Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review, Quilting Update

Sally Palmer Field may not have been a nationally known quilter, but she was certainly a local celebrity.  Nearly every quilter in New England has heard of Sally or experienced her influence.  Judy Buswick's latest book, Sally Palmer Field, New England Quilter, is a biography of Sally detailing her life from visiting the textile mills in Lowell where her father worked to her quilt store, the quilts she made, the classes she taught, the creation of the New England Quilt Guild and her influence in creating the New England Quilt Museum.  Sally had a passion for quilting that was contagious.

Judy's book details the quilting life of this energy-filled woman who insisted everybody learn the basics of quilting using cardboard templates and hand sewing, but also encouraged creativity as she urged quilters to explore their own designs and color schemes.  It is an interesting read of how one woman helped the resurgence of quilting as a craft and art form.

 Sally Palmer Field, New England Quilter is available on or local quilt shops.

Other than finishing this book, I continue to work on the hand quilting on the Florabunda quilt.  I've completed the center and 5 of the 12 surrounding blocks. I didn't expect the quilting to take this long, but I guess since I'm doing a 1" grid, it's pretty densely quilted.  So far, I'm quilting around all the applique shapes and doing the grid on the background and checkerboard sashing.  The only additional quilting I did was more grid quilting on the center basket since that was a large area to leave unquilted.  I'm toying with adding embroidery to some of the leaves and flowers as an accent.  I'm waiting until all the quilting is done.  I'm afraid that I'll get started on the embroidery not like it, or like it a lot and have to do a lot on the quilt.  First, I have to finish the quilting!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Quilting

I'm still here, and I'm still quilting.  I'm still working on the Florabunda top.  I've got the entire center and three or four of the surrounding 12 blocks all quilted.

I was hoping to get all the quilting completed by the end of the year, but that's just not going to happen.  This quilt doesn't have a deadline and I just wanted to get it done this year.  I'm trying to complete this before moving onto any other large projects.  I still have one small hand piecing project that is portable, but I don't want to start any other large projects that will distract me from completing this.

That being said, I got a "save the date" card from some dear friends who will be married before the end of the year.  My first thought was to make them a quilt.  This will be the major distraction that will pull me away from hand quilting.

My sewing room is finally getting back in order.  Another reason I haven't had any distractions from hand quilting is that my sewing room has been unusable since August.  We had all the carpets on that floor replaced this fall.  Starting in August, my sewing room has either held furnishings from the other rooms, or was empty because it was that room's turn for carpet.  All the furnishings went back a few weeks ago and I'm now in the process of putting all the smaller stuff back; that includes going through years of stuff and deciding what to keep, what to donate and what to toss.  I really loved the look of the room when just the furniture was put back.  It looked roomy and neat.  That is my motivation to get rid of a lot of the little storage bins and other stuff that sat on the floor without a permanent home.  That uncluttered feel of the room is what is giving me the major motivation to get rid of stuff.

This is the ceiling of my sewing room.  It's covered with baseball pennants.  We enjoy baseball and I especially like visiting different baseball parks, both major and minor leagues.  When my daughter was little, we started collecting pennants from all the parks we've visited and keep that tradition going today.  I love the look of these on the ceiling.  The picture makes it look even more like a quilt.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lots of (slow) Quilting Going On

It's been a long time since I posted anything, but lots of stuff has been happening.

I'm still hand quilting the Florabunda quilt.  I've completed the center (27") square and am working on the checkerboard sashing.

I do all my hand quilting on a Grace Hoop similar to this  and love how easy it is to manipulate to a comfortable position, how sturdy it is and how easy it is to take apart and store when I'm done.

I'm making progress on this and am aiming to have it done by the end of the year.  Once fall comes around, I will have more quiet evenings to stitch.  For now, I'm trying to use this as my 15-minute per day sewing time.  Some days I get more, some days not at all.

I had completed (quilted and bound) the maple leaf quilt to put in my guild's show in May, but I still wanted to do some quilting on the outer border.  I completed that this weekend and washed the quilt.  I like the machined feather on the border and I love the look of a crinkled, washed quilt.  I think I just have to put a permanent label on this one to call it entirely done.

Since the last two small hand projects (the small hand pieced maple leaves in the quilt above and all the applique on the Florabunda quilt), I needed a new small project I could tote around with me. Perhaps a year ago I started hearing about Klosjes.   Klosje is the Dutch work for spool.  It seems that there was a movement for Klosje Saturday - that you would make small spool blocks on Saturday and report in to some central location or blog, or something.  I kept seeing these small spool blocks and resulting quilts popping up all over the place and I was enchanted.  But, I put it off because I was doing these small maple leaf blocks and the applique.   Now that they're nearing completion, I felt free to play with these spools.  So, I drafted up a pattern and started cutting fabrics.  I've never made a charm quilt and decided to make each of the blocks with different fabrics.  I'm using either white or off-white for the backgrounds and am not worried about duplicating them, but each of the spools will be different fabrics Though one of my guild friends says it's not technically a charm quilt since each block has 3 pieces of identical fabric.  I told her it was my quilt with my rules and I could modify my rules as I see fit, I'm happy with this.

I've got 15 blocks done so far, and 50 more cut and prepared.  I got that many cut out to take on a long cross-country plane trip, but found myself too tired and the plane too crowded to sew.

My other hand sewing project is the one below.  I bought templates from a favorite vendor at the Vermont Quilt Festival in July. Ardco makes terrific metal templates.  They are aluminum, have a rough surface on one side so it doesn't slide on the fabric, and is cut out on the inside to let you mark accurate 1/4" allowances.   Some of the templates are large enough to use a rotary cutter to slice around.  I bought their Tea Leaves template set because I love the pattern.  I was torn between the 6" block and 12" block.  I figured I could use all kinds of scraps in the 6" block and bought that size.  I've gotten this far on one block and I'm not sure I want to continue.  They surely are small pieces and not very forgiving if you're off by a little.

It's probably time to set it aside for a while and play with the spools.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What a Terrific Week!

Last week was a pretty good week.

We went into Boston for the Red Sox game on Patriot's day.  It was a good game, despite the fact that they lost.

Saw Jim Rice in the owner's box.

On Thursday, Fenway Park had an open house.  I had been on the field before, but I've never been in the press box

or in the owner's box before.

The Baseball Hall of Fame had a display in one of the rooms with all kinds of interesting stuff, like this autographed ball.

We spent hours walking all over the part to all sorts of places I've never seen before.  It was a lot of fun.

Then on Friday we headed to the cape for a few days.  After helping a friend with her yard work (lots of pine needles to rake up), I decided to take a break and visit one of my favorite lighthouses - Nauset Light in Eastham, MA.

And then down to the beach.

I worked on hand stitching some spool blocks in the evenings.  On Saturday we stopped at the Cape Cod Beer Company and picked up a growler of their summer Heffeweisen, my favorite.

Baseball, Beach and Beer.  Not a bad week.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let the Quilting Begin!

I finally got the courage to baste the Florabunda top.  I got everything set up on Thursday evening and spent a few hours crawling around on my knees to thread baste the top.  Not my favorite part of the quilting process, to be sure, but good music on the stereo and the promise of a glass of wine when I finished helped make it a little less distasteful.  I may, however, have to find another place to baste quilts.  My knees complain more and more when I crawl around without the help of knee pads.

I've started the quilting around all the flowers in the center first.  I was going to do all the quilting with a "grape" colored thread, but I think I'm going to use a few colors - pale pink around the pink, yellow around the yellow and green around the leaves and stems.  I haven't decided how I will quilt the basket yet.  The backgrounds will have straight cross-hatching.

I also started machine quilting on the hand-pieced maple leaf quilt.

Our guild is having a show in May and I would like to have this completed by then.  I'm doing a medium stipple in the backgrounds and will do some additional quilting on the large maple leaves.  I don't know what design that will be yet.  And, the light border on the outside will get another quilted design.  I'll figure that out later, too.

That's what I'll be working on for a while.  I'm out of small, carry along hand work for the moment.  I'm thinking I need another scrappy hand piecing project.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I've Been Doing to Avoid Basting

Nope, I didn't get the Florabunda top basted on National Quilting day.  I did, however get the backing fabric sewn together and pressed.  Then I went on to trim this top, make the binding, label and hanging sleeve.

Then I finished all the hand stitching on the cardinal and worked on the hand quilting on the chickadee.  I've got that done and now need to trim, sew on the binding, label and hanging sleeve.

These two will go to my guild's silent auction at our show in may.

Then, the weather was too nice, so I got some more yard work done.  Take a look at this beautiful gravel!

Oh, and today I took out the motorcycle on the first ride of the season.

Can you tell how much I dislike basting?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Dance!

I got the final borders on my Florabunda.  I still have to get the backing pieced together then basting.  I was looking through my supplies the other night and realized that I don't have enough safety pins to pin-baste this quilt.  Most of my pins are in the maple leaf quilt that is waiting to be machine quilted.  My choices are to take the time and machine quilt that soon (now?) before I can baste and hand quilt this one.  Or, I can just thread baste this one.  I think that's the option I will go with.  Since it is National Quilting Day, I got all my errands out of the way, the guild newsletter has been sent to the distributor and corned beef is simmering on the stove, I think It's time to get a backing made and the quilt basted!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Second Pair of Socks Completed, Florabunda Top Nearly Done

I have to admit that I'm really enjoying knitting socks.  They're fun to make.  They finish relatively quickly and they are very satisfying to make.  Upon completion I have something beautiful and useful.  And, I can get a pair completed in a few weeks.

On the quilting front, I'm dragging my feet and moving slowly.  I ran into a problem and this is what usually brings a project to a halt.  I had figured the lay out for the blocks, center block and sashing.  When I started to trim the blocks to size, I found that the center block was 1" short of what I expected once I got the applique centered.  So I had to do some figuring and run the idea past some quilting friends.  Once I came up with a solution, I still had to draw it out to see how it would look.  This meant that I have to make more of that checkerboard sashing, which I wasn't looking forward to doing.

But, I finally got to work and got more of the checkerboard prepared, got the yellow piping cut and ironed.

That was last week.  This weekend I spent a few hours Saturday and a few more today and got most of the top together.   Once I got going, it really didn't take too long.  I think it takes longer to get my mind prepared for most projects than it takes to do the project itself.  But, I'd rather be doing than thinking about doing.

This quilt looks different in every light - the purples are darker than they look here.  This hasn't been ironed yet, but I was so excited to get this far that I wanted to snap a few shots and share.  Now I have to do some more sewing to get the outer checkerboard prepared and attached.  Then I have to decide if I stop there or add another border or not.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Small Project

Winter time is motorcycle maintenance time in our garage.  Over the summer, Wayne bought a key fob/patch with the name of the motorcycle club he belongs to embroidered on it.  I thought it would look good on his tank cover.

I asked him to mark the cover where he wanted the patch and gave him a white pencil to work with.  But, the white pencil didn't leave a lasting mark on the black vinyl, so he covered the area with masking tape and drew the circle on that.  Then I used a pin to score the masking tape and tore out the circle so I could set the patch in place.

I set the patch in place with a glue stick and used a straight stitch to sew it on.  I love my Pfaff!  It does everything I've asked it to do, including sewing a double sided patch onto a fleece lined vinyl cover.

Looks pretty good!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In a Sea of Purple

I had some unexpected free time on Saturday afternoon.  It was snowing out and I spent the day doing a few chores (house cleaning - ugh!) and having some quilt fun.  I sat at my sewing machine on my brand new sewing chair (a Christmas gift) and sewed together more of those 1" squares that will the the checkerboard sashing for the Florabunda blocks.

I had taped a ruler to the machine bed to make sure that I had consistent 1/4" seams.  When your blocks are 1" finished, being a little off will show, so I'm trying to be as consistent as possible.  But, with the ruler taped to the machine, I was having a hard time getting to the bobbin case.  This wasn't a terrible hardship, just a bit of a pain.  So, I went on-line looking for accessories to my machine that I could attach to the throat plate with a screw that had an adjustable barrier to make consistent seam lines.  When I couldn't find anything suitable, I decided that my old treadle machine came with every attachment available at the time.

So, I looked in the drawer and found just what I was looking for.  I also found a "Quilt Wizard" foot that I had received as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  This foot has a little guide that gives you a consistent scant 1/4" seam.  It works wonderfully and I had forgotten all about it.  My only complaint is that I cannot engage the walking foot when using this.  I may have to perform some surgery on this foot to allow the walking foot to work, too.  But, I'm happy that the purple sections are coming together.  I may get to hand quilt this top yet!.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Two Socks!

The socks are completed!

They were fun and pretty quick to do.  I've been working on so many large, long term quilts lately, that I've really enjoyed the couple of small, quick projects I've completed.  The details of the socks:  Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Weight yarn, super fine of 50% wool, 25% bamboo and 25% nylon in Aquamarine color.  This was the least expensive sock weight yarn that JoAnn's had to offer.  I didn't want to sink a lot of cash into something I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy or use.  I am quickly finding out that you can spend LOTS of money on yarn.

One funny thing I found this week was a posting from Judy Laquidara on her blog ( telling about some completed socks using this exact yarn and at least one more reader of her blog commented that she just finished a pair, too.  So I guess we're all in the New Aquamarine Sock club.

I'm trying hard not to go overboard, but I did go back to JoAnn's and get two more sets of double pointed needles, a cable needle and two more skeins of yarn.   I'm getting bold because this is a little thicker yarn.  I'm planning to try another pattern that I saw that has a simple cable running up the front.    I haven't started yet.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Socks and Other Projects

Just a little update on what I've been up to lately (but not necessarily in chronological order)...

First, I finished the sock and started on its partner.  What's even more exciting is that it fits!  What I'm a little afraid of, however, is that I won't like the feel on my feet.  It is definitely different from the mostly cotton socks I usually wear.  I'm reserving judgement until I get both of them done and wear them for more than the few seconds when I tried the first one on.

This is a thread catcher that I made some time before Christmas.  I was having thread catcher envy from all the ladies who I went on the last quilting retreat with.  They all had these beautiful thread catchers made with fun, brightly colored fabrics.  I decided I wanted one made from Laurel Burch cat fabric.  No, I don't own any of that fabric, but that doesn't stop us, right?  You may have noticed that this particular thread catcher has no visible cats on it.  I went looking for the fabric of my dreams, and came up short.  The fabric I had in mind is no longer in print.  And, when I went searching for it on the internet, I found it was more expensive than gold.  So, I raided my stash and cut into some of that sacred fabric I had bought many, many, many years ago with no project in mind and was afraid to cut into.  Irises are my favorite flower.  This was a good project for the fabric because I'll get to see it often.  And, frankly, I don't LOVE the fabric nearly as much as I did 20 years ago.

Another true confession... I am obsessed with boxes, bags and other storage things.  I could spend obscene amounts of money at the Container Store.  They don't have to have anything in them, but for some reason I like containers.  

When I saw this at the Quilter's Gathering in November, I bought the pattern knowing I had to make one or more of these cute little bags.  Here she is.  Now I have no idea of what to do with it.  It's a bit on the small size (about 9" from tip to tip and 5" tall) and because of the shape and stiff interfacing (Timtex) doesn't want to stay open.  Currently I'm using it to hold my sock knitting, but it's a bit small for that because the needles stick out.  Maybe with a floppier interfacing, it would be easier to stay open.  Any ideas on a good use for a small bag?

Friday, January 6, 2012


I've seen a few of my friends at quilt guild meetings knitting socks and I became intrigued.  I've been reading a few blogs where the author has knit socks and I became obsessed.  I've put off doing anything about knitting socks because it's been 23 years since I've knit anything.  (I knitted a sweater for myself when I was expecting my daughter.  That's why I know precisely how old that sweater is.)  I don't have any knitting supplies (I gave them all to afore mentioned daughter when she dabbled in knitting a few years ago), and socks look reasonably complicated.

But I keep thinking about knitting socks (I'm obsessing, remember?).  So I asked for some supplies for Christmas and my darling daughter complied.  She got me a book and a gift certificate for supplies.  I picked up needles and yarn before New Year's Eve and got started.

Here's a few shots of my progress:

Working on the heel flap.

 Forming a heel.

Working down to the toe.

I'm really enjoying this, even though I've had to do quite a bit of ripping to get the pattern correct.  But, I'm having fun!