrees. This gorgeous collection of fabrics is Indigo Crossing by Laurie Simpson and Polly Minick for Moda.  I will use my favorite batting, Quilter's Dream Request and I'm trying a new thread: Finca Presencia Perle Cotton Size #16 in a beautiful blue.  

This quilt is a commission and as much as I would like to show you the backing, I can't because it is a suprise.  

Quilting, improvisational piecing, and my sewing machine were once strange, intimidating and frustrating.  I also thought I knew a lot about the process.  It's nice to let first impressions go and to see it all in a different light.

Take care,



Wednesday: Fortune Cookie Roulette #18

When you awaken tomorrow, solutions to your problems will become clear.

I'm not someone who has trouble falling asleep.  I usually think of something pleasant - quilt plans, a menu for the week, colors, 1940s romantic comedies, my Oscar acceptance speech, flying through The Museum of Modern Art (the best dream I ever had), winning the lottery - nothing too taxing and all rather pleasant.  And then, before you know it, I'm struggling with my cell phone, trying to silence the alarm.

But it's those nights when my eyes just pop open and I look across the room to see my clock glowing . . . 2:45.  Desperately wanting to make the best of it I think about monks.  If I were a monk, I would be right on time.  I'd have fifteen minutes to get dressed and go to work.  Monks who live a contemplative life start the day quietly before they start their work.  Quilters I know want to dive right into work, but since we work with needles, rotary cutters and scissors it's a good idea to be bright eyed and bushy-tailed before you start.

I wish I could take advantage of those hours before dawn when sleep eludes me.  But the best, and probably the safest thing to do, is just lay there.  Which brings me to this:  I am having a design problem with a new commission.  Instead of making 12" blocks in a 5 x 5 arrangement without borders, I want to mix it up a bit.  I've sketched and erased and stretched and placed, but nothing is working.  Mind you, I'm just in the sketch phase, so I think I 've got to start piecing if I want to see how this is going to work:

I've gotten more comfortable with the idea of sewing sample blocks that I can reject and throw away.  Not all starts have to be kept.  In fact I think it's best to let them go instead of being tied to them.

So this little design problem is my idea of counting sheep.  I'll let you know if my fortune has come true.  If you have any info on creativity exercises, sleeplessness and contemplative monks, I'd love to hear it.

Take care,


Wednesday: Fortune Cookie Roulette #17

We live at the edge of the miraculous.

Honestly, I am amazed at the state of technology today.  I am writing this from my brand new computer, the delivery of which I tracked compulsively on my hand held device.  I know when it left the factory in China, bypassed the storms in the midwest, sailed through customs in Tennessee and hopped a ride in a FedEx truck from Kennedy airport.  What added to this wonder of the ages was that it arrived 23 hours ahead of schedule.

I like to wonder what my parents would think of all of this.  They were not here to see smart phones; in their time, car phones the size of bricks were just making their debut.  Car phones were tremendous luxury items, possessed by those with way too much money and the desire to be seen in awe.  A huge antenna on the roof of a sporty little car stood out in a lot full of bland, tan sedans.  

My parents learned to drive before automatic transmissions were designed.  Driving was a full body experience then: both hands, both feet, both eyes, and both sides of your brain were engaged and focused on getting somewhere, all in one piece.  Now that I think of it, we should go back to standard transmissions for everybody.  That would take care of the dialing while driving issue, wouldn't it?  Yeah, well.  One can only dream.

So as we get further into the miraculous of modern times, I think it's important to hold onto the ordinary, as depicted above.  While it was fun to track my computer from Shanghai to New York, it was actually kind of predictable, and it involved nothing more than tapping my right index finger and a quick glance of my eyes.  Throwing a toy across a field and having my dog find it and bring it back to me, only to do it again, and again, and again is a total experience for both of us, and it makes me wonder every time. 


Take care,


Wednesday: Fortune Cookie Roulette #15

It takes all sorts to make up the world.

While sitting at my frame yesterday, I had to turn my back to the tv for two reasons: I was blocking my light source, aka the sun, and boxing is w-a-y too bloody for my delicate sensitivities.  Instead of being distracted by bloody noses and split eyelids, I listened to and learned from the commentator, a former boxer himself who spoke rather poetically about the sport, though I could tell by the tone of his voice that he had suffered a broken nose or two during his time in the ring.


Following the path of the sun, I had to lift and move my frame now and then to take advantage of the best light. This nicely coincided with Women's Weightlifting - Middleweight (63kg).  I have a new found appreciation for weightlifters because not only do they have to hoist pounds way heavier than they are, they have to do it cleanly, as in not knock anything over.  While lifting my 20 pound frame, (Women's Weightlifting - Extremely Light Weight - 9 kg),  I came perilously close to breaking a window, knocking over a book case and impaling my foot.  I gave myself a bronze medal.


If you still have an Olympic dream inside of you, check out this app from the BBC.  By just entering your height and weight, you can find out which sport is meant for you.  While I was disappointed to find out that sprinting is not for me, I will watch Women's Hammer Throw with great enthusiam as my Olympic double is hammer-thrower Merja Kopela from Finland.  Who knew?  It takes all sports to make up the world too.

Take care,


Wednesday: Fortune Cookie Roulette #14

Failure is a dress rehearsal for success.

A long time ago, I had a Mariner's Compass block hanging in my studio. It was blue, green and white, had 16 points, and was 20" in diameter. Paper-piecing made for sharp points and matched seams.  It hung on my design wall in two parts, top and bottom, waiting to be put together.  I was afraid to finish it because I feared after all that work, the final product would not be perfect.  Eventually I gave it a go and sewed the two halves together.  I was right.  The halves did not match up - they were off by about an 1/8th of an inch.  I threw it away.  This preceded my long hiatus from quilting.

I shake my head at that now.  In the scheme of things, being off by an 1/8th of an inch is not a big deal, unless you are a plastic surgeon.  I've mellowed a bit in the past few years.  I love the  Mariner's Compass block and I really wanted to give it another go.  So after a few rather warm hours in my studio (corner of my basement) yesterday, this is what I have to show for it:

It still has its freezer paper backing, hence the bumpiness, the medium blue wedges were rough cut, hence the wavy edges, and it is held up by push pins, hence the red dots.  Not bad at all.  This one is a keeper.  As much as I would like to make another one today, this is part of a fundraising quilt so I've got to get moving on the 248 hsts to make up the the rest of the top which will be Ocean Waves.

There are two factors essential to any healthy relationship, be it personal or working: fun and love.  My failure with the first Mariner's Compass was not that the two halves did not match.  It was failure to recognize where the fun was in making it and loving the process.  I was so bent on being perfect in the process, that I failed to see the beauty in the result.  Having it hang on my wall for so long was like an albatross around my neck.  It was a source of really bad karma in my work space, when it should have been a source of inspiration.  So if failure is a dress rehearsal for success, than I guess it was worth it.  And now, it's showtime.


Happy 4th of July to you (and please be safe)!

Take care,