Winter Wooly

Lisa’s “brown wooly” ready to hand quilt

Is it big enough?

Is it big enough?


My Pickles- Lynne, Lisa and I had a December wool quilt basting party the week before Christmas. While we basted Lisa’s quilt we reminisced about how long this quilt had been in progress – three or four years? It was definitely started at a March Pickle Weekend, but which one? We finally decided it had to be over 4 years ago.


That year I’d brought two tubs of brown felted wool  to the retreat per Lisa’s request.


Quilt block

Detail of pant pocket in quilt block

She picked out lots of different browns, mostly wool slacks, and started sewing them together into long strips.

She wanted a large quilt for the couch in her living room. She worked on it off and on over the next few years around and between other projects, but at some point she stopped liking it, became discouraged and put it away.

Detail of quilt block


Finally she pulled it out again and cut it into squares. She added more accent colors. Last March she finished her blocks and left the retreat ready to add sashing.

Detail of quilt square



A consultation with Lynne at Stonemountain and Daughter resulted in the perfect color: black.


Quilting Thread Colors

Choosing the thread colors for hand quilting


Lisa is planning on handquilting her wooly. Due to the thickness of the felted wool, cotton batting and flannel backing we mostly  tie or hand quilt our woolys. There is nothing quite like a heavy wool quilt to snuggle under on cold winter nights.



Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all a wonderful year wrapped up in quilts.



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Finished At Last

Scraps for making the HSTs for my Medallion Quilt

Scraps for making the HSTs for my Medallion Quilt

Ok, so my last post was mostly pictures of trees…. I immediately heard “Where are the quilts??!” Hopefully you can see the connection between that post and this one. In between taking those pictures I was also quilting (or struggling to quilt) my Medallion quilt that I started at BIQR in 2012. As you can see from my scraps, I was inspired by the fall colors in Michigan while I was there.


BIQR 2013 Show and Tell

BIQR 2013 Show and Tell

I finished the top before I left for this year’s retreat and brought it with me with the hope that I might find some wisdom or inspiration for how to quilt it. No light bulbs went off; I worked on other projects and brought it home still unfinished and uninspired.



No worries, I thought. I’ll just pin it and it maybe then I’ll get inspired. I’d love to tell you that the heavens opened up, the angels started singing and I heard a voice telling me how I should finish it, but no such luck. Still, I did figure out my first step – a grid for the center square. Slowly the rest sort of followed. I quilted in the ditch on either side of my teensy tiny sawtooths as I really wanted to highlight them….after all that was my one (plus another) “hard thing.”

Finished at last!

Finished at last!

I quilted each of the plain borders with a free motion single cable but as I progressed I started noticing every skipped or jumpy stitch. I took out the ones I really couldn’t live with but then I sternly told myself to just keep quilting. “Done is better than perfect,” I told myself. And, lo and behold, as I continued outwards, my free motion cables got a little better….and I got it done.

Finished feels so good.

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Fall Colors

I’ve been photographing the many Japanese maple trees in my neighborhood and their vibrant colors this fall.

Neighborhood Japanese Maple Trees

Neighborhood Japanese Maple Trees

My own Japanese maple tree

Tall maple full of leaves

Tall maple full of leaves


A few weeks after I started taking pictures, we had a two very windy days……

Yard full of leaves

Yard full of leaves




A carpet of leaves covered the yard.



A few stubborn leaves left

A few stubborn leaves left






Same tree after the windstorm.





And then we had our first rain of the season.

First Rainy Day

First Rainy Day




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Quilt out of the Grenier de Pradelles

Grenier de Pradelles is the attic in the village in France where i was born.

Intricate embroidery, in French: Jours

Intricate embroidery on the corner of a sheet, in French: Jours

Intials embroidered at the top of a sheet.

Intials embroidered at the top of a sheet.

I love going to my birth village,  Pradelles in  Haute-Loire, one of the most remote region of France, still very rural and often referred to as la France profonde — the equivalent here would be to our rural California, for example any small town in Siskiyou county or northern California close to the Nevada and Oregon border, Modoc county. When i get there i feel energized and full of life. I went there in July and my cousin had a whole shelf full of linen that she had pulled out of the attic,  waiting for me. There were sheets of all sizes, matrimonial, children, one extremely long one. There were also some édredons feather comforter  covers for children beds, a little bit like the couette covers i have been making for kids around me.  They were all made out of different weights of linen & cotton and white, off white and dirty white. I could already envision the dye baths that were to transform them.


the pieces come together as a whole

IMG_2163Years ago i had made a duvet cover and my daughter Magali admired it.  So i decided that all those old sheets would find their way into a duvet cover for her.  Luckily i had a Pickles retreat coming up and i knew that with all the energy and support that i get during the long week-end i could get it done.  I dyed some of the sheets  in various shades of orange.  And it all came together.

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

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Freddy Moran

Spike quilt with bias strip demo in 2nd red row

Freddy holding her Sari Quilt









Freddy's Self-Portrait

Detail of Freddy’s Self-Portrait Quilt


The Monday after returning from Week 3 of BIQR Catherine and I attended a workshop put on by our quilt guild: East Bay Heritage Quilters Freddy Moran was teaching Spikes, from her and Gwen’s book Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again. This was Catherine’s first time to meet or attend a class by Freddy. Needless to say, Freddy has a new follower.


Fern's Spikes

Fern’s Spiky beginnings


Catherine's Spiky Beginnings

Catherine’s Spiky Beginnings









Favorite Freddy quote of the day: “Why use 10 fabrics when 100 would be more interesting?” She advised everyone to include the size of the quilt on the label when you sign and date it for easy reference.

We were all amazed to hear that she only started quilting the year she turned 60! Twenty years and counting she is still going strong and evolving as a quilter/artist.

She left us with these words of wisdom: “Do your own work and make it fun.”

For more pictures of Freddy check out Nifty Quilts blog – Freddy taught in a workshop in Seattle not long after ours.

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Celebrating 30 years of Gwen Marston’s Beaver Island Quilt Retreats

Gwen Marston wearing her signature red bow


Ok, a bit late, but here’s my post for Week 3 of BIQR 2013.



This was only my second time to attend BIQR but it was great to meet up with friends from last year and get to know others better.



Ice cream break


Gwen: Preaching to the Choir

Gwen: Preaching to the Choir








It was a week spent focused on quilting with a few breaks for things like ice cream and “choir practice.”

On the final day of the retreat we presented our liberated log cabin blocks we made for Gwen out of the fabrics we were using in our projects.

Liberated Log Cabins from Week 3 to Gwen

Liberated Log Cabins from Week 3 to Gwen


Thank you Gwen for your 30+ years of spreading the Quilting Gospel.

And thank you to all of my fellow “Gwenny Girls” for your pictures!


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Back to the classroom

Welcome to Tacoma, WA

Welcome to Tacoma, WA

Labor Day has come and gone. Everyone is back in school or back to work, including me. The Textile Mavens Beginning Quilting classes begin at the Richmond Art Center this week (Thursdays, 10am-12noon, Sept.12-Oct. 10/repeating Oct. 17-Nov. 14) and my Wonky Stars class at New Pieces is Saturday, September 28 and October 19, from 1pm-5pm.

I spent the last official weekend of summer in Tacoma, WA, settling my youngest son into his room for his second year at University of Puget Sound. After the required Target run, neither my credit card nor I were needed. I was free to roam the town. So, as I am want to do wherever I go, I checked out the local quilt shops and thrift stores. The first quilt store I explored was Parkland Parish Quilts.

Parkland Parish Quilt Shop

Parkland Parish Quilt Co.


Parkland Parish is located in, yes, an old parish or church. I had seen pictures of this quaint little shop in a magazine a number of years ago but hadn’t made the connection that the Tacoma I was in and the Tacoma of the shop were one and the same – what a wonderful coincidence!

Fabric Display in Stained Glass Window Nook

Fabric Display in Stained Glass Window Nook


Clothesline full of staff aprons

Clothesline full of staff aprons







A line of aprons float across the ceiling and the various nooks and crannies of the sanctuary are filled with light from the stained glass windows and bolts of fabric. Heaven on earth for a quilter!

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet

Second stop was Evergreen Quilts. Using an old flier from the 2011 Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop, I punched the address into my GPS and pulled up to a store front Baptist Church….a quilt store turned into a church…..  A phone call later I had the new address.

On display at the store were examples of the latest project: “tuffets” as in “Little Miss Muffett sat on a ….”

I just might need to make one of those!

Believe it or not, this town (pop. 198,397),  has not just two quilt stores, but three. Unfortunately, it was Sunday and Trains Fabrics, Etc. was closed. Still two fabric stores, the local Goodwill store, topped off by a walk through Point Defiance Park and a bar-b-que dinner at Famous Dave’s made for a full day.

Ceiling of the Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Ceiling of the Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Courtship of the Sun and Moon by Cappy Thompson 2012

Courtship of the Sun and Moon by Cappy Thompson 2012

Monday I explored the old waterfront area of Tacoma, walking over the Chihuly Bridge of Glass to the Museum of Glass.

The exhibit that held my interest the most was called Northwest Artists Collect. The display included seven artists: Dick Weiss, Ginny Ruffner, Richard Royal, Cappy Thompson, Preston Singletary, Martin Blank and Joseph Rossano.


The exhibit included not just pieces of their work but items they collected that inspired or intrigued them. If I wasn’t a quilter, I might just have to take up glass blowing!


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Summertime and the quilting ain’t easy


Unfinished baby quilt due to way too many interruptions!

It’s late August and I have that familiar pang: I can’t wait for summer to be over! It’s not that I’m anxious for relief from hot weather because in the Bay Area we get more fog than sun in August. Our hot weather comes in September and October. No, I am eager to return to that organized chaos known as “back to school.” With 5 kids, summers have always been busy, hectic and full. Now that we have only one child left at home, the school year is a much more mellow, manageable  affair.

Basket Quilt top finished on the Summer Pickle weekend, now waiting to be pinned

However, college students have a habit of returning home for the summer or after graduation. Grown kids pop in and out on a regular basis and they all have one thing in common: they’re looking for food. “You know, that good food you used to make us Mom!” Now, as an almost empty nester I’ve started cooking less and quilting more. These busy, unpredictable summer schedules can get in the way of this new life I am making for myself. I’ve been known to get a little snappy and cranky at the hints or outright pleas that I make food rather than quilts. “Really??? Can’t you just go make a(nother) PBandJ? Or maybe make dinner for me instead?”

First row of three rows sewn together of Scrappy Star Quilt



This summer, much to everyone’s consternation, I instituted a new schedule: I would cook twice a week, do the shopping and everyone else had to cook on the other five nights. I even offered to buy the ingredients they might require for their dinner nights if they got them on my grocery list before I did the weekly shopping. That worked….sort of. But I still had the issue of cooking two times a week and grocery shopping. And then there were those other”requests” -could I help make costumes for a movie picture the oldest is shooting, fill out forms for the returning high school senior, shop for clothes and supplies for the returning college student, make paint color decisions for the outside of the house….They just won’t let me alone.  I’m really looking forward to Labor Day Weekend!

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Kudos To My Local Library


Berkeley_Public_Library_side_view.jpg (800×537)

We, the citizens of Berkeley, are fortunate to have four branches libraries, a Tool Lending Library and our beautifully restored, downtown Central Library that all offer many free programs for the entire community. One of those programs is the Annual Quilt Show. This is a non-juried quilt show that is open to everyone. My partner, Catherine, and I have had the good fortune of working with Debbie Carton at the Central Library in developing and presenting a program about quilting in conjunction with our annual quilt show for the last two years.

Last year we gave a short talk on making community quilts, called Quilting by Committee. This year Debbie had the idea of doing something more hands on. The three of us met, brainstormed, discussed and decided on a plan. We would offer a one day program to teach young people how to quilt – from start to finish – in three hours. We called it Quilting Condensed. On Sunday, June 2nd, from 1pm – 4pm we taught 4 high school boys and 4 adults how to make a simple wall hanging from start to finish.  The best part of that was the feeling that we left them wanting more; that we opened up new ideas and creative paths for them that they never expected to explore.

Students in the Central Library Quilting Condensed Workshop

Students in the Central Library Quilting Condensed Workshop


What an amazing experience – and I’m not talking from the point of view of the students. It was so much fun as teachers, quilters, moms, two middle-aged women – however you want to describe us – see our new students ponder over fabric color choices, design, learn to use a rotary cutter, an iron and a sewing machine for the first time and, as one student said, “have more fun than playing video games.” Now that statement, coming from a young man of prime time video game age, has to warm the cockles of any parent’s heart!

Above all, I want to give credit to this amazing experience to Debbie Carton, the visionary, promoter and long time Keeper of the Quilt Show. By the way, Debbie was offered and just accepted a full-time, permanent position at our Central Library in the Art and Music Department – Congratulations, Debbie. And thanks to all of our wonderful students. Without students we couldn’t be teachers!

Here’s to many years of happy quilting to all of our new quilters!


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May Baskets

Very old, quirky "basket" block

Very old, quirky “basket” block

I’m a sucker for basket blocks. Especially odd, not quite perfect ones. I found this stray basket block years ago at a thrift store. It never ceases to make me smile. According to Barbara Brackman in her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns this block is related to basket blocks but its name is Cake Stand. The maker of this Cake Stand block made the right side of her “cake” correctly but she must have opened her oven door too quickly because the left side “fell.”


I suppose I inherited this love of baskets from my mother. She wove baskets out of all sorts of things: grape vines, twigs, grasses. I have a number of baskets she made or collected over the years throughout my house. I also like to make baskets, but because I’m a quilter, mine are made out of fabric.

Elsie - self portrait - age 15

Elsie – self portrait – age 15

In fact, one of my favorite basket quilts is a wall hanging I made a few months before she died. Four years ago, on June 3rd, 2009, she died from Alzheimer’s. The last year or so of her life she could no longer could do any of the things she so loved: crafts, music or gardening. Visiting her was always such a bittersweet experience, especially towards the end. She was still there in body but so much of her -or the mother/person I knew – was gone.

In memory of my mother, Elsie Royce    July 30,1926-June 3, 2009

In memory of my mother, Elsie Royce
July 30,1926-June 3, 2009


In the midst of this long good-bye, I decided to make a scrappy basket quilt using tans and browns to look like her basket weaving.The background had to be blue – her favorite color. I made the handles using scraps of brown ric rac from both my mother’s and grandmother’s scrapbag. I love this quilt. It reminds me of her.



One of four "basket" blocks

Odd basket block #1


In March of this year I found four lovely blocks at The Legacy in Sebastopol that sort of looked like basket blocks, but not. Maybe that was why they were up for adoption. I found them irresistible so they came home with me. I pinned them to my design wall and there they’ve stayed for the last few months. Sometimes as I’m sewing or just sitting in my studio I find myself gazing at them and wondering about these blocks. Were they made that way on purpose or by mistake? Should I make a wall hanging out of just these four? Or should I make some more blocks and put them in a quilt?

Odd basket block #2

Odd basket block #2

Or are they happy as they are, just hanging around looking pretty? I’ve arranged them into different settings and configurations, discussed them with my quilting buddies, but nothing seemed right. Mostly I just enjoyed looking at their soft pastel colors and slightly odd look.

Reconfigured "basket" block

Reconfigured “basket” block

Finally yesterday as I looked at them again I realized that if I took each block apart and turned a few pieces around I could make a “real” basket or cake stand block.

So I promptly began ripping one apart and resewing it. I am thrilled with how my new block looks and can’t wait to redo the other three.

Original three plus one updated block

Original three plus one updated block

Now, there are at least two opinions among quilters about taking things apart. I will rip out and redo something that doesn’t work for me. Catherine, my partner (please read her post!), is in the “no ripping allowed” group. Over the years of knowing each other we have benefited and learned from each other’s views. I have learned that what may seem like a mistake to me is not one to someone else. Catherine has taught me that sometimes I need to just keep going. I like to think she has learned from me – after all, she dismantled her mother-in-law’s mink coat and made it into a quilt!

But enough blogging! I have three more blocks to rip out and resew. Now the question is: do I stop there or find more “soft”, pastel fabric in my fat quarters and make a few more? And how shall I set it? Oh, and what about the quilting…….  So many questions, so little time.

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A Quilt From Coat to Quilt –and that is mink!

Pickle Lynne trying out the coat when it had already lost a sleeve

Baruch wondering if it should become a throw!

This idea came to me when i was in New Orleans caring for my son Baruch. He bought a new couch and mentioned how it would be great if i could make him a throw to have there on the couch to make the leather more cozy.  I remembered that mink fur coat of my mother in law Pauline -Baruch’s grandmother Yaya– that had been in a cedar trunk in my house since she passed away 11 years ago.  Hooray I could repurpose the beast!

Timing was perfect because in the close horizon was my Pickles Retreat –a group of quilters/friends/amazing women who get together as often as we can, but the big one is a long, long week-end at Fern’s beautiful house in Graton.  I knew i would have many hours to work on this project, but even better the support and ideas of all the Pickles.

Italian wool

I stopped by Stonemountain & Daughter with a sleeve of the coat –no way was i traveling in Berkeley with a full mink coat–that i cut out to find some fabric to go with the mink.  Susan suggested an italian wool that was so soft and luscious, brown with specks of red, yellow and green.  Absolutely gorgeous and in par with the richness of the minks.

Got to Graton on friday afternoon, luckily it was an absolutely beautiful day and i could set up on the deck to cut out the coat. Did not want to bring up allergic reactions with all that mink cut out and floating around.  But outside it was perfect and i know that by now all the birds’ nests in a 10 mile radius are cozily lined with mink!

Inside the coat, under the lining. Those long strip are reinforced by diagonal seams

Once i took the lining out i was absolutely amazed by the way the coat was constructed.  Long strips of fur, joined with some sort of twill tape. I also was blown away by the amount of work that had gone in the processing of the mink.  every quarter of an inch, at an angle, there is a zigzag seam to reinforce the leather.  I also noticed that the pieces of mink that were in places where there would not be stressed did not have that extra reinforcing: for example the inside of the lapel. It took me a couple hours to get the coat laid out, with the 2 sleeves  and the collar. It got dark and cold and i decided that a new day would be perfect to start up with the design.

Early Saturday morning all the Pickles came out –some still in their pjs– and  we came up with the idea of a spiral.  I started from the center, building the quilt in a log cabin manner intersecting it with the Italian wool. I realized that i needed to leave a big seam allowance on the wool side so that it would not ravel.  I was happy to find out that the leather needle went in very smoothly and that my Bernina did not seem to suffer.  I did promise her that she would get a full tune up when i was done with the project because there was so much fur flying everywhere.

Spent the whole day happily building the quilt.  Realized that i would have just enough mink to make a 60 inch square quilt.  The stripes on the outside are bigger and there is no border. Thanks to a pickle suggestion i did not put a border, or a binding.  The envelope style quilting seemed the most appropriate.  The last round was very uneven, the strips were not rectangular and felt like they had a life of their own.  I decided not to fight it and as a result the quilt is not a perfect square but i love how it feels that it has a life of its own.

I had planned to sew the closing seam by hand but found it so hard to go through the leather that I opted for a zigzag stitch on the machine.  It worked nicely even though i had to spend time with a thin knitting needle pulling out the hair that had been caught in the seam.  It was absolutely worth it.

I put some cotton batting inside the “envelope” and quilted in the ditch with brown thread.  It did look good on the back.  I added a label on the back including the label of the coat.





If you want to know more about mink coats check this blog: starsandgarters/how-a-mink-coat-is-made/

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Well, I missed a few months of posts – let’s just consider that my winter hibernation. The first day of spring is tomorrow but, just in case I don’t trust the calendar, the magnolia trees in the neighborhood and my own quince tree is glorious, budding proof.








Over my “winter break” I sewed up a 12″ “floor quilt” made from scraps from the Beaver Island Retreat. Hopefully you will now understand all the Wizard of Oz references from my Beaver Island post. Most of the scraps came from my table mate, Kathy, who was making a Wizard of Oz quilt for her daughter. The quilt came together so quickly, it sort of made itself. I have it hanging on my design wall, a wonderful visual reminder of my time at Gwen’s retreat.

Wonky Stars Class Sample Quilt

Shortly after returning from the Beaver Island retreat I taught my first “official” quilt class – Wonky Stars, based on Gwen’s Liberated II at New Pieces Quilt Store in Berkeley. My sample quilt is all in brights with lots of black and white to “calm it down,” as Freddy Moran would say. The best part of teaching the class was watching the students create their own version with their own color palette.

Student Work in Progress


















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Beaver Island, Michigan

Sign at entrance of White Birch Lodge

In September I traveled all night from San Francisco, California, to Traverse City, Michigan, for my first Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Gwen Marston. I had never been to the mid west before and “Beaver Island” loomed in my imagination as a magical place that I had only heard about in quilting fairy tales – the fantasy land for “liberated” quilters and/or “serious” quilters. I only hoped I was serious and liberated enough.

Follow the road to White Birch Lodge


I came for the 29th Beaver Island Retreat, now held at the White Birch Lodge in Elk Rapids, Michigan. It could have been somewhere in Kansas as far as I was concerned. I definitely wasn’t in San Francisco anymore.




The theme this year was Medallion Quilts. I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I hoped to complete or at least work on a liberated wedding quilt I had started at Asilomar with Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston in 2010. Of course, I had to bring extra fabric in case I finished that project or just needed more choices. I needed more choices. The liberated wedding quilt piece only came out at “show and tell” on Wednesday night.

Saw tooth border in progress

I chose a green floral piece of fabric as the center for my medallion, framed it with a green plaid and rust colored corner posts. Gwen had suggested in her first morning lecture that we try “one hard thing.” I had never done a saw tooth border so decided to make a scrappy saw tooth border as my next border. For far, so good. But what possessed me to work with 3/4″ squares I’ll never know. I suppose I was working the “one hard thing” suggestion, but 3/4″ – really???

Beaver Island Medallion

I doggedly worked on my border and by the last day of the retreat had finished it and had added another solid border of green with four teeny, tiny liberated star blocks as posts and little slivers of fabric in the bottom border. I was looking at my piece and wondering where I might go next as Gwen was making her rounds of our work tables. She paused, studying mine and said, “What about another row of saw tooth borders?” At that point, I think I took a walk with my camera and shot a few photos.

View of the lake from the quilting room

Color inspiration for B.I. Medallion









My final picture of my trip to Michigan is a photo I took on the way to the airport – a wonderful rainbow over the marshes outside of Traverse City. I wish I could say that all I had to do was click my heels three times and I was back in California but I had to travel back the same way I went – by plane.

Rainbow over the marshes outside of Traverse City, Michigan


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Last Days of Summer

August’s annual showing of “Naked Ladies”

In my last post I was leaving for my annual Summer Pickle Retreat in Sebastopol. We ate well, sewed a lot, and laughed and talked into the night. One of my favorite memories of that weekend was lying on the deck under blankets watching for falling stars.  We saw lots of small stars zip across the sky and one spectacular comet that streaked right through the middle, drawing out squeals of surprise and delight from all of us.

Lunch on the deck



After our required stop at “The Legacy” thrift shop we stopped by Walker’s Apples off of Graton Rd. in Sebastopol for our annual box of Gravenstein apples – the first apples of the season and then home for a delicious lunch.

Ladybugs Soleil and Sanaiya enjoying their new quilts




While we all came with projects we wanted to finish, the most important agenda item for the weekend was finishing the quilts for Joanne’s new grandbabies : Soleil and Sanaiya, the twin Ladybugs.

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Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Ah, life has a way of encroaching on those grand plans to write monthly! Since my last post we have had three family graduations spanning high school through graduate school, from the Bay Area to Southern California. Following the graduations, a summer full of baseball, school trips and preparing to send my youngest son off to college…. Quilting has not had top billing. Still I can’t go long without using my sewing machine.

Fabric bookmarks inspired by Darra Williamson’s post on See How We Sew

First, in May, I was inspired by Darra Williamson’s April 20th Word Press blog called “Fabric, Embellishments and Books=The Bookmark Project” on the blog called See How We Sew. I used a bookmark I had drawn for my mother’s memorial service in June 2009 as an inspiration for my fabric bookmarks .



Next, I finished my second challenge quilt for New Pieces for the month of May. The theme was “May” and the fabric was a choice of ants: black on white background or white on black background. I couldn’t get beyond the ant fabric and finally decided that I would feature it instead. Continuing my use of figures I created “Mae has ant in her pants.”



I wasn’t the only quilter that month who couldn’t get beyond the “ant” fabric and instead incorporated it into her quilt. I love how Kathy Ritter included the theme word “May” with the ant fabric that refused to be ignored.



While I was cleaning up my studio I unearthed some Liberated Wedding Quilt blocks I had started at an Asilomar retreat class with Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran in February 2010. I couldn’t resist doing a few more. It was so much fun to play with scraps and strips again – perfect for getting my creative energy recharged. The directions for making the blocks in their book, Freddy and Gwen Collaborate Again, call for newspaper backing. I decided I would prefer to make my new blocks without the paper foundation.

 The strip part was easy – I just needed to sew the blocks 4 and 1/2 ” wide and 10″ long. I made the sides a little wider and the length longer to accommodate “truing up” once the block was big enough. After trimming the sides, I turned my 6″ square ruler on point and cut the ends. I made a number of new blocks, moved them around on my design board and decided I liked what I had and didn’t want to make more. The quilt stopped there and will go with me to Beaver Island in September to be finished at Gwen Marston’s retreat focusing on medallion quilts.

Lynne’s leftovers – begging to become Liberated Log Cabin Blocks

About the time I stopped work on my wedding quilt, my quilting buddy, Lynne McDonald, cleaned up her space and brought over her leftover scraps of red, black and grey wool from a woolie she finished. The scraps were calling out to me and I couldn’t resist. I started making log cabin blocks using Gwen Marston’s suggestion from her first Liberated Quilting book to use the scraps exactly as they are rather than trimming to size. Here are the scraps on my work table before I started and three blocks later. This quilt will have to wait for the moment however, as I’m off to my annual Summer “Pickle” Weekend retreat in Sebastopol. While I’m there I plan to finish a woolie for my college bound son and quilt two baby quilts for the twin Ladybugs.  Pictures to follow next month.

Liberated Log Cabin Block I

Liberated Log Cabin Block II

Liberated Log Cabin Block III

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The House That Fern Built

Spring is definitely here and I find work in my studio impacted by too many events, the beautiful weather and end of the school year short attention span. However, despite my feelings of flitting around, I have made a bit of  progress this month.

Ms. Joanne - 12"x12" 2012 Berkeley Central Library Quilt Show Entry

First I finished a small quilt for the library quilt show. It is a 12″by 12″ piece using a block that my friend Joanne and I worked on together over two years ago. Originally it was to be part of a group of blocks representing each of the quilters in the Persian Pickle Quilt group. We made it at our retreat in 2010 but  it was “voted out of the quilt” the next year in 2011 as it didn’t seem to fit in the overall color scheme. However, I loved the block and decided it needed to be finished. The quilt show was just the motivation I needed to do that. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of it before I dropped it off at the library so the one I am including is of it under glass and slightly out of focus.

"Raindrops Are Falling On My Head" April Challenge Quilt

After completing that block I was inspired to make a second 12″x12″ challenge quilt and enter the ongoing monthly mini quilt challenge happening at New Pieces Quilt Shop in Berkeley. Each month a  new fabric and theme is selected. April’s theme was water and included an aqua, watery looking fabric. I decided to use the song “Raindrops are Falling on my Head” as my theme and to make another figure block – this one in a raincoat. I selected the raincoat fabric and the background but wanted something that really said “rain hat and rubber boots.” Lo and behold, Catherine had an old raincoat laying on the floor of her studio closet. She cut off a sleeve and I went home to make my hat and galoshes. The next challenge was an umbrella. I found a cocktail umbrella at a party store but didn’t like how it looked with my figure. I glued the “rain” fabric onto the base of the umbrella but it needed a tip…. The top of my mechanical pencil  uncannily matched the fabric! Smiling flowers and three Rubber Duckies playing in the puddles completed my block. I was very pleased with the block but even more pleased to find I actually won the challenge for the month of April.

Completed Quilt from October class, "Color Me White" with Angie Woolman at Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley

Next, in a fit of spring cleaning I managed to quilt a quilt I began in October. Using such light fabric and large prints was an interesting challenge at the time. However, the completed quilt feels so bright and vibrant – spring personified. I also love how some of the blocks seem to flow into each other. Thinking of the months this quilt took from start to finish reminds me of how one plants bulbs in the fall only to forget about them until they pop up in the spring.

The House That Fern Built

Last, but not least, I have worked some on my Starry Night quilt in and around these other projects. After I put in the moon I wanted to “build” a house below it bathed in the moonlight. I loved the fabric I placed behind the moon but alas, it was only a fat quarter – I searched for a fabric that could transition well and finally found another blue I liked. My house is now finished and I’m moving on to “building” trees.


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Quilt in Progress

At work in my studio

I am in the midst of finishing a quilt. Actually, I am in the midst of finishing many quilts. Some of them seem to take on a life on their own and get finished quickly and others, like my Starry Night Quilt, seem to go on forever.

This phenomenon is something I talk about with  other quilters fairly often. It’s not as if I don’t want to finish this quilt but sometimes other quilts “jump forward in the queue” or maybe I find myself stuck in a particular spot and need to take a break. Those little breaks often prove helpful. At least they have in this particular quilt’s case.

Stars and Tree Parts Department

The general idea for this quilt has been in my head and parts of it have been on my design wall for almost a year. After finishing a similar tree/star quilt for my niece and her husband I decided I wanted one of my own. I wanted it to be full of stars, sparkling and peeking out and around the trees. I began by making lots of stars and a few trees using the “parts” department, a la Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran in their two Collaborative Quilting books. So far so good. Stars in three different sizes and a few trees stayed on my design board for six months.

Wedding Quilt for Karrie and Paul

I added a full moon. My moon joined the stars and trees and there they sat. Sometimes I had to remove this design so I could work on the other quilts. There was the quilt I needed to make for a friend having surgery. There was an unexpected baby quilt and a quilt for my cousin’s 50th birthday.

These quilts may have “jumped the queue” but it doesn’t mean I won’t finish my Starry Night quilt. I’ve added a house to the parts department and lots more trees…. Starry Night is just a quilt that has it’s own time line.


Quilt for my friend Lina

Quilt for my friend Lina

A Quilt for Aubrey

A Quilt for Aubrey


Suzie’s Quilt

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