Monday, December 31, 2012

New Beginnings... and January 2013 Goals...

Judy, over at Patchwork Times has started a new motivational link up on her blog...  Patchwork Times "Getting It Done"

At the end of each month, we'll link up with a list of 4 quilty things we want to complete in the next month and report on our progress during the month.  This sounds pretty good to me.  So in January, at a minimum I want to complete these quilty things: 

1.)  Get caught up on Sew Much Fun's Block of the month.  It uses Thangles and they provide the red and white fabric strips used in the center; we provide the star points and backgrounds.  Hear is a photo of part of the sample (sorry, not great.)   The store is in Gastonia, NC, about an hour and a half away from me, so I don't get there each month.  At any rate, I have November's block and need to complete it as well as pick up & complete December 2012 & January 2013.  For those who know North Carolina and the infamous Mary Jo's Cloth Store... Sew Much Fun is only 5 minutes from Mary Jo's!

2.) Figure out quilting design for a throw for my son and get it basted.  It is @ 70"x70." I plan to quilt this on my domestic machine... with a 6.5" throat....!?! 

Whoa??? what happened to the color?  The yellowish color is really olive, the blues are really teals.  Hopefully this image will be more true.  The fabric is Sandy Gervais' Tranquility line (an oldie 2008 I finally used up.)  The Pattern is from the book Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam Lintott and Nicky Lintott.

3.) Make the freezer paper templates to assemble my Christmas Tree skirt made using a pattern from the book French Braid Obsession.  (Sorry no photos.)

4.)Complete the final 5 blocks of the star quilt top for my grandson.  (Again, no photos.)

My non-quilty (but blog related) goal is to IMPROVE photos... geez Louise there is MUCH room for improvement!

So, thanks Ms. Judy from Patchwork Times for hosting this motivational tool for us for 2013.  Happy New Year everyone... may your stitches never skip and your needles never break!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Long time no see....

Boy, this has been a year... too much, too many.  Perhaps one day I'll write about some of it, but for now, I'll start where I am....

COOKING!  Yep, I love to cook for others (not so excited about cooking meals for one tho.)  So this time of year lends itself to sharpening the knives and filling the freezer.

Our family includes some vegetarians... and others who have been vegetarians; I love that food too.

My sister likes my vegetarian southern cornbread dressing, so I make it for her each winter holiday. 

Now, one issue I have had is that most commercial vegetable stock tastes thin, no complexity and often too sweet.  So lately, I have been experimenting.  I don't have a recipe for you, but I can tell you the process I've been using.

Isn't that just lovely?  The process takes a while, but is not labor intensive.

I start by roasting the veges in the oven.  I put a little olive oil on the chunked veges and spread them out as flat as I can in a large roaster... 12"x15"x 2-3" works great.  I do not line it as I'll deglaze it after the veges roast.  I use an oven temperature between 325 degrees and 425 and periodically turn the veges.  Usually, I am roasting something else, so I just stick it in at whatever temp the other dish requires.  (Hmm, I didn't decide to post on my blog until I was past all these parts, so I neglected to get photos.) 

I cook them until the veges are browned and some juices have begun to caramelize.  I transfer the roasted veges to a large pot and fill with water, put it on simmer & let it cook away.  I add some liquid to the roasting pan, deglaze it and add to the simmering pot. 

Often, I am continuing to cook, so I throw vege scraps in as it cooks.  Sometimes, I need to add water, but I try not to do that too often as it may thin out the flavor. 

Now, as to veges.  I clean them well, but also use parts one would not put into a dish... onion skins, celery tops etc.  I'll chunk cut: 3 whole onions,7-8 carrots peeled (or not), 7-8 outer celery stalks with tops, tops from the more tender green/white celery stalks that I use in other dishes, 3-4 parsnips or however many I have, whole cloves of garlic including their skin, sometimes 7-8 smallish tomatoes, a handful of Italian parsley along with stems (usually not roasted, but added to simmering pot).  If I have them, I add potatoes in their scrupulously cleaned jackets.  Also, if they are on hand, I add mushroom trimmings or whole ones if I need to use them up.  One vegetable I always include now is turnip, two or three small to medium (peeled lest they have been waxed.)  The celery, parsley and turnips balance out the sweet of the onions and carrots, and they add complexity.

I use what I have on hand.  I don't use bad produce of course and try to not use older veges, but occasionally have included carrots I would not have served raw and the broth was still wonderful.  When I used those older carrots, I included some fresh ones too.

In the future, I'd like to add kale to the simmering broth and see what happens then.

Up to this point, I have avoided veges in the brassica family: cabbage, brussel sprouts etc.  Some of my research sources recommended leaving these out.  Once I used rutabaga... I wasn't fond of that broth, but perhaps it wasn't the rutabaga's fault so I may try it again.

I let it cook for a while, atleast several hours.  I partly cover it to reduce the amount of evaporation.  I cut off the burner & let it cool, meanwhile removing the spent veges with an oriental open wire mesh course skimmer:
12 inch Bamboo Handled Coarse Skimmer I use a large flat wooden spoon to mush the veges to extract as much juice as I can.  Compost the veges.  Allow to fully cool, pour through a fine wire strainer and/or cheese cloth.  If I am not using immediately, I freeze it in useful portions; otherwise, just refrigerate.  If I have to stop mid process, I'll remove the veges & store them separately, recombining when I continue the process.  I think this guards against bitterness.

So far, I have avoided adding salt and herbs (other than the parsley), but I plan to add thyme and bay leaf in the future, plus experiment with when and how much salt to add.

I hope this is helpful!  It really is such a simple process, and so natural when one is already cooking.  Experiment!

Happy holidays!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alea's Quilt

Late in June, my sister mentioned that Thally (her step daughter) wanted to use Zinnia colors in the nursery for Alea, her first born, expected in early October.  So I decided to make her a simple little quilt.  I neglected to get a photo when it was completed, but this gives you idea. 
Hopefully, my sister can get a photo for me of the finished top.  We had a shower for Thally August 12 and she was so sweet and delighted by all the hulla-baloo.  And we did have a grand time... lots of folks, fun decorations, tons of super delicious food, and a lovely sweet time when we all gathered and each one slowly, gently, lovingly spoke to Thally from their heart dear warm words.  Many gave her a bead to be put on a bracelet for her to remember by. Family who could not come sent their loving words ahead of time, and so we could read them to her.  Many in attendance had also written something for her.  There were several poems and prayers.  All the written messages were put into a scrapbook for her to take with her and as she gathers cards and other mementos, she can add them. 
It was a another wonderful gathering of family and friends which has deepened our relationships.  I love our family!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Knitting Finished Object!

This summer I joined a wonderful Ravelry KAL (Knit ALong) to knit Paula Emons-Fuessle's lovely shawlette Piper's Journey.  The group on Ravelry is SingleHanded Knits, if you want to check it out & I recommend you do!  For those who are not knitters, Ravelry is a phenomenal free knitting website (I think over a million members!) which in my opinion is a must have for any knitter... tons of free patterns, great educational resources and a great vehicle for chatting @ all things knitting & crocheting & spinning, fantabulous! Here is Link to Ravelry

Here is link to my project page on Ravelry for this shawl:
My Piper's Journey  (Still having trouble transferring photos from phone... :{{)

This lovely accessory has a crescent shape that lays wonderfully (and securely) around one's shoulders.  Simple and beautiful.  The pattern is well written and the lace border is attached as you knit.  It takes a while because one has to knit 36 (18*2) stitches for each and every stitch on the edge of the shawl, and I had over 248 stitches on the edge. 

My color choices were the same as the lovely lady MSKiKnits who started the ravelry group.  Shameless paint by number knitting!

About a third of a way into the shawl, I realized I really wanted to give it to a friend, Rosemary.  She was a God-send while we were caring for Mom during the February vigil in my sister's home in which we sat with Mom 24/7 ( a great blessing, yet difficult too.)  Rosemary's spirit was hopeful, respectful, encouraging and incredibly loving.  She is a nurse who cares for the elderly and generously shared her amazing knowledge and skill with us.  She often would come at 10:30-11pm and stay until 5AM so we could sleep.  So, I was so happy to make this for Rosemary.  I finished in time to give it to her before she went on retreat with my sister in California, then headed on up to Maine.  I understand she loved it, and wore it all the time.  Happy dance!

It was a wonderful thing to be able to gift this to her.
I hope you too are able to demonstrate your care and appreciation through the work of your hands.  What a joyful blessing!

Friday, August 31, 2012

What's on my needles: August 31

Lots has happened this summer, but I just am not quite ready to write about it yet.  For some reason, I felt I needed to post my reflections about those things before I resumed posting about the crafty things... not quite sure what that is all about, but I no longer feel that way.  I've missed blogging, so I hope blogging becomes part of my normal routine again....

Judy over at Patchwork Times has a Friday Linky for "What's on Your Needles" Click here!  I do love my knitting! Here's what I'm working on now:

This is part of the beginnings of a shawl based on the pattern Meghan Jackson's Forget-Me-Knot Shawl using a gradient yarn crafted by Laura and Kelly at The Unique Sheep  This is their Verve yarn base in the Peacock colorway; the four color graduated skeins total 400 yards. 

The pattern calls for 430 yards of yarn and gives two options: nupps (a small multi wrapped bobble) or beads.  As I'm short on yarn, I chose beads.  They are quite subtle and as there are not many; they will not add much weight.

There are several ways to add beads.  In my opinion, the least tedious method uses Super Floss... yep!  Here is a link to a blog that describes the super floss method as well as other popular ways: Fleegle's Blog about adding beads

I usually cut off a lot of the longer, floppier floss beyond the fluff and then wrap what remains through the holes in a cute button.  Not the best photo... but you get the idea.  This is such a great way to carry the beads along.  When I finish adding the beads, I weave the loose end into the button holes too.  Works flawlessly.

My plan is to give this shawl as a Christmas gift.  Best get busy!

Hope the last couple of months have been wonderful for you and yours!

Friday, June 15, 2012

What's on my Needles

Hmm.... I actually did a lot of knitting, but it doesn't look like it... I guess the inches don't add up too much when you've got over 300 stitches per row in laceish fingering weight (Row: 32 stitches per 4 inches, Height: less.)  Plus, I knit the stitches behind the key hole there.
Scalene progress in Blackberries
I made the mistake of counting how many stitches are left.... over 10,000... really?  really?  only 33 more rows tho.  I wish my photo showed the irredescent quality of the MadelineTosh yarns.... so pretty!

Next week's goal.... complete it & start the blocking.
Check out Judi's What's on your needles Link up
Have a great week-end... and happy stitches!  b

Friday, June 8, 2012

What's on my needles? Linky to Patchwork Times

Scalene in my Triple Crown Blackberry patch

May was a long month.... but more about that later, perhaps.

 For now, I just want to post @ progress on My Scalene.   I started this on May 1st to participate in Ravelry's MadMay2012....

Obviously, didn't complete by May 31! Still, work continues....the fingering weight yarn is quite tiny and there are lotza stitches!  (it takes 32 stitches to go 4 inches & about as many rows to go up 4"..... )  My goal for this week is to get through the wide stripe in the pattern.  I've made one of the key-holes & the other one is at the end of the wide stripe.

The pattern is by Carina Spencer  Usually I am not a fan of asymmetrical patterns, but there are so many ways to wear this.... (check it out on Ravelry if you can.) The directions are clear so far & there's lots of help on Ravelry for modifications which help to keep the edges even and relaxed; and I love, love, love the yarn... Madelinetosh's Tosh Merino Light in Fathom (darker color) and Blue Gingham (fingering weight.)  You can not see in this photo, but the yarn has real depth of color and almost an iridescence....  

Madelinetosh in my Alchemyst rose

Judi over at Patchwork Times has a little linky party happening to help us stay motivated to keep on keep'n on with our projects.... Thanks so much Judi!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oooo, sweet time at my machine!

My oh my, how sweet!  As much as I love handwork, Sunday I was able to sit down at my sewing machine and sew for for a while; feels like coming home.  I so, so much enjoyed it.  My spirits are really lifted.  Thinking back, it seems I have only been able to do that two or three times since Mom got sick in January.  I want to build more machine sewing time in... definitely a good thing!

While sewing, I worked on a couple of blocks which will go into a group quilt for an online friend who is sick... She doesn't know about it, so I won't post anymore until after she receives it.

Also I, completed a block for a local quilt shop's Block of the Month, due Tuesday.  This is block nine. 

Hope you get some time at your machine!  Happy Stitching.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Knitters to your posts.... MadMay2012 will be starting in 4 days.... So what is it?  I only heard about this marathon last week.  It is hosted by a HUGE group at Ravelry Madelinetosh Lovers group  If you don't know, Madelinetosh is a manufacturer of wonderful modern natural fiber yarns.  The Ravelry group is having an event in May which includes Knit/Crochet alongs, tips, prizes and tons of fun online social sharing. 

Blue Gingham & Fathom MadTosh next to Alchemyst Rose
Earlier I had printed off the pattern and gathered my tools, needles, yarn.  These are the two colors I am using.  Yesterday was the first day we were to swatch.  I did.  I got guage.... but it's tiny @ 32 stitches over 4" in pattern.  I wound my yarn, thoroughly reviewed the pattern, looked on Ravlery and made note of changes & techniques others have employed with the pattern I plan to use: Scalene by Carina Spencer.  One potential problem with the pattern is its tendancy for the edges to be too tight; to mitigate this, I'm following the suggestion to put a YO (yarn0ver) after the first stitch of each row, then drop it as one knits back, thus keeping the stitch count correct.  I did this in my swatch & it definitely helps. 

To enter into the competitions, we are not to cast on until May 1, so I'll set it aside and focus on getting other projects completed, so I can knit, knit, knit in May!  Happy Stitching!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Catching up on posting Hop to It blocks completed

My Hop to It blocks are such a delight, once I actually get to working on them.  I have 10 of 12 blocks completed, but am missing some photos.  So here's one of my favorites... with the sweetest little bunny...
I took this photo Tuesday evening indoors.  Even with flash & auxiliary lights pointed toward the block, I got a weird gradation in the photo.  Still, I think you can see how cute the bunny is.

Hop to It is a block of the month started last year... I'm almost caught up.  This is where I first posted about this quilt... First Hop to It post  I included info as to designer, teacher etc.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring rains finally here and One Flower for Wednesday

Well, fortunately we have been getting much needed rains the last couple of days... just in time to sweeten the berries forming on my blueberry bushes and raspberry & blackberry canes.  Ymm.

Here is a photo of a flower added to my Grandmother's Flower Garden lap quilt; it is nestled in my favorite rose: Alchemyst.  As an inconsistent gardner in zone 7 who doesn't use chemicals, I am always delighted when my rose leaves are free from blackspot... short lived I'm sure.
Go on over and check out other lovely hexis and great tutorials for English Paper Piecing at Karen's Journey of a Quilter One Flower Wednesday sign-in

Now, I will most likely take a month long break from One Flower Wednesday to focus on some quilting UFO goals and because next Tuesday, May 1, will begin MadMay 2012 on Ravelry.

For those who may not know, this is a wonderful free website for knitters.  I looked on the site to try to figure out how many members there are, but couldn't.  I joined in December 2008 when I think there were about 250,000 members.  Seems like I remember there are over a million now.

At any rate, in May, one of the groups "Madelinetosh Lovers" has a competition/Knit&Crochet Along; Madelinetosh is a fantabulous yarn, in luscious colors.  There are over 6,200 members in this group.  Our goal in MadMay is to begin and complete knitting projects using Madelinetosh yarn.  I think it is so funny that knitting can be made competitive!  Now, I am too slow & have too many irons in the fire to win anything... but I just love, love external accountability to help with completion of projects.  So I plan to knit a pattern by one of my favorite designers, Carina Spencer: Scalene knitted scarf in yarns from my stash:- colors: Gingham (a silvery blue) and Fathom (a deep blue.)  We start our swatches tomorrow & cast on May 1. 

Hope you are all enjoying yourselves.  Happy stitching!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Finish! Happy Dance

Not sure how long ago I started this wall-hanging, but it's DONE!  Sleeve & label too.  The design is by Robyn Pandolph, but of course as always, modified a little.

The photo could use a bit of help.  For some reason, I am not good at getting decent lighting inside my home with my phone.  So I took it outside.  I should get some close ups! All that's left to do, is put up hardware to hang it upon!

This was a project for our monthly Applique workshop led by our Guru, Kathleen.  The chennile for the bunny came from another wonderful friend, Linda F.  Jill B machine quilted it on a domestic machine... she also had to fix (read replace) the tan around the little bee blocks as the fabric started ravelling & so we lost the seam allowance... she's a dear!  It makes me happy.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ooooo, A FAL... That is a "Finish ALong"

Okey Dokey... this seems just made to order for someone like me.  Well, truth be told, apparently i am not alone, as there are already over 80 linky's for Rhonda's second quarter linky; check it out.  Bloggers can be SO ingenious!  I didn't know about this in the beginning of 2012, but I just found it yesterday, just under the wire.... so I'm signing up.  Here's my list, oldest to newest:-

#1) Ye Olde Bento Box:
The pattern is by Tracie Brookshier.  Here's link to images: Other Bentos  Mine is a biggun: 90'x105.  Not sure how old this is... I had made it for my son & his wife, presented the flimsy as Christmas gift anticipating getting to quilter after the Christmas rush... years ago.  Surely, this one can get a back, sent to long arm quilter, sleeve added, bound & label by the end of June!

#2) Karen Poetzinger rug hooked hot pad:

This is my first, ok my ONLY rug hooked project.  (Photo is wonky as to orientation, sorry.)  Karen, an incredibly accomplished rug hooker, wool dyer and artist, taught a class here long ago.  I took the class, then took forever to finish... and yes, if you look carefully, there is a date in it... 2009... really?  really?  Told you I needed this blogging inspiration!  I just need to bind it.

#3) Bee Skep wall hanging:
This is the first block of a 2012 project in a monthly applique workshop group I have been attending for @ 7 years.  Now, everyone else (who finish their projects) is doing a whole quilt, but I am only doing a couple of the blocks... This one was started March 19, 2012.  I'll add a couple more bees & make it into a pillow.

#4) Hand pieced mini quilt:
Hmm, this one looks a tad over-exposed... still, you get the idea.  It is 9x15.  I took a class April 3, 2012 with Froncie Quinn in hand piecing, and I got the best results I have ever had in those tricky little places where 4 pieces meet.    Here's a site for Froncie's pattern website.  Among other things, like learning a lot about antique quilts, we made a couple of little nine patches in class; I came home, made some more, then added the little borders.  Now it needs to be quilted, bound etc. 
So, a relatively short list, long post tho.  Thanks to Rhonda for her wonderful Finish Along 2012.

Happy Stitching all!  Becky G in NC

One Flower Wednesday 4-18

My this spring is really flying by.  The combination of a beatiful spring in full swing, the end of tax season and a couple of decent night's sleep has me feeling more energetic!  Yeah!

Today, I have a completed two-round flower to post; granted the inner flower was done & posted earlier, but right now I'm focusing on small victories!

This block is nestled in an azalea Myrtle gave me to put in my yard.  She has been my second Mom since I was 8 years old.  Myrtle moves every couple of years and wanted this plant to have a permanent home.  This spectacular azalea was a gift to her from my Mother when Myrtle's dear niece passed away due to complications following a kidney transplant.  It is a an incredibly lovely, low-growing plant with personal and poignant memories... this year even more than before.

OFW in Azalea from Myrtle
To see more lovely hexi's, head on over to Karen's linky for One Flower Wednesday, better yet, consider joining us!
Happy stitching!  Becky G in NC

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One Flower Wednesday April 11 2012 with what's blooming

Here in the States, we are zooming up on our income tax filing deadline.  This year it will be Tuesday, April 17.  Usually tax day falls on the15th, but whenever the 15th falls on the week-end, taxes are due the following Monday.  However, Monday, the 16th is "Emancipation Day" in the District of Columbia (DC), so our due date is moved to the 17th.  In the past, I was unaware of this holiday.  In 2012, this holiday marks the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of President Lincoln's signing of the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act.  He signed this about 9 months before his famous national Emancipation Proclamation.  This act freed about 3,100 enslaved persons in the District, and is the only case in which the federal government compensated the owners for the emancipation of their formerly enslaved persons.  Since DC is where our Federal government meets and this a Distrcit holiday, we all get an extra day to get those taxes (or extensions) filed! 

But, now to my weekly One Flower Wednesday check -in; again, just a single row flower (after all, I am most busy getting my client's work done for 4/17 tax deadline.) 

Hexi in Miss Kim Lilac
 Making these hexi's still delights me!  Go on over to Karen's blog for links to the whole group's hexi postings:  One Flower Wednesday linky party.

I only wish you could experience the heavenly fragrance of Miss Kim.  There are not many lilacs that thrive down here in zone 7, but she does!  Here's another close up of a blossom...
I took some photos from a distance, but her blossoms look all washed out.  She is absolutely covered in blossoms.

I posted about my Lady Banks rose a while back when she was just opening and now here she is in her full glory...

This photo shows a bit of her shape

This one more clearly shows how covered in blossoms she is.  Plus, I see she has overtaken my tomato stake which needs painting.
Here's wishing you a great week, with a bit of extra time for those who need to get their returns filed! 

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Most Holy Time

Last night, as a Christian, I went to Church and celebrated Maundy Thursday... the annual commemoration of Jesus' institution of the sacrament of Holy Communion, which of course is integrally related with the Jewish celebration of the first night of the 7 day (sometimes 8) season of Pesach (Hebrew) or "Passover" in English.  Both faiths engage in rituals to remind us of slavery and liberation, bondage and freedom... hard won liberation and freedom.  Today is Good Friday for Christians and at sunset, Pesach begins.  Here are a couple of websites I found informative as I learn more about the living roots of my faith tradition:  Judaism 101: and  One aspect I find most interesting is the removal of all items in the home considered to be "Chametz" which culminates in this wonderful ceremony The Search  Not everyone finds celemony and ritual uplifting, but I love them as means of demonstrating my willingness to submit to the will of God, to nurture my desire for Him and to participate with God in my spiritual formation.  So next year, I will add to my Lenten disciplines a literal and symbolic practice of shedding "chametz"; a deep spring cleaning to be sure! 

May you and your family deeply experience the promise of this season!

As a parting gift, some photos of my second (and happier) tree peony.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4 One Flower Wednesday

Just one today... and just the inner ring 7 hexi flower, but I am happy with how it turned out.

This photo includes a rose bud from my very favorite rose, a climber named Alchymist (the original spelling, now you see it as "Alchemist.")  It is very fragrant, with old fashioned blossoms which are usually in the apricot/salmon/peach range.  One Mother's day, my 7 foot bush was so laden with blossoms and buds, I counted them; I stopped at 145, having included only those buds that had opened enough to see the color of the petals.  Here is link to info on this wonderful rose: Alchymist Rose source 

Now here is this week's hexi sitting upon an Alchymist bud:
Go on over to Karen's wonderful website Journey of a Quilter One Flower Wednesdayto see the other fun hexi's on her link-up as well as links to wonderful info on how you too can make these fun flowers... Happy Stitching!  B

Monday, April 2, 2012

One of my favorite flowers

Here in the South, many folks are familiar with herbacious peonies.  (some say "pe O knees", I say "PE e knees"... the "e" in the second pronunciation ought to be upside down, but I don't know how to get symbols in blog typing.)  At any rate, the herbacious ones die back to the ground in the winter.  There is another kind: tree peonies which are not very well known.  They look like any other small deciduous bush in the winter, they are just sticks.  But look at this! 
Isn't it AMAZING!?!

For the most part, the colors in the photo are true; however in real life, the edges are more silver than they are white.  I think this one must be a tetraploid as the petals are as irridescent as fine silk.  The blossom is not quite as large as usual, only @ seven inches, often they are 9-10 inches... really.

I ought to move the bush to a better location, but I am afraid to do so.  I bought it at a farmers' market stall @ 10 years ago for about $13.  (At that time, White Flower Farm sold small bushes for $60.)  It was just a stick with a HUGE bud. I do not know the variety, so I could not replace it. I am afraid it may not survive transplanting.  Also, I don't think I could do a cutting as they are usually grafted to herbacious Paeonia root stock; a cutting probably would not survive here in zone 7.  For now, I just keep my fingers crossed it will continue to live, even tho it isn't getting much bigger.

Don't you think those colors would be a great color palette for a spring quilt?

Happy spring!  b

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A change of plan....

Well, I laid out all the flowers for my hexi quilt thinking I only had one flower and  gazillion connectors to go... what was I thinking?  17 double flowers with one row of connectors using 1" hexi's it not big enough!  So, I've started on more flowers... not sure how many I will end up with.  Here is photo of a 7 hexi flower I did (actually, mine aren't really completed until there are 12 more hexi's for double flower...still, here's photo.) 
First Blooms of my Lady Banks Rose
In addition to this little flower, I made 20 connectors and prepared about 15 more hexis to make more flowers.

Take a trip over to Karen's blog to take a look at her fun projects and for her linky with other folks' weekly One Flower Wednesday posts!  Journey of a Quilter

I took all my flowers and connectors to my Bee last night & Anne, a very knowledgeable quilter, helped me make some design decisions.  She has made two Grandmother's Flower garden quilts (one with 0.75" hexi's), and a Dear Jane quilt (in a year mind you!)  Now, I have a better plan for moving forward... for instance, decided not to do half flowers at the edges, but rather use the other brown fabrics in this line to blend, but add a bit of interest.  The upshot of it all is I best push forward with this project so I do not lose interest!

This past week I also almost completed a large applique block I'll make into a wall hanging and made progress on my embroidery Christmas project: photos to follow!

A note about the flowers... this rose, Lady Banks, is an heirloom rose with clusters of tiny yellow blossoms on thornless canes with leaves which seem impervious to the normal pests and diseases of roses.  It only blooms for a relatively short period (and has just started in the last 2-3 days) but it is spectacular as all along the top of the 12 foot long canes will be covered in blossoms!  Great for trellises.  Mine has outgrown its location, in 4 years... think I'll have to prune some this year as it is taking over the blueberry bush next to it.

I'll have to figure out the best time to trim as it is home to bird's nests!  I love the idea of my little backyard neighborhood.  I absolutely get Beatrix Potter's stories... I'm sure there are community dramas amongst the wildlife in my own backyard!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy stitching!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


It is so nice being back home.  I have missed my yard; and honestly, if I miss a day's 'morning yard tour' I can't believe how much change happens.  Thought I'd share some of what I found this morning...
Years ago, I bought these cowslips because they reminded me of my Mother's garden.  Her's may have been more of a butter color, but they always remind me of her.
These pansies were planted last fall and are now just bursting out.  I dare say they have also been special treats for the gnawing buggers.  With our mild winter, I imagine we will experience tons-o-bugs this growing season.

Redbuds are one of the first trees to bloom in our area, and one of the first to turn into their fall colors.  That English Ivy (aka "the plant you can not kill") was in the yard when I came.  It is hard to keep in check, and hard to get off the tree trunks without injuring the trees.

BTW, you can see the brand new 6' chain link my back door neighbor just installed to corral his puppies; the old 4' suggestion of a fence would not keep them in.  He was nice & asked me first... I love dogs, and certainly didn't want his to roam and get lost or worse, hurt.  It was clear even a real 4' fence wouldn't keep them in, so I said sure.  Now, this fence is much, much more noticable and shiny, more than I ever imagined; luckily he also took down some trees so that area will get more sun now.  I'll probably plant some annual vines to give some interest this year.  I transplanted volunteer camellia japonicas, but they are small and will take years to grow.

Hope you are enjoying the change of season in your area. I know some are moving into fall as we move into spring.  Happy trails!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One Flower Wednesday

Ironic that spring is officially here and I have no hexi flowers this week!  But, I DO have connectors....
Isn't that tulip something?  It is on a stem @ 14inches tall & the perspective makes the hexi's look small!  This is an old fashioned tulip which is not reliably perennial, but this may be it's 5th year.  I am fairly sure this is a Fosteriana "Red Emperor" variety.  It is an early bloomer.

As to my hexi's... I've got about 70 connectors made (the photo has 7 stacks of 10 each, but the perspective obscures this detail.)  I have about ten 2.5" WOF strips cut, which will become 160 more.  I didn't have many meetings last week, and I focused on other projects so although I added to my stash of completed connector hexi's, I already had a bunch made. 

Thanks for stopping by, and go see the great tutorials and link-ups over at Karen's Journey of a Quilter for more hexi fun!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14 One Flower Wednesday

Photos can really help one see.  I've got one lavender hexi made from a different fabric!  This cracks me up... I didn't see it until I looked at the photo.  I mean this is HAND work, not strip piecing!  What a hoot.  Now the dilemma, at an insane 22-24 stitches per inch & super strong knots, do I want to try to take it out?  Used to be I absolutely would, but then this attitude contributes to my difficulty in completing projects.   And although it is a bit humbling, it isn't what I think of as a humility block.  My understanding is one has to PLAN the mistake and make it intentionally... boy is that tough on perfectionism... tho I bet I could come up with a plan for the 'perfect' intentional mistake! lol  So, for now, I'll leave it.  If I can't live with it, I'll change... but the likelihood of me making a bigger mess and injuring the adjoining hexis is pretty dog gone high!

This makes number 17.  I only plan on having 18 for my largish throw.  There will be 5 rows: 4 flowers each in rows 1,3 & 5; 3 flowers each in rows 2 and 4.

This week, I'll work on the layout before selecting the colors for the last flower... keeping my fingers crossed that they'll all play well together and none will stand out.

Also, I'll concentrate on making connectors; some are made but I have boatloads to go!  Not even sure how many I'll need, nor how I'll finish the outside edges.  I've got 3 or 4 jelly roll strips (and 10" squares) of other browns I could use to fill in the dips in the sides.  Sixteen 1" hexis can be made from each strip.  Haven't used much of the 10" squares so do not know how many can be cut from them.  There are also 3 or 4 golds in the grouping I haven't used yet.  (This is when I wish I had EQ 7!)  But, as I do not, I guess I best get busy. 

Stop by Karen's lovely blog to see others who are making progress on their gardens... and Karen has the best links to tutorials so check them out and come join us!  Here's link: Journey of a Quilter

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hop to It

It has been a while since I posted on progress made on my Hop to It quilt top.  I do not have photos of all the completed blocks, but do for the block I worked on while sitting with Mom last month.

I changed the design a bit: originally, the flowers had only the two outer petals, but to me the just looked too much like lobster claws, so I added the central petal.  I think they look more like tulips; I like them. 

Plus, the pattern only had 2 circles.  I added one and made them a bit smaller so I could use all three of my aqua fabrics.  Here's close up:
There is a tiny spot on the white background, so I only lightly pressed (and not at all on stain.)  I'll soak in Biz then rinse before I do my final pressing.  I love crisply pressed applique.

Although I use many different methods when I applique, most of this block was done using the freezer paper technique.  This top is the project in a monthly workshop.  Our fantabulous teacher/guru Kathleen brings us laser printed freezer paper (the good kind CT Advanced Paper Co, I think) which has all the pieces on it.  We just cut them out; no need to reuse an individual piece.

Although she includes the circles on the freezer paper templates, most of us use Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles.  Just love them.

For the stems, I use clover's 1/4 inch bias tape maker and a TON of spray starch.  A lot of folks iron the bias after starching & before running through bias tape maker, but I iron the bias which has an angled end, saturate it, run it into the maker & slowly run the iron over the tape as it emerges, ensuring it is dry when I complete it: the bias always holds together and is crisp and even. Easy peasy.  Now don't be alarmed, the spray starch will be washed out.  I know some folks have had troubles because of the starch, but it won't remain in the fabric. 

Boy o boy do I love tools that work!

Tomorrow is One Flower Wednesday, but after that I hope to get more of my Hop to It blocks posted. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One Flower Wednesday March 7 2012

Welcome!  We seem to have had a long spring of a winter here in NC and Virginia.  Not that I am complaining... with all the travelling our family and friends have done in February and March to the mountains of Virginia, mild weather has been a true blessing.  There was no ice and only a day's worth of snow (beautiful snow.)  My sister's driveway is almost a quarter of a mile dirt & gravel narrow road, though I could have sworn it was a third of a mile when I hiked up it.  So when they get their typical 6-8 inches of snow and ice every couple of weeks, navigating it can be a bit tricky, even after Swede has applied his fantabulous tractor to it.  If the winter had been as normal, Mom would not have had her precious time with so many of our far flung relatives.

While sitting with Mom in February, I stitched on a Hop to It block, a couple of my hexi flowers as well as making a bunch of connectors.  Handstitching brings great comfort to me... so timeless, I'm not the only one who has sat by a loved one's bed and stitched my heartache and hope into fabric creating beauty through tears.  Whenever I look at those blocks I will always remember where I was and whom I was with.... preserving memories and prayers with each stitch.
Here's a photo of the two hexi's I completed....

There are quite a number of folk who link in at Karen's blog to post our progress each Wednesday....To take a look, click here:  Journey of a Quilter One Flower Wednesday  Thanks for dropping by... so many of you gave us great strength over the last difficult month.... thank you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Margaret Mauryne Prewitt Dugger

July 25, 1926 ~ March 4, 2012

Wash her in the holy font of everlasting life, and clothe her in her heavenly wedding garment.

Into your hands, O Lord,

we commend our sister and Mother, Mauryne.

It was only a month ago when my Mom and I were looking at old photos of her, including the one above.  She told me her Grandmother made this dress and veil.  The veil, she said, was Duchesse lace (I think that's right.)  So last week while by her bedside and reading this verse (from one of the Vigil's in the Book of Common Prayer) I was reminded of her in this photo.

Last Sunday, at 9 in the morning, she breathed her last, in her own lovely room with loving family and friends along side: a peaceful passing.  Her last days with us were filled with grace as she continued to teach us with her constant concern for others, her gentle words of gratitude and her warm love.  There was a sweet, slow but constant flow of gentle friends and family from all over the country who came to sit by her side, praying, reading, sometimes laughing or quietly weeping.  In early February she said her hope was that her passing bear fruit, and it certainly has, at great cost to her.  Our family bonds are strengthened: in our nuclear family, in our extended family and in our spiritual families.  It has been a time of deep healing, restoration and reconciliation... and we all thank her.

In my recollection, she always believed in God... a benevolent and loving God "whose property is always to have mercy..."  She taught me to think deeply and not be afraid to question what is taught about God... after all, even Paul the confident  said "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror...." 1 Corinthians 13:12    All her children have deep faith, even if our expressions differ. 
In many ways, hers was not an easy life... but she persevered and her heart grew and continued to soften right up until her last days.  She demonstrated how profoundly one can continue to grow throughout one's life.  In her later years she began practicing contemplative practices on a daily basis which nurtured her faith, her love of God and all His creation. 
Those who love her go well beyond her children and extended family.  A 24 hour vigil was kept since Thursday, February 9, it was not only her children and grandchildren who sat by her side, but friends as well, many friends, some came most days to tend to her and to be with us all.  From her bed, she graciously welcomed us all... asking "What have you been doing?  What's going on with you?"
A priest who had been told of our loss and had read things we had written about Mom, said "your mother sounds to have been well-nigh a saint..."  My response included, .."yes, the most hopeful kind... a redeemed saint." There is hope for us all.
As you may well imagine, my love of sewing, embroidery, knitting and handcrafts are part of her legacy... as is the love of a good gathering of folks in all walks of life.

Yes, we are heartbroken, and yes she is gone... and yet she lives on.  Bless you dearest one.  Love, B

Friday, February 3, 2012

Blessings and gratitude

Years ago, I started a practice of a daily journal in which I wrote at least 5 things for which I was grateful.  I did this for about a year and a half.  It is a wonderful practice; perhaps gratitude is like a muscle, it becomes stronger with use.  Now lest anyone be tempted to give extra credit for this practice, I must admit some evenings my postings were sad indeed, and really were not in the spirit originally intended.  Now if your sensitive, overlook this next part.  I think I once wrote: "I am glad I am not in the grave... I think."   You get the picture.  This is probably true of any practice, the point is to do it regardless; constancy and steadfastness, not perfection.

So, here in 2012, I want to do a reprise of a gratitude practice.  It seems to me, many times our unawareness of our gratitude is less a matter of lack and more just inattentiveness and forgetting in the rush of daily responsibilities and activity.  So in 2012, each month I want to focus on something for which I am grateful, remembering each day to attend to the blessings. 

This month, my focus is on my ability to see.  This is the sky I saw the other day here in North Carolina.... I pulled over on the side of the highway (way off I might add) to take some photographs. 

This winter has been spectacular: mild by any standards for NC, and fortunately we have been getting some rain, so to my knowledge we are not in a drought in the triad .  I am restraining myself from posting lots of photos of the sky as after a while (a short while) photos of similar images loose impact.... so just one.

When I returned from living in Key West, Florida for six years, I found a new appreciation for NC winters.  Prior to my NC sabatical, I just thought all the grays and browns were just boring and depressing.  Upon my return, I marvelled at the structure of the tree limbs and all of nature.  The limbs are like an inverse of the tree root systems: one can see their balance and design so well.  The subdued colors remind me that we all must rest.   Yes, we breathe out and are active, but we must also breathe in and rest and replenish our energy and indeed our spirit.

So, my wish for you dear reader, is that you also find rest and restoration in the winter's quiet here in the northern hemisphere; that each day, your attention is grabbed and held by the sublime beauty our eyes can perceive and our minds can comprehend.  May we all experience softening of our hearts.  Peace, b

Thursday, February 2, 2012


A friend recently began a series on her blog called Folk Tales in which she reminiscences about her family elders: so tender and wonderful!  So, as I am wont to do, I think I'll follow her lead and begin to share about my family folk.

Recently, my Mom has been much on my mind and in my heart.  She has had a rough winter with 4-5 bouts of illness, the last being pneumonia about 3 weeks ago.  Yesterday the palliative care nurse (and close friend) told Mom she is improving, very welcome news indeed.

I don't really know where to begin to share my love and admiration for her.  As she has aged, she has grown in grace: amazing.  She began a practice of meditation and other spiritual disciplines in her seventies.  She continues to soften and enlarge her heart.  As anyone who has watched a loved-one age realizes, there are many losses to be endured.  Mom has an intentional practice of "letting go and surrendering."  I can imagine the angels singing her on as God delights in her willingness to dance this poignant, difficult and tender dance. 

Here are some of my favorite photos of her in her youth.

Blessings to you, Mom with profound love and respect, B