Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Here's a detail of the purple area on my colorwash quilt.

After a lot of work, this was my "I think this is it" version, but I know it will what Wanda calls "tweaking."

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Colorwash Quilt

I'm taking Wanda's Colorwash 360 class. I have been cutting 2-1/2" squares of fabrics. I've used ordinary prints, batiks and some of the Kaffe Collective fabrics.

Then it was time to start arranging them.

It's harder than it looks.

I had to figure out where my colors were going, and how big this was going to be.

So this is my "first pass." It's 20 blocks across by 20 blocks down. That's 400 different fabrics.

It still needs work.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Big Deal

Yeah, so this isn't a big deal for most of you, but for me it is enormous. I was lying on the couch reading when Millie walked right up my legs and settled down in my lap, facing me, and stayed there.

I have had Millie 13 years and this is the first time she has done that when I am NOT covered with a quilt. And even then, she usually turns around so her butt faces me. (For those of you who do not know, I adopted a feral cat. The vet describes her as "a tame feral cat.")

I have joined Wanda's Colorwash class and am cutting six gazillion 2.5" squares and sorting them by color and value.  This is the purple tray.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Brown Barn

I saw this barn on the road home from Peterborough. I've driven by it several times, but this day I had the sense of mind to stop and take pictures.

I took the pictures from across the street. It's a big barn.

It has many of the features of a traditional New Hampshire barn, and a few "adjustments.

 I don't know if the owners in the house across the street noticed me ogling their barn.

It's really a gorgeous barn in its simplicity.

I may have to do something with it.

Monday, September 30, 2019

I Live Here & It Affects Everything.

About a year or so ago, while I was working on the Early Autumn quilt, I wrote a post about what early autumn looked like here in New Hampshire, where I live. 

I wrote: "Seeing all these trees that border the roads is one of the things that defines northern New England. To me, it means I don't know what's up ahead, around the corner. It's always a surprise. Out west, I can see for vast distances, but I don't feel as protected as I do in New England, where I am surrounded by trees."

Later, one commenter wrote "Since you like being closed in by evergreens..." and I thought that was wrong. She seemed to feel this made me feel safe, or stifled, which wasn't it at all. The whole exchange bothered me, and I couldn't quite figure out WHY.

Stuff like that stays with me and reappears and rolls around in my head until I can really make some sense of it. I felt I had explained what I liked about the roads being bordered by trees, but clearly I hadn't.

 Yesterday I drove out to Peterborough NH, and I took "the back way," which means I didn't take the highway. The route took me through New Boston and Francestown NH, and the speed limit never got over 40 MPH. The roads looked like these pictures. There were bends and dips and curves. For much of it, I couldn't see more than a quarter mile in front of me.

Yes, I like this. I like the surprises of the twists and the turns, the bends and the dips, the hills. I like the fact that it makes a difference which season it is, because in the summer the leaves hide the houses and the barns, but in the winter, when the leaves are off the trees, I can see more.

I like that things aren't right out in the open, but that you have to really LOOK to find them. I like that it is always different, and what I see is different each time. In my quilts I reward viewers who take the time to really LOOK and find the little surprises I hide there.

A lot like the roads where I live.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Magic Carpet, finished

It's finished. I'll have to hang it on the quilt rack outside to get a really good straight on picture of it in good light, but for now this will have to do. This quilt was designed in one day from leftover big diamond shapes I had cut out for the diamond quilts I made. I had cut about half the blocks, but as I designed the quilt I raided my stash for more fabrics. There are 62 different fabrics here, and each fabric is used once. There are a few prints that are shown in different colorways. The fabrics were all in my stash. I didn't shop for anything. Had I planned it I probably would have made something a bit smoother and more "regular" but I'm happy with it. Each diamond is 8" across by 16" tall.

This is a big picture, so you can click it to make it bigger and scroll around to see the fabrics in detail. There is one fabric in there, an Alexander Hoffman, that is 35 years old.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

On The Flip Side

I've sewn the binding all around the Magic Carpet quilt, so now I have flipped it over and am sewing down the hanging sleeve. There are two more episodes of Country Music still to come. I'm pretty sure I'll always look at this quilt and think of all the music I listened to while I did my hand sewing.

About the bread. Robby, I've been baking bread for over forty-five years. (Wow. That makes me sound ancient.) Anyway, you only need five ingredients to make bread: Flour, for the body of the bread; Yeast, to make the bread rise; a Sweetener (like sugar) to feed the yeast to make it grow; Salt, to regulate the growth of the yeast; and a Liquid to disperse the yeast.

You can also add fat to make the dough more tender. Eggs do this also. Your liquid can be water or milk or yogurt or sour cream or orange juice or even tomato juice. You can add sugar or maple syrup or honey or molasses or whatever the heck floats your boat. You can add seeds for texture: sesame, sunflower, chia, fennel, poppy. You could put nuts in it if you wanted.You can add cheese: ricotta, parmesan, cheddar, asiago or anything else. One of my family's favorites is a cheddar cheese bread with cheddar cheese, parmesan, lots of butter and some hot sauce (really.) It's awesome toasted with ham and mustard.

And no, I do not use a bread machine. I like kneading it with my hands. I can tell when it's ready by the way it feels. And I don't use a timer any more either. I bake it until it smells done.  But hey, I've got 45 years of experience...

a loaf of Challah before baking.

One other note: I've always said that no gift is better than a quilt, but a loaf of homemade bread comes damned close!

English Muffin Bread. Same five ingredients.

When I visit my extended family in Maryland, I often bake bread. I bake six loaves and watch as they literally devour one loaf as soon as it is cool to the touch. Then they promptly (an immediately) devour the second. (There are four kids.) 

They'll eat it plain, with nothing on it. Then again, a good loaf of bread doesn't need any adornment.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Not Sewing

I finished the pink barn on Saturday, and I cleaned the studio and did this:

I made bread. (You can get my recipe & how to here.) It was actually because I made ricotta cheese. After I scooped the cheese into a container for a pasta recipe I will cook later this week, I was left with a white liquid (the "whey"). I used the whey as the liquid for making the bread, so I didn't waste anything when I made the ricotta cheese.

I don't have room in my freezer for the extra loaves of bread, so I gave two loaves to my family members who were only too glad to drive over to my house to pick it up.

My sewing this week will be limited to binding quilts, which I will do while I watch the remaining episodes of Country Music on PBS.

On Saturday I'll be teaching my Liberated Letters class at Quilted Threads.

If you can't attend the class, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get started right away.          

Sunday, September 22, 2019


Here's a closeup of the pink barn.You can see the detail in the sky fabric, and the trim I used around the roofline. Every part of this barn is pieced. The black windows and the grey muntins* are also pieced.

In the example above, I like that the pink stripes do not line up above the LARKSPUR panel and that they go crosswise on either side of it. If you don't know why I chose the sky fabric I did, notice how the turquoise in the sky picks up the blue details in the roof trim and the inset square, and the green in the sky fabric also picks up the green background of the butterfly block. And notice the blue roof trim is NOT the same fabric that surrounds the butterfly block. You do NOT have to be slavishly matchy-matchy.

 The blue acute angle near the roofline, shown here in the blue, is something I see in virtually every NH barn, but it took me a long time to figure out how I could include it in a barn block. Very often this angled shape is the same color as the body of the barn.

All the little colorful details in the top part of this barn read as feminine so I really wanted to use a fabric for the barn doors that would keep that feeling. I wanted it to include the colors I'd been using, and be a stripe, so I could use it at an angle, since so many barn doors around here have doors constructed this way. I've had this fabric in my stash for some time, and it is beyond perfect.

This is part of the bottom panel that includes the ramp up to the barn doors. The supports on either side of the ramp are usually stone, so I chose a fabric that looked like that.

Here is the finished barn. It is about 38" square, and uses 16 different fabrics. I'm pretty happy with it. If you need an idea about the scale, the black windows are 1" tall by 3/4" wide. I've kept this photo pretty big, so you can click it, then double click it again to see all the little details.

*muntin: the strip separating panes of glass in a sash

Saturday, September 21, 2019

More Pink Barn!

I'm back working on the pink barn. I created the row of lights above the door.

Then I made the doors and the sides and put them together. Many barns in New England have doors constructed with angled strips of wood, so I wanted to find a decorative fabric that would give me that feeling. The fabric I picked for these doors is a jeweled stripe, and I cut the doors on the bias. The jewels pick up the colors of the barn as well as the blue I've used as highlights. 

Here I have trimmed the sides and added the blue trim on the corners of the barn. My inspiration barn lives in the woods, so I put some green fabric to one side to see what it looks like.

Here's my inspiration barn. As you can see, I've taken a lot of liberties.

PS: Happy Birthday to my barn-building quilting buddy, Julie Sefton.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Hand Sewing to Country Music

I've had the scrappy diamond Magic Carpet quilt ready for binding now for many weeks, but since I spent much of my vacation time in California, I didn't get it done then. Usually I work on the binding while I "watch" TV.

This week, Country Music, the documentary by Ken Burns, started showing, so I've been sewing the binding on the quilt while I watch it.

See that quilt that is hanging on the wall behind my TV? That's a quilt by my quilting idol, Wanda Hanson, who blogs at Exuberant Color.

I'll tell anybody who'll listen that in my not so humble opinion, NOBODY, but NOBODY in the quilting world knows color like Wanda does. There's a reason why her quilt dominates my living room. It is that good. Wanda is that good.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Golden Zebras, Quilted

Here is the Golden Zebras quilt, quilted. You can really see how beautifully YELLOW it really is!

Here is the quilting closeup. (I actually used the same quilting design as on The Parade of Zebras. I felt I could do that because the Parade of Zebras quilt lives in California.)

Here is a slightly wider view.

Look what I put on the back!

When I was at Quilted Threads on Saturday, this butterfly fabric was on sale. I bought everything that was left on the bolt. I will use it as the binding on the quilt.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

I Went Shopping... and Another Thing.

I needed more pinks for the pink barn, so this morning I got up early and drove to my favorite quilt shop, Quilted Threads.

I really like the pink in the middle with the little bursts of color. I'll use one or more of these for the body of the barn. I haven't decided yet.

These three were in the sale room, and I may use one or more as accents.

 I know the batik I looked at the other day would be nice, but I really liked the happy feel of this fabric, which I will probably use for the sky. Remember, we don't want to be TOO LITERAL!

So now my fabrics are taking a spin in the washing machine. I'll get to work on the barn later, but first, a confession.

Last week, I needed something from the top shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets. I'm five feet tall, so I have to use a stool. Instead of getting the step stool, I grabbed a small footstool from the living room. I got what I needed, but my foot caught the edge of the stool, overbalancing it, and I fell. The upper half of my body landed on the counter, and my left wrist hit first. I couldn't grab anything to steady myself, and I fell over backwards onto the floor.

Aside from feeling stupid, I wasn't hurt. My left wrist was sore, but I could move all my fingers and hand in any direction. I took some ibuprofen and put some ice on it and then continued about my day. My wrist was swollen, but that was to be expected.

Most of the swelling went down after a day, but some remained, a funny kind of bump. My wrist only hurt when I bent it far backwards.

After several days, the swelling was still there, and I knew I'd have to get medical advice. I have osteoporosis as well as arthritis. Sigh.

So yesterday I went to the local Urgent Care facility and got it looked at and X-rayed. Blessedly, there is nothing broken. "But you have a lot of arthritis in your hand," the nurse practitioner told me, "and that interferes with the swelling going down, so it may take some time." She checked my grip and mobility and told me to go home and treat the symptoms. If the swelling doesn't go down in 2 to 3 weeks, I'm to give them a call. The radiologist will review the X-rays on Monday and will call me if something is discovered.

Yes, I know. I am lucky.

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Little Trim...

I've added a thin strip of the decorative stripe I showed you a few days ago to the edge of the barn roof. I like it a lot. It just goes to show that you have to really LOOK at your fabrics to see the possibilities. I wrote a tutorial about that, and you can get it here. It's everything you've ever heard me say about fabric all in one place.

I also like the blue batik as the sky. It's sky-ish and looks windy and cloudy, which happens here in New England.

And I still prefer this geometric print of all the fabrics I currently have for the body of the barn. It also reminds me of the siding in many barns. I know several of you liked the white stripe better, but this is going to be a PINK barn. (But there's nothing that says I can't use it for the barn doors....)