Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cover Girl

I love a happy surprise and last week I got a wonderful one when I received the news that some of my stitch work had been picked to grace the cover of the new 

Pretty cool, yes?! But wait... what exactly are those? 

Well, glad you asked... I call them"Objects of Comfort", 
(which I actually started stitching before I began my "Objects of Curiosity" 
pieces that I've been sharing in some previous posts here on the blog .)

And what exactly is an "Object of Comfort" you may ask? 

Well, for me it was the idea of taking certain things that I have collected over the years and am attracted to; such as shells, beads & buttons, and marrying them together with bits of lovely fabric and hand stitching. And in doing so I found that these little talismans had been created, 
each made of some things that are soothing and familiar to me, 
and that I can now hold in my hand or stick in my pocket...

The idea first planted in my mind several years back while walking the beach in Cape May, NJ, 
(a place that holds special meaning to my family) 
when I came upon a large amount of beautiful broken hard clam shell fragments, 
(such as that quahog shell above with it's pretty touch of purple). 
I collected a bucket full, attracted to the soft pale colors, and their ocean smoothed edges, 
knowing that someday, somehow, I would select some to adorn with fabrics and threads.

And a few months ago the "somehow" finally came to me and I set to work making them, 
finding the whole process and the resulting finished talismans very comforting... hence the name.

Once some of them were were made I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook, where they were spotted by Quilting Arts who then invited me to write an article about them... 

Little did I know that they would wind up on the cover, and I gotta say it's really nice feeling
 and a very happy uplift to this long cold winter, (that I admit is taking a toll on my mood)!

Here's a pic above of all of them together and showing the front side of them...

And here's a pick of their backsides.

Last but not least... if you would like to learn how to make your own, 
check out the issue and find out how!


Monday, January 1, 2018

Circles and Squares

Happy New Year Everyone! 

I feel like 2017 whizzed by. Personally, it was a better year then 2016, which had been a rather tough one. In comparison, 2017 was more like sailing calm waters, albeit with often cloudy skies. Those cloudy skies were what I saw when looking out into the larger picture of world events and knowing how those events effect us all. Anyone familiar with me knows how I feel politically so I will leave it at that... (what more can one say when one has spent a year voicing disbelief, and hurling profanities at the TV everyday as she watches the news unfold until her voice actually grew hoarse?) Sigh.

So about this post... I realized that I have a few end of 2017 projects that I haven't posted yet here on the old blog and wanted to share them with you. Two wall quilts, (one of them at the top of the post) and two punch-needle embroidered pillows to be specific. (I also have some more "Objects of Curiosity" items to share, but will do them in another post soon.)

Let's start with  the quilts... 

Here's that one pictured at the top. My guidelines as I set about making this were that
I wanted to work with small 9-patch blocks and I wanted everything to be hand cut. When I say hand cut, that could be with scissors or rotary-cutter, but no straight edge, no measuring, (outside of eye-balling it) no truing up... you get the point. The purpose is a desire to keep things more organic. It's an expansion on improv/no-pattern quilt making.

I selected these really pretty fabrics which I had in my stash for a few years. Oh yeah, 2017 was also about trying to use materials that I already had.... did great until the very last 2 weeks when I buckled while looking for curtain fabric. But I digress... I separated the fabrics into piles containing the ones that read as the darkest, the lightest and the middle of the road ones, and used those piles to make sure I had a good balance going on in each block.

Then I hand cut the squares and pieced them into the 9-patch blocks using slight curve piecing techniques following the hand cut lines of the fabric edges. Joined the completed blocks in the same manner. Finished by using my faced binding tutorial, but wanting to keep the wonkiness of the slightly curving boarder edges, I used 3" strips instead of 2" strips. This allowed me the extra leeway to cut into the strips where the curves were.

I wanted this quilt to be highly textured, so I machine quilted it with stippled stitching and machine washed and dried it for lots of crinkle texture. I wanted more hand-work to it so I added some horizontal and vertical rows of hand quilting. Trouble is they don't show up that well.

I decided to make another similar quilt, slightly larger, (22.5" x 27" to the 17.5" x 21.5" dimensions of the first one) and this time just did some vertical/horizontal machine stitching and then added more vertical/horizontal hand quilting, which is a favorite quilting style of mine...

(My apologies for the not so great photo here... different day and dimmer lighting conditions. I really do need to get a more professional photo set up. Hey... new 2018 goal!) When I have time I will re-shoot and hopefully get a sharper image as this one is really not up to snuff. Will also try to get some close-ups so you can see the quilting details. Not sure where my head was when I shot these quilt photos.

Okay... I have yammered on enough about the quilts. Now we move away from squares and venture into circles, and brighter colors.... and punch needle!

It has felt like ages since I did any punch needle embroidery and it was lots of fun to bring out the yarns and make a couple of little accent pillows to brighten things up a bit! I decided to keep playing with organic, free-form shapes and designs but added some circles into the mix.

And I really let my circular freak flag fly with this one...

I do wish though it wasn't so time-consuming making these though. Such a little pillow is this round one, (only 8") and it took 16 hours to punch! Didn't keep time on the first, but guessing similar time spent on it.

But I do like the orange... such a happy color! One of my favorites, I think, (if it's the right shade). And speaking of color... I think I need a constant mix of very earthy and muted, along with splashes of bright color in my life. Too much of one and I can go from calm to too down, too much of the other and I can go from happy to agitated. I really marvel at all the people I see on Instagram that seem to be able to stick with a color theme. Their feeds look so pretty and uniform. I feel like they are color purebreds and I am some sort of color mutt. But we are what we are and if I am a color mutt, so be it!

And on that odd note I will end this ramble of a post, saying goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018. May it bring peace, kindness and goodwill to all. May sanity and compassion reign. May creativity flourish. And may you and yours be blessed. xo

Monday, November 6, 2017

American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast with Pat Sloan

Had a wonderful time talking with Pat Sloan today on her American Patchwork and Quilting podcast! We talked a bit about Lancaster County, PA, machine and hand quilting and my first introduction to quilts. You can listen to it now via this link: or catch it sometime later after it gets posted here:…/quilting-podcast Note: Unfortunately the sound quality of my interview as well as the guest that followed me was amiss and came out harsh and unclear... must have been a technical glitch. Some folks have told me they could still listen and understand but for others it has proved too difficult. Such is life. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Objects of Curiosity: Exhibits B, C & D

Continuing on with my "Objects of Curiosity" series 
that began with my last post
Above are "Exhibits C & D" but I am getting ahead of myself, 
so let's start below with "Exhibit B"...

 Another bottle is Exhibit B.
This one is clear and rectangular though.

Vintage and thrifted.

Covered in cloth and stitch.

With those porthole openings to see in, 
(or out, depending on your size).

And now onto Exhibits C & D...

A found stick and river rock.
Also covered in cloth and stitch. 
(Because that is part of the purpose, yes?)
... In a hopes of making the ordinary not so ordinary.

Because it never really was, was it? 
(Ordinary, that is.)


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Objects of Curiosity, Exhibit A

I'm starting a new project, one born out of curiosity and meant to give pause, along with a second glance and closer look, at ordinary objects that we typically pass by and take for granted. 

Some of these objects may be found in the home, and some may be found in nature. 

Many could be, and regularly are, discarded without thought. 

What intrigues me is that by simply incasing them in a bit of cloth and stitch, they all of a sudden become something special. They are no longer ordinary, nor expected. Their status is uplifted.
They now demand at least a second glance.

I am beginning this project by exploring bottles.
This first one shown here is simply called "Exhibit A".

I hope that as you view the various angles of this one bottle, now clothed in a second skin so to speak, that you stop a bit and reflect on really how remarkable it is, and was, even before I altered it. 
The beautiful curves, the symmetry, the deep amber color, the smooth and even lipped rim, 
it's ability to hold something... medicine, perfume, a flower...

Contemplate for a minute the fact that glass comes from sand...  how amazing is that?

And how smooth and cool to the touch it is, and that we can see through it, and that it reflects light, and that it shatters so easily and can cut...

It's always helpful to have something to reference size, and how suitable to use the humble penny, another object that has come to be a bit taken for granted, yet is still valuable in it's own way.

One more thing... in light of my last post I feel that I should mention the following:
I have no idea how this current project is visually inspired by my local surroundings, or if it is inspired by them at all. I could say that the stitching mimics the curvy twisty back roads that I often drive, but I don't think that was in my conscious nor sub-conscious at all. 

If anything, the work has to do with honoring that which we so easily discard, of wanting to shine a light on how amazing ordinary inventions are. How beautiful craftsmanship is. How temporary things are in our life. And that indeed is something that I see everyday in my surroundings, with those magnificent old barns falling into disrepair until one day they are gone. I think of the way they served and the memories they hold, and I think about the honor that the ordinary deserves.