Saturday, December 20, 2008

As the magical time approaches

Everybody's occupied with Christmas shopping and celebrations and the phone hasn't been ringing. The silence has been a blessing! This weekend I'm blissfully sewing new samples for upcoming classes.

Beginning in January, I'll offer two sessions (take your choice of Tuesday or Thursday afternoons) in Beginning Quiltmaking. Last year's newbies were a great bunch and here's one happy camper with her quilt. I hear that Madeline McCabe has gotten this beauty done in time to give to her son this Christmas-congratulations! Madeline hand-quilted her quilt using perle cotton in the Big Stitch style.

Here's the link to my website and you click on it for upcoming class information particulars. .

The house is also getting it's holiday spiff on and even the dark under-beds are getting cleaned out. Bamboo, the elderly lady cat who lives with us, loves cleaning. She adores dust bunnies made mostly of her own fur and carries them off to play with them. I find the dust bunnies lurking in corners where Boo's stashed them along with her other "toys"--an acorn and one of my dirty socks. You'd think from her choice of playthings that Boo was a deprived cat. But no, she's always turned her nose up at catnip mice and preferred to find her own amusement. She does look rather queenly in this photo!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter at the Studio

While it's December now and there's no classes scheduled this month at the Quilt Studio, it's a great time to push through personal projects and clean up the place. I'll post next time about the upcoming January 2009 classes. A kindly friend helped me file and sort and the scrap bin has been replenished as each large tub of fabric gets gone through and the little stuff pitched or given away. December is kind of a reflective time for me. Rod and I rarely exchange large gifts and this year more than ever we're having a low-key holiday.

But that doesn't mean depressing or sad. Far from it. We're spending time with friends and I'm doing some baking. This year the goal is loaves of traditional German stollen (fancy sweet bread) filled with almonds and candied fruit. Here's an excellent recipe for stollen at this link and the photo is used with the permission of Aimee, the blog's writer.

I bought a huge ham to bake for a church Christmas party. Come Monday I will be at home most of the day, basting the enormous haunch with a blend of coffee, brown sugar, lemon juice, and spices. After the feast, we'll take home the ham bone and plan a slow-cooked pot of beans. The picture is last year's Thanksgiving feast but take my word, this year's ham is twice as large.

Not to post without a quilt reference, the moon's been spectacular as it hit perigee last night-lovely and large. Here's a little wall hanging I made called Sol y Luna (Sun and Moon) for a charity auction. The work is reverse applique and different than anything I've made so far.

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Cats With Jobs

It's amazing how versatile felines are. Here are some more pictures as proof that our furry friends have figured out how to survive beautifully in the modern world. The tabby is obviously a crease checker--every one of these pairs of pants will have a nice crease up each a little decorative cat fur embellishment.

And then there's Sheba, my own cat friend, in her early days as a home cleaning consultant as she helped me find threads on the rug.

My niece Julia Marshall has a new helper. Meet Apple Blossom (obviously her Indian name) a ginger longhair who's a guidance counselor for Julia and her friend Olivia. As in the plaintive plea seen here: "Take this job and bring home the dough so you can buy me a better grade of cat food."

My friend Mike Galyon runs a home for wayward Maine Coon
cats. Before they go into the big wide world, each masters a trade. Here are some of the graduates.

Zoomer is a professional escort, seen here kissing a lady's hand.

Pookie is a florist, putting lot of himself into every arrangement.

Autumn is a personal trainer who demonstrates new equipment at the gym.

And Anna is a Christmas gift-or a meatloaf-you decide.

But this guy is a lesson for all of us. During the holidays we may have a tendency to over-indulge. Unless you want to feel as awful as this guy does, be careful about the bubbly! This kitty actually owns a quilt store in Moscow, Idaho. Notice: no after-New Year's sales are planned as he recovers from the party...too funny.
PS-I tried to find the site where I snitched this photo...if the shop owners sees this blog, I'd be happy to put the link here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Big Stitch News

Big Stitch quilting is getting very popular now. That's hand quilting, but done in a relaxed style, using thicker thread and a larger needle. The stitches can be almost 1/4" long...very cool. It's a great way to get started in hand quilting or simply to have a relaxing handwork project. The Blue Bamboo Bunny is a small Big Stitch wall hanging in a traditional indigo and white color scheme.

The next Big Stitch class is Tuesday December 2. We're meeting for lunch before class at 11:30 AM at a local eatery near the Morehead City port. Here's the restaurant's website: and the lunch menu is on the left. Then we'll be heading to The Quilted Butterfly (just west of WalMart) and hold class from 1-4'ish in their large back room.

We already have sseven people signed up and can take up to three (3) more. The cost for the class is $30. Please email me if you'd like to take the class: . I'll provide a patchwork block, needle, and thread but here's what you need to bring:

*If you have a favorite thimble, bring it. *Also a thread nipper or small pair of scissors. *If you like to sew with an Ott light, bring it. *Another suggestion: a comfy pillow to sit on as you do handwork. *One 14" pre-washed (soft without finish) square of muslin. Hopefully I'll also be able to provide the batting square (I've ordered it-).

We'll be able to provide you with a thimble to use and if you like, purchase. I provide (within the $30 cost of the class) a needle, sample thread, and an already-sewn patchwork block. I will have a stencil you can mark a design with and purchase if you like. Plus Patti's got lots of stencils and many colors of the #8 perle cotton we'll be using in class.

Friday, November 21, 2008


At last, back on the blog. Due to something hinky with the platform of Google's Blogspot, it wouldn't let me post photos. And since quilters are totally visual and won't "read" without pictures, from October 6 till today, I was dead in the water. Enough of this! If Blogspot gets strange again, I'm going to Word Press to host this blog. Fair warning.
There, I feel better here's a very cool quilt for today's eye candy. I bought it from a dealer who found it in a house sale on the south side of Chicago. Fortunately, the dealer thought the quilt was worthwhile enough to save--she said it was incredibly cruddy--and she washed it. Whew! After surviving a spin in the Maytag, only a very few seams popped. This amazing exploding star quilt is made primarily from cottons with a fair sprinkling of 30s and 40s rayon prints. I am in awe of the person who drafted and made this quilt.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Utterly distracted-Meet Rylee Elisabeth-the winner is...

Thanks to all readers who commented on the jelly roll thing last week. The deadline for comments was October 1 but on that date, I was totally distracted. My niece Becca (Rebecca) Brown was having a tough time of it at the hospital in Lexington, KY as she delivered her first baby. Here's Becca and her husband Rob on their wedding day-isn't she beautiful? And here's my new great-niece Rylee Elisabeth Brown as she lays in ICU.

For the last two months of her pregnancy, Becca was told to rest since she had a tendency to start contractions. But when she finally went into the hospital September 30, the baby decided to be stubborn. Eventually on Wednesday morning, they decided on a cesarean delivery. Rylee had some jaundice and low blood sugar, thus the ICU stay. Hopefully mama and baby are going home today-whew!

About the jelly role comments: I printed them out and cut the names apart with scissors and then drew them from a hat. Drum roll please: the winner is Janet who commented on September 23 with these words: "I've never bought a jelly roll-but if I did get one I would want one that when put together looked primitive-browns, greens, blues, dark reds etc." Your wish is my command! Ms. Janet,please email me at this address to reconfirm your jelly roll preferences and send along your snail mail address.

The final tally on the jelly roll debate was 36 comments (didn't count the repeats or those who just wrote to say 'hi') and the breakdown follows: 14 of you loved jelly rolls. You buy 'em and use 'em. However, the nays do have it: 22 of you were thumbs down. Reasons given ranged from, "I like to wash my fabric-", "They're too expensive-" to the downright ornery-" I don't want anyone else choosing my fabrics!"

And I learned a lesson contest I keep count as the comments come in and don't wait a day past the deadline. Many thanks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Strip Quilts

If you're reading this in hopes of some titillating pictures or prose, you're on the wrong blog. Strip Quilts are made from strips of fabric and have nada to do with the art of undressing. Now go someplace else! All you quilters, gather round. I want your opinion on this subject.

Ready-made packages of strips of fabric, often marketed under the title "jelly rolls," are very popular right now. Quilters have been making quilts from strips, as this tattered Log Cabin quilt attests, for ages. But now there's a formula for designing quilts based on the jelly roll concept. A typical jelly roll contains forty or so 2.5" wide strips (roughly three yards of fabric). Lots of patterns are being designed for using jelly rolls. Do you think this is a good idea?

Are you buying jelly rolls? Do you think they're a good value? Any down-side? To encourage comment on this subject, I'm offering a prize for comments to this blog. if you'll write and post a comment on this subject, I'll put all names (email addresses) in a hat and pull one. You have from today's date (September 23) until the end of the month (September 30) to post.

The winner gets-tada!-a jelly roll of fabrics! That's 40 strips all pre-cut. But get this: I'll custom-cut a jelly roll for you! Got a favorite color? Like strange wild-n-crazy stuff? We can accommodate you!

So give me your thoughts on jelly roll fabrics and post them here. If you don't like jelly rolls but are the winner, will you accept some home-made jelly? I just made kiwi-strawberry jam and it's getting rave reviews.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


The little picture shows a stenciled motif. It was a design called Fanfare for my line of home dec stencils (StenSource International ). Paint stenciling is not as popular as it used to be and I'm not even sure the stencil's still available.
But fan block quilts, if creative, are one of my favorite things. They're segmented versions of Drunkard's Path to my way of thinking. One of my first auction purchases, in Ionia, Michigan years ago, was a fan quilt with a suspiciously dark brown blotch and some torn places. After I'd paid for my treasure, I overheard the auctioneer telling someone that a dog had pups on that quilt! Yuck. I threw it in the back of the truck and immediately dunked it when I got home. Most of the stain came out and I cut down the quilt, rebound it, and sold it a month later.

However, if I had this quilt, you'd never, repeat, never get it away from me! No, I don't know who made this beauty but she was downright demented. Here's a full photo and a close-up of one of the interesting parts.

Wacky and wonderful at the same time.
Talk about attention deficit!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Faded But Not Forgotten

There's a Japanese word, 'Iro-Ochi' , which means a special sort of faded beauty. Usually applied to pottery and printmaking, iro-ochi celebrates and appreciates the individual beauty of imperfection. Why is it that we tend to devalue faded textiles such as antique quilts?

"It's old and faded-" we say and thus dismiss the possibility that the aging process of the piece might be unique, interesting, and even worthwhile artistically. Occasionally I come across, in person or on the web, a quilt that, fading and all, is truly striking.

This one has all the colors of a twilight sky.
I think it's even more interesting because the pieced pattern is so simple-a variation of Drunkard's Path called Pullman's Puzzle. The quilting stitches also are very straight forward-dark parallel diagonal lines that cut across the surface.

I would be proud to claim this quilt, faded or not.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

You say sa-shee-ko and I say sash-i-ko

Sashiko (correctly pronounced with a tiny, almost imperceptible short i-) is a form of traditional Japanese quilting. It started as common darning. Sumptuary laws forbidding commoners from wearing bright clothing were in effect up until the late 19th century in Japan. When patches were needed on clothing, sashiko was done in plain white thread, sewn in geometric patterns, over the indigo fabrics that were the everyday uniform of farmers and fishermen. The star-type pattern pictured here is asanoha or hemp leaf.

Sashiko has always been popular in Japan and regularly undergoes revivals here in the States. Looks like we're in for another try with this age-old art. Many people find that after working with bright prints and complex pieced patterns, there's something soothing about the simple in-and-out of sashiko stitching.
Call it the Zen side of quilting.

Recently I taught a sashiko class and the five students worked diligently at learning to handle the sturdy sharp needle, with the aid of a thimble, and had to un-learn trying to get tiny stitches--as one does with hand quilting American-style. We worked on pre-printed indigo fabric (the printed designs wash out) and stitched a sample of four different sashiko patterns.

I made a sample wall hanging in the Circles of the East pattern showing them how they might use their sashiko stitched fabrics in a project. Very cool. One warning: sashiko is addictive!

Classical sashiko is done in heavy white cotton thread, about the same weight as rug warp, but the many luscious colors available in perle cotton today make quilting in color irresistible.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cats With Jobs

There's a program on the Animal Planet channel called Dogs With Jobs. You know the type: loyal Labradors rescue swimmers, herding dogs telling sheep what to do etc. But did you know that many cats also have jobs? Of course these occupations are all by choice....

Here's a few from my own pictures and off the web. My cat Bamboo is a professional kitchen organizer. She's giving old spices the sniff test and probably pointing out that oregano five years and older ought to be pitched.

Henry is our yellow cat who came to live with us two years ago. He is our official neighborhood greeter and here is checking on a tribe of Maine Coon cats, who mostly live indoors with our neighbor Mike Galyon. Or maybe he's going, "Nananana...I'm in the yard and you're not! " Many quilters are owned by cats so understand that the occupations listed here are only secondary to their main job which is quilt testing. Please meet Sally Bramald (her blog is and her handsome gray tabby cat Silvester. He is a yoga instructor in England.

This quilt passed! The lovely tuxedo kitty is giving a satisfied smile of approval to one of Julie Mullins' quilts. See more of Julie's work on her website

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wedding Bells

My lovely niece Sarah Glass just got hitched last weekend to her true love Mike. I expect to hear more about the wedding soon but there was one detail I loved: very thoughtfully, Sarah insisted the groom's cake should take front-n-center at the reception. The cake was a big hit since it was baked in the shape of Mike's beloved Nascar favorite! If I get pictures of the Nascar cake, I will be sure to post them.

In the meantime, here's Sarah in all her glory on her wedding day. Isn't she beautiful?

To keep some quilt content in this blog, I'm throwing in a picture of a quilt I made using two different quilt blocks. The star block is Light of Lisbon but the rounded block is called Bride's Brilliant and yes, the piecing seams are exactly like the top (table side) of the traditional brilliant-cut diamond. Speaking of having a pattern right at hand! If you're married, stick your ring finger under a magnifying glass and you 'll see those "seams" atop your own engagement ring.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lovely Old Thing

While traveling recently in Missouri, I had the chance to see a wonderful early quilt. My hostess brought out an old family quilt from upstate New York that had been in her grandfather's family. It's a huge four block piece, with interesting applique shapes and classic side sprays of vining flowers in the border. The quilted motifs are trapunto (stuffed) and oh yeah, the quilting stitches are minute and there's about 12 stitches per inch!

Not a seamstress herself, my friend assumed her quilt's repair was far beyond her limited sewing skills. Moreover, she also had been told that the quilt dated from 1720 and was afraid to touch such an ancient object. My opinion: this quilt is well worth saving and repairing. Even when an applique element is totally missing, the tell-tale stitches remain in the fabric as a guide to future repairers. Plus I think it's a 19th century piece, not as early as thought, and has the look of a classic 1840-1860 design.

Although usually drawn to applique, this old beauty took my breath away. At the least, I have to record and draw this wonderful folky pattern.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

News from Buckingham Palace

About four years ago, a lovely English lady by the name of Kate Badrick emailed me and asked if I would write a letter of recommendation for a mutual friend. No problem. Kate is a crackerjack publicity agent.

The friend in question was Lynne Edwards of Bildeston in Suffolk. On several occasions I've had the pleasure of staying with Lynne and her talented artist husband Brian (right). On the upper left is one of Brian's hand drawn Christmas cards that you receive if you're on the Edwards' A-list.

Lynne is well-known both in the UK and the United States for her quilting skills and numerous awards and books. "What's this for?" I asked and Kate replied, "It's a recommendation for Lynne to become a MBE. You mustn't tell her-this campaign's a secret. We're doing it to honor her for all she's done for quilting." I knew that Lynne was popular and that one of her students has to pass on for someone to get a place in her weekly classes but was truly ignorant of the scope of this friendly conspiracy. "Sure thing-" I said, "I'll write a letter," all the while thinking that MBE must be some quilting honor, like Mistress of Batik and Embellishments.

But today July 3, Lynne Edwards, along with other worthies, was present at Buckingham Palace to be invested with the MBE, Member of the British Empire award, for her accomplishments in quilting. The medal was pinned on her by no less than Prince Charles himself and Lynne looks as though she can’t stop grinning! Way to go, Lynne!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dad's Day (in memoriam)

This week a lady named Jane Harrington sent me a picture of a great quilt she had made. The quilt has an airplane theme and as an Air Force brat, I loved the piece and asked her permission to show it here. Jane used a pattern from Wind Dancer Creations ( and had made her quilt especially for her pilot husband Steve on the occasion of his 60th birthday. She wrote, "Steve was a C-130 pilot for 21 years."

With Father's Day weekend ahead, memories of my own Air Force Dad naturally came up and I thought a few words about him was appropriate. Not to get too maudlin, Joseph Scott Peddie (Dad) graduated from West Point in 1941 and along with every other young man of the day, wanted to fly. Too tall at 6'4" to fit in a fighter cockpit, Dad became a bomber pilot and ended up in North Africa in 1942. The picture here was taken at that time-he's the one on the right. He was all of twenty three years old.

I can hardly think of Dad without humming the Air Force anthem and have known the lyrics since before I could read them. Here are the lyrics to the first verse of
Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder and if you click on this link
and hit 'play song' you'll hear a short but rousing instrumental version of Wild Blue Yonder and be able to sing along. Call this a blogging karaoke.

Happy Father's Day and to the pilots among you, keep her level.

Off we go into the wild blue yonder

Climbing high into the sun;

Here they come zooming to meet our thunder, At'em boys, giv'er the gun!

Down we dive spouting our flames from under,

Off with one hell-uv-a roar!

We live in fame or go down in flame,

Nothing'll stop the US Air Force!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Goofball Pictures

Summertime is definitely here. In coastal NC we're having a cold front--it's finally less than 95 degrees today. Sensibly I have stayed in the AC'd inside and been sorting pictures and other paper drek.

Then I found these goofball pictures. That's me at age 7 in my second grade school picture. I still remember the occasion. I'd forgotten to tell Mom it was school picture day plus it was Brownie day and we were late that morning and I'd dressed myself and just been to the restroom and splattered myself with water. Does it show?When the man took my picture, he began to laugh out loud. He came snorting out from under the black cloth drapery around the camera and doubled over laughing. He'd taken the 'goofy' picture and then sent in his assistant-wife who straightened me up, slicked down my hair, and said, "Let's do this again." Little did I know the photographer sent home both versions for my parents to choose which should be printed. My parents also thought the goofball one was funny and bought both versions. I was mortified! I tried to destroy the goofball picture by scribbling on it. OK-it is funny.

Don't forget the Quilt Flap is coming-see your invitation on the right.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting excited about the Quilt Flap

Oh boy, the Quilt Flap's coming! Three weeks from tomorrow we're going to be neck-deep in old quilts. Lynn Gorges and I cooked up this idea of a glorified show-n-tell session-now called the Quilt Flap-to get folks around here to respect and save their old quilts. We'd seen one too many quilts consigned to the dog's bed and thought it was time to educate any willing members of the quilt-owning public.

Lynn once rescued a real early 19th century palampore quilt from the walls of the Shriners' auditorium in New Bern, NC, where it had been nailed up (!) to cover the doors of the restrooms. That is one lucky quilt. It now resides in acid-free splendor as the crown jewel of Lynn's not-inconsiderable collection of pre-Civil War North Carolina quilts. The tulip-y quilt in the picture is Lynn's as well.

Janice Pope from Cary NC, who has the patience of a saint when it comes to restoring and repairing old quilts, will share her wisdom. When do you repair an old quilt and when do you simply leave it alone? Janice will help people diagnose and prescribe treatment for Granny's treasure.

I'll run around and show my cheddar NC quilts. This is part of my life-long campaign to get golden-orange adopted as the favorite quilt color. It's obviously been working because in the past couple of years, modern quilters and art quilters are taking to orange in a big way. OK, I cheated-that's my own Basket quilt in the picture.....

Your invitation to the Quilt Flap is posted in the right sidebar-put it on your calendar and come.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Looking Up

Folks in my family have a tendency to look up. We study the sky, both daytime and evening, are restless during full moons, and try to track stars and satellites. I was a little girl when Sputnik, the first Russian satellite, went into orbit. We lived on an Air Force base in Charleston SC and my sister had girlfriends over for a slumber party. We were hanging out on the swing set in the backyard when my parents came out to tell us we might see Sputnik go overhead. And we did see it, blinking faintly as it tracked across the deep blue early evening sky. My father strained to see it and then finally stomped back into the house in a foul mood muttering,"Damn it! They beat us to it!"

Fortunately stars, as in star blocks made into quilts, are much-loved images and not controversial subjects. This picture was taken in Houston, TX where I recorded an interview for the Under the Bed project. The quilt behind me was called Starry Night and appeared as the calendar quilt for 1996 for Oxmoor House Press. I still love it and teach the star patterns.

Yesterday my Uncle Otto from Dallas checked in to tell me that due to his post-polio symptoms, he's going to get a motorized wheelchair. I replied he needed to get flames painted on it, or make room for bumper stickers, or maybe rent out space for ads. Quick as a shot, he zapped back this picture. As an astronomer and lifelong technophile, Otto loves all things Apple and sent this on his iPhone. Notice the bumper sticker that says, "My other vehicle is on its way to Pluto."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bittersweet Mother's Day

I'm glad when folks still have their Mom to remember and honor and take to dinner on this day but I still miss mine terribly. Her name was Mary Elizabeth Wetzel Peddie. She stood about 5' 2" in her stocking feet and was a brunette with hazel eyes. In her later years, she also got broad width-wise so I can claim I come by my shape naturally.

Called Mary Lib by her friends (but never by her children-) she encouraged all my writing efforts and was relieved when I finally used my college degree to some worthy end. After I dedicated book #3 to her (Crosspatch in 1989), she stopped bugging me about having children and contented herself with introducing me as "My daughter, the author."

The picture on the upper right was taken in 1952 or 1953. Mom looks tired. I was kid #3 and we were living in Frankfurt, Germany where my dad was in the CIA. Dad could never have done the things he did if Mom hadn't been there for him--they were a team. The other picture (left below) was taken between 1975 and 1979. Dad had retired from the Air Force and was now an Episcopalian minister. Kids were leaving home so Mom started an herb company, something she'd always been interested in. She kept Rutland Herbs going after another move to Maysville KY and Dad's passing in 1985.

The new red elements on this blog page are in honor of my mother-red was her favorite color. She had an incredible collection of sexy red nightgowns. I am so lucky to have had this amazing woman for my mother.

Happy Mothers Day to all.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's On at the Studio

Being at the Quilt Studio doesn't just mean writing and quilting for myself--it's also teaching and sharing with other people. Yesterday, a young Marine wife with three very active kids in tow wandered into the Studio. She'd seen the sign from the sidewalk and assumed it was a retail shop. While the kids ran around, she said, yes, she'd like to learn to quilt and then made knitting gestures. Oh boy. I handed her the latest schedule of classes and told her when our guild meets and also directed her to the closest quilt shop just two blocks away. As the gang streamed out of sight, I thought, "I hope to see her again-" but all that responsibility and those active kids, I knew it would be a stretch.

But come to think of it, I was a raw nineteen when I started quilting. The picture here was taken in 1978! I didn't own a sewing machine, have extra income to buy fabric, room for a frame, or the vaguest idea how to do it. But I met older more experienced quilters and they shared with me. Somehow the enthusiasm stuck and years later, I can say quilting has been the primary creative outlet of my life. Who's to say she might not catch the bug too?

On my website , you can see expanded information about new classes at the Studio. Here's the link .

What follows is the schedule for upcoming classes at the Studio.
A basic skills class-Learn to Hand Quilt (4 week class) offered at two times: Tuesday afternoons, 1-4 pm (May 20,27, June 3, and 17) or Tuesday nights, same dates, from 6-9 pm. Learn both traditional running stitch and Bid Stitch style. Cost is $60 and includes a free quilting hoop.

A one-day design class: Exploring Black and White Quilts. How to sort your stash, plan a great graphic quilt, and get started on your own black and white masterpiece quilt. Offered twice: all day (9 am-4 pm) Thursday May 29 or again Saturday June 6. Cost $50.

A one-day "quick and fun" class: Little Silhouette House Quilt. Learn to paper-piece painlessly-all patterns preprinted for you. Offered twice: Saturday June 14 (9 am-4 pm) or the following Monday June 16. Cost $50.
Call me at the studio (252-726-4117) to learn more about classes.