Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Tale of Haunted Fans!

My ceiling fans are haunted.

We discovered this upon moving in, the very first night we stayed at the cabin.

Turn the lights out by the switch on the wall, go to bed.

Around 4 am, when I woke up to take a trip to the bathroom, there was the dining area fan, light blazing, fan whirring at top speed.


I knew in my mind that there is a simple short somewhere, turned the fan and light off, and crawled back into bed for a couple more hours of blissful slumber in my new surroundings, the smell of pine walls, floors and ceilings carrying me back to dreamland.

It has happened several times since.  It happened when Jason was here, and it was a hoot to watch him  freak out just a bit. “What the HECK!?”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Like a Fabric Tornado

Watch out world, I’m sewing up a storm!

This is the long string of days of productivity that I have longed and planned for.

It’s fine and fun to package up kits and sew on the road, carrying my bits and pieces in sets in zip lock bags, but there is nothing like the freedom of cutting fabric, sewing it together in my own space.

It’s a flurry of fabric fun and possibilities, and I am enjoying every minute.

I started out with a plan.  A simple block idea.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Texas Sized Show-&-Share-a-Palooza!

Two finished Charlotte’s Baskets were shared during our workshops at Stitchin’ Heaven quilt shop in Mineola, Texas!

Last year when I was here, there were 4 tops shown, and now two made it back as completed quilts.

As much as I love seeing the quilts, I love seeing the folks that made them even more.

It’s like a cherished home-coming to see everyone and catch up with what’s been going on, and hear the stories of kids getting married, the arrival of grandbabies, the long awaited retirement finally happening, so much living going on in between the times when we are able to see each other.

As much as I love the quilting, the PEOPLE are really the best part.

And our Show & Share moments at the end of our lunch break are just the icing on the cake!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Recharging, Day 2!

This is the barn (And outhouse in the way back) seen at the end of my lane way, just as we turn off the road and head on up to the cabin.

It belongs to Barbara, whom I finally met yesterday – her little old house is right across the street from where my lane turns off of the road.

She has the cutest little white house – front porch and all, and I can tell that she dearly loves working in her yard because her flower beds that surround the porch are already thriving now that spring has arrived.

Returning in the dark on my last visit after running errands with Jason, I saw how her pathways are all lit by solar lights giving off a soft glow.  In the country where there are no street lights, this was a beacon to me!  I had worried about knowing where to find my entrance in the dark, and Barbara had lit the way all along.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Out Of Gas!

Not literally out of gas.

Figuratively. Emotionally. Physically.  Mentally.

I’m running on empty after spending the past 3 weeks on the road and loving every minute of it.

After finishing all of the mail order, and getting the Straits of Mackinac quilt off of the machine, and trimmed up – ready for binding, Sadie and I hit the road and headed for the cabin in Virginia around 2:30pm.

I’ve hit the proverbial brick wall.

This morning I could barely get up out of bed –but the birds started their morning song EARLY and I was up around 6:30 to see what the morning would bring.

I made a little video to share with you the beautiful morning sounds – the running creek below, the birds calling out to each other, the fog and low slung clouds burning off bit by bit as the sun begins to rise over the mountain ridges.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What a Sweet Retreat!

My feet are back in North Carolina!  But I left my heart near Eustace, Texas with a group of wonderful ladies who are still on retreat at Green Briar Creative Retreat Center!

From what I can gather, once you are on the calendar at Green Briar, you never want to give up your slot for the next year or there is little hope of finding another week to fit you as they are fully booked all of the time.  These ladies from Marshall and Longview, with a couple of adopted-into-the-fold friends from Alabama have been meeting here together for years, and I can see why!
Green Briar Creative Retreat Center, managed by owner Judy Groom, welcomes guests with warm hospitality, genuine comfort, professional service, extraordinary convenience and exceptional value.
The Perfect Location:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tres Amigas Go Antiquing!

I am taking a break from posting workshop photos after workshop photos –dealing with slow internet (a small inconvenience while being on retreat!) and the fact that I have an early departure this morning means we are going to shift you from our regular programming and throw in a bit of fun that I had with Sherry and Irene from the time we left Grapevine, all the way until we reached Mineola, Stitchin’ Heaven and beyond!

Irene met Sherry when she moved from San Antonio to Louisville, and I met Sherry when I went to visit Irene, and we all got along as if we’ve known each other forever.

We sing in the car to the oldies.

We laugh and laugh like teenagers.

We are a great team!

And we all love to look out for quilts, machines, sewing notions, antique linens and depression glass.

With this in mind, we made a beeline for Fort Worth.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pineapple Blossom at Stitchin’ Heaven!

Hello from Greenbriar Retreat in Eustace, Texas!

I finished up my time at the fabulous Stitchin’ Heaven Quilt Shop after our Pineapple Blossom Workshop was over, and was shuttled down the road about an hour’s drive where I’ll be spending today teaching Scrappy Mountain Majesties to another fun group – and benefit of benefits, I get to spend a couple of retreat evenings (Last night and tonight) just hanging out and playing along side these quilty gals while they sew!

Our day was full yesterday, as busy big workshops are, but I did get a bit of time to catch a few colorful shots of the beautiful array of bolts in the front of the shop!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Jamestown Landing–Stitchin’ Heaven Style!

I’m having a Texas sized round up of fun in Mineola, Texas – home of Stitchin’ Heaven Quilt Shop!

Yes, this bull stands proudly to the side of our classroom space, flanked by a quilty Texas Flag and wearing the quilted banner sporting the quilt shop’s very recognizable name.

If you’ve been to Houston for Quilt Festival, ,it’s likely that you’ve stopped to also have your photo taken with this silent, gentle beast.

He’s HUGE! I try to imagine transporting a stationary longhorn and I just can’t wrap my head around it! 

He kept silent watch over us while we quilted up a storm in our Jamestown Landing quilt from String Fling.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun in the After Hours!

Happy Hour to some might mean sitting at a favorite watering hole with a discounted adult beverage and snack food to wind down the end of a busy day.

When it comes to a busy day involving a very full workshop, happy hour means making good use of the time before the antique mall and the quilt shop closes and getting in what fun we can before the lights go out and doors are locked.

In this case – we had just enough time after our Talkin’ Turkey Workshop in Grapevine to head on over to The Antique Market and then over to Must Love Fabric in Grapevine to pet all the pretties before meeting up with several of the guild ladies for dinner.

I’m posing behind the counter with the quilt shop staff and workshop coordinator Kathi for an impromptu photo!  Thanks for the great welcome, ladies!  So good to see you!

We had 2 hours to fit it all in.  Could we do it?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Texas Talkin’ Turkey Kind of Day!

There was a whole lot of Turkey going on in Grapevine, Texas yesterday!

Our event was sponsored by the Bear Creek Quilt and was full to the brim with 47 quilters from all over the area.

This was my third trip back to Texas in just as many months –January, February and now April.

If you are going to visit Texas, APRIL can’t be beat.  Bluebonnets, Tex-Mex & BBQ!

((And friends, and antique malls!))

Sunshine and gentle breezes.

April in Texas is wonderful!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Greetings from Grapevine!


It’s one of those crazy years where I have found myself boomeranging back and forth to Texas quite a bit.  This is trip 3 since January!

And I love coming to Texas.  The food is amazing, the quilters are friendly, and where else can you get a whole room to yell “Yeeeehawww!”  at a guild presenation??

It was a day of ZERO stress.  All flights were on time.  My layover in Atlanta was just long enough to grab a bite for breakfast at a Cuban cafe found in terminal T.  I don’t think I’ve ever flown out of terminal T before, and it was a welcome surprise.

Cafe con leche- sweet, creamy and hot.  Oh boy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Quilty Box Gift-Away!


I’m off to Texas this morning in a flurry of quilts and suitcases, backpack and paraphernalia.

Didn’t I just do this?

The last time it was easier. Throwing the mass of stuff into the van is SO much easier.  And you can take more.  Flying?  I’m shackled by bag capacity and weigh limits.

Do I have all I need?  I hope so!

If not, there is always Target, right?

I have a guild presentation with the Bear Creek Quilters in Keller tonight and a workshop tomorrow, then over to Stitchin’ Heaven for 2 more days of workshops and finally on to Eustace for a quickie retreat appearance for one workshop  -- I’ll be home on MONDAY.

After the longy trip to Alabama, this will feel like a piece of cake and I’ll have some fun doing it too.

So while I’m off to Dallas via Atlanta, let’s throw a Quilty Box Gift-Away!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Wandering Aisles with Friends!

Of COURSE there was time to wander an antique mall or two while in Alabama.

I would much rather do this with a group of quilters than a shop hop!

Let’s face it.  The stash has reached epic proportions from home.  There is no way I can sew it up in my life time.  And antique mall wandering is a great pastime even if you don’t buy anything.  And we are getting our steps in, as well as a bunch of belly laughs over things we find.

Just a heads-up:  This is a LONG post.  I’m playing catch-up before heading to Texas tomorrow!  You have been fore-warned!

This was one week ago, Monday afternoon after my morning lecture in Birmingham left me with an afternoon to play.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Mountain Road Home!

I left Cullman, Alabama under a sunny blue sky and made my way north.

Dang GPS!  It kept trying to re-route me through Atlanta, saying that it could shave 18 minutes off of my drive if I drove that way.

One way through Atlanta is ENOUGH.  And I know better.

Holiday traffic with everyone on their way to grandma’s house, and a bridge out in Atlanta, and all of the re-routing in that area would have been a stress-filled nightmare.

I needed quiet roads.  I didn’t care if it was a 2 lane highway and the speed limits were lower.  I wanted open road and the sight of my beloved Blue Ridge in the distance.

I drove north, setting my sights on first Chattanooga, and then  onward to Knoxville, past the Pigeon Forge area and on into North Carolina.

Home.  I need Home.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Scrappy Mountain Majesties in the Heartland!

I just love the possibilities that are available with the Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt!

Rectangular blocks are fun to play with, a break from the norm.

Start out with 8 1/2’’ squares and watch these blocks come quickly together and we slice, stitch, slice again, rearrange and sew back together!

The pattern includes several different layouts that you can try, and try them ALL before you decide what you really want to do!  Let your fabrics guide you and allow yourself time to play!

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Ave Maria Grotto

Yesterday was a day for recharging my batteries.

And April in Alabama is a great place to do it.

Everything is so green.  In the week that I have been here the leaves on the trees have fully emerged between blossoms of all colors, casting shadows over green lawns.

It is in the spring when the green comes back that I remember just how much I love green.  I find it hard to live without green.

And there is green in abundance in the south.

Upon recommendation from a student while teaching in Birmingham, I set my GPS to find the Ave Maria Grotto.

The Grotto contains 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time. [source]

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A My Blue Heaven Kind of Day!


Or “Some Like it Purple!”

Our last workshop in  Birmingham was filled with excited quilters eager to learn how to make basic units such as  half-square triangles, hourglass units and flying geese all from 2 1/2” strips with the use of specialty rulers such as the Essential Triangle Tool!  YOU CAN TOO!

My Blue Heaven is found under the free patterns tab at the top of the blog and you can sew along with us!

There are also videos under the videos tab to teach you how to make good use of these rulers with easy strips that you already keep on hand.

We played with purple, orange, blue, aqua, and even scrappy civil war – the variations were endless!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Talkin’ Turkey Rides Again!

How far would YOU go on a quilting adventure with a friend?

I am so happy to meet these two! 

Terri & Chris boarded a plane and came all the way from Connecticut for some Southern hospitality and quilting fun in my workshops this week with the Birmingham and Evening Star quilt guilds. Machines have been loaned to them by accommodating guild members so happy to welcome in the traveling quilters.

They have discovered first hand the magnificent sight of  huge old magnolias, their leaves deep green and waxy shiny.  The taste of Bama barbeque and the syrupy sweet southern drawl of welcoming quilters (Music to my years now that I have lived southern myself since 1999)  who are so glad that they came this far to join us.

After all, THIS is what it is all about, right?  the coming together and learning together and Quiltershipping?

And they are experiencing it all in an upgraded rental car!  Hey!  If YOU had a choice between a sporty BMW or a mini van – wouldn’t YOU choose the Beamer?  I would!

It’s been so great to have you hear with us, ladies.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Showin’ and Sharin’ in Alabama, Part 1!

This is Stephanie with her En Provence quilt!

Our Show & Share in Birmingham has been EPIC.

So many beautiful quilts from these very talented quilters that I am having to do TWO posts to present them all, as they all deserve to been shared and seen.

I often get *excuses* like “Sorry, it’s just a top.”  or “I didn’t bring it because the binding wasn’t finished.”  Oh, we don’t care!  BRING IT! 

We all know the extreme effort that it takes to just get a top to completion.  We all know the rush of trying to get a binding sewn down, or a label or a sleeve in place.

I am happy to see BLOCKS, I am ecstatic to share your efforts in whatever you are putting together.

So don’t let the fact that it is “Just a top” stop you.  There is NO SUCH THING as “Just a top.”

I love seeing the mystery quilts come together, of course.  There were Celtic Solstices (Would that be Soisti?) Grand Illusions, Allietares, and En Provences make an appearance as well as many others.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Quiltmaker May/June ‘17 Drawing Time!

Hello from Birmingham, Alabama!

I returned just a bit ago from a LONG day out – but such a fun one. 

A morning guild presentation, lunch out with the guild ladies, and an afternoon of antiquing (We stayed so long, the mall was closing for the day around us!) and ice cream at DQ sitting on tables outside and enjoying the beautiful April evening air.

What a day!

And it was only on a whim that I remembered that it was time to do this drawing.

So let’s not delay any longer and  get this done!

Can you believe we had a record high of 5119 entries?  Wowza!

And there can only be one winner, so let’s find out who it is.

Short on Time, but NOT on Fun!

Sunday workshops are often an afternoon affair – especially when using a church fellowship hall for classroom space.

And it’s understandable!  And even desirable because it  gives me a quiet morning to myself before the hubbub of the afternoon sets in.

In this case, I had plenty of time to head on over to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for a long morning wander, and it was the perfect way to recharge my batteries for what was to be workshop day number 4 of 7 on this whirlwind trip to Alabama.

My half day sessions are 4 hours, not 3.  3 is just NOT enough time to even get thread on yourself, so we work for 4 hours, snacks at our own stations and pass on a lunch break.  And believe it or not, you can get quite a bit done in a 4 hour workshop as compared to a 6 hour full day with lunch break.

We may be shorter on time, but not on productivity!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Smith Mountain Morning in Alabama!

Make your own kind of music!  Make your own kind of quilt!

Your neighbor may have a completely different vision for her project than you have for yours, and that is the BEAUTY of coming together and taking a workshop where kits are not provided.

We learn so much more when we see what the other 38 students in class have chosen to work with.  We are inspired with what we might want to try next, combos of colors we never ever considered coming together right in front of us as our neighbors work their magic.

Classes from kits may be fast and prep-free – but learning to work with your own fabrics is invaluable.

38 students making the same exact identical project with fabrics chosen by someone else?  Or working with your own scraps and pieces to create your own design as the others in the room go their own directions as well?  I’ll choose the no kit, no identical quilt option every single time.

And these quilters had it going down!

Some working in 1930s repros, some working in batiks.  Others working with recycled shirt fabrics, or Christmas, Some with graph paper diagrams of how they want their rainbow variations to come together.  This is where the individuality of everyone’s own artistry shines through! 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

A Garden Party Kind of Day!

A fun day of stitching and cutting, cutting and stitching, talking and laughter and getting to know one another – the best kind of day!

We filled our classroom full with 31 students who had gathered from all over the area – ((and Florida!)) for a day of scrappy piecing – all from 1 1/2’’ strips.

OH!  The VARIETY!  All of the stories that came from cherished scraps, favorite pieces, leftovers from this quilt, or that project and all of the memories that come from them.  I love that part about being a scrap quilter.  The fabric speaks.  The fabric KNOWS!  And when we share the scraps with each other, the ripples continue.

The pattern for Garden Party is found in my book Addicted to Scraps, and addicted to scraps we all are.

And the BEST part about this day?  NO TRIANGLES!  LOL!

(But we’ll be making up for that today in our Smith Mountain Morning workshop soon to commence!)

Friday, April 07, 2017

Scrap Busting in Birmingham!

We had an amazing day in Birmingham!

Our Roll Roll Cotton Boll workshop from my book String Fling was in full swing with string blocks in the morning, and patchwork made easy with the Essential Triangle Tool in the afternoon.

It was a wonderful group of 30 quilters, who had come from as far away as Florida, and all over the sate of Alabama as well as neighbors from Georgia.

It felt good to be “Back in the saddle again!”

I love exploring the possibilities of neutrals with students.  Especially when some are NEW at quilting and just have no idea that backgrounds can be so varied – and so much fun.

There was a whole bunch of trading and swapping going on when it came to the string blocks and the energy levels were great as everyone got the hang of it.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Quiltmaker Gift-Away!

Good Morning from Birmingham, Alabama!

It was a crazy hairy stormy scary 9 hour drive yesterday, white knuckling the steering wheel all the way.

I was in touch with my contact Shirley over the course of the day.  She was keeping tabs on where I was, and even told when a storm cell was headed my way and when I should get off the road and wait it out.

I made it by dinner time!

And to celebrate my safe arrival, I have planned a Quiltmaker May/June 2017 Bundle GIFT AWAY just for you!

These Quiltmaker issuses just get better and better with more and more information.

I love that Quiltmaker doesn't just give you a pattern, the articles and tutorials actually teach us skills that we can apply to any quilt we want to make in the future.

So what have we got up for grabs today?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Quilt-Cam 4/4/2017

This Midnight Flight quilt  from More Adventures with Leaders & Enders is Siri’s current project, started at retreat in Texas with me several weeks ago.

I just love those 4 patches, they are my favorite part of this quilt!  And all of these happy fabrics coming together – I am giving her 3 cheers!

She writes:
Siri from Texas again, forgot to add picture of midnight flight blocks!!  Yes, 4 patches, hundreds of 4 patches, but I love making them!!!  I am sorry I will miss you at the Bear Creek workshop later in April!! 
It’s just beautiful, Siri!

Her email was sent in during our Quilt-Cam fun that happened in Facebook Live last evening.

So many emails, so many photos, so many updates - -and I loved spending the time with you stitching together.

Siri wasn’t the only one working on Midnight Flight – This one is by Helen:

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Stitches of the Quilting Kind

This happened last evening.

The string pieced borders went on to the Straits of Mackinac Quilt thinking that I could get it loaded and start the quilting process on it.

And then I remembered that I needed a quilt backing.

A BIG backing.

This beast turned out to be 96 1/2” square by the time all was said and done, and that takes a LOT of backing fabric.

If the price of fabric for the top alone doesn’t scare off a new quilter, just the fact that you need 8 yards for a BACKING can do it.

And this is the time I wish I had thought to pick up some extra wide backs during the Pineapple Fabrics sale when I was there several weeks ago.  Next time.  It’s on the list.  Those 108” wide backings could have saved me a ton of time.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Loveliness of Settling In.

It was a long search, the hunt for the perfect cabinet that would hide all of the electronic paraphernalia and still be in line with keeping the rustic Appalachian charm I have in mind for this new space.

Last Tuesday’s THING removal was so quick, that I found myself back in my car by 10:30 am, driving home with nothing more than a numb forehead and feeling mighty fine.

And I had been told I *WOULD* feel mighty fine for about 6 hours – until the numb wore off, and then it would feel like I’d been hit with a hammer.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

On Up The Road

I love to explore.

I enjoy new surroundings and finding what is to be found around the corner, down the road, over the mountain, along the river, around the bend where other people make a living, live a life.

While Jason and The Hubster were out doing manly manly things like revving up the chainsaw for some strategic tree and bramble removal, I offered up my services in “running to town” for some chainsaw bar oil (I didn’t know there was such a thing!) and picking up a few items at the grocery store for dinner while out and about.

Jason had decided to stay an extra night, and there were no sweet potatoes to be found in the cabin, and we were out of ranch dressing, and that just wouldn’t DO!

Independence, Virginia is the Grayson county seat.  Its crowning jewel, the 1908 courthouse on the typical courthouse square.

And bonus of ALL bonuses – the cherry trees were in full bloom as I pulled up and parked.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Just Chillin!

The gas stoves are in!  We are all systems go with the secondary heat source.

The gas guys came early, I hadn’t had a shower, and while they were busy, Jason also showed up!

He was supposed to give me a jingle when he crossed the Virginia state line about 3 miles down the road so I could meet him at the end of the lane way and flag him in since he had never been here before, but as it turns out, he had ZERO cell service since leaving Jefferson, NC.

Note to those who want to travel this direction – T-Mobile just won’t make you happy in these here parts!

US Cellular (which piggy backs off of many carriers) or Verizon (which I have) is the only thing that seems to be fairly reliable out here.