Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Blue Ridge Parkway Kind of Saturday!

The most perfect Saturday afternoon for a motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway --

That is how I would describe yesterday to a T!

It had rained late Friday night, and the air was fresh and clean with some lingering puffy clouds.

Everything is so lush and green.  Oh how I love these mountains.

They are not as jagged and rugged and majestic as those I just saw in Alaska, but these Blue Ridge mountains comfort me with their soft rolling slopes and vast long range views.

Looking south east.

Friends Rick & Mona came with us and we  took every opportunity to stop and enjoy the views at the vantage points along the parkway.

It was quite a busy day with many motorcycles out there, and also cyclists --how they handle those steep hills is beyond me!  Which is why I guess you won't find me riding the Blue Ridge Parkway on a bicycle.  But kudos to them..they deserve it!

No, this was our ride:

Cruisin the Parkway!

Our destination?  The Moses H Cone memorial park --the home of the Craft Center, housed in the mansion!

Side view!

About the park:
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, near Blowing Rock, North Carolina on the Blue Ridge Parkway, preserves the country estate of Moses Cone, a prosperous textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist of the Gilded Age.

Can't get back far enough to fit it all in!
Its centerpiece is Flat Top Manor, a gleaming white 20-room, 13,000 square foot mansion built in 1901 in the grand Colonial Revival style.
The Manor is now the home of the Parkway Craft Center, one of five shops of the Southern Highland Craft Guild which features handmade crafts by hundreds of regional artists.

Another view!
Throughout the season, local artists demonstrate crafts such as quilting, embroidery, weaving, pottery, glass-blowing, and woodcarving on the front porch of the Manor. 
We did go into the house -- the bottom level is the craft center, and though no photos were allowed inside, it was REALLY nice.  There were several artisans demoing their crafts in the room off of the front porch --watched a wood carver working his art for a while.  Fascinating!

They also offer tours of the upstairs of the house -you have to make a reservation and both Mona and I agree this is something that must be done!  We want to see this house!

View from the porch looking out!

There are miles and miles of groomed trails out here and Mona and I definitely want to bring Sadie and Beanie for some hiking and exploring time.

This spot off the Blue Ridge Parkway is about a 45 minute drive from the cabin if taking the parkway.  

A bit of color near the house!

Not quite sure what these flowers are, but I love their sherbet color against all of the lush green.

No sewing for me happened yesterday.  Just a lot of pressing and cutting which shall continue today --but still making slow and relaxing progress towards that one last quilt top for the next book!

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone!

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Make Way For...Gravelman!

 Give a guy a pile of gravel and he will park the Razr on it.

That's a given!

The cabin is out on a dirt road.  The roads are very well maintained, but gravel is a must in the land of rain-plus-dirt-equals-mud.

We did a load of gravel last year, but it just wasn't enough to get the job done, so this weekend, knowing we would be up here, we had another half load delivered.

Gravel is heavy.

And it is an extra pain when you arrive to find it has been delivered already, and dumped NOT where you wanted it to be dumped!

It was supposed to go in the side yard, where the RED FLAG was placed.

But no problem.  We've got friend RICK!

Piece it Here, Piece it There --

See these red hexies at the end of the blue rows on either side?

Turns out on half of my sections completed I did them, and on the OTHER half -- well, I forgot about them!

Which means some decisions need to be made as to what I am going to do to continue this project.

Either way, some un-sewing was going to have to be done!

This project has been going on for 2-1/2 years now, and still has a long way to go, but as a travel project, I am not in a hurry with it, and I have loved seeing how it comes together, bit by bit, piece by piece over time.

Here is a shot of the other side, WITHOUT those red hexies:

Friday, May 29, 2015

For my European Friends -- Birmingham Festival of Quilts Tickets!

This is a special Give-Away for those planning to attend or close enough to attend the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England in August of 2015!
I'm excited to be offering up 3 PAIRS of tickets for entry in to the show, courtesy of the show itself!
I received the following email From Sara Willis at Festival of Quilts:
Dear Bonnie,
I’m an organiser of The Festival of Quilts – Europe’s largest quilt show.
We would love to give you 3 pairs of tickets to run a competition using your blog/ social media to The Festival of Quilts. The show takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, 6th - 9th August.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Galaxy Gram! Blue Ridge Bliss!

This was one of those most needed, happy days.

A very successful phone conference with an editor from C&T which resulted in the start of something big. I sent off my outline and proposal for my next book and all is good to go.

Tomorrow I have another phone conference and we will nail down some dates for turning things in.

There are still two quilt tops to complete, two to quilt, and 3 to bind, but the time up here at the cabin this weekend will see much of that done. At least the piecing of two tops and binding of one quilt shall be accomplished.

At least that is my goal.

It's been many weeks since I was up here last. I can't believe how green things are and all of the trees are of course leafed out.

I feel like my soul can breathe.

The new red roof looks amazing!

And the mountain laurel and rhododendrons are full of blossoms.

This is where you will find me this weekend, weather permitting I think this rocking chair is perfect for binding and for just soaking up the scenery.

I love you, my Blue Ridge Mountains! I am looking forward to indulging in your peace and beauty all weekend long.

Much love from Quilt Villa,


Basillica di Santa Croce, Florence!

More Italy Photos!

We spent an amazing part of the afternoon touring the Basillica di Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world.

The basillica includes sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs.

Legend says that Santa Croce was founded by St Francis himself.

About this photo:  only the facade is carerra marble.  If you look down the sides of the building, it is regular brown stone.  The facade was added later!

As I was going through these photos this morning, I was amazed at how many geometric patchwork designs there are in tile floors in ancient cathedrals and basilicas.

This one is no different!

Tile up next to a pillar

But what I noticed about Italy, at least what I saw and assume of Italy, is due to the abundance of cararra marble, most of the tile designs we saw were in black and white with some red, maybe some green --but not a lot of the multi colored tiled floors like we saw elsewhere in Europe -- Germany, Ireland, France, England, Netherlands, the other places I've been.

The frecoes and altars however...wow!

The basilica is just enormous in space, and extremely interesting to wander through.  Take your time!

The floor and the walls are covered in tombstones and memorials --many of the tombstones are 3-D, and of course, white and black!

Loved the design on this one, whomever it belongs to!

This one is 3 D!

The site map (This is just a portion) let us know where to find who we wanted to see --did you know that Michelangeo, Galileo AND Dante are buried here, amongst many others we revere?  It was amazing!  The joke was made that the entrance fee was "3 important dead guys for the price of 1!"  But it was so worth it.



And of course all of the other statuaries are just beautiful --oh, those Italian artists.  They capture human emotion as well as spirit and form.

Yep - the rest of the photos are in the following slide show!  Click the image below if you are unable to view the slide show on your mobile device.  You'll be taken to the photo album for viewing.

Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy 2015

Busy morning ahead --

Phone conference with an editor from C&T to get my timeline going for the next book!  YAY!  So happy to be on that right track again.

This evening I'm headed up to the cabin for a weekend of fun.  The cabin has had its new red roof for over a month and I've not seen it!

There will be loads of sewing going on as I work towards getting the last two new book quilts assembled and together - and start thinking about what I'll be doing for our 2016 mystery. It's time to get the wheels spinning on that!

Have an awesome Thursday -- 

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quilt-Cam 5/27/2015

Check out Michelle's progress on her Spoolin' Around Leader & Ender challenge from a few years back!  She sent this along during LAST Quilt-Cam before I left for Alaska!

She writes:
Hi Bonnie!  I'm a couple years late, but a friend and I are swapping spool block kits and I'm using them for my leaders and enders.
When I get about 100, I sew them into 4 patch blocks to use in my future Spoolin' Around quilt...and that's what I'm sewing tonight while watching.  Have a good trip!!

You know, there is no deadline on any project EVER -- at least not when it is a Leader & Ender project!  If you haven't chosen anything yet to make --you can find the block pattern for Spoolin' Around under the Free Patterns Tab at the top of the blog!  It's EASY and you will use up loads of  1.5" strips in the process.

Doing it with a friend and swapping block kits is another way to build the anticipation as well as the variety.  It's all fun and games in the Leader & Ender department!

 Speaking of Leaders & Enders --

The last time we met I had gotten this far on my Lozenges, and they were still in this position when I arrived home from Alaska:

There are only 4 seams left to go...but this is a pinning nightmare..loads of pins required, remember?

I took the time just a bit ago to PIN one more seam --

Tonight I'll be working on these 4 seams to finally finish this top...I'd like to get it quilted SOON!

Come join me - bring a project, sew along --or press something, organize something, cut something --just join me!

Click the arrow below to start the feed!

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Riding on a Railroad! Anchorage to Fairbanks!

If you were to ask me which was my favorite day on this Alaska trip, I would probably HANDS DOWN tell you that it was the very relaxing 12 hour train ride on the Wilderness Express between Anchorage and Fairbanks.

I’d never taken a long train ride before – certainly not sitting in the domed upper level with an unobstructed view --

And certainly had never had a train ride with a dining car below, and a wait staff to take care of every beverage whim at our beckon call!

This was traveling in style!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

And it’s GIVEAWAY Time!


I finally get to fire up the random number generator and give away a copy of this lovely book!

Have you seen it?

Did you read my two reviews on it?


Besides being full of the best of photographs, you will love the way it is written.

Right now this book lives on the bedside table near my bed, and I’ve been going through it, reading it like a novel – allowing myself to fill my dreams with the most wonderful of ideas to keep me company all night long.

So many ideas!

So let’s draw our lucky winner.

Cathedral Stars on a Fairbanks Sunday!

Here are some happy girls spending the day cutting up the scraps, making four patches, half square triangles, and tri recs star points like crazy!

It seems forever ago that I walked from my hotel in Fairbanks, the short “few blocks” distance to the Elks lodge where our workshops were held.

Great space!  And plenty of lighting as you can see..the room is banked by windows on two sides, and the river flows right by so we could watch rafters floating on by, enjoying the nearly 90 degree temps.

It was HOT!  I never expected Fairbanks to be so hot when just a few short days before I was wrapped up in my puffy down jacket, and had to purchase a HAT to keep my head warm!

We had just a great time!

Monday, May 25, 2015

And Then I Lost A Day…

I’m still thinking this day is SUNDAY.

And yet it's been MONDAY all day!

But see how excited this girl is to have us home?  This is what happiness is for me today.

Red-eye flights will do that to you --

Red-eye flights with 1/2 hour between deplaning and re-boarding -

The entire trip from Fairbanks to Minneapolis to Detroit to Greensboro is basically a blur.

If I didn’t know better I would swear I did a bit of sleep walking between planes…I just don’t really remember anything!

There is a lot to catch up on here on the blog, and we are going to take our time at it and do it justice, not just throw it out there like some kind of travel tossed salad, which is what the entire month of May has been like for me.

Yes, there are photos from yesterday’s –wait, was that Sunday? Yes it was!  Yesterday’s Cathedral Stars workshop with the Cabin Fever Quilters in Fairbanks to go through….

Oh how I loved these ladies!  I had just enough time with them to feel right at home and get to know them and talk and laugh and visit while we sewed.  I can’t wait until the next time.

We already have agreed that NEXT TIME we need to spend more time around Fairbanks so we have time to see the museums, do the river cruise, visit the Chena Hot Springs….there was so much to do and not enough time to do it when I had two full day workshops, an evening lecture and a redeye flight home…all on a holiday weekend.

I am extra grateful for guild members who invite visiting teachers over for dinner – Alaska Style!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Boxy Stars in Fairbanks, AK!

Fabulous day in Fairbanks, AK!

I met up with the Cabin Fever Quilters yesterday for a full day Boxy Stars workshop –a whole day of playing in the 2.5” strips and turning out some fast and fabulous scrappy blocks!

The fabrics were varied, each quilter bringing fabrics from their own stash, sharing, swapping, stitching, laughing, talking --

It was so much fun!

I have to tell you that I never expected Fairbanks to be this hot in May.  High 80s closing in on 90!  Hot hot hot, and wow, after nearly freezing just last Sunday on our Fjords trip out of Seward, this was just bizarre.  But that’s how things are in Fairbanks.  If you don’t like the temperature, just hang around.  It will go from 40 below in the winter, to 100 above in the summer….

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Whole Lotta Delta Junction Show & Share!

It is so fun to come back to a place after 4 years and see what these gals have been up to since our last visit!

One of the workshops we gave was Bricks in the Barnyard from Scraps & Shirttais II  and some nice quilts came back in completed status to say hello!

This is one of those favorite workshops that just goes so slick. 

Students come with all of the rectangles and squares cut, as well as bringing strips along for making the half square triangles after an Easy Angle Ruler demo.

The braid broder is made from leftover strips and can be worked on as leaders & enders, growing in length while the blocks in the center are completed.

So much fun!

Here is another:

Shirttails Day in Delta Junction, AK!

I’m going to miss these ladies!

There were 4 years in between my last visit and this one, and it is likely to be the same kind of distance in between!  When I open up my calendar for bookings for 2019 I hope to see them on it! 

We had such a great time, and Summer in Alaska can be really wonderful.

It was pushing 90 degrees yesterday.  It will be doing the same up here in Fairbanks.

Funny to think that just a few days ago I was freezing my tookass off on Kenai Fjords tour with down jacket and hand and all – and here I didn’t bring things that are cool enough.

I’m dying for a pair of sandals!

I’d be shopping for some today if it weren’t a double duty day in store with a workshop today and a lecture tonight in Fairbanks.

Yesterday’s workshop is one of my favorites, but one that doesn’t come around as often as it is from my first book, Scraps & Shirttails!  It’s a 3 block medallion, mine made with recycled fabrics, and we use the Easy Angle ruler with several different strip widths for half square triangles that finish at 1.5”, 2”, 3” and 4.5”.  This is why I love a tool that will do more than one thing!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spider Webs Up! Delta Junction, AK!

String Spider Webs are te fasted most fun quilt EVER.

They all turn out wonderful no matter what color palette or stash of scraps are used…

And they can be so varied from the background fabric color chosen, to the individual strips and strings of fabric used as the webs themselves…

So much variety!

And absolutely NO stress what so ever – as our newer quilters found out.

This is FUN!  And fun is what it is all about!

Of course it all starts with bags and buckets and baskets and totes of scraps – and they came in by the baleful.  We’ve ALL got them.  Every project makes scraps..so this is a fun time to sew them up!


Some came in zippered bags.

These came all the way fro washington state, and those reuseable zipper bags for sheet sets, pillow cases and curtains and other linens make great project bags.  These had the air squooshed out of them and ade a flight from Washington State to spend these workshop days with us in Delta  Junction, AK!

However, they didn’t stay this neat for long…


It just can’t be helped!

String piecing is messy and this poor featherweight was in danger of a scrap avalanche!


Lonnie, busy pulling from the big bag at her side!

A life time of scraps and memories in this narrow strips and pieces….so fun to dig through!


They sewed and sewed all day long!


Look at these blocks coming together!

You can find the free pattern for String Spider Web under the Free Patterns tab at the top of the blog.  It’s a fun one – and everyone should make at LEAST one spider web quilt in their life time!

There are more photos!  Click the image below if you are unable to view the slide show on your mobile device.  You’ll be taken to the photo album for viewing.

String Spider Web, Delta Junction, AK 2015

I had a great time with these gals yesterday, and we had a fun lecture last night ---after dinner HERE:


Buffalo Center Drive In –a Delta Junction Icon!

And really great food too!

Today we do it all over again ---I’ve got a SHIRTTAILS quilt workshop from my book Scraps & Shirttails ---working in the recycled fabrics and plaids and stripes will be another great way tp sew it up today.

This evening I head back up to Fairbanks…my two days of workshops and a lecture starts with them tomorrow.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Church of Orsanmichel, Florence!

You can find amazing places in the center of Florence.

And while many places charge an entry fee to get in, some places like the church of Orsanmichel is open to the public by donation.

A small church compared to many others in the city limits, it is not to be missed ---Great architecture, beautiful domed ceilings, frescoes, and gorgeous tiled floors.

Everything a quilter’s eye needs to be inspired!

The building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele, which is now gone.