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Summer Afternoon #2

The proper use of imagination is to give beauty to the world.

- Lin Yutang


Years ago, I wrote that quotation in one of my notebooks.  It's the guiding force in doing what I do - give beauty to the world.

I'm almost done with the new baby quilt, but I'll show that to you next time.  Meanwhile, here is some beauty for you.   







Share what's in your garden, make somebody a cold drink, don't stress about cupcakes.  Slow down.

Take a breath, be kind and talk to each other.


Take care,




Summer Afternoon #1

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

  - Henry James


SA 2
SA 6

A quilt for my newest grand-nephew.  Based on Mother's Choice (The Kansas City Star 1946), it is # 3051 from Barbara Brackmans's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (1993) It measures 38" x48".

SA 1

A block from my Quilt for Pulse.  The center heart pattern is from Cluck, Cluck Sew, as recommended by the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild.  They are an incredible group of people.  Thank you, Alissa, for getting this together.

SA 4

I have another grand-nephew on the way.  I'll show you more of the quilt later.  It is Boy's Nonsense from the  Ladies Art Catalogue (c. 1895), #2811 in Barbara Brackmans's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (1993).

SA 5

A beautiful summer afternoon.

Take care,



That's Why I Quilt

About a year ago, an old friend (the friendship is old, the friend is not) approached me about making a special suprise quilt to celebrate her daughter E's 21st birthday.  Having made that same daughter a quilt when she was born, I was kind of blown away by this request because a) I loved the idea and b) I realized those 21 years have flown by mighty quickly.

It was a group effort amongst a bunch of friends to buy the fabric, and we had a basting party, and it was a great experience.  Collaborating with my friend was wonderful.  I didn't write that much about it which was really hard to do.  So here you go:


 E Is 21

It is all batiks and hand-quilted on a 1-2 " grid.  To say the bump factor is high is a royal understatement.  Because of the close-quilting as well as the all-cotton fabric, batting and thread, it was super-bumpy when I took it out of the dryer.  My kind of quilt.

_MG_4695This photo does not come close to showing the bumps (before washing).

I received a lovely thank you note from E shortly thereafter.  I was expecting the note - E's parents raised her well - but I was not expecting to be as overwhelmed with emotion as I was.  I'm sure you know the feeling.

Earlier in the week, I sent my grandniece a little doll quilt.  When her mom unwrapped the package and gave it to P, she looked at her mom and said "down", meaning down to her little house.  So off she went, where she sat in her little chair, with her little book, her little quilt, all in her own little house.  I was having a rather frustrating moment at work when this picture came through my phone, and again, I was overwhelmed. Bliss.



I have still not recovered.  I am not a sweet, sugar-coated, rainbows and unicorns kind of person.  Maybe I can be a little sentimental and a wee bit nostalgic now and then, but I couldn't help but get a little choked up over all of this.  The whole quilt process makes me a very happy person - from the first sketch to the last stitch. I can't appliqué to save my life, and my quilts are not that complex.  I am not the most prolific quilter and my stash has serious gaps.  And while I may have difficulty expressing the happiness I have in the making, believe me, it's in each and every stitch.


 I guess that's why I do this.  I truly hope it's the same for you.

 Take care,


Just One S'more Day


And that was that.

It was a gorgeous summer and I am s-o-o-o sad to see it go.  Our last night on the beach together was just what I wanted: a clear sky with a beautiful sunset, no mosquitoes, my extremely funny friends, and a cool and lovely breeze that made me reach for a quilt at just that precise moment when the sun said . . . see ya.

And yet here it is again, another stunning day.  It takes a while to say good-bye to my favorite season and all the good things about it: boat rides, hot breezes (and cool ones), starry skies, a little color in my cheeks (don't tell my dermatologist) and all manner of foods cooked outside - except fruit.  I'll never understand grilled peaches when there is nothing better than a fresh peach, on its own.  So what is the ultimate dessert cooked outside on a grill?  Yes, the lovely s'more.  I suppose as long a you have a gas grill you could eat s'mores all year long, but don't.  A s'more is that one dessert that should only be eaten from Independence Day through Labor Day.  I'm kind of rigid about that, but I will allow an October s'more fest on a campout if you're into that sort of thing.

But if you are a purist like me, I offer you this: a s'mores quilt, to be enjoyed whenever.


and a little free verse as well:

smokin' s'mores, one more time

combusting fire pit of sugar

my mouth is seriously a-flame

And I mean that, literally.  Who has not bitten into a s'more when it was still on fire, that little sugary ember, hidden in the folds of ash?


And who has not laughed when eating s'mores?  They are messy sweet treats and the little dance we all do to extinguish the firestorm in our mouths is just an other exercise in summer fun.  It's just so worth it.

Happy Labor Day.


Take care,


Fortune Cookie Roulette #35

    For the 10th Anniversary of my nephew's fundraiser for ALS,  I wanted to build a quilt around the number 10.  I spent many a night, pencil (and mouse) in hand, sketching what came to mind.  I had quite a few ideas that I liked, but I couldn't make a decision (I'll remember this the next time I am feeling somewhat less than creative).  So I turned to my collection of fortune cookies.

Make big plans.

    That did it.  I knew that I wanted the quilt to be bigger than I normally make, which is typically a 55" square. I wanted to do central motif,  a medallion,  a single symbol,  to represent the tenth year of the event, so I thought, why not a ten-pointed star?

10 star word

    Have you ever tried Microsoft Word to draft your patterns?  You should and if not that, try Pages for Mac.  The Shapes tool in both programs drafts stars with lots of points - enormously helpful.  What you see above is a picture of a set of fabrics that I 'cut' in Word and then arranged into in a star.  Guess this is the poor man's version of Adobe Illustrator.

    So the other day, while it was 82 degrees in my work space, I stitched  32" 10 pointed star.  I won a jelly roll of Michael Miller fabrics a while back and felt that this was the perfect time to experiment. I'm not sure that this is the color choice I'm going with, but with the August sun blazing, there was no sense in fighting it.  I think I might be going for a star, so I might go blue.


     This is what I did.  I sewed 2 sets of 9 2.5" strips.  Using the template I made in Word, I cut each diamond blade.  At the blade's widest point, it is 5 inches plus seam allowance.  Out of one jelly roll strip set, you will only get 7 blades, hence the arrangement above, where I had to use both sets to get a complete star.  I love how if you stare at it long enough, the secondary five pointed star comes through.

    Using the seven blade set, you can get an idea as to where you star is headed, but I think you really need all 10 blades to make a decision.


    I came up with 13 different combinations - a fascinating process.  It is a great way to experiment with value, hue and saturation.

    I'm paying more attention to my instincts lately.  When I came across this tomato with its secondary star fish pattern, I knew I was on the right path.



Take care and keep cool,



Half Way Home

I reached the midway point in my hexagon quilt.  The bottom half is complete and now it's back to the middle.  This has been a fun, colorful, summer project and I am so happy with the progress I've made. 


On a related note, we are half way through summer.  Even if I didn't know that August 6th is the mid-point of summer for those of us in the Northern Hemsiphere, I  would have been tipped off by the sound of crickets whistling in the early afternoon and the fading southern light in my side yard.  But if the skies were dark and crickets quiet, I would still have the most reliable indicator of this transition: the appearance of Halloween candy in my local market.  Sure enough, when I did my food shopping today, I found a prominent display of orange and brown napkins and leafy wreaths, right next to bags and bags of candy corn stacked high on the shelves.



It's been (and still is) a beautiful summer.  I have not had to use the air-conditioner very much;  I've sat by the open window in the early morning and late afternoon and blissfully stitched, enjoying the breeze and the occasional hummingbird.


The pendulum of the seasons has begun to swing back and it's time for me to roll my quilt.  I'm in no rush to finish it just as I am in no rush to see this summer come to a close.  


I'll hold onto my  sunflowers a bit longer, thank you.

Take care,




Sea Fever

Not a lot of quilting going on here, but there's lots going on outside.  The Long Island Sound at the end of July is all about shape, color and texture.  Inspiration is all around.  So many ideas, so little time!








I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

from Sea Fever by John Masefield

Fortune Cookie Roulette #31

 The rubber bands are heading in the right direction.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I'm baffled.  This fortune is kind of random and out there,

so I'm putting some random stuff out there today.  

My right arm is on the fritz so I've had to take a break from quilting.  Bummer.


 I love symmetry in nature.  


What a difference ten days makes.


Cereal for dinner means an easy clean up.


Thinking a lot about log cabin quilts.


Took out the color to appreciate value.


I don't get it. 


 I treated myself to homemade soap.  Lavender and bergamot.


Cannot wait to start reading this.


Christmas in July?


I miss this. 

Take care,


Fatherly Advice

    A while ago, I started thinking about how advice is passed around and down the family line, much like quilts.  Recipients of either are lucky indeed.  Good advice is rare, and family quilts, lovingly and carefully made, are rare too.

    I thought that preserving familial advice in a quilt would be a nice project.  I showed you a piece I made that summed up my mother's best advice.  It was an idea that lodged itself in my head for the longest time and I just had to get it out there.  Back in November, I showed the piece to a small group of fiber artists that I meet with, led by the wonderful Jane Davila.  My advice?  Hang out with people who know more than you do. One of our group members liked the piece but she gave me a very simple suggestion:  go smaller.  I was encouraged by that because I didn't want this piece to stand on its own; I wanted it to be part of a series, as in a series of blocks.  Duh.  The idea is still not complete, but I'm getting there.  I've got a bunch of images in my head and I'm working my way through them.

    So this being Father's Day I though I'd share a little advice from Pop.  He would have turned 100 this week.



    Note the cigarette in his left hand.  

    Anyway, food was (and is) a pretty big deal in our family so it was often the topic of discussion.  We were taught early on about the importance and prepartion of good food.  Processed foods were a definite no-no except when it came to potato chips and then all bets were off.  Speaking of bets, my father also taught me about horse racing, but that's a story for another day.  (By the way - anyone know where I can get horse-themed quilt fabric?)


     Eat nothing white, he told us.  Sugar, white flour, white bread and whole milk were big mistakes.  Unsweetened butter didn't count because technically it was pale yellow.  He made a wicked bolognese sauce but I have only a vague memory of the pasta which accompanied it.  His chicken curry was excellent, but the white rice served with it was a minor player.  Baked potatoes were a rarity, but not during the summer, when they were roasted on a smoky grill.  I highly recommend that method, and serve the potatoes with (pale yellow) butter, of course.

    So with all of the nutritional advice we are given every day, this one still stands the test of time.  I think if Pop were still around, he'd just shake his head in disbelief, amazed that people have to be told this stuff again and again.  

    And yet, here I sit, hot tea on my desk.  All children rebel, of course, and I am no exception.  My tea has just a bit of sugar in it, but at least the milk is 1%.

Take care,


She Was The Best Dog

On Wednesday morning, we lost the best dog in the world.

Just shy of 10 years old, Fiona was suffering terribly from a malignant tumor on her thyroid which spread to her heart.

She would collapse any time she saw someone she loved, and since she loved everyone, we had to make sure things were pretty calm when anyone came to call. 

My son said her heart was just too big.  His diagnosis was pretty close to the truth.

We called her Mom Dog because she would patiently play with all the puppies that came to live on our street.  

We learned a lot of important things from her.  We learned to Think Labrador:

Take naps.  Often.


Keep your beauty routine simple.


If you have a fireplace, build a fire.


Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.


Take care of little ones.


Get plenty of exercise.


Lay down in flower beds so you smell nice.


Don't get in over your head.


 Be dramatic only when necessary.


Take another nap.


Choose your backdrops wisely.


Have fun with your family.


Up to the end, she was brave, dignified, loving, and of course, napping.  


Our hearts are broken.


She really was the best dog.