Monday, September 30, 2019

Fall About Town -

I am captured by seasonal window displays!

And you should have seen the contortions I had to go through to get this one!  But this quilt, y’all.  Those are individually pieced little tiny diamonds.  It was “for display only” but the colors.  I love pumpkin orange season – and throw in some indigo?  Beauty!

The little town of West Jefferson is just so cute – but it all comes out to play in Fall.  Park your car – walk up and down the few blocks of cute shops, yummy eateries, and you’ll find pumpkins, gourds and scarecrows and all other fall decor wherever you look.  It’s EVERYWHERE.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Autumn on the Virginia Creeper Trail!

Damascus, Virginia.  Our Day started here!

Had I thought twice about it, I would have called for reservations. But had I called, there wouldn’t have been any availability.  I guess in my  naiveté it never occurred to me that OF COURSE the changing of leaf colors would bring folks in droves and all shuttle rides from Damascus (Which boasts NINE huge bike rental/shuttle service places!) to White Top mountain would be full.

But we didn’t plan ahead, and when we showed up, walked in – there had just been a cancellation and there was room for us on the 10am shuttle.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Bit of Place Mat Action–and 2 Quilty Box Winners!

Quilting All the Small Things!

I am having a blast with these place mats.  How much fun it will be for the guests at Quiltville Inn to smile and giggle at the cute slogans and quilting related plays-on-words with these!

I am also excited that they are making good use of bigger floral prints that are harder for me to use.  They make a great backing and then I don’t have to cut them up so much – the fabric can speak for itself.

I have found that two placemats fit wonderfully on the fabric, selvage to selvage. The margins that are left can be stripped up and placed right into the string piecing bins for another go round.

And those batting scraps!  Those are also going down.  it’s a triple win/win/win!

Friday, September 27, 2019

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

This beautiful bounty is in the drive in front of Quiltville Inn!

We get all kinds of things being transported up and down highway 58, I watch logging trucks, farmers pulling cattle, horse trailers, different brands of things plastered on the side of semi truck trailers.  It’s quite entertaining.

It’s those tractors pulling loads of hay that you don’t want to get stuck behind – there is nowhere to pass.  And if they are mowing the sides of the road?  Just cue up the audio book or your favorite CD (Remember those?  Your Spotify or Pandora won’t work out here, and likely neither will your cell phone.) and prepare to live life in the slow lane.

When the truck pulling this load of pumpkins pulled up in the drive, I came out the front door of the Quiltville Post Office to see if he needed help.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

On Today’s To-Do List -

Place mat productivity is ramping up again  - let those string blocks and borders loose!

I’ve got 7 made.  I’d love to have a good 20 on hand – we know that spills happen and that is what place mats are for in the first place.  SO many license plates have been sent from all over, and I am really enjoying seeing the slogans, shop names and locations come together in these fun little projects destined to use up a plethora of strings, scraps of batting and backing fabric that really does need a new lease on life.

I have a large bin of FLORALS that are perfect.  I don’t sew with huge florals a lot in my quilt life, you just can’t cut them small enough!  Often they are prettiest when left whole, and as placemat backings they will be perfect.

And all of those batting scraps?  I am SO happy to have a way to use them up too.

Today’s job will be getting this batch loaded into the machine and get the quilting going.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Things of a Less Quilty Nature -

This is a photo of a heinous chestnut tree.

I’m not sure if that is actually the species name, but it is definitely the name I am giving it. 

This is the first time I’ve had a chestnut tree in the yard, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t be sad if it left – but it would have to leave a full sized many decades old tree-of-another-kind in its spot were it to move off and go elsewhere.

THOSE HULLS!  They are prickly beyond belief and it is this time of the year that they start hitting the ground in bunches.

Last fall was our first foray into chestnut pick up – this year we are doing things a bit differently.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Manic Quilting–Of the Best Kind!

This was Sunday’s Quilty Pleasure!

When The Hubster said he was heading out on a motorcycle ride with Martha’s hubby Don, I knew I’d have at least PART of the afternoon to myself.  My goal?  To get the Crooked Courthouse Steps log cabin quilt quilted and trimmed, preparing it for binding.

Could I be done by dinner time?  YES!

Monday, September 23, 2019

September ‘19 Quilty Box Gift-Away!

What a fabulous Quilty Box I have to Gift-Away to a lucky quilter this month!

Color drives me.  I’m sure it inspires you, too – and this month it’s all about color, delicious color!

What is a Quilty Box?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

When Emmy Lou Came Home.

This happened on Friday evening.  Now that I am in Virginia “MOST” of the time, it’s been weighing heavily on me to get Emmy Lou up here where she can live out the remainder of her days in peace and quiet – not in mayhem and chaos having to deal with rowdy Dresden and Lola.

The trio has never gotten along really well, and at 19 – who can blame Emmy Lou for just wanting to be left alone?

The getting her here was an adventure all its own, and luckily I wasn’t the one doing the driving.  The Hubster returned from China on Thursday night, took care of a bunch of things on Friday while working from home, and brought Emmy up with him in a carrier on Friday evening.  

I don’t know who to feel more sorry for.  Dave?  Or Emmy Lou, who proceeded to get sick at both ends and meowed pitifully the whole 100 mile journey.  She hasn’t been in a car in many years, and it was very traumatic for her to say the least.  And Dave too, who not only had to listen to the cacophony, but smell it as well.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

On A Glorious Day Such as This!

Martha and I stopped at the overlook on our way to Chilhowie, Virginia – It’s a pilgrimage that needs to be done and appreciated during every seasonal change. 

And yesterday things were highlighted in the most gorgeous of golden glows.

The drizzle of the day before had dissipated, and we would find ourselves amidst cloud cover changing over to sunshine and blue skies, and back to cloud cover again as if the sky couldn’t yet decide whether it truly wanted to be autumnal, or hanging on to the slim remnant of summer.

My first outing in 2 weeks really – and it felt so good to be taking these long and winding roads to where our hearts lead us.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Quilter With a One Track Mind!

And then all rows were ready!

I didn’t web this top.  I built it in rows.  And during the assembly process, I wish I had webbed it.  WHY??

Because finding the exact place where one block ended and the next began was kind of a crap shoot with this much chaos.  Some of those strips were really narrow – was it THIS seam I was matching or the next one?

There was much unpicking of seams and readjusting as all rows should END evenly – they were the same number of blocks, the same length after all, right?

So take it from me – WEB this top.  Then there is no guessing of which seam needs to be matched to its neighbor in the next row.  Just trust me!

Yes, I know I was on a roll with this one.  It’s been a project that grabbed me and just wouldn’t let go.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

And Into Thursday -

This is where I stand right now!

I had hoped to get this top together yesterday, but a dental appointment took up much of my afternoon time, and since I was in town (The nearest grocery store to Mouth of Wilson, Virginia is a half-hour drive through winding Blue Ridge mountain roads in either direction, no matter your destination…) other mundanities like groceries, gas for the car and stuff took up the rest of my time until 5pm.

I didn’t mind the grocery shopping.  I love seeing what produce is available this time of year.  I adore seeing bins of pumpkins taking up residence and adding wonderful fall color to the displays.  The flowers in front changing to colorful pots of mums in yellows and rusty reds.  I can feel it in the air, can you?

Yesterday’s continual drizzle also brought the temps down to the point that sandals were finally discarded for warm socks and running shoes.  I still may have ONE pedicure left within me this year – I’m heading to California early October for Alex Anderson’s Fall Retreat. (If you are coming, I can’t wait to spend a fun weekend with you!) And then I think I am fairly safe to give a fond farewell to Summer 2019.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A Bit of Tuesday’s Doings -

I’m back on the Crooked Courthouse Steps train!

I started the day out hopeful that I’d be able to function well enough to record a scheduled podcast with The Quilting Company. 

And I timed myself – because we need to know these things.  Podcasts last about an hour, give or take a bit.

How long could I go without hacking up a lung, or play another round of Kleenex Tuba? 

Three to five minutes. Tops.

I tried talking out loud to see what I sounded like after more than a week of vow-of-silence recovery.

Like Kermit the Frog.  This just would not do.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Jewel Box Stars Finish -


I’ve posted photos of Jewel Box Stars as I was finishing the binding, but I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to get full out photos over the porch rail.

I thought yesterday would be THE DAY, but it turned out to be too breezy to get a good hanging over the outside of the porch.  So Sadie jumped in (and on) to hold down the quilt from the breeze while I snapped a couple!

My job now is to edit the original Jewel Box Stars post with an update on how many blocks I made, finishing details, etc.

The blocks are 6’’ on their own, and I turned 4 blocks in toward each other to make 12’’ star blocks.  I set the blocks 6 x 8 so the quilt measures 72’’ x 96,

Monday, September 16, 2019

Tale of the Traveling FREE Machine!

Meet Diane of Richmond, Virginia.

She had contacted me months and months ago about a machine she was needing to rehome, and would I be interested?

She said “I'm from a quilting and antique-loving family, and I would like to donate this sewing machine to your Quiltville Inn."

"This is an early 1900's Free treadle sewing machine in a beautiful tiger oak cabinet.  The machine has an automatic lift, instruction booklet, metal box with attachments, and seems to be in terrific condition.  My parents bought the machine, and I have used it as an end table and night stand."

"FYI, the Free Sewing Machine Company was founded in 1900 in Rockford, Illinois by owner William C. Free.  The company was later purchased by Westinghouse.”

A plan was hatched to meet up with Diane on my way to Pennsylvania for the Quilt Odyssey Fall Retreat.  And I am so glad I did!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Two Months In–Leader & Ender Check!

While I can’t share much of what has also been going on behind the scenes (It’s that time of year!) I can show you just what was accomplished as Leaders & Enders in just YESTERDAY’s round of sewing mayhem.

These little cuties have just stolen my heart.  Have you jumped in on this year’s Shoo Fly Shoo Leader & Ender Challenge?  We just started in July.  It runs all year long.  There is no specific completed project, no particular block size to shoot for – the objective is to use your scraps.  To cut block sets out ahead of time, and keep them by your machine and to build the blocks using the pairs and pieces as “sew-betweens” during the making of your main focus projects.

The basic directions are found under the Free Patterns Tab at the top of the blog, and I’ve given cutting directions for two sizes – the small ones finish at 4’’ and the larger one at 6’’.  Pick your favorite size – or choose some of both.  It’s up to you.

If you follow along, you’ll also get very good at “webbing” the block – instructions are included for that too.  Just wait until you see how it improves your quilting productivity.  It’s a game changer!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

When the Binding Queue is Empty -

Three big quilts – hundreds of inches of hand stitched binding!

I know that there are folks out there who have STACKS of quilts to bind and they say that it is their LEAST favorite part of quilting to do.

It’s my FAVORITE.  It’s my reason for feet up and relaxation and much binge watching.

It puts me in the same room as the rest of my family, and right in the middle of conversations (if binge watching is not going on) where making plans for the week ahead, the weekend, the next month, can happen.

Machine work – we all know I am a frantic machine piecer, but that puts me in my own zone.  With hand work I am a participant.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Blaming It All on the Meds -

My burgeoning string bucket.

I know it sends some into heart attack mode, but I see endless possibilities and wonderful creativity packed to capacity within its confines – or even exploding over its sides in crazy rainbow volcano fashion.

It’s like an archaeological dig. 

As I work at kitting up projects for future rounds of piecing mayhem, anything deemed too narrow (or too unloved) gets dropped off the side of the cutting table, landing in this bin in layers – you can pretty much tell what I’ve been working on by layer upon layer of off cuts. 

There are YEARS worth of strips and strings in here – all destined for something wonderful to come.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Are You A Quilting Rockstar?!

Good morning, quilting peeps -

This morning’s post is a little bit different.  I want to talk about something that is out of my own realm of expertise, and turn the topic of Free Motion Quilting over to my friend HollyAnne Knight of String & Story. Did you know that her Free Motion Quilting Academy is in registration right now for the next 8 week session?

Enrollment runs September 12th (today) through September 18th, with graduation happening November 16th.

If you have always wanted to learn how to Free Motion quilt, and to do it from the comfort of your own home – here are more reasons why you should register now for the Free Motion Quilting Academy:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Quilting Friends and Show & Share!

This kind of fun was held in Pennsylvania at retreat!

I adore teaching at retreats for the simple reason that when workshop day is done, the quilters keep sewing and there is time for me to unwind, hang around, and just be one of the girls.  It’s the best of both worlds!

As our retreat focus was ONE quilt workshop spread out from Thursday evening to Sunday morning – we even threw in some evening gear switchers for good measure. It worked so well!

We also saved our Show & Share event until Saturday evening – which gave us a bit of a break from our sewing machines which many of us needed.  Out came the crochet – because quilters must have busy hands – while quilt after quilt was shown!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What Quilters Do While Waiting -

It seems we spend a lot of our daylight hours just WAITING.

Waiting for the morning coffee or tea.  Waiting for the washer to finish spinning so we can put the laundry in the dryer.  Waiting for the microwave to finish heating whatever we are zapping because it can’t zap fast enough.

I spent a LOT of yesterday waiting.

Monday, September 09, 2019

The EXTRA Long Way Home.

Well, THIS was NOT on my agenda!

I had planned on heading south from Pennsylvania to the IKEA at Woodbridge, Virginia – though it wasn’t directly on my way home to Mouth of Wilson, it was a much shorter detour than a trip to the IKEA in Charlotte, North Carolina.

With the fuel light letting me know that I needed a fill up, and soon – I turned off the interstate and in to the gas station entry – only in avoiding a car that was taking up too much space coming OUT of the drive,  I found myself much too close to the curb. 

Yep.  I ran that tire up against the curb and promptly gave myself a flat tire.  Well RATS!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

“It Must Be Daybreak!” *Singing*

Two full days, Three evenings, and a morning – all dedicated to working on Daybreak from my book String Frenzy at the Quilt Odyssey Fall Retreat in Orrstown, Pennsylvania.

These ladies got so much done!  And it wasn’t just about the quilting – but the quiltershipping (Think fellowshipping, only with quilters!) that happened here.

The Byers Conference Center in Orrstown, Pennsylvania is just a wonderful facility where our every need was met.

And the food was FABULOUS!

Missing from this photo is our head honcho – Missy Molino, the head, heart and hands behind the wonderful yearly Quilt Odyssey quilt show that happens in Hershey, Pennsylvania every July.

This is the second time I’ve been able to teach for the yearly fall retreat, and I will always say yes to coming back, because it is such a wonderful relaxing time – When we’ve spent this many days on this project at a much more leisurely pace, I am wondering to myself how we ever crammed it in to a 6-hour workshop day.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Quilting Friends, Amish Wash, and Homemade Root Beer!

Things are busy in Roxbury, Pennsylvania!

An evening, a day, another evening, a day, another evening, and a morning – the entirety of our Quilt Odyssey retreat is giving the quilters concentrated time at really getting their Daybreak quilts from my String Frenzy book to come alive, each quilt reflecting its own personality of each maker.

And though it is the sewing that brings us together – being here also brings so much more to the table!

Friday, September 06, 2019

Antiquing my Way to PA!

A road trip day of travel and antique mall wandering!  Bliss!

Destination?  Orrsville, Pennsylvania and the Quilt Odyssey Fall Retreat!

It’s amazing how a day of driving – even a LONG day can feel a bit more restful and recharging than sitting on a plane across country.  The same amount of travel time – a world of difference.  I left Mouth of Wilson bright and early -

If I was going to have time to explore, I needed to keep my eye on my retreat arrival time and adjust accordingly.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

This is ONE Short-Sheeted Week!

I don’t know how to NOT multi-task.

It’s a well known thing – if I can do two or three things at once, then all the better.

Sometimes that means that NONE of the two or three things turn out quite the way I expected – but hey – it’s worth a try, right?

Such was my day yesterday.

The things on my list:
  • Get mail order out (Done by 11:30am. Hooray!)
  • Drive to the cabin and take care of some things there – (Spa chemicals are not my thing – it involved a phone conversation with the hubster telling me which one and how much.)
  • Be back in time for a 1pm Podcast recording!
  • Pack the van for today’s trip to Pennsylvania – did I miss anything? Did I forget anything?  It feels very weird because there is no lecture so I’m driving with ONE quilt in the car!

My highlight of the day – meeting up with a van full of 4 wild and crazy Canadians!  And we had so much fun.  I’ll send some photos when I get some back from them.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

From Grandma Lucy With Love -

My step-grandma Lucy ignited my passion for needlework.

I was 14 when I became Lucy’s first (and eldest!) grandchild.  Blending families can be such a challenging and scary time – I bet for her also, as one day she didn’t have ANY grandchildren, and then BOOM! Just like that – she had three.  And me, a teenager at that!

She was a kindly woman whom I loved dearly.  I remember heading out to the dime store with her to choose coloring books – we washed the utility muslin until it was soft, cut it to size (with scissors! This was the early 1970s!) and traced the coloring book images with a pencil to stitch.

I LOVED choosing all of the colors of embroidery floss we would use.  Stem stitch and French knots, and sometimes satin stitch, though I could never get it as perfect as Grandma Lucy’s.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Remembering Granite

Exploring old gold mining towns?  Yes please!

My inner history buff was in full satisfaction mode when our friend Kent asked us if we’d like to take a drive up past Sumpter to Granite, Oregon.

First established by miners after the discovery of gold along Granite Creek on July 4, 1862, the area was originally called Granite Creek Mines. During the following year, a settlement called Granite City was established about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) downstream of where Granite City is now.

Monday, September 02, 2019

The Long Journey Home (And Finally: that Gift-Away!)

South Fork of the Payette River, Garden Valley Idaho.

Hello, everyone!

My feet are back in North Carolina after a crazy week away with limited to no wifi  - but this enabled me for the first time in a long long time to step away from the blog for several days and not worry about it.

This daily writing has been a huge part of my life over the past 15 years that this blog has been running (Yes we turned 15 in June!) and it was interesting to do a check in now and again on how I was feeling – Anxious? Worried? Relaxed? Out of sorts? BREATHE BREATHE BREATHE.

Actually, I think it was very good for me.  The world marches on. They don’t need me here – and so we went with the flow.

We can always catch up.  Or not.  We can simply move forward from here -