geekin' on yarn, parenting, & whatever else comes up.

Quilting Archive



March 2008



Stitching the Core

Written by , Posted in kitties, Photography, Quilting

This got much wordier than I originally intended, so advance apologies. πŸ™‚

Over the years (which makes me sound like I mean more than the 10-odd I’m actually referring to), I have surfed about through eBay, thrift stores, antique shops and yard sales, snapping up anything vaguely quilt-related that was scrappy, included feedsack fabrics, and/or was under $50. While I love quilting, quilts, applique and the other assorted needlearts, I find that piecing the sorts of quilts I love most (see above re: scrappy, feedsacks, etc.) is not my favorite part of the process. The actual quilting, however, IS, being the same sort of soothing repetitive hand motion that knitting brings to the table.

(That brown and white print in the upper right hand corner is one of my favourite fabrics in this quilt top)

Generally, because I have my hands into so many different crafty pursuits and only so many minutes in a day in which I might indulge them, I have machine quilted most of my own projects. All the while, though, I have been stashing away quilt tops found here and about, and got it into my head that while machine quilting would be faster, what I really wanted was to hand quilt them.

(This shot was an accident, but I love it — my current camera is not an SLR,Β so getting this kind of depth of field on purpose can be sort of a crapshoot.)

Certainly my blog presence in 2007 — or rather, the lack thereof — is an excellent demonstration of roads paved with intentions galore, so what with one thing and another, I never seemed to get around to these beauties.

Cleaning up my creative space most recently, however, seems to have triggered the impetus needed to get my hands into the quilts at long last. The quilt in these photos was an eBay purchase, a 1930’s apple core charm quilt that I got for under $25, WITH shipping. How can you walk away from that?

(I have a thing for that cherries fabric. It was the first core I quilted because it kept catching my eye.)

As a legacy from my mother and gifts from my Dad, I have several options for quilting frames; the largest of these, a Grace company frame that was my mother’s, is still in pieces in our garage, yet another casualty of good intentions but no actual activity. However, my dad and stepmomΒ — knowing that I love the needlearts and being thoughtful — brought me a floor-standing quilt frame some time ago that they found at a church sale. (along with a box of quilting fabric squares that I need to show you another time.)

I found, however, that the floor stand made me lean forward in a way that hurt my back, and I tired very quickly. So I removed the hoop from the stand, and found it was much easier to quilt when I held the whole thing in my lap. The hoop that came with the floor stand, however, was too large for me to reach all the fabric in a given hooping.

(Brutus is “helping”.)

Here is what I’ve learned about hand quilting in your lap that I didn’t know before — when choosing a hoop for hand quilting, the entire hoop needs to fit between your elbow and your fingertips, if you lay it on your arm, so that you know you can easily reach all the fabric in the hoop at any given time. Sure, it means you reposition the hoop fairly frequently, but this is much less of an annoyance than I expected it might be. (Note to self: take picture of the hoop thing.) Ultimately I ended up purchasing a simple wooden hoop, 16″ size, and it is working perfectly with much greater comfort than anything else I’ve tried so far.

Β (About two minutes after the last photo)

You will note that behind Brutus there it is grey and rainy. While our temps here have been very spring-like, it caused some interesting weather patterns to blast through last night, creating a state of minor anxiety in our house as to whether or not there was a tornado in our backyard. (The answer was,Β ” sort of” — it didn’t touch down and lasted about a minute. But it was still scary for an area that doesn’t typically get swirly weather.)



June 2006



Visiting Monarch and Quilt Blocks promised

Written by , Posted in Bloggy Blatherings, Fotoposts, Quilting, Updates

In the midst of the series of truly brutal thunderstorms we’ve been having here in Alexandria, Virginia and the D.C. environs, we had one lovely soft evening before the storms, so to speak, when we were visited by royalty.

I give you, our home blessed by a Monarch! (and if I’m wrong about the butterfly species in question, do please let me know…but I’m leaving the names in the blog here because it’s so easy to draw fun phrases about visiting royalty and such. :))


I opened the front door, and there it was, perched on the edge of our letter box, just sort of hanging out. I thought somewhat sadly that it may have come there to rest and die, because it was a bit rough around the edges, but we left it alone and it was gone in the morning. I like to think this is because it flew away  happily rested, rather than having been eaten or something. πŸ™‚



I love this photo. He/She was so lovely, and spread its wings for me as I approached for the pictures. (No, I never touched it — any missing dust is due to whatever it experienced prior to visiting us here at the house.)


So that was a lovely little interlude.


Now, theoretically this was a separate post I owed you almost a week ago, but the storms have meant that I only have internet access at work (except today, strangely enough, where it’s working at home in the lull between storms). I have created a photo album over on the right sidebar, there, of the detail shots from these blocks,  but here are the full-block pics of my mother’s quilt blocks she appliqued for herself:


This is the semi-sheer overlay that’s used to help you place applique pieces in the right spot as you stitch over time; generally, when using somebody else’s patterns, you would trace the pattern directly onto this gridded stuff, which I think masquerades as interfacing at various fabric stores like Hancock’s and JoAnn’s, et al.

This is the Dove of Peace block, which like many of mom’s blocks for herself, is still unfinished:


That’s the Dove from Noah’s Ark, presenting his Olive Branch, and surrounded by a lyre-type wreath of olive leaves and branches.


This is my mom’s memorial block for her father, also still unfinished, in honor of his lifelong military service in the U.S. Airforce. The feathers on the Eagle’s wings are stitched one by one in ribbon embroidery. (yikes.) πŸ™‚


This is a peacock, in case it’s difficult to tell. πŸ™‚ I love the way mom stitched the feathers on this one, but have to say that the actual block design does very little for me.


This is my favorite of the non-quilted blocks Mama stitched, particularly because of our three flags of heritage flying from the masts; The United States, Scotland, and Italy. Also, the cutwork on the flowers, and the oriental print wave fabric fussy-cut for the water are just wonderful from a handworker’s point of view.  I have tons of detail shots of this one over there in the album since it’s my favorite. (It’s also the one block for my own album quilt already begun that I’ve managed to stitch, although in a slightly different way, which I will show you in post that is not already so picture-heavy. :))


This is the very incomplete Tree of Life block; I love her fabric choice for the bark, however, and the varied greens she chose for the leaves.

Those are the blocks that she did not set up to do "quilt-as-you-go" before she passed away; I have two more amazing blocks of mom’s to show you another day, that she managed to get quilted, or prep for quilting, that show very well both her own stitch artistry and also the steps taken to get to a completed quilt, block, or what have you. And I have the picture of my first sailing ship block, and a huge quilt project I am going to undertake to tell you about. So, stay tuned!



June 2006



Thwarted by the Storm Gods

Written by , Posted in Quilting

I was all set to take pics of those quilts I told you about yesterday, and my SP8 first box, and etc., but the power went out with a crack so loud that myself and my daughter (on separate floors of the house) shrieked and went completely to pieces. (Well, okay, SHE went sort of to pieces until I reassured her that the angels were bowling, and that was all it was. For myself, except when startled, I LOVE thunderstorms.)

SO, I will have to try again this evening, in the midst of getting The Sainted Husband prepped for his flight to Seattle tomorrow — the trip where I’d hoped he might make it to the Japanese bookstore for me, but where, alas, he will not have time to stop. ~pout~

If anybody lives near a Kinokuniya, or other type places that might carry Japanese craft books, I would love to engineer a laid-back sort of swap, if you’re willing? or something?

Not that I obsess. Much.

Go wish Renee at Froggie Meanie happy childbearing! She hasn’t delivered yet, and is in that 3rd trimester discomfort hell I try not to remember. πŸ™‚ Go, Renee, go! Here’s to happy, healthy babies, and happy, healthy, pain-free Mamas!



June 2006



Perhaps I should be QuiltGeek for the Summer?

Written by , Posted in Quilting

*Skip all the blather about quilting if you’re not interested, and check the end of this post for the part where I’m looking for some feedback, please, if you’re willing? Tank ewe!

There has been a fair amount of commentary out and around the KnitBlogisphere about how little posting has occurred, and how it seems odd. For me, it is in part due to the rediculous heat/humidity of a classic Washington, D.C. summer, and in part due to my recent re-obsession with quilting. But for myself, I like to hear about everything in Bloggers’ lives — this community is so diverse and amazing, and every post I read, I learn something new. So if you’re reading this and wondering if you have anything to post about — rest assured that at least one reader wants to know all the mundane stuff and other-craft stuff, as well as the fantastic knitting stuff.

So, in keeping with that philosophy, I give you a post in which I talk of very little knitting! πŸ™‚

First of all, and as usual I will have to owe you pictures — my first SP8 package arrived! My pal has clearly been reading the Blog, because the entire package was all about quilting! So this is my tiny bit of knitting content, and theoretically I’m cheating. πŸ™‚

My pal (I think it’s a she from the handwriting — so I’ll refer to her as she. Hope I don’t get that wrong and cause offense!) sent me the most wonderful set of fat quarter fabrics, in the deep dark classically Baltimore colors with the vivid yellow and red in for contrast. She sent me a marvelous little set of windchimes, which my daughter is intent on appropriating; and then, the piece de resistance, (I don’t know the keyboard shortcuts to apply proper accents there, so my apologies to the purists) a fantastic quilting book about quilting pictorial landscapes. PERFECT! So I still have to take pictures to show you, but Pal, I was THRILLED. There’s little better than getting cool boxes of mystery in the mail, except perhaps opening them. πŸ™‚

This past weekend, I determined what I wanted to do for the borders on my bridal quilt from my mom — a simple celtic knot border in red on white, with perhaps some dark navy braid for contrast — and I went through our attic space and pulled out a fair portion of my quilting fabric and tool stash that has languished in plastic bins since I discovered knitting just before Sophie was born. πŸ™‚

(Imagine photos appearing here this evening)

The first thing to tell you about my quilting stash is that very little of it was actually aquired by me — I got very little out of the house in Delaware before it was all auctioned off, but I did manage to obtain all mom’s quilting stash and her tools, of which there were massive amounts. I have things I had totally forgotten that make the quilting process SO much easier! Because we don’t have a lot of space in our house, however, I tucked the vast majority of it away into the attic space, since the main craft obsession I had was my knitting, and I just wasn’t emotionally ready to return to my applique and quilting  yet.

The completion, finally, of my bridal quilt, however, has spurred my creative mind in ways I’d forgotten it could run. And so I went dust-diving in the attic to pull out some of my fabric and let the creativity run; I also pulled out several in-process projects that have been left to marinate all this time as well.

Of my own work, I have a large wall hanging in process based loosely on a fantastic greeting card I fell in love with many moons ago. That one is probably more than five years old. It’s twining vines on a beautiful deep blue bali background, that has hints of violet floating in it like clouds in space. That same background fabric is what I am using for a memorial album quilt for my mother, which  I also unearthed in the digging.

Then there are the other unfinished projects my mom set aside in order to work on my bridal quilt, before she fell into her final illness. There is a whimsical lap quilt whose focus fabric is purple with startled/confused looking crows standing on long spindly legs scattered all over it. It’s hysterical and makes me smile every time I look at it. Then there is a quilt in all blacks and greys for my brother, which I haven’t yet unearthed but I know is floating around either in the attic or the garage storage bins. That will be my next project to focus on, most likely, so soon as I find it, since having seen my frenzy to finish the other quilt, he has requested that I work on that one. πŸ™‚

I found a couple of 1930’s quilt tops that I’ve gotten from eBay over the years that I will want to finish and have around as knock-around quilts.

But the items I was most amazed by are the blocks my mom had appliqued for her own album quilt, several of which I had somehow completely forgotten that I had. I can’t wait to show them to you — the camera battery was dead this weekend, or I’d have had those pictures up first. I have the remaining background and backing fabric for that album quilt also stashed away, and so I will have to flip through my books to see what other blocks mom had marked for herself, and I will finish her quilt for her as well at some point. (We’re talking years worth of work in this one post, though, I think, so please don’t get too worked up just yet. I’m motivated, but I also work full time and have a 2-year old very interested in all my sewing tools. :))


So I have plenty on my plate, craft wise; but you know we can’t leave it at that!

The Sainted Husband departs on Wednesday morning for a short boondoggle (I LOVE that word!) to Seattle. The only thing I could think of from Seattle that I was REALLY worked up about, aside from the coffee, was the Japanese bookstore (Kinokuniya) that lives out there. So I’ve been making up a list of books I want him to look for, if he can get to the store. πŸ™‚ When he returns, hopefully with a couple of the books that have the small patchwork projects in them, I want to start a small etsy sideline, to help pay for the re-obsession with quilting, and several big-ticket items we’ve been hit by lately that have completely depleted what savings we’d managed to build up. (car repairs, house repairs, and bodily repairs, among other things. :))

So my question to you is this: Cassie has been making up quilted emergency sock kits that are fantastic, and she sells them at a seriously reasonable price. I don’t want to duplicate that, but what I have in mind are similar items.

Would you have interest in needle rolls, a knitting tote that included removeable needle rolls for crochet and knitting both, and small quilted bags of various sizes and uses? What about a unique laptop bag, quilted, appliqued, and etc., within an inch of its life? πŸ™‚ If you were to request an item, what would you request, and what would be a reasonable price, in your mind, to pay for what you wanted?

I need to come up with a fair bit of cashola out of this, so if there are items you would be willing and able to purchase in the $30 – $40 range per item, please let me know what those items would be and what you have in mind, and I will gladly do custom work. Otherwise, I realize that I’m looking at $10 – $25 ranges for the rest, most likely. And that’s okay — I have enough stash to build enough items that I should be able to make the target amount by August, which is my goal. 

Similarly, if YOU aren’t flush enough to be purchasing items, but you have things in mind on your wishlist, let me know what those are, and I will hope etsy has enough folks floating around of similar mind to you that the stuff I make will sell. πŸ™‚

Many thanks, and herein endeth the request for feedback, and likewise this post. πŸ™‚



June 2006



It’s done!

Written by , Posted in Legacy, Quilting

I finished putting the quilt top together yesterday!


It’s hard to take a complete photo of something that big! πŸ™‚

I now have to figure out what I want to do with the borders. Initially, mom and I had planned on a floral sort of cottage garden border with sunflowers and things twining about, but I laid this on the bed, and it’s already well over the sides. Also, I don’t want to detract from mom’s blocks, either. So I may just do some celtic knotwork, and then add in little bits of things that remind me of mom and my marriage (since this is technically a bridal quilt) like a where’s waldo sort of thing throughout the knotwork. Haven’t decided.

But the top! It’s done! It’s hard to believe after all this time that the blocks are now all set and sewn together, and theoretically if I were to stop here, I could sandwich it and quilt it and it would be totally done. It’s almost as though I’m avoiding it being "done", because that will mean that this one thing I have that I worked on more or less "with" my late mother, will be done.

But I think hanging it above our bed as an artistic headboard will make it okay. (It could be used on a bed, but it perhaps too precious to risk losing the applique pieces. We’ll probably use it a few times a year, on our wedding anniversary and mom’s birthday and that sort of thing, once it’s totally done.)

I’ve been well and truly re-bitten by the quilting bug, now, however. This could conceiveably be dangerous.

Oh, and I start a tribal fusion belly dance class this coming Wednesday, AND it’s That Time of the Month, which means the body image difficulties are in full swing.

How’s THAT for TMI? πŸ™‚



June 2006



Threads of Life

Written by , Posted in Legacy, Quilting, Weblogs, WIPs

You folks will have to let me know if a post about a craft other than knitting bothers you here; I know this is theoretically a knitting blog, but for the summer, I may focus much more so on the other myriad crafts that draw my interest. If this will cause consternation in my readers, however, then I will create yet another blog for non-knitting Crafty-type posts. But that would be annoying for me, so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, shall we? πŸ™‚

This evening, I finally got the incomplete bridal quilt my mother made
for me dragged out from its storing place in my Great-Grandmother’s
cedar chest. The legacy this quilt represents for both myself, my husband, and our daughter is difficult to quantify. My husband and I were both very close with my mother, and her early death caused my family huge amounts of pain and loss. So the fact that this quilt managed to make it through all the crap surrounding my mother’s passing to begin with is something of a miracle.

My mother had both Multiple Sclerosis, and also another, extremely rare auto-immune disorder called Behcet’s Disease. In addition to the havoc wrought on her system by MS, her immune system began to attack her vascular system. It got very bad very fast after a very long diagnosis process, and she died in February of 2002, at the age of 46 years old.

Before that, however, during the ten-odd years Mama spent as a semi- to total invalid, she found that hand applique, particularly in the Baltimore Album style, was one of the things she was still able to do, even on "bad" days. It was something I had shown her from my usual Craft-ADD repetoire that she took to immediately, and proceeded to take the art to glorious places.

When she began my wedding/bridal quilt, I don’t believe I’d even met my husband yet. The first block she finished was a classic album block out of a little book by Mimi Detrich:


Other than this particular quilt, which was her first foray into the Album style, Mama tended towards more sophisticated designer’s blocks, like the famous Elly Sienkiewicz blocks that most folks identify with the genre.  However, I have loved these simple blocks from the very beginning, and my mother’s sense of color, I think, made them all the more wonderful.

That first album block was completed in the year 2000, and the little book closes with a button Mama dug out from my Mom-Mom’s button stash. (Mom-Mom was my mother’s maternal grandmother, the one who at one time owned a yarn shop in Pennsylvania called Celeste’s Yarns)

Inside the album, my Mama wrote the following inscription:

She completed the hand applique of the remaining blocks for the quilt literally a week or two before she went into the hospital for the last time. She’d managed to complete all the blocks, and put the first three rows of the quilt top together before she was unable to do any more.

My mother’s friend, and my quilting mentor, Judy Shapiro, had initially taken the quilt immediately following my mother’s passing, in hopes that she would be able to have it completed for me. Unfortunately, Judy’s own health was not the best, and she needed all her energy for her own quilt artistry — which, if you click the link, you will see is amazing.

It took Judy and I several years, if you can believe it, to get our collective acts together long enough for me to go see her and collect the unfinished quilt. Seeing it again, after not having seen it since before my mother’s death, was indescribable. It still retains the cigarette smell from my mother’s home (now gone), and although I don’t generally like that smell, it brought her very close to me to open the bag, pull out the quilt, and remember seeing her working on each block with her hands I loved so much.

There were three rows completed and pieced together in what’s called a Garden Maze setting by my mother before she died; then Judy and her quilting friends completed another row. Tonight, I put together the last row. Now I have to finish paper-piecing the setting squares for the setting strips, and the quilt top will be completed except for borders, which I will need to applique myself.

The lower-most strip is the one I put together this evening, while the one above it is the one pieced together by Judy and friends.

This seems an ideal project for the way I’ve been feeling of late. I always feel my mother’s absence acutely, but lately I have wanted more than ever to feel close to her, and to embrace the legacy of handcrafts and needlework that she left with me. I want my little girl to have something, when she marries or is ready to accept it, that the grandmother she never knew stitched by hand, that her mother completed, and that has ties to other women of our family and the crafts we all have in common. So if you’re interested, I’ll try to post my progress here and let you know where things are. This has languished quite long enough, and I am ready to have the quilt complete in such a way that I can hug it close during the times I miss Mama the most.

I took a photo of every block this evening, but the light is lousy after dark, imagine that! So I will re-take those later, and if enough interest is out there for it, I’ll post the photos of blocks of my own I’ve appliqued, other quilt projects I have in the works, and etc.

I leave you with a few photos of Sophie, seated in the big bay window of our living room this past weekend, enjoying the sunshine and her Fireman Woody doll with the pull-string and everything, just like one of her favorite Pixar movies. We are hoping to make the Cars movie her first seen on the big screen; we’ll have to see, however, whether it’s too early to take her to something like that, or if she’ll be as enthralled as we hope.

Certainly we are constantly enthralled by her.