Friday, December 26, 2008

Fiesta for Christmas

In 1977 when I lived in Brenham, Texas, I went to Mrs. Minnie Lee Sampley's estate sale (she was moving into the nursing home). [She died in 1986 at age 96.} I bought a dark blue bowl for fifty cents. I bought it only because it was old and pretty.

I soon found out that it was Fiesta Ware. Even in 1977, fifty cents was a bargain for "an 8" cobalt nappy, no chips."

Since then my collection has grown. There's the large salad bowl my former boyfriend gave to me when I moved from Brenham; the cracker dish that was a wedding gift; and the bargain: plates, cups, and saucers in yellow (a dozen of each for $250). Whenever I think I need to divest myself of some of it there comes an occasion where the bright colors are perfect.

Such was the case this Christmas. The green plates go perfectly with this vintage tablecloth. (Finding that meant a pleasurable hour...okay, hour and a half! going through the vintage linens boxes. I had completely forgotten that I had this particular tablecloth.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mellow Yellow

I pieced this in 2006 in an effort to use a collection of 5" ("nickel") squares. The design concept is from Spectacular Scraps by Rolfe & Hoowarth, a book that I've had for a long time and continue to refer to.

This is the fifth quilt I've quilted using my new MegaQuilter/Inspira Frame setup, which I purchased from my friend Julie in November. I'm getting better with the machine, by which I mean that I'm less hesitant. I have forgotten to lower the presser foot only twice. I can wind bobbins and insert them correctly on the first try. Loading a quilt is not yet intuitive; I printed out a photo tutorial that was posted on the MQ/I Yahoo Group. I can't figure out how to keep the edges smooth when it comes to the borders, thought, so I have been quilting that part using my regular machine.

It's nice to have a sunshiny quilt during this dark and snowy December!

Jane Addams Star!

Illinois native Jane Addams was a driving force in the settlement house movement of the early 20th century. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. And she was a member of AAUW! AAUW-Illinois was instrumental in creating Jane Addams Day as a state observance (December 10). Interstate 90 between Chicago and Rockford is now referred to as the Jane Addams Expressway.

The Jane Addams Star block was designed by Eleanor Burns as one in a series of blocks named for famous American women.
This 92 x 92 top has star blocks made by AAUW members from all over Illinois. I had great fun making up kits with 19th-century reproduction fabric (and fabric that went with that theme). All the blocks turned out so well! The quilt will be raffled this spring with the drawing at the state convention in April.

Here is more information about Jane:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not a weather report, and Scrappy Red Rails

I am not going to post photos of the snow because everyone from the newspapers to bloggers have already done that. Suffice it to say that there's a lot of it! I learned that the L.L. Bean "rain pants" keep blue jeans dry while snowblowing. I also learned that if you want shredded newspaper, there are easier (and tidier) ways to get it than to run over it with the snowblower.

Meanwhile, I finished "Scrappy Red Rails." It was inspired by a quilt made by Susan --
(See "The Scrappy Monster" in her Jan. 30, 2007, post.) Mine is 72 x 84. I cut 1.5" strips into 3.5" lengths and sewed them together. I quilted it on my regular sewing machine in diagonal lines through the squares.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

From start to finish in three days!

A local family is adopting a special little boy. Their friends held a spaghetti dinner to help with the expenses and asked for raffle/silent auction contributions, so I donated a small Christmas quilt. The mom e-mailed to thank me, saying that she'd been tempted to keep it for Jeremy. She'd been able to make blankies for her biological children, but didn't have time now. What could I do but create a quilt just for him?

I pulled out novelty prints on Wednesday evening and by last night I had finished (quilting, binding, label). It's 49 x 49.

I'm considering making a lot of these little blocks in advance so I'll have them on hand when I need a baby/kid quilt in a hurry.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A tiny quilt shop

I wasn't able to cut-and-paste the photographs, so you'll just have to click on the link and take a look for yourself. (I have valiantly resisted the call of polymer clay. I do not need another stash!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The photo was published in the book "Quilting: The Fabric of Everyday Life," by Marybeth Stalp. The fine print says that the bumper sticker came from Waechter's in Asheville, NC, whose website is: I wish it were still available!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bonnie @ NLCQG!

Bonnie was the guest speaker at last evening's NLCQG meeting! It was *such* a treat to get to meet her in person after these years of virtual acquaintance. Her quilts are great to see online, but even better to see up close.

Photos: Bonnie with "Virginia Bound," from her recently-published book "Scraps and Shirttails; Bonnie with the Third Monday Bee: Joan, Julie, Dawn (, and me; our guild raffle quilt using Bonnie's Cathedral Stars pattern (project coordinated by Julie, who created the beautiful border).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bow Ties

The Block Swappers' recent exchange was for small and large Bow Tie blocks. I put them up on the design wall just to be able to see them all. Mind you, I have other projects. Some have deadlines. Some are UFOs. Some are UFOs with deadlines. These Bow Tie blocks were not either--yet last night I created this top!

I realized after I took the photo that the ties in the top row go a different direction. I plan to call that a design element rather than an error. It's 66 x 84 and I'm not sure whether I'll add a border, or not.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Reading at night: Lightwedge

Over the years I've tried different ways to shed light on what I'm reading while DH is asleep. The clamp-on book lights were not satisfactory: the batteries didn't last, the bulbs burned out, the clamp was clumsy. A flashlight is awkward to hold.

Enter Lightwedge! I won this nifty product from a vendor at the Illinois Library Assn. conference last month, just in time to take on vacation. It's page-sized. It uses four AAA batteries. The LED light is bright, bright. It's great!
I made a carrying bag for it. There's a small pocket inside for extra batteries, though it shouldn't need new ones for quite a while. The brightness would show better if I took the picture in a darkened room.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Virginia Sampler: Elderhostel, October 12-17

49 years later!

Our fall trip was to western Virginia. We left Friday (10/10) and arrived back home yesterday (10/18).

En route we visited with long-time friends in Lexington, VA. (DH and our host spent the summer in Germany in 1959!) We stopped at Natural Bridge (

Natural Bridge
Appalachian Trail expert Leonard Adkins
The Elderhostel, "Virginia Sampler," was at the 4-H Center at Smith Mountain Lake. ( The week's topics were Booker T. Washington ( ; the Appalachian Trail; Thomas Jefferson and his country retreat Poplar Forest (; and the National D-Day Memorial ( The presenters were excellent. Lectures were followed by field trips.

It was a small (15) but congenial group from CA, IA, KY, VA, PA, TN, NY, and IL/WI (us!). One of the participants had been in our EH group at Apache Lake, AZ, in 2006. (How often does that happen?!)
This was DH's 22nd and my 21st EH. We're trying to decide where our next adventure will take us!
Beautiful autumn scenery!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Campaign Trail" finished!

I named my version of Old Tobacco Road <> "Campaign Trail" because that's the season we're in....and a long and scrappy trail it's been. I must admit that I wasn't wild about this pattern while I was slogging along with all those little HSTs for the pinwheels. I had to chart out all rows in the center to keep the assembly straight. By the time I got the center together I wasn't going to do those big Flying Geese for the border. But I did . . . and it all came together! Now I'm smiling....and I will be happy to move onto another project.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Style from the Stacks

ZBPL design team: Henny, who crocheted; Rosemary, who chauffeured; Sarah, who modeled; Jean, who designed and stitched; and me, who networked.
"Style from the Stacks" premiered at the Illinois Library Association annual conference last week. The 40+ entries were made from library "stuff." Sara was our library's model. Her silvery shantung dress is embellished with videotape and ribbon (to simulate a barcode), with fussy-cut library cards (with the library's initials) that are themselves embellished with rhinestones. Her earrings are also rhinestone-adorned library cards. Her purse and the rosettes on her shoes and headband are crocheted from videotape. An award-winning local manicurist created press-on nails featuring audiotape and cut-out words, and another local styliest donated the hairdo. (Thank you, Chelli and Krissy!)

Other entries included a necktie embellished with coins from that library's fountain; a cocktail dress made from microfilm (with microfilm-trimmed shoes); two versions of Book Jackets; a vest made from CDs (like chain mail!); a scarf knit from newspaper bags; and a wedding dress made from romance novels.
Sheree took great photos. Here's the link to her Flickr stream:

It was a great evening and there is already talk of "next year"!

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Day of Discovery" in Chicago

Last Thursday DH and I enjoyed a one-day Elderhostel program in Chicago. "The Devil in the White City Tour" was named for the book by Erik Larson that contrasted the glorious "White City" of the Columbian Exhibition of 1893, the economic boosterism and rivalries of the fair's planners (among them Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmstead, and Mrs. Potter Palmer), and the sordid, horrific H. H. Holmes who ran a boardinghouse into which young women went, and did not return.
Our tour was coordinated by the Museum of Science and Industry, where the group (there were about 40) gathered. We saw a computer simulation of the fairgrounds, which included reclaimed shoreline and the broad strip called the Midway Plaisance. At the time the area was "suburban" -- Hyde Park was 7 miles south of the Loop. The fair was a "White City" because most of the buildings were constructed of "staff," a mixture of plaster and cement on burlap, painted white. None of the structures was intended to last for more than the six-month season of the fair. Much has been written about the fair itself, and you can look it up .

What interested me: how MSI can be an original fair building when everything was temporary. The answer: MSI, the Fine Arts building, had a masonry core and bronze fire doors to make it fireproof. Parts of the exterior were made of stone.....It operated as the Columbian Field Museum for 30 years, until the Stanley Field Museum of Natural History opened. Julius Rosenwald, the Sears & Roebuck magnate and Chicago philanthropist, gave $2m in cash and Sears stock to create a science museum. He did not want it named after him, partly to encourage others to give, and also because of anti-Semitism, though for a while it was called the Rosenwald Industrial Museum. It became the MSI in 1933. Generations of Chicago kids (myself among them) remember the submarine, the coal mine, the larger-than-life-sized heart, the "pickled babies" (fetal development)....but I digress.

Our MSI tour included a walk on the grounds. The photo here is of two of the 7-foot-tall karyatids, a classical architectural feature (and another memory from those childhood field trips).

We then got on a coach bus and headed north to Lawry's The Prime Rib restaurant. I've walked past it often en route to ALA headquarters, but had never gone inside. It's the Leander McCormick mansion, built in 1894, said to be haunted by Mrs. McC. It was a casino and speakeasy in the 30's; then Kungsholm marionnette opera theatre, and became Lawry's in 1976. Our lunch replicated the Great Midway Ball Luncheon of 1893, as described in Larson's book: hash, beef stew soup, chicken fricasees with mashed potatoes, and raspberry sorbet....imagine having such hearty fare routinely! It was delicious.

Joining us at lunch was a guide from the Chicago Architecture Foundation (
He provided us with more information about fin de siecle Chicago. We took the bus to Prairie Avenue, where the wealthiest people in the city lived--the Fields, the Armours, and others. ( With the recent redevelopment of the South Loop, Prairie Avenue is once again an attractive place to live. The Marshall Field, Jr., mansion has been divided into condominiums. Which one has the parlor in which Field died? That story is one of the tales in "Sin in the Second City,", just blocks from Prairie Avenue (but not on our tour).

Finally, back to MSI for a walk to the Japanese Garden on Northerly Island in Jackson Park. It, too, is a remnant of the Fair. ( Our group was large and it had already been a long day, so we couldn't really enjoy the serenity of the garden.

It was a most enjoyable way to spend a beautiful September day! This was our fifth EH "Day of Discovery" and we look forward to future Discoveries!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I have acquired a nice collection of black-and-white fabrics. I began this quilt Labor Day weekend and finished it -- quilted and bound -- this evening!! (I took advantage of three free evenings this past week.) Though most of my quilts use many more different fabrics, this design would not be as effective with more than the six that it has. The backing is red/white/black print that I bought in tremendous quantity in the Red Tag section of JoAnn's a couple of years ago. (Can't beat good quality when it's just $1/yard!) My Magpie friends provided advice for the border which is a flap of white-on-white, then black-on-black, and the wider red. The finished size is 89 x89. I don't know its destination.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quilting update

(1) A bookshelf wallhanging for a coworker who has just received her MLS. The pattern is by Christine Thresh ( I've made it many times, though of course no two wallhangings are alike because of all the novelty fabrics and embellishments.
(2) Our guild had an orphan block challenge. We were invited to bring in orphan blocks (I took in a big stack) and then take some. I took just one, made four more, and created this 50 x 50 quilt. We are to bring the completed projects to the September 3 meeting. They'll be given to charity. I really like the autumn colors!
(3) This is what 366 Heartstrings blocks look like! I made one-a-day. This being leap year, that's 366. They busted 60 yards of stash. Seven 48-block quilts and one 3o-block quilt will use them all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The 19th Amendment: 88 years ago today

(image from There are areas where women and men aren't equal, but winning the vote certainly help to narrow the gap. Hooray for Harry Burn!
This is the way Garrison Keiller reported it in today's edition of "The Writer's Almanac":

"It was on this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment was formally incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. It proclaimed, 'The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.' It ended more than 70 years of struggle by the suffragist movement.
"It had passed through the House and Senate. At first, it looked like the amendment was not going to make it. And then, a 24-year-old legislator from Tennessee, Harry Burn, decided to vote for the amendment at the last minute because his mother wanted him to. And Tennessee became the 36th state to approve suffrage for women.
"They sent the certified record of the Tennessee vote to Washington, D.C., and it arrived on August 26, 1920. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation that morning at 8 a.m. at his home. There was no ceremony of any kind, and no photographers were there to capture the moment. And none of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement were present to see him do it. Colby just finished his cup of coffee and signed the document with a regular, steel pen. Then he said, 'I turn to the women of America and say: 'You may now fire when you are ready. You have been enfranchised.'"

Monday, August 18, 2008

What it was, was Base Ball

.....vintage base ball, that is, spelled in two words and played by 1860's rules.

DH and I were in the stands on the grounds of the Wade House in Greenbush ( The home team: the Greenbush Dead Citys. The visiting team: the Milwaukee Cream Citys (

The field was the same size (90 feet between bases) though this particular field had a definite upward slope from 2nd to 3rd. No gloves, a variety of bats (some homemade, some reproductions), homemade balls (comparable to today's regulation size). An out could be either a fly ball OR catching after one bounce. Strikes were counted only for swings, not for pitching, and there were no balls (e.g. a player could not be walked). The game was 9 "rounds." "Well struck, sir," was the comment after a hit. The final score: Cream Citys 26, Dead Citys 7.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Christmas in July (well, early August)

I finished piecing "Christmas Ramble" this weekend.
Each block has 20 2.5" HSTs. (Doing the math: 600 HSTs in the 30 blocks plus 16 HSTs in the corners.)
The blocks finished to 11.5" and the entire top is 87 x 76. It used 8 yards of fabric, though I had to buy the red border since none of the reds I had on hand was just right.
The Friends of the Library will raffle this as a fundraiser this fall. I'm contributing the top and they'll reimburse me for the professional quilting. It feels good to have something completed in advance!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Recent stitching

Poinsettia Baskets. Pattern from APQ. Approx. 24 x 32.
This will likely be my contribution at our AAUW holiday party in December.

Birds in the Air. A wedding gift for Cherie and Justin (he's the son of my college friends Alex and Randy). Cherie wanted black and white. Justin is a Navy pilot, hence the block pattern. This was quilted by Wendy Maston.

(It really is black and white, despite the greenish cast in the photo.)

Maple Leaves. Blocks from an exchange last year. The setting is from a back issue of Fons &Porter. The square-in-a-square border adds interest.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

ALA Annual Conference with Disney and Quilts

(1) Log Cabin Stars; (2) in hot water again (51 years later); (3) Sterling Touch (Jill P. and me); (4) Carol N. and me at M&L Fabrics with the huge conference tote bag; (5) M&L; (6) Jewel Box in batiks
I don't intend to be a twice-a-month blogger, but it seems to work out that way. I took the laptop with me to the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. I had internet access for one day, then managed to screw up the settings and there went connectivity. (Yesterday, thanks to my patient coworker Tara, the settings were restored so here I am.)
The conference itself has been blogged and photographed and reported on, such as here:
Since 1984 I've missed only one Annual Conference (and two Midwinter Meetings). Committee work has kept me busy (especially when I was on the Executive Board) but this time I was able to go to several programs, each of which was very good. It is always nice to reconnect with colleagues and friends--virtual conversations are fine, but in-person is often better.
Disney, you say? The Saturday Scholarship Bash tickets were "twilight passes" to Disneyland. It wasn't exclusive; ALA attendees shared the park with the thousands of other people, but it was no problem. The only previous time I'd been to Disneyland was *1957*. My sister and I both remembered the Mad Hatter's Tea Party ride in Fantasyland -- so I had to go on that one again!
Quilts? But of course! The ALA BiblioQuilters had three quilts in the scholarship silent auction. Several of us took time to go shopping at M&L Fabrics. WOW!! Name brands (Kaufman, Hoffman, Moda, etc.). First run $7.98 and $8.98/yd. Slightly older fabrics $2.98 and $3.98/yd. My mind went blank when I walked in the store: what projects did I want to buy fabric for? How much could I fit in my suitcase? In the end I spent $56 for 14-3/4 yds. Not bad!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cream Crush

Here is a rather crooked picture of my Cream Crush quilt top. I used only two of the fabrics I bought in England (the green in the spinning stars and the orange circles in the album blocks). The border fabric was purchased with another project in mind. I think it works very well here (and there is lots left over to use in that other project.)
When I put the blocks on the design wall I wasn't wild about the effect. Now the assembled top reminds me of an elaborate tile floor. This was great fun to do!

Friendship and Quilting

(I didn't bring my Featherweight for nothing!)

(All of us)

(Stage set for Prairie Home Companion)

(Sunrise over the Organ Mountains)

Two weeks ago I was hurriedly preparing for PieFiesta Dos in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This was the biennial gathering of the Magpies, who met on the internet newsgroup rec.crafts.textiles.quilting in the late 1990's. This was our fifth large-group meetup since the first PieFiesta in 1999. There were 15 of us this time, some new to the gathering, with a 40-year age span, coming from east, west, south (and four of us from Illinois). We talk online every day so seeing one another in person just continues the conversation of a few hours before.
We laughed. We ate (yumm) and drank (margaritas!). We toured (some went to White Sands, some went to the NM Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum). Three of us went to see A Prairie Home Companion (conveniently at NMSU that Saturday). Some of us sewed. We all shopped!! And, all in all, we had a wonderful time enjoying one another's company.