Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Sandra Liechner's Naturalist's Notebook
Block 3, Purple Finch
Much work remains to be done.  This block has lots of embroidery to define the leaves, flowers, and birds.  There is also some painting to do on the flowers with Prismacolor pencils to give some shadow and more personality.  I can see the line of the bird's tail needs to be straighten.  In my box of red batiks I could find lots of lovely shades but they did not seem to blend well.  So I choose one with a lot of texture, got out the primsacolors shading each fabric with a degree of the rose colored pencil.  The results are pleasing with the colors all agreeing with each other.

This block looks horribly complicated and hard to do but you just need to start with one element and when finished with do the next.

Here are the leaves and branches cut out, their edges turned, and basted in place.  As soon as I had these stitched down I did the flowers, then the bird.

Bird #2

The photo is a bit blurry but this Australian Kingfisher is all painted and is ready to be machine quilted on my lovely new Lady Tiara, queen of quilting.   For those of you who don't know, this is the 6th block in Helen Godden's series Feathered Friends-best bom ever-so much fun.  And also a challenge to learn how to paint and to quilt some of her more difficult designs.  I am liking this whole process so much I am working on a gecko from a pdf book Helen publishes.  I am painting a quilting the gecko.


I am a bit behind in my life's work right now as we took a road trip.  Now I have taken maybe 40 road trips of varying length in my life and it seems to me this is a quintessential American activity due mostly to what used to be an excellent interstate freeway system and cheap gasoline.  

I love the American desert southwest and the inter-mountain desert.  The long stretches of subtle coloring and sparse vegetation with hot desert air blowing into the car drying the sweat it causes.  The reds and the pinks of the desert, the odd vegetation seen nowhere else, the dust blowing everywhere and the complete lack of habitation.  It is not friendly there but it is awesome in its grandeur.

I have also gone north to the Pacfic Northwest-a rain forest, south to the old Confederate states with the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, salty New England and the coastal states with their megalopolises, and the lake filled upper midwest.  America is a beautiful country but we are not alone in this as most the world is incredibly beautiful in its geography and cities. 

I turn into a 71 year old person on Wednesday so this road trip may have been my last.  We had a wonderful time driving from Virginia back to home in Missouri.  We saw steep hills in Virginia which had been cleared maybe 300 years ago by hand and which have had cattle run on them since and a pretty home at the top of the hill all creating a sight reminiscent of England which is dotted with lovely green fields and charming homes.

West Virginia was new to me.  We choose the long, twisty, mountainous route through that part of West Virginia which gives it its fame.  These mountains were tall and so heavily forested.  They were steep and folded in upon each other in an almost claustrophobic manner.

From there on to Kentucky with its blue grass fields, white fences holding strong and tall horses and many, many bourbon distilleries. In Kentucky we also visited Paducah which is home to the American Quilt Museum where my husband and I examined all the quilts on display and had a very inspiring time (I did anyway!).    

Paducah reinvigorated its river bank.  The Tennessee river and Ohio river come together here.  The Tennessee is blue and the Ohio is brown so after they met, the river is bi colored.  We watched tug boats push huge barges up and down river.  An old fashioned river paddle boat such as used to run up and down the Mississippi lives there and one can take a river cruise up the Ohio for a few days pretending they are on an old river boat with gamblers and cargo.  Here is a photo of the rivers-the boat was touring.

The Tennessee River is the fork on the lower right.  Both are wide rivers.  My husband loves the whole Mississippi river system which is very large and complex with dozens of feeders.  When he was young, he canoed up the Missouri river until it was so huge it swamped him. He finally reached the river bank and slept there only to wake up circled by 7 or so cattle chewing their cud and inspecting him. His teenage years where spent on the Pearl river in Mississippi, a river which could rise 20 feet in a few hours-a wild river now tamed like so many with a dam.

Leaving Paducah, we traveled thru the agri-desert of southern Illinois.  Corn as far as the eye can see with no little homes, gas stations just a few grain silos and tractor storage.  Tho it was a green place, the similarity to the western desert could not be ignored.  If one's car broke down, there would be no help for miles.  If you ran out of gas, there was none for miles with no homes from which to beg for help.

Then home to release the kitty from kitty prison.  I had told her she was going to stay in a kity spa with lots of pampering but she did not feel that way and plaintively meowed for the 12 miles home and hid for 2 days after that.  So we had the best time on our road time enjoying every minute.


Your moment of Zen

I thought since you just traveled some of America with me, I would show you something beautiful but belonging to the Americas. I give you.....

Corn originated in the American SW and in South America.  This corn was breed in Oklahoma over many years by a Cherokee Indian farmer.  It is field corn but is probably mostly for fall decoration.  Pretty amazing, yes?


I am linking up with:
Slow Stitching Sunday, Bambi's Blog, Making Monday,  Em's Scrapbag, Esther's Wow, 
Midweek Makers, Whoop Whoop, Finish or Not!, and Off the Wall Friday.

Monday, June 11, 2018


 But first the birds:
These are Gullahs, an Australian bird who apparently is a bit of a silly bird.  This is the fifth bird in Helen Godden's Feathered Friends series.  We have only 4 more to go.  Painting these has been so much fun but mostly I use this as an opportunity to practice free motion quilting.  Some of the quilting on this piece is good and some is just okay. 

Here is what we have so far:

Pretty wild with their brilliant colors. 

My other project is the Morning Glory Designs BOM.  We are halfway thru the year now having completed six blocks.

Here is a close up of May and June:

I think this one has a stained glass feel to it. I love the ways the stems twist and turn.

So now......back to Sandra Liechner's Naturalist's Notebook and block three "The Purple Finch".  Progress will be revealed on next post. 


Today is June 11.  No one is sure what the impact of the end of net neutrality will be.  Probably nothing good and we will all look back at this time as the "wild west" days 
 of internet usage before the telecom corporations took control and determined in their infinite wisdom the flow and content of information thru their new ability to vary cost to those providers of information. The telecorps do say that they will now be able to afford to increase services to under-served rural areas.  As I say...we shall see...it may not be all bad (yeah right).


Speaking of the internet, I have mentioned before that Blossom the wonder kitty is a hacking genius with her petty paws and her fanny.  Her latest hack took me 3 hours to un-hack.  She locked my computer in airplane mode which could not be undone (before you even say it) by clicking the airplane icon.  NO.........after much toil and research on line on my husband's computer, I got enough onfo to make a leap into success.  And here is a hint for all of you who have special kitties like mine-check out the blue Fn button on the bottom row of your keyboard.  This is a useful key.  Press Fn and the function key (F2 for me) with the "tower" icon and voila...your troubles are over.  I was pretty annoyed with her the rest of the day.  A person has only X amount of energy and this is NOT how I want to spend (waste) mine.
Here is kitty sharpening her claws planning her next attack.

A pretty wooden bridge deep in the woods.

And last...your moment of Zen 
to bring calm and peace to you
in this increasingly 
worrisome world

"Wood stumps and logs" from artist Tamara Kostianovsky. Tamara breathes life into discarded materials to create different objects  and here she layers discarded fabric to create her wood.  I think it is a wonderfully beautiful and evocative use of fabric.

Do you like her ideas?

Happy quilting until we meet again!

I am linking up with:
Slow Stitching Sunday, Bambi's Blog, Making Monday,  Em's Scrapbag, Esther's Wow, 
Midweek Makers, Whoop Whoop, Finish or Not!, and Off the Wall Friday.

Rest now Anthony Bourdain.  We will miss you.

Friday, June 1, 2018


Block 2 of Sandra Liechner's Naturalist's Notebook is completed.  Here are some detail shots.

The only method to complete these blocks is to break them down into the individual elements of each block and look at that alone and complete it-they are not so difficult and then, presto, before you know it, you have a lovely Goldfinch.

I searched high and low for some time to find the right background.  The original background was similar fabric and I felt this was an important design element for these birds as the series is a "Naturalist's Notebook" which of course is a written record.  It reminds me also that I have my own Naturalist's Notebook which I began in 1975 when we lived on our zen farm. 

 My notebook and a couple of my favorite bird books

I am not sure if Missouri just has many many wonderful birds and I just never noticed the California birds when I was growing up. Maybe our farm was quiet and serene so one noticed more.  Whatever the reason, Missouri is filled with wonderful birds.  In my Naturalist Notebook, I began recording all the birds I saw, when I saw them, and what they were up to.  I have a page for each bird so I can record sightings made at different times and places and seasons.  A record of my life for over 40 years.

I have begun the next block in this series-the Purple Finch.  We have these all year as well as the pretty shrub the bird is pictured on.  

I believe 
these are the same flowers as in the block.  My purple finches love this shrub but no matter how long I sat there with my camera, I only came up with a female finch.  It is also a favorite of the bumblebee  who also has a place on this block. 

We have had a special year for bird sighting at our bird feeder this year.  In spring we always have some transients on their way to greener pastures.  This year for the first time (I saw anyway) we had a blue grosbeak and a pine siskin.

Isn't this a lovely bird?!!!
He was scuffling along the ground looking for fallen sunflower seeds.  It was thrilling to see him.  I took lots of photos.
On the right is a pine siskin.  They are about the size of a goldfinch.  I did not take this photo-just cloned it off google images.

Above is a Rose breasted grosbeak.  Sorry I chopped of his head.  He has been a spring visitor for several years now.  He is a cousin to the blue grosbeck and a lovely bird with the most perfect coloration.

This is an airplane bone yard where old, unloved planes go to wait for their fate. While they wait, they make a very pleasing image for us to see.  At first glance this looks like an ancient hieroglyphic. This image has rhythm, great color combo, structure and depth.  I love accidental beauty in the world.  It is so reassuring.

Happy quilting until we meet again!

I am linking up with:
Slow Stitching Sunday, Bambi's Blog, Making Monday,  Em's Scrapbag, Esther's Wow, 
Midweek Makers, Whoop Whoop, Finish or Not!, and Off the Wall Friday.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Many of you will recognize the fourth bird in Helen Godden's series "Feathered Friends".  All the birds in this BOM are Aussie birds.  Pictured above is a blue wren which is a tiny little bird common in Australia.  This is such a great series. 

Helen is a great teacher who is not hide bound with rules-girl after my own heart.  She stresses consistency rather than perfection.  Consistency is pleasing to the eye and quilting is as individual as one's handwriting.  Helen has different classes and books on improving your quilting on her webpage https://helengodden.com/#.  

This block was quilted on my new Tiara II.  There has been no real learning curve to quilting on the new quilter.  The moves are the same as on my old Juki but now I have more room to maneuver, to see what is happening, and keep better control over the quilting. It is also much more comfortable to work on-no more cramped arms and sore back muscles which, at 70, I already have plenty of aches and pains without adding to it. I am a lucky girl to have this in my life.  I have been practicing for about 45 minutes a day as if I were learning to play the piano.


Net neutrality is defined in the google dictionary as "the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites".  Beginning June 11 in the US, internet providers will create different levels of internet speed and charge accordingly instead of the equality of service that exists now.

What does this mean for bloggers?  What does this mean for small quilt shops who sell on line?  What does it mean for those of us who spend time flipping thru screen of images of fabrics or ideas?  Nothing good, I fear.  

Free platforms provide the means to post blogs.  Will we be forced to pay a monthly charge to blog so we don't stream at the speed of a glacier?

Small quilt shops provide a huge service for quilters.  We see new fabric lines, can search for several hours until we find that one bit of rare fabric, we are presented with creative ideas.  It is a wonderful relationship.  Selling on line gives an economic boost to small quilt shops and provides quilters with good prices, ideas, and hard to find items.  Will small quilt shops be forced to pay more for adequate internet speed?  Either those sites will be frustratingly slow or we will all pay more for goods and services thereby providing internet corps with more revenue.

AND NOW........

(we need lots of these moments if we are to 
keep our sanity)

This beautiful flock of about 2500 white paper origami doves is an art installation by artist Michael Pendry in the nave at the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire, England. The doves fly the length of the nave and are reflected in the pool below.   The installation is part of a healing process after the nerve gas attack there in March and offers hope and peace.

This is Salisbury Cathedral as seen from the east.  Construction began in 1220 and  is one of the most wonderful examples of English Gothic architecture.  It lies just 8 miles from that other ancient religious site, Stonehenge.

Happy quilting until we meet again!

I am linking up with:
Slow Stitching Sunday, Bambi's Blog, Making Monday,  Em's Scrapbag, Esther's Wow, 
Let's Bee Social, Whoop Whoop, and Finish or Not!, Off the Wall Friday.

Monday, April 30, 2018


And here is what I have to show on this anniversary.  Progress on Nature's Notebook.  Veining on the leaves and petals, french knots, touches on the goldfinch, and some stems for wheat.  The petals were particularly troublesome.  I began with 60 wt sewing thread as recommended by the designer to detail the petal but I thought it was too coarse looking. I ended up (arggghh!) pulling out this detailing on 2 flowers and replacing it with a blue-gray 100 wt silk thread.  It was worth it.  

Here is helper kitten doing important quality control work.  She thinks her eyes look pretty next to the petals.  I included this photo as the petals are detailed in the 60 wt which you can see looks to heavy. (so hard to capture the correct colors).

May 1 will see the release of the new Aussie painted bird block (Yay!) and the appliqued color block.  2017 was without doubt the worst year of my life and for most the year my design wall was empty.  It is coming to life like the world in spring which makes me start happy dancing.

Three wonderful projects.  The gray and orange fabric is just an idea for developing the color scheme for the Imaginary Garden quilt by Yoko Saito. After the two BOMs, I will resume feathering the Goldfinch and planting the landscaping.

We have, of  course, had lots of Goldfinches at our feeder but my attempts to capture them on film is somewhat lame but you can see the pretty color. I like the texturing in this photo.

Practice has not made perfect yet but I keep working on it.  Here are some practice pieces from Angela Walters Free Motion Challenge Quilt Along on the exquisite new Tiara II.

And the next bit of practice on gridworking. Pinned and ready to stitch baste. It will be 50 and 60 wt for me.

One thing I have discovered is that I like finer wt thread.  I like denser quilting and finer thread has less build up.  I tried some 40 wt glide which worked really well but the look was to heavy for me. 

From our walk on the wild side:
Mossy path thru the spring woods

Lastly....your moment of Zen

The lovely flowered walkway in Hong Kong at the Un Chau Estates


I am linking up with:
Slow Stitching Sunday, Bambi's Blog, Making Monday,  Em's Scrapbag, Esther's Wow, 
Let's Bee Social, Whoop Whoop, and Finish or Not!, Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


A sixteen inch throat sit down quilter! She is so pretty and so much fun to use.  I have been quilting on a juki which is a very good quilter but I wanted some elbow room and room to maneuver.  The block I am quilting is my first outing with my Tiara.  This block is the third in the Helen Godden painted birds series "Feathered Friends".  Right now I am experimenting with different size needles to see what works as it is my understanding that long arm quilting machines generally call for heavier needles.  The above was done with a size 16 and I am going to try a 14 next on the more finely detailed quilting.  The 16 needle makes a big hole in the painted fabric.

Free motion quilting practice projects are now in my project list.  First is Angela Walters FMQ Along which has 9 lessons covering basics with great videos.  

Second is this WOW fabric from Hoffman. 

 If you follow Margaret Solomon Gunn on her blog:
http://quiltsoflove.blogspot.com/2018/03/bitten, you will see what she has done this this panel.  You should look-it is pretty awesome! She outlines each petal and  quilts a different motif in each.   I have 2 of her books.   "Dense and Dainty" provides motifs for this panel.

And the third learning project is this panel is available from Spoonflower.com.  It was designed by Margaret to use with her classes on gridwork and to accompany her "Beautiful Backgrounds" Grid based fill book.   I much prefer free form sorts of designs but I ordered this book in error and thought I might as well make use of it.  This is a wonderful book also.

So, my friends, that is the GRAND PLAN.  You can see there is lots to work with here so my new Tiara and I will be good friends by the time I finish all this.


Block number four of Morning Glory Designs BOM

Blue and yellow is one of my favorite combos and I love the graceful, swirly flowers.  They took forever to make and stitch down-all those little pieces.  These blocks might make a good quilt-as-you-go project.
I wanted to show you some photos of my beautiful daughter in India.  Mary lives in Northern India in Rishikesh. 

These photos were taken late January, early February.  



These are photos from above looking down from a plane of terraced rice fields in China.  The first one especially is so abstract it is difficult to decide what you are looking at but how exquisite!


I am linking up with:
Slow Stitching Sunday, Bambi's Blog, Making Monday,  Em's Scrapbag, Esther's Wow, 
Let's Bee Social, Whoop Whoop, and Finish or Not!, Off the Wall Friday.