Monday, December 27, 2010

Plans for a New Year

The new year is almost upon us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this year will bring a number of changes. One significant change is that, in July, I will be "retiring" from my current day job. It is my plan to expand my artistic pursuits and build The Butterfly Bush business. I also plan to do more social justice work and writing, again. All quite exciting and scary. I am reminded of dreams I used to have about stepping off tall buildings, with the accompanying fear, only to find I could fly. I hope you will continue to check in with me to see my progress, as well as give me feedback on it.

The babies and their parents saw the quilts (still in process) at our family Christmas celebration. So, I feel I can share them, now. Mykaela was quite interested in the bright colors of hers, and Kaden was content to be with Mama and take everything in. Obviously, there is still a little work to be done on each of them, but they will get them in time to make them "dragging around blankets."

Mykaela's quilt

Kaden's quilt

Now, too, I will be able to move on to other creative pursuits. I will be spending this week (blessed holiday break time from the day job) in my studio, experimenting with techniques, and getting organized for the new year. On January 1, I will begin participating in the Sketchbook Challenge. (The button for it is on the right.) It looks like a lot of fun, with some super artists leading the way. Check them out.
It seems like the perfect way to charge up the creative juices and explore new techniques. I hope you will check it out and join in.

Finally, I plan to post more often. Unfortunately, the silence of the last few weeks was unavoidable, but I am planning to post once a week in the new year.

Until next time, may you experience peace and all good.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


It has been a strange couple of weeks. Our Thanksgiving celebration ended up being on the Saturday after the holiday, which threw off my Christmas preparations. (I refuse to do "Black Friday" shopping.) I've missed every art and craft show I usually go to at this time of year. Since I normally get much of my Christmas shopping done at them, and hope to help the artists who show at them a little, that saddens me. However, I did have time with my children and grandchildren, have almost finished the binding on my granddaughter's quilt, and enjoyed the birthday celebration.

I also had a delightful experience the day before Thanksgiving. My current day job is in a location that is on the migration path of sandhill cranes. I was fortunate to get some pictures of cranes riding a thermal. Even at that distance, you can hear them calling as if they are right next to you. Considering that, however, they must be awfully loud! Fortunately, their call is like a trill and very melodic.

This is a picture of a large part of the flock.

What surprised me, however, was how wonderfully close I was able to zoom in on them after I uploaded the pictures to my computer.

I have been following Melanie Testa's blog, and was reminded of this shot when I saw her post, "I Listen" Inspiration is piling up around me, so that I am anxiously awaiting free time in my studio to play. It will come soon.

Right now, my world is covered in snow. A storm system came in last night, depositing enough to cover everything in a thick powder and line the branches of the trees. The squirrels have left their tracks through the yard, and little boys are trying to make money shoveling. I've been taking advantage of the desire to stay in the warmth of a cozy house, working on a few presents, and trying to catch up on my "To Do" list.

I hope that you are enjoying a cozy home, happy anticipation of time with friends and/or family, and time to relax. Until next time, may you experience peace and all good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Prep

I am always amazed at the swift passage of time during Fall. My plans always include a number of gifts for family and friends. (As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a large family.) Sadly, it also seems I never have enough time to do as much as I would like to do.

This year, I am busy making quilts for the latest editions to our family - our twin grandchildren. Since I want to be sure they get them before they outgrow them, just about all other creative items have been put on the side. I am making progress, however, and will show them to you after I have given them to the babies. (I want to make sure their Mommy and Daddy are a little surprised. I'm sure the babies won't be checking my blog this year.)

Also high on my list of preparations is our Thanksgiving celebration. This year, we will also be celebrating three birthdays on that day. It makes for a very happy time and a lot to be grateful about, as well as careful consideration of each person's favorite things. At the same time, we will be missing some people around our table because of losses over the last year. I hope that you are looking forward to the holidays with happy anticipation. If you are not, however, I want to extend my promise that I will be thinking of you and wishing you well as you work through whatever is keeping you from doing so.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite photos, taken while we were visiting family in Arkansas. I hope you enjoy!

Until next time, may you experience peace and all good.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fine Art of Fiber

Thanks to my daughter, Jessica, an artist in her own right (, I was made aware of the Fine Art of Fiber show at the Chicago Botanic Garden this weekend. We made a day of it, yesterday, and enjoyed the output of Weavers Guild of the North Shore, Illinois Quilters, Inc., and North Suburban Needle Arts Guild members, as well as the fall gardens. You can see more about the show at and

Here are a few of my pictures from the show:

Debby Danford Wada gave a fascinating lecture on Japanese textiles.

Art dolls, jewelry, hand bound books, and felted items.

Jessica's favorite quilt in the show.

A selection of the diversity of styles and techniques shown.

Some of the wonderful woven items.

All in a beautiful setting.

All in all, it was a wonderful day and show. I am already looking forward to the next one. Lots of inspiration and beauty all around. I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into the experience.

Until next time, may you experience peace and all good.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Butterflies for Grandma Barbara

In 2004, I participated in a block exchange at my local quilt guild. The blocks were butterflies, obviously a favorite of mine. Once I had received the blocks (four in addition to my own), I had to decide on a quilt pattern. Since one of my children was engaged to be married, I decided on a baby quilt size, in hopes of becoming a grandmother someday.

My mother's mother had been a quilter, but died before I was born. One of the things that she consistently did, apparently, was to make baby quilts. I never received one, of course. I had in my library the book, Better Homes and Gardens: Grandma's Best Full-Size Quilt Blocks, and found the pattern used for the butterflies in it (pps 148, 195-6). It is from the time period when my grandmother was fairly prolific making quilts. I decided to make it to honor my grandmother.

The quilting is free-style machine quilting. Fabrics are cottons, including batiks. The images quilted in the separating blocks are cone flower heads, since the cone flower is attractive to butterflies. I learned that dense free-style machine quilting makes for a stiff block, as each of the butterflies is surrounded by an intense amount of quilting. Fortunately, the intervening blocks are not as densely quilted.

"Butterflies for Grandma Barbara"
Butterfly Birthday Blocks - Quiltmaker's Guild 2004
Modified Butterfly Quilt

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival
Amy Ellis is holding the fourth Blogger's Quilt Festival on her site. I hope you enjoy all the beautiful quilts and stories! There are several I'm anxious to read about.
Until next time, may you experience peace and all good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thinking of the Future; Remembering the Past

New studies now suggest that the number of new cases of Altzheimer's disease each year will double by 2050. I am not likely to be alive at that point, but I have three children, numerous nephews and nieces, and grandchildren who are. There have been some significant breakthroughs in research, but more needs to be done.

My initial interest in the disease had to do with my mother-in-law. While she was never specifically diagnosed with Altzheimer's, she did have dementia of some kind. (Of course, one of the difficulties with Altzheimer's is that there aren't any definitive tests to diagnose it -- yet.)  Over the course of years, Ma grew less and less able to cope with her day to day life, eventually struggling to recognize those around her. Since the disease progressed fairly slowly, at first, it was difficult to be sure what was happening, both for her and for those of us who loved her. By the time it was evident that it was likely she had Altzheimer's, she had already lost many of her abilities to cope. Researchers are trying to find ways to diagnose it earlier, slow the progression of the disease, and find a cure.

There is a World Series Quilt Challenge going on right now to benefit the Altzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). The organization was started by Ami Simms to raise money for Altzheimer's research. The leagues for the Challenge include the American Quilt League (Hollis Chatelain, John Flynn, Becky Goldsmith, and Sue Nickels) and the National Quilt League (Caryl Bryer Fallert, Judy Mathieson, Mary Sorensen, and Ricky Tims). Each quilter has created a quilt for auction online between November 1 and 10. The quilts will also be at the International Quilt Festival in Houston from November 3rd to the 7th. In addition, there are ongoing auctions and sales of small quilts by many artists through the organization's website. For more information, please check it out at

Until next time, may you experience peace and all good.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rebirth or New Beginnings

I have to admit it, the thought of writing a blog makes me nervous. It is, however, my hope that I can create something with this blog that you will find interesting, educational, inspirational, and enjoyable. For most of my life I have been creating artwork of one kind or another. Since 1994, I have worked primarily in fiber. I expect that to continue, but also anticipate this next year being filled with changes. The blog will be my way to share my creations and thoughts on a variety of topics with you as I work my way through those changes and move forward. I hope that you will be so kind as to give me feedback and share your thoughts with me.

To give you some idea of the things I have done, this table topper is one I made for my mother-in-law from fabrics she selected while we were visiting a quilt shop in her town. (She wasn't aware I was planning to make something for her and was just pointing out fabrics she liked.) The pattern is "Twist and Shout" from "American Patchwork & Quilting's" June 2003 issue. It was my first or second foray into free motion machine quilting.

Until next time, may you experience peace & all good.