Entries categorized "Written, Spoken & Sung" Feed

Something's Coming . . .

Driving to work this week, I've played the soundtrack to West Side Story.  I've got a short commute but even small bits of this masterpiece is enough to lift your spirits.  It was a sad week for sure.

We've had small bits of summer this week too - sunny skies and warmer temps, the garden is bursting, the water is so blue (but not warm).  I guess this is where this new work came from.  Still working on it, just like summer is still working to be born, bit by bit. 


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,



Finding Liberty

My husband is a tie-wearing man.  He has quite a collection.  Some have sentimental value, some are classics, some are just sitting in his closet.  I have never pressured him in to giving me his no-longer-loved ties because while the idea of a tie silk quilt is truly an interesting one,  I have below zero interest in struggling with silks.  In fact, I have a nice collection of my own tie silks fresh off the bolt from a designer friend, yet I can't part with them (I know you understand).

But, a cotton tie with a bright and sunny print would make me reconsider.  El Jefe was done with these ties and he asked if I would be interested.




Uh, yeah.  Just what I need this week, a week that is shaping up to be grey, stormy, cold and snowy, a week that makes me think of a line from one of my favorite Shelly poems:

Oh Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Spring is just 40 days away.


Take care,




Red Riddles

    I bought two yards of Kona Rich Red.  No matter what the fabric, even if it's white, I pre-wash: hot water and a bit of detergent just to take out any finishing.  I rinse, wash and rinse until the water runs clear.  I never used color grabbers until recently so I thought I'd try them with the red.  Last night, I washed my red three times.  I let it air dry overnight and decided to wash it again this morning. Four cycles later and the color grabbers are still doing something.

Red 2
The fourth color grabber is almost identical to the second.

    I did change the soap.  The first three times I used Purex.  In the final wash I didn't, but I did use a bit of 20 Mule Team Borax and Arm & Hammer washing soda.  Even though the water looked completely clear to me,  the fourth color grabber definitely picked something up.  Not only that, some mysterious blue spots appeared after the fourth wash. Do you have any ideas as to what is going on?

Red 1
It looks like ink.

    Speaking of red, I pre-ordered Red & White Quilts: Infinite Variety.  It won't be released until September 22.  I am still kicking myself for not seeing the show in person.  Ironically, I was installing a quilt show that week and just couldn't make the trip. I have a nice stash of red and white fabrics (not to mention some freshly washed Kona Rich Red) and am anxiously awaiting this book both for inspiration and to satisfy my historical curiosity.  My question is this: why was Martha Stewart was asked to write the forward?

Take care,



Blissed Out

. . . that's been my state while hand-quilting this piece.  I've been working in 60 to 90 minute stitch spurts and it's been a dream.  It's a blustery, rainy day here and I've made some tea.  How about you?


      I can't imagine ever giving up hand quilting, but I am very excited to see where I can go with machine work. I'm currently looking for a book that will help me get my feet wet.  Each time I try my hand at it, I come away with a deeper appreciation of the skills necessary to achieve the beautiful work I've seen.  Breathe deep.

    Speaking of books, I've indulged myself lately.  What makes these books my new, and probably ever-lasting favorites is they are so well written in covering more than just not the how of quilting, but the why and what's next.  The books encouraged me to explore my own reasons for doing what I do.  It's kind of like finding your own maker/personality pattern.  And it's a good thing to put your ego in check every so often.


     I am within walking distance of the busiest interstate in the U.S.  The deer and woodchuck population has exploded recently, and it is quite common to see them dining al fresco on the embankments at rush hour.  Last week, a young black bear wandered into my neighbor's yard looking for snacks.  The cub was caught and hopefully reunited with his family.  I'm just glad he avoided the highway.  Don't know why he didn't go the beach.


     I joined a Community Supported Agriculture program because it makes complete sense for my family and it is a huge benefit for our local farms.  I also like being surprised with mystery vegetables every Thursday.  Puts a little zing in my day.  I know - out of control.  I also bought a cherry pitter.  My life is now complete.


     I have a job which requires me to do a lot of reading and a lot of sitting.  Add to my day 60 to 90 minutes of sitting and quilting and I think my heart may actually stop beating because of inactivity.  So much for bliss.  I got an app for my phone.  It's called Stand Up!   It reminds me to . . . stand up . . . every 30 minutes with a cheery little BING, and the message we want you to live longer.  It's a little creepy, but not altogether inaccurate, according to everything I've read.  I use it at my desk and at my frame - it really makes a difference.  Disclaimer:  I have no financial interest in this thing.  My only interest is my health and yours. Do yourself a favor.  Mine was free.


It's time for another cup.  Hand-quilting helps me process the lows and celebrate the highs, and we have had quite a bit of both around here in the last few weeks.  Quilting keeps my ego in check, it makes me think, it helps me process, it . . . BING! It's time to Stand Up!


Take care,




Boxing Ring: Round 8

    If there's one thing this project has taught me is that it's a good thing of step out of your comfort zone.  Making the same block over and over but with different fabrics, is eye-opening.


    I am stalled for the ninth block.  I'm heading to City Quilter soon and I might just buy one random (or as random as I can be) fabric to jump start Round 9.

    In the meantime, I've started messing around with something new.  This needs w-a-y more color, so yes, I am going to buy some some solids.  More on that in May . . .



    In other news, I am now on Instagram @jumpcutarts .  I waited w-a-y to long to do this, but it's a lot of fun.  I hope I can find you on there too.  

    My little blog reached a milestone this weekend - 20,000 views.  I realize that that number is small in blogland, but I'll take it.  I may not post a lot, but when I do, I try to make it good.  I might be doing a few wordless posts in the future just to change it up a bit and let the pictures speak for themselves.  I also have some house painting to do so I might be spent by the end of the day!

    Thank you all very much for coming by.

Take care,


PS: If I could just recommend a book, I'd like to say that I just finished reading Lynsey Addario's It's What I Do.  This is a transformative and challenging book  - check it out. 

Boxing Ring: Round 3

It is rather liberating just to make blocks without a finished quilt in mind.  I'm a planner, so I like to sketch the entire quilt and calculate all the yardage required, way before I even think of fabrics.  Only after I've washed and pressed my material (and if red fabrics are involved, I wash them a lot), can I start cutting and then set to the work of piecing.  I really like the assembly-line mode.  I get more done that way. 


Is it any wonder that my favorite shape is a square?

This new project has freed me to start working with fabrics I've been saving - for what I don't know.  I guess the right project had to present itself.


I've got quite a few pages of ideas for just the way I want to put this together.  It's times like this that I want to learn more about machine quilting . . .

- - - - - - 

Before last night, I couldn't remember the last time I saw a great documentary.  If you're looking for something to stitch by, please see Muscle Shoals.  On second thought, don't stitch while watching this.  The cinematography is jaw-dropping and the editing makes you forget you're watching a documentary.  It's the story of the sound of Muscle Shoals, the Alabama recording studio founded by Rick Hall.  If  musicians like Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers had any influence on you, you must see this.

Take care,


Ode On Finishing A Quilt During A Heat Wave

(With apologies to John Keats, Edgar Allen Poe, C.C Moore and Frank Sinatra,

and special thanks to my hand and feet models, Jill and Alice)


A glorious summer, not too cool, not too hot. 


Wispy days spent stitching,

pop - pop - pop.


With some speedy hand-quilting, 

I got to the edge.

Soon to be finished,

 this project, I pledged.


 The quilt was squared off,

the binding - pinned,Ode-to-Quilting-heat2

A chair selected, a beverage un-tinned;

how lovely to sew in the evening summer wind.


And then -

the breeze faded, the trees stopped blowing,

mosquitoes a-flight;

should I give up my sewing?

The temperature rose,

sweat fell down my cheeks,

I stitched nevermore

(well, at least three weeks).


 It sat on my chair,

forlorn and alone,

sulking and drooping,

like a teenager - sans phone.

 Days became weeks.  

The mercury soared.   

So sad to see my hexie quilt -                                        




I rallied.  

No quilt of mine, Ode-to-Quilting-Heat1

so close to completion,

would sit waiting and watching,

like Keat's urn (Grecian),

for the weather to cool,

the winds to blow,

the roof to be covered in

new-fallen snow.

I carried on, with thread and thimble,

stayed up way too late and watched

Jimmy Kimmel.


The heat is still high,

not a breeze to be found,

but my quilt is finished,

it's binding -

now bound.


Lo, my broken heart - to see summer ceasing,

Time on the beach rapidly decreasing.

But let's not forget that soon we'll be freezin'

and stitching is good for you, no matter the season.


Take care,





Fortune Cookie Roulette #30

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

I thought I was in the clear when I chose Summer Garden (Barbara Brackman's #2284b).  I love the name of the block and I thought it would work so well with a palette of white, purple and grey, with just a touch of green thrown in.  The quilt is for my grand-niece (!) who is due to arrive in mid-July, my favorite time of year.  I could almost feel the finished product, freshly washed and out of the dryer, all bumpy and comfy, ready to go.

I planned to make 9 blocks, each one 12" square so it would finish at 36" square.   I like the tradition of giving a baby a yard of fabric and I'm comfortable with that size.  It's perfect for a tummy time mat and later, when she's older, it would make for an excellent cape and a camping-in-the-living room tent cover too.  

I got this far and then I stopped.  I froze.  I left it up on my design wall for a while and then I took it down.  A few days later, I put it up again.  I really wanted this top to work but  it went nowhere.  So what went wrong?


For starters,  I've been thinking a lot about scale lately so the individual pieces for a baby quilt should be on the small size, as in less than 3 inches.  Super-large pieces, like two half-square triangles or even four 18" squares would work too - close to a whole cloth with a bit of a twist.  But the medium-sized open spaces in this top bothered me and I felt like it would work better as a twin bed quilt for a pre-teen girl.  The angles are pretty harsh too; it started to look like a Pac Man game.  So now it sits in the Drawer of Forgotten Blocks (funny - as I'm looking at this picture I'm seeing a secondary block emerge.  Down girl.).

So - working with 2" squares in mind,  I pulled out a gray fabric that I have absoultely no memory of buying (come on - don't tell me this has never happened to you before!) and I put it up on the wall.  Then I took some of my cut 2.5" squares and threw them into the mix.


 Version #1 


Sorry I'm leaning so much.

Version #2


Remember that Marvin Gaye song, You Got To Give It Up ? It's about a guy at a disco who's scared to get out on the dance floor.  He finally makes his move and has a blast.  That's the way I feel about this piece - I let go of what I thought I wanted to do and did something else.  Once I started putting the small squares up on the wall, I felt better.  I thought I was being too simplistic with the one patch idea, but I'm really happy with what happened.  I'm still working on the colors - some pink might work it's way in there, and I think the green is out - but I really like the direction this is taking.  

Whatever colors I use, this little quilt will make a great little cape for this little supergirl.

Take care,








NEWS: Quilting Makes Hard Times A Little Easier To Take

I like NBC news a lot.  I particularly like Nightly News with Brian Williams because his program does have a certain amount of gravitas when dealing with the news of the day and resists the temptation to be elitist or sarcastic.  The program often features stories on health issues particularly relevant to women, thanks to medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman, M.D.  Dogs are a favorite topic as well and not just stories of puppies rolling around on a pretend football field; these are stories of service dogs, particularly those dogs trained to assist soldiers readjusting to civilian life.  Quite a few shows feature military personnel - there was one a few months ago about a soldier who was recovering from life-threatening injuries and a quilt that was given to him by the Quilts Of Valor Foundation.  The woman who made this quilt saw the photo of the soldier lying in his hospital bed, covered by the quilt she made.  Can you imagine the reaction?

On Monday night, another story on quilting was presented.  This video, about Jenny Doan and The Missouri Star Quilt Company, is a great human interest story and it got me a little weepy.  Can you imagine a town hard hit by the recession that is now coming back to life because of one quilt store?  The shop employs 85 people for one thing, and there is a bit of a booming tourist trade because of this store.  Check out the video - it also addresses the issue of machine versus hand-quilting.  There is a lot to think about here.



Quilting does a lot for a lot of people.  I am so happy to be part of that world.

Take care, Byrd


PS  I do think that NBC News should have done a little more research on the phrase 'Quilt In A Day'.  I wouldn't want Eleanor Burns to feel left out or Jenny Doan to feel misrepresented.