Wednesday, January 29, 2014

For The Birds

By my calculation there are 52 days until Spring.

I can't wait.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cleaning Out, and Giving Away

First of all, if you haven't seen the new SHERLOCK on PBS, get a move on! It's phenomenal and Sunday's episode (# 2 of Season 3) is probably the best one yet.

NOW! I've been cleaning out and I have some things to give away. Let me know if you want anything and as long as you live in the US, I'll pay the shipping to get it to you. If you live elsewhere, sorry.

 Item #1 - TAKEN -, a quilted selvage bag, in browns. All it needs is to have the handles sewn on, and they have already been made. It's 12" wide, 13" tall, 4" deep, fully lined with an interior pocket.

Item #2 - TAKEN - White denim, or cotton twill. 54" wide. There's probably a full yard and some scraps, the largest of which are about 20" square. This has not been washed, and will shrink. It's all cotton.

Item # 3 - TAKEN - A bag of felt scraps in many colors (dunno where the photo went), a bag of embroidery cotton in many colors, and patterns for several darling Christmas ornaments. These are all hand sewn, but I can no longer hold a needle, so I won't be finishing them.

Lastly, for those of you who have never seen any of my older traditional patchwork, check these out:
This quilt is not a giveaway.
This is a flimsy I made in 1983 or 1984, from patterns from a Jinny Beyer book. The blocks are 16" square. It's about 60" wide by almost 80" long.

When my son saw it he commented, "Gee Mom, I know you don't like brown, but you sure do know how to work with it."

So, comment away!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

WGO (What's Going On)

I've been playing catch-up since I finished the flimsy for the Chicken quilt. I've got the worktables in the studio more or less clean, but that room needs a lot of attention. I've got stuff stacked everywhere.

The rest of the house is in better condition. I've got all the laundry caught up (translation: all folded and put away), the dining room table is mostly clear and the kitchen counters are clear of dirty dishes and clutter.  I've caught up with the checkbook and only have some reconciling to do.

I've got some other loose ends to tie up.  Last year Sharon told us how to make our own vanilla extract. I thought it was a great idea, so I made some. Naturally I got curious and had to look around on the internet for more information about it.  I found a great website to buy good quality vanilla beans, Beanilla. By the time I got around to really looking into it, it was time for Christmas shopping.  Beanilla sells some homemade vanilla extract  infusion kits.

I bought three, two to give as gifts, and one to keep for myself. I also bought some extra vanilla beans.   The beans are beautiful, plump and fragrant (unlike the dried out ones I'd get from the supermarket).  It's a month after Christmas and I finally made it to the liquor store to buy some vodka to make my own vanilla.

I'm preparing another class to teach, and I'll be getting back to editing the book I wrote last year. There are some other projects brewing, and then of course, there is The Wedding. I'm not going anywhere, but I won't be posting quite as often for the next few weeks.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Wrong Road

There's a quote I have posted on my inspiration wall...

"No matter how far you've gone down the wrong road, turn back."
Remember this fabric I selected for the back of the Christmas Random Plank quilt?
I had a hard time ironing it. The iron seemed to drag, and when I brushed the fabric flat on my ironing table, there seemed to be some gritty stuff on it, that seemed to come off.

So I tossed it in the washing machine, and then in the dryer. When I cleaned the lint filter, I could see little black specks throughout. Feeling better about it, I started ironing it again, but it still felt gritty and grimy.  As I worked my way across the length of the fabric, I realized the metallic gold  print was coming off, leaving a grubby, grimy feel to it.

I called the friend who gave me the fabric. She admitted she had bought it early in her quilting career, and it had not come from a quilt shop, and the fabric was probably of a lower quality than we both use now.

I didn't think the fabric would ever make me happy, and I couldn't imagine touching the quilt and feeling that grubbiness every time.

So I did the only rational thing I could do.

I threw it out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I decided to make a signature panel for the back of the Chicken Quilt.

Who would have thought that after making almost 200 letters for the chicken quilt that I'd be interested in making still more? 

I had wanted to include "FRICKN CHICKN" in the quilt, but as the design evolved the idea just didn't fit.  Then I thought I'd put it on the back, but by the time the flimsy was finished I couldn't see the point in adding those letters on the back of the quilt, so I decided to make a signature panel instead.

I made one for the back of No Rules for Julie,

 and the signature panel on Letters from Home is on the front.

 When I had several of my quilts appraised by Gerald Roy last year he asked me if I signed them. I turned them over and showed him. They signatures were all small and discreet, hidden within the pattern of the backing fabric.   

"Too small," he advised. "Make them bigger."

Yes sir!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Let The Chicken Go!

The Chicken quilt flimsy is finished. It's 54" x 80" (137 x 203 cm). I'm pretty sure the title of the quilt is going to be Too Much Chicken.

I'll be taking a few days off while I clean the house and rest. Tell me what you think of this chicken quilt, if you appreciate the humor and can see the jokes. Obviously I'm not "into" traditional quilts.

Friday, January 17, 2014

In the Chicken Coop

I am in the home stretch with the chicken quilt. I should have the flimsy complete by end of the weekend. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fox, Chicken, Geese

DUMPLING, CHIKEN, CHICKEN, SALAD is sewn together. So is CHIKEN and PIZZA, although the triangle flying goose next to PIZZA was supposed to point UP (along with the three below it.) I will probably fix it. I'm not exactly thrilled with the layout of the words below it. I will probably do some more rearranging.

Here's the whole thing so far.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Broken Chicken

I didn't make a CHICKEN word extra big to cut apart. I simply cut apart one of my twelve chicken words. I am happy there is enough of this for you to "read" the word as "chicken." The K is perhaps not as good as it could be, but hey, it was a one shot deal. I like this "broken chicken."

The top half of the chicken quilt is all sewn together. This is my plan so far for the bottom half.

I got up this morning and looked at it and it wasn't quite right. I made one change, and I think this is going to work.

 And yes, I am going to play with PIZZA and SOUP. They won't be as pristine and perfect in the final version.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Risk and Reward

Sometimes the quilt tells you to do something, and if you're smart, you'll listen. It's always a risk.

I didn't plan to slice this chicken apart, but I really knew I had to do it.

And there was no way I was going to sew it back together straight. (I can just hear the quilt police gagging!)

Oh, the potential this has. Can you imagine what I can do with the word PIZZA?

Monday, January 13, 2014


My friend Megan, who lives in Sydney Australia, asked about my plans for the chicken quilt once I finished it.

My response: "I have no idea."

Megan wrote back, "I was just curious, Lynne. You invest a lot of time and thought and skill in your quilts, so I wondered whether you used their eventual use (eg, gift for someone special) as a motivator to keep solving the problems/challenges, or whether the satisfaction is sufficient in itself."

It's an excellent question. I like making quilts. I love solving the problems and challenges they present. I call it "cracking the nut."
When I was making the Sunburst Rainbow quilt, I sewed two rows together wrong. Oops. How could I make that work?

It looked good, so I just kept going. When I saw something else that looked good, I changed direction and incorporated that too.

How could I make the FUN interesting on Julie's quilt? The words "Miss the fun..." kept going around and around in my head. MISS the fun... what about if I made some hidden FUNS in the quilt? You could miss them...

How could I keep the brown background in the Black Box quilt interesting while I used only one fabric throughout? The scraps on my table gave me the answer... made fabric.

How can I convey the concept of TOO MUCH CHICKEN without saying "too much chicken?" I could play with the letters... so I tilted the second A in SALAD.

I could also make the letters jump around, look like they're sleeping or just leave some out.

None of that answers Megan's basic question. WHY?

I am not happy unless I am creating something. To create means to make something new, to look at something differently, to solve a puzzle, to make a discovery, to explore "what if." Having pushed all those boundaries, doing "normal" is dull, dull, dull. Sure, I've made predictable quilts, and I've used quilts in books as inspiration for the routine quilts that I do make, but I always tweak it somewhere along the line, break some rule somewhere, do my own thing. It's not an Ego thing. I don't need to "leave my mark." I just see things and I wonder "what if..." and I follow the idea where it leads me.

For me, it's all about process. I love to create. It's as simple as that. I do it because it gives me great joy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Playing Chicken

  I spent all day Saturday assembling the various elements of the Chicken quilt.

I had to move the coffee table out of the way and lay the pieces out in the living room.

The great big panel in the middle was the result of the day's work.

My next task is to add the CHICKEN panel on the left. I'll square it all up, then add the top ROAST CHICKEN FRICASSEE panel.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Puzzle

One of the most challenging things about making a free pieced quilt is figuring out how to put it all together.

Here's what the letters look like on the design wall...

and here are various elements sewn together into blocks...

It's always a puzzle to figure out how to put it all together.

Have I ever told you how much I love puzzles?

Friday, January 10, 2014


I think it was Judy in Michigan who said the L in LET should be bigger. She was right, but it also needed to be REDDER.

The light orange letters almost disappeared into the background. I needed them to be more prominent. After all, they are the entry into the quilt itself. That red L won't be quite so tall, but it's easier to trim it down than it is to make a bigger one.

When I'm going hell-bent-for-leather like this, the studio (and by extension the whole house) goes straight to hell.

I really want to sew this weekend, so I think I'll find an appropriate recipe to stick in the crock-pot on Saturday and just go to it.

update: As for the recipe, Liz, I was thinking more along the lines of this: Orange-Cranberry Pork Stew. It is one of my favorites.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I am sewing components together. Incidentally, the photo above shows why two rows of letters never get closer than half an inch. The bulk created by the edges of the letters has to go somewhere, so they just get pressed over flat. I never cut a one inch strip. I cut larger, then sew it to the letters, then press, then trim it straight. You can read more detail about it here.

This is Julie's chicken sandwich idea. I confess I never saw it, but think it's great.

I sewed these four letters and four flying geese together. The hardest thing is trying to remember how to sew the components together once they are off the design wall. The fix is to take lots of pictures and use them as reference.

I really debated about that first flying geese triangle to the left of ROAST but the corner looked empty without it, so it's there.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Honk Honk. Got Geese?

Last night I made some flying geese triangles and threw them up on the design wall. This is getting closer. I have made a few adjustments since this photo was taken. The fork is out, and I've changed the direction of the two geese just above the "LET THE".  Btw, I have to re-make those letters. They need to be redder. That may happen tonight. There are other small changes that need to be made, but those aren't going to interfere with the grand plan.

My best pal Julie made a suggestion that I have implemented. Kudos to those who see it. It has to do with the word sandwiches. I mention it to tell you all that sometimes very good ideas come from outside yourself. Pay attention! 

The Selvage Fairy put into words yesterday what I knew intuitively but did not know specifically: that the geese flying every which way was like a maze that didn't end until you let the chicken go. Thank you SF!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken a Go-Go

The chicken quilt needed a kick in the ass.

At the beginning, I thought it could use tiny blue-green dots like the ones on either side of ROAST and SOUP. 

But nope. Too small. No zing. No pop.

I thought the forks might do it.
Truthfully, that was wishful thinking. They were too small and never did have enough contrast.

Sometimes the answer is right in front of your face. (See those "flying geese" triangles...)

This isn't the final layout, and I have a lot to do to make this really "work," but THIS is MUCH BETTER! The layout on top (and the letters didn't move much) was not going anywhere visually or metaphorically.  But the addition of the dark orange "flying geese" gives this some punch, pizzazz, and interest.

It also changes the whole dynamic of the piece. A quilt about getting TIRED of chicken could be a real snooze-fest.  We all know that's not the kind of quilts I make. This is one of those times when MORE is BETTER. Instead of chicken a No-go (at the top), this is chicken a Go-go.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken.... ?

Here are all the chicken "dinner" words I have created. You've seen the twelve chicken words, here are fourteen chicken dinners. There are 106 letters here. The twelve chicken words have 84. Add those to the 15 of the LET THE CHICKEN GO and the total is 205!!!  Previous to this chicken quilt, the most letters I ever put into a quilt was 81.


And for the record: check out the second A in SALAD and the second S in CASSEROLE.  The answer is YES, I am playing with your head and YES both letters were made and placed that way on purpose.