September 23, 2017

Day 262

1 year of stitches

September 20, 2017

Day 261

1 year of stitches

September 18, 2017

Day 259

1 year of stitches

Day 260

1 year of stitches

September 9, 2017

Day 258

1 year of stitches

August 21, 2017

Knotted fan finished

I am trying to stay up with a stitch a day. Here is a fan I recently finished by adding a row of French knots to a series of stem stitches and long-and-short stitches.

That pink is part of another arc on the piece.

July 20, 2017


I committed to stitching every day in 2017. I thought that would be the challenge. It turns out documenting what I've done is harder. Here are a few stitches I have added.

April 12, 2017

Remembering mom

This month's block for the Crazy Quilt Challenge 2017 is dedicated to my mother. 

First, the base is from her clothing and stash. Second, she loved her garden. Her favorite flower was roses. Third, I remember learning the chain stitch from her and spent hours doing it while she tried to recover from her last fall and a stroke. 

Each stitch was a memory and prayer.

March 19, 2017

Project Quilting 8.6 = happy husband

See that happy man? He's smiling because his wife finally found the time to make him a quilted project.

The last Project Quilting challenge for Season Eight was about time and deadlines.  A nice twist to a challenge that gives us  7 days to create and finish a project that fits the announced theme and has at least one of these three things: Three layers stitched or pieced or includes appliquĆ©.

I used up some blues and golds -- his alma mater's colors -- to piece together a bag for him. My plan was it would be a good bag to stash dirty clothes in on short trips. He says the project is too good for that.

He came to Tennessee to drive me home to Michigan as I end my 2-month stay watching my granddaughter. The three-month-old is now in a daycare program. She has gone three times and starts full time on Monday.

That meant this was a busy week as grandma finished up two quilts for the nursery's big window.

It was a complicated week as I strained something in my back when I picked up a small piece of material that is part of a US fabric map swap. That swap was intended to be completed by March 17. Ha ha. Then the granddaughter and I came down with horrible colds. (I blame her as the carrier as I had not been outside the house for two weeks).šŸ¤§

But I wanted to participate in the final challenge. It would be the first season I did all the challenge projects. So I pushed myself. And pushed. And pushed.

See up in Michigan I had the fixings of a clock. I had materials featuring newspaper pages and some with stories. As a journalist, who worked many years at newspapers I know deadlines. Up in Michigan. šŸ˜„

Also up in Michigan was computer novelty fabric -- perfect for deadlines a web writer faces. Up in Michigan!!!  šŸ˜¢

In my room, I had 44 sets of unique fabric for 50 states but there was not enough time to finish that project this week.

My fabric choices were limited -- mostly the mint, peach and lilac needed for the nursery quilt curtains.

And then I spotted the small pile of blues and yellows i had hoped I might squeeze in time to work on a lap quilt for my husband. No time for a big quilt but I could do a bag for him.

The finished piece is about 17 inches by 19 inches, not counting the handles. Larry's Michigan Bag was created near Knoxville, Tennessee.

You can see what others did for this Project Quilting Challenge 8.6 at

March 5, 2017

Crazy woman adds monthly challenge

I rarely keep what I quilt for myself but I am trying to change that with a Crazy Quilt Journal Challenge,    The CQJP is about promoting the art of crazy quilting and expanding the participant’s individual artistic creativity and technical knowledge. Participants must embellish 12 blocks -- 1 per month ideally -- and share them on the joint blog. The challenge, created by Kathy Shaw, aka Shawkl, is simple because each quilter can determine what will be his or her challenge.

I finished this block in mid February and finally remembered to send it to Katie Bock, who took over the project, to be posted.
The block actually was pieced much earlier but not embellished.



Birthday fun

My granddaughter celebrates each new month of her life. The family continued the sign tradition with recent birthdays of my daughter and husband. What fun!

Stitch progress

1 year of stitches

Bowtie patch honors Fred Astaire

Finished bow tie patch
The fifth challenge theme in Season 8 of Project Quilting is the well-dressed man. I pulled some blacks and kakis from my tiny travel stash, thinking that covers the formal and informal states of dress. I wished I had my collected ties with me.

Then, I looked closer at one material -- those were not random splotches of white. They were top hats and canes -- the accessories dancer Fred Astaire would only wear with a tuxedo. The ties were no longer needed as only bowties belong with a tuxedo.

(You can see the images better on the back side of the fabric.)

I remembered bookmarking a free 3-D bowtie quilt tutorial. Find it at

Back side of fabric

You start with 5 patches cut the same size AND there are no Y seams. Here's the block half done. Strange right?

But that's what leads to the center of the bowtie having dimension and  4 "pockets." It would be interesting to make a patch for the center so the undersides were a complimentary color. But even this version is interesting. I think I'll use it the next time I help a beginner who wants to learn to piece but doesn't want a "boring 4-patch."

A finished piece in a wedding party's colors would make a nice gift -- especially if the details were embroidered in a white square.

The finished wall hanging is 10 inches square, stitched and quilted by hand in Greeneville, Tenn.

You can see how others interpreted the theme and vote for your favorites at Persimmon Dreams.

Block half done. Unexpected, right?

Trying to show a pocket

February 18, 2017

So bright, so challenging, so loving

This is a big week of love for me -- Feb. 14 is Valentine's Day; the hubby's birthday is the 17th and our wedding anniversary is the 20th. I am still with my  granddaughter and her parents  but my husband was coming for a four-day visit.

The latest Project Quilting challenge is brightness and I know who is my sunshine. So I played with the idea of sunshine -- a yellow portrait of my husband. But none of my sketches followed my brain's eye. 

I thought about making a card with a mirrored surface so he could see himself. I even found at least five ways to attach shisha mirrors at Needle and Thread Alas, no mirrors in the stash I brought with me.

Playing and reading The Seed with my granddaughter led me back to the sunshine idea. The simplicity of the book's illustration inspired me to try a fused collage technique. 

I ended up nixing the sunshine and collaged sky but kept the foreground. I added 7 flowers to help focus the eye and framed the work in some checked fabric I forgot I had.

I learned it's smarter to fuse the fabric, then cut it. First though I cut a foreground from the fusible sheet, released the sticky side and randomly cut green shape. That left tiny gaps of stickiness peeking out. Plus, by fusing to the material and then cutting I could place the fabric to better use its lines. 

I can see myself using this technique again. My fingers were itching to turn the foreground into an English cottage garden with threads and ribbons. But I can see other possibilities -- especially a Michigan autumn scene.

The finished piece is 15 inches by 12 inches. A Bright Day was created near Knoxville, Tennessee. It was finished moments before my husband and I left for a night alone to celebrate the first 34 years of marriage.

You can see what others did for this Project Quilting Challenge at  You can even vote for your favourites.


February 9, 2017

Straight and simple stitching for now

Here's an overview of my year in stitches thus far and today's contribution.

February 6, 2017

Stitching fascinates grandbaby

Oh my. My stitching has gained a fan. I was working on my stitching when the family noticed how facinated my grandaughter seemed to be. Later, I found putting the hoop in her line of sight would stop her cries. 

Surely, it is the bright colors that command her attention now. I can't wait until she is ready to pick up a needle. Here's my progress on a year of stitches. 

February 5, 2017

Challenge of texture perfect for new sense of touch

The third challenge of Season Eight of Project Quilting revolved around texture. Although I intended to quilt for texture, I dropped that idea to add texture to an animal panel for my granddaughter's room.

This was the week my grand seemed to become aware of her sense of touch. The two-month-old seemed to touch and then study everything in her path.  That led my daughter to bring out the book called Animals, which includes a different texture on each animal. Amelia and I explored the rabbits' fur, the zebra's rough stripes, and even the slick grass that hid the tiger cub.  

But back to the task on hand. I pulled out muslin and batting and made a 9-inch by  9-inch quilt. Next,  I divided up the space and prepared an area to start quilting by hand. I planned to stitch densely in the first box. But first, I started working on a fun project - a monkey appliquĆ© for a wall hanging. You see, piecing is my love in the adventure of quilts so I postponed my quilting.  

As I worked on the monkey, I scoured the environment for texture. Look at how the placement of stitching added variety to that white towel with a band near one edge breaking up the fabric. See how the stitches and cutting of fabric created the softness of chenille. Look at the tiny stitches that compressed the fur on the baby's rabbit face. That work emphasized the padded threadwork that served as an eye.

Fortunately, I finally woke up to the idea of making the monkey the project. I put together eight layers of fabric with eight rows of stitches. I then cut through seven layers between the rows and fluffed up the cuts. I stitched this piece down over the tan circle that once identified the monkey's belly. I longed for the chennile tool sitting in the tool box up north. I cursed not using a different color base to make the clipping easier.  

I created layers of stitches to build thick rounded eyes.  I added loops of thread to the 
top of the monkey's head. A similar set of loops finished off the monkey's tail that also was padded.

 I  added batting and a backing. The finished work is 8 inches by 11 inches. It was created in Greeneville, TN. It is best viewed and  touched while working your way through five verses of monkeys jumping on the bed. Check out how others tackled texture too.

January 22, 2017

Wild challenge lost its oomph

Finished! Barely and not a real beauty but I am finished with Project Quilting Season 8 challenge 2: 7 days to create and finish a Carolina Lily inspired project that has at least one of these three things:

  • Three layers stitched
  •  patchwork or 
  • appliquĆ©
This is my final  interpretation:

Here's another look. You might see a ball of thread inside. I hope to use the lily to help keep the thread for stitching and tatting close by and most importantly off the floor. 

 Don't look too closely as I see a few more threads that need cleaning up.   I did rip this baby apart three times as it went from a hanging flower to a dimensional flower on  a wall hanging and back to a thread holder.  I even considered turning it into a book light shade.

Here's the middle layer -- note the clearance sticker. It clearly did not give me the oomph I wanted in my project. It was hard to cut -- rough on scissors and needle. Perhaps the product was past its due date. Or perhaps that is why I got it on clearance some time ago.

I created in the Flint, Michigan area this week and had high hopes when the challenge was announced. Then, as I as I wrote,  the Carolina Lily said baby to me. Alas, my skills did not match my dreams. But I did push myself and used a new tool. 

I used a bright yellow fabric on one side, a few oranges on the flip side of six petals. I did French knots and seed stitches to mimic the look of the Carolina Lily, a wildflower found in southern states like North Carolina. The finished project is about 5 inches tall.

All of the far more impressive challenge work is linked on the original challenge post.


Updated 1/22/17

January 20, 2017

More (overdue) stitches

Updated 1/22/2017
It's catch-up time as shortly after I posted my progress in a Year of Stitches, I got too sick to stitch
Was it a bad pizza? Was it the flu? Who knows. I put the bed on the piece because I won't stitch the more appropriate toilet.

Next came three black hearts as I struggled with three deaths. First, my husband came home to say a co-worker had been killed. Then we learned a relative of his died. The final blow was learning that a close friend of my brothers had died.

 I decided to stitch a bare tree next. And then decided to do more with the hearts. I added a traffic construction cone next to one heart for my husband's co-worker.

I added an M for Maurer so I would remember always the heart was for a family member of my husband.

Next to the heart for the "Good One" I put a flower,  small tribute to Jimmy Buffet.  For years, I associated a grownup Jimmy with Jimmy -- he loved to party, have a good time and seemed to enjoy Buffet. 

The younger Jimmy? He was part of my brothers' group that was always hanging around. Always! His death surprised me but I was not surprised that each of my siblings wanted me to know he had died. 

What is amazing is how many in my siblings' childhood neighborhood have remained good friends through the years.

I say their neighborhood even though I lived there too. I  was the eldest, with different interests and responsibilities. One told me recently she saw me as "the big kid who was doing big kid things." Yeah, big kid things like the first with a job, the first with a car and the first to leave to go to college.

Many of them came to my mother's service last fall  even though she had moved away more then 40 years earlier. Many shared "remember when" experiences my poor mother lived through - unknowingly hiding a  runaway, her children using windows as midnight escape hatches to catch up with friends, coming home to find "too sick for school" kids were joined by friends ...  

 Jimmy kept reminding me to think of him as the "good one." He was not the one who borrowed my car. He was not the one who hid in our basement for days. He was not the one .. you get the drift.

I thought Jimmy was always at our house in Livonia. But I just learned my youngest brother met him on their first day of kindergarten. I am sure I would have learned more about Jimmy at his service. Alas, this flu thing continued so I missed out again. Sure going to miss that kid -- the one with a very good smile and a life filled with love.

January 17, 2017

Carolina Lily leading me to baby's room

Imagine a baby's joy while staring up at a mobile of Caroline Lilies. Or should I turn the wildflower - the latest topic for Project Quilting - into bright hot air balloons to float over a granddaughter's chair? 

 How pretty the flowers would look in a variety of orange fabrics! Some flowers could come from translucent sheers, some shiny silks, some heavy cottons. 

How pretty if the flowers were of glass! Could you fuse oranges into 6 petals shaped in the kiln? Or would you need to blow the glass?

 Wait. What was the plastic stuff we used way back when to make flowers. You shaped wire and then dipped it and waited for it to dry. Look, I found a box from 1972 on ebay, But buying would ignore my "use the stash so you don't need to move it" rule.. 

 Ah, but back to the real world and the current Project Quilting challenge: 7 days to create and FINISH a Carolina Lily inspired project that has at least one of these three things: 

  • Three layers stitched or 
  •  Patchwork or
  •  AppliquĆ©.
Though I really prefer these three suggestions from Kim Lapacek that we make something that:

  • makes you happy, 
  •  expands your skills, or 
  • brings joy to your life
What to do, what to do, what to do.

 Do I make a 3-D Carolina Lily using the stabilizer I have wanted to try? Or combine wire and pieced fabric into a standalone flower? Or finally tackle the fabric bowl on my wish list? Do I make a table runner that features a field of lilies made by fusing bits of oranges? Or do I embroider the flowers? What can I do with fewer then five days left and a very uncooperative body? Do I even own orange fabric? Or orange paint? Or orange dye? An orange doily?

 Back to bed. Dream some more

January 12, 2017

Cross stitch works for today

Here's my 11th day of stitching -- purple Pearle cotton put into a row of Xs. It's been a bad day.

January 10, 2017

A stitch a day will fill 2017

In 2017, I am once again committing to a stitch a day. It fits so well with my resolution to use or lose it:
  • I can use up more of my flosses, yarns, threads, strings, etc. that I have acquired over the years. 
  • I can learn new stitches from the books on my shelves and my computer. 
  • I can use the templates I learned to make through Kathy Shaw (I have them in three sizes)
  • I can remember to use stitches I've learned through the years. 
My first year I stitched on specific works -- block exchanges for the most part -- and on an experimental fat quarter whenever I was in between projects.

The second year I tried TAST -- Take A Stitch Tuesday. I also started Kathy Shaw's wonderful online  crazy quilting class, which included lots of stitching on one block.

The difference in 2017 is I have found a whole lot of  people who have committed to a Year of Embroidery. You can follow the tags of  #1yearofstitches or @1yearofstitches or #ayearofstitches on the social media of your choice. There are groups on Facebook so stitchers can share their output and encourage each other. 

That's right -- stitchers are supposed to share what they've done every day. Oops.

The only other rule is to stitch everyday. You can do the same stitch daily or a different one. You can do one stitch or as many as you like. 

I really love the finished work, which Hannah Clare Somerville documented on her  Instagram account. It is so different from anything I have done ... especially in my previous challenges to stitch every day.  Plus I like that all the work is in one piece.
So onto the new challenge and the sharing of my stitches. After today, the plan is to share the progress daily.  So the first six stitches:

The first day I pulled out a bit of brown floss from my Stitching-On-The-Go Bag for some stem stitching. Then the second day a piece of red floss became seven French knots. The next day, I pulled black floss out and did some straight stitches in a random pattern.  The fourth day I randomly pulled another piece of black floss and did straight stitches around a French knot. The fifth day I pulled another piece of black floss and did some bullion stitches. The sixth day, I pulled some cream colored floss and did some feather stitches.

I need to add some more thread to the bag as I drew another piece of black floss. I added some buttonhole stitches.

I pulled some peach floss that I recently used on a bear appliquƩ for my granddaughter's curtains. Again, I went with a stitch I know -- the chain stitch.

Then I pulled a heavier thread and did a running stitch and whipped along the stitches.

On Jan. 10th I pulled some DMC #5 yellow and blue and
added satin stitches in the spaces created by the feather stitches.

That brings us all up to date.

January 8, 2017

Eight is Great for quilting

My project has eight pieces of material, eight embroidery stitches and an "8" turned into a snowman. 

The little wall hanging -- finished 5.5 inches by 12.5 inches -- is part of a bigger series of projects I WILL finish in 2017. The plan is 12 hangings -- 1 for each month of the year.

I started thinking about what to do in Tennessee, where I was spending the month celebrating the birth of my first grandchild, as soon as the theme was announced Jan. 1.  I researched the theme and thought more about possibilities on the nine-hour drive home to Michigan on Tuesday. I think it was in Ohio where I did a rough draft in Notes on my iPhone. 

I found materials on Friday. Somewhere along the line I simplified the design -- a two-layer snowman made of squares, not circles. Then I realized I was doing a traditional square-in-square block so I chased a few tutorials for hints.  I sewed on Saturday and embroidered on Sunday and posted by deadline.

You can see all of our results and vote:

I am moving on to those other challenges. Thanks for reading.