Monday, June 25, 2018

Creativity Is A Messy Business

When I tell you that I go searching through my stash to find fabrics, I am not joking. I am so driven to find the right thing I don't fold the wrong fabric and put it back where it belongs.

 Stopping to clean up would be interfering with the problem solving that's happening.

It's not like I live with anybody who's going to get all worked up about it. That's one of the other advantages of having a sewing studio.

Last week Starsthatblaze asked if I unsewed the mini four patch diamonds if I found they didn't work. The short answer is no. I find it a waste of time. As for larger pieces, I'll keep them, but if I want a part of it, I'll slice the seam away with my rotary cutter. It depends on how desperately I want a particular piece of fabric.

 For those of you who want to know how much of a giant print I buy, the answer is one yard. That will give me enough pattern repeats to cut some interesting diamonds. I can get by with less, but the diamonds aren't that interesting to look at, and you know me. If I'm going to buy a fabric with a giant print, I want to make the most out of it.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Road Trip

I decided at 9:00 Saturday morning that I would drive to the Vermont Quilt Festival.

Did I mention it's a three hour drive each way?  So after filling the car with gas and getting cash from the ATM, I set off about 10:45 AM.  Yeah, I know.

The show was great, but more about that later. I found Nirvana.

fabric display at the Portsmouth Fabric Company booth

Needless to say, I indulged, thinking about the Diamonds quilt I had on my design wall at home.

During the long drive up Route 89 to Essex Junction Vermont, I made some decisions about that quilt. I realized the quilt had to be approachable and "user friendly" and needed to be in some other color than autumn gold. I decided it should have a lot of blue and some greens. So I bought some giant prints in colors I thought would be suitable.

After a few hours I left the Festival, and started the drive home. While there I had had a late lunch, but I knew I was too tired to drive the full distance without stopping for something to eat. White River Junction Vermont is about an hour from my house, and I decided to stop there for dinner. But where?

"Hey Siri," I asked my phone, "Show me restaurants in White River Junction."

"I found a restaurant called Tuckerbox," she announced. "It has four star reviews and is reasonably priced. Would you like me to give them a call or would you like directions?"

I shook my head and growled. I wanted restaurants PLURAL, not a web-based recommendation. I am not a big fan of Siri. She tends to be a little bit dense. "Never mind."  But as I drove closer to the Vermont/New Hampshire border, I remembered dinner at two exceptional restaurants on Long Island NY when I attended a wedding there back in 2011. Both had been web-based recommendations. I'd give Tuckerbox a look-see. I figured I could always walk out if I didn't like what I saw, so as I got closer, I told Siri to give me directions to Tuckerbox.

As I approached the restaurant, I realized I had absolutely no idea what I was walking into. I figured it was a gastro-pub featuring big burgers and local beers.  Oh boy, was I wrong. Imagine my surprise when the tagline on the door said, "Turkish and Mediterranean Dining."

I sat at the bar (faster service) and tried to make sense of the enormous selection of mouth-watering options on the menu in front of me. Finally, I asked the bartender for her recommendation. "Well, the lamb shish-kebabs are outstanding," she said, "and the chef recommends you get them medium-rare."

I set the menu down, "Done and done!" I said, "I love lamb and I like it medium rare." A few minutes later and I was "tucking" right into a delectable meal, and I knew I'd be back. (Hey, it's only an hour from home.) Oh my goodness, it was GOOD!  When she put the plate in front of me, I didn't think I was hungry enough to eat it all, but I did. AND I had a piece of Baklava, which they make with Vermont maple syrup instead of honey.

Yeah. I was happy, and drove home invigorated. I threw my fabric in the washing machine and went out and did my groceries. When I got back home, I headed into the studio and got to work.

I started at the top and worked my way down.

By the time I went to bed, at midnight, I had this, and I am much happier. It may change, but I am more satisfied with this new direction.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Kill Your Darlings

As I have said many times before, we ALL know when it's WRONG. We generally know when we've hit it out of the park, but the absolute HARDEST THING is that place in between - that place where what's on your worktable or design wall isn't going anywhere. The solution?

Be ruthless.

Kill your darlings.

Break it. Break it bad.

Change partners and dance.

The so-called gold I had been working with the last few days just wasn't going anywhere I wanted it to go. If it had simply been a project of my own, I might have stuck with it, but this quilt is designed to be a "how-to" lesson to make a Diamond quilt, and if I wasn't "feeling the love," I sure as hell couldn't convince anybody else to feel it either.

So I tossed the pieces off the wall and dug through my stash. I can show how to make a Diamond quilt in colors that anybody can reproduce. If I've learned anything from my students it's that if I give them good basics, they will figure out how to push ideas around on their own.

You should click, and then double click the photos to get a good look at the big prints. Some of them I've had almost ten years.

Friday, June 22, 2018


I made a couple of test four patch diamonds. On the shelf, the not blue fabric looked cream colored. Here, against the silver of my ironing table, it looks decidedly gray.

BIG LESSON ABOUT COLOR: Colors change depending on what colors they are next to.

To wit: I like the blue. The gray / silver next to it.. not so much.  And I'm not thrilled with the cream of the red violet either.

Hmm. Guess I have to go shopping.

Oh gee darn.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


I find it so amusing - we ALL know when it's WRONG, and OMG, this geometric so totally was! It looked gold when it was next to the others, but up on the wall it was a sick green.


And although there are a lot of really beautiful big prints here, the dark ones just didn't fit.

So I cut some more of the lighter blocks, and this is looking OK. I think the tiny four patch diamonds will have to be bright yellows, oranges, maybe a warm red, and some blues and greens. We'll see.

More work ahead!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Diamond Start

When I haven't got a project (like a quilt) going on I get cranky. Not cranky angry, but I feel lost and untethered, and I don't like that feeling.  So I went into the sewing studio and looked at the fabrics I've been buying for the quilt for the Diamond Tutorial I want to write. I've been adding to them so I have a big selection.

I shuffled them around and realized I had a good selection to make a Diamond quilt that could be viewed as "warm" or "gold" or "orange."  I want to make (and show) a quilt that is user friendly that quilters would see and want to make, so I have to make something that has a lot of appeal. I suppose I could probably re-make my mother's quilt, but I have photos I will use of that one, so I should be fine.

I started cutting the big diamonds and put them up on the design wall. I've made enough of these by now to know I don't need a lot of diamonds of any one fabric, so I cut two or three of some fabrics I thought would work. I have plenty of fabric, and can always cut more. Besides, things happen on the design wall that affect those decisions, and I need to notice those.

So I am getting started.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dairy Cream with Sprinkles

It's all done, the binding is on and I think it looks terrific!

It's a mostly cream colored quilt with brightly colored small diamonds running up and down.

Here you can get a better look at the striped binding.

I will be writing a formal tutorial about how to make these diamond quilts, but it won't be ready for a few months yet.

In the meantime, you can look at the diamond quilts here and here.

I've also updated several of this blog's "Pages." "Not Yet Quilted," "Diamond Quilts" and "Quilts and Their Owners" have all been updated. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Binding Dairy Cream

I'm  pretty sure Donna at Quilted Threads was shocked when I picked this colorful diagonal stripe for the binding of my Dairy Cream diamonds quilt.

Believe it or not, I don't usually like to use fabric for the binding that is in the quilt already. Reason: because if the binding touches a piece of fabric on the quilt that is the same, it looks like one area is bleeding into the other. I want to keep them separate.

For this quilt, I wanted something mostly white or cream, and a color, but I couldn't find anything that really made my heart sing.  I found this pretty stripe in the kid's section, and I knew it was perfect. The reason? In this case, the binding was selected because it is perfect for who the quilt is FOR. My mother, who's an artist and loves color. And the stripe was happy.

And when I joined the binding strips, I did this DELIBERATELY.  I like the little bit of zing it provides for the viewer who will notice it.

My Mother is so eager for the quilt she told me I could machine sew the binding down on the front, and not to do it by hand, so this will be finished very soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day

My DIL took this picture of my son and granddaughter yesterday. It instantly became one of my favorites.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Little Retail Therapy

I finally got the studio cleaned up enough to work in it again.

I added extra fabric all around the gigantic slashed squares block I made for the backing of the pink slashed squares quilt (because long arm quilters need it...)

and then I put the quilt over it so you can see it really is big enough.

Then I did the calculations for the backing of the other two Slashed Squares quilts and determined I needed four yards of fabric for the back of each of them.  Hmm. I don't have four yards of anything that could work.

Think, Lynne, think.

So I looked at the clock, gathered the flimsies and drove myself to Quilted Threads where I chose

this big print for the back of

this Slashed Squares quilt and

this one for the mini Slashed Squares quilt, Jigsaw Puzzle.

Woo Hoo!  That's done!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Oh Say, Can You See?

The other day after I showed off my new glasses, my friend Mary told me I should write a post about how a quilter knows when she needs new glasses. It's a fair point.

Before I developed arthritis in my dominant hand, I used to do finely detailed pencil drawings, specifically portraits. To do that, I needed to SEE and to SEE I needed good glasses, so I had plenty of motivation to ask my optometrist if I could get a custom pair of bifocals so I could see what I was drawing without tilting my head up and down. Ordinary bifocals didn't allow me to do that.

"Of course" he said, "Just measure how far away something is you want to see and we'll go from there."

Now anybody with bifocals knows how expensive they are, but let's face it, if you need to SEE to work, then why would you avoid the expense? It's like any other tool you need to do your job. The best tools are worth the cost.

My new glasses (above) are "average" bifocals. Good for driving and not so close work. They're fine when I am working on my laptop when it is on the table, but not so good when the laptop is in my lap. For that I use my "quilting glasses," below.

these are my "quilting" glasses.
My quilting glasses are designed for middle distance, and close distance. They are good to see anything out to the ends of my arms. They are great for sewing and for teaching. I can't see long distance with them, so I can't drive with them, and they are actually better for reading than my "normal" bifocals. They are great for hand sewing.  And yes, when I got them I figured out just how far I sat from my sewing machine, just how far away my cutting and ironing tables were when I worked, and brought those measurements to my optometrist, and we talked about what I needed. (Essentially that was where the "line" dividing one distance from the other would be on the lenses.) I guess they're more like the bottom two areas of trifocals. Thing is, they are worth every penny I paid for them.

So if you are struggling to SEE with your glasses, it's worth your while to find something that works. A lot of people ask why I don't buy the inexpensive "cheaters" you find at grocery stores. Fact is, they don't work for me. I need more than one prescription, I need two. And besides, I think "cheaters" are (for the most part) ugly as sin.

I'm always amazed at what folks will put up with. Most of us ladies are familiar with how uncomfortable an ill-fitting bra can be, but how many of us just buy them off the shelf instead of going someplace to get properly fitted? (Not me, I found a great bra place and I am a believer.) I'm always surprised that women put up with making quilts on dining room tables in rooms with poor lighting, and cheap sewing machines, and wobbly ironing boards designed for ironing clothes, not quilts, yet their husbands have table saws, snowblowers and riding lawnmowers.

And about lighting...

A couple of years ago I bought a small Ott Lite to use when I hand sew the binding on my quilts. Glasses are one thing, but good lighting is another thing that will make your life a LOT easier. One of the things I adore about Quilted Threads, my all time favorite quilt shop, is that the lighting is bright daylight, not ordinary fluorescent. When I moved into the house I live in now, the first thing I did was bring myself to the hardware store to buy daylight bulbs to replace every single bulb and lamp. What a difference. (Although I do have to install spots in my studio for my design wall. I hope that's a project I can do before the end of this year.)

So, all my quilting pals... Can you see?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Tickled Pink

The Tickled Pink diamond quilt is all finished. I sewed the binding while watching the finals of the tennis at Roland Garros. 

I put the quilt on the table to see what it looks like. When July comes, I'll put an extra leaf in the table so the top will be bigger and more of the quilt will be visible. This looks so pretty and feminine (duh). It will be such a lovely tablescape when the table is set with white dishes and silverware.

I'm also a bowl freak. I found this in the local Home Goods one evening. I had stopped at the grocery store in the same mall for something I needed for a recipe and I thought I'd cruise over to HG to see if they had anything interesting.  As soon as I saw this pink flowered bowl I picked it up and headed toward the cash register. Pink bowls are kinda rare.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Anthony Bourdain

I was shocked on Friday morning, when my phone vibrated with the news that Anthony Bourdain was dead. I think I checked my phone fifty times that day, hoping against hope that I'd find it wasn't true.

You all know I love to cook. Many of you know that I love to read. When people ask what I read I often say that I will read virtually anything that is well written, and dammit, Anthony Bourdain could write!

I first heard of him when I read his book Kitchen Confidential. I was terrified and thrilled in equal measure. I read most of his books after that, and watched him on television whenever I could. He cracked open the food world like no one else. He made me feel better to be "just" a home cook.

this from CNN...
While accepting the Peabody award in 2013, Bourdain described how he approached his work.

"We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions," he said. "We tend to get some really astonishing answers."
The world has lost an honest and unique voice. I am bereft. 
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Bigs

I'm planning for the next tutorial, which will be the Diamonds quilts, and so I am planning a quilt to make for the how-to pictures.

So I have been shopping for fabrics with BIG prints!

I haven't really got a plan yet, but I'll figure it out.

 I've got a lot of options.

I'm gonna fussy the heck out of those "panels."